2/18/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Schizoid Man"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S02E06
Air Date: January 23, 1989
Written by: Tracy Tormé, Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Les Landau

Premise
Data starts acting strange after a crazy old man told him he was able to transfer himself into a computer. What could it possibly be??

Review
Dr. Ira Graves is a specialist in cybernetic technology. He was once the mentor of one Dr. Noonian Soong, creator of Data, and, as such, claims to be a "grandfather" to Data, which makes him the only male in the Soong "family" not played by Brent Spiner. In any case, his assistant sent out a distress call which the Enterprise picked up, but they also picked up a call from the USS Constantinople. In order to assist both parties, they drop off an away team at near warp on Gravesworld (that's right, he named it after himself) and the ship moves on to the Constantinople. So now Data, Troi, Worf and Dr. Selar are stuck on Gravesworld to help him while they wait for the Enterprise to come back. Stuck on a planet with a schizoid man; what could possibly go wrong?

Turns out the distress call was sent because Graves was getting paranoid even though it's just him and his assistant on the entire planet. His assistant says, however, that Graves's health is deteriorating rapidly. Indeed, he looks like he hanging on to the last bare threads of life. Dr. Selar diagnoses him with Darnay's disease and only has a little while left to live. So while they await his death, Data establishes a rapport with him and they talk about various things including the fact that he's found a way to transfer his consciousness into a computer. When the Enterprise returns and Data shows up pronouncing Graves's death, this fact is not brought up.
"I swear he's dead and I never let him inside me."
So let the mourning begin! Back on the ship, "Data" acts weird. He starts getting a little emotional and using more florid language. He even starts getting jealous when he perceives that Picard is taking more than a passing interest in Graves's assistant. When they dress Graves up like one of the giant heads in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and hold a memorial service for him, "Data" stands and gives him a very personal and eloquent eulogy before they beam him out into space. Everyone notices that Data is acting strange, but they can't figure out why. Geordi runs some tests on him and the tests turn out fine. Then Troi tries to analyze him and finds that he seems to have two personalities, one that is lying dormant.

Picard finally figures it out and asks the computer where Data is. Despite being ordered to his quarters, the computer finds Data in 10-Forward. There, he is confessing his love to Graves's assistant as well as confessing that he is, in fact, graves. He offers the assistant the chance to build her an android body so they can both live forever! Or for as long as their power sources last. She declines, however, so Data storms off in a huff toward engineering.
Trust no bitch.
Picard finds Graves/Data in engineering and they have a little chat about how what he's doing is wrong. Graves/Data warns Picard not to come up to his level, but Picard does so anyway. He finds Geordi lying on the ground, presumably knocked unconscious by Graves who doesn't know Data's own strength. Picard informs him that he has also injured the assistant by accidentally breaking her hand. He's clearly not ready for an android body and should just let go. Graves/Data then gets angry and hits Picard, knocking him unconscious, but this time Graves/Data is disturbed by the fact that he still doesn't know his own strength.

When Picard wakes back up, he tracks Data down to his quarters along with Worf, Geordi and the assistant and finds him laying on the floor. After Geordi takes a look at him, Data wakes up and and asks why he's laying on the floor looking up and concerned faces. Picard is actually relieved when Data starts acting like himself and taking things too literally again. But then the assistant looks at Data's computer console and recognizes the images and text flashing on it. Dr. Ira Graves as dumped all his knowledge into Data's computer and left Data to be himself.
The newest innovation from Microsoft and Graves Industries: Ira Glass.
Data doesn't remember anything that he did while Graves inhabited him, so Riker jokes with him that he got in a fight with a Klingon targ. Data then asks the only question that really matters: "Did I win?"

Overall Thoughts
This is a pretty great episode and I'm sure Brent Spiner appreciated the chance to act as someone else for a change. Data is a great character, to be sure, but I'm certain Brent likes to emote every now and then. It's an episode that delves into the character of Ira Graves while simultaneously showcasing Brent Spiner's acting abilities. Again, if you like The Next Generation and don't like Data, what kind of Trekkie are you?