One of Brannon Braga's best efforts and defintely my favorite Riker episode. I agree, Frakes does a great job. I'm always reminded of a weird Twilight Zone
episode when I watch this. I love the stark and gloomy cinematography as well as the unconventional narrative. Frakes always running around with this worn out look and the sanatorium garb makes for an eerie imagery. That episode is an underrated gem in my book.
I don't see the Crusher thing you're alluding to though.