Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…

Review of Episode 31: The Schizoid Man

Grandfather and grandson

Grandfather and grandson

Plot Synopsis:  An away team discovers the dying genius Dr. Ira Graves, who claims to be Data’s “grandfather.” After his death, Data begins acting in an inexplicably peculiar manner on board the Enterprise.

Plot A and B Analysis:  The teaser here is functional but nothing special. We learn that super-genius Ira Graves has some kind of medical emergency so they send the Federation flagship to check it out. Data’s beard is the best thing about it. Plot A has to do with Ira Graves and Data, there is no plot B. Right after we come back from commercial we learn a transport ship is in distress and they can’t stop for Graves. They do a near-warp transport and investigate, only to find out Graves is in the end stage of a terminal disease. Graves dies shortly, and following this Data starts acting increasingly odd. His behavior becomes more and more erratic, then more and more insubordinate as the crew realize that Graves has transferred his mind into Data. The ending isn’t particularly strong but it’s not a terribly bad one either.

Favorite Scenes:  Data’s beard baby! This is the one and only time you get to see it. I’ve always assumed he tried it because he was trying to impress Graves, not to emulate Riker. The eulogy that Data gives during the funeral is pretty good. W. Morgan Sheppard as Ira Graves is just great, and he steals every scene he is in. There are a ton of great lines, I’ll quote one or two here which I’ll probably get in trouble for:

Troi:  I thought you didn’t like people?

Graves:  Women aren’t people…they’re women!

Troi:  I’m Deanna Troi. It’s an honor to meet you Dr. Graves.

Graves:  Yes of course it is. This is one of the truly great moments of your life.

And later on…

Data:  You mentioned your impending death, grandpa. May I say you face it with remarkable courage and stoicism.

Graves:  Well that is because I’m an incredible man, possessing an iron will and nerves of steel; two traits that have helped me become the genius I am today, as well as the lady killer I was in days gone by.

Data:  You condone homicide, sir?

Graves:  It’s an expression, Data. It means I was once as beautiful as I am smart.

Data:  Really, grandpa?

Graves:  No, not really. But what the hell, I’m dying. I can remember my life any way I want!

One time only folks: Data with a beard!

One time only folks: Data with a beard!

Use of Cast/Characters: Picard is used pretty effectively in this episode, being the first person to figure out what’s happening, and it’s his arguments that convince Graves to let Data go. Riker doesn’t have much to do at all except suggest the ‘near-warp transport.’ Data is the centerpiece of the second half of the episode, and he does a really good job, though I don’t really care for how he tends to play Graves as a little petulant and childish toward the end. Worf doesn’t do much and neither does Wes here. Pulaski has a few lines and she manages to not screw them up. Troi gets some face time here, sensing an emotional presence in Data and being the one to suggest something might be off with his mind, not his body. Geordi has little to do other than chuckle in the teaser and later on do some tests that don’t go anywhere. The real star of the episode is W. Morgan Sheppard as Ira Graves. He comes across as larger than life, fun to watch and he established a good character in only the first 16 minutes of the episode. I frankly wish more guest stars were like him. Barbara Alyn Woods does a reasonably good job of portraying Kareen as a doe-eyed innocent.

Blu Ray Version:  The world in this episode is really pretty, especially the rings. It has started to redeem my faith in this season’s planets until I saw the one at the end, which is downright ugly. Look at the registry on the Enterprise‘s side at 17:41, you’ll notice it’s reversed. At around 43:28 when we see the computer housing Grave’s intelligence there was originally another reference to Dirty Pair, with Kei (Yu/Ri). This was changed for the remaster. Unfortunately a noticeable error was committed by the guys at HTV Illuminate, the company in charge of the Blu Ray restoration for season 2. At the end of the episode (around 44:34) you’ll see that as the Enterprise leaves orbit, it’s prematurely cut off before it leaves the frame.

Nitpicks:  Okay, the title of this episode is another ridiculous one that makes no sense. Why send the Federation flagship to some dude that’s dying? Unless it happened to be the closest there’s no good reason. “The greatest human mind in the universe.” The whole universe huh? Not the galaxy, but the whole shebang. I’ve also never understood why they had to do a near-warp transport. Why don’t they just take an extra five seconds, transport down, then go back to warp? It’s not like you’re going to lose any time. And I know this is a nitpick, but why would Picard bring Kareen on the bridge just to see stars which she was seeing just as well from Ten Forward? The bridge should be a secure area, the Enterprise isn’t a cruise ship, grumble grumble…

Overall Impression:  It’s an alright episode. It’s not great and it’s not terrible, it’s one that I don’t go out of my way to watch, but if it’s on I’ll probably catch it, particularly the first part of the episode. In this entry we visit for the second time whether or not Data is alive, and these little hints will bear fruit later in the season, with a full episode dedicated to the subject. This episode has its flaws but to me it’s evidence that Star Trek is starting to find more of its footing. There’s no feel of the original series here and while the ending isn’t the best, the ride to get there is reasonably smooth. I rate this episode 2.5 out of 5 stars.

To know him is to love him is to know him!

To know him is to love him is to know him!

Behind the Scenes/Trivia:  This was the 31st episode aired, but the 30th one made. Alright, first of all the title. So, as a psychotherapist myself I can shed a little light and say that schizoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation. They typically appear aloof and detached, avoid social activities that involve any emotional intimacy and don’t want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members. If Graves were my patient he would not be diagnosable with it given his desire for Kareen and his outright jealousy of Picard regarding her. That’s my two cents. It turns out the title was originally taken from an episode of The Prisoner, because the star of that show was originally supposed to play Graves.

That quote that Picard has is one from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In a scene that was removed, at the end of the episode Data was supposed to have a bald head like Picard since the Riker-like beard didn’t work. Thank goodness they took that out. Since this is also the trivia section, this is the only TNG episode where nobody on the away team is 100% human–think about it. And remember the Vulcan Dr. Solar because the actress playing her, Suzie Plakson, goes on to play Worf’s Klingon love interest K’Ehleyr later in this very same season! She’ll go on to appear in a few more Trek episodes and have a decent movie career too. If you keep track of these things Barbara Alyn Woods went on to play on the TV show Honey I Shrunk the Kids and later on One Tree Hill as Nathan’s mother. Finally, if you want a shot-by-shot reveal of all the images Data/Graves sees during the psychologist test Deanna administers, click here.

Missable/Unmissable?  Missable, but fairly enjoyable to watch due to the character of Graves and Spiner’s performance. The next episode is pretty terrible, wow the second season is not off to a great start.

Previous:  Loud as a Whisper                                Season Two Menu                           Next:  Unnatural Selection

2 thoughts on “Review of Episode 31: The Schizoid Man

  1. i recall hating graves. I know thats harsh. mostly his character, and his acting. but oh well.

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