Star Trek: The Next Generation: Phantasms   Rewatch 
October 4, 2021 8:45 AM - Season 7, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The crew help Data investigate when his dream program suddenly begins generating nightmares which make him act strangely. Meanwhile, Captain Picard attempts to avoid attending a boring Starfleet banquet.

As Sigmund Freud said, dreams are the royal road to the knowledge of Memory Alpha.

Continuity
  • Data mentions he had discovered his ability to dream nine months before. This refers to the events of "Birthright, Part I".
  • Jenna D'Sora's gift to Data from "In Theory" can be seen on a shelf in Data's quarters.
  • Data's head prop from the episodes "Time's Arrow" and "Time's Arrow, Part II" was reused in this episode when one of the workmen decapitated him.
  • When Data goes through his Human ritual of getting into bed, his Sherlock Holmes outfit from "Elementary, Dear Data" can be seen hanging from his coat rack.
Reception
  • This is one of the few Star Trek episodes to be slightly edited for screening by the BBC in the UK: the scene in the turbolift when Data confronts Troi with a knife (which caused some upset among audiences in the US) was trimmed to remove the actual moment of stabbing. Syfy channel's UK airing of this episode to date still has this edit.
Poster's log:

Dream imagery is the new hotness this season - there are at least three other episodes coming up that include such imagery.

Geordi getting uncomfortable about Ensign Tyler's "enthusiasm" is a bit on-the-nose.

Spiner gets another chance to show how easy it is for him to be deadpan funny, between Data getting ready for bed and his descent from "Spot will need to be fed once a day" to "tell him he is a pretty cat, and a good cat". On the flip side, Worf and his love for mint frosting get the short end of the comedy stick.

This is the second of three appearances for Clyde Kusatsu's Vice Admiral Nakamura; he was first seen in "The Measure of a Man" and will re-appear in "All Good Things..."

I love the idea of Picard hovering around Engineering, hoping to find some busy work that will help get the ship running again.

Why would Picard know what a telephone ringer sounds like?

The faulty plasma conduit was manufactured on "Thanatos VII". In Greek mythology, Thanatos is the personification of Death.
posted by hanov3r (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why would Picard know what a telephone ringer sounds like?

Jean-Luc Picard may not have reason to know that but I bet Dixon Hill does!
posted by traveler_ at 9:07 AM on October 4 [10 favorites]


Mmm, cellular peptide cake with mint frosting.
posted by Kyol at 10:12 AM on October 4 [5 favorites]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Interphasic Plasma Creatures is easy, but a pretty unique effect if it gets through. Android Nightmares is stronger if it's in play. Brain Drain was reasonably popular, more or less turning off personnel with surgical precision. A handy IP Scanner will help you with all of these to some extent.

Later, the Holodeck Door extended on the utility of your holographic personnel, like say Sigmund Freud.

Second Edition brought back Sigmund Freud, Father of Psychoanalysis as a cheap skill filler. Cellular Peptide Cake grants you expensive, but repeatable, Event control. A Few Minor Difficulties is pretty much the only 2E card for countering ship equipment, sometimes worth throwing in for such purposes. Vascular Pad is also expensive, but preventing stops is pretty handy.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:19 AM on October 4


TROI CAKE

THIS IS THE ONE WITH TROI CAKE
posted by sixswitch at 11:05 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


This week's two-fer is obviously Perchance to Dream. Even though this is basically a sequel to Data's B-plot in "Birthright", it's got some strikingly disturbing imagery, with the fanged mouths opening on people's bodies and Troi literally being consumed by some of the people that she counsels (an elegant metaphor for burnout in the helping professions, I think). The bit with the mechanical-part-that-just-happens-to-look-like-a-scary-knife-and-functions-as-one-too is a reminder that, for all the usefulness that Data has demonstrated and all the trust put in him, he's still basically a black box as far as the majority of his programming goes.

Speaking of B plots, the whole thing with the admirals' ball (I wonder how many Badmirals showed up?) reminded me of Lower Decks' Command Conference afterparty; I wouldn't imagine Picard dodging that. And is La Forge's problem with Tyler's crush really that she reports to him, or that she's real and not a hologram?
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:10 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


This is also the episode where the "My android smartphone with unlimited data" meme originates. Truly one of the greatest puns to ever come from Star Trek.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:14 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


This season's theme seems to be "crew in active denial of mounting evidence that Data is a killbot". Since the opener, it's been:

Data: I enjoy killing.
Troi: Congratulations! You're developing emotions.
Data: *voluntarily runs off with Borg*
Riker: oh no! We've got to rescue our kidnapped friend!
Data: *captures and mocks crew*
Picard: we must discover what's happened to Data!
Data: *inserts murder wires into Geordi's brain
Geordi: woah, slow down, tiger! You might regret that later.
Data: I've been having confusing dreams.
Troi: achievement unlocked, buddy!
Data: Now my dreams are about decapitation and chopping up my therapist.
Troi: if you were human, that would sure be worrying!
Data: there is a telephone inside me. It tells me to kill, even when I am awake.
Geordi: wow, heavy. I wonder what it means.
Data: *literally stabs Troi*
Picard: perhaps you should take some time off.
Data: take care of my cat. It shits everywhere.
Worf: Ok.

