TNG Episode 2.06 – The Schizoid Man

In which it becomes ever more clear that Data comes from a family of assholes. (Not you Juliana. You’re okay as far as I can tell.)

Memory Alpha says: An away team discovers the dying Doctor Ira Graves, who claims to be Data’s “grandfather.”  (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Okay, getting back into this thing. Usually when I cover a Datasode, I am inspired to write out a full summary with commentary interspersed, but I am still rusty and so I’ll just use bullet-point form today.

Is this the first episode in which Data is possessed? I want to say yes. He does seem to be unusually prone to it, no doubt partly because Brent Spiner is good at acting out multiple personalities and so writers enjoyed giving him that to do. So anyway, establishing/reinforcing a trend, and also reinforcing the ‘Tin Man’ cracks at his expense. (On the other hand, the actual Tin Man of Oz is not, strictly speaking, an artificial man or robot – he started life as a Munchkin whose body parts have been entirely replaced by tin prosthetics, so that he is in effect a sock made up of darns with none of the original fabric left. You could have a nice long nerdy chat about who Data most closely resembles, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and/or Tik-Tok. Baum certainly found this character type interesting enough to create multiple variations on it; I haven’t mentioned Jack Pumpkinhead or the Flying Gump or Scraps the Patchwork Girl.)

I also like the fact that, even in the 24th Century, people still know songs from the movie version of Oz. It reminds me of how much I like the ending of Hyperion, where the group of travellers go off to face the – what was it called? Shrike? the mean pointy thing, anyway – singing ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard,’ which they know as an old folk-song.

Now LET’S GET CRACKING.

