Star Trek: The Next Generation


3 stars

Air date: 10/19/1992
Teleplay by Brannon Braga
Story by Jean Louise Matthias & Ron Wilkerson
Directed by Robert Wiemer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Commander Riker can't seem to get enough sleep at night. He's tired when he wakes up, late to his shift, exhausted all day, and when he attends Data's self-composed poetry recital, he falls asleep. (Although the joke of the recital — which hilariously includes "Ode to Spot" — is that everyone in attendance would honestly probably rather be sleeping.) But night after night, Riker lies down to bed, and then it's suddenly morning, as if the nighttime hours didn't exist.

"Schisms" is an effective, slow build of quietly escalating dread. What starts with Riker being tired slowly turns into the realization that something very ominous is afoot, and it's not just Riker. Geordi is having unexplained pain, Worf freaks out upon seeing a pair of scissors, and numerous people think they have missing hours in their lives. There is evidence that some have been subjected to surgical procedures. Eventually, a crew member turns up dead. It all culminates in a spookily played scene in the holodeck where Riker, Worf, and Geordi try to piece together foggy memories of having been ... somewhere. They remember being constrained in ... something. They slowly assemble these half-forgotten pieces into a simulated reconstruction until a strange operating table is sitting before them. It turns out they've all been kidnapped and returned by aliens from another dimension.

This episode basically takes the idea of 20th-century humans claiming to be abducted and experimented on by aliens and ports it into 24th-century Starfleet. That's a neat quasi-meta narrative trick when you think about it: The premise becomes strangely novel precisely because it doesn't seem like it should be applied to characters who are already on Star Trek.

Eventually, the crew devises a way for Riker to be abducted to the alien realm without being forced into unconsciousness, so he can stay awake and rescue a missing crew member. The aliens are strange and make clicking sounds. Sure, they look like guys wearing robes and Halloween masks, but I can't much complain. The lighting is dark and strange. The mood is bizarre and atmospheric. "Schisms" ends on a note of Unsolved Mystery. Since it seems inspired by an episode of the TV show with that name, that's appropriate.

Previous episode: Relics
Next episode: True Q

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105 comments on this post

Sat, May 26, 2012, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
Welcome back.

Always like this episode. I remember as a kid having nightmares as a result of it.
Sun, May 27, 2012, 5:14am (UTC -6)
I still remember the sound those aliens make to this day. *shudder*
Latex Zebra
Mon, May 28, 2012, 3:15am (UTC -6)
As someone who gets very vivid nightmares and that feeling of awake when asleep this episode scared the shit out of me.

Surprised no one has ripped this idea off for a horror movie.
Mon, May 28, 2012, 3:28am (UTC -6)
I always liked this one. It's just so deliciously creepy, so unlike anything TNG attempted. Yeah, resolution is rather by-the-numbers and anticlimactic (often the case when you try too hard to explain what should be left, at least in part, ambiguous and mysterious), but this is still an enjoyable hour of TV.
Latex Zebra
Mon, May 28, 2012, 4:12am (UTC -6)
Oh and the Ode to Spot is absolutely brilliant. I used to recite it to our cats.
Tue, May 29, 2012, 11:25am (UTC -6)
I wonder if Jammer has ever played the mass effect series. It is the only other sci fi franchgise on par with Star Trek IMO. If so, I wonder what he, such a critical reviewer, thinks of the me 3 ending....if youre reading Jammer....
Tue, May 29, 2012, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
Landon, I have not played the Mass Effect series. Indeed, I am so far removed from the gaming world that I'd never even heard of it (or forgot if I did) until you just mentioned it.
Wed, May 30, 2012, 10:24am (UTC -6)
Jammer, if you ever have the time, play it. Youll be glad you did. Coming from another ST,BSG fan...

btw, nothing new but why so hard on voyager? It has the best overall cast of characters in the franchise. Even if there is wasted potential story wise....
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 10:15am (UTC -6)
Voyager has the best overall cast? *shudder*
Yeah, I guess I won't be playing mass effect...
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
I agree this is a good episode, but what took me out of it to a distracting level was the scene on the holodeck. I love reconstructions, but this one failed because the setting they DESCRIBE to the computer is not the one the computer presents--the computer presents the one we have seen in the "hallucinations." They describe it badly; the computer sees it perfectly. Which got me thinking that the computer could read minds, and that got me thinking of weird scenarios, and it just pulled me out of the story.

Another episode, of which I cannot remember the name, had Geordi reconstructing a scene on the holodeck and then starting to turn into a shadow creature thingie. THAT reconstruction was brilliantly done and had lots of menace.

This one was so stupid I lost interest. But still a relatively enjoyable episode.
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
@Ravo lets see....janeway, the doctor, seven, tuvok, give me a top 5 better...dont play-your loss
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
Ugh. Can't stand this one. Lost me in the teaser. While Data's poem was clever (although he misuses "obviates" to mean "makes obvious"), there's no excuse for ending with the big stinger of... Riker sleeps! That's just lame. Especially when, at this point in the story, the aliens haven't abducted anybody yet. That is, Riker's drowsiness is unrelated to the plot.
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
@Grumpy : Actually, he had been abducted at that point, just no one had realised it yet.

This is one of the season's few good offerings. The pacing, mood, acting (one character who continually got better written and performed as the series went on was Riker) and commitment to the idea really sell.

@Ravo and Landon : Nerd-Alert Warning to the following (my nerdiness not yours) :

Method 1 (ranks):

Picard (4) > Janeway (3) > Kirk (2) > Sisko (1) > Archer (0)
Spock (4) > Riker (3) > Kira (2) > Chakotay (1) > T'Pol (0)
The Doctor (5) > Bones (4) > Pulaski (3) > Crusher (2) > Phlox (1) > Bashir (0)
Data (1) > 7of9 = Odo (0) [that's a tough category]
O'Brien (4) > Torres (3) > Trip (2) > LaForge (1) > Scotty (0)
Sato (4) > Uhura (3) > Troi (2) > Kes (1) > Ezri (0)
Sulu (3) > Paris (2) > Ro (1) > Mayweather (0)
Guinan (3) > Quark (2) > Neelix (1) > Chef (0)
Dukat (3) > Q (2) > Kahn (1) > Borg Queen (0)
Tuvok (5) > Worf (TNG) (4) > Worf (DS9) (3) > Reed (2) Chekov (1) > Yar (0)
Nog (3) > Naomi (2) > Wesley (1) > Jake (0)
Jadzia (2) > Kim (1) > Rand (0)
Garek (1) > Seska (0)

Totals :
TOS : 18
*TNG : 26
DS9 : 21
VOY : 24
ENT : 9

Method 2 (Same as above, using only categories in which all may participate :

TOS : 14
*TNG : 19
DS9 : 10
VOY : 18
ENT : 9

Method 3 ( / 10) :
TOS : Kirk (8), Spock (10), Bones (7), Scotty (3), Uhura (5), Sulu (6), Kahn (8), Chekov (2), Rand (1)

TNG : Picard (10), Riker (8), Data (10), Crusher (6), Pulaski (7), Troi (4), Ro (3), Guinan (8), Q (9), Worf (6), Wesley (4), Yar (1)

DS9 : Sisko (5), Kira (7), Odo (9), Bashir (3), O'Brien (9), Ezri (2), Quark (7), Dukat (9), Worf (6), Jake (1), Jadzia (4), Garek (10)

VOY : Janeway (9), Chakotay (3), Doc (10), 7of9 (9), Torres (7), Kes (3), Paris (5), Queen (6), Tuvok (8), Naomi (7), Kim (3), Seska (6), Neelix (5)

ENT : Archer (3), T'Pol (2), Phlox (5), Trip (6), Sato (8), Reed (3), Mayweather (1)

Averages for method
TOS : 5.6
*TNG : 6.3
DS9 : 6.0
VOY : 6.2
ENT : 4.0

In every method : TNG > VOY > DS9 > TOS > ENT
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 6:12pm (UTC -6)
I'll amend however, and add that in Method 1, DS9 gets a big advantage for all its non-regular recurers, and TOS gets shafted a bit; in Method 2, I suppose VOY should actually win, since TNG gets to count 2 doctors.

So It's something like

Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
I am sincerely confused.
Tue, Jun 19, 2012, 7:33pm (UTC -6)
I am sincerely delighted! Elliott ranked Pulaski over Crusher! Yay!

It was fun to read, and though I don't quote get all the methodology, the rankings list were cool to peruse. This would be fun to discuss over some beers.
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 11:28am (UTC -6)

I've never understood the Pulaski hate. I like Dr Crusher, sure, but Pulaski's a better doctor and a more interesting character, not to mention, Diana Muldaur can act circles around McFadden.

