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Phantasms (episode)

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TNG, Episode 7x06
Production number: 40277-258
First aired: 25 October 1993
157th of 176 produced in TNG
157th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
289th of 728 released in all
Data arm
Written By
Brannon Braga

Directed By
Patrick Stewart
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The crew helps Data investigate when his dream program begins suddenly generating nightmares. Meanwhile, Picard attempts to avoid attending a boring Starfleet banquet.


Data is walking through the corridors of the USS Enterprise-D, when he sees three workmen destroying a warp plasma conduit. He tells them to stop, and after he speaks, he emits a high-pitched sound through his mouth. The workers tell him to be quiet, then attack and dismantle him, first his left arm, then his right leg, and then ultimately his head. A startled Data suddenly wakes up in his bed.

The Enterprise is leaving a starbase after installing a new warp core. Captain Picard has been invited to the annual Starfleet Admirals' Banquet on Starbase 219 by Admiral Nakamura, and says that after six years, he's run out of excuses to avoid such a boring event.

Meanwhile, in engineering, Data can't stop talking about his nightmare. In the nine months since he has activated the dreaming program, he has had 111 dreams, but this appears to be his first nightmare. La Forge assures him that nightmares are a normal part of dreaming, and that being preoccupied with them is also part of the Human experience. La Forge and Data attempt to activate the new warp drive, but they run into problems and the Enterprise is delayed for several hours.

In his quarters, Data observes his cat sleeping and wonders what Spot dreams about. Counselor Troi visits Data to talk about his nightmares, and encourages him to continue with the dream program.

Riker straw

Dr. Crusher "drinking" from Riker's head

Data dreams. He's in Ten Forward, and Worf is nearby at a table, enjoying a piece of cake. Data asks what kind of cake it is. "A cellular peptide cake, with mint frosting. Would you like a bite?", Worf says. Data declines, and his attention turns to Dr. Crusher and Riker at the bar. Riker has a straw coming out of his head, and Crusher is drinking something out of it. There's a telephone ringing in the background. "Aren't you going to answer that?," Riker demands. The workmen are also there, and again Data emits the high-pitched scream. They tell him to be quiet, and he shuts his mouth. One hands him a knife, and he cuts at a cake in the shape of Counselor Troi. Troi pleads with him to stop, but he doesn't.

Troi, Worf, and La Forge are standing in Data's quarters and wake him up. They tell him he's overslept. "That is not possible," he says, but it has happened nonetheless. La Forge theorizes that perhaps it is part of the program, that Data is supposed to oversleep at times, as part of the Human experience. He asks about Data's dreams and comments that imagery must have been strange. "Strange," Data says, "is not a sufficient adjective to describe the experience."

Data consults Sigmund Freud in the holodeck, but after the psychologist comes up with a bizarre theory – telling Data that the nightmares are related to Data's desire for his mother and his impotence – Data leaves.

Admiral Nakamura calls the Enterprise, demanding to know when Picard will arrive for the banquet. The captain assures him he will be there on time. Shortly afterwards La Forge and Data again try to activate the warp drive, but there's another problem and the Enterprise is adrift.

In engineering, Data sees dream imagery while he's awake. He sees a "mouth" on La Forge's neck, and the engineering brace he holds looks like the knife with which he cut the "cellular peptide cake". He hears the telephone ringing again, opens his own chest and picks up the telephone receiver. "Hello?" he asks. "Kill them. You must kill them all, before it's too late." It is Freud's voice. Data "awakes", and wonders how it is possible that he is having daydreams. Later, Data attacks Troi in a turbolift with a knife-like coil brace. Riker and Worf find them, and Data claims that he saw another mouth on Troi's shoulder, and he had an uncontrollable urge to eliminate it. Data is confined to quarters.

Troi knife

Data confronting Troi

Dr. Crusher treats Troi's stab wound in sickbay, but it mysteriously becomes infected. Crusher then discovers an interphasic organism on the wound - and on several other crew members, including herself, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and the entire medical staff. Crusher determines that the Enterprise is infested with the creatures, which are feeding on the cellular peptides of the crew's cells. Everyone has a creature attached to them somewhere, and they can only be seen in a certain light. They don't know how to destroy them, but if they don't, the cells of their bodies will disintegrate and they will all collapse into nothing more than a few pounds of chemicals. Picard and La Forge both think the creatures may be connected to Data's odd behavior, because their locations correspond to objects in Data's dreams. They decide to connect Data to the holodeck, so they might observe his dreaming.

Once there, La Forge and Picard observe Data, who again finds himself in Ten Forward, and then in Sigmund Freud's office. The three workmen are there, again dismantling a plasma coil, leading La Forge and Picard to believe that the creatures are also linked to the malfunctioning warp core. Data makes the shrieking sound, which immobilizes them. Data wakes up and says he knows how to get rid of the parasites. By reconfiguring his positronic brain to emit an interphasic pulse, the creatures are killed.

La Forge explains that the new warp core must have been infested with the interphasic organisms from Thanatos VII, and that's why the engineering staff had so many problems initializing it. He will have to construct a new conduit. It will take at least six hours, which means that Picard gets out of attending the admiral's banquet once again. La Forge suggests to the captain that he can speed up the construction, but Picard tells him he wouldn't want to put the safety of the Enterprise at risk.