  • This episode starts with a narration from Pulaski, which is sure to irritate some people, but at least Diana Muldaur gets to look all queenly strolling down the corridor and going to the bridge in a technically interesting little shot using bluescreen.
  • So the greatest human mind, instead of collaborating with others, lives on his own little planet at the ass end of the galaxy devoting himself to ‘research.’ Into what? (As we shall later see, being a misogynist and a narcissist.)
  • He calls his planet Graves World. I think I prefer Wayne’s.
  • He researches ‘molecular cybernetics.’ Now that sounds really interesting, except what is it for? Making very tiny little Datas? Oh, adorable!
  • I can’t remember whether I’ve already mentioned it on Tumblr or LJ or in a draft of this review that I attempted and trashed while depressed, but I like Pulaski’s variant uniform, and the headcanon it gives me that she enlisted, looked at the Lycra onesie, laughed good and hard, and told the quartermaster ‘No.’
  • Not much needs to be said about this deservedly famous scene except that I find it particularly adorable that Data wanted not only his best pal Geordi, but Deanna to be the first to see his fine, full, dignified beard. On one hand, I think Data tends to see Deanna as his mother-figure, the woman to whom he most looks up and on whom he most depends to help him make sense of the world. On the other, is he trying to impress her by adopting Riker’s facial hairstyle?
  • ‘Did you damage your face, Data?’ Geordi is a terrible person to unveil a new look to. On the other hand, he can’t see for shit, as demonstrated in ‘Heart of Glory,’ so he probably can’t even make out the beard through Data’s android razzle-dazzle. I’m writing this review while colouring my hair (the dye is developing under a disposable shower cap) so perhaps I’m feeling a bit sensitive on this point. It’s going to be brown! A fine, full, dignified brown!
  • It also makes me giggle that Data apparently thinks he needs to appear more intellectual.
  • She had pretty hair!
  • Wesley’s grey uniform is so, so boring. It hurts my heart a little that he went from rainbows and Cosby sweaters to this. Let your fashion flag fly, Wesley. You have a made-up job anyway.
  • THE NEEDS OF THE MANY OUTWEIGH THE NEEDS OF THE FEW.
  • Fortunately Riker is a cleverpants with a long-range transport suggestion.
  • Lieutenant Selar has Dr Pulaski’s complete confidence, and is played by the same actress as Worf’s baby mama K’Ehleyr. Based purely on her one appearance in this episode, I really like Selar and wish we had seen more of her.
  • As Data enters the transporter room, he is rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, as if noticing an odd texture between them. What was that about?
  • YOU’LL SEE, COUNSELOR. You’re going to end up with your boobs on your back. We’re not going to tell you anything helpful!
  • MA points out that this was the only landing party in TNG that included no humans (well, Deanna is a half-blood princess, but we’ll let that slide). Which I guess is sort of neat to know.
  • So how emotionally abusive, exactly, is Graves’ relationship with Kareen, that she was afraid to let him know she’d called 911 because she was worried about his health?
  • So first Graves calls Selar not a person, because she’s a doctor, then adds, as if she should be flattered, that she’s ‘not a bad-looking woman.’ Selar, fortunately, looks at him as if he’s a bug.
  • The line ‘Women aren’t people – they’re women’ accompanied by a kiss on Deanna’s hand is just… ugh. Yes, in context, Graves is saying that women are an exception to his rule of ‘I don’t like people,’ but he’s still a misogynist, just the kind that tries to cloak his misogyny with a show of chivalry. Deanna is polite to him, but fortunately she doesn’t appear charmed.
  • Jesus Christ. The research assistant of the greatest human scientist is asking Worf if he’s a Romulan. How sheltered or dumb is Kareen supposed to be? Apart from anything else, images of Klingons have surely been in the Federation’s news media for at least two hundred years. And when Kirk’s Enterprise discovered that Romulans look almost identical to Vulcans, do you really expect me to believe that wasn’t a huge news story at the time, and wouldn’t be in standard history textbooks by now? And a Vulcan is in the room with Kareen. This is such bad writing.
  • Now my timer has just dinged, so excuse me while I rinse the dye from my hair and return to you a lovely brunette. Assuming the colour hasn’t gone horribly wrong and turned green, like when Anne of Green Gables tried to dye her hair black like her bosom friend Diana’s.
  • I think it’s a week later and I’m picking this up again? I’m sorry. Things have been shitty. It doesn’t make any sense that, when I miss my TNG ‘friends’ so much, I can’t muster the gumption to ‘spend time with them.’
  • Selar looks so cool. If another Trek series gets made, I’d like her to be whatever ship’s CMO.
  • Kareen’s hair is insanely curly at the back. I can’t figure out how it’s held together.
