In this stanza, mainline and dragon are used as metaphors for his drug of preference, although these drugs can be seen as metaphors for the other addictive substances and behaviors that people can become dependent on regardless of if these substances are legal or illegal. The last two lines of this stanza insinuate that Nikki has come to an impasse and does not know what to next with his life, which is possibly why he turned to drugs. The last two lines state, "No regrets, you've got no goals/Nothing more to learn" (Queensryche). These concluding lines indicate that Nikki is waiting for some sort of direction, regardless of whether it is good or bad, simply to not be a slave to the drug.
The third stanza offers Nikki a solution for his dilemma and proposes that the doctor will give his life purpose, which ironically, is the price Nikki will have to pay in order to get what he wants, heroin. The third stanza states, "Now I know you won't refuse/Because we've got so much to do/and you've got nothing more to lose/So take this number and welcome to//Operation: Mindcrime" (Queensryche). Through this attitude, the doctor insinuates that if an individual is not part of one system, he is part of another. Furthermore, the doctor implies that people are often forced to comply with certain goals and aspirations because they have no other choices. As the doctor proceeds to explain Operation: Mindcrime, it becomes evident that the price to pay for heroin is equally dangerous to the drug. In the chorus, the doctor explains, "Operation: Mindcrime/We're an underground revolution/Working overtime/Operation: Mindcrime/There's a job for you in/the system boy, with nothing to sign" (Queensryche). Paradoxically, joining the doctor's revolution strips Nikki of the remaining shreds of self-control. Not only is he a slave to his addiction, but now he has to pay the price and join Operation: Mindcrime.
Paradoxically, Nikki knows exactly what he must give up in order to obtain "the cure" from the "doctor" and thus cannot claim that he was forced into obeying the doctor. The fourth stanza explains what Nikki is expected to do in exchange for heroin from the doctor; "Hey Nikki, you know everything/That there is to do/Here's a gun. Take it home/Wait by the phone/We'll send someone over/to bring you what you need/You're a one man death machine/Make this city bleed" (Queensryche). The doctor continues, "I know you won't refuse/Because we've got so much to do/and you've got nothing more to lose/So take this number and welcome to Operation: Mindcrime" (Queensryche). In a way, the doctor is further instilling hopelessness in Nikki as he tells the addict that he does not have the power to resist because he is too weak and easy to manipulate.
"Operation: Mindcrime" provides commentary on the depravity of drug addiction, the loss of identity, independence, and free will. Furthermore, Nikki becomes a symbol of the lost, drug-addicted youths in society. The doctor is representative of the individuals and forces that take advantage of these youths for their personal gain, and how these drug-addicted youths are considered to be expendable. The obstacles Nikki is forced to overcome can be considered to be metaphors for common obstacles. Everyone is forced to make choices in their lives that will impact their futures. This song stresses the importance of making one's own decisions and the consequences that may arise if one lets another person make those decisions for them.
As part of a rock opera, "Operation: Mindcrime" provides a quick insight into the life of Nikki, his battle with addiction, and the role that enablers and outside forces play in his decision making. Paradoxically, the song demonstrates that even though an individual is not part of an accepted social system, they are always part of a system and there is nothing that they can do to escape it.
Titus, Christa. "Queensryche Ink New Record Deal, Next Album Due June 11." Billboard Biz.