Notice how episodes which feature Pulaski (like "Unnatural Selection" "The Icarus Factor" "Peak Performance" and [blehg] "Shades of Grey") are made more interesting by her presence (albeit in somewhat dull if not horrible episodes overall), whereas Beverly's good episodes (like "The Highground" "The Host" "Ethics") are good in spite of her, or work without her specific character as the centre.

Yay to beer and nerdgasms!
Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 1:24am (UTC -6)
I don;t dislike Pulaski, but I don;t dislike Crusher either. Her tour de force was probably "Remember Me", where she carried the show alone for some 40% of its duration, and quite ably (though both Wesley and especially the Traveler in that episode made we want to vacate my stomach). I particularly liked her in Etheics, Attached, and CoC I/II. I also agree that she had her shrill episodes too. I liked Pulaksi, but her attitudes towards Data, especially early in the seaons, seems very forced.

Since I'll not be outgeeked, or outbeered, I'll do my own /10 scores for regulars and all guests appearing enough to be semiregular...


K'Ehleyr (10)
Picard (9)
Riker (8)
O'Brien (8)
Tomolok (8)
Jaxa (8)
Boothby (8)
Madred (8)
Worf (7)
Sarek (7)
Lursa/B'Etor (7)
Shelby (7)
Gowron (7)
Kmpec (7)
Ogawa (7)
Crusher (6)
Pulaski (6)
Data (6)
Q (6)
Guinan (5)
Vash (5)
LaForge (5)
Troi (5)
Kurn (5)
Necheyev (5)
Hugh (5)
Duras (4)
Yar (4)
Crystalline Entity (4)
Soong (4)
Lwaxana (4)
Wesley (3)
Lefler (3)
Lore (2)
Traveler (1)
Ro (1)
Alexander (1)
Barclay (0)


Garak (10)
Weyoun (10)
Dukat (10)
Tain (9)
Martok (9)
Quark (9)
Odo (9)
Joseph (9)
Damar (8)
Ross (8)
Bashir (8)
O'Brien (8)
Yates (8)
Mila (8)
Kira (7)
Sisko (7)
Opaka (7)
Mora (7)
Gowron (7)
Ziyal (6)
Keiko (6)
Sloan (6)
Winn (5)
Molly (5)
Jadzia (5)
Rom (4)
Zek (4)
Shakaar (4)
Leeta (3)
Bareil (3)
She-Founder (3)
Nog (3)
Ezri (3)
Jake (2)
Ishka (2)
Prophets (1)
Brunt (1)
Eddington (1)
Pah-Wraiths (1)
Morn (1)
Vic (0)


Janeway (8)
Torres (8)
Pel (8)
Lt. Paris (7)
Adm. Paris (7)
Seven (7)
Tuvok (7)
Suder (7)
8472 (7)
Chakotay (6)
Doctor (6)
Seska (6)
Harkins (6)
Wildman (5)
Carey (5)
Vorik (5)
Ayala (5)
Icheb (4)
Braxton (4)
Zimmerman (3)
Kim (3)
Kes (3)
Neelix (3)
Troi (3)
Culluh (2)
Chaotica (2)
Naomi (1)
Barkley (1)
Queen (0)
Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 8:11am (UTC -6)
"I've never understood the Pulaski hate. I like Dr Crusher, sure, but Pulaski's a better doctor and a more interesting character, not to mention, Diana Muldaur can act circles around McFadden."

I think it comes down to her being Bones clone, and that's something many fans can't get over. Bit viewed on her own terms, I agree she's u much more interesting character than Crusher, not to mention that the actress is better too.
Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 10:04am (UTC -6)
"Actually, he had been abducted at that point, just no one had realised it yet."

Check the end of the show. LaForge says his sensor modification is what attracted the abductors' attention. He might be wrong, but Riker didn't immediately say, "But I had already lost sleep for 3 days and flinched at Crusher's examination *before* you modified the sensors." Therefore, the parsimonious explanation is that Braga fouled up again.

Speaking of that sensor modification, it's done by running "warp energy" through the "EPS mains" on deck 4, which is nowhere near the warp coils, main engineering, the deflector dish, or the sensors. And when a "massive" explosion is detected, a wall diagram flashes a red light on deck 10, not deck 4. Worse, though, is the most laughable moment of the episode: Worf and Crusher calmly stroll toward the emergency.

By the way, the reason for the sensor modification is to map a globular cluster more quickly. The crew complains that it would take 3 days to map 10% of it. Is their time so valuable that they can't spend 30 days exploring a "vast" region of space? As it is, the modification speeds up the process by 25%, though this can't be the first time more efficient scanning would've been useful on a starship. Hard to believe nobody ever tried it before.

"I've never understood the Pulaski hate."

From what I've read, fans loved Data, and when a new character established herself as a Data-hater, the fans hated her. Me, I liked the way she shook up the ensemble and was a little disappointed when Crusher reappeared in "Evolution."

"janeway, the doctor, seven, tuvok, give me a top 5 better"

I'll give you the Doctor, and I liked Tim Russ and even Jennifer Lien as actors, but none of the others are characters I'd want to spend time with. But this is entirely a matter of taste, as much as Elliott has tried to quantify it.
Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
voyager over DS9? really? well since I liked enterprise I guess all bets are off.

TNG was the best we can both agree on that :)
Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
All this pseudo-statistical ranking of characters... surely it's all just a matter of personal opinion? Voyager had a strong concept and good characters but all-too-often failed to utilise these, instead mostly becoming an alien-of-the-week action show with little in the way of a bigger picture. That said, it's still my second-favourite Trek series after DS9 and it delivered a lot of good episodes. But the neglect and underdevelopment of characters like Chakotay and Kim and the stasis/non-development of others like Tuvok, Neelix and ultimately Seven (as of S6/7) was a huge missed opportunity, as was the brushing under the carpet of the Starfleet/Maquis situation after the first season.
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 7:25pm (UTC -6)
This episode scared the shit out of me as a kid - that scene in the holodeck is absolutely, genuinely and really creepy, even now. As is the idea that Riker's arm has been removed and reattached while he slept... I agree the actual ending part was no-where near up to the creepy level of the holodeck recreation but still... yeah, a really freaky episode for sure =)

And whoever wrote Data's poetry is quite simply a genius, it's so perfect and funny XD
Thu, Aug 30, 2012, 3:43am (UTC -6)
Grumpy, Laforge had been working on that modification for some time. The test we saw on the show was his final success. It is reasonable to assume he made some less successful tests prior to that one which still may have alerted the aliens.
Sun, Feb 3, 2013, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
I laughed when Riker fell asleep and started snoring, and just like then the intro theme came up.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Loved Data's poetry, plus the whole concept was original and went beyond the forehead of the week type aliens... they also seemed a tad similar (at least in concept) to the aliens from fluidic space in VOY. Also good to see the TNG crew a little more helpless than usual rather than just breezing through. As usual though, a little more exploration of the implications of all of it (aliens abducting people to another universe etc.) would have been nice, but alas, I'm expecting too much
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 9:06pm (UTC -6)
This is one of those average episodes that I found entertaining but I didn't go gaga over it. Solid performances and I liked the red sunset poem. You can keep the ode to spot though
William B
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 11:19am (UTC -6)
I liked both of Data's poems very much. A real hoot, and I liked his later conversation with Geordi.

I have little to say about this one, but I like it and I agree with Jammer that the trick is that it makes a hoary plotline (alien abduction!) seem original by transposing it to the 24th century wherein unexpected alien abductions seem impossible. One thing about TNG is that for the most part, the ship itself, the insides of the ship, mostly feel safe. Sometimes the ship itself will be under threat of being destroyed, and sometimes away missions will lead to your death, but for the most part threats do not come from *within* the ship, and on the rare occasions that they do they're usually concentrated on one or two people. This episode suddenly makes the insides of the ship -- crew quarters, cargo bays -- feel dangerous and frightening and insecure, for the audience and the characters, in a way that is pretty new. And the idea that one can be abducted, experimented on, and come back having lost something -- time, bodily integrity -- and not realize it is really frightening. Somehow "your arm has been amputated and surgically reattached" is both funny and creepy in equal measures.

