Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 5/9/1988
Teleplay by Tracy Torme
Story by Robert Sabaroff
Directed by Cliff Bole
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Under Starfleet transmission code 47 — the utmost secrecy and urgency — Picard is called to the surface of a desolate, abandoned mining planet by his good friend, Captain Walker Keel (Jonathan Farwell) of the USS Horatio. Keel warns Picard of a conspiracy growing within Starfleet Command, and ominously tells him to trust no one. The Horatio is shortly afterward destroyed in a disastrous implosion. Coincidence? Yeah, right.
"Conspiracy" is the tensest and most unpredictable of TNG's first season, starting with Keel's wide-eyed "No!" when Picard asks if their meeting can be done with less cloak-and-dagger sneakiness, and proceeding through the slowly building realization that an alien threat has come from beyond and is now attacking by manipulating from within. Ironic that one of the most involving of TNG's first season is also essentially an anti-Trek storyline, in which a malevolent alien threat must be exposed and destroyed with brute force (not to mention visceral reactions of unmasked disgust, particularly from Picard), and an ominous ending that is not at all reassuring.
Admiral Quinn, who alluded to the conspiracy in "Coming of Age," turns out to be under the alien influence here, and throws around like rag dolls (in the following order) Riker, Geordi, and Worf, before being put down by a phaser blast from Dr. Crusher, who subsequently discovers the parasitic being attached to Quinn's upper spine. Meanwhile, Picard's meeting with the admirals at Starfleet Headquarters on Earth is a nicely played escalation of subdued horror — with idle conversation that then proceeds to a meal of live worms, and finally the revelation that Riker has been compromised — or has he?
The mother of all the aliens is hiding in Lt. Cmdr. Remmick (which is somehow amusingly appropriate), which makes for a rather creepy sequence: Somehow, when he says the aliens seek "peaceful coexistence" I'm less than convinced. Neither is Picard. "Conspiracy" is a brawny hour of X-Files-style Trek, and might be the only episode of Trek where a man's head so awesomely gets blowed up real good. The episode perfectly sets itself up for a sequel that, alas, would never come.
Previous episode: We'll Always Have Paris
Next episode: The Neutral Zone
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121 comments on this post
Sun, Apr 6, 2008, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 11, 2008, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 3, 2009, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 5, 2009, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 2, 2010, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 26, 2010, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 4, 2010, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
I know that originally the conspiracy was just a military coup within Starfleet, that Gene Roddenberry objected, and thus the alien angle was introduced. I also know that the Borg were initially conceived as an insectoid race and that these "parasites" would have been the first wave of the invasion. Nevertheless, I fail to understand how this episode got made, and why Rick Berman, of all people, backed the gory ending despite the objections of Maurice Hurley.
Wed, Aug 3, 2011, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Warning: There be spoilers ahead!
Don't get me wrong, Conspiracy is one of the handful of season one eps that I find is actually half decent, but I'm making a list of episodes for my friend (who has never seen ST:TNG) to watch, and I think I'm gonna put this one on the "skip it" pile. Not for the reasons that the majority of episodes such as "Angel One" and "Code of Honor" make that list (ie: they suck and are too painful to sit through), but because I think the Star Trek universe as a whole stands up better without it. Here's my rationale -- without this episode, the conspiracy that Picard is warned about in "Coming of Age" becomes a possible reference to Section 31 (the clandestine group from later episodes of DS9). Add the fact that the ending of "Conspiracy" implies we will hear from these aliens again, and yet we never do... well, it's a bit unsatisfying. (and the claymation bugs... Holy cheesy effects, Batman!)
Is there any reason to have her watch this other than to see Picard and Riker viciously blow up a man's head? (Seems like in any other episode of TNG they would've at least explored if there was a way to extract the alien without killing Remmick, but I guess Riker's still holding a grudge from "Coming of Age." Heheh "Eat Phaser, Remmick!")
Wed, Aug 22, 2012, 6:22am (UTC -5)
I agree it would have been a better send-off than The Neutral Zone, but that is to sensationalise it, which I think GR would have been against.
The episode may have B-Movie type moments (the meal of maggots and worms for example) but I was completely thrown by Riker - I thought he had been taken over.
The series was still a series or two away from finding itself...Deanna was still in her 'I'm not sure what they are hiding, or who is hiding what' phase - some help to the Captain. They finally starting using her properly from s6 onwards, but I think the episode as a whole was great, and stand up with anything that came later.
I think it is all too easy to dismiss season 1 - it does have some really good episodes. I suppose Angel One, Justice, and the Naked Now are basement episodes - but maybe you have to sit through them just once, to get a balance on how good TNG really is.
Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 1:39am (UTC -5)
Hopefully a future trek will pick up on this show.
Sat, Oct 27, 2012, 8:40am (UTC -5)
You guys totally nailed it when you say this is the Anti-Trek TNG episode. It was so violent, so creepy and so negative that I really thought they'd play the "It was all a dream" card by the end of the episode (particularly when Riker's loyalty was in doubt). The fact that it was all "real" made it better, imo.
But if this would have been the new direction for the series from then on, I wouldn't care for TNG. Now, as a standalone adventure, it's actually one of the better offerings of S1.
And don't forget this is a direct sequel of "Coming of Age". I like continuity and sequel eps every now and then.
Tue, Nov 6, 2012, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
That wasn't Star Trek, that was... Aliens!