  • So Graves has deliberately kept Kareen in ignorance of basic Federation Social Studies?
  • I really like the fact that, as Graves approaches Data, in the background behind them is a small robot (not, apparently, active/alive). I suppose we might consider that robot one of Data’s aunts or uncles?
  • So Graves shushes Data when he tries to introduce himself, feels his neck without permission (I’m not even sure why) and tells him he has ‘absolutely no aesthetic value whatsoever.’ a) WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING, b) I’m remembering why this episode is not actually much fun, and why I feel it belongs in a box together with ‘Too Short a Season’ – the central character of the episode, the one who drives its plot, is not a member of Our Crew, but Graves, who we have no reason to care about and who isn’t even likeable. He is such an ass I don’t know how he avoided being made an admiral.
  • I really like how Selar is stealth-examining Graves. God, the melodramatic music as she tells him he’s terminally ill, and the soppy look he gives Kareen. If I were Kareen I’d be relieved (although guilty about the relief) he would be dead soon.
  • Right! That pointless diversion for the Enterprise is over, so they’re heading back to ‘Graves World.’
  • I will give Graves this one thing: he whistles ‘If I Only Had a Brain/Heart/The Noive’ very well.
  • DATA. If you don’t recognise that tune your cultural education has been DEFICIENT.
  • Hey twatface. The Tin Man A) isn’t mechanical, he’s just hollow tin, and b) doesn’t wish to be human, he just wishes to have feelings. He does NOT find out he is ‘human after all,’ in the book OR the film. I oughtta clonk you over the head with his testimonial.
  • I should be grateful to Graves, I suppose, for highlighting the Tin Man parallels, but he’s SO UNPLEASANT. I mean, they even work with the theory I subscribe to that Data does have nascent feelings but doesn’t recognise them as such because they are not what he expects feelings to be. BUT HE’S SO UNPLEASANT. At any rate, the Tin Man seems more dignified a comparison than Pinocchio.
  • Oh fuck off with your pity, you nasty old man. Data’s existence is perfectly worthwhile as it is and I hope you die soon.
  • YOU ARE NOT MUCH ALIKE. DATA IS A NICE PERSON.
  • Deanna now does something that strikes me as incredibly tactless and creepy. First, she tells Kareen that Graves’ feelings towards her are very warm, which is okay, it’s kind, particularly since Graves doesn’t express warm feelings very well and Kareen and her crossover wraparound cardigan may feel that he is not very fond of them. But she follows that up with ‘He is attracted to you in many ways.’ WHAT THE FUCK? He’s old enough to be her grandfather and he’s at death’s door! What the hell is she supposed to do with that information, other than feel massively uncomfortable? The relationship with Kareen is just really poorly shown, particularly because, as Kareen points out, Graves will only talk to Data at the moment.
  • Graves narcissist blah blah blah. Already planning possession of his grandson, because he doesn’t see him as a real person with a right to his own life. Oh, poor innocent Data, don’t tell creeps about your off button.
  • And here is why Brent Spiner is Such A Good Actor: he can act like Graves trying to act like Data. And the way it’s shown is, Graves overdoes the lack of emotional affect. Data speaks more gently than that.
  • Cannot wait for Fashion It So to tackle Kareen’s clothes.
  • Data has the Twitchy Fingers, and is making unnecessary slight head and arm movements to emphasise his speech – yeah, I’ll just be over here polishing apples for Mr Spiner.
  • For most of the episode, then, we are seeing that old prick Graves drive poor Data’s body around. And immediately letting slip to Kareen that he is not Data by showing knowledge of her personality and past behaviour that he couldn’t have. Why? Because it doesn’t matter if Kareen knows? Because he assumes she will be on his side whatever he’s done? Because he genuinely doesn’t believe anyone will much mind that he’s almost killed a Starfleet officer in order to steal his body? All right, that is consistent with him being a narcissistic sociopath.
  • So if Ira knew it was Kareen’s nature to be a stargazer, to wonder at the universe, why did he deprive her of elementary knowledge about the civilisations of their galaxy? I suppose he may have thought that if she knew more about what was out there she would go off to explore it and leave him alone.
  • IRA YOU FUCKING CREEPY OLD MAN LEAVE KAREEN THE FUCK ALONE Wasn’t she a CHILD when you met her!????
  • Why, I’m surprised Graves didn’t require a state fucking funeral, not just being shot out of the Federation flagship in a torpedo case. It amuses me unreasonably that Wesley is present, despite having had nothing to do with any of the episode’s events so far. Wesley would go to the opening of an envelope. He thinks it’s a great opportunity for networking.
  • The awful eulogy Graves gives through Data reminds me of nothing so much as Joey’s draft of a speech for Monica and Chandler’s wedding in Friends:

