Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Schizoid Man"

2.5 stars

Air date: 1/23/1989
Teleplay by Tracy Torme
Story by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise comes to the aid of terminally ill scientist Dr. Ira Graves (W. Morgan Sheppard), in the hopes of documenting his as-yet-unrevealed scientific discoveries before he dies. Graves, however, takes a very specific interest in Data and spends his final hours with the android. Data subsequently begins exhibiting strange behavior, the most amusing of which is the delivery of a ridiculous and indulgent eulogy for the recently departed Graves ("To know him was to love him, and to love him was to know him").

The plot is obvious to us, but not to the Enterprise crew: Graves, utilizing his own scientific breakthrough of combining the human brain and computer data storage, has transferred his consciousness and knowledge into Data and is vying for total control of Data's mind. The crew slowly begins to realize that Graves has somehow hijacked Data's personality. One major clue might be Graves'/Data's verbally expressed jealousy concerning Graves' assistant Kareen (Barbara Alyn Woods), and the ever-increasing size of Data's ego, which, by definition, should be nonexistent. I was amused by much of the Data/Picard interaction: Watching Data's sly insubordination and condescension toward Picard is a source of much of the episode's fun.

The episode's Serious Human Theme is whether this man Graves can retain his humanity now that he has superior android strength and mental abilities. And can he plausibly love Kareen, whom he previously admired without revealing his feelings on the account of their age difference? The other question is about Data's rights as a person, which Graves has usurped by hijacking his body. I like that the episode ends with a battle of reasoning between Graves and Picard, and that Graves proves Picard's point and is smart enough to fully realize that what he's doing won't work. But overall this is sort of an obvious storyline, and one that doesn't exploit its themes for what they're worth.

Previous episode: Loud as a Whisper
Next episode: Unnatural Selection

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32 comments on this review

Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode, though I am watching TNG again inbetween Voyager and DS9. DS9 I have to say has become my fave of the three, with TNG looking rather dated now. This was still a fun episode. In fact, anything that focusses on Data is fun. I do find it odd that a machine as sophisticated as Data would not have some kind of security lock out to stop anyone - even a genius like Graves, tampering with him. I am finding re-watches of TNG so-so, which is a shame, because pre-DS9 and Voyager, I thought it was the best SF show I had seen. I guess the crew makes TNG what it is, and for that, I am forever grateful to Mr Roddenberry.
Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 10:34am (UTC -5)
The best part of the episode is the aforementioned Data's Eulogy. When he says "Those that knew him, loved him; and those that didn't know him...also loved him, from afar." I just had to stop the video and laugh to my heart's content.

The rest of the show was just the way you described it Jammer: Obvious.

@ Rachel: Yeah, characters are probably the best of TNG. Being episodic doesn't help the grand-plot and its own age doesn't help the Fx either, but we'll always have the lovable crew.
Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
@ Rikko Give credit where its due, there were indeed arcs and revisited story threads in TNG. Case in point: Worfs descommendation and ensuing klingon civil war and the tasha yar dauhter tie-in and the romulan-unifaction-spock tie in and the picard-borg story and Q and the nice bookend of the start and finish of the series....and I could go on...TNG is timeless IMHO {I love ds9 and VOY too}
William B
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
As Rikko said, I think the best line in the episode is the "those who did not know him...loved him from afar" is an absolute classic. That is some quality humourous scriptwriting of the kind that we don't often get.

I enjoy this episode a lot; I find Graves a compelling character, especially as played by Spiner. I'm really impressed by the way Spiner makes Graves arrogant and condescending without ever (to me) repeating any of the same notes he hits on with his performance of Lore, who is *also* arrogant and condescending. The difference, I think, is that despite Graves' bitterness he does not have nearly as deep a well of anger at rejection that Lore has, and is capable of and genuinely feels a love that we know Lore does not. As with Jammer I like very much that Graves turns himself in after Picard talks to him (and he sees the effect of having an android body).