There are plenty of episodes where Picard avoids using violence, even if the ship might be in danger, choosing the diplomacy way. But here, he and Riker just shoot Remmick and blow his head away. And what a gory vision, I was about to hear a cruel voice yelling "fatality"!
And btw, why did Geordi was running along with Worf heading to Quinn's quarters? Is Geordi in security team?
Thu, Dec 20, 2012, 2:34am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 3:33am (UTC -5)
Now my first thought was "Ooh! Mealworms! Come on Picard, they're not *that* gross..." (Says the guy with a lizard that eats them as treats.)
Sat, Mar 9, 2013, 12:56am (UTC -5)
Ironically, I watched it first run, and being a little kid, I didn't understand the repeats that started coming on the next few weeks. I loved the blond security lady, I cried when she died.
Looking back now, I realize how silly and horrible the 1st season is, but I just don't care, this was my version of howdy doody!!!! To this day most of these terrible 1st season episodes are 4 star, I don't care how bad they are, they remind me of an innocent place, a good place, before my parents got divorced and grandparent started dying. I think everyone has that comfort thing, some may be football, some old video games, for me, it is 1st season TNG.
Love ya, Conspiracy!
Mon, Mar 18, 2013, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 18, 2013, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 19, 2013, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
And I hope they will do billions more Throat and Neck Inflation Mutation Horror Movies and whole lot other new creepy sci-fi alien-monster movies that are as good as this "Star Trek: TNG" 'Conspiracy' episode.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:06pm (UTC -5)
It's also kind of dumb. Alien!Quinn just gives up his plan to infect the doctor when he sees Riker because he feels like it? And starts beating up Worf because it's always fun to beat up Worf. The idea that Picard & Riker are enough to take down an entire alien conspiracy mostly *holding command* of Starfleet Command strains credulity.
I don't really hold the action-movie dumbness against it that much, especially since aspects of it were smartly done (the Riker thing, as I mentioned). So I'd say 3 stars.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
There is something to this episode about the way conspiracies enthrall the imagination -- I like the scene of Data going through all the information and finding patterns, which is what conspiracy theorists do; it's a fantasy, if an attractive one, that if only we had enough information and the processing power to go through it, we'd be able to know who They are and what They are doing. Most of the episode is kind of undirected paranoia. Which again, is fun to go through every now and then.
Thu, May 23, 2013, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 18, 2013, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 15, 2013, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Although not representative of the usual Trek shtick, I think it's a great episode. Especially in the first half as the tension builds. I like the sober tone throughout, despite some early Data-generated laughs.
I also agree with xaaos that the resolution is reminiscent of something like Aliens. And how many Trek episodes ended on such a paranoid note?
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
Also after watching JJ's Star Trek movies, which really do a nice job of giving Earth and alien planets their due, its hard to see this cardboard interpretation of Starfleet Headquarters.
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 19, 2014, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Also - best 47 ever - "it's a code 47!"
Fri, Jan 16, 2015, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 6:36am (UTC -5)
OK, the basic plot is a sub-Invasion of the Body Snatchers paranoia-fest. But the playful themes running through it (Worf's "Swimming is too much like... bathing", Data's satisfaction at finding he is talking to himself and being cut off by the ship's computer) leaven what grows from conspiracy drama through the creepy (the mealworm dinner) to outright horror at the conclusion (the very un-Trek-like exploding head/chest burster double combo).
With its callbacks to a previous episode, and a highly unusual very downbeat open ending, this ticks all of my boxes. And the simple deconstruction of the conspiracy-laden world we live in today - "When a machination is real, no one knows about it. And when it's suspected, it's almost never real." "Except, of course, in paranoid delusions, for those who believe" - is worthy of a half-point all of its own. 3.5 stars.
Sun, Nov 1, 2015, 11:11am (UTC -5)
I was very spooked throughout most of the episode and the whole idea intrigues me.
4/5 for me.
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
Good review, but minor nitpick. The doctor in this episode is Crusher, not Pulaski. Pulaski would never have been able to pull off the fake bluegill so well.
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 12:07am (UTC -5)
They spend months and months infiltrating and then one of them decides to infiltrate the Enterprise by, what? Fist fighting the entire crew. Good plan, obvious stunt stand-in for the alien old guy. And, god, the fighting was so terribly awkward. Yeah. Geordi could survive being thrown so hard through Enterprise sliding doors that both doors are entirely knocked into the corridor. And, he just gets up and dusts himself off. Yes. Makes sense.
And, then... Let's expose that we are all aliens by serving Picard worms. Don't kill him or take him over as soon as he arrives since they are super strong, there is no one to stop them, and there are like lots of extra claymation aliens hanging out in the mother bug. Just sit him down for dinner a la any lame Bond villain and gross him out. I guess once you carefully infiltrate, you can just be arrogantly uncareful. “We've won, Captain! Eat up! The worms, they are so tasty! What? You don't like worms? HAHAHAHAH! HAHAHAHAH!”
And why were there absolutely no guards with the mother bug? Can only command personnel be taken over? No two lower rank expressionless flunky sentries standing outside the door? And, yes. Just blow that mother bug away. Don't try to trap it so that you can interrogate it or whatever. Gore! Guts!
And then, OF COURSE, all the bugs everywhere conveniently die when the mother does, leaving their hosts in perfect health! KILL THE HEAD VAMPIRE! All the rest will come back from undeath!
