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Recap / Star Trek The Next Generation S 7 E 5 Phantasms

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The kicker is that she's not even chocolate-flavored.

Original air date: October 25, 1993

While experimenting with his new program that allows him to dream, Data begins having disturbing nightmares. In one, he sees a gang of workmen disassembling part of the warp core, and when he tries to stop them, they attack him and tear him apart. In another, the crew of the Enterprise is devouring each other: Troi has been turned into a cake which Worf is eating, and Crusher is drinking Riker's blood through a straw. Worse, the nightmares start spilling over into waking life, culminating in a scene where he attacks Troi in a turbolift and stabs her in the shoulder.

Data is relieved of duty, but when Troi is brought to sickbay for treatment, Crusher discovers an "interphasic" alien parasite, invisible except in a special scanner, clinging to her shoulder in the exact place she was stabbed. Crusher goes on to discover that the same parasites are infecting all of the crew. Picard and Geordi hook Data up to the holodeck so they can see his nightmares for themselves, and they figure out that his subconscious detected the parasites and generated the nightmares to warn him. Using information gained from his dream, they're able to send out an interphasic pulse from a chip in Data's brain that hurts the parasites and chases them off the ship.


Tropes provided by "Phantasms":

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Ensign Tyler has a crush on Geordi, which he really doesn't reciprocate.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Data consults a holographic Dr. Sigmund Freud to analyze his dreams even though the ship has a real counselor. Subverted when Freud proves to be completely inadequate, and Data turns to Troi instead.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The first dream ends with the workers tearing off Data's hand, leg, and head.
  • Artistic License – History: Troi tells Data that even Freud said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." This quote is now generally accepted to be apocryphal; Freud believed everything in dreams was symbolic, and almost certainly never would have said such a thing.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Picard wanted to avoid the annual admirals banquet. He gets a reason to avoid it, in the form of the Enterprise failing to start. That is before he learns about the parasites that could kill the crew. Downplayed since once the danger is over he is grateful that fixing the engine will take so long he will miss the banquet.
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  • Big "NO!": Troi screams this as she is being stabbed by Data.
  • Blatant Lies: Picard assuring Nakamura that he really is looking forward to the Admirals' Banquet.
  • Body Horror: Much more than usual for Star Trek. Invisible parasites clinging to the arms and faces of every crew member, Data being ripped limb from limb, Data hallucinating fanged mouths on other crew members' bodies, Crusher drinking from a straw in Riker's head, Troi turned into a cake that screams and pleads as Data cuts into it...
  • Brick Joke: After Data's dream involving the Troi-cake, Troi gets her payback with a Data-cake.
  • Call-Back: The episode revolves around Data's dreaming program that was introduced in "Birthright, Part 1."
  • Catapult Nightmare: Data's reaction to being violently disassembled in the intro dream.
  • Continuity Nod: Data still has the Tyrinean blade carving given to him by Jenna D'Sora in "In Theory." His Sherlock Holmes outfit is also visible in his quarters.
  • Crying Wolf: Nakamura doesn't believe Picard when he tells him the Enterprise is in trouble because he's made many excuses for years.
  • Dream Episode: Data starts experimenting with his dream program and begins having nightmares that turn out to be because alien parasites are attacking the ship.
  • Dream Intro: Data's first nightmare, with more to come.
  • Dream Spying: Data's dream view of what's happening to the entire ship. Complete with the aforementioned Catapult Nightmare at the end of the dream intro.
  • Epic Fail: The new warp drive. Geordi starts it up, Picard says "Engage"...and the Enterprise shuts down.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: Played With; Admiral Nakamura begins to suspect Picard is pulling this since he's supposed to be at the annual admirals banquet, and has been ducking it for years, but the Enterprise really is having trouble with a new warp core which still has a few bugs to work out, literally. Picard is in no hurry to have it fixed but as the delays mount up, Nakamura finally offers/threatens to have them towed in. Picard firmly states that they will resolve the issue and arrive on schedule. Ultimately they miss the banquet. And Picard's just fine with that.
  • Freudian Couch: Data lies on one when consulting the holographic Sigmund Freud. When he starts to sit up, Freud insists that he keep lying down.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • That high-pitched noise that Data makes is this to the dream miners, providing a needed clue for getting rid of the invisible parasites.
    • The ringing phone in Data's dreams, not helped by the fact that Riker keeps shouting about it.
  • Literal-Minded: Freud scolds Picard for this when the phone in his office starts ringing.
    Freud: Answer it.
    (Picard reaches for the phone)
    Freud: Nein, nein, nein! Do not be so literal. When I say "Answer it", I mean "Respond to it". To them.
  • Meaningful Name: The planet where the new warp core and the interphasic parasites came from was Thanatos VII. "Thanatos," of course, is a Greek word that has to do with death.
  • Mental Picture Projector: Data is hooked into the holodeck so Geordi and Picard can see Data's dreams, after Crusher discovers that "mouths" in Data's dream signify places where the crew are being consumed by the parasites.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The invisible parasites feeding on the crew. Bonus points for being an In-Universe variation, as they're the cause of Data's nightmares.
  • Not So Above It All: Picard hates the Admirals' Banquet, so much so that for the past six years he has been weaseling his way out of attending. Once the parasites are dealt with, he's actually grateful that the repairs to the engines mean he will miss it.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: On prior occasions when the Enterprise was suffering from a parasitic infestation, the crew's response was to find a way to remove the creatures from the ship harmlessly. Here, this is never even suggested; they go straight for the "kill zem all" option. Of course, this time the organisms are literally eating the crew alive, so they're a little less kindly-disposed to them than they are to most new lifeforms they encounter.
  • Shout-Out: Data's dream with Troi as a cake is similar to the music video for Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More."
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Data talks with manifestations of his subconscious (Sigmund Freud) and the parasites (the workers), to get to the bottom of what's happening to him and, later, the ship and crew.
  • The Day the Music Lied: The second time the crew tries to leave for the conference. The music starts swelling into the usual warp-jump theme as they prepare for said jump, only to immediately stop as the engines do the matter/antimatter reactor equivalent of a choke and shut down again.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: It doesn't get much more uncomfortable than getting stabbed.
  • Understatement: When Geordi figures that Data's nightmare must have been strange.
    Data: "Strange" is not a sufficient adjective to describe the experience.