The centrepiece scene of the episode is the recreation of their experience on the holodeck. (I hasten to note that the two best scenes of the season so far are both on the holodeck, the other being Scotty's recreation of the Enterprise -- well, okay, "Ode to Spot" is a close third.) Talk about slowly mounting dread: there is nothing unusual or frightening about that first wooden table, but each change transforms the image until the scene ends with a metal examination table, a blinding spotlight surrounded by darkness, and unending loud clicking in the background. Creepy. (There is some cheating -- the computer's idea of what a metal table looks like pretty much makes the first metal table look far creepier than anything before -- but still.)

I like that Riker is the focus here (s6 is a very good season for Riker, I think, after a very poor season five), and that he volunteers and goes to experience that personal hell awake. There is no resolution in that room, and it's a tiny bit of a disappointment, though it's all pretty much worth it when one of the aliens comes by and its claw looks very much like the "scissors" on the metal swing-arm. And I like that the episode is allowed to end on a downbeat, mysterious note, with Riker rejecting Data's interpretation of the aliens as explorers, although Data might not be wrong about the motivations.

I think 3 stars sounds right to me.
Latex Zebra
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 7:31am (UTC -6)
I forgot to add. This was another episode that I recorded on its original UK air. Something I did with a few of the episodes before and after this one.
As a result I have seen it many times as my quality control was a lot worse when I was 16-17.
This will be airing on SyFy soon and I am (hillariously) recording the same run of episodes. Some like Realm of Fear I wont watch. I am looking forward to seeing this one again though.
Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
I like the way the episode built up the mystery of what's going on. It started out as just a day in the life of the Enterprise, just with Riker being a bit sleepy. And things seemed to go along well until some other weirdness. Really, it's not until Data has some missing time that we can be sure there's something technically wrong. I think Riker was a good choice for a main character here, he is essentially the everyman on the Enterprise. So if you're going to have someone abducted by aliens, it's best to make it the most relatable person available. It's kinda like how O'Brien ended up getting tortured so much on DS9.

Besides, for whatever other complaints one can make about Frakes' acting, he does a good job of being haggard and overwhelmed. Perhaps not quite as great a performance as in Frame of Mind, but I was impressed.

And yes, part of the greatness of the episode (well, goodness, I guess; it's not an instant classic or anything) is that we never really learn anything about the aliens. And in the end, the threat was great enough or at least disturbing enough that even these intrepid explorers and humanitarians wanted nothing to do with them. In Time's Arrow, I thought the ending of the Devidians was rather lame; that the Enterprise would just casually destroy the site without even trying to make contact with them was out of character. And yet here, it makes perfect sense.

This time it's personal. There was an abstract threat to Earth by the Devidians, but here there was a real, tangible threat to the Enterprise. And one that the crew seemed helpless against. It's interesting that the emotionless Data offered the suggestion that the aliens were simply explorers, and it was the guy who had his arm cut off and reattached who shot that down. Being so emotional about it may not be ideal, but it is perfectly understandable.

And even then, it's hard to argue with Riker. The Devidians were simply eating. It may not be fun for the prey, but at least they have a rational explanation for what they were doing. What about these aliens? Whatever the case, we know that doing such abductions and experimentations are immoral, so it would undoubtedly be harder to establish any meaningful relations with these creatures. And thus, making sure to cut them off entirely made perfect sense.

But even still, the ending made clear that not everything went back to normal. Riker was still greatly shaken up by events. There was still a rather unsettling feeling on board. They very nearly lost everything. And they still only managed to escape the aliens by the skin of their teeth. There was no time for introductions, no time to learn more. Instead, the aliens represented only fear of the unknown, and the Enterprise crew's survival instincts were all that was available. And that was to run away.

By the way, there does seem to be quite a bit of technobabble in this episode. Normally I don't mind it, but I did have to laugh when Crusher was giving Riker warm milk. "The heat activates the amino acids in the lactose". Psst, Bev, lactose is a sugar molecule, not a protein... that's elementary biochemistry. I don't mind rerouting power through the phase inducers to create an inverse tachyon pulse to negate the gravimetric waves... that's just magic words. Basic science is different and shouldn't be so wrong.
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 11:14pm (UTC -6)
I skipped this one on my recent rewatch (first since initial broadcasts and early reruns) because I had forgotten which episode it was. I did a bit of reading and realized this was the episode with 'the scene' and I watched it today.

I bring up my experience because I think it fits with my thoughts on the episode. As a whole, there's not a whole lot going on, and the script isn't anything special. But that one scene in the holodeck really sticks in the memory as something genuinely creepy, if you are willing to suspend disbelief just a bit.

I'd have a hard time giving a star-rating to something like this. The scene is a triumph of idea and atmosphere over character; the abductees feel like they could've been practically anybody. The rest of the episode is okay, but nothing great. The Ode to Spot was just lovely, but Geordi's conversation with Data feels like it belongs in an episode where character matters.

I'd waver between 2.5 and 3 stars myself.
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 3:35am (UTC -6)
The holodeck scene also annoyed me. If you told the computer to create a metal table, it should simply create a generic metal table. Instead what it created was far too specific and creepy. There is no way the computer should have been able to do that based on what they said unless as someone mentioned it was somehow reading their minds.
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
Such mind-reading is normal in our age of auto-complete. Clearly, the holodeck was showing the top result for the search string "metal table" -- which must mean a big chunk of the 1701-D crew are decorating holo-dungeons for some S&M R&R.
Fri, May 8, 2015, 8:39am (UTC -6)
While I loved Data's poetry at the beginning (it was both funny and well done), this episode was rather weak for me. I felt like I was watching "Communion," that supposedly true biographical pic where Christopher Walken plays a writer who keeps getting abducted by aliens. I just don't buy the whole alien abduction thing/experimentation thing -- whether it's happening now or in the 24th-century. It's a weak concept. I figure if their science is advanced enough to achieve faster-than-light or inter-dimensional travel, their medical imaging and diagnostic technology should also be advanced compared to ours. That it would actually be behind ours seems ridiculous. We have things like PET scans, fMRIs, and virtual colonoscopies with tiny cameras/transmitters that fit into a capsule you swallow, and yet aliens are stuck strapping people down and cutting them open and/or anally probing them...WHY?

Dr Crusher (and even McCoy a century earlier) cab simply wave a small instrument near someone's torso and know all they need to know about that person's physiology and bodily functions. Why do these aliens have to sever Riker's forearm and reattach it? Are they fascinated by human's extremities and skeletal structure? Despite their frog-like faces, they actually look quite like any other bipedal humanoid under those robes.

I was also suprised Picard did not try to establish communications with them. The default setting on TNG when encountering hostile aliens is to try to make peace, not destroy them with concentrated graviton bursts.
Fri, May 22, 2015, 1:59am (UTC -6)
Why is Picard leaning in so intimately with a woman during the poetry reading? I thought he didn't date on the ship.
Mon, Jul 20, 2015, 9:16am (UTC -6)
I found this a rather hohum episode 2 stars + 1/2 star because Data's poetry is the saving grace for the episode.
Riker's arm being cut off and reattached. How would aliens be able to do that instantly? Just veered off into improbability. I suspect fans of this episode were younger than I when they first saw it. The creep factor of the aliens seems like it would work better on a younger audience. I should add honorable mention for Frake's acting here, he nails it.
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
A little personal confession time....

Horror is not my genre. I just don't get the appeal most of the time - especially with the latest horror craze, zombies; but that's a discussion for another time). That isn't to say that there are no horror movies/TV shows that I like - John Carpenter's work (especially "Halloween" and "The Fog"), the 2009 movie "Orphan" and "The Silence of the Lambs" come to mind. But, on the whole, I just don't like being scared. I probably like those examples because, on the whole, I don't find them particularly scary - they're more like thrillers. I guess some people get a sense of an adrenaline rush from horror stories. But for me, they often leave me with a cold, clammy feeling that I really don't enjoy.

Add to that the fact that alien abduction stories have always (since the time I was a little kid) been something that hits all the right buttons for me, and "Schisms" has a hard road ahead of it to win my approval. (Side note - I don't know why alien abduction stories scare me so much, but they do. Seriously, for as long as I can remember, stories like this have scared the bejesus out of me. It's like they touch something almost primal in my psyche or something.) And I'll admit that this episode scares me. It scared the hell out of me as a kid (probably the only Trek episode or movie that manages to do that) and it still scared me when I watched it for this re-watch. After all these years, the scenes of the alien lab recreation on the holodeck and when we first see Riker and Ensign What's-Her-Name among the aliens themselves sent massive chills up my spine! As a result, I really don't think I can give this episode a positive score - because, dammit, I just don't like that feeling!