I simply cannot believe that anyone could give this such a high rating, except for the guy who saw it when he was seven and will always love it, admittedly, irrationally. :)
1 star for the decent mystery story that was going on before the episode when into la-la land, and then take that star away for the crap after. ZERO stars.
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 5, 2016, 11:42am (UTC -5)
The aliens were too dumb to check the back of Picard or Rikers neck to see if they was one of them,
and the alien that burst out of Remmik at the end just made me laugh,
over all the episode felt like a rip off of a few sci-fi films and the fact that there was no episode that continued from this one made it feel even more lame, 1 star might be too generous.
Fri, Feb 5, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
"The aliens were too dumb to check the back of Picard or Rikers neck to see if they was one of them"
Actually, they did check Riker's neck and found bluegil because Crusher made a fake one. Picard wasn't taken over yet, the bug creatures were just taunting him before they did his conversion.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I must have missed Crusher playing with Rikers neck, as i said the episode barely kept me interested
Sat, May 21, 2016, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
Let's forget about the merits of the story. And let's set aside how well-written it was or wasn't.
This seems to me to be the first episode of Star Trek TNG where Picard acts like Picard. Or at least it is the one where Patrick Stewart really seems to gel in the role.
The actors spent the first year of the show trying to develop their characters and how they would play them. Picard would not have behaved (in some respects) in later seasons the way he did in the first one. It took awhile for Patrick Stewart to figure out how to play the character and for the writers to figure out how to write him.
Conspiracy is the first episode where I feel like I can recognize the captain we would all come to know and love. That's why I like this episode, even if for no other reason.
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 5:09am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 9:42am (UTC -5)
I don't know David, if I saw a bunch of claymation bugs crawling around trying to take over my body I'd probably shoot first and ask questions later.
Sat, Aug 6, 2016, 3:57am (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 20, 2016, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Technically, Picard didn't really solve the problem, as the aliens were able send a beacon out to inform their companions about the opportunities in Starfleet. It's just that "Conspiracy"'s aliens got aborted and replaced by the Borg, which more or less offer a similar type of threat. I recommend reading the article about this on Memory Alpha if you haven't already.
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
The central problem I have with this episode is the same issue I have with all of season one. It's not that it's irredeemably terrible (though the racist one with the all black backward tribal "aliens" was truly risible) but that, with just a few small tweaks that really would not take much intelligence or common sense to make, it could have been so much better. Most of it has been mentioned above, but again, why have Quinn act like Hulk Hogan in a completely irrational way? Why have the aliens sit down to a meal of worms just in case the viewer didn't understand that "MWUHAHAHAHAHA THESE ARE THE BAD GUYS!!!!"? This kind of stuff completely wrecks the suspension of disbelief that is necessary to otherwise enjoy Sci-Fi - and which later TNG managed to avoid, generally.
By the by, it's also clear that Jammer has over-rated almost all of season one due to nostalgia. This episode gets the same rating, for example, as season 6's Tapestry. Now I'm sorry, but you'd have to have been lobotomised to watch this episode and that and conclude that they are similarly good. Jammer is clearly in possession of a whole brain and this is an observation rather than a criticism, but clearly a lot of complete dross in this season gets a bit of a free pass just because it's Trek, and we all love Trek, even when it's so bad it threatens to give you eye cancer to watch it.
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
"Tapestry" may be better as a playful, thought-provoking character study, but "Conspiracy" is something completely different and I think it succeeds on a number of levels that don't aim to be the kind of episode "Tapestry" or "The Inner Light" are. If I was going to make a comparison I might match this one up with "Schisms" or even "Cause and Effect" in terms of creating a creepy vibe and making normal things seem very wrong.
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Zakalwe, there's no need to insult Jammer's intelligence or write off his score as nostalgia. The review says it all; Jammer likes the anti-Trek type of thriller feel that this show has. "Conspiracy" shows a darker, imperfect side to the Federation. And seeing as Jammer is a big fan of DS9, it's very consistent that he'd score this episode as high as he did.
Fri, Nov 4, 2016, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 11:50am (UTC -5)
And does Riker's plan to rescue PIcard seem kind of stupid? Beam down with a prosthetic parasite tail sticking out of his neck, and then hope it fools them (do the aliens really have no other way to identify each other?) and that at some point he can get the jump on them and that that's enough to overcome their superior numbers vs beam down with half the Enterprise and just wreck shop on the joint? Hmm.
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Anyway through that lens this episode is ridiculous in how it glosses over what needed to be a much bigger plot and it's hard to imagine how such basic plot holes could be overlooked. They clearly needed more time to develop it properly. It had others odd flaws just to use primary actors. As someone mentioned, why was Geordi going there when he's not security? I thought it amusing that they chose meal worms (which plot wise gave it away too much) yet they show up later as Klingon food which Riker has no trouble eating and Picard claims he's looking forward to trying when he's on that Klingon ship going to Romulus.
The head blowing up was simultaneously cheesy looking and yet more realistic what a "phaser" could do to someone. No thought was given to trying to save Reddick, which is more Kirk and less Picard, yet this episode does remind me more of the original which was often cheesy and yet very entertaining despite itself...more so in many ways than newer Treks which perhaps took themselves a little too seriously for a show originally meant to be a wagon train to the stars so I've got mixed feelings about the hammier stuff on TNG.
