(written from a Production point of view)
After Captain Picard receives a dark warning from an old friend, the Enterprise-D returns to Earth to stop an alien invasion from taking over Starfleet Command.
While en route to Pacifica for a mission, Jean-Luc Picard receives a code 47 emergency message from Walker Keel, an old friend who is captain of the Ambassador-class USS Horatio. Keel asks Picard for a secret rendezvous on the abandoned mining colony on Dytallix B. Even though it is a secured channel, Keel insists they meet face to face.
Act One Edit
Picard quickly arrives on the bridge and asks Data if he knows Dytallix B. He orders the helm to travel there immediately, with no record of the change and no communication to Pacifica. He goes to his ready room, leaving William T. Riker to wonder what is going on.
On arriving at Dytallix B, Picard meets alone with Walker and two other captains, Tryla Scott and Rixx, who, after confirming Picard's identity with a series of questions about his past, tell him about their suspicions of a conspiracy of some sort reaching up to the highest levels of Starfleet Command. They don't have all the answers, but they cite recent suspicious orders and deaths. They are convinced that people, even top-level personnel, are "changing" somehow. Keel already suspects his first officer and chief medical officer. The sign of the change appears to be memory loss of long-term memories. They ask that Picard stay vigilant.
Act Two Edit
After returning to the Enterprise-D, he first consults Deanna Troi, saying he believes Keel and trusts him as a friend, even though he is violating Starfleet regulations. Picard looks into the matter, having Data review Starfleet directives of the past six months. While Data is reviewing the records, the USS Enterprise-D continues on to Pacifica, but, along the way, encounters shipwreck debris. Picard re-directs the Enterprise toward it, and they eventually identify it as Keel's ship.
Act Three Edit
In light of Keel's death, Picard tells Riker about the suspicions Keel voiced in the observation lounge and connecting them with Rear Admiral Quinn's earlier that year. During their conversation, Data enters and reports what he has found: during the past six months there has been a great deal of "uncustomary reshuffling of personnel – usually in the command areas" of a select number of starbases. Furthermore, the new officers have had a great deal of contact with the highest levels of command. Data hypothesizes that the reorganizations are an attempt by a hostile force or individual to control important sectors of Federation territory. Faced with this information, the Enterprise-D returns to Earth.
Upon entering orbit, the Enterprise-D is contacted by three admirals from Starfleet Command, requesting an explanation for their return. Picard states that he would prefer a discussion of that sort occur in private; the three admirals convene for a moment, then invite Picard and Riker to dinner at Starfleet Headquarters for the discussion to take place. Quinn says that he will not be able to attend the dinner, but that he would like to see the Enterprise-D again. Just before he beams up, he looks at a scorpion-like creature he has in a case.
Act Four Edit
When Quinn is on board the Enterprise-D, he bluffs his way through references to old times, stating that his earlier perception of a threat to the Federation was merely a metaphor for the "tumultuous process" of assimilating new species into the Federation. Picard realizes that Admiral Quinn is an impostor of some sort and tells Riker to observe Quinn closely while he beams down alone to dinner. Also, he wants Doctor Crusher to give him a medical examination under false pretenses; after Riker reaches his conclusions, he is to join Picard on Earth, in force if necessary. Picard then beams down and meets with Rear Admiral Savar and Vice Admiral Aaron, as well as Dexter Remmick.
On the ship in the guest quarters, Quinn offers to show Riker the creature and tells him about it. It was discovered by a Starfleet survey team on an uncharted planet, and Quinn refers to it as "a superior form of life". When Riker says he'll get his science officer to examine it, Quinn grabs his arm very strongly, saying the creature will only like Riker. After a brief scuffle, in which Quinn displays amazing strength, Riker is knocked unconscious, but not before calling security. Worf and La Forge arrive, calling a medical emergency. Quinn says that Riker slipped and hit his head, and then announces his departure. When they try to detain him, however, he throws La Forge out into the corridor, his body knocking down the door. He turns to Worf.
Act Five Edit
He similarly beats Worf before being repeatedly phasered with increasingly powerful stun settings into unconsciousness by Dr. Crusher. In sickbay, Crusher's scans show that Quinn really is Quinn, but she discovers a bizarre appendage sticking out of the back of his neck.