I have been trying to figure out why this episode works better for me, ultimately, than another random body-swap plot (ala, say, Voyager's "Vis a Vis"). Some of it, I think, is that Graves does have a personal connection to Data, as his "grandfather," and while that connection is a little more tenuous (and Graves has his own reasons for pushing Data to calling him grampa -- to get Data to trust him!), there is something touching in seeing Data hijacked by the person who inspired his own creator, and in a creator taking over someone who is in some senses his own creation. I wouldn't actually trade "Brothers" for this, but *this* episode would be better, on this level, if it were *actually* about Soong rather than a guy *like* Soong, because the personal element of a guy wanting to end up in the android body *he* created, and his realization that that cannot be, is probably the thing that makes this episode work emotionally for me, and it would work a lot better if it were a guy who *actually* created Data.

Finally, the episode probably cheats a bit by having Graves accept that he has to give up his body because Data is too strong and will cause a bunch of accidents. That is an important issue, but before he started hurting Kareen's hand in the last act that wasn't really even on the table. The central questions here are about (im)mortality and whether people have a right to use their own creations (offspring?) to further their own identity. That is mostly what Picard is arguing -- that Data is a person and that he shouldn't have his identity erased. For the episode to work thematically on a higher level, I think Graves would have to accept that Data is his own person and not just a machine, rather than just that the robot body is too strong for Graves to handle. On the other hand, I can understand why the episode didn't go there -- since Graves, as written before the last act, doesn't strike me as the type to readily accept Data's right to existence. There is still a bit of a characterization gap (for me) in Graves accepting that he has to give up Data's body to prevent more accidents from piling up -- couldn't he have just reduced Data's strength, or something? -- but mostly the characterization feels right, which is to the episode's credit, even if it means that the episode feels unsatisfying thematically.

So, in other words, there are enough things that *almost* work in this episode that make me imagine it could have been genuinely great. But they don't quite connect, and what we're left with is an engaging and entertaining hour with a great performance by Spiner at its centre. Not a bad showing, but a missed opportunity. 2.5 stars sounds about right.
Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
Good, but not great. Still, it's one of the top two episodes of the season so far (with Elementary, which coincidentally is the other big Data episode). I don't have much in the way of criticism. Unfortunately, this is yet another episode with the guest star immediately hitting on one of the Enterprise's wimminfolk; counting Moriarty's graceful hospitality towards Pulaski this is four in a row. And the ending is slightly contrived (I'll get to that). But on the plus side:

- More Data humor. The eulogy was a classic. The beard at the beginning was pretty good too (and worked as an in-universe way to reduce suspicions about Data's erratic behavior). And Data's question to Geordi after coming back to normal is a third area.

- Brent Spiner's great acting, as others have mentioned. He really sold the idea of being Graves.

- It sort of felt like a Season 1 episode, but well executed. Introducing the long-distance transporter, for example, worked to add a greater feeling of depth to the Star Trek universe, adding a new application of an existing technology. The plot was a high-concept, engaging sci-fi plot, but one that the writers knew how to deal with. The episode didn't really feel dragging to me, and plotted out well. For example, they didn't bother to make much of a mystery of Data's weirdness; we knew from the beginning that it was Graves. And Picard et al's responses were far more realistic here than in Datalore.

- Picard's arguing with DataGraves. We got a sneak preview of Measure of a Man, just without the legalese. Seeing Picard's passionate defense of Data here makes the later episode even better.

- Graves, despite being the antagonist, was not a cartoon villain like Lore was. He willingly gave up his control of Data, and never really meant any harm to anyone.