By the time we got to Enterprise most of the cast was so utterly PC that the characters were boring as stone. Part of the humor in Star Trek was from flaws in the characters. TNG understood this with Data for example. The weapons guy and helmsman on Enterprise were just stiff and boring. Geordi had his visor. Worf had his Klingon heritage that was foreign, etc. DS9 was boring for me until later seasons proved an overall story arc (Babylon 5 was far more interesting to me at the time). Voyager was boring until they brought The Borg in and 7 of 9 (both a flawed character due to lack of humanity and it didn't hurt that she was also attractive; every soap needs some eye candy for both sexes). Other ideas in TNG (like humans don't eat real meat anymore seem like patent nonsense to me the same way flying cars and Jaws 19 were in Back To The Future Part 2. Oddly 2015 looks just like 1985 save smart phones which they missed entirely (minor car differences etc.)
So yes this episode was a bit b-movie cheese but most of the original show was and that didn't stop my enjoyment of it. It just seems not fleshed out enough. Frankly I wasn't crazy about the show becoming overly PC as time went on. Conflict drives drama and not all conflict should be from outside aliens (look at the way McCoy argued with Spock over his lack of emotions...not PC at all but both entertaining and ultimately enlightening.)
Tue, Jan 3, 2017, 10:53am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
The mind parasite alien trope works better with wholesome late fifties America, obsessed as it was with the threat from the 'commies' threatening to infiltrate society .
Suddenly our violence averse ,superior homo sapiens from most season 1 stories have become trigger happy killers.
"We just want to co-exist"
"Eat phasers on kill you alien loving jerk"
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
But based on what other people think, I guess it is quite the polarizing episode. Some hate it (like me) and others seem to think it's one of the best of Season 1. Season 1 TNG is quite poor IMHO.
So what was the purpose of Quinn beating up Riker, Laforge, Worf? And Remmick's head exploding as the mother being? No issues with Picard/Riker destroying him as this species -- while clearly intelligent -- is harmful and cannot be reasoned with.
The part with Riker pretending like he was taken over by the parasite was well-done as a means of initiating the conclusion of the episode but the part with the exploding head is just ridiculous. Really forgettable episode - I can't believe Jammer gave this 3.5/4 stars. For me, 1.5/4 stars. A story not worth of TNG.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Yes, it has suspense. The viewer is intrigued what's going on in the federation. But that is pretty much all the positive things that can be said about this episode.
To the criticism that other people already posted, I want to add:
The "alien infiltration" plot is just unbelievable. It's done much better with the Changelings on Earth in DS9 - who are indistinguishable, even by tricorders, because they take on human form on a molecular level. But the aliens in this episode here... they are not even good at impersonation, they obviously change the behavior/attitude of the hosts, and they should easily be discovered when using the transporter or getting a medical check-up. And it's only a handful of people they have apparently replaced, although this infiltration "thing" has been going on for months.
If the aliens had been less cheesy (the episode could have done without stupid sentences like "All we want is *sarcastic face* PEACEFUL COEXISTANCE!") and things were done more subtly, this could've been 2-3 stars; but as it is, I agree with Rahul.
1.5 stars (Suspense alone doesn't automatically make an episode great)
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
On your comment on why Star Trek and Star Wars are dead in the cinema, I fully agree. It already started with Nemesis, before JJ Abrams came into the picture - a degradation to a pointless action movie which had intelligence-insulting loopholes every five minutes. Just as you say, it's this kind of cheap writing where logic flies out the window, this rehashing of fan-favourite elements (which is glamorized as "paying respect to the original characters/stories") which don't fit together coherently and fail to create a believable universe. And then the director even gets praise for "knowing about his stuff" and all the "nods" he gives to the fandom. Excuse me, but I'm getting sick. I was also baffled by the good reception of Star Wars Episode VII - the movie was completely uninspired. It slavishly followed the formula of Episode IV. Sure, it wasn't the worst from a technical standpoint, but can't you do any better than copy & paste? Doesn't anyone know how to write original stories any more?
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 1:26am (UTC -5)
1 - There's apparently nobody in security anywhere nearby, so they have to send Worf and Geordi running down from the bridge.
2 - They both show up without phasers.
3 - Then they send the doctor running up from Sickbay - who does have a phaser.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 4:59am (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Seemingly fives minutes or so pass (if that) and Riker has arrived with his fake alien gill, that even passes inspection.
So in the space of under five minutes, Riker and Beverly have concocted this plan for Riker to pretend to be compromised and Bev puts in that fake gill... That seems a bit unrealistic....
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 2:39am (UTC -5)
Instead, it just boiled down to a painfully unsubtle plot by some aliens for earth conquest. And apparently from what I've heard here, they won't even be referenced again. What a waste of an excellent build-up!
Another stupid fact is that only Beverly thought to use the phasers on Quinn.
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
This is a really good episode from start to finish
I enjoyed the banter in the teaser. Then the ominous Code 47 then all the secrecy with Keeler then the spooky rendezvous on Dytalix B with a nice casting for the cadre of Captains not only as far as the actors but the diversity from a Bolian to an African American female then later on with a Vulcan Admiral Then the destruction of the Horatio only heightened the unease. Then all the intrigue. And it was always a big deal when the Enteeprise returned to Earth since throughout the series it occurred so infrequently.
