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Schisms (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Schisms"
TNG, Episode 6x05
Production number: 40276-231
First aired: 19 October 1992
130th of 176 produced in TNG
130th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
238th of 728 released in all
Riker abducted
Teleplay By
Brannon Braga

Story By
Jean Louise Matthias & Ron Wilkerson

Directed By
Robert Wiemer
46154.2 (2369)
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For the comic series, please see Star Trek: Romulans - Schism.

Enterprise crew members report that they go to sleep but wake up exhausted; a mysterious subspace pocket forms inside a cargo bay.

Teaser

"Captain's log, stardate 46154.2. The USS Enterprise-D has entered the Amargosa Diaspora, an unusually dense globular cluster. We are faced with the daunting task of charting this vast region."

William T. Riker is having trouble sleeping. He is late to his shift, as Geordi La Forge tells him how he is attempting to speed up the process. He just listens, and struggles to pay attention.

Later that afternoon, Data reads some of his poetry. The rhyme and meter are perfect, but there is no emotional content to it. Riker is very obviously tired, falling asleep twice.

Act One

Riker talks to Doctor Crusher, and explains how he has been on edge all day, and almost swatting away her scanning device on the medical tricorder. She finds nothing wrong with him, and suggests a warm milk toddy.

La Forge gets the sensor array working, but there is a power grid overload in Cargo Bay 4, the location where they were routing power to amplify the sensors. When the damage control teams arrive, they find nothing but people working. La Forge concludes that it was a glitch in the internal sensors.

That evening Riker asks La Forge to stop by his quarters in the morning, since he's having trouble waking up. After drinking a warm milk toddy, he lies down in his bed and quickly drifts to sleep. What seems to be moments later, he is awoken by La Forge stopping at his quarters to wake him the following morning, as asked. Despite the fact that Riker says he just went to bed, La Forge assures to him that it is actually morning, leaving Riker, not only exhausted, but completely puzzled.

Act Two

While Worf is getting a haircut, the way the barber's scissors come at his face causes him to react strongly, but clearly he doesn't know exactly why.

La Forge is trying to diagnose the sensor problem back in the cargo bay. He can't find it, so at Riker's suggestion, he just disables the modifications. As he is about to run a structural integrity scan, his VISOR cuts out, making him dizzy. After another strange feeling, he goes to sickbay, leaving Data to continue the diagnosis.

Doctor Crusher finds that there is a bacterial infection around La Forge's neural implants, interrupting the data stream, but it doesn't match anything in the medical database. She runs an additional scan to check that there are no other signs of infection.

When La Forge returns, Data indicates he thought La Forge just left. He finds his internal chronometer off by more than ninety minutes. La Forge decides to have the cargo bay examined; his VISOR, a sensor glitch, and now Data's chronometer are not a coincidence.

On the bridge, Riker is about to make a course correction for an ensign, when he suddenly has an odd reaction to the console. He gets out of the chair, resumes his seat, and decides that astrometrics won't get their better angle.

Later, La Forge and Data detect a subspace particle emission within Cargo Bay 4.

Act Three

They examine it, and conclude that this is a subspace rift, and on the other side is something that is so deep into subspace it shouldn't exist in this universe.

Riker explains to Counselor Deanna Troi that he suddenly felt trapped sitting in front of the console on the bridge, and she tells him he is the third person to mention having a fear response provoked by an object. When she gets everyone together, including Worf and La Forge, they all start to realize they are remembering the same thing. They all begin to describe a vague, but consistent, picture.

They all go into the holodeck, and begin to reconstruct it. Everything was dark, there were clicking sounds. They were laying on a table, with a bright light above it. There was something scissor-like on the end of a swing arm hanging above them. As the pieces are physically created by the holodeck, their memory is jogged.

In a few moments they complete the scene; they have reconstructed a medical table equipped for experiments. They all conclude that they have been in that room before.

Act Four

Data, after completing his self-diagnostic, concludes he was not aboard the Enterprise for the lost time in the cargo bay. When Captain Jean-Luc Picard asks the computer if anyone is missing, it identifies two crewmen who have been gone almost since 2300 hours. He decides to locate the source of the tetryon emissions to find the missing crew members.

When the crew members who remembered the table are examined by the doctor, she finds strange things, such as Riker's arm having been surgically removed and then reattached, almost invisibly.

La Forge's analysis of the cargo bay soon finds the tetryon emissions have intensified and coalesced, the beginning of a spatial rupture. They decide to put a subspace containment field around it in case it expands.

Lt. Hagler returns to the Enterprise shortly after that. When Dr. Crusher examines him, she finds his blood turning into a liquid polymer. Commander Riker later states that Lt. Hagler has died.

At the next staff meeting, La Forge tells them that the subspace containment field isn't working. There is no way to beam the affected sections into space. La Forge also explains that the only way to close the rupture is with a coherent graviton pulse, but that has to be done at the source, and finding the specific subspace domain where the abducting aliens dwell within the infinite number of domains which exist is almost impossible.

Worf suggests a homing device, allowing them to track it when someone is taken. Riker volunteers to carry it, noting that he has been taken every night. The captain also asks Dr. Crusher if she can counteract the effects of the sedative the aliens have been administering. She gives Riker a neuro-stimulant.

Riker is laying in his bed, waiting for the inevitable. Suddenly, a bright rift appears in his quarters and he is levitated and pulled through it. Worf informs Picard that Riker is no longer on board the Enterprise.