On Earth, the two admirals try to subtly persuade Picard that there is in fact no conspiracy. However, they reveal they know his first officer by name, which is unusual. Furthermore, they know the Horatio is destroyed, and they blame Keel's negligence. Dinner is announced, so Picard takes a moment to contact Riker. Crusher answers on Riker's combadge, as Riker is unconscious. Crusher informs Picard that a parasitic creature of some sort has taken control of Quinn and all his brain functions. The spike at the back of Quinn's neck appears to be a gill, which is a helpful indicator of those who have been taken over by one of the creatures. Crusher states her doubts about removing the creature, believing it would kill Quinn. She instructs Picard to set his phaser to kill rather than stun, which has little effect on the creature or its host; Picard, however, believing that no one beams down to Starfleet Headquarters armed, has no phaser with him at all.
Picard goes in to dinner. The dish being served is a bowl filled with worms. Picard is disgusted, and realizes that everyone at the dinner has been infiltrated by the aliens. He gets up to leave, and runs into Riker. Riker has also apparently been taken over by the creature: he has a gill in his neck. So, too, has Captain Scott. The "conspirators" announce that they have known of Picard's intentions the whole time. They talk of their plan to infiltrate the Enterprise-D. Riker moves to eat, but instead he pulls out a type 1 phaser and shoots the dining security guard. When Captain Scott draws her phaser at Riker, Picard grabs at her arm and throws off her aim, allowing Riker to shoot her as well. However, Admiral Savar begins to subdue Riker with a Vulcan neck pinch.
Picard then grabs the security guard's phaser and uses it to take down Savar. Admiral Aaron flees the dining room, and Picard and Riker pursue and shoot him in the hallway after he returns fire. The admiral falls to the ground, and the parasite infesting him crawls out of his mouth and goes under a nearby door. They follow it to find Remmick sitting in a chair. He turns to look at it, unconcerned; Riker goes to shoot it, but Picard stops him, as the creature crawls up Remmick and enters his mouth. He swallows it, and it begins moving around in his neck. "We mean you no harm", he says as he stands, his neck noisily bulging in and out. "We seek peaceful coexistence".
Picard and Riker open fire with their phasers, knocking Remmick back into the chair. Riker aims higher and destroys Remmick's head, the outer layer of skin vaporizing and the rest exploding. Remmick's chest cavity begins to dissolve and a large creature breaks through with several blood soaked parasites trickling behind, screaming at the two Starfleet officers. With a disgusted look on his face, Picard opens fire again with Riker following suit, both phasers continuing until the creature is vaporized, leaving several blood soaked parasites around the chair and floor, and the decapitated smoldering remains of what was once Lieutenant Commander Remmick.
Back aboard the Enterprise-D, Picard notes in his log that Admiral Quinn will make a full recovery, and with the death of the "mother creature" inside of Remmick, the remaining parasites died while Riker reveals that Dr. Crusher had simulated the gill on the back of his neck in order to fool everyone, including Picard. As the Enterprise-D moves on into space, Data theorizes that Remmick had been transmitting a homing beacon before he died and that should the parasites receive it, they would know where to find Earth.
Log entries Edit
- First officer's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
- Captain's personal log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
- Captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), 2364
Memorable quotes Edit
"It's about Starfleet. About something we've always considered to be impossible."
- - Walker Keel, to Captain Picard
"You owe me, and you owe it to yourself to hear what I have to say. Something is beginning. Don't trust anyone. Remember that, Jean-Luc. Don't take anything for granted.
- - Walker Keel, to Captain Picard
"It won't like your science officer. It DOES LIKE YOU! Vitamins... they do wonders for the body."
- - Quinn
"Friendship must dare to risk, Counselor, or it isn't friendship."
- - Picard, on risking his career to follow up on Walker Keel's conspiracy theory
"Apologies, Captain. We had to be sure you were really you."
- - Rixx, after lowering his phaser at Picard
"I'm glad, Jean-Luc. I'm glad you're still one of us. Tell Beverly I... I said "hello"."
- - Walker Keel
"Captain, you must set your phaser on kill. Stun has little effect."
"Doctor, one does not beam down to Starfleet Headquarters armed."
- - Dr. Crusher and Picard
"If I could see, I'd be seeing stars."
- - La Forge, after regaining consciousness from being thrown through a door
"You don't really think we were in the dark about your intentions, do you?"
"Patience is one of our virtues, Captain. We didn't go after you; we allowed you to come after us."
"More dramatic that way, don't you think?"
"Yes. The one thing both races share is a love of theater, and you've put on a fine show."
- - Aaron, Savar and Tryla Scott
"You don't understand. We mean you no harm. We seek peaceful co-existence!"