Lots of nicely executed mystery elements. First thinking Quinn was still on Picard’s side until saw him with case containing the creature. Then the thrilling sequence where Quinn attacked Riker. I loved his quip about “vitamins” being responsible for his vigor and newly discovered strength. And then the next fight between Worf , Geordie and Quinn. And got a kick out of Beverly being the one to come to their rescue
And the way the director shot the scene with Riker coming upon Beverly and then later not knowing that Riker was faking his possession all caught me offguard and enhanced the viewing experience greatly adding to its enjoyable nature. And the chase and firefight through the corridors of Atafleet Headquartes itself was fun and exciting
The show had me believing that Remmick was not corrupted so I was shocked when it turned out not only was he compromised but the Mother Creature and here, unlike In First Contact with the awful idea that destroying the Borg Queen all the drones are also destroyed, I can by these creatures dying without her given their biological nature and not being a redundant collective intelligence
And much like “Q Who” this episode knocks the final scene out of the park closing with a homing signal
chirping repeatedly as wepan out from the ship to open space. Fantastic!
I also have to give it to TNG for not running to the familiar TOS threats like the Klingons and Romulans but we’re trying to introduce new ones like the Derengi, the Borg and these aliens.
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Old, hackneyed plot. The puppet master brain stem body snatcher thing has been done to death. This brain lice life form was just hiding under a rock waiting to be found so it could take over the galaxy? I'm glad they dropped this baddie from their repertoire.
I do like that Trek occasionally has just plain old malevolent life forms from time to time. The kind of enemy where the Trek-talking leads nowhere and the best thing to do is just blast them. "Schisms" comes to mind as another example of aliens basically being boogeymen.
I kind of like the infamous "messy phaser kill" ending because we rarely see those. I am actually bothered by how clean phaser kills usually are (basically they act like transporters to nowhere) so it was nice to have the contrast. Just like it's a good reminder to have a transporter very rarely turn somebody into a pile of gore (TMP). These are your molecules getting ripped apart, folks! Also nobody liked that character, so it was fitting they brought him back for this ignoble end.
I also like the use of stop-motion animation here, which was still a few years away from becoming obsolete. Effective or not here, I'm just a fan of the technique. But that wasn't exactly Ray Harryhausen mastery level stop-motion.
The episode has a scale problem. Going back to Earth takes a day or two? Starfleet Command is three guys in an office? It can't deliver on its grandiose premise. It can't plausibly define the hugeness of the threat and then also plausibly defeat it in just one hour. It would have been better to limit the takeover to a single planet or a space station or a starship.
Isn't the worm food basically "gahk" or however you spell it?
Bad? Overall I'd have to say yes. But I like it for the creepiness factor and the oddity value ("anti-Trek" is kind of nice once in awhile, and this is far from the only example of the show contradicting itself). This episode might be hard to defend, but I always find it entertaining.
Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 1:29am (UTC -5)
UH... Really, Riker, that came off as normal to you?
Come on... who directed this episode, Curly, Moe, or Larry!? The 3 admirals were so wooden and awkward acting they shoulda just had signs around their necks saying “Call the Orkin man!”
S1 sucks, we all know that. And I guess I can appreciate what they were trying to go for here.
I guess I can. I dunno. Stupid S1.
Sat, Apr 14, 2018, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Speaking of which, I was hardly fooled by that stumpy tailed Bluegil sticking out of Riker's neck. The men under control of the parasite, had a long wiggly tail coming out of there neck, while Riker's was just a dead stump that looked like it died at birth. I have expected the other Captains to look at Riker and ask "Dude, what's up with your tail"?
The exploding Remmick head reminded of the movie Scanners. I thought I recalled Michael Ironside's character was named Remmick, but it was Revok. Nice to see they brought back the exploding head special effect. LOVED IT!! I too own a lizard who eats meal worms. I used to be kinda scared of them, but I now dip my fingers into a container of giant meal worms, to put them in my lizards feeding dish. I buy the 250 or 500 meal worm container. I wouldn't put them in my mouth though. Now that is gross.
Sun, May 20, 2018, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 25, 2018, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Easily the best in season 1.
Data's laugh. Lol.
And the subtle tension througout was great.
Someone mentioned a DS9 novel on these creatures.
What's the name of it?
Sat, Aug 18, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one, both the nature of the conspiracy and also the scope of it. It is good to see the Federation come up against something superior. The episode ended with the risk still out there. Were these the ultimate foe that the TNG creators intended the Federation to have to defeat in the overall series? as the Borg turned out to be?
I don`t think that this episode deserved the super high score from Jammer. Maybe because a conspiracy of this scope deserved more than one episode. How bad could the threat have been if it was defeated in one short episode?
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 11:37pm (UTC -5)
As is, 2.5-3 stars.
Wed, Jul 17, 2019, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 17, 2019, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
1.) Star Trek always uses the term "race" to refer to different alien species. It is rather surprising that the word "species" is almost never used. But it is a remarkably consistent tract across the entire franchise. I think you're reading too much into that aspect.
2.) "There was No reason that such an intelligent alien would make up such a lame excuse." That's just bad writing, not some grand scheme on the part of the writers. This is Star Trek, after all. Are you really saying that the grand statement is "you should be racist"? In Star Trek? In TNG Season One? The one season where Roddenberry himself had the most creative control?
3.)"...as Remmick dies he explains they seek peaceful coexistence..." Couldn't he just be lying? They obviously not seek peaceful coexistence if they are forcibly taking over people and using them to institute an even grander invasion plan.
