Star Trek: The Next Generation/Recap/S1/E24 Conspiracy

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Series:Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 1, Episode 24
Previous: We'll Always Have Paris
Next: The Neutral Zone
Recapper: Synjo Deonecros

The Enterprise is on its way to Pacifica, a water world (no relation to the Kevin Costner movie of the same name) for some much-needed R&R... a good precaution, considering the crew seems so out of it, they respond to an order for Warp 8 with going to full impulse.

However, a priority call to Picard interrupts the mission, as the captain on the other line demands for the ship to detour to an abandoned mining asteroid for a secret meeting. Picard is confused but curious, and humors the captain. Upon arriving at the asteroid and beaming down, Picard is confronted by not just the one captain, but two others, who try to Bluff the Impostor to make sure Picard is really Picard before telling them of their concerns of a subversion in the Federation. The evidence is both vague and disturbing: mysterious disappearances and deaths in the ranks, bizarre orders and personnel shuffles, among other things. Picard doesn't buy it, but agrees to keep his eyes open for anything unusual that would collaborate their stories, assigning Data to look over Starfleet's recent activities, upon returning to the ship, as a precaution before heading back on course to Pacifica.

Unfortunately, the conspiracy decided to make its presence known shortly thereafter; the Enterprise comes across the destroyed wreckage of one of the captains' ships, and through his research, Data is able to confirm many of the odd occurrences Picard was told of, leading everyone to assume the worst: secret invasion. Since anal Skrulls wouldn't be invented for several years, Picard decides to head to Starfleet Headquarters to figure out just what the hell is going on. Once there, Picard and Riker meet with a trio of admirals, all of whom seem to be acting very strangely. Things get weirder when we learn that one of them is an admiral who, in a previous episode, started the rumors of the conspiracy, but now insists he was only speaking metaphorically about acquiring new members of the Federation. While Riker is still not convinced, Picard is, and orders him to keep an eye on this admiral while he goes on a tour of the Enterprise.

Once on board, the admiral introduces Riker to a familiar brain slug, batting him (and the crew members who come to his aid) around like a rag doll when he refuses to become one with the thing. The admiral is eventually subdued, and an investigation reveals a similar brain slug within him. Apparently, these are the things that are trying to subvert the Federation, and as Picard soon learns, they've made their way into the highest levels of Starfleet. Fortunately, Riker recovers enough from his beating to pull off a successful fake-out to rescue Picard from assimilation, and together, they face off against the mother alien, who defiantly insist they only wanted "peaceful coexistence". The episode ends on a Red Herring Twist, with a homing signal being sent out to the Delta Quadrant, meant to be the prelude to the Borg, but ultimately being left hanging as an The End - or Is It? Cliff Hanger never followed up. (Until the Expanded Universe, anyway.)

Tropes used in Conspiracy include:
  • Badass Grandpa: The slug turns Admiral Quinn into this, as he beats the crap out of Riker, throws Geordi through a door, and Worf over a table.
  • Body Horror: Good God, the mother-alien hiding underneath Remmick. And before that, we "get" to see Remmick's head explode. This is not your average TNG episode.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Everyone affected by the slugs.
  • Fake Defector: Riker fakes being infected by the slugs so he can get into the conference room and help Picard. It fooled everybody, Picard included.
  • Foreshadowing: An extremely, extremely longterm version of it. The signal sent to the Delta Quadrant would be followed up on not in Voyager, but in the Delta Rising expansion of Star Trek Online. (Not counting the rather nonsensical version in the novelverse EU, where the writers apparently thought "Well they're parasites that go into humanoids, just like Trill symbiotes... must be related!")