- - Remmick
Background information Edit
Script and story Edit
- Writer Tracy Tormé, adapting a story by Robert Sabaroff to The Next Generation, had hoped to make "Conspiracy" a commentary on the Iran/Contra Affair, but this potentially controversial notion was nixed. A plot by Starfleet officers out to undermine the Prime Directive (already introduced six episodes before in "Coming of Age"), turned out to be the result of an infestation of alien insects, not part of Tormé's original approach.
- The original version of the script did not feature alien parasites; the conspiracy in question was simply a military coup within Starfleet, Gene Roddenberry vehemently opposed such an idea, since he believed Starfleet would never stoop to such methods; there was just no way Tormé could get away with suggesting that the Federation was anything less than a perfect government. Thus the alien angle was introduced at his insistence. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine later featured a similar plot, however, in the two-part episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost".
- Indeed, the whole idea of the episode, its violence, and its unresolved ending caused quite a stir, but Robert Justman, Rick Berman, and Rob Lewin backed Tormé against the objections of Maurice Hurley, and the show stood pretty much as he had intended it, with the topical references subtly shoved under the carpet. Things did not go so well for writer Tormé in the future; he was left with the feeling that, as far as creative freedom for writers, the second half of Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season was the best part of the series as a whole.
- Although the ending pointed toward a possible followup to the parasite storyline, none was ever produced, though some works of Trek fiction did carry on the arc (see "Apocrypha" section).
- "Conspiracy" started as the original story with the title "The Assassins". (Creating the Next Generation: The Conception and Creation of a Phenomenon, p.61)
- The opening credits to this episode include Denise Crosby's character, Natasha Yar. Yar was killed off and didn't appear regularly after "Skin of Evil".
- Jonathan Frakes states that during the dinner scene, grub worms did "cross" his lips. (X)
Cast and characters Edit
- Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) does not appear in this episode.
- Ward Costello and Robert Schenkkan reprise their roles from the episode "Coming of Age".
- Henry Darrow later appeared as Kolopak in VOY: "Tattoo" and VOY: "Basics, Part I", Ray Reinhardt as Tolen Ren in VOY: "Ex Post Facto", and Gary J. Wayton as stuntman in Star Trek: Insurrection and as stunt double for Scott Bakula in ENT: "United".
- Michael Berryman previously appeared as the alien Starfleet officer in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Sets and props Edit
- The chair in which Remmick is seated is a redress of the wheelchair used by Admiral Mark Jameson in TNG: "Too Short a Season".
- The Neural parasites were fabricated by Makeup & Effects Laboratories, headed by Allan A. Apone following a design from Rick Sternbach. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 111)
- The desk in Admiral Quinn's guest quarters aboard the Enterprise-D was later seen again as the desk of Benjamin Sisko at Starfleet Headquarters in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fourth season episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost".
- The episode's score, composed by Dennis McCarthy, was recorded on 29 April 1988 at the Universal Studios Scoring Stage,  as The Next Generation's usual recording location, Paramount Stage M, was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts.  Cues M51, M52, M53, M54, M55, and M56 from the score (covering the entirety of Act Five), totaling 7 minutes and 44 seconds, appear on Disc One of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection, Volume One.
- This episode marks the first appearance of a Bolian.
- The exterior footage of Starfleet Headquarters was recycled from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; as such, this episode is the only time Tellarites appear on TNG. They are wearing robes originally worn by Kazarites in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- When Data is commenting on the orders he has just read, the computer interrupts him by saying "Thank you, sir. I comprehend." This is the only time in all of Star Trek when a Federation computer speaks in the first-person narrative ("I"). The non-canon reference work Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual explains this by stating that the Enterprise-D computer was one of the most advanced ever constructed and was in fact self-aware. It is also one of the only times the computer has expressed "frustration" with its user, more often the frustration is the other way around.
- Amongst the logs reviewed by Data, the "great bird of the galaxy" can briefly be seen.
- This is the last appearance of the Starfleet Admiral's uniform which was seen through the first season of The Next Generation. The uniform, notable for its "triangle pip" insignia, was replaced in season two by an interim uniform which used the more familiar "boxed pip" insignia. By season three, the admiral's uniform was changed again to become the standard which was used for the rest of the series.
- A star chart featured in this episode, on the wall behind Remmick's chair, was created by the art department and shows several dozen planets and star systems mentioned in TOS and TAS. The star chart was re-used in many more TNG episodes and later appeared in the pilot episode of the Doctor Who spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures in the eponymous main character's attic.
- This is the first episode of the series to feature Earth and Luna.