4.) "They take no prisoners, make no effprt to seek out and discover more about this fascinating, intelligent, brand new life form from so far away." An intelligent, brand new life form which was trying to enslave them. What were they supposed to do? Let themselves be enslaved? Does all a conquering enemy really have to do is say "we're really you're friends" and all is well?
Wed, Jul 17, 2019, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
As Jammer writes, this is more like X-FIles in a Star Trek setting. That is probably the reason why there is no follow up episode. We never know what happened to that species. Maybe the Federation is now lead by brain parasites...
The Klingon War, The Dominion War are all just in our parasite infested brains.
It is also kind of true that they are a threat but annihilating them seems a little harsh.
Thu, Jul 18, 2019, 6:05am (UTC -5)
From the time I watched this first run, to the last time a couple of years ago, I always thought the way he malevolently said "peaceful co-existence" meant that was the last thing they wanted. He said it to mock the Feds, not offer the hand (heh) of peace. Federation sentient beings were taken over and at least one ship was destroyed along the way, with the loss of all hands. This was an invasion, pure and simple, and they stopped it.
I do recall being a bit surprised they made it all explody, instead of beaming it to a holding cell, but I think it is a case of shoot first/remove the threat, and figure out the rest later.
Fri, Jul 19, 2019, 9:53am (UTC -5)
""As Jammer writes, this is more like X-FIles in a Star Trek setting. That is probably the reason why there is no follow up episode."
Well just so you know, the Borg were originally supposed to be an insectoid hive-mind species...just saying :)
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Quinn especially was well acted ("Now, Klingon, it's between you and me"). But they were all good.
Great tension building, with many creepy and wonderful moments, ending with the exploding head (Remmick, we hardly knew ye).
Seems to be about what we allow inside, how we are defined, as Data absorbs a ton of data, Picard goes with his gut, the aliens inhabit many important bodies, and Riker refuses to eat squirming larva.
Season 1 is definitely ending better than it began.
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
I never thought about this episode considering what's inside each character that's important. One sort of unexplored angle - to me, at least - is that we see Remmick again reprising his role as the abiding toady. This seems like it might be a continuation from "Coming of Age" where, under orders, he dutifully audited the Enterprise for security breaches. The problem is though, is that it seems like Remmick did a 180 in the previous episode, and was no longer interested in just the nuts and bolts of Starfleet. It turns out that he really wanted to be with a good team that took Starfleet to another level like on the Enterprise-D. So inside, Remmick was a decent guy - just following obnoxious orders.
Now it turns out that probably sometime in between that episode and this one that Remmick was invaded, but I wonder why he was chosen? It's not really a matter of just desserts for the audience now, is it? Are they trying to show that even the most dedicated members of Starfleet interested in protecting it were being turned by the Conspirators? I'm not quite sure.
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
What struck me about Remmick was that he hides his true self through most of Coming of Age. Then we get a tiny glimpse of the real Remmick, and he seems like a very humble, decent fellow.
In Conspiracy, Remmick again hides his true self, but this time, when we get a glimpse, we find an arrogant monster-in-charge.
It does seem as if the aliens try to choose their hosts with care. They express disappointment at getting Riker when they wanted the Doctor, for example.
Maybe the idea is that the first, "mother alien" chose Remmick because he is so good at doing what he's told, even to the point of subjugating his true self. He knows how to hide what's really inside.
Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
I guess one 'conspiracy theory' could be that Quinn retained some control over himself and wanted to let the Enterprise know what it needed to stop the aliens. But let's put that aside because no hint of that is given other than his irrational choices.
What did occur to me, however, is that we are repeatedly shown the aliens taking incredible chances, and enjoying it. One thing very palpable when Quinn is making stupid decisions is that he's grinning like an idiot through it as if he just can't wait to wipe the floor with some fools. He barely even seems to care about his mission, compared with gloating about how strong he is. And likewise on the planet, when the senior admirals needlessly taunt Picard with worms and toy with him, even though in theory his ship in orbit could beam him out any time. They seem to think that by having a single guy with a phasor in the room they can do whatever they want.
When Riker enters and tricks them, they tell him to "relish" his new body, and that's exactly what I get when watching these parasites do anything: they do everything with relish, almost like kids trying out a new toy. I'm starting to think this portrayal was no accident, because later Remmick's alien is referred to as the mother creature. Could these other parasites have been actual children, acting like children despite being highly intelligent?
Maybe the reason the invasion failed is because a single mother alien who got to Earth kind of by happenstance was trying to do it all alone, using her little kids to do most of the work, whereas if she had gotten other alien mothers to come join maybe they'd have been able to reign in the kids a little more.
I'm not quite sure this is what they were going for, but it's sure what it looks like. All of these parasites parade around their powers, taunting people for fun every chance they can get, and basically laughing while they're doing it. It sure does make them seem evil, which I guess was the intent. But maybe it makes more sense to think of them as immature rather than evil; it would certainly explain the many unexplainable blunders they make.
Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Quick! Someone check his neck for a blue tail!
Tue, Sep 24, 2019, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 17, 2019, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Behaving like children? Yeah, that could fit for acts 2 and 3. Yet this takeover had been in motion for months without anybody "in charge" noticing according to act 1...apparently so inconspicuously that the pattern had surprised Data as if it had been akin to a genius masterwork. It doesn't fit that they were so ill-equipped to be brought down by 1 lone hero and his sidekick, 50's B-movie style. According to the aliens themselves, they were waiting for the Enterprise to come to them...the attitude of those who believe that they'd already won. The pieces don't fit.
