This is a really Riker-heavy episode (and the first we’ve covered in Season Six), which I think you guys all know is FINE BY ME. I could gaze into that beard for days.
The opening scene is Riker, looking rather disheveled, insisting that he isn’t crazy. For a second, they had me fooled, thinking our boy Will had been imprisoned by some aliens, but then I realized the voice of the “doctor” speaking to him was Data’s, and I was like “this is a trick.” You can’t fool me, Brannon Braga!! (He wrote this episode, and has a name almost as great as Bucky Gunts.) Still, we get to see Jonathan Frakes doing some ACTING, which is great:
The Six Faces of Riker
We’ll see more of that top he’s rocking in a second, but check the hair here: Riker is one of the few main male crew members whose hair can actually do something besides his normal look. Picard has that glorious bald pate (pretty limited), Data’s hair is always gelled to Pauly D levels, and Geordi just rocks a short fade. (Worf’s hair is a world unto itself, though. LUXURY KLINGON HAIR.) Usually we see Riker slicked back, but here he has a “crazy” hairstyle which, to me, makes him look younger. Or like a hedgehog. (A sexy hedgehog.)
Once it’s revealed that Riker is, in fact, rehearsing a play and not actually imprisoned in a mental health facility, we see Dr. Crusher (the director and possibly writer of this drama) in her director garb, which has apparently been drawn from the Deanna Troi Maxi Dress collection:
Are those LOAFERS? Ugh
Look, I know these people are in Starfleet, and on a SERIOUS MISSION to do SERIOUS WORK, but with literally unlimited options at their disposal, you would think that when they were out of uniform, they’d get a LITTLE bit crazy clothes-wise. Instead, Bev goes for what is essentially a very long t-shirt and some flats last seen at the 1987 Kewaskum United Methodist Jell-O Mold Competition.
This bitch don’t age
I will give her points for the color, though. It’s slightly reminiscent of my 9th grade “Crayola Bold Box” palette period, when I wore exclusively forest green, burgundy, eggplant, and navy blue, but it’s lovely with her hair.
Riker is worried he’s not good enough to play the part of the crazy man in the play, but Crusher reassures him that he is. This inspires him to tromp through the halls of the Enterprise, acting the SHIT out of the lines he’s memorizing:
EXXXTREME ACTING SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY
Now, I’ll give the boringness of this top a pass, since he is in costume, portraying an inmate of a mental hospital, but what I CANNOT ABIDE is that this top does not fit this man. Now, Jonathan Frakes’ IMDb page says he is 6’4”, which cannot make him an easy man to dress in real life, but THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. THIS IS A STARSHIP. A starship that has a MACHINE that makes ANYTHING YOU WANT. Come on, costume shop. Give him something to wear that doesn’t look like the losing entry in a Project Runway challenge that has a minimum yardage requirement. “Designers, today we’re going to give you 47 yards of fabric, all of which you must use. Also we are doing a Salute to Minimalism.”
(Side note: Frakes’ IMDb page also says he is married to Genie Francis, aka LAURA FROM GENERAL HOSPITAL. Excuse me? How was I not aware of this? This is almost more mind-blowing than when I discovered Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally were married.)
So Riker and his manmuu walk down the hall, and Riker sees this guy staring at him:
Rrrrrruffles have rrrrrrrrrrridges
Riker is like “why everyone gotta be staring at me?” First of all, Riker, you dolt, of course he’s staring at you, you are acting crazy. Second of all, this guy has what I believe we called a “butt cut” when I was like 14. Anything to distract from that face, I guess.
After Riker is done with the play (which is the next night), he needs to go on an undercover mission to spy on some aliens. Worf gives him an outfit and a communicator disguised as a necklace:
He went to Jared
Riker examines the necklace, whining to Worf, “it doesn’t even go with the outfit.” Yes! I always knew Riker was a secret clotheshorse. I bet he wears fancy pants when he plays his trombone* alone in his quarters. That said, I would totally wear that necklace.
So finally it’s the day of the performance! Let’s see how Picard and Worf are enjoying the show:
Worst first date ever
Wow. They look REALLY COMPELLED. But who is that I spy in the upper left-hand corner there? ENHANCE:
You can’t tell from this shot, but this is our girl Bev, in some sort of two-piece getup with what appears to be an XXXXL Ace Bandage wrapped around her entire torso. I tried to get a few more shots, but they were fleeting, or blurry:
I didn’t need full use of my arms ANYWAYS
It’s basically a minidress with pants, all in one color, a color that will allow her to hide in a desert, or a really boring 1980s conference room. Oh, Beverly. We let you out of your Medical Officer duds for one day and you go and ruin it with these abominations. For shame.
So then shit starts to get weird. Riker, in the midst of the performance, finds that he is no longer on a set that looks like a mental hospital, but in an actual mental hospital. This is some straight Inception shit right here. These guys are his keepers:
Lands’ End Mock Turtleneck, $39.50; Butt Cuts, $9.99 at SuperCuts
Again, could we BE any more boring, if I can get a little Chandler Bing on your ass?
Riker isn’t sure anymore what’s real and what isn’t, and the fact that he’s imprisoned with actual crazy people isn’t helping. You can tell they’re crazy by their hair:
One personality likes this look; the other five know she needs a damn hairbrush
Shock therapy will do that to your ‘do
He suffers from Axl Rose’s Delusion
So Riker is like “am I crazy? Am I not crazy?” for a while, and then he suddenly wakes up in his own bed:
Pajamas? Pa-DAAAAAAAYYYYUMMM-as is more like it**
Looks like Riker got his Bed-in-a-Bag at a Target in 1997. But I like the color of those PJs, and the tantalizing glimpse at his manly chest.
For the rest of the episode, he flips back and forth between the Enterprise and the alien mental hospital, never really sure of what’s the dream and what’s real. The only constant is a pain in his right temple, that Crusher healed several times, but never seems to actually get better:
I just really like his ACTING here.
Eventually, it’s revealed that the whole time, Riker has been kidnapped by the aliens he was supposed to be spying on (remember that? With the necklace?) and attached to some sort of dream machine:
Re: Your Brains
I wish we could have seen more of that blue patterned top. I think I would actually enjoy having a skirt in that plaid-ish design, and more of that would have been a welcome departure from all the boring, schlumpy solids in the rest of the episode.
Riker finally figures out (sorta) what’s going on, and destroys the illusion with a phaser:
And finally gets back to the Enterprise for realsies. If nothing else, thank god he has his uniform back, because that mental institution garb just did nothing for him. I look forward to more of those pajamas, though.
*not a double entendre; both Riker and Jonathan Frakes actually do play the trombone
**I’m still not sure this one works