The TREKKER Reviews

The Next Generation
Frame of Mind

Wil is finally in therapy. He probably leered at an Admiral or something. Wait a minute, the shrink is Data! "I'm not insane!" yells Laughing Boy. Really? It's all just a play - or at least, rehearsals for a play. Riker is playing an inmate in a psychiatric hospital, and it's getting to him. After leaving the stage, an alien Lieutenant that he doesn't recognise gives him a strange look. Paranoia is an insidious thing...

Now on to more pressing matters. Riker has to locate and find a missing Federation team on a planet where civil war has erupted. He'll have to do it alone and under cover. The last time he did something like this he was accused of being an alien and was forced to bonk his way out of trouble. I can hardly wait.

Worf briefs him on his mission, but he is strangely distracted. "Commander, pay attention" - slash! A quick cut to the temple with a ceremonial knife is enough to break him out of his lethargy, thank-you Mr Worf. Off to sick back, but why is everyone looking at him strangely? He goes to see Troi about his delusions, and she says: "Don't be afraid of your darker side. Have fun with it." Ok, first I want you to...

The play again. "I'm not crazy!" It's extremely well received, but the same alien Lieutenant he saw before is now sitting in the front row. What is going on? "I can see we have a lot of work to do". Huh? It's not a play at all, he's really in a mental hospital, and he doesn't remember who his is. It's all a delusion the shrink tells him. Oh, oh.

Dr Syrus tells him that he is in Ward 47 of the Tilonus Institute for Mental Disorders, and that he is there because he mutilated a man using a knife. The ship is all part of his delusions, and Starfleet denies that he exists. At least he has broken out of his fantasy and is making excellent progress. After assaulting a guard he is injected with a sedative...

...and wakes up in his quarters on the Enterprise! Bev says that it's just the stress getting to him and that there's really nothing to worry about. Oh great, Dr Social Conscience strikes again. The play again. This time Dr Syrus appears at the window looking in, although no-one else seems to notice. The same alien is sitting in the front row again, and when Laughing Boy grabs him, he says that he is Lt Suna. This is getting really weird.

Riker races off to Dr Social Conscience again, and she still insists that there is nothing wrong with him. No drugs, no neurological damage, just a case of fatigue. On the way back to his quarters, the turbo-lift open on a hospital corridor. "This isn't real" moans Riker. It changes back to the Enterprise, and he races back to his quarters... find himself back in his cell in the hospital! He tells Dr Syrus that he needs help. We have two choices, (a) use reflection therapy to help him remember, or (b) a complete synaptic reconstruction. Reflection therapy will personify parts of his psyche and allow him to react with them. That could be very dangerous, because some of the skeletons in his closet do distinctly kinky things!

Here we go. Troi represents fear - I would have thought it would have been something baser. Worf represents anger. Picard represents paranoia. Suna is the administrator of the hospital. "Let us help you" they offer. No! He manages to block out the delusions, and has taken a big step towards recovery.

Bev comes to him in the hospital. She claims that he was on an undercover mission and something happened. Then Worf and Data try to break him out. Riker is losing his mind, and decides to side with the hospital. It doesn't help as the good guys knock out the security guards and beam him back to sick bay.

Bev heals a cut on his forehead, but then it mysteriously reappears. "This isn't real" he screams, thumping Worf and grabbing a phaser. There's one way to find out, he turns the phaser on himself and fires! Reality crashes down like a broken mirror. He's back in the hospital again, but he's still got the phaser. "This isn't real either!" He fires on a guard, and more of his reality smashes. "None of this is real!" Phaser to level 16, wide field. It should take out half the building, but it just causes another reality crash.

Suna is the only constant. "Let me help you" he pleads. Crash! This is new - Riker is strapped down on a table and there is an electrode on his skull. He regains consciousness and gets up. Here comes someone with a needle! Grabbing his knife and communicator pendant he gets beamed out before they managed to finish the implant.

He really was on an undercover mission, and he really did get captured. The aliens were trying to get strategic information and his brain set up the delusions as a safety net, based on his recent experiences. There's only one link to it left, the stage. Riker rips it down with his bare hands.

Roll Credits...

Brilliant! The acting was great, the story was great, even the ending was great. It shows what complete rubbish most episodes are when compared to it. This is by far the best episode this series. It shows that character development episodes can be great, but not when staged like Picard's "I was captured and tortured" story in "Chain of Command".

This review is Copyright © 1994, Phil Kernick.
Permission is granted for anyone to electronically distribute it - details available on request.