A few episodes back, an admiral and his henchman, a commander, were introduced ("Coming of Age") and at the time, why they were in the first episode seemed a bit unclear. Here, the final portion of that story is about to play out in "Conspiracy".
It seems that Starfleet has been behaving oddly and several other Federation captains have called Picard to a secret meeting to discuss this. They are not sure what is happening--but SOMETHING is afoot. They warn Picard to be on his guard. This paranoia seems well founded when shortly after the meeting adjourns, one of the captains' ships explodes! Obviously SOMETHING is happening. What? See the show.
This is good old senseless paranoia and violence--things that made the original "Star Trek" series so much fun. And this episode is indeed fun--something the series occasionally forgot to include and a welcome relief here. This is the one to see during the first season.
So I put it to you Sampat - how is it not Star Trek? That's a load of rubbish. This show made Star Trek what it is today.
And this episode DOES relate to space. In fact, it's a prelude to what should have been a future space adventure episode relating to these beings. Instead they were replaced by the Borg.
The episode is very enjoyable. There's some dodgy direction in the fight scenes, but outside of that it's a joy to see the actors begin to gel with their characters. I could always remember this episode from when I was younger due to the beeping of the beacon sent out - chilling stuff.
Also, watch out for horror specialist Michael Berryman (Pluto in The Hills Have Eyes) making a guest appearance. 9/10
As the conspiracy widens, Capt. Picard and Ryker return to Earth and come face-to-face with the "mother" of the conspiracy, setting the stage for one of the most dramatic and jaw-dropping scenes in Trek history.
'It's too bad that the producers didn't decide to continue with a follow-up episode that would tie up some of the loose ends from this memorable show.
And I've long wondered if this episode didn't have some influence on the Borg plot-lines. After all, both alien species' M.O. is basically the same: instead of political conquest, "conquer" the enemy at the individual level. To reverse a cliché, "If you can't beat 'em, make 'em join you." Of course, the very last episode of S1, foreshadows "Q Who?" et al, tho' we're given no information as to who destroys the Federation and Romulan bases and the thrust of that episode, of course, is the "return" of the Romulans after decades of isolation.
Back on point: Making "Conspiracy" a two-parter might have worked, but I'm not sure exactly how. More cloak-and-dagger? Battles between starships controlled by the alien creatures and the Enterprise-D? Discovering compromised members of the "Enterprise"'s crew (Wesley, perhaps? Been funny to have seen HIM throw Worf around like "ragdoll.") As it is, I'm sure that the "Mother Alien" creature and its death are probably the most expensive single effect shot in the whole seven year series.
I do agree that the preceding shot, where the, ah, "soldier" aliens are crawling up Remmick's legs is clumsy, certainly by later series standards. But we should always keep in mind that, as with The Original Series, NexGen was done on a relatively low budget--though larger than TOS which was had the lowest budget of any drama during its 1966-69 run.
Also, computer animation was in its infancy, Pixar's legendary short, "Luxo" had only been created around this time--and the cost was astronomical. it would be the late 90s before computer animation would be advanced enough to realistically replace entire ships, people, aliens, etc.
To comment on ewf58's commentary: I've never seen the "edited" version of this episode. I believe it was originally broadcast in "unedited" form, at least that's my memory. But it's been 22 years...
The "full" version is on the DVD (S1 D7). And every time I've seen it on syndication, it's been the unedited one.
And it is pretty gory. I'm surprised that Roddenberry would have gone that far over 20 yrs ago. Today, such things are seen all the time on TV. "Battlestar Galactica"'s had some pretty hard core moments. Think of Starbuck stabbing Leoben through the neck on New Caprica; or Caprica Six's murder of the baby in the mini...
(Lastly, guess the aliens were sexist, notice that they all refer to each other as "brother" and never "sister"...)
With alien parasites reminiscent of scifi film Puppet Masters and the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing, director Cliff Bole, writers Robert Sabaroff and Tracy Tormé offer an entertaining episode which breaks the TNG mould by injecting a horror element.
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker get some action scenes and Henry Darrow as Savar along with the other seasoned guest cast offer some weight to the proceedings, even when eating maggoty looking grub worms.
There's a memorable scene where Picard has a secret meeting oozing suspicion and conspiracy with other captains, notable is Hills have Eyes' Michael Berryman as Captain Rixx. There also some comic relief where Enterprise's computer becomes frustrated with Data. It's another dialogue driven episode that Bole breaks up with intermittent phaser action, glass tables and icky alien close ups.
While the stunt doubles stand out like a sore thumb and the parasites CGI and design is questionable, this if offset by a Scanners-like exploding head, blasted phaser body remains and a mother alien creature design that deliver some thrills in a slow first season.
Overall, an interesting episode with enough protruding gills and creature swallowing to possibly creep out the casual viewer.
From that point of view, (or any, to be sure) I liked the episode. While I was doing my research, I also read that it was one of the only episodes of ST to display a warning about the content. (Since I knew halfway what to expect, I was not surprised). I just can't help but wonder what that warning did to the viewer-ship of the episode, but as I said earlier, I primarily liked it for the backstory of the parasites featured in the DS9 relaunch.
It's deadly serious, though not so much that we can't enjoy seeing an old guy beating the crap out of Riker (and Worf even more quickly). And it shows that Captain Picard will risk his career for a friendship. The plot's twisty, the tone sinister and the ending is surprisingly dark. Great stuff.