As for the ending, I agree somewhat with William that it was too contrived around the "accidents" aspect. The somewhat comes from the fact that they showed other reasons as well, even if it wasn't overtly mentioned. The love interest already rejected him, and Graves was clearly depressed when Picard went to talk with him. He was also showing the same mental instability he had when he was human, which he may not have enjoyed. And, of course, there was Picard's passionate arguing for Data's rights (again, Graves is not an evil person), which may have gnawed at him. So I can see Graves volunteering to give up Data's body for multiple reasons; unfortunately the accidents aspect is only one of them.
Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 6:32am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode. W Morgan Sheppard is always a welcome addition to any Star Trek outing. The twist might be obvious to us, but not to the crew. Brent Spiner is as always excellent, and is a great amount of fun in this episode. The eulogy in particular is a hoot. His questions to Geordi when he is revived at the end are amusing too.

I liked Picard defending Data's rights as a sentient life form, too, a subtle little piece of continuity that will be picked up again soon in the episode 'The Measure of A Man'
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:57am (UTC -5)
Not exactly the greatest story - as soon as Graves mentions that he can store his mind in a computer, it's obvious where the rest of the episode will be going. But what "The Schizoid Man" is really about is acting! Sheppard is quite delightful as the conceited genius Graves, and Spiner does an excellent job in playing Gravis-in-Data's-body, while obviously having a lot of fun with it (oh, that eulogy scene). After his first appearance as Lore in "Datalore", Spiner uses the opportunity to showcase as one of the two great actors of TNG alongside Stewart, and we will see even more of this in season 3's "Brothers".
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 5:22am (UTC -5)
WHEN will Data learn to stop revealing the fact/location of his "shut-off" switch?? He can absorb vast quantities of information in seconds, but he can't figure this out?

I suppose his naivete is just part of what makes him human.
Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Alas, a fourth terrible episode in a row, and by this point I had but all but written off this series. After a promising start to the season, it just seemed by this episode that we were getting the same garbage from the old TOS writers, very outdated stories with beyond obvious plot lines. No originality at all, and the show had become quite boring.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
A simple enough set up, and a sci-fi standby at that - man transfers consciousness to machine. The writers' choice to basically give that plot line to the audience and let us watch the cast reason it out does remove something of the dramatic tension - and you have to wonder why Graves as Data is quite so obvious as to let everyone else smell as rat so quickly.

But as a means having a bit of fun with Data's character, this works perfectly, from the "if I stroke my beard thusly" intro to the "did I win" conclusion. It hits some serious beats too - Graves' assessment of Data's existence as a "walking purgatory - neither dead nor alive" gets to the heart of Data's quest for humanity. And for Graves to eventually realise he had given up his humanity to prolong his existence gives the ending additional weight. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
I believe this was the first episode directed by Les Landau. I think that helped this episode win some of the points that it did.
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
I watched his episode, didn't like it, but for only one reason. (The funeral was hysterical) IT'S CREEPY TO SEE DATA HITTING ON SOMEONE. I love Data and his character for the fluffy goof he is. To see him hijacked is disturbing for me, especially at the gain of everlasting life and love of Kareen. This proved that Data isn't really dating material in the episode "In Theory." To bring it up here, before that episode even aired is more proof that our lovable metallic android really isn't the best relationship partner. Graves using Data to "love" Kareen seemed wrong not just for the age difference, but the fact that you are using someone else's body to do it was too much for me.
Wed, Jul 27, 2016, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
I was a bit disappointed when Deanna didn't solve the puzzle. I was so sure at first that she suspected - because she had shown Data-Graves images of Tasha and Kareen and the reaction to both should have been an obvious sign.
Jason R.
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
I am grateful that for once Wesley Crusher had no hand in solving this particular puzzle.

While the answer was obvious, and it may have taken a little longer for Picard to put 2+2 together than I would have hoped, I do like that the climax of the story renders that little mystery rather superfluous; the issue isn't figuring out that Graves has usurped Data, but rather the moral implications of this act. As Graves puts it, he is human and Data is a machine. Legally speaking, he's probably not wrong. This is a taste of the ethical problem more fully explored in Measure of a Man. But it's only a taste. And ultimately Graves' decision to just pull the plug, just like that, seems far too easy.