- The Vulcan nerve pinch is used in this episode, however unlike TOS, a person doesn't fall unconscious after the pinch but grimaces in pain. It's possible, however, that the parasite controlling Savar may not have been performing the neck pinch properly.
- "The Drumhead" would later establish that Admiral Norah Satie had been instrumental in uncovering the parasite conspiracy.
- This episode won an Emmy Award in 1988 in the category Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series, namely Michael Westmore, Werner Keppler, and Gerald Quist.
- On its first airing in the UK on 20 March 1991, the BBC cut several minutes of footage from the episode (most notably the death of Remmick). In addition, Space, Canada's science fiction network, precedes this episode with a viewer discretion warning, the only The Next Generation episode to receive this.
- A mission report by Will Murray for this episode was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 5, pp. 64-66.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 13, catalogue number VHR 2466, 7 May 1991
- Natasha Yar's face is obscured by shadow on the video sleeve, reflecting her death in the previous volume.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.8, catalogue number VHR 4649, 5 October 1998
- As part of the TNG Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 1 Blu-ray collection
- The neural parasites have thus far never reappeared on-screen, but have been shown in a comic book taking control of a spacefaring species called the "Onglaatu" in a DC TNG story entitled "The Broken Moon!".
- The parasites have also returned in Pocket Books' new DS9 series of novels, first in The Lives of Dax, in which Audrid Dax and Christopher Pike discover that the parasites are closely related to the Trill. The last book in the Mission: Gamma series then picks this up, leading into the novel Unity in which it is revealed that the Trill symbionts and the neural parasites have been fighting a long secret war, with several species worth of hosts and governments as their weapons against each other. The parasites' latest gambit has been the continued fervor for Bajor to join the Federation; for unknown reasons this would represent a great victory to their secret plan.
- This story arc is completed in the novel Unjoined by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, in which the parasites are revealed to actually be genetically modified Trill symbionts, created on the remote Trill colony of Kurl. A deadly plague had been killing symbionts, and the experiments were intended to develop a cure. However, the experiment failed, and the symbionts so affected became violent and xenophobic - the parasites - and swore revenge on Trill society for this disaster.
- In the Star Trek Online bonus episode "What's Left Behind", it is revealed that the parasites were bio-engineered by the Iconians as a way of controlling the Vaadwaur.
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Guest stars Edit
- Henry Darrow as Savar
- Ward Costello as Gregory Quinn
- Robert Schenkkan as Dexter Remmick
- Ray Reinhardt as Aaron
- Jonathan Farwell as Walker Keel
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
- Dexter Clay as operations division officer
- Nora Leonhardt as science division ensign
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Brad Phillips as Longo
- Steve Reed as science division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Gary J. Wayton as Starfleet security officer
- Unknown performers as
- Command division officer
- Eleven Starfleet Headquarters officers
- Female command division officer
- Female operations division officer
- Seven Starfleet Headquarters civilians
- Three science division crewmembers
- Two Arcadian councilors (archive footage)
- Two command division crewmembers
- Two operations division crewmembers
- Two Starfleet Headquarters technicians
- Tellarite dignitary (archive footage)
- Tellarite dignitary (archive footage)
Stunt doubles Edit
- Tom Morga as stunt double for Jonathan Frakes
- Jim Wilkey as stunt double for Ray Reinhardt
- Unknown stunt performers as
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
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Library computer references Edit