However, on a purely objective basis, I can see that this is a superbly crafted work of horror. The pacing, the use of light and shadow, the look of the aliens, even the music all work together to form a classic tale of suspense and slowly building tension. (Another side-note - people who say that the music in late TNG sucked without exception should seriously listen to this score again!) "Schisms" definitely achieves what it sets out to do - to be scary. It's just a shame that I tend to not like stories like that.

Okay, I'm feeling generous, so because it is so nice crafted I'll give it a positive score, but I can't justify it to myself going any higher than....

Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 8:01am (UTC -6)
I'm not 100% sure, but isn't there a new TNG book (or coming out soon) where Riker tries to find these same aliens and take 'em out?
Diamond Dave
Sat, Oct 3, 2015, 6:40am (UTC -6)
A very well constructed slow burner of an episode that just drops the ball at the end. It's a nice twist on the alien abduction theme that it's happening to the TNG crew. The fact that it is not given away to the audience leads to a nicely escalating sense of dread - the holodeck scene builds a tension and the revelation Riker's arm has been amputated and re-attached adds a genuinely creepy spin.

Unfortunately, the ending with the hooded shuffling aliens doesn't really fulfill the premise. It's just a standard countdown/escape conclusion. And while it's set up for the aliens to return, you can't help feeling that it's the last time we'll hear mention of them...

'Ode to Spot' is something of a classic as well - indeed the whole poetry scene - although you do wonder quite why it is in this episode. 3 stars.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 7:04am (UTC -6)
Watching this episode, it occurred to me that maybe someone should just program the computer to take note of crew disappearing absent a sanctioned explanation (transporter, shuttle). I mean really: crew are just vanishing from the ship (including bridge crew!!), the computer *knows about this* but doesn't mention it to anyone until specifically asked about it?
Wed, Jun 15, 2016, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
The technobabble in this episode is amazing.
Tue, Jun 21, 2016, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, but whoever came up with the design and costumes of the aliens should be fired. They looked and moved ridiculously. They looked like larger versions of the Jawas from Mel Brooks' Spaceballs. Laughable.
Thu, Jun 23, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
I was pretty young at the time, but I literally couldn't watch the holodeck recreation scene when I first saw it - it was so intense I had to change the channel.
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 1:49am (UTC -6)
I did like the recreation on the holodeck and later Rikers time in the alien lab, but this episode had way too much treknobabble. So much to the point that I became irritated and the payoff was deflating.
1.5 stars.

I dont buy into alien abduction. If they are smart enough to get here they are smart enough to talk to us.

They dont need to probe our bodies time and again like all the other movies and this episode implicate.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 12:33am (UTC -6)
Will have to disagree with the series ranking lists.

corrected it the following way :
-made a fixed list of 10 standard ship positions (captain, 1st officer, helm, operations, security, science, doctor, engineer, counceler, recreation)
-> I left out the position of communications and Ambasador, as few series have those.
-I added to this a list for each serie of 4 extra characters, 4 main enemy's/races, 1 special person and 1 main antagonist.
-for each of 5 series I tried to fill in each position the best and realistic possible.

That gave this :

Captain : Kirk
1st Officer : Number One
Chief Engineer : Scotty
Doctor : Bones
Security : Chekov
Helm : Sulu
Operations : Uhura
Science : Spock
Councelor : ?
Recreation : ?
Extra 1 : Janice
Extra 2 : Sarek
Extra 3 : Pike
Extra 4 : Chapel
Main Badguy : Khan
Enemy 1 : Klingons
Enemy 2 : Romulans
Enemy 3 : Computers (of various types)
Enemy 4 : ?
Interesting Person : god (at the center of the universe) /adonais

Captain : Picard
1st Officer : Riker
Chief Engineer : Geordi
Doctor : Crusher/Pulaski
Security : Tasha/Worf
Helm : Ro Laren
Operations : Data
Science : ?
Councelor : Deanna
Recreation : Guinan
Extra 1 : O'Brian
Extra 2 : Ogawa
Extra 3 : Lwaxana
Extra 4 : Barclay
Main Badguy : Lore
Enemy 1 : Borg
Enemy 2 : Romulans
Enemy 3 : Diplomacy (of various types)
Enemy 4 : ?
Interesting Person : Q

Captain : Janeway
1st Officer : chakotay
Chief Engineer : Torres
Doctor : The Doctor
Security : Tuvok
Helm : Paris
Operations : Kim
Science : Seven of 9
Councelor : ?
Recreation : Neelix
Extra 1 : Kes
Extra 2 : Icheb
Extra 3 : Seska
Extra 4 : Naomi
Main Badguy : Borg Queen
Enemy 1 : Kazon
Enemy 2 : Borg
Enemy 3 : Vidians
Enemy 4 : Species 8472
Interesting Person : The Caretaker

Captain : Sisko
1st Officer : Kira
Chief Engineer : ?
Doctor : Bashir
Security : Odo
Helm : Worf
Operations : O'Brian
Science : Jadzia
Councelor : Ezri
Recreation : Quark
Extra 1 : Weyoun
Extra 2 : Nog
Extra 3 : Gowron
Extra 4 : Jake
Main Badguy : Gul Dukat
Enemy 1 : Cardassians
Enemy 2 : Changelings
Enemy 3 : Vorta
Enemy 4 : Jem'Hadar
Interesting Person : The Profeths

Captain : Archer
1st Officer : ?
Chief Engineer : Trip
Doctor : Phlox
Security : Reed/Hayes
Helm : Mayweather
Operations : Sato
Science : T'Pol
Councelor : ?
Recreation : Chef
Extra 1 : Soval
Extra 2 : Degra
Extra 3 : Shran
Extra 4 : Silik
Main Badguy : Dolim
Enemy 1 : Xindi (5 races in 1)
Enemy 2 : Andorians
Enemy 3 : Sulliban
Enemy 4 : Sphere builders
Interesting Person : Daniels

Now I need to give points, Method 1 will rank characters per postion best-worse, and give the worse 1 point, the one above that 2, etc.

Captains : Picard < Janeway < Archer < Sisko < Kirk
1st Officer : Chakotay < Riker < Kira < Number one
Chief Engineer : Scotty < Trip < Geordi < Torres
Doctor : Doctor < Phlox < Bashir < Bones < Pulaski
Security : Odo < Tuvok < Reed < Worf(TNG) < Chekov
Helm : Paris < Worf(DS9) < Sulu < Mayweather < Ro
Operations : Data < O'Brian(DS9) < Kim < Sato < Uhura
Science : Spock < T'Pol < 7of9 < Jadzia
Councelor : Deanna < Ezri
Recreation Guinan < Quark < Nelix < Chef

based on these 10

VOY 30
DS9 25
TNG 23
STE 23
TOS 17

Meaning Voyager had the strongest "core crew" on average.

Now I will compensate for the quality of characters and add 0-5 points for each character

Captains : 5 Picard < 3 Janeway < 2 Archer < 2 Sisko < 1 Kirk
1st Officer : 3 Chakotay < 3 Riker < 2 Kira < 0 Number one
Chief Engineer : 5 Scotty < 2 Trip < 2 Geordi < 1 Torres
Doctor : 5 Doctor < 4 Phlox < 3 Bashir < 2 Bones < 1 Pulaski
Security : 4 Odo < 2 Tuvok < 2 Reed < 2 Worf(TNG) < 1 Chekov
Helm : 3 Paris < 3 Worf(DS9) < 1 Sulu < 1 Mayweather < 0 Ro
Operations : 5 Data < 4 O'Brian(DS9) < 1 Kim < 0 Sato < 0 Uhura
Science : 5 Spock < 3 T'Pol < 3 7of9 < 2 Jadzia
Councelor : 3 Deanna < 1 Ezri
Recreation 4 Guinan < 4 Quark < 3 Nelix < 0 Chef

With these corrected Numbers we get :

TNG 25
DS9 25
VOY 24
TOS 15
STE 14

So corrected for how much each character is apreciated, TNG, VOY and DS9 score even, but STE and TOS score a lot lower.

And now with the other 10 factors :

Now ranking the extra's and special people
Kes - Shran - Weyoun - O'brian(TNG) - Pike
Soval - Barclay - Gowron - Seska - Sarek
Silik - Lwaxana - Icheb - Jake - Janice
Nog - Degra - Naomi - Ogawa - Chapel
Gul Dukat < Borg Queen < Lore < Khan < Dolim
Borg(VOY) < Borg(TNG) < Xindi < Jem'Hadar < Klingons
Andorians < Cardassians < Diplomacy < Kazon < Computers
Sulliban < Vorta < Romulans (TNG) < Vidians < Romulans (TOS)
Changelings < Spiecies 8462 < Sphere builders
Q < Daniels < The Profeths < The caretaker < god

STE 37
DS9 34
TNG 30
VOY 30
TOS 10

here it is clear STE scores very well, what it lacks in it's core team, it makes up in interesting side characters, antagonists and storyarcs, TOS scores HORRIBLE in this regard.