And why was only one parasite brought on board? Why was it meant for Crusher anyway? It's not like she was in any real command of the ship. True, she had the power to pull people out of command when deemed unfit...but with the aliens acting so irrationally, it would be a hard sell to convince the rest of the crew to go along with such a decision.
Anybody else notice that the Vulcan admiral's neck pinch didn't work on Riker? WTF is up with that?
Lamest invasion ever...after such a promising opening. Not worthy of a followup.
Thu, Jan 9, 2020, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
I did want to know more about the aliens and if Quinn's story about how they were "found" was true. If so, does that mean there are survivors from that survey team waiting somewhere to receive a homing signal? Or did the aliens take control of some other group or race? Do they have their own technology or do they just piggyback on that of other races? The ambiguity is something I'm normally in favour of, but the buildup of the conspiracy over preceding episodes and in this one leaves it all feeling very perfunctory.
I do love the visceral aspects though. Never was there a more "squishy" episode of the show and it's great. On reflection, I'm also glad there wasn't a sequel because they probably would have done much to "humanise" the aliens in the end, like they did to the Borg, and where's the fun in that?
I must point out the very odd pre-credit bit, too. Is Geordi drunk? Also I misremembered Keel having been one of the aliens from my first watching as a kid. Maybe it's because that scene is played out so weird with both picard's friends from the Horatio acting so stiff and strange, you can't help but think they're "pod people".
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 13, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
I was amazed Jammer rated it so high - the first time I can remember disagreeing with his review radically.
Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 5:32am (UTC -5)
(1) the suspenseful build-up which includes Riker compelled to wake Picard with a flashing light nap-killing alarm was terrific. It rates **** because Code 47 is cool. Old friend Walker Keel is great, with all that implied Picard- Crusher backstory which makes us "care".
(2) Ditallix scene desolate and creepy with comrades who are cold and ready to kill ya, is pretty good Gets ***1/2.
(3) Beverly asking Picard "Did you see Walker?" to which Picard replies with a lie is excellent. Her innocence is well-acted. ****! Imploded ship with the respected Walker now gone is chilling and sad.
(4) Scene of a once dependable old admiral achieving super-human strength and tossing around Riker, Geordie, and Worf ragdolls is crazy, rating only *1/2 but is somewhat necessary so that Beverly, no longer in the dark, can save the day and suprise us by kicking ass with the phaser. Back up to ****. And it sets up Beverly as the fact-deriver who then wakes up Picard to the fact that deadly force will be required if he is to survive. But he has no phaser classic Picard! sad to say
The denoument is completely rushed, gratuitous and unacceptably disgusting with its headless cadaver smoldering in a chair ( negative 5 stars), but at least Picard reacts in a fully human way and chooses the preservation of our species over the blessed prime directive and related nicey-nicey codes. Final score: IMO just a tad over 2.5 stars. (6/9 accd. to my scale).
P S the thought that 5- and 7- year-olds saw the Remmick destruction scene depresses me.
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 2:06am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
Lol, just kidding, the JJ fraud might have had an intern or two watch Trek and based it on this sort of thing. Complete phony, but it fits his style.
It’s fun albeit messy first season TNG.
But it’s completely ridiculous. Data says, believably, that this is a very subtle conspiracy... then promptly, the old ass Admiral Quinn drops pretense and viciously attacks — with EXTREME relish, Riker, Geordi and Worf. And after 20 seconds of investigating the situation, Bevs comes up with a way to beat this quadrant spanning insurrection!
This perfectly fits JJ hearing about a couple episodes, to then ignore.
How’s that barely $1B for the rise of Palpatine, JJ, you lousy simulation of a fraud??
Wed, Feb 10, 2021, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
What we get instead is a gross-out ending that I'm not sure how it made it past the 1980s TV censors. Maybe they thought the episode was too boring and didn't watch all the way to the end, lol.
Cheesy music and visual fx, and no moral compass. 2 stars is too high for this one, I think. Was wisely retooled into the Borg, who made for a much more interesting sci-fi concept.
Wed, Feb 10, 2021, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 24, 2021, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure what my previous favorite S1 episode was, probably the one with Lore, but this one easily overtakes it.
I had forgotten this episode so I honestly thought Picard was being duped and the first group he met were the real conspirators. Which, given how much more sophisticated TV storytelling has become, I think says a lot about the great job they did setting a tone here where at least one viewer, myself, wasn't sure which side was right some 33 years later. Riker's initial resistance to believing helped in this regard even if it felt a little kneejerk and poorly-explained.
All of my quibbles about this episode are minor. I liked the return of Remmick but, even knowing he'd never become a member of the crew, I was sad to see him get blowed up. It was a lost opportunity. A character who had previously antagonized the crew as part of his investigation would have been a great addition and allowed for some interesting episodes where we would have seen members of the crew inclined to not like or trust him grow to know and like him.
I was 13 or so when this episode aired and I had given up on watching TNG after 'Justice' - even as a kid I hated the pandering aspect of using sexuality so clumsily to tittilate viewers. If I had seen this episode at age 13 I think I would have become a diehard Trekkie.
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
"Shenanigans? Can you be any more specific?"
Thank God the writing improves in later seasons.
