Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TNG Ep. 32 The Schizoid Man

Summary: The Enterprise responds to a distress call for scientist Graves, leaving an away team while they briefly take care of another distress call from a nearby freighter. The away team learns that Graves is dying of a degenerative disease that attacks the nervous system. Data learns that Graves was Soong's teacher, and at Grave's request, calls him Grandpa. Graves had planned to transfer his intellect into a computer he built, but secretly uses Data instead and is thusly transported to the Enterprise with the rest of the away team and his young assistant, Kareen. Eventually "Data's" strange behavior tips the crew off and they figure out what Graves has done. Graves also tells Kareen, who cries and says that she does not want to be put into a machine as he proposes. Upset, Graves accidentally fractures her hand, then goes on to "accidentally" injure several others. Picard confronts Graves about his true identity and these "accidents." Gravea strikes Picard, thus validating Picard's concerns. The crew then find Data - himself, again - next to a computer console into which Graves has imported his intellect, sans his emotions. Data doesn't remember a thing and the crew make a few jokes at his expense.

Wow. Brent Spiner. I thought I always liked Data because he's an android and that's just cool. No. I think that even as a kid Brent Spiner's excellent acting was the main draw for Data and - dare I say! - the rest of the show. Usually, having one actor support an entire episode by playing two characters? Bad idea. But wait! It's Brent Spiner, so it's ok.

Seriously, the man has the ability to convince me that he's two different people in one body. He knows how to use different tones and mannerisms to clue you in to who he's playing at the moment. It makes you believe that the other characters could guess the change - and in fact, if they didn't, you'd think them dense.

And props to the writing in this episode. Unlike a certain early episode in season one, the dramatic irony is pulled off well, so that it doesn't make all the characters look like morons for not guessing at the mystery earlier. More specifically, I like how certain turns of phrase that Graves uses, and perspective that only Graves would have, really connected Graves-in-Data with Graves-before-Data.

And, I admit, I've always found the two-personalities-in-one-body idea fascinating. Anything that provides a disconnect between the physical body and/or people's expectations, and how that personality secretly wants to act. I always loved Quantum leap for that. Although with Data I'm rooting that the disconnect be discovered.

In other words, this episode was like the perfect mixture of champagne and orange juice. Mmmm, mimosa.

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