Makes the total unbiasad score :

STE 60
VOY 60
DS9 59
TNG 53
TOS 27

All good, with STE and VOY as the best series, but TOS is utter crap.

And now the last 10 weighted for quality :

4 Kes - 4 Shran - 4 Weyoun - 2 O'brian(TNG) - 1 Pike
3 Soval - 2 Barclay - 2 Gowron - 1 Seska - 0 Sarek
3 Silik - 2 Lwaxana - 2 Icheb - 1 Jake - 0 Janice
2 Nog - 2 Degra - 1 Naomi - 0 Ogawa - 0 Chapel
4 Gul Dukat < 4 Borg Queen < 3 Lore < 3 Khan < 1 Dolim
4 Borg(VOY) < 4 Borg(TNG) < 3 Xindi < 2 Jem'Hadar < 1 Klingons
4 Andorians < 3 Cardassians < 2 Diplomacy < 2 Kazon < 0 Computers
3 Sulliban < 3 Vorta < 3 Romulans (TNG) < 2 Vidians < 1 Romulans (TOS)
3 Changelings < 2 Spiecies 8462 < 1 Sphere builders
5 Q < 3 Daniels < 1 The Profeths < 1 The caretaker < 0 god

That gives this outcome :

STE 27
DS9 25
TNG 23
VOY 23

Same order, but TOS sucks even more.

Now both weighted results together :
DS9 50
TNG 48
VOY 47
STE 41
TOS 21

Here DS9, TNG and VOY are clearly the best overal, with STE still good, but TOS utter crap.

-This is objectively ranked all.
If I give figures to how I Personally rank all series, it would be like :

TNG 50
STE 46
VOY 45
DS9 39
TOS 15

*so I seem to value DS9 a little lower than objective ranking would suggest, and STE a little higher.
Sun, Oct 2, 2016, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
The ending script to this episode was funny, I guess the writers kind of forgot that one of the crew members died during the episode?

"All Enterprise crew members are safe and accounted for..."

"Uh, captain, Lt. Hagler's actually dead. His blood turned into a liquid polymer."

"... oh, right. Well apart from him. It's not like he's Tasha Yar or anything!"
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 11:27pm (UTC -6)
First, have enjoyed reading these review and many of the comments. I've been quite surprised sometimes (both positively and negatively).

Decided to finally comment on something just because of the creepiness of the holodeck scene. For me, one of the most memorable scenes in all of Trek. Your opinion of that one scene pretty much makes or breaks the episode for you. If you couldn't suspend disbelief, then you don't like this episode. If you can, then its a really good one. Its just a little odd to see such a vehement argument about the computer knowing what the characters wanted too well....I mean, its a 47 minute episode, did you honestly think they were gonna spend ten minutes describing Worf's scissors to the Nth detail?

I remember being 13 years old watching this for the first time, and it happened to be fairly late at night. I was freaked out. It's still creepy over 20 years later.
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
If the Enterprise computer can keep track of crewmembers' presence in real-time, shouldn't the computer be programmed to immediately alert tactical if any of them go off the radar, rather than waiting until Worf asks "Are any crewmen missing?", with an ability to tell the computer "so-and-so beamed down on an authorized away mission, cancel alarm"? Seems to me that it would save a lot of trouble.

Not standout, but still a good episode and well worth 45 minutes. The atmosphere of the alien realm and the entire story concept was quite eerie, and in general I love "problem solving" episodes - I like watching the TNG crew put the pieces together to understand what's going on, and then craft a solution even if it is mired in quite a bit of arbitrary technobabble. Forget "Conspiracy", this ep deserved a sequel.
Jason R.
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 4:19am (UTC -6)
"If the Enterprise computer can keep track of crewmembers' presence in real-time, shouldn't the computer be programmed to immediately alert tactical if any of them go off the radar, rather than waiting until Worf asks "Are any crewmen missing?", with an ability to tell the computer "so-and-so beamed down on an authorized away mission, cancel alarm"? Seems to me that it would save a lot of trouble."

Thank you NCC for pointing that out!

Of course this leads to further uncomfortable questions, like why they don't just turn control of the ship over to the computer in the first place :)
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 4:13am (UTC -6)
I admit that Star Trek + classic alien abduction story is an interesting idea, but the execution falls flat. The episode totally lost me in the teaser and I had no idea what it was supposed to be about until 15 or 20 minutes in. The holodeck and alien science lab scenes were pretty spooky, but to get there I had to sit through uninspiring technobabble and some Data/Geordi scenes that didn't fit. The premise had potential and the acting was good, but ultimately 'Schisms' doesn't quite work for me.
Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 2:13am (UTC -6)
The episode lost you in the teaser? But it set up the major plotlines of Data reads poetry and Riker has sleep apnea. Soon after, Worf gets a haircut!

I tell ya, that was a pretty intense start to the episode!

(Yes, it got better)
Sisko Kid
Tue, Feb 21, 2017, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
This love for the execrable Voyager mystifies me. Best writing? DS9, hands down.
Wed, Feb 22, 2017, 6:17am (UTC -6)
Matt: "The episode lost you in the teaser? But it set up the major plotlines of Data reads poetry and Riker has sleep apnea. Soon after, Worf gets a haircut!"

You joke, but I think the nature of this opening--shipboard life, nothing too exciting happening--actually does provide a good pad for the developing weirdness.
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 11:54pm (UTC -6)
@ comments about Data and Pulaski (yeah I know I'm 5 years and 50 comments too late)

Pulaski didn't hate Data, though. Sure, she gave him a hard time (given her character's similarities to Bones' and Data's to Spock's she pretty much had to), but they were clearly friends and it was fun to see someone always putting him on his toes and challenging him. None of Data's other friendships had that nice back and forth, and it's not like he couldn't take a little ribbing (I don't recall her being actually mean to him at any point, either). I also liked her relationship with Picard, I could have totally bought it developing into romantic tension (personally I never saw any chemistry between Beverly and Picard).

Ok, the actual episode:

Why so many creepy episodes these last few seasons? Sure this one succeeded in being spooky but it always feels off to me when Star Trek tries to be The Twilight Zone. It's just so far from what they're usually off doing. Episodes like this just seem to clash with the worldview Trek usually puts on.

I did enjoy Data's poetry, especially the way he made sure to remind Riker to come. (I thought it was pretty brilliant, especially the first one that was probably describing an actual event (how many times in previous seasons did people ask Data to shut up in not so many words?), although the Spot one is a close second. I love little continuity nods like that, especially when they tie-in to character growth.) I wonder if anyone there was genuinely interested and didn't just come to avoid hurting his feelings, the whole room looked ready to fall asleep. I'm endlessly amused by the irony in that. I also enjoyed the scene where Geordi tries desperately to avoid hurting Data's non-feelings.

The rest of the episode, I'm not sure about. Like I said, I'm not sure how to take episodes like this.
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 9:55pm (UTC -6)
For people confused over Pulaski hate, it's simple. Pulaski was an incredibly lame attempt to replicate the McCoy / Spock dynamic, which never had even a small chance of working. Her naked contempt towards Data was just old and tired after the first episode of it. McCoy was the real deal and Spock gave as good as he got. Pulaski was 4 stripe bootleg Adidas, plain and simple. Meanwhile, Data had better things to do than trade barbs with a rabid harpy.

The only time I can recall liking anything Pulaski ever did was when in "Where Silence Has Lease" she got the willies from Nagilum copping major feels. That was fucking hilarious. Other than that, Pulaski was trash.

Poor Haskell. I suppose it would've been a bit too much to ask for Nagilum to squeeze Pulaski's Charmin and then kill her off, but he could've saved many viewers some unpleasantness by alternatively feeling up Haskell and killing off Pulaski.

