Star Trek the Next Generation Episode Review: Phantasms

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 7 television episode that first aired in October 1993.

Synopsis: Data (Brent Spiner) experiences nightmares for the first time and, as they becoming increasingly violent in nature, becomes obsessed with figuring out what they mean. Things begin to escalate when he starts to experience "waking" dreams and ultimately attacks Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) with a knife.


My wife and oldest daughter had to run to the store while I was home for lunch today and, while my youngest daughter played quietly, I had an opportunity to watch some TV. As is usually the case, I looked for re-runs of this series and this happened to be the episode that was on.

I've seen this episode in the past but didn't remember much about it. After seeing it again, I have to say it was very entertaining.

This episode was memorable, in no small part, because of the vividness of Data's dreams. The symbolism, ranging from mouths appearing on various crew members' bodies to the Counselor Troi cake were somewhat creepy and, at the same time, created a pretty significant mystery. Was Data having some sort of malfunction? Were his dreams trying to tell him something? And, if it was the former, was he turning violent as a result?

The secondary story about the Enterprise having an ongoing malfunction of its warp drive actually worked really well with the primary plot about Data (especially when the episode reveals the relationship). I especially liked how Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) was trying to convince Admiral Nakamura (Clyde Kusatsu) the ship really was having issues and he wasn't just trying to skip out on a banquet.

Probably the only thing I didn't like about this episode was the holodeck version of Sigmund Freud (Bernard Kates). I know Data's decision to talk to the fake Freud fit with the plot. But, since the writers decided to turn it into a comic relief session with Freud accusing Data of having repressed sexual urges because of feelings toward his mother, it just didn't work as well for me. I think I would have enjoyed that more if the virtual Freud had actually given sound advice.

Final Opinion

It would have been better off without Freud. But, overall, I thought this episode was one that was worth watching. There's a good blend of suspense and mystery to keep it entertaining throughout.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 08/24/2016, StevenHelmer
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