We are gathered here today on this joyous occasion to celebrate the special love that Monica and Chandler share. It is a love based of giving and receiving as well as having and sharing. And the love that they give and have is shared and received. And through this having and giving and sharing and receiving, we too can share and love and have… and receive.

  • Baby Kangaroo Graves, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Spiner gives good smarm.
  • What is that tinfoil pixie hood they’ve put dead Graves into?
  • What earthly good is Deanna if she can’t sense that a completely different psyche is now occupying Data’s body? One with human feelings?
  • The advice Picard gives would be wonderful advice for Data, were poor Data able to hear it.
  • HA! The sinister whistling is deployed as if this should be the first thing that makes viewers suspicious! ReDUNdant.
  • Data is an orphan in a manner of speaking. Picard looks like Daddy Warbucks. In a manner of speaking.
  • ‘I hope you’re right. I hope that’s all it is,’ Deanna says forebodingly, as if… what? She suspects something else? That Data’s just going mental? Once again, why can’t she tell?
  • What’s more worrying: that Wesley thinks it is somehow advantageous to polish Data’s apples over that shitty speech, or that Wesley genuinely thinks it was a clever speech? Or a third option: that this line was meant to be sarcastic, but Wil Wheaton delivered at least the first half as if it were sincere?
  • ‘Your age? Data, chronologically you’re not much older than I am.’ An odd line, since ‘Datalore’ made it pretty clear that Data is, at least, in the second half of his twenties, and that’s just counting the time he’s been continuously conscious and functioning. He must have ten years on Wesley (and he’s a LIEUTENANT FRICKING COMMANDER while Wesley is only an ACTING ensign and should probably watch his mouth). On the other hand, would Data, in many ways, make more sense if he were only a few years old? Sure, but that’s not what the show has already established, so there’s more bad writing.
  • Data is transparently not Data and Wesley and Riker are irritatingly slow to tumble to it.
  • Ira gets creepily jealous about Picard simply being courteous and hospitable to Kareen, as if he thinks all old men are creeps like him.
  • Man Ira deserves to be dead!
  • Wesley’s hair is doing a Hokusai wave again.
  • Only now does Deanna pick up the emotions.
  • And have you noticed how we haven’t seen a single scene of Graves-as-Data interacting with DATA’S ‘BEST FRIEND’ GEORDI? We’ve seen several other characters notice that Data is acting off and express disquiet about it to each other, but we haven’t even seen Data and Geordi speak. We haven’t even heard Geordi speak – he was present for the funeral scene but had no lines. This is why Data and Geordi’s ‘friendship’ always seems hollow to me, at least as it’s written – Geordi is just not involved when shit goes down in Data’s life. It makes sense that Graves would not have sought Geordi’s company, since he doesn’t give a shit about him and may not even know the friendship exists, but apparently Geordi hasn’t sought Data out either, even to say ‘hey buddy you were acting weird at the funeral, I thought you might be upset about your grandpa, want to talk about it?’
  • Fi-fuckingnally Geordi gets brought in, because he’s the engineer, not because he knows Data. And he still isn’t talking to Data, except to ask him to sit still while he scans him with a cool electric blue hula hoop thing!
  • Picard has to be all Stern Dad and tell Data to go and wait for him ‘in the corridah.’
  • Deanna suggests that this may be a mental health problem and Geordi reacts as if this is a strange idea.
  • Graves uses ‘it’s’ while bitching about the psych test Deanna wants him to take, which would be a pretty good tip-off if she were even paying attention – but then, she wasn’t on board the week Lore was around and maybe she hasn’t had it drawn to her attention that Data habitually doesn’t use contractions – oh my god look how much slack I am cutting this episode.
  • I totally dig the fact that Deanna has included a picture of Tasha’s funeral hologram in the selection of images to see if it gets some kind of rise out of Data. Yeah, she knows there was something going on there.
  • ‘It’s safe to say that you’re his best friend,’ says Picard, which is a pretty clunky piece of tell-not-show. Geordi does raise the possibility that human qualities surface in Data from time to time, which is good foreshadowing for the dream program that we won’t see for years (but which SHOULD have foreshadowed the development of emotions in its turn). Poor Geordi hardly even gets continuous dialogue in this scene.
  • That’s a pretty good ‘psychotronic’ test that can detect possession. And GOBBLING!
  • Of course he went to the bar.
  • How about ‘don’t interfere with his actions, unless you hear otherwise from me, or he looks like hurting someone‘?
  • AARGH CREEPY IRA IS FUCKING CREEPY JUST DIE ALREADY
  • also, why does someone as purportedly smart as Ira want to be with someone as naïvely dumb as Kareen? I suppose because she is so dumb and he doesn’t want a partner, he wants someone to flatter him.
  • How can they? Well, they can PUNCH THE FRICKIN OFF BUTTON THAT DATA TOLD YOU ABOUT.
  • We can witness the end of time together! HOW ROMANTIC
  • SHE’S CRYING BECAUSE YOU TERRIFY HER AND CREEP HER OUT AND WANT TO CONTROL HER. AND YOU’RE CRUSHING HER FUCKING HAND.
  • way to not intervene to protect a frightened, crying woman, Worf you useless mook
  • okay the panning shot of the pulsing warp core and Data’s profile is very pretty
  • better than the average dog’s? are you also smarter than the average bear?
  • Now here’s an interesting situation. Where Captain Kirk used to have to talk androids and computers to death, Captain Picard is going to have to try to talk a human ghost out of an android so the android can live! And already, even before ‘Measure of a Man’ establishes it in law, Picard is quite clear that Data is a person with rights, including the right to go on living without some misogynistic narcissist taking his life over from him. Because Picard is a good dude.
  • how dare you disparage Data’s intestines sir
  • you are no gentleman
  • good day sir
  • awesome, he killed Geordi
  • they really do let you think Geordi could be dead for quite a bit; it’s not clear whether Picard feels his pulse and thinks ‘okay he’s alive, I don’t need to worry about him’ and carries on, or feels his pulse, thinks ‘he’s dead so there’s nothing I can do about that, must focus on what I can still save from this situation’ and carries on.
  • It’s odd how they present the reason why Graves must leave Data’s body as ‘he can’t control Data’s strength and unintentionally injures others.’ Rather than ‘Graves is a piece of shit and Data is lovely, also OUR THIRD IN COMMAND AND WE SORT OF NEED HIM TO DO HIS JOB.’
  • LOOK AT PICARD STANDING UP FOR DATA HE IS SUCH A GOOD DADDY.
  • you’re in the shit now; if you’ve killed a starship captain they’re just going to stuff you in a car-crusher
  • And… the fact that he knocked out Picard convinces Graves to de-possess Data… not the fact that he terrified Kareen and broke her hand. Well, women aren’t people.
  • Data’s carpet really shows up scuff marks. I’d get something with a shorter pile personally, or a subtle pattern.
  • Ugh, Graves is on the computer. Delete delete delete.
  • And with that, Kareen fucked off to get on with her life and actually learn the difference between Klingons and Romulans. By dating both and drawing her own conclusions.
  • Riker, you fuckin’ troll. I suppose you felt the need to assert yourself somehow since you contributed nothing in this episode after the fancy transporter idea.
  • ‘Did I win?’ YES. ALWAYS.

