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(written from a Production point of view)
Enterprise crew members report that they go to sleep but wake up exhausted; a mysterious subspace pocket forms inside a cargo bay.
- "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 of charting the immense globular cluster. He just listens, and struggles to pay attention. Data asks Riker if he will be attending his poetry reading in Ten Forward. Riker tiredly tells him he "wouldn't miss it for the world."
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 while Data recites "Ode to Spot".
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, a recipe from Captain Picard's Aunt Adele.
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 and medical 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.
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 teach Ensign Rager how to compensate for gravimetric interference for a course correction, when he sits down at the conn and suddenly has an odd reaction to the console. He gets out of the chair and resumes his seat, apparently deciding that Stellar cartography won't get their better angle.
Later, La Forge and Data detect a subspace particle emission within Cargo Bay 4.
Riker explains to Counselor Deanna Troi in Ten Forward that he suddenly felt trapped sitting in front of the conn 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 in the observation lounge, including Worf, La Forge, and Kaminer, they all start to realize they are remembering the same thing. They all begin to describe a vague, but consistent, picture.
On Riker's suggestion, they all go into the holodeck, and begin to reconstruct it. Everything was dark, there were clicking sounds. They were laying on an inclined table restrained at the chest, 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.
Data, after completing his self-diagnostic, concludes he was not aboard the Enterprise for the lost time in the cargo bay. When Captain Picard asks the computer if anyone is missing, it identifies Lt. Hagler and Ensign Rager, who have been gone almost since 2332 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. The Enterprise's internal sensors have not picked up anything unusual other than the rupture in cargo bay four. Picard orders that a metallurgical analysis be conducted on the ship's hull, as he believes subspace field incursions may have left a trace.
Just then, Worf reports that Lieutenant Hagler has been returned to the Enterprise. When Dr. Crusher comes rushing to his quarters, she finds his blood turning into a liquid polymer. She calls for a plasma infusion unit to deck seven.
At the next staff meeting in the observation lounge, La Forge tells them that the subspace containment field isn't working. There is no way to beam the affected sections into space since the transporter cannot get a positive lock on the affected sections due to severe nucleonic interference. 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 tertiary subspace manifold where the abducting aliens dwell within the infinite number of domains which exist is almost impossible.
Worf suggests creating 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. La Forge gives him a tricorder that's locked into a continuous cycle to record what they can of the subspace domain, and a modified sensor relay emitter to transmit a subspace beacon.
Riker is laying in his bed wearing his uniform with his mission equipment and armed with a phaser, 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.
Riker finds himself on an examination table in a room with hooded aliens who appear to be busy with other tasks. The clicking sounds is revealed to be their language. The missing Ensign Rager is unconscious on a similar table nearby. Riker looks around at what he can, feigning unconsciousness whenever they come by to work with him. La Forge has trouble finding Riker in subspace but eventually locks onto him, located at a subspace energy level of 16.2 keV 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 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 such a 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 of Hagler and the experimentation on the various crew members, Riker believes that the motivation behind them was beyond mere curiosity.
"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
"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
Story and script Edit
- Although hardly the first Trek episode in which characters have been abducted by aliens, "Schisms" marks Trek's first foray into the phenomenon of alien abduction in the popular sense. Set designer Richard James compared the episode to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Brannon Braga noted, "Getting kidnapped by aliens is not very fresh. I was more interested in those first four acts, the mystery and the weirdness and seeing our people losing their minds, which is not something you get to see very often." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 262)
- An aspect Braga was very proud of in this episode was Data's poetry reading. He stated, "That was a decision to do a cold teaser and the poetry reading was an idea that we had been kicking around for quite a while. The things that's great about the teaser is that it's still advancing the plot with Riker falling asleep, even though you don't think that's going to have anything to do with the story." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 262)
- Actor Brent Spiner was highly impressed with Data's poem, "Ode to Spot." He recalled, "I couldn't believe it because not only did it rhyme but it's technobabble and it also had something to say. It had a really sweet point of view towards the cat." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 262)
- The character of Kaminer was named after author Wendy Kaminer. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 221)
- A schism is a split or division. As such, the title refers to the splits in subspace that allow the aliens to abduct crewmembers.
