Frame of Mind (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
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|"Frame of Mind"|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6|
|Directed by||James L. Conway|
|Written by||Brannon Braga|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||May 3, 1993|
"Frame of Mind" is the 147th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 21st episode of the sixth season debuted on May 3, 1993 on television. The story was written by Brannon Braga and directed by James L. Conway, and it is focused on some experiences of First Officer Riker. Conway had previously directed TNG episodes “Justice” and “The Neutral Zone” in season one.
In the episode, Commander Riker switches between mental realities: performing in one of Dr. Crusher's plays, preparing for an undercover away mission and being an inmate in an alien asylum for the criminally insane, charged with murder. The way the show is presented it is difficult to tell what is real and what is in Riker's mind.
Prior to taking a covert mission, Riker is rehearsing for a theater play "Frame of Mind" for the Enterprise. The play involves Riker's character confined to a mental asylum, and involves a soliloquy regarding the nature of being sane. During practice for the mission, he is accidentally injured by Lt. Worf on the side of his head, and while Dr. Crusher heals the wound, Riker still experiences some pain there. Riker performs the play for the crew, and receives a standing ovation, except for one officer in the center of the crowd who frowns at the performance. Riker takes a bow, but when he straightens, he finds the audience gone, himself trapped in a cell similar to the set for the play. An alien humanoid doctor iterates "I see we still have much work to do", a line from the play, before locking Riker in the cell.
Later, Riker is taken to the asylum cafeteria, reminded that he is there because he killed a man. Riker becomes agitated by this news, and the doctors inject him with more drugs, knocking him out. Riker finds himself back on the Enterprise, but this is a figment of his imagination: after seeing one of the alien doctors several times, he flees to his quarters only to find himself back in the asylum cell. The doctors, attempting to quench Riker's hallucinations about the Enterprise, use a procedure that produces holographic projections of the Enterprise which Riker is forced to reject to gain the confidence of his doctor.
The next day while in the cafeteria, Riker refuses to talk with what he believes is a hallucination of Dr. Crusher, warning him that they are planning on rescuing him. That night, Worf and Data appear and free Riker, overwhelming the guards and returning him to the Enterprise. Riker, still defiant that the Enterprise is not real, complains of pain in his head; the same wound from before. Dr. Crusher cures it but it returns immediately, leading Riker to believe that this is another hallucination. He proves this to himself by firing a phaser at himself; the scene shatters, and he finds himself back in the asylum cell under the watchful eye of the doctors. He realizes he is still holding a phaser, though the doctors claim that it is a knife. When the head pain strikes again, Riker dismisses this scene as reality, and sets the phaser to overload which would take half the facility with it. When it goes off, he finds himself on the stage of his play, the crowd giving a standing ovation. Riker refuses to accept this as real, and pounds on the wall of the set, shattering that reality.
Riker recovers consciousness to find himself on an operating table, a device inserted into his head where he has been experiencing pain. Riker frees himself from the table, renders an alien doctor unconscious, and recovers his communication badge on a nearby table, requesting an immediate beam-out. Riker shortly finds himself back safely aboard the Enterprise. As Dr. Crusher tends to his wounds, he learns that he was captured on the covert mission he was on, and the aliens were scanning his brain to discover strategic information about the Federation. The strange experiences he saw were a result of his own subconscious fighting against the probe. After recovering, Riker returns to the set of the play one last time to dismantle it.
"Frame of Mind" was rated the 16th best episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 2016 by Hollywood Reporter, and in May 2019 they ranked as one of the top twenty five episodes of that show, describing it as a "dark and ambitious" episode with a script that played with the audiences sense of reality. WIRED magazine ranked "Frame of Mind" as one of the best of Star Trek: The Next Generation in a 2012 review. They praise masterful acting by Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker) in episode that plays with watcher's sense of reality for the character.
In 2017 this episode was noted as featuring scary and/or eerie Star Trek content.
- The Big Goodbye (also has David Selburg cast)
- Night Terrors (March 18, 1991)
- Schisms (October 19, 1992)
- Chain of Command, Part I & Part II (December 14, 1992 & December 21, 1992)
- Frame of Mind (May 3, 1993)
- Sub Rosa (January 31, 1994)
- Genesis (March 21, 1994)
- Projections (September 11, 1995), this Voyager episode also plays with the character sense of reality
- Total Recall (1990 film) (Construction worker memory implant goes awry)
- "Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: "Frame of Mind"". 30 November 2012.
- "'Star Trek: The Next Generation' - The 25 Best Episodes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
- "The Best and Worst of Star Trek: The Next Generation's Sci-Fi Optimism". WIRED. Retrieved 2019-03-24.
- "18 eerie, disturbing and downright scary Star Trek episodes". H&I. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 6, disc 6, selection 1.