Act Five

Solanogen-based lifeform

One of the solanogen-based lifeforms

Riker finds himself on an examination table in a room with hooded aliens who appear to be busy with other tasks. The missing Ensign Rager is unconscious on a similar table nearby. La Forge has trouble finding Riker in subspace, but locks onto him as the rupture in the cargo bay continues to widen.

When the field then fluctuates, the crew on the Enterprise are forced to begin the graviton pulse. The aliens attempt to counteract it, La Forge starts adding a random shift to the frequency, but it doesn't work. He is forced to channel all of the graviton energy into a single burst, which does work.

As the aliens are concentrating on keeping the rift open, Riker frees himself from the table, grabs Ensign Rager, and jumps through the rift moments before it collapses, shooting one of the aliens who attempts to interfere. Just as the rift finally collapses, the aliens are able to send something unknown through, which passes through the hull and out into space.

"Captain's log, stardate 46191.2. The tetryon emissions in Cargo Bay 4 have ceased, and there have been no further indications of alien intrusions. All Enterprise crew members are safe and accounted for, but we are still left with some unanswered questions."

Data and La Forge examine the tricorder readings and conclude that these solanogen-based lifeforms had created a pocket of "normal" universe within their subspatial domain, allowing them to examine and experiment on their victims taken from the Enterprise. They'd been attempting to establish a pocket of their subspace realm inside the ship's cargo bay. La Forge hypothesizes that they discovered the ship due to his modified sensor signal. Captain Picard decides that Starfleet will be notified not to perform that modification on other vessels in the future. The alien intent behind the abduction and experimentation was unclear, and there is some discussion of whether or not the energy sent through the rift was a probe of some sort. Noting the death and experimentation, Riker believes that the motivation behind them was beyond mere curiosity.

Memorable Quotes

"Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature."

- Data, reciting his poem "Ode to Spot"


"Your hesitation suggests you are trying to protect my feelings. However, since I have none, I would prefer you to be honest."

- Data, asking for feedback on his poetry


"Oh, excuse me."
"I know the feeling."

- La Forge yawns and Riker relates


"It's such a pleasure to cut sometimes I get carried away!"

- Mot after he earlier cut Worf's Klingon hair too short


"Good morning."
"Morning? I just went to bed!"
"Commander, it's 0700 hours."

- La Forge after Riker's abduction by the solanogen-based lifeforms


"I've been in this room before."
"We've all been here before."

- La Forge and Riker


"Whoever it was that sent that thing was more than simply curious..."

- Riker


"Have you dreamed about scissors recently?"

- Troi

Background Information

Story and script

Production

  • Co-producer Wendy Neuss, sound editor Jim Wolvington and supervising sound editor Bill Wistrom were tasked with creating the clicking language for the aliens. Neuss recalled it was among the funniest experiences she had on The Next Generation. She explained, "We had decided what kind of clicks we wanted with Rick [Berman] and Peter [Lauritson] at the spotting session. Then the three of us actually sat there one night and wrote a script in English and then transposed it to 'clicks.' We wanted it to be organic, not synthesized, and we had a cadence to it; we decided where the clicks should be and what kind of feeling they should have. Then we brought in the group [of] people to do it – so in addition to the individual clickers we had group clicking: you see five people clicking, really intently, like the professionals that they are. And I just had to leave the stage – that's when you think, 'I can't believe I'm doing this!'" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 221)
  • First UK airdate: 9 August 1995

Continuity

Barbershop 2369

The re-used wall decoration at the barbershop

Reception

  • Director Robert Wiemer, Brannon Braga, and Michael Piller were all disappointed at the look of the aliens, and decided not to bring them back, despite the open ending. Braga stated, "I felt they looked like monks – fish monks – and monks aren't terrifying." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Braga was additionally displeased with previews for the episode. He stated, "Unfortunately, the trailer also gave everything away, 'Aliens are using the Enterprise crew as human guinea pigs.' They showed everything during the coming attractions the week before, which was really annoying." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 262)
  • Weimer stated that he thought the alien scenes were too "languid" and should have used more cuts to create an off-balance feeling. "There was a story consensus to do lighting control, smoke control, to limit what one saw, but it's always harder to paint with light when you're on the crush of time." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 221)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

Stand-ins

References

Adele; Amargosa Diaspora; amino acid; anapestic tetrameter; anti-grav lift; astrophysics; auxiliary power; bacteria; barbershop; beard; blood; bulkhead; cargo bay 4; cat; coherent graviton pulse; conduit; deflector grid; diagnostic; diagnostic team; dream; keV; EM signature; EPS mains; EPS explosion; FGC-13; fish; force field; globular cluster; gravimetric disturbance; gravimetric interference; graviton; graviton emitter; haiku; hippocampus; holodeck; honeycomb; internal chronometer; internal sensor network; isolinear chip; joke; Jorkemo; Keats, John; liquid polymer; medical tricorder;metallurgical analysis; milk; muscle; neural input; neuro-sedative; neuro-stimulant; nucleonic interference; "Ode to Spot"; plasma infusion unit; poetry; probe; quasi-molecular flux; radius; REM sleep; resonance tissue scan; scissors; sector; security alert; sedative; self-diagnostic; sensor array; sensor relay emitter; sentience; serotonin; servo fluid system; shore leave; solanogen; solanogen-based lifeform; sonnet; spatial rupture; Spot; Starfleet; stellar cartography department; structural integrity; subspace; subspace containment field; subspace field tap; sunflower; tertiary subspace manifold; tetryons; tricorder; ulna; universe; visual cortex; warp field; warp grid coupler; warp-power transfer


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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6
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