- 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
- The stellar formations of the Amargosa Diaspora seen at the beginning of the episode turned up again later in the season to represent the Borgolis Nebula.
- This is the final appearance of the Bolian barber Mot (although Picard would later masquerade as Mot in "Starship Mine"), as well as conn officer Sariel Rager.
- The versatility of the main biobed in sickbay is seen in this episode. Riker is seen putting his arm on top of a retractable transparent scanner sheet while sitting on the bed. A scan of his forearm is then seen on a viewscreen, showing that it was severed by the aliens.
- Picard's Aunt Adele was previously mentioned in TNG: "Ensign Ro" and "Cause and Effect". In "Ensign Ro", Picard gave Admiral Kennelly her cure for the common cold; ginger tea with honey. In "Cause and Effect", he gave Crusher her recipe for steamed milk with nutmeg when she had trouble sleeping. Here, Crusher gives Riker her recipe for warm milk toddy.
- This episode marks the only time in the series that Riker takes the conn of the USS Enterprise-D, albeit briefly. The next time he would pilot the Enterprise would be in Star Trek: Insurrection.
- The poem "Ode to Spot" later appeared in "A Fistful of Datas".
- The wall decoration at the barbershop was previously seen in Proconsul Neral's office in the fifth season episodes "Unification I" and "Unification II". It later appears in the reception area at Arkaria Base in the episode "Starship Mine" and in the observation lounge of the Enterprise-D in the seventh season episode "Parallels".
- In a continuity error, the Captain's final log entry for this mission (46191.2) Picard states "All Enterprise Crew members are safe and accounted for..." yet in the final scene Riker states "Ensign Rager and I were lucky to have escaped. Lieutenant Hagler's dead."
- In another continuity error, Riker's phaser is dropped onto the floor of the alien medical chamber while carrying Rager and making his escape, yet when he is shown in the cargo bay immediately after, his phaser is still in its holster.
- 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 releasesEdit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 66, 17 May 1993
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Guest stars Edit
- Angelina Fiordellisi as Kaminer
- Scott T. Trost as Lieutenant Shipley
- Angelo McCabe as Crewman
- John Nelson as Medical Technician
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Tyce Bune as Edward Hagler
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Cameron as Kellogg
- Brian Ciari as solanogen-based lifeform
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Tony Cruz as Lopez
- Elliot Durant III as operations division ensign
- Holiday Freeman as command division officer
- Grace Harrell as operations division officer
- Hawthorne as science division officer
- Kerry Hoyt as operations division ensign
- Hunt as operations division officer
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Kai as science division officer
- Arvo Katajisto as Torigan
- Ron Large as command division officer
- Mark Lentry as civilian
- Debbie Marsh as command division ensign
- Brandy Pickett as science division officer
- Victor Sein as technician
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- Unknown performers as
Stunt double Edit
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Joyce Robinson – stand-in for Lanei Chapman
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
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; conditioning agent; 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; Latin language; liquid polymer; medical tricorder; metallurgical analysis; milk; muscle; neural input; neuro-sedative; neuro-stimulant; nucleonic interference; Number one; ode; "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 ghost; sensor relay emitter; sentience; serotonin; servo fluid system; shore leave; snoring; solanogen; solanogen-based lifeform; sonnet; spatial rupture; Spot; Starfleet; stellar cartography department; structural integrity; subspace; subspace containment field; subspace field tap; sunflower; taxonomy; tertiary subspace manifold; tetryons; tricorder; ulna; universe; visual cortex; warp field; warp grid coupler; warp-power transfer
- "Schisms" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Schisms" at Wikipedia
- "Schisms" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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