The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Schizoid Man

When the Enterprise receives word that renowned scientist Dr Ira Graves is seriously ill, they dispatch an away team with all due haste. But although there is nothing that can be done to save the ailing scientist’s body, he has come up with an unorthodox – and unethical – method of saving his consciousness, by transplanting it into Data.

It seems to be around this point that the writers have realised the popularity and possibilities of Data – in recent episodes we’ve had him play Sherlock Holmes, tussle with the concept of humour, and now Brent Spiner gets to stretch himself by playing not just one, but two personalities. Although the idea of transferring one’s consciousness to another body is a sci-fi staple, it’s done well enough here that we can forgive the excess of tropes and just treat it as an enjoyable outing.

Sci-fi bingo

  • Ageing scientist is a grumpy, self-centred chauvinist who believes himself superior to all around him.
  • Scientist’s assistant is a beautiful young woman who is secretly in love with her boss.
  • Scientist transfers his consciousness into a new body, plans to live forever with his assistant, whom he of course also secretly loved.
  • Assistant is horrified at the idea of having an android body of her own, rejects scientist.
  • Scientist does not realise strength of new body and accidentally hurts people.
  • In last five minutes of episode, scientist realises his mistake in stealing another’s body, and conveniently returns it.

Points of Note

First off, a couple of points from the last episode that I forgot to include:

  • Troi tells Riva that Picard is going to let her handle the peace talks instead. I hope she was just saying this to provoke Riva to action, because otherwise it’s essentially like asking your therapist to negotiate for peace in the Middle East.
  • Picard is seen studying a solar system orbital diagram that includes an impossible planet. Indeed, this planet’s orbit breaks Kepler’s law, which states that the orbit is an ellipse with the sun (or other star) at one of the two focii. So Picard is right to question what’s going on with it, and it also cements his character trait of enjoying toying with maths and physics puzzles. We’ll later find out that he enjoys trying to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem in his spare time.

Now back to this episode.

  • This episode introduces Vulcan Dr Selar, who would go on to be an important character in Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier series of novels.
  • Ira Graves lives on a planet named after him – Gravesworld. Did he get to name the planet? How renowned do you have to be to have an entire planet named after you? Is that not actually the planet’s official designation, but everyone calls it that to humour Graves?
  • Graves claims to have taught Data’s creator, Dr Soong, everything he knows about robotics, making him Data’s “grandpa”.
  • Clearly inspired by Commander Riker, Data tries wearing a beard. Troi is so amused that she can’t even hold back her laughter until she leaves Data’s quarters.

Summary – The Schizoid Man: “To know him, was to love him. And to love him, was to know him.”

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