TNG: S6E05: “Schisms”

In which Riker has a bad hair day, a bad arm day, and a bad drug day. 

"First person who says word one about my hair spends the next month scrubbing the hull with a toothbrush and no suit."

“First person who says word one about my hair spends the next month scrubbing the hull with a toothbrush and no suit.”

The Enterprise is charting a globular cluster which is both vast and vast. And Riker can’t sleep. He’s even late to engineering scrum. The expected 30-day mapping is going to be slightly sped up by rerouting some energy through some places which totally aren’t going to come up later. Also, Data has a poetry reading. I’d make fun of him by pointing out how everyone in Ten-Forward looks like they’re tasting farts, but that’s not specific to Data, that’s just all poetry readings. Although I will say this – Data’s ‘Ode to Spot’ is one of the greatest pieces composed in the 24th century.

This is not entirely due to its own literary merits so much as by noting the fact that other than scientific papers, the most prolific original artist on the ship aside from Data is Barclay and his holo-pornography. Aside from those two and Picard doing that painting class once, nobody makes new art. They perform old art, but Data is really the only entity on the ship that struggles with original composition regularly.

Also, I’m pretty sure Picard is there with a date. A really really awkward date.

This emergency response time was directed by Aaron Sorkin.

This emergency response time was directed by Aaron Sorkin.

Riker’s sleeplessness has reached day three and he’s super irritable when Crusher assaults him with the medical tricorder and is really pissed when she perscribes him warm milk instead of quality sedatives. In engineering, after completing the technical work, Data asks about how people enjoyed his poetry, and Geordi praises them as a ‘tribute to form,’ and ‘clever,’ but sadly not evoking emotional responses. Nothing wrong with that, Edward Lear made his name that way. Just then, something goes wrong in the cargo bay that was next to the power junction, so the emergency damage control team and medical team strolls on over. Nothing, however, was wrong when they finally got there.

Riker goes to bed early and tries to get some sleep. Next morning, Riker is barely aware of any time having past, and is definitely not refreshed. Worf is also a little irritable, although to be fair lots of people are irritated by the ship’s barber. And really freaked out by the scissors. Extremely freaked out. Geordi is also getting sleep-deprivation effects, plus is VISOR is cutting out. Apparently, an unknown bacterial infection. He goes to get a checkup and when he comes back, Data has only experienced him as being gone for about a minute. Time for some diagnostics as everyone affected slowly gets more and more out of it.

"That can't be; that's inside the room!"

“That can’t be; that’s inside the room!”

During the diagnostic, Geordi detects a subspace signal emanating from the cargo bay. This is because of all the science going on behind the panel, and that science shouldn’t be stable in normal space. If the anomaly spreads, there’s apparently an option to beam the whole bulkhead out and replace it with a force field. I will repeat that – the Enterprise not only has force field generators every few meters in the hallway as an intruder countermeasure, but it also has force field generators where there are already walls. Presumably this is to stop atmosphere loss, but those suckers must literally just be everywhere.

Riker talks to Troi about a response he had, and it turns out it’s common enough that she organizes a support group. Riker, Worf, Geordi, and Picard’s date from the poetry reading. Three main cast members and a guest actor are all having a mysterious experience – guess which one isn’t going to survive it? They figure out commonalities in their experience, and use the holodeck as a reconstruction tool.

Pro tip: if you ever see this table in real life, run away immediately.

Pro tip: if you ever see this table in real life, run away immediately.

The computer demands a a bit of specificity when they ask for a table, as it has about five thousand tables on file. That number seems wrong to me, but I can’t decide if it’s way too low or way too high. The cross-referencing eventually produces a terrifying examination table that only gets more sinister as they hone in on it. A restraining arm, scissors, darkness, and creepy clicking sounds emanating from it.

Further medical tests reveal they’ve all been exposed to strong drugs, and Data was not on board the ship for his 90 ‘lost’ minutes. Furthermore, two crewmen are currently not aboard the ship, and the computer has no information on why. Nobody even bothers to set up a periodic check on all crew members to set up an alert if someone leaves or arrives. Also, Riker’s arm shows evidence of having been severed completely and reattached, which is seriously messed up. Like, how would you react if you found out someone had just amputated and reattached your arm while you were asleep?

This episode has a nice slow ramp-up, but we now have a spatial rupture growing aboard the ship which shows evidence of being designed, and which Geordi relates to his warp-field modification of the sensors. They caught the attention of something they oughtn’t. One of the crewmen has also returned, but is pretty clearly going to die since Crusher forgot about the whole ’emergency transport to sick bay’ thing and thus won’t be able to stop the crewman’s blood from being turned into plastic.

"It's dangerous to go alone. Take this."

“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.”

Geordi also takes a moment to explain how subspace works. It seems to be all of the extra dimensions String Theory predicts all curled up on each other in an infinite lattice of subdomains, and they can only shut down the disruption if they find the right subdomain. Since the energy readings can’t be tracked back, it sounds like Trojan Horse time. Rike volunteers. Crusher pumps him full of space-coffee, Geordi gives him a tricorder on permanent loop and an armband beacon, and away  he goes.

A nice touch in this episode is that the tables the computer generated aren’t actually the same prop. I was kind of expecting that they would be for some inexplicable reason, but every detail is different while being thematically related. Go props department! Riker and the crew are being experimented on by cloaked didactyl aliens.

This is the part where you use the patented Kirk Double Hammer Fist on the aliens and jump through the portal, Riker.

This is the part where you use the patented Kirk Double Hammer Fist on the aliens and jump through the portal, Riker.

The Enterprise, out of time, begins to start the pulse, and the aliens try to keep it open. I will forgive Riker for his hesitation since I have no idea what kind of drug coctail is coursing through his system but it’s never a good idea to mix uppers and downers. Or so I learned from D.A.R.E. Riker barely manages to jump through before the rupture closes and a little tinkerbell merges as it closes and wonders out into deep space. No explanation for what that is all about is forthcoming, but there is speculation that it was a probe, and that this might come up again later. And it does, if you play Star Trek Online.

All in all, I like this episode better than the last time I saw it. It’s a lot more successful when Picard doesn’t do a morality speech at the antagonists.

One thought on “TNG: S6E05: “Schisms”

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