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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Conspiracy

April 5, 2013

So I bombed a French mid-term today. Woot. Don’t ask why the mid-term was less than a month before the final. Anyway, TNG. Originally aired May 9, 1988. Stardate 41775.5. The Enterprise is en route to Pacifica, an ocean world. Geordi’s finishing a joke to Data, and Data spoils it, and laughs weirdly. They get a Code 47 message, and pass it on to Picard, waking him from his sleep. Captain Walker Keel calls him and asks to meet him. Something weird is going on.

Picard meets him on Dytallix B, in a mining tunnel. Keel, and two other captains with him, quickly test Picard, and then explain to Picard that there’s a conspiracy in Starfleet. Weird behaviours, mysterious deaths, that sort of thing. Picard is sceptical.

After the credits, Picard is talking to Troi about the meeting. Troi thinks Picard’s making a mistake, but he ignores her. He then sets Data to scanning through all Starfleet orders in the past 6 months. They pick up a disturbance in a nearby sector, and when they check it out, they find the remains of Walker’s ship.

Another break. Picard believes Walker now, and tells Riker, who’s now the sceptical one. Data is still scanning, and talks to himself. When he realizes it, he seems pleased, since it’s a common behaviour among humans. Until he explains it to the computer, which soon cuts him off, saying it understands. Poor Data. Even the computer thinks he babbles. He soon goes to talk to Picard and Riker, and explains a pattern he’s found of crews being reshuffled at outposts. Picard orders the ship back to Earth. The Admirals on Earth invite Picard and Riker down for dinner, but Quinn wants to visit the ship first. We see Quinn open a case with some weird bug-like thing inside before beaming up. On the ship, Picard soon realizes that Quinn is involved in the conspiracy. He orders Riker to keep an eye on Quinn, then beams down. Quinn tells Riker about a new lifeform he brought up – a superior form of life. They fight, and Quinn kicks ass.Worf and Geordi show up, and Quinn throws Geordi through the doors. Why are Worf and Geordi the security detail? Geordi’s not security. And you’d think Worf would bring more than one person with him. I would expect a full team any time a commanding officer declares an emergency.

After another break, Worf gets his ass kicked. Crusher to the rescue with a phaser. In the Medbay, she’s examining Quinn and finds a little point sticking out the back of his neck. There’s a parasite in his body. She discusses it with Picard, then Picard finally goes in for dinner. Dinner is grubs. Still moving. He tries to slip away, but Riker stops him. He’s got the thing sticking out his neck. One of the captains Picard met earlier shows up, too. The Admirals knew all all along that Picard was after them. Of course, Riker was just faking, and shooting starts. After the black captain is shot, the parasite crawls out her mouth. The same happens with one of the admirals. The parasite goes to Remmick. He lets the thing into his own mouth. His neck starts bulging as he talks about wanting peaceful coexistence. They phaser him, and his head explodes. A hole opens in his chest, and a giant parasite is inside, screaming. They kill it. It’s all very gruesome, even with the bad ’80s special effects. The bad special effects might actually make it more disgusting. Back on the ship, Data tells Picard that he thinks Remmick sent a beacon to an unexplored part of the galaxy. Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of those things?

Yes, we have. They never return on the show. This was followed up on in the Expanded Universe, though. Some of the DS9 novels reveal that the parasites are related to the trill, and the two races have been battling a long secret war. I’ve not read the books. Maybe I should, but, you know . . . lazy.

Apparently, the original intention was for the episode to be a commentary on the Iran/Contra affair, but that was nixed. Instead, we got gross bug things. Ew. Ew ew ew. I hate bugs. Ew. So let’s try to lessen the grossness. Apparently, Peter David figured out that if you start singing “Hello My Baby” when the mother parasite first appears, you reach “Baby my heart’s on fire” right when Picard and Riker’s phasers start hitting the creature. This is why I love Peter David.

This episode isn’t particularly good. The Admirals all put on bland, boring faces. They seem like they don’t particularly care about any of it. We never really get a full feel of the threat posed by the conspiracy. It’s people talking about how bad it is, but no real indications of how bad it is. The bad special effects also hurt it; it’d probably work better today. The gruesomeness of the climax also ends up feeling really inappropriate in Star Trek. DS9 or Voyager could’ve gotten away with it, but it doesn’t fit TNG. In the end, the episode just feels blah.

Overall, I’d give it 2/5. Weak writing, weak acting, weak special effects, and gross bug things ew ew ew!

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