That took me far too long. Sorry. I will probably think of more things I want to say about it through the stimulus of comments, so PLEASE COMMENTATE.

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10 Responses to “TNG Episode 2.06 – The Schizoid Man”

  1. Brin Says:

    I haven’t watched this episode, so there’s not much I can say. I can say that schizoid /= schizophrenia /= multiple personalities. There are multiple layers of wrong in the title alone.

  2. jakeish Says:

    If you can make molecular Datas, could you make a Data out of Datas that would be the Data-est Data ever? Would that be too much Data? Is there such a thing as too much Data? I have a strong hypothesis but would be willing to investigate.

    I don’t remember much of this outside of the beard scene. A few months ago I watched an early episode (really early, it was ‘The Naked Now’) for the first time in a long time and it was so weird. Such tiny babies!!

    I hope everything gets less shitty for you as soon as possible. Get on that, universe.

    • picardigan Says:

      Strange new meaning for ‘A Fistful of Datas.’

      I KNOW THEY WERE ALL SO SKINNY AND WEE.

      Stupid universe; it doesn’t care what we think.

  3. solo Says:

    This episode kind of sucks, doesn’t it. Poor Data’s family is truly the most fucked up of any Trek character and considering the competition, that’s impressive.

    I love it when Picard is the Father Figure for Data. It’s always adorable and wonderful.

    Well, ten years isn’t that huge an age difference. Most of the other characters have at least 20 or more years on Wesley (except possibly Worf, who always struck me as pretty young at the beginning of TNG).

    Tik-Tok! And Anne of Green Gables! She always drove me nuts complaining about her gorgeous red hair and adorable freckles. What the hell, woman. You’re lucky you’re not boring like the rest of us.

    • picardigan Says:

      – I think the only people with worse family backgrounds are Garak and Ziyal, and the Cardassians are supposed to be a fairly dysfunctional culture in any case.
      – Another reason why Generations is incomplete/messed up – it doesn’t contain any moment for Picard to realise that although he doesn’t have any biological children, any ‘more Picards,’ he has a completely adorable son who he’s done a great job of teaching to be a good man… in the TV series at least… if only the movies hadn’t ruined Data’s character development.
      – Geordi is about the same chronological age as Data, isn’t he?
      – Well, the grass is greener. I fully understand her wishing she was different, especially when she happens to make a best friend who matches her ideal of beauty (fair skin with rosy cheeks and lips, a cloud of black hair) pretty much exactly.

