Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Schizoid Man   Rewatch 
July 20, 2020 6:52 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Data learns that he's got more than a little bit of his grandfather in him.

To know Memory Alpha is to love Memory Alpha:

• This episode is based upon two separate premises. The first story, by Richard Manning and Hans Beimler was entitled "Core Dump" and concerned Ira Graves and how he transmitted his consciousness into Data. However, in this version, the crew was aware of this procedure ahead of time. The second by Tracy Tormé was entitled "Ménage". Tormé elaborated, "I had wanted to do a story about Data having hidden memories of the dead colonists from the planet he came from. A woman comes aboard who once had a triangular love affair with these two men from the colony. Their memories instantly come alive in Data whenever he sees her, and their personalities basically take him over. One was an Italian Don Juan-type, and the other was sort of an overzealous and very jealous kind of nerd, so Data would suddenly break into these personalities and become very jealous, possessive, amorous, or whatever, around this woman."

• In a scene removed from the script, Data was to have a bald head, mimicking Picard, after his Riker-esque beard proved unpopular.

• The teaser features a scene of Dr. Pulaski taking the turbolift on a corridor and arriving to the bridge in the same shot. This was achieved by the creative use of bluescreen, projecting the ship's corridor, then the bridge into the background when the turbolift doors close and open.

• This is the only TNG episode where a multi-person away team does not include at least one member who is 100% Human. The landing party consists of Data (android), Troi (half Betazoid), Selar (Vulcan), and Worf (Klingon).

• This episode marks the only on screen appearance of Dr. Selar (Suzie Plakson), a character who is referred to in numerous subsequent episodes of the series.

• This is the first of W. Morgan Sheppard's four appearances throughout the Star Trek franchise.


"When I stroke the beard thusly, do I not appear more intellectual?"
- Data, commenting on his beard to La Forge and Troi

"Do I have to stand here and be insulted?"
- Worf, incensed when Graves says Romulans and Klingons act a lot alike

"Doctor, what was your impression of Graves?"
"He seemed brilliant, egocentric, arrogant, chauvinistic."
- Picard and Selar

"He's not simply an android - he's a lifeform, entirely unique."
"Data is not Human! He's…!"
"He is different, yes! But that does not make him expendable or any less significant. No being is so important that he can usurp the rights of another! Now set him free!"
- Picard, imploring Graves to release his hold over Data


Poster's Log:
That bald Data scene would have been gold, Jerry! GOLD!

I think it was a mistake to merge those two original stories. Graves seems old enough to be Kareen's great-grandfather (adjusting for Trek-human aging), so when Data starts in on her, it adds ick to an episode that already had more than enough, thanks, what with Graves' interactions with Troi and Selar. Not to mention this our third case in a row of a horndog who the script obviously intends for us to like, but wherein the execution turns out, to put it diplomatically, uneven.

OTOH, yaaay, it's Suzie Plakson! We will see her again very soon, in her most important and best franchise role.

And go Picard, standing up for Data's rights so forcefully and persuasively. Not the first time we'll see that!

If you're worried about major spoilers for Star Trek: Picard season 1, go ahead and stop reading right here.

I forgot how skippable this episode is (probably because I've skipped it too often! heh); about the only worthwhile stuff here IMO, apart from Selar and some unusual little camera and SFX tricks, is the entire concept of immortality via android. And while it didn't get explored satisfyingly here, it will IIRC in the seventh season episode "Inheritance" (minor TNG spoilers at that link, of course) and probably in the next season of PIC, given what happened at the end of the first season (again: major PIC spoilers).

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Link to a Very Special episode of Greatest Gen for "Schizoid Man," in which (attn @StarkRoads) they open up some Trek CCG cards, with surprising consequences.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Graves must be a hell of a guy to get a planet named after him: Gravesworld. That's Gravesworld, not Arcuturus 9 or Orion Beta or something else Trek-like. Gravesworld. Sounds like a cemetery planet.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:50 AM on July 20


Something that occurred to me when I was watching this was that, like the running lists that mordax used to keep on VOY episodes, we could track how often TNG does an episode on some cranky old male scientist doing his science off on some remote planet or starbase, often with a younger woman in tow. We've already had Paul Manheim, Kurt Mandl (with more than one younger assistant), mentions of Dr. Soong (no assistants that I remember, although he did have a wife), plus Kosinski, and soon we'll get Bruce Maddox (speaking of PIC). The stereotype of the egotistical scientist with one assistant (or, at most, a few) seems to be pretty heavy so far; it's like VOY's obsession with ship boardings, or ENT's thing about Archer having to make a prison break. Of course, that's not really how the vast majority of science is done, and at least the next episode actually has a team working together.