Lol at those claiming their rankings are "objective." And in the same breath they're claiming Voyager > than TOS. Hilarious. I liked Voyager for what it was, but iMO Trek had been phoning it in since the latter seasons of TNG. It's all subjective so to each his own.
Wed, Jul 5, 2017, 9:54am (UTC -6)
Voyager Formula:

1. Encounter hostile alien.
2. Ship and/or crew get hijacked.
3. Janeway saves the day with a morally questionable decision.
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 12:41am (UTC -6)
3 solid stars. I always looked forward to seeing Brannon Braga pop up on screen as script writer

This was a good sci fi mystery show where attention to details stood out:
liked Data knowing not onboard ship because of warp field leaving resonance traces on his servo fluids
Liked Holodeck scene acknowledging all sorts of tables and those participating on reconstruction having to give specific details in order for holodeck to recreate it. And it not being a hundred percent accurate to what we see later
It was Smart Picard raising shields so no other crew people go missing even if didn't stop aliens from still taking people
Like counter agent idea to sedative with neural stimulant
Like idea of particles having random momentum so can't trace the point in subspace where the aliens are located
Liked idea of Geordi keeping tricorder scanning even if closed

intriguing whoa moments where aplenty--Riker laying down then seconds later Geordi giving him his wake up call, Geordi going to sickbay then Data acting like Geordi just left when 90 minutes had actually passed, Worf's odd reaction to the scissors, Riker having his arm amputated and surgically reattached was an unsettling moment

I also liked the incidental remark about Klingons having luxurious hair and Mott recommending a conditioning agent cause of exposure to harsh away team conditions. It wasn't a big deal or relevant to the plot but I always like moments that are so purely 24th century. And the Ode to Spot really required some true talent and thought. Brannon ought to be really proud of that

Expected these aliens to return possibly in season finale given the open ended way the hour concluded.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 8:46am (UTC -6)
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Troi's hair in this episode yet.

She didn't talk about having problems sleeping herself, but her 'do was quite the bedhead.
Thu, Aug 31, 2017, 9:08am (UTC -6)
If Majel were (properly) programmed to...engage! the (utterly obvious!!!) action of notifying the Captain when a crewmember inexplicably disappeared from the ship, then maybe we wouldn't have this great episode.

It's funny that, though the senior staff comprises a mere 0.7% of the true population of the ship, 60% of those kidnapped are senior staffers. Around those figures, one likely could extrapolate a healthy effect size, and calculate some convincing confidence intervals, to infer Abductor Intent.
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 3:54pm (UTC -6)
The best part about "Schisms" is the slowly building dread and the creepy/spooky nature of what is going on. But the build-up is too slow, there's way too much heavy technobabble, and the ending is very ho-hum.

I got a kick out of Data's poetry in the teaser which ends in a way the episode ends: it's just leaves you wondering what's going to happen next. In this case, we don't know anything about the aliens and if they can find another way to enter our universe in the future.

The holodeck scene was an interesting one in terms of building up the dread but how it goes from a wooden table to a metallic operating chair is ridiculous. But I liked the idea of these aliens (regardless of what they actually looked like) abducting crew members through some kind of portal -- decent sci-fi idea even if it is not original. Pretty good performance from Frakes here.

A strong 2 stars for "Schisms" -- 1st half hour went by too slowly, and ultimately it comes down to Riker rescuing a crewman and jumping through the portal amidst a stream of technobabble from Geordi/Picard and another engineer. Payoff didn't live up to the well-built hype, no clue what the aliens were doing with the surgery and why one crew member was killed. Left rather unsatisfied.
Fri, Nov 24, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Like most unanswered questions on TNG, the followup to this story can be found in Star Trek Online. They go into pretty good detail about the Solanegen based lifeforms, and who they work for.
Sun, Nov 26, 2017, 6:32am (UTC -6)
Four stars for me. I just watched this again in 2017. It's the creepiness which makes it enjoyable. Such as when Picard asks the computer if any of the crew is unaccounted for, or when the victims just together on the holodeck and recreate their experiences. Seeing Geordi's reactions in that scene make it believable. At one point he touches Riker because he's a little scared, then when they add the clicking, Geordi puts his ownhand over his mouth in horror. Those little touches go a long way. A sleepy Riker is fun to watch.

Unintentionally funny parts:
-In the group therapy session, there's a woman in the scene who was given some very bad lines, including "yeah, it was cold."
-In that same scene, Worf says "I had a similar reaction to a pair of scissors." It comes across as very unwarrior-like.
-Data walking into sickbay to announce he was not on the Enterprise for an hour. He just barges in and interrupts the conversation going on.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 8:07pm (UTC -6)
Having not watched 'Schisms' in a very long time, when i watched it again recently it was almost like watching a new episode of TNG and i appreciated that but the episode felt awkward and like the writers were just experimenting with a new idea.
I think the VGR episode 'Scientific Method' which had a similar theme was a better episode.
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 3:58am (UTC -6)
What in the name of Seven's brassiere was up with Troi's hair? Looks like she's wearing a bird's nest from the 1970s. And that's not a type of hair style, I mean an actual bird's nest.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Although I'd watched most of the first-run episodes in high school and college and nostalgically rewatched most through Netflix/Amazon the last couple of years, I believe I'd missed Schisms completely so watching it today was a real treat, especially as I'd assume any episode I'd missed to this point must have been awful.

I'd have to give this one 3.5 stars. The writing is excellent -- first, actually constructing two poems in strict meters that are so exactly what you would imagine Data writing is by no means a straightforward task. Second, the holodeck scene as many have pointed out is absolutely gripping in its building horror, both acted and directed to perfection, and in my opinion is one of the standout scenes of TNG. Worf's scene with Mot the Barber (an unexpected recurring character) was hilarious.

I thought Jonathan Frakes was outstanding, and as a fan of the much-maligned Marina Sirtis, her Counselor Troi more than held her own, especially in the holodeck scene. I'd also point out that I enjoyed what to me was an unspoken red herring -- Ensign Kaminer (I looked it up), the "newcomer" joining the ship's senior crew as a victim of the abductions. Think MacDuff in Conundrum. I kept waiting for her to tip her hand, because I remembered that she was also at the poetry reading -- seemed a little too much screen time for an unintroduced crewmember.

It's just unfortunate that Braga felt the need to end the episode with a race-against-time-or-enterprise-gets-destroyed plot device. It was really unnecessary, just as in last week's Relics. In Relics, can't we just enjoy the Dyson Sphere without the Enterprise nearly being liquidated by the stellar core? Here, can't we just enjoy the creepy aliens and mysterious abuctions (if you get my meaning) without the subspace field nearly causing a hull breach? And why isn't Picard ordering that the saucer section be jettisoned if the ship is really that close to being ripped to shreds?

But I've learned not to judge a TNG episode too harshly by the last five minutes, given the constraints of the genre. 3.5 stars for me.
Fri, May 25, 2018, 10:22am (UTC -6)
@ Ben

"I believe I'd missed Schisms completely so watching it today was a real treat, "

I remember years ago I was watching TNG (it used to air every weeknight at 7pm) and saw an episode I too must have somehow missed called Hero Worship. It was like finding a great 'Lost Episode' of your favorite show :D
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the above about the holodeck scene. It's truly frightening the way it goes from the known and safe - the holodeck on the Enterprise - to a laboratory for malevolent aliens. The leaps that the computer takes in designing a creepy table don't stand up to scrutiny, but that's a forgivable error in an otherwise flawless scene.

One aspect that I don't think has been mentioned yet is the, IMHO, very good use of Troi. She is the one who leads the investigation, from identifying the pattern of crew member's strange behavior, to heading the discussion in the conference room, to heading the scene in the holodeck. Instead of being a therapist for individuals, here we see her responsibilities to the general welfare of the crew.

Also nice, in general, is the fact that they're mapping a globular cluster. It's the kind of task that makes a very nice background, one which you would imagine a ship like the Enterprise would have in its regular rotation of duties.
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
@ Del_Duio

Concur absolutely. It's like having the feelings of nostalgia and discovery all rolled up into one! Puts a smile on my face when it turns out to be a good episode like this one.

@ LaSmelter

Yes I also found Troi to be excellent in this episode, and particularly in the holodeck scene where she really was a conduit for the increasing suspense.
Tue, Aug 21, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
"Schisms" deserves 2.5 stars -- it's a decent sci-fi episode with not too much wrong. Takes time to get going and there's loads of technobabble, but I like the idea and especially the creepy/eery atmosphere in the subspace alien realm was created effectively.

Frakes, in particular, puts in a really good Riker performance showing his irritation at the lack of sleep etc.

In the end, leaving the subspace aliens a mystery as their probe (or whatever) leaves the ship and is not traced is fine.
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 9:14am (UTC -6)
I saw this episode when it first aired, but I didn't hear most of it. I was very afraid of thunder as a child (still am to a certain degree), so I held my ears closed to block out the sound. In retrospect, thunder was the perfect background to such a wonderfully creepy episode.
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 12:19am (UTC -6)

"The holodeck scene also annoyed me. If you told the computer to create a metal table, it should simply create a generic metal table. Instead what it created was far too specific and creepy. There is no way the computer should have been able to do that based on what they said unless as someone mentioned it was somehow reading their minds."

