Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘Phantasms’ is definitely one of my favourite episodes from Season 7 of ‘Star Trek: TNG’. It features Data and he is having nightmares in his sleep. This gets used to solve an issue aboard the Enterprise.
Before you ask, yes Data does have this ability to dream in his sleep despite being a machine. This is a follow-up to where Data had his dream program created by Dr. Soong in ‘Birthright’ from Season 6.
The episode is directed by Patrick Stewart, who makes his fourth contribution as a ‘Star Trek’ director. Clearly Patrick had fun in directing this episode with Data as it clearly shows in the episode.
So what happens in this episode? Well, let’s take a look. The episode begins with Data dreaming and having a nightmare. The nightmare ends with him being attacked and torn apart by three workmen.
This takes place inside the corridor of the Enterprise where Data beforehand met Geordi about a new warp drive system and where he heard a strange telephone signal. These all become significant.
When Data tried to speak to the workmen when they’re dismantling a warp plasma conduit, he emits a high-pitched sound from his mouth. This causes the workmen to be angry when they attack.
After he wakes up from the nightmare, Data becomes worried and shares it with Geordi in engineering. He also shares this with Counselor Troi, who reassures him it’s fine to have nightmares.
But yeah, like I said, the Enterprise gets fitted with a new warp drive which Geordi is looking forward to trying out. Meanwhile, Captain Picard has been invited to the annual Starfleet Admirals’ banquet.
This is something Picard is not looking forward to as he’s been trying to avoid it for the past six years and considers it to be rather boring. He feels he has no excuses left to avoid attending this banquet.
This makes me wonder why Picard even gets an invitation to the banquet. Considering he’s not an admiral. He’s a captain! Perhaps he’s getting the encouragement to be an admiral at these banquets.
Anyway, Picard orders the Enterprise to make for Starbase 219 where the banquet is to be held. However the crew has problems with the warp drive when it is not working and it refuses to engage.
This baffles Geordi and Data when they try everything they can to see that the warp drive gets working for Picard to get to the banquet, but it still doesn’t work. It does become significant though.
Later, Data has another dream except he’s now in Ten Forward. He sees Worf eating a cake that is a cellular peptide cake with mint frosting. Data also sees Beverly drink from Riker’s head with a straw.
Data also sees the workmen again from his previous dream who prompt him to cut into the shoulder of the large cake which happens to be Counsellor Troi’s body. Deanna begs Data to stop cutting her…
…until he wakes up to find Deanna, Worf and Geordi surrounding him in his quarters. Apparently he was late for his shift and has overslept. Data can’t understand this since it’s not supposed to happen.
Data tries to understand the meaning of his dreams as he seeks help from a holographic simulation of Bernard Kates as Dr. Sigmund Freud. Data however does not find Freud helpful in his endeavours.
Later, Data finds himself having waking dreams as he sees imagery from his dreams whilst working in engineering. This includes seeing mouths on crewmembers’ bodies and finding a phone in his body.
Eventually, Data attacks Deanna in the turbolift, using an engineering tool shaped as a knife. He wounds her on the shoulder, before he’s stopped by Riker and Worf and soon confined to quarters.
Eventually, Beverly discovers something on Deanna’s wound where Data struck her. She then finds interphasic creatures on the Enterprise crewmembers, which seem to feed on their cellular peptides.
Connecting how all this fits with Data’s dream, Picard and Geordi hook him up to the holodeck in order to play his dreams out in order to understand what’s going on. This does manage to work out.
I enjoyed it when Picard and Geordi get to experience Data’s dreams and understand the meaning behind some of the imagery. Everything connects back to what’s been occurring with the warp drive.
‘Phantasms’ is a wonderful episode for Data’s character and I like how this follows up to the dream program he has inserted in him from ‘Birthright’. It’s very well-thought out revealing Data’s dreams.
By the way, Clyde Kusatsu guest stars as Admiral Nakamura, who gets impatient when Picard’s delayed attending the banquet. Nakamura has been in ‘Star Trek’ before in ‘The Measure of a Man’.
‘Phantasms’ (TNG) rating – 10/10
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