Troi visits Data in his quarters and brings him a snack: a cake in the android's shape. "I wonder what Dr. Freud would say about the symbolism of devouring oneself," Data says. "Data," Troi responds, "sometimes a cake is just a cake."

Memorable quotesEdit

"This oughta be a lot of fun!"

- La Forge

"Can't you think of some excuse to get out of it?"
"After six years, Number One, I don't think I have any excuses left."

- Riker on the annual Starfleet Admiral's banquet which Picard is dreading

"Now let's see how fast she can run."

- La Forge

"Bad news?"
"You could say that. I've been, "personally" invited to attend the annual Starfleet Admirals' banquet."
"My condolences."

- Picard and Riker

"I have often wondered what Spot dreams about. His twitching and rapid breathing would seem to suggest anxiety. But Spot has never seen a mouse, or any other form of rodentia. He has never encountered an insect or been chased by a canine."

- Data

"Good work, Tyler. I thought he'd never leave."

- Geordi La Forge, on Captain Picard being led away from engineering by Ensign Tyler

"Mr. La Forge, why isn't my ship moving?"

- Jean-Luc Picard

"Commander La Forge?"
"Speaking of nightmares..."

- Tyler and La Forge

"Dreams are the royal road to the knowledge of the mind."

- Troi, quoting Sigmund Freud

"Sounds like it must have been pretty strange."
""Strange" is not a sufficient adjective to describe the experience."

- Data

"Tell me more about this, uh... cake."
"It is difficult to explain. Counselor Troi's body... was a cake."

- Sigmund Freud and Data

"I believe I can fit you in, uh... next Tuesday, hmm?"
"That will not be necessary. Computer, end program."

- Sigmund Freud and Data

"Hold... very still, counselor."

- Data, upon attempting to kill an Interphasic organism on Counselor Troi

"Do not interrupt!"

- Sigmund Freud, to Data

"Kill zem. You must kill zem all, before it's too late."

- Sigmund Freud, speaking through the phone to Data about the Interphasic organisms

"What is it?"
"The question is, what are they."

- Picard and Dr. Crusher

"Normally I would wish you pleasant dreams. But in this case, bad dreams would be more helpful."

- Picard

"He will need to be fed once a day. He prefers feline supplement number 25."
"I understand."
"And he will require water. And you must provide him with a sandbox. And you must talk to him. Tell him he is a pretty cat. And a good cat."
"I will feed him."
"Perhaps that will be enough."

- Data and Worf, as Data asks Worf to take care of Spot

"Mr. Data, what kind of cake is this?
"It is a cellular peptide cake."
(His mouth full) "With mint frosting."

- Picard, Data, and Worf, in Data's dream

"I wouldn't want to sacrifice the safety of the ship."

- Picard, after La Forge mentions he could speed up repairs

"Sometimes a cake is just a cake."

- Troi

Background information Edit

Josée Normand

Hair stylist Josée Normand on the set.

Filming Phantasms

Stewart, Sirtis, Joy Zapata, and June Abston Haymore on set.

Data torso prop

Data's torso, opened

Story and production Edit

Continuity Edit

  • During his discussion with Sigmund Freud in the holodeck, Data states he has no mother. He meets his "mother", Juliana Tainer, the wife of his creator, Noonien Soong, four episodes later in "Inheritance".
  • Data mentions he had discovered his ability to dream nine months before. This refers to the events of "Birthright, Part I".
  • Jenna D'Sora's gift to Data from "In Theory" can be seen on a shelf in Data's quarters.
  • The modified warp core was again used for the warp core of an alternate Enterprise-D in "Parallels".
  • Data's head prop from the episodes "Time's Arrow" and "Time's Arrow, Part II" was reused in this episode when one of the workmen decapitated him.
  • In this episode Data refers to Spot as a male whereas later "he" appears to be female and in fact even has a litter of kittens in "Genesis".
  • When Data goes through his human ritual of getting into bed, his Sherlock Holmes outfit from "Elementary, Dear Data" can be seen hanging from his coat rack.

Reception Edit

  • This is one of the few Star Trek episodes to be slightly edited for screening by the BBC in the UK: the scene in the turbolift when Data confronts Troi with a knife (which caused some upset among audiences in the US) was trimmed to remove the actual moment of stabbing. Syfy channel's UK airing of this episode to date still has this edit.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit


adjective; Admirals' Banquet; "A Woman Holding a Balance"; camel; canine; cigar; counselor's office; confiscation; deuterium cartridge; dream; Farrell; feline supplement 25; frosting; insect; interphasic organism; interphasic scanner; jazz; microfracture; mouse; muscle spasm; neurosis; nightmare; number one; painting; pickaxe; plasma conduit; plasma inverter; psychoanalysis; rash; rodent; Rozhenko, Alexander; sand box; Soong, Noonian; speech; stab wound; Starbase 84; Starbase 219; statue; straw; telephone; Ten Forward; Thanatos VII; tricorder; warp plasma conduit; yawn

External linkEdit

Previous episode:
"Gambit, Part II"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7
Next episode:
"Dark Page"

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