For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here
Overview – William Riker is in a play called “Frame of Mind”, which is about a man going insane. He is also preparing for a covert mission on Tilonus IV to locate a Federation research team. Riker soon finds odd occurrences happening, including a mysterious alien on the ship. He suddenly finds himself in the Tilonus Institute for Mental Disorders, apparently as an inmate/patient who has been accused of murder. Soon, Riker finds himself jumping between the two lives, that of a Starfleet officer and that of a mental patient, trying to discover which was the true reality.
Score: 8/10 – “Frame of Mind” is a dark thriller that leads the audience to wonder if Riker is truly going crazy. While it is obvious that Riker is not a convicted killer in a mental institution, the story is so delicately and expertly woven that it leaves you wondering what the heck is going on with the first officer. To see Riker take a turn at acting is an good dimension added to the character. Johnathan Frakes does an excellent job in his role, giving a great performance that runs the gauntlet of emotions. The mood is dark and at times creepy. The story is intriguing and well-paced. It is a fun installment that gives Riker some much needed attention.
Relevance – 0 points. As fun as this episode is, it truly stands alone. It does not connect into any other piece of Star Trek. While that will prevent it from scoring points in this category, it is important to note that this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is episodes like this that a new viewer can watch and get hooked into without feeling like they are missing important information.
Continuity - 3 points. Story continuity is hard to keep track of as we are jumping between two perceived realities that are essentially both fictitious in the mind of Riker. Still, it is a cool device to convince the audience that both of Riker’s realities are in fact in his mind, and therefor the story works. Universe continuity is also good here. Character wise, Riker is the main focus, and how he responds is how we expect him to. This is not the first time that Riker discovers himself in a situation where he is questioning what is real. Two seasons ago he was in a similar situation in the episode “Future Imperfect”. This episode takes things to a more intense level, which has Riker feeling a bit more frazzled.
Character Development – 2 points. Again, this is all focuses on William T Riker, and we see some significant attention given to him. He goes on a mental roller coaster ride that leaves him quite shaken in the end. At several points it seems he truly is doubting about his Starfleet life. When the episode ends, Riker decides that to help him process what he went through he needs to personally take down the set of the play that became such a focal point in his story. Since something like this is undoubtedly going to leave a mark it is understandable that he would do this to help him heal his mental health.
Social Commentary – 1 point. What is real, and what is imaginary? Well, that could be an extreme extrapolation from this episode. It does give us a glimpse into the mind of someone suffering with mental health issues, and we can see how extreme situations can lead to high stress levels. While many of us do not have to deal with these issues, and even fewer to these extremes, it does give us some insight into those who have. That does say something.
Cool Stuff – 1 point. The ending where everything is being revealed as part of Riker’s fantasy is quite cool. It all culminates with Riker throwing himself against a wall and his image shatters into countless pieces as his fake reality is similarly shattered. It was a very cool punctuation to the scene and deserves a point here.
Rank – Lieutenant (15 points). Normally I say that Lieutenant-ranked episodes are hit or miss. Well, this one is a hit. Its ranking has more to do with what it doesn’t have (no relevant connections to other episodes, not a lot of social commentary or cool parts) than with any flaws in the episode. It is a great story and it is one that I would recommend to people who are just getting into the show. It showcases Riker as a character and Frakes as an actor. It provides some thrills, laughs, and keeps you guessing right up until the end. So, even though it is a Lieutenant episode, it is one I would not skip over when going through the seasons.
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