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
It was pretty eye popping for 1980s TV, and it may have escaped censoring in the US because it was syndicated and thus wasn't under any network control.
Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
I see what you did there.
Thu, Jun 24, 2021, 2:10am (UTC -5)
So... one of the episodes that most grabbed my attention, but with a least satisfying outcome. Rather like the movies “What Lies Beneath” and “Fatal Attraction” - promising much but delivering a bad payoff.
However, it did have one of my favourite moments: where Data says “Incredible” to the computer, which asks him to give a comprehensible instruction; Data then goes into one of his verbose “thesaurus” replies only for the computer to interrupt him with a “I comprehend, sir”!
And by the by, have you noticed the same extras every episode whose sole function is to walk across the Bridge in camera shot, wearing the Trek micro skirt? Always makes me laugh. I don’t think they survive past Series 2?
Thu, Jun 24, 2021, 2:20am (UTC -5)
4 stars up to the point where Quinn goes all Bruce Lee, 0.5 stars thereafter. So, 2 stars in all.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 18, 2021, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
I really can't believe that so many of you seem to rate this one so highly. Maybe you're all a part of the "conspiracy."
Never mind the fact that it just plain doesn't feel like Star Trek. It's just unbelievably stupid. So what, so this alien race invades Starfleet and gains control by taking over the bodies of, what, six people?
The lack of a follow-up episode (or even the events of this episode ever being so much as MENTIONED ever again...) is an utter blessing.
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Um, I think anyone wandering into the communications room at Starfleet HQ will get a pretty good idea what happened...
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 3, 2022, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
I'll admit that the first half - the setup - is very well done. But as soon as Picard decides to head for Earth (a questionable decision under the circumstances -- maybe gather a few other ships if you think the conspiracy runs that deep?), it goes downhill fast.
These bugs have supposedly infiltrated Starfleet so subtly that almost no one noticed. Yet, when they hail Picard, they act VERY SUSPICIOUSLY. Admiral Quinn says he is not available to join them for dinner, but he IS available to visit the Enterprise, which makes no sense and yet no one comments on it. And what was his plan anyway? Did he think he could singlehandedly take over a ship with over 1000 people on it? If so, he severely miscalculated. Then we find out they have VERY OBVIOUS spikes sticking out of the back of their necks. How did no one notice THAT?
The fact that the bugs' survival depended entirely on the survival of a single "mother creature" is dumb in and of itself. But then, when Picard and Riker find Remmick, he makes no effort to hide or protect himself from them. It's like he doesn't care whether or the invasion of Starfleet succeeds or not (or whether his colleagues survive).
In short, for such a vast conspiracy, it was way too easily put down. TNG was simply not mature enough at this point to do such a big story.
I give it 2-2.5 stars, mostly for the excellent first half.
Sidenote: I try not to take into account visual effects when evaluating an episode produced over 30 years ago (I'm sure they were doing their best), but the claymation bugs are laughably bad, even on the remastered Blu-Ray. It may have actually been more frightening to never see the bugs at all.
Tue, Jan 4, 2022, 12:35am (UTC -5)
My personal interpretation of why the parasites did such stupid and arrogant things was that they were affected by bonding with humans, sort of like in TOS's By Any Other Name. Whereas they *thought* they were acting with cold calculation, the longer they stayed bonded with humans the more impulsive and irrational they became, until their plan imploded on itself due to their own excesses.
Mon, Jan 17, 2022, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Now that I think about it, this episode's emphasis on kicking ass and complete disinterest in ethical dilemmas would make it fit right in on Discovery.
Shout-out to the guy upthread from years back who clearly has some kind of fetish for, uh, inflating throats? Good lord. Shine on you freaky diamond
Sun, Apr 10, 2022, 8:12am (UTC -5)
On a side note, I don't understand why the teleportation mechanism doesn't have an inbuilt scanning procedure to identify items of concern. How many times did they beam something aboard a ship, be it organic (such as some fakakta virus) or inorganic (such as that orb that got Picard's mind all jacked up a few episodes back), that wrought havoc and almost destroyed them! Could they really not have identified this thing occupying a half of Quinn's brain when teleporting him onto the vessel1? It would take a couple of lines of Python code to compare a teleporting person's bio-pattern to what they have stored on OneDrive, FFS!
Sun, Apr 10, 2022, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 16, 2022, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 24, 2022, 1:06am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 24, 2022, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Well, it took about 30 years but I am not bothered by this anymore and the case does look like it fits in with the style of the Star Trek universe. Funny what stands out in our memories from so long ago.
* Now that I looked it up, it's actually a Stuff-It Binder.
Sun, Dec 25, 2022, 2:02am (UTC -5)
"I also almost felt sorry for the alien being at the end, being murdered by Picard and Riker. Remmick was dead by that point, so there was really no reason to murder the thing. It's not like the creature posed any real immediate danger to 2 guys holding phasers. Starfleet could have studied it and devised ways of avoiding any future incidents."
You have to be kidding. That's the most phony and lame virtue signaling I've seen in a while.
Mon, Dec 26, 2022, 12:07am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 1, 2023, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 2, 2023, 12:01am (UTC -5)
I just figured it was another example of the left leaning establishment blaming all of their problems on "racism."
It does parallel some of today's politics. A lot of bad agendas can be established by using racism as a shield and a weapon.
Mon, Apr 24, 2023, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
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