I love it when an episode has a direct connection to a previous episode. It really gives a sense of continuity in a series. This episode picks up on threads left in the episode earlier this season called Coming of Age. So, without any delay, originally airing on May 9, 1988, I give you Conspiracy.
Stardate 41775.5 Conspiracy
The Enterprise is on route to Pacifica for a mission when Picard received a priority Code 47 message from an old friend and fellow Captain, Walker Keel. They make arrangements to rendezvous on an abandoned mining colony as Walker has some vital information that he must tell Picard immediately. Information that could determine the fate of the Federation itself.
After receiving the request Picard redirects the ship to the new location, Dytallix B, in order to meet with his old friend. Upon arriving, three other Federation ships are in orbit around the mining facility. Picard beams down alone and is greeted by three other Captains, Walker Keel, Tryla Scott and Rixx, who begin to quiz him about his past.
After answering satisfactorily, they reveal that they believe the Federation has been infiltrated by an enemy that has worked its way to the highest ranks of Starfleet Command. They have been noticing strange orders and odd assignments that make no sense as well as mysterious deaths taking place throughout the organization. It seems that some of the most trusted officers could have, themselves, been changed in unexplained ways. The infected members seem to have no memory of their past and this is why he was interrogated in the manner he was. They part ways asking Picard to keep his eyes open as they believe that the Enterprise is the next target in this massive conspiracy.
Upon arriving back onboard the ship he talks with Troi about the situation, he believes Keel and is determined to dig into the issue. He asks Data to analyse all of the orders given by Starfleet command over the last six months and determine if there are any anomalies that stand out.
They continue their trip to pacifica only to run across the debris of the USS Horatio, Captain Keels ship has been completely destroyed. This makes Picard even more certain that something is true to this conspiracy and brings Riker into the fold. Data, meanwhile discovers some interesting anomalies in his record scan and presents them to Picard. Data shows that there have been mass reassignments of personnel that appears to be a clandestine attempt to take over the Federation itself. After seeing the evidence, the Enterprise heads back to Earth to confront Star Fleet Command and get to the bottom of this mystery.
Upon arriving they are contacted by Starfleet command, including Admiral Quinn and Mr. Remmick who had been aboard not too long before. They invite Picard and Riker down to Starfleet headquarters for a formal dinner. Quinn requests a private meeting with Picard and Riker prior to their dinner.
Quinn beams aboard with a strange bug-like creature and, upon meeting Picard and Riker, they soon determine that Quinn is not the same man he was the last time they met. Quinn states that he plans to stay on board while Picard and Riker dine at Starfleet but Picard asks Riker to stay aboard to escort Quinn and keep an eye on him.
Picard goes down alone and is greeted by Mr. Remmick and the remaining Admirals. Picard notes that Starfleet headquarters seems emptier than usual but they dismiss the observation. There is something very wrong at Starfleet.
Aboard the Enterprise, Quinn shows Riker the bug and claims it is a ‘superior’ form of life and attacks the First Officer easily overtaking him just after Riker calls for backup. Geordi and Worf arrive only to be attacked by Quinn himself, powered by the alien being. Quinn easily overtakes Worf in a fight and is soon stunned by Dr. Crusher who had just witnessed the interchange.
Crusher performs an investigation of Quinn and discovers that, even though he is physically Quinn he has been taken over by a parasitic life form that has attached itself to the base of his neck. This lifeform is the very one that Quinn had brought with him aboard the ship. Dr. Crusher alerts Picard to the parasitic threat, informing him that this parasite can not be safely removed without killing the host and Picard goes into the dinner ready for a fight.
Picard enters and finds dinner to be live meal worms as the parasite infested Admirals reveal themselves to the Captain. Riker appears and reveals that he has also been possessed by the parasite, keeping Picard captured. Soon Captain Scott appears revealing that she too had been compromised and they have been being played all along.
Riker then turns on the creatures and fires at them with his phaser, revealing that he had been faking his posession the whole time! They pursue the possessed Admirals and soon find that the leader of this invasion force is none other than Mr. Remmick himself.
Riker and Picard kill Remmick, exposing a massive parasite whose death results in the deaths off all of the remaining spawn in the process. They soon discover that Remmick has set off a homing beacon to the others of their kind and once that message reached them, they would know where Earth is. The last thing we here is the sound of the signal…
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
To me, It could have been one of the best of the season, full of mystery and intrigue. A story arc that could have been amazing in its own right. Sadly I have to say it is a terrible episode though as it sets up such a huge plot line that is literally never resolved. I mean…NEVER. Barely even a mention is made four seasons later and that was at best an easter egg. The question of who or what these infiltrators were goes completely unanswered in any of the subsequent seasons or series and could still make a wonderful plot point to a new series that could take place after Voyager. I really hope that one day someone picks up this thread and runs with it.
We also learn more about Picard’s past with Keel being one of his group of friends that included the deceased Jack Crusher.
In addition to the main story we get a little more of the burgeoning friendship between Data and LaForge. LaForge tells a joke on the bridge and Data…laughs…
This was a truly creepy and cool episode that has stuck with me since I was a kid. I would love to know what these things were and what they will do if and when they return.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This has some classic stop motion animation with the creatures as they move about. This was prior to much of the cgi special effects and, although it is obvious, it still works really well.
This is the first time we see recurring characters, non-Enterprise personnel, from previous episodes appear in another story. This would only be the start of really building a broader and more intricate universe for the Enterprise to play in.
Riker Beard Countdown B minus 2 Episodes until Beard Emergence.
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Late To The Game 5/12/2019 (Originally published 02/23/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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