Look, I love Data too, but botfriend is throwing up more red flags than the USSR right now and maybe an intervention is in order.

Also, it's interesting how unpredictable Picard's reaction to a new alien threat is. It's like he's carrying around a coin and heads is communication and coexistence and tails is just immediate genocide. Too bad for our interphasic friends this week, I guess!
posted by phooky at 1:00 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


I love Admiral Nakamura, because he's one of the handful of people who we see who get to talk down to Picard. And instead of of saying "Starfleet out" when he ends a transmission, he uses the much cooler "Nakamura out!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:06 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


It's like he's carrying around a coin and heads is communication and coexistence and tails is just immediate genocide.

It's not like they couldn't replicate a literal ton of cellular peptides. That reminds me of the fridge thought that I had about the first broadcast Trek episode, "The Man Trap": when the salt vampire sees that they have shakers of salt in the mess hall, why didn't it just steal that and stop killing people, or apologize for killing that one redshirt and ask if they could have like a ton of the stuff?
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:00 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Why do they have salt shakers on the Enterprise? Shouldn't the replicator produce perfectly salted food?
posted by wittgenstein at 2:22 PM on October 4


Why do they have salt shakers on the Enterprise? Shouldn't the replicator produce perfectly salted food?

Because the ship’s doctor might need them at some point.
posted by sixswitch at 2:30 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Seriously, though, they didn't have them in the original series.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:52 PM on October 4


cellular peptide cake

So, meatloaf with mint frosting?
posted by porpoise at 6:28 PM on October 4


Too bad for our interphasic friends this week, I guess!

In Picard's defense, they were really creepy and gross looking.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:57 PM on October 4


Such an uneven episode IMO. As hanov3r suggested, there's some actually funny bits with some not-even-close bits (all the Freud stuff, really); there's some strikingly bizarre dream imagery and some utterly unmemorable dream imagery. I guess, being about dreams, this one could have been a lot more boring.

Troi literally being consumed by some of the people that she counsels (an elegant metaphor for burnout in the helping professions, I think)

Ooh, that's good. Unintended, I'd bet, but now it's all I'll be able to think about in that scene. (Well, that and the "Don't Come Around Here No More" video.)

In Picard's defense, they were really creepy and gross looking.

Seems to be a consistent policy.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:07 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


they were really creepy and gross looking

Totes! Not graceful and delicate, like the verifiable mass-murdering Crystalline Entity. Now that I think of it, off the top of my head:

Okey-doke with Picard: Crystalline Entity, Borg
Immediate Murder Rays: nameless transphasic silverfish, Devidians from Time's Arrow

... huh.
posted by phooky at 7:15 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Immediate Murder Rays: nameless transphasic silverfish, Devidians from Time's Arrow

I hate silverfish, so I'm ok with Immediate Murder Rays for them. Also, IMRs for body-invading giant centipedes.
posted by hanov3r at 8:13 AM on October 5


Oh, and clones. Everyone was super on board with murdering baby clones!
posted by phooky at 9:32 AM on October 5


IMRs for the body-invading centipedes, because they were hegemonic; none for the Borg, even though they're hegemonic, because... humanoid? Sounds like there might be some what you might call morphism there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:31 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I always liked this one overall because the dream imagery reminds me so much of Arthur Tress's photography book from the late '60s/early '70s about kids' dreams and nightmares, The Dream Collector.

But this is the second time in a few weeks I have to say that yeah, the fact that this being is allowed to run around without a kill switch really starts to make you wonder about the Enterprise crew.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:49 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


That's a really striking collection of photographs, kitten kaboodle, and some of them are quite beautiful.

As far as Data goes, he does have a kill switch, but you have to be within melee range of him--a bad place if he's really gone berserk or running some trojan horse program--and it has occurred to me that it would be trivially easy for him to hide something in his uniform (like a molded piece of plastic) that would keep people from pressing it, if he didn't just insert it below his skin.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:21 AM on October 5


In phenomenological hypothesis of the writer's views on what is considered gross, in the vein of "In Picard's defense" - is everyone familiar with the theory that human experiences of disgust are an evolutionarily derived adaptation to avoid disease? Like, excrement, corpses, decaying matter - elicit disgust because of risk of catching ill-health from them. A human corpse may cause more "disgust" than a dead songbird because anthronotic disease is a greater risk than a chance zoonotic one.

Things Picard feels icked out are mainly biological and slimy and non-symmetrical. Stuff like the Crystalline Entity are the opposite of biological and may inspire fear, but not disgust.
posted by porpoise at 8:57 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Omg I hate dream episodes.
posted by skewed at 7:46 PM on October 6


To be fair to Picard, wasn't he all gung-ho for sending Hugh back to the Borg with the interstellar smallpox until Geordi convinced him that Hugh was a cool dude?
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:50 PM on October 7


until Geordi convinced him that Hugh was a cool dude

Guinan convinced Picard to go talk to Hugh, not Geordi.
posted by hanov3r at 2:52 PM on October 7


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