The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Schisms

Something ‘s not right aboard the Enterprise. Commander Riker is constantly exhausted, no matter how much he sleeps. Worf flinches at the sight of a pair of scissors. A mysterious anomaly has formed in the cargo bay. Could all these things be connected – and can the senior crew figure out who – or what – behind it all?

TNG has tried to do horror before, and you may recall how my complaint was that it was never as dark as it could be. Well, this episode is actually pretty dark, but as it turns out, that’s not a guarantee of quality.

To be fair, I enjoyed this episode more on second viewing than I did first time around, but whilst it gets points for effort, the finished product isn’t great. The very nature of subspace is changed just for the sake of this one storyline, the build-up is arguably too creepy for a family show, and the ending not only shoehorns a massive amount of explanation into the last five minutes, but leaves this storyline open even though we know that it will never be touched on again.

Creepy or what?

  • Commander Riker has his arm severed and then reattached – and must live with that knowledge for the rest of his life.
  • One crewman has all the blood in his body turned into a liquid polymer.

Other points of note

  • I know I’m supposed to hate it, but actually I’ve always liked Data’s Ode to Spot.
  • Once again, gravimetric interference affects the Enterprise’s sensors. No wonder Geordi wanted to upgrade them.
  • Up until now, subspace has just been a convenience to explain how faster-than-light communications between the Enterprise and other Federation assets is possible. Now it becomes an infinitely deep set of alternate realities, some of which contain life.
  • Despite living in subspace and being unable to even survive in a Class-M atmosphere, the solanagen-based aliens are still humanoid.
  • When Worf and the others are reconstructing the alien examination table on the holodeck, the computer frequently adds more to the table than requested – but still manages to get it exactly right!
  • Who is the random person sitting next to Picard at the poetry recital? Is she a previously unmentioned close friend of Data’s, or just a poetry fanatic?
  • Why doesn’t the ship’s computer report when Riker and the others are unexpectedly taken off the Enterprise? This seems like a sensible thing to do for duty of care reasons. What if someone was beamed onto a cloaked Romulan ship, fell through an open hatch into space, or even deliberately tried to go AWOL?

Summary – Schisms: “This is pretty horrifying for what’s supposed to be a family show.”

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