Even if we hadn't seen this trope more than once already, I think that I would have gotten tired of Graves' act after about thirty seconds, with plenty more of the episode to go; what I was hoping for was for someone to point out to Graves-Data that he couldn't really justify his body snatching by referring to the "need" to perpetuate his unique genius, because he'd not even accomplished as much as his "protege" Soong: he hadn't created a physical receptacle for his consciousness himself. That's not-great planning. He was also kind of crap at faking being Data, which led to the episode's most enjoyable scene, where Graves-Data is eulogizing himself and the rest of the crew are side-eyeing him and each other. It almost makes up for the scenes with Graves-Data creeping on his sort-of foster daughter.

Well, at least we got Beardata.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


What was the deal with Dr. Selar? Were they auditioning her for a recurring role, to replace Dr. Pulaski? She has a strangely prominent role. And why didn't those scenes go to Diana Mulduar, she's only been on the show for six episodes? Seems like something was happening behind the scenes.

Anyway, I had no idea that Suzie Plakson played this role as well as K'ehylar, though she did seem oddly familiar.
posted by skewed at 8:46 AM on July 20


which led to the episode's most enjoyable scene, where Graves-Data is eulogizing himself and the rest of the crew are side-eyeing him and each other

"I can safely say, that to know him, was to love him. And to love him, was to know him...
Those who knew him, loved him, while those who did not know him, loved him from afar."

What was the deal with Dr. Selar? Were they auditioning her for a recurring role, to replace Dr. Pulaski? She has a strangely prominent role. And why didn't those scenes go to Diana Mulduar, she's only been on the show for six episodes?

Pulaski refuses to use the transporter. It's even a plot point in an upcoming episode.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:55 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


about the only worthwhile stuff here IMO

The most worthwhile moment in this episode is Data with a beard. Nearly everything else is just pure cringe.

Actually, Data with a beard is pretty cringe too, but at least it's meme-able.
posted by rocketman at 9:09 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


If I was supposed to feel conflicted about who should continue to exist between Data and Graves, it was not a difficult decision who to root for.

I had always assumed turbolift shots like that were done by rotating the turbolift car set and camera in unison, I didn't even consider a bluescreen. (Or I assume actually a greenscreen, since Pulaski is wearing medical blue)
posted by ckape at 9:46 AM on July 20


That Selar was never used again is a crime. I would have liked to have learned more about her.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:22 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


One was an Italian Don Juan-type, and the other was sort of an overzealous and very jealous kind of nerd, so Data would suddenly break into these personalities and become very jealous, possessive, amorous, or whatever, around this woman."

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Christ, Hollywood is such a perfect distillation of everything wrong with men. I remember haaaating this episode, the way I always hated those singular, exceptional men with young female assistants episodes. I can't even bring myself to watch any of them again, they just send me into a rage. But there's Suzie Plakson, and that almost makes up for it. As much as I dislike the Klingon stories, I loved her. I'd almost forgotten her in this one, because of the main plot.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:18 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


"Women aren't people" says Graves. "Women aren't people, they're women." I feel like that's TNG/Trek's misogynist writing/producing issues in a nutshell. Ugh.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:44 AM on July 20 [5 favorites]


I agree with the other posters that this episode was pretty bad. Ira Graves held no interest or empathy for me. I don't think I enjoyed much of anything about this one, except maybe the eulogy that others have pointed out. As I mentioned in my reintroduction post during our last discussion, I haven't watched these early seasons since they initially aired. With episodes like this, my mind wanders to wondering what I thought about Data as a young teen viewer when I first saw these. I imagine I liked him okay, although I don't think he was my favorite character.

I guess one thing I did think about while watching this is the problem of mortality versus infinity. As I have hit middle age and have one deceased parent and one aging and infirm parent, I try to meditate on mortality periodically to take some of the terror away. I did find it philosophically interesting when GravesData was proposing to make an android body for his assistant and she recoiled in horror. GravesData specifically proposed that they could view the death of the universe itself, living 'forever' as androids. And as I thought about it, I found it true that it's difficult, if not impossible, to wrap your head around either ceasing to exist entirely or existing into infinity. Neither one scales to human experience. From a story standpoint, maybe exploring that a bit further could have made it more plausible that Graves would eventually abandon Data's body.
posted by Slothrop at 11:46 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


The focus on these personality types is really annoying, and it contributes to routine, formulaic, and frankly dull quality that a lot of Trek has--something that ended up becoming overwhelming as they got toward the last couple seasons. I was impressed however, by how real and relevant some of Data's post-possession dialogue felt--Data slouching at his station, muttering about how he "detests hypocrisy" was so visceral I expected him to follow up with an explanation that his whole disagreement with Picard wasn't over Kareen at all, but rather about ethics in gaming journalism.