  4. innocentsmith Says:

    It is so very, very frustrating that the writers give Troi this set of abilities that doesn’t actually seem like it would be all that useful for what she’s theoretically supposed to do (counseling), try to write her using them in a way that stretches credibility and is still not all that useful (“Captain, I sense that this person miles away on their own starship is feeling a great deal of hostility. As you may have guessed from the way they just fired on us”). And then when there are situations that both fall within her professional purview and seem like something she should reasonably be able to pick up on, like one of her coworkers being possessed…nothing. Because it wouldn’t be plot-convenient for her to suss it out immediately, I guess. But ARGH.

    • picardigan Says:

      Yep. Here’s how I’d rewrite Deanna to be more satisfactory:
      – Bring in the Ancient West fandom way earlier than ‘A Fistful of Datas,’ because Deanna ‘Durango’ Troi, Space Cowgirl and Psychic Diplomat, is just too awesome to waste. (Yes, I am imagining her trying to get away with wearing spurs with her uniform.)
      – Actually downgrade her psychic abilities a lot (perhaps to something that only works reliably with people she knows well) and present her as someone who’s simply very good at ‘reading’ other people, both by natural talent and by professional training. In ‘The Neutral Zone’ the businessman reads the Romulan officers precisely as well as Deanna could have. Sometimes she has insights that appear psychic, but it’s just because she notices details others don’t, and understands their significance. (Like Sherlock Holmes!)
      – As I’ve said before, make her official job description more about diplomacy, perhaps a cultural attaché.
      – Give her more funny scenes, because Marina Sirtis is actually really good at those!

  5. Curuchamion Says:

    * “Pulaski… enlisted, looked at the Lycra onesie, laughed good and hard, and told the quartermaster ‘No.’” – *nods* This is what Pulaski would do. (I like her, ftr. I like her BECAUSE that is what she would do, among other reasons. XD)

    * “He is such an ass I don’t know how he avoided being made an admiral.” – LOL! (Not that I’ve seen the ep, but still, just on general principles: LOL. Admirals. ;P)

    * “the Tin Man seems more dignified a comparison than Pinocchio.” – Also more accurate, for Data, in some ways. While Data and Pinocchio both start out as artificial people and Nick Chopper does not, Pinocchio has feelings right from the beginning, whereas Data shares the “if I only had a heart” thing with the Tin Man.

    (Besides, Trek!Pinocchio can only be Odo. I mean, he actually gets turned into a “real [humanoid] boy” at one point, though he doesn’t like it. XD)

    * Brent Spiner is a fantastic actor. Absolutely brilliant. (Also quite good-looking out of makeup. *g* I always have to wonder why Data was given such an uglifying makeup while, five years later, Marc Alaimo and Armin Shimerman look way better in makeup than you’d expect a Cardassian and a Ferengi to look…)

    * “Wesley would go to the opening of an envelope.” – Well, it’s not as if he has any actual duties… XP (I like Wesley. Well, I think he has no purpose on the show, but I used to be one of those overly smart kids with no social skills, so I feel sorry for him. Also Wil Wheaton rocks, these days anyway.)

    * “Where Captain Kirk used to have to talk androids and computers to death, Captain Picard is going to have to try to talk a human ghost out of an android so the android can live!” – That is interesting. It’s a pretty good example of how different the two shows are. *head-tilty of thinkyface*

    • picardigan Says:

      Aw, I don’t think Data’s makeup really uglifies him. The pretty shines through.
      I like how so much of my Trek fandom, beyond the Accepted Popular Opinion of loving Data, seems to consist of liking people who were unpopular in their first run, like Kate Pulaski, Wesley Crusher and Julian Bashir. I FEEL SO REVISIONIST AND UNCONVENTIONAL.
      Wait, am I just being a Star Trek hipster?


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