It does sort of make sense since it's pulling from a database of real tables. Note that what they end up with is only an approximation of the real thing. They had asked for a table that was incline, metal, long, cold, smooth, etc, so that's what they got, a stock metal dentist/operating table from the list of 5000+ tables. It's not like there are dining tables or coffee tables that are inclined.

(although the real thing didn't actually end up being inclined, did it?)
Jer Jer
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 11:19am (UTC -6)
Another episode that doesn't make much sense.

And yet again, features Random Alien of the Week Never Seen Again.

What is all this with a different dimension or whatever the aliens live in? And they're sele-...sona-...technobabble something made-up based?...

Riker's arm was reattached 0.2 microns a kazillionth of an inch...just how sensitive are their scanners?
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
There was a neat spoof of grey alien abductions as a sidebar in an episode of Babylon 5 which is much more fun than this episode.

When the characters are in the holodeck they are joined by some random woman in a lounge suit who they all accept.
I was convinced she was an alien fooling with their minds.

Not so-she was -well -I have no idea who she was supposed to be-she was never explained.

There was the usual excess of technobabble in this episode .

Having moaned a bit this was an effectively scary story.
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 3:23am (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!


Would that be the short court scene where the great-something grandchild of a human was suing the great-something grandchild of (what was obviously) a gray for abducting his ancestor? Loved that :).

Oh, for everyone else, B5 reference. :)

Regards... RT
Sun, Apr 28, 2019, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
8/10 I liked this one. I didn't remember seeing it before although the clicks triggered a possible memory. It was the mood that was so successful. I also liked that a bit of uncertainty, potential risk was left over at the end instead of total clean up and successful domination by the Enterprise.
Daniel B
Fri, May 31, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
"Riker's arm was reattached 0.2 microns a kazillionth of an inch...just how sensitive are their scanners?"

If they weren't that sensitive and more, the transporter could never work.
Fri, Jun 7, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
I watched this episode when it first aired, I was probably about 6 years old. I really have a soft spot for this episode. It really creeped me out, and it is just an all around fun episode. I am probably in the minority but I really love when Star trek does horror. Some of my favorite scenes from Star trek: In Identity crisis, geordi is recreating the scene of the holodeck, and he discovers a shadow in the scence. Another is the scene I believe in phantasms where Beverly is in the morgue and the corpses are covered in sheets and sit upright. I also love the episode Sub Rosa. Great atmosphere. Genesis was a lot of fun as well, It was a dumb episode but it was fun and creepy to see the ship in such a disarray.
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
Bloody good one, this. My opinions pretty much fall in line with Jammer's review -- I certainly didn't expect an episode that began with Data's poetry recitals and a seemingly mundane sleepless Riker to build into genuine horror. The holodeck "table" scene was definitely a highlight, too -- I found it almost ridiculous to start out (ahh yes, the Enterprise crew collectively deciding how to construct a table, did someone misplace the IKEA instructions?) but grew into something far more sinister once it started to become clear exactly *what* kind of table they were remembering.

Not too often that TNG goes for this sort of tone. I loved it. The clicking in the alien room was a big part of the horror for me... and definitely helped offset any possible cheesiness from the design of the aliens.

also I love any appearance of the shi's barber, I want a haircut from him
Picard Maneuver
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
So many holodeck scenes completely miss the mark but this episode has one of the best scenes, and all it involves is a table in the middle of the room. I really like the holodeck being used for utilitarian purposes rather than for poorly written fantasy entertainment.
Fri, May 22, 2020, 12:54am (UTC -6)
Are we sure this isn't an episode of Voyager? It's just technobabble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble ...
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:45pm (UTC -6)
I love the absurdity of the sloped wooden table. They could've just shortened two of the legs of the last table, but instead they had a carpenter build this bespoke folly for all of five seconds of screen time. That then led to the even more jarring jump to the metal "table" after it.

I think what would've worked better is to start with the same conference table, then shorten it as shown, then change it to a metal table which would look like a typical stainless steel prep table in a commercial kitchen, then after discussion one of them would say "make this a medical exam table" at which point we get something more like what was shown. That's still kind of over-the-top, but at least the progression is more believable.

It is interesting that they fixated on the sloped part, because the tables we saw in the actual alien lab were flat. That doesn't mean they don't tilt or that some of the experiments that were done on the people didn't make them feel like they were inclined in some way, so I can give that a pass. Still, it led to the weird sloped wood table and crazy jump to the tricked out exam table. I'm glad that the actual tables looked quite a bit different than what they came up with on the holodeck, which helps with the realism.
Thu, Aug 20, 2020, 6:47pm (UTC -6)
I have watched Schisms twice now. My first viewing was about six weeks ago. Somewhere between viewing 1 and viewing 2, I developed an escalating dread of meaningless episodes.

This was an incredibly pretentious episode which purported to be about something, but which was actually of no significance. Suspension of disbelief failed at approximately minute 6. I started to cut paper dolls.

Pet peeve 1: about eight instances of the word 'array' occurred in the script.
Pet peeve 2: the main cast wanted to be somewhere else while filming the episode, and this included Patrick Stewart. Gates McFadden was visibly bored.

Apart from Data's poetry it was really an awful experience. Time to hit play on Angel 1 for some relief. 3/9.
James G
Wed, Sep 30, 2020, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
After an excellent run of episodes, a poor one. This really did not work for me. It occurred to me that this is probably the very last TNG episode you'd show to someone unfamiliar with the franchise.

It's just downright bizarre, and the conceit it's based on is a huge pile of technobabble nonsense.

It starts off with something that about half of all TNG episodes suffer from; Geordi or Data making a "modification" that the engineers who built and designed the warp engines, the sensors, the shields and the rest of it somehow never thought of.

Then the "anomaly"; this monstrously dangerous rift in the fabric of the universe that shouldn't exist (or whatever it is). Picard, Data, Geordi and the others stand there looking at it like it's a bit of mould on the bathroom wall.

How could Data be affected in the same way as the rest of the crew, when the aliens are apparently using some sort of neural sedative to render their victims unconscious?

The funniest part is the holodeck computer's hilariously specific response to "make this a metal table". It's as though about 20 minutes of the participants describing what they wanted was edited out. All it needed was "wait .. I remember now .. it was like a dentist's chair! Computer, make this a dentist's chair".

Speaking of the computer, why can't it raise an alarm when two crew members go unaccounted for, instead of waiting to be asked?

I was delighted to see two Philips head screws in the helm console, but I googled this and apparently they were removed in post-production from the original video. In the HD versions restored from film (I watched this on Netflix), they didn't bother.

The aliens were nicely creepy, I must say that.

I found myself hitting the rewind button quite a few times when I realised that I'd stopped listening to the dialogue. I stopped paying attention a few times. This one is just not engaging, it doesn't gel, it doesn't work.

i would award a small degree of credit for the conclusion though. Nice to see an episode end unresolved, in a way. The crew are safe, the danger has passed, but we don't end up knowing much about the other-universe aliens, and they're still out there.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
This was a bit of a roller coaster in terms of quality. The poetry scene was good fun; Troi perfectly conveys bored, polite patience that's waning with each second, while Picard has this goofy smile like he's getting a kick out of the whole situation. The follow-up conversation with Geordi was fun as well, as his answers to Data's probing become more monosyllabic and laced with awkward dread.

From here the episode started to lose me; the technobabble was coming hot and heavy and the stakes seemed awfully low. Riker can't sleep and he's grumpy! There's a weird spot on the wall in the cargo bay! Now they're arguing about whether a table was three or four feet high! Honestly I kinda zoned out for most of the holodeck scene until the clicking noises started. I like creepy Trek.

Wait, now we're talking about some kind of interdimensional organ-harvesting operation? "Your arm has been removed and reattached!" "WAT."

I like that Crusher's solution is to load Riker up with stims and send him over zooted out of his gourd so he can kick ass. The way he gets yoinked out of bed into the portal is worth a chuckle, like some kind of water-slide from hell.

The alien ship and the creepy clicking is a high point. Great atmosphere in this scene, slightly undermined by Riker's comical peeking. Riker yanks the cords out of Red Herring lady, one of the aliens notices and waddles over menacingly so Riker zaps his ass. Very cool, but I can't help but notice that there's four or five aliens at the start but in the last shot of Riker leaving they're all gone. Come on guys.

I like that there's not much explanation or follow-up on the aliens but I was taken aback by Picard's low-key reaction to the affair. "Perhaps they were simply curious" he says as Riker looks on in horror. Pretty blase reaction considering their "curiosity" included kidnapping, forced surgery and the murder of one of your crew, but okay.