Although it wasn't executed particularly well, I still like that we get another resolution that isn't based on the good guys winning a physical confrontation.
posted by skewed at 12:12 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I remember haaaating this episode, the way I always hated those singular, exceptional men with young female assistants episodes.

Ira Graves held no interest or empathy for me.

Are we meant to identify with Ira Graves? Like, at all? I mean, I'm no huge fan of this episode (Data's beard aside), but I thought the whole point was that he's an unsympathetic ass and a capital v Villain.
posted by rocketman at 12:14 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Link to a Very Special episode of Greatest Gen for "Schizoid Man," in which (attn @StarkRoads) they open up some Trek CCG cards, with surprising consequences.
:) I think they were opening these, which aren't from the game but cool to see.

What was the deal with Dr. Selar?

They didn't want to show Ira Graves macking on Pulaski, who would be more age appropriate?

Star Trek CCG cards of the episode a-plenty:
Atmospheric Ionization and Near-Warp Transport, kinda meat and potatoes utility cards from Premiere. The initial set also featured Doctor Selar, whom you might throw into a deck with a lotta vulcans for mindmelding purposes.

1997's Q-Continuum set had a light 'androids' sub-theme, Ira Graves and Kareen Briannon arrived. Ira's Cybernetics skill let you play androids free, a fairly rare and useful skill. 12 Cunning was the highest in the game at the time, and implies that his intelligence is on par with a certain crewmember. It's also notable that Ira's male gaze is codified into the game mechanics of both cards. There's a pretty strong incentive to have them work together in-game.

The designers also liked the name Gravesworld so much they named the mission after it, instead of the more usual prosaic 'assist eccentric scientist' type of title.

Wesley's Card of the Day #351: Ira Graves, one player's widely-read viewpoint at the time of release.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:25 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Are we meant to identify with Ira Graves? Like, at all? I mean, I'm no huge fan of this episode (Data's beard aside), but I thought the whole point was that he's an unsympathetic ass and a capital v Villain.

I don't think the writers found him unsympathetic though. They gave him the Tragic Figure Arc rather than Capital V Villain Arc. And all the characters in-story go on about what a genius he is like it gives him a pass for his chauvinism. (Which seems like an apt reflection of Hollywood goings-on of the time.)
posted by oh yeah! at 12:40 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Graves must be a hell of a guy to get a planet named after him: Gravesworld. That's Gravesworld, not Arcuturus 9 or Orion Beta or something else Trek-like. Gravesworld.

Gravesworld! Gravesworld! Party time! Excellent!
posted by pykrete jungle at 1:35 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


I wonder if we’re supposed to get into the philosophical weeds here weighing the heart of the unfeeling machine vs the passionate man’s, but we’ve spent too much time with Data for there to be any question at all. Picard gets to say what we’re thinking, only more eloquently, and he’s apparently quite convincing.

This episode borrows it’s name from an episode of the avant garde 60s spy-fi show The Prisoner, and according to Memory Alpha they originally wanted Patrick McGoohan, the star and creator of The Prisoner, for the role of Graves. Glad they didn’t get him! I mean he’s great in everything but I’m happy I didn’t have to watch him being a total creep here (McGoohan was apparently offered the role of James Bond twice but turned it down because he didn’t approve of the way 007 treated women).
posted by rodlymight at 8:40 PM on July 20 [3 favorites]


Yeah, go McGoohan! I just now saw that McGoohan thing on MA while I was looking for any evidence that Graves was mentioned in any subsequent episodes, and I'm happy to report that he was not. Likewise, thank the maker that Soong didn't turn out to be another creep when we meet him—Soong ends up being an important character intermittently throughout this show, as well as in some episodes of ENT and in PIC's first season.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:48 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


All that Grandfather bluster seems particularly misplaced once you factor in the Soong episodes of Enterprise and find out that this family has been working on developing androids for generations.
posted by ckape at 7:57 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


There's a certain type of dude who really wants to be known as the father of [some important or allegedly important thing], rather than, say, the founder.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:12 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


« Older Movie: Day for Night...   |  Movie: A Mighty Wind... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments