Friday, October 28, 2022

Star Trek: Frame of Mind

Episode: "Frame of Mind"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6, Episode 21
Original Air Date: May 3, 1993

Realities are blurred for Riker.  His consciousness keeps shifting between the Enterprise and "Ward 47" in a mental hospital on an alien world.  Further confusing matters is his role in a stage play in which he plays a mental patient.

Is the entire series a delusion?  Interestingly, the episode doesn't answer that question right away.  "Frame of Mind" tends to rank high on best-of lists.  I admire its production quality.  There's also a wonderful scene in which Riker classifies projections of Troi, Worf and Picard as representations of his own psychological aspects, just the sort of exercise this blogger enjoys (see here).  Overall, I prefer the similar "First Contact."  The fourth season episode feels more connected to the broader series concept.  "Frame of Mind," while clever, feels less Trek to me.  

It's a decent Riker story.  While I haven't written as much about it recently, I still wonder about the Riker character in general.  What is his broader narrative purpose on NextGen?  Couldn't this episode just as easily have been a Picard story?  Don't misunderstand: I like Riker and I like Jonathan Frakes.  And he serves as an important template for the series moving forward, especially for Chakotay on Voyager.  My question is whether or not he's entirely necessary.  Of all the seven principals, despite his second billing, I still see him as the most expendable, six seasons in.  I am sure that was not the intention.

Acting Notes

David Selburg plays the role of Syrus, Riker's psychiatrist in Ward 47.  Selburg was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, December 17, 1948.  "Frame of Mind" was his second of four Trek appearances as four characters in three different series.  Other television gigs include Hill Street Blues, The Wonder Years and ER.  Big screen work includes The Man with One Red Shoe, Species and The Bourne Identity.

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