This episode has its moments, but they are only moments.

As an additional criticism, I found the character of Kareen immensely tiresome. How many of these superfluous female characters are we going to keep running into? Does every old scientist have a beautiful young assistant / wife intensely devoted to him, but utterly vapid and clueless? It's like a repeating motif in Trek.
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.,

To know those vapid and clueless assistants, is to love them. And to love them - you wish.
Fri, Oct 21, 2016, 9:27am (UTC -5)
The only reason to ever become a scientist in the Federation is because of the lovely assistants you get, Why do you think La Forge took that path? He knows the score.
Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
The plot was predictable but enjoyable -- a solid base hit for the second season.

Data's eulogy of ... well, of himself.... was possibly the most hilarious moment in all TNG. Sometimes when I'm alone, I grin uncontrollably just thinking about it. Sometimes when I'm not alone, I make the mistake of thinking about it and I grin uncontrollably again. Then people ask me what the hell I'm thinking about. And I'm kind of at a loss for how to explain it.
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
Phew: after last week's transcendently great episode we are back oin more predictable ground with this pile of dingo's kidneys.
OK: it did pick up but I am beginning to realize that there is a rather large hole in the show-the empty space where there should be some acting ability and I am afraid that the hole resides in Brent Spiner.
Seriously: whoever decided this guy could act his way out of a paper bag?
Transferring one's mind to a computer with dissatrous consequences was old when they did it in Doomwatch in the early seventies with Patrick Troughton in W. Morgan Shepherd's shoes
The comic eulogy that seems to have found favour was pure Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf except that Red Dwarf's writers would have made a better job of it.
I give this a generous 1.5 stars and would rather forget it.
Tue, Apr 25, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
A well-worn idea of transfering human consciousness into an android -- seen this many times such as in TOS "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" or even "Turnabout Intruder" in a way. The episode was watchable due to the humor of Data's eulogy and his insubordination of Picard.
I compare the ending here to "Elementary, Dear Data" as Picard confronted Moriarty and it could have gone wrong depending on how the writers wanted to end it. In this episode, it's simply that Graves realizes what's right and wrong and that's about it. Pretty predictable. Maybe another ending is the crew zaps Data and Graves' consciousness is lost.
I didn't mind the episode but it's nothing special or original. Liked the acting by Spiner and the actor who played Graves added some levity but this episode doesn't give anything more than TOS versions of this theme. 2/4 stars.
The Dreamer
Mon, Sep 25, 2017, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
A pre Khe'lar Suzie Plakson as the oft mentioned but once seen Dr Salar was a nice touch as well.
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. Thumbs up. A very enjoyable hour

Liked the Data/Grandpa dynamic
The episode was so quintessential 1980s And I loved every minute of it
Liked Dr Selar—enjoyed suzie plakson more as selar then k’ehleyhr
And all the ‘Data’ scenes giving attitude to everybody was entertaining
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
I too enjoyed the examination of the larger themes this episode delves into such as humanity vs. machine and the point at which an entity has earned/is recognized with the right to existence as a life form. There are several awkward scenes that really detract though--the first scene when Data/Graves is with Kareen in 10 forward (it is hard for me to imagine she would not tell anybody how Data acted there), the eulogy scene--which was really funny for a while and then for me outlived its humor. And Graves, who had visions of being able to carry on his scientific breakthroughs for 1000 years far too easily gave up at the end for my taste. I would have given it two stars but I loved "Did I win?" (PRICELESS!!!!) so much that in the end I I'd say 2 1/2 stars
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Not a great one, but an entertaining hour of performances for sure.

I wish Lt. Salar had been a semi-regular.
Peter Swinkels
Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 6:16pm (UTC -5)

This was in interesting story about Data and how his mind works. I liked the way Data’s behaviour changed from plausibly having been affected by prof. Graves’ (his “grandpa” :-)) death to a mix of insane and Graves’. The prof. uploading himself to the Enterprises’ computer was also a nice tough. What would it be like to move from a frail and sickly old man’s body to an android with superior health and strength and a star ship’s computer? Also an interesting question: DOES Graves have to right to take over a “machine” (Data) in order to keep living?

