Trekathon 269: Frame of Mind (TNG)

The ‘nothing is real’ plot is very hard to pull off in TV. In a movie we don’t know the background, but here the viewer knows for certain what the ‘reality’ for Riker should look like. That makes it harder to write the story.

But this episode takes those constraints, and actually uses them to craft an ending that does genuinely keep you guessing about what’s happening. Everything about this is nearly perfectly done – the shifting from place to place, the sense of menace and uncertainty, and above everything the slow mental collapse of Riker as things continue.

Jonathan Frakes doesn’t get that many opportunities to really shine, as he’s often relegated to the exposition role, while Picard gets all the cool plots. But this episode really shows what a shame that is. It’s also nice to have a Riker plot without a love interest.

269 down, 468 to go.