Star Trek 238: Schisms

238. Schisms

FORMULA: Night Terrors + Clues

WHY WE LIKE IT: A creepy mystery. Ode to Spot.

WHY WE DON'T: The holodeck table scene is unconvincing.

REVIEW: Schisms is well remembered for its eerie plot in which various crew members are grabbed off the ship by Solanogen-based aliens from deep inside a subspace domain. The idea alone is interesting, with the most convincing rationale for alternate universes yet, but the look of the aliens and their environment is also nicely "alien". The use of a fish eye lense is not only off-putting, but gives a sense of a "bubble" or "pocket" universe.

The investigation leading to this is another well thought-out puzzle show by Brannon Braga, with the crew experiencing all manner of problems as a result of the aliens' experiments, most entertainingly Riker's sleep deprivation. Once we find out his arm's been amputated and reattached, whoa Nelly! Bringing the crew together to jog their memories is an interesting use of both Troi's function and the holodeck, though the computer takes a lot of shortcuts to get us to the right configuration. Though they make a big deal out of its inclination, but then it turns out the tables are flat, so it's a bit of a mess. Plus, Geordi arguing with the computer! Nice, atmospheric clicks though.

But let's not forget the effective blend of comedy counterpointing the tense drama. This is the episode in which Data holds a tedious poetry reading! (And hey, is Picard on a date here? Check it out, he's with that oft-seen extra with the severe haircut.)
Mot the barber also returns with much better dialogue about how Klingon hair is luxuriant and whether away team missions are harsh on the hair. These comedy beats make the creepy revelations even more shocking.

Note the ending in which the Solanogen aliens are set up for a rematch that never happens. Shades of Conspiracy. I do so hate it when that happens.

LESSON: Data is a neo-classicist, my least favorite kind of poet.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: At times funny, at others creepy, but not quite "essential". Truth be told, it's a little sluggish in places, especially when you know the answers.


Mick Bright Kim said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh. The conspiracy aliens weren't refit into the Changelings? Aliens from far away who had their hooks into every level of Federation government? Nobody connected them, but it seems like an obvious link.

Siskoid said...

While the concept is similar, the "bluegills" weren't Changelings nor were we ever meant to believe they were connected. Thematically, you're absolutely right, but in actuality, the Conspiracy aliens were never heard from again.

De said...

"the Conspiracy aliens were never heard from again"

Maybe not in any of the TV series or movies, but they returned in DC's TNG Annual #3 as well as the post-series DS9 novels.

Siskoid said...

Thanks for that, De! I actually plan (long term of course) to continue the daily Star Trek reviews beyond Enterprise by going through novels, comics, etc. that I own.


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