I think I missed this ep the first time around. It definitely sags for awhile but there's a nice mix of funny and creepy stuff throughout.
Hotel bastardos
Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 6:13am (UTC -6)
Evil or amoral alien abductors? Hmmmmm.... Wonder who was on the receiving end of the obligatory anal probe then?
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Great premise, very well done in terms of atmosphere, somewhat lacking in payoff. People have mentioned the holodeck scene, which is the highlight of the episode, although even the payoff of that is weak. I’m still not sure what the contraption they built actually looks like. That scene - and others - could have used more closeup shots, more intimacy of what was going on with the aliens. Take the cargo bay incidents. The first breach of the cargo bay looked no more interesting than a glowing duct vent, and all we got was a shot of it from the floor. I like this episode but was left wanting more. ***.5/*****
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
I'd just rewatched this episode before going back to watch S5's "Cause and Effect", which I'd missed out somehow. The fun thing is that in "Schisms", Dr Crusher prescribes Picard's Aunt's recipe for warm milk ... which Picard himself gives her in "Cause and Effect" -- a nice bit of continuity I'd never have noticed otherwise.

I liked the conceit of the episode, which evoked the Freudian dream interpretation of Hitchcock's Spellbound ... but the Holodeck reconstruction's spookiness was completely undermined by the computer's ridiculous leaps of logic in moving from conference table to weird blocky inclined table to metal operating table. I know it was dealing with a database of only a few thousand "tables", but how the heck was that the obvious choice?

(The same problem cropped up again soon afterwards with its version of an "articulated arm" or whatever.)
Sisko’s Lost Hair
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 12:48am (UTC -6)
Fun episode. As many have commented, the holodeck scene is more than a little absurd, but I’m willing to give them a pass on the basis of budget concerns. It probably made little sense to spend a lot of money on various tables that would have ~1 sec of screen time apiece.

More interesting to me was the tone of this episode. Although it’s clearly derivative of alien-abduction stuff (also noted by many), I think it’s a good counterpoint to the typical Trekkian “let’s try to communicate!” friendship-first credo. It’s nice to see something truly alien, with hostile intentions that are not even comprehensible. What is the peace-loving Federation to do when faced with such beings? Interesting moral quandary. Of course, this theme is better treated in the Borg stories (though Voyager disappointingly blunted the mysterious edge of the Borg) than in this rather derivative bottle episode.

Regardless, I liked it. Wish Trek challenged itself a little more often.
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 9:15am (UTC -6)
I just finished watching this episode. Am I the only one that was weirded out by the aliens extremely long hands? They looked completely unusable. Also when they grabbed itemsz it literally looked like they picked them up with human hands under those long fingers. A little annoying to me when. They could have easily given them chameleon like hands and it would have looked better and been more functional for the actors. It kind of took me out of the scene a bit. Great episode other than that 😁
Ben D.
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
@ Beany (and others)

"The Holodeck reconstruction's spookiness was completely undermined by the computer's ridiculous leaps of logic in moving from conference table to weird blocky inclined table to metal operating table."

I think that the average TV audience of the time wouldn't really have noted or been bothered by the sudden "jump" to an extremely detailed metal operating table. Now that we have streaming services and all and can break everything down for discontinuities, these things do become more jarring but I think it's forgivable and outweighed by the mounting tension, general eeriness, and truly excellent acting (particularly by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis) during that scene.

I could also argue that when it comes to tables that are (1) rectangular, (2) built low to the ground, (3) inclined, and (4) metallic, how many types of such tables are there? I mean, do any of us encounter reclining metal tables in our daily lives? Or in the future -- have we seen any reclining metal tables onboard the Enterprise?

Rather, the only place we might see a table with that description is in a medical setting. I mean, this particular model not exactly the type I'd want to have surgery done on -- rather uncomfortable, to say the least. But you could argue that the Holodeck pulled the only table in its database that met these specifications: a medical/dental operating table from some period in human history.
Fri, Oct 15, 2021, 3:15am (UTC -6)
Buried in this episode is a great story. Unfortunately….

Too many bad moments. Like the holodeck scene where they were trying to create their memories.. they had ‘remembered’ a table (“lower, with an incline”) which was initially wooden (why? Why would the computer create a wooden table in a 24th Century starship?) but then “No, it was metal” so they asked the computer to make the table metal. So the computer creates a totally different table! Anyway, that scene dragged on as long as an ode from Data.

The usual overdose of technobabble.

The computer being asked “Are there any crew members unaccounted for?” and reporting that two were missing. WHAT? Crew members missing but there is no automated notification of that? The computer has to be asked?

Yet another new Ensign Helm. Sigh. Why didn’t they have a permanent replacement for Sulu?

A couple of good things though: the aliens’ clicking was genuinely scary (though their visual appearance of shuffling around like demented monks was frankly hilarious). And Troi’s new hairstyle and makeup - a great improvement.

Yes, the slow buildup was effective, and the unresolved ending pointing to a possible follow-up was.. interesting. But all in all I can’t give Schisms more than a strong 2 stars.
Wed, Nov 3, 2021, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
"I was delighted to see two Philips head screws in the helm console, but I googled this and apparently they were removed in post-production from the original video. " @ James G. September 30, 2020.

Nice catch . I'm aghast that such primitive hardware would even be on the set. Might as well show Picard making a necklace using paperclips and giving it to Data as a present. Star drive would have been way more believable. Star drive or hexalobular socket screw pattern (Torx) was apparently was even around at the time of TOS (1967) so should have been used for TNG fastening.
Papa Smurf
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 1:42am (UTC -6)
"The way he [Riker] gets yoinked out of bed into the portal is worth a chuckle, like some kind of water-slide from hell." - Sens-sors

Hahaha, that image of a water slide from hell made me laugh, thanks. I can now imagine some devils there with pitchforks.

Devils: "Go down the slide, Riker! Go down the slide! It's gonna be real fun!"

Riker: "Noooooooooo!"
Evil Sponge
Sat, Apr 23, 2022, 1:12am (UTC -6)
Glad I'm not the only one who thought Data's poetry was genuinely brilliant. I found myself annoyed that the crew weren't enjoying it, hilarious though it was.

I was more annoyed by the computer only having 5,000 table designs than the leap from wooden table to horror operating chair.
Sun, May 22, 2022, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
What in triple damn tarnation transpired with Troi's hair!?!?!?! Guuuuuuuurl, they did you naaaaaaaaaysty!

This was a cool episode, something different. Enjoyable. 3-1/2 stars, with the deduction on account of the ridiculously predictable and annoying deus ex machina resolution.
Balok Face
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
I don't think I'd want to be kept awake, just in case they decided to amputate and reattach my other arm. That would have made for an exciting (and gory) rescue scene though.
Tue, Oct 11, 2022, 12:39am (UTC -6)
Data’s ode was wrong - Spot, like all cats, was sentient.
Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 11:37pm (UTC -6)
I really like this episode. The slow burn, the mystery, the creepiness.

I didn't love the ending, but I've accepted the fact that 90% of Trek endings are a disappointment. That says a lot about how good the setups are though. 3 stars is about right.
Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 11:56pm (UTC -6)
It also cracks me up everytime I see Rikers show up with his hair all messed up.

And when Data is reciting his poetry he sits in the chair with his arms dangling because he doesn't know what else to do with them.
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 30, 2022, 7:38am (UTC -6)
"And when Data is reciting his poetry he sits in the chair with his arms dangling because he doesn't know what else to do with them."

When 900 times in front of a camera you are, look as good, you will not.
Sun, Jan 1, 2023, 2:27am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

I was more just pointing out the subtlety of Spiner paying heed to even small details, when it comes to how well he plays the role of an android.

I wasn't trying to toot my own horn. Just pointing out an amusing detail I saw while rewatching the episode.
Sun, Jan 1, 2023, 2:31am (UTC -6)
For the record this was always one of my favorite episodes. The ending wasn't great but the suspense and build up was well done.
Top Hat
Tue, Jan 31, 2023, 5:36am (UTC -6)
Doesn't this episode need one more scene at the end, showing Riker sleeping comfortable and thus echoing the teaser?
Fri, Nov 17, 2023, 8:21pm (UTC -6)
Dr Crusher: "Worf I'm still trying to find out what caused your memory loss."

Worf: "I still don't recall having a memory loss."

Top Hat
Sat, Nov 18, 2023, 7:13pm (UTC -6)
Those were lines back in “Lonely Among Us”

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