A few random observations:
1. Data’s beard - and Deanna’s reaction - hilarious!
2. Captain Picard stayed remarkably calm and patient with Data. Others would not stay that calm.
3. TNG looks dated? A little. DS9 and Voy. too. And just look at TOS! Now that is dated.

will keep commenting,
Peter Swinkels
Peter Swinkels
Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
tough -> touch
Peter Swinkels
Wed, Mar 14, 2018, 2:29am (UTC -5)
Another typo: in -> an

While imho Graves doesn’t haven’t the right to “kill” Data (his ego) who is Picard to tell him that “every man has his time”?
Tue, May 22, 2018, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
This one was highly entertaing. Data meets his own grandpa who sees him as just a machine. Since dear old gramps is dying, he decides to usurp Data's body by transferring his consciousness into Data's positronic brain. Things get dicey when creepy old grandpa uses his new android skin to try to fulfil his lecherous fantasy of hooking up with his young assistant, while his roving eyes ogle the pretty young fillys in their body hugging uniforms
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 4:51am (UTC -5)
OMG! Graves is MORN!

What I can say about this ep is, I knew right away that something was wrong with Data when he came out of the room where dead Graves was. This ep was not funny, it was a pathetic way to use android Data in such a way. Graves had to be insane to cook up the IDEA of becoming Data in order to finger a young human girl. THAT IS WHAT IT WAS ABOUT.

Most old men would not hold back, they would simply say Kareen, I love you, etc. and so on, will you marry me. Who knows, she might have said yes. They worked together for years.

Yep, Rachel, Data ought to have keep out switch to prevent the any one from tampering with him. BUT, remember how Dr. Crusher and Geordi screwed him up so he could not prevent them from ooooh and aaahing while wearing those game glasses in The Game? Soong never really thought ahead. He was selfish.

Since I might never get to IN THEORY, that woman wanted a man to sit and hold her hand day in and out and always pamper her. When it didn't work out, she ran. OK>>>>>>Data wrote a program for her. All she could do in the end was boo hoo that he had no human feelings. My God almighty and @%$&()^$%%^ he was a ROBOT of sorts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why in the %^))##@ was she in Starfleet? She had absolutely no brains to work in space and repair the ship. That is the problem with a lot of the characters in the Trek universes. Do any one of you guys or girls think you would be chosen for a space journey[? ] if you were brainless looking for mr good bar crap brains?

Stop dissing Wesley. If anyone has a brainy child they are always proud of them. Would you murder your child if it had an IQ of 550? I wouldn't.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
1 star - great idea, terrible script.
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
oh my god the casual sexism and lechery. Look its a brilliant man, lets let him be a pig.

and how did Data start feeling emotions if his "base model" doesn't allow it...I wont reveal a spoiler..

The best part of this was Data's acting and the line "to know him is to love him is to know him" or did I get that backwards.

I guess 6/10 for Brent Spiner (meaning it should have been a 4/10 episode)
Other Chris
Thu, Jun 27, 2019, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Working through these episodes, I constantly find myself thinking "This was bad, but it didn't have to be!" It's amazing that small, intelligent changes and a greater attention to detail would have elevated almost all of this stuff. Instead, the crew of the Enterprise is repeatedly caught with their pants down, and in this case the villain doesn't even bother to hide his new status.
Thu, Aug 22, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Kind of slow moving, but an interesting premise, very well done by Spiner.

More talk about what it means to be alive, as Graves refuses to go gently into his grave.

I wonder what the idea of the Vulcan doc was. Pulaski could easily have played that part. Were they considering replacing the doc yet again?

Average ep that rises above average due to Spiner.

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