Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Next Generation 2x6 "The Schizoid Man"

rating: *

Memory Alpha summary

via Star Trek
This brief glimpse of Bearded Data
is probably more noteworthy
than the rest of the episode.
"The Schizoid Man" is essentially the best the season could do with Data until "The Measure of a Man," an instant all-time classic.  You can see the tiny connecting pieces from "Schizoid," derived from the earlier "Datalore," that lead to "Measure," but the best that can be said of "Schizoid" is that it's a gimmicky episode that's outclassed in much of what it attempts to be by the later "Inheritance" (in which we meet Data's "mother") and even "Silicon Avatar" (in which Data's ability to hold multiple memories comes is explored).

All of which is to say, it's somewhat painfully simplistic.  In the full context of Data's adventures, it's even ridiculous, given how reductive it is about his functioning, about exactly what the scientist in "Measure" thinks of him before Picard successfully argues otherwise.

So, some ornery old dude downloads his consciousness into Data, and the crew has to figure this out.  Actually, it's very much "Datalore" all over again, with a guy claiming to be Data's "grandfather."  And so the episode is a light walk through who and what Data is supposed to be like.  If it had been done later in the series, when there was a much more firm grasp of everything, perhaps this is a story that could have worked.  But as it is, it doesn't.  Best to pretty much forget it.  As a touchstone to where the series and Data were at this point, it's indicative of all the wrong things, but it's still somewhat fascinating to consider, that things that seem so obvious now could be so badly misread.  So you can watch this one, I won't say you shouldn't, but you should be aware that this is hardly Next Generation at its best.  Not its worst, because there are plenty of episodes from the preceding season that amply demonstrate that (and later ones that are certainly head-scratchers).  Just, approach with caution.

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Suzie Plakson
Diana Muldaur
W. Morgan Sheppard

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