TNG: “Phantasms” and “Dark Page”

Date: May 24, 2020

Season 7, Episodes 6 and 7

Musical Accompaniment: The Moonstruck soundtrack

Interstellar News: I woke up way too early to watch Moonstruck with a dear and beloved friend, had a wonderful Zoom meeting with my Mom’s side of the family, and got some more Trek in. Oh, and it rained.

Favorite Quote from “Phantasms”:

La Forge: Sounds like it must have been pretty strange.

Data: Strange is not a sufficient adjective to describe the experience.

La Forge and Data discussing his dreams.

Worf’s One-Two Punch: “I will feed him.”

“Phantasms” begins with Data’s first nightmare, a new warp core for the Enterprise that’s proving to be a little finicky, and an invitation to the Admiral’s Banquet for Picard that he has no idea how to get out of. Data wonders what Spot dreams about, talks with Troi about his nightmares, and she encourages him to try again. This time he dreams a doozy where Worf is eating a super weird cake, Crusher is sucking some liquid out of Riker’s head with a straw, Troi’s head is attached to the cake in the shape of her body, and three strange men show up and dismantle Data again, just in time for him to wake up and realize he’s late for work.

Freud to Freud on the couch: "Interesting. But what makes you so sure I'm your delusion? Rather than vice-versa?"
I actually had to go look up some of the terms in my notes from my Masters classes.
I don’t often use psychoanalysis in my practice. There’s not even a couch in my office!

Data has a free association psychoanalytical therapy session with Freud in the holodeck where they cover transference, the three parts of the human psyche, and psycho-sexual development as Freud hasn’t caught on that Data is an android. La Forge is still having lots of trouble with the warp core and one of the admirals keeps checking in on Picard’s progress. Data starts having waking dreams and Troi begins to be concerned, especially when he up and stabs her during one of his waking dreams. However, it turns out that Dr. Crusher finds these organisms that are taking over everyone, and the warp core, and it’s Data’s dreams that help the crew figure out how to stop them. Picard misses the banquet, oh shucks, and Troi brings Data a Data-shaped cake to help even the score.

“It’s a cellular peptide cake, with mint frosting.”

Many people believe that “the couch” is what therapy is like, and they are both right and super wrong. “The couch” is a type of therapy used with free association and a few other interventions, but there are 10+ theories of counseling that use other methods. Psychoanalytical may have been the first or maybe the most well known, but most counselors use a combination of theories and tools to assist their clients. This episode makes great use of the fact that Data likes to review all avenues for advice, even if they aren’t always the best ones. He uses Freud in the holodeck because the doctor was a renowned therapist and a pioneer in his field, but he also wouldn’t know an android from a hole in the ground and Troi is obviously the better fit for Data, which he realizes at the end of the episode.

Data answering the phone that's within his body.
Would you call this the prototype android phone, with a Data plan?
Har har, couldn’t help myself. I’ll see myself out.

Data is also the super bestest cat-dad, as he was so concerned for Spot and that scene between him and Worf was absolutely adorable, and sort of like every time I leave instructions for someone to take care of my fur-babies. I was fascinated by they way Data’s mind found a way to help him process the information around him even if he wasn’t aware of it on a conscious level. Each time he visits the dream world some elements are the same, some are different, and some are just way out there… like, what’s with the mint frosting? The analog telephone inside of Data? Was this episode absolutely ridiculous? Yes. As a sequel to “Birthright, Part 1” we see how the dream program interacts with the real world, and it’s a compelling, though slightly weird, story. We also are propelled into Data’s journey to becoming human and, my friends, going to weekly therapy sessions is a big step in the right direction. We all need someone to talk to, even if we don’t have any presiding mental health concerns. Worldwide pandemic aside, there’s everyday stress. Anyway, I absolutely loved the use of dream analysis and the technical correctness of the therapy, so I’ll give this episode 7 sessions on the Freud couch.

Favorite Quote from “Dark Page”:

Lwaxana: Actually it’s a very efficient way of communicating. If two Cairn were having this conversation it would have been over minutes ago.

Picard: Really?

Picard suddenly wishing the was telepathic.

“Dark Page” has the Enterprise playing host to the Cairn, telepathic peoples who had no use for verbal speech before connecting with the Federation. Lwaxana Troi, of course, is the ambassador who has been helping them out and is desperate for her daughter to be married already… sigh. After introducing Deanna and Maques, Lwaxana blows up at Riker and winds up in sick bay. Dr. Crusher explains Lwaxana needs to lay off the telepathy, it’s overused, but of course she doesn’t listen and passes out. Deanna believes there’s something wrong with her mother’s metaconscious, so Maques helps form a bridge between them.

Maques, staring
Seriously… so much staring.

The first round, Deanna is met with barriers; a wolf, Hedril, her father, and is eventually kicked out by her mother. Deanna and Picard are on the case when Picard realizes there’s a seven year gap in Lwaxana’s journals, so Deanna heads back in. This time she gets through to her mother only to realize that she had an older sister who died because both parents turned their heads for just one second. Mother and daughter cry it out, Lwaxana is healed, and Deanna asks her mother to tell her about Kestra.

Lwaxana and Deanna holding hands.
Such a sweet and touching moment near the end of the episode.

This was a damn deep episode and I was absolutely not prepared for the ending. I was also not prepared for Kirsten Dunst, who plays Hedril, or for the guy who plays Maques to stare so much in this episode. They did do quite a good job keeping the pacing of the episode while also making me believe that Maques was a non-native English speaker trying his hardest. I was also quite fascinated by this form of communication. Looking back on all of the Lwaxana episodes, things start to make a little more sense. She’s lost so much and she just wanted to have more family again. As someone who is an only child, I totally get how the weight of the family tree can feel like it’s on your shoulders sometimes, all the times. The problem here is that Deanna was not an only child, she was the second child and never knew. This revelation pulls both characters into focus, but it’s so fucking sad and heavy. Deanna, of course, is ever the counselor… because you just can’t shut off that part of your brain even if you just found out you had a sister you never knew. This episode makes me sad, so instead of rating it I’ll leave you with a song that will make your eyes leak: “Ten” by Yellowcard.

TA Out!

Published by njdevil12

I'm just a big city girl living in a not so big city with my fur children and partner.

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