- Federation Star Chart ("The Explored Galaxy"): Aldebaran; Alfa 177; Alpha Carinae; Alpha Centauri; Alpha Majoris; Altair VI; Andor; Ariannus; Arret; Babel; Benecia; Berengaria VII; Beta Aurigae; Beta Geminorum; Beta Lyrae; Beta Niobe; Beta Portolan; Camus II; Canopus III; Capella; Daran V; Delta Vega; Deneb; Eminiar; Fabrina; First Federation; Gamma Canaris N; Gamma Trianguli; Holberg 917G; Ingraham B; Janus VI; Kling; Kzin; Lactra VII; Makus III; Marcos XII; Manark IV; Memory Alpha; Omega IV; Omega Cygni; Organia; Orion; Pallas 14; Phylos; Pollux IV; Psi 2000; Pyris VII; Regulus; Remus; Rigel; Romulan Neutral Zone; Romulus; Sarpeid; Sirius; Talos; Tau Ceti; Theta III; Tholian Assembly; Vulcan
- Star Chart: 61 Cygni; Alpha Centauri; Argelius II; Barnard's Star; Bayard's Planet; concussion ring; Diana; Epsilon Eridani; Epsilon Indi; Greyhound, USS; Groombridge 34; Jewel stars; Lalande 21185; Luyten 789-6; Muleskinner, USS; Phi Puma; Procyon; Proxima Centauri; Ross 154; Ross 248; Sirius; Sol; supernova; Tau Ceti; Wolf 359
- Starbase Ops Status Sol Sector: Orion sector; Orion Sector Tactical Command; Starbase 0834; Starbase 4077
- Mission Orders: Adams, Douglas; Albert Einstein, USS; Aleo, USS; Annon, Jeffery Joal; Antican; Arakaki, Jimmy; Aranda, Miguel; Arrat, Itzak; Atlantis, USS; Baskin, Daryl; Benko, Tom; Beta Epsilon system; Berman, Richard K.; Bowen, Steve; Bryce, Peter; Callisto, USS; Cameron, Roy; Cara; Clark, Bev; commodore; coordinates; Constellation, USS; Copernicus, USS; Curry, Daniel; de Graff, Monty; Dent Arthur Dent; Discovery, USS; Dixon, Anna; Dixon, Don; Durbrow, Doug; Elmer Fudd, USS; Endeavour, USS; Equicon, USS; Excelsior-class; Farrell, J.P.; Felna, Erma; Ferengi; Ferranti, Alan; Fickas, Sharyl; first contact; Fleet Ops; Freedle, Samuel; Friedman, Layne; Fries, Sandy; Fries, Sandy; FSN; Furen, Bryan D.; Gallacci, Steve; Gamma Argus II; Gamma Argus system; Ganymede, USS; Giddings, Diana; Goldberg, Seth; Gremlin, USS; Grumby, Jonas; Hammond, Asenath; heading; Hoffmeister, Ed; Horton; Hoy, Bill; Headroom, Maxwell; Heart of Gold, USS; Hunnicutt, B.J.; Hutzel, Gary; Jae, Joshua; James Fennimore Cooper, USS; John F. Kennedy, USS; Jumper, Jennifer; Kandari sector; Kawaoki, Gerald; Kobayashi, Alan; Koslowsky, John; LaSalandra, John; Lee, Don; Lee, Gwynne Jean; Legato, Rob; Lin, Michael J.; Livingston, Monica; Marafe, Bill; Mann, Maria; McKenzie Project; Meldal-Johnsan, Marcia; mark 25 warp sensor; Mathews, Carlene; Mathews, Carol; Mathews, Marion; Matte Fringe, USS; Max Plank, USS; Miles, Tod; Minnow, USS; Moore, Ronald; Moore, Sherri; Mustang, USS; NAR; Nakashima, Lex; Nash, Eric; NCC; Nelson, Kurt; New Zealand; Nightwing, USS; Non Sequitur, USS; Oja, Darryl; Omaha Nebraska, USS; Park, Jana; Pierce, Benjamin Franklin; Prime Directive; Puget Sound, USS; Quinteros, Orfil; Raimondi, Fred; Robert Louis Stevenson, USS; Romulan Neutral Zone; Rosenfeld, Maury; Rubenstein, Louis; sector; Sector 004; Sector 010; Sector 45; Sector 52; Sector 450; Sector 500; sensor; sensor drone; Sherlock Holmes, USS; Sigma Antares sector; Sirius Cybernetics Corporation; spacedock; Starbase 045; Starbase 55; Starbase 74; Starbase Trailer Twenty-Nine; Starfleet Advanced Technologies; Starfleet Mission Operations; Starfleet Operational Support Services; Starfleet Planetary Geosciences Division; Starfleet ranks; Stein, G. Harry; Sternbach, Rick; Stevens, Jon; Stormont III, Thomas McCormick; subsector; Subsector 4418; Subsector 4432; Subsector 4534; Subspace Com Net; subspace relay station; Tactical Analysis Division; Takemura, David; Terrestrial Defense Division; Testa, John; Thomas, Cari; Ticonderoga, USS; Toki; Tranquillity Base, USS; Trimble, Bjo; Trimble, John; Trimble, Kathryn; Trimble, Lora; Tycho, USS; Unicorn, USS; unnamed LCARS file starships; Unnamed Federation space stations; USS; van de Ven, Mary; Veneziano, Sandy; vice admiral; Wanderer-class; warp factor; warp sensor grid; White Sands, USS; Woodard, Jody; Yamada, Carol; Yamauchi, Bobby; Zimmerman, Herman;
- "Conspiracy" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Conspiracy" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Conspiracy" at Wikipedia
- "Conspiracy" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Conspiracy" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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