The Rewatch 102: Conspiracy

Series: Star Trek The Next Generation
Episode: 1.25 Conspiracy (05-08-88)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0 /3

Notable Guest Stars:
 Henry Darrow – Admiral Savar. He was the second person to play Don Alejandro de la Vega in the 90s television version of the epic story. He also founded a ethnic minority committee within SAG with fellow Star Trek actor Ricardo Montalban (as well as Edith Diaz and Carmen Zapata).
Ward Costello – Admiral Quinn. He appeared earlier in the season.
Robert Schenkkan – Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick. He appeared earlier in the season as well. He also has won various awards for his plays, including a Pulitzer.
Jonathan Farwell – Captain Walker Keel. He appeared on the The Young and the Restless.
Michael Berryman – Captain RIxx. He had a part in the 1975 movie One flew over the Cookoo’s Nest. Which is considered a classic, but not on my list of favorite movies by far.
Ursaline Bryant – Captain Tryla Scott. She did many tv roles, including a guest spot on Golden Girls.

Review:

Whenever I think of season one, which I must admit is not the season I think of most with TNG, the first episode I think of is this episode.  Other episodes hold memories, such as Haven, Justice and Skin of Evil, but for some reason Conspiracy is the first one I think of.

Conspiracy also is a first within the Trek franchise. TOS was made during a time with episodic focused television was the style, rather then seasonal arcs, and tying episodes together which came more popular as Television as a medium changed and grew.  Conspiracy is a direct sequel episode to Coming of Age wherein Admiral Quinn was investigating Picard to make sure he wasn’t part of this ‘conspiracy’ he felt growing in Starfleet.  Turns out, unfortunately, he was right.  Not that Picard was part of it, but that it was there at all.

At the start of this episode, Picard gets a specially codded message that is for Captain’s Eyes Only – a channel only used for particularly important or very classified communications.  However, he is stunned to see that it is his friend Captain Walker Keel wants to meet with him very privately on a matter he considers too classified for the classified station.

Picard really hates not being able to tell Riker and Troi things. Considering how often they mention how the senior staff sees themselves as a family, I think Picard has unknowingly adopted Riker and Troi as his kids.  Riker just about admits that he wanted to be mentored by Picard and they both feed off each other’s nerdiness. And Picard really relies on Deanna’s intuition when he makes his decisions (along with his own experience and information coming from other officers). I think she really is his sounding board. Out of all the crew, except perhaps for Data, I believe he is the closest to those two.

Picard finds things getting stranger and stranger, especially when Keel’s ship, the USS Horatio explodes soon after their clandestine meeting.  Later we find out why, but for now, Picard is baffled. Which doesn’t happen often in the first season.

When they arrive on Earth, they are greeted by a Triumvirate of Admirals.  I don’t know if Starfleet has three senior admirals, or if its just they were the only three available at the time.  Quinn asks to see the ship again, which makes Picard think he’s safe…except he’s not.  Will Riker gets the raw deal out of that one, getting his butt kicked by the Admiral who ends up beating up on Worf too.  Only after Crusher stuns him about five billion times does the Admiral finally collapse.

There is one thing that I have issue with during future based shows (and a few present time shows as well) and that is the lack of healing time.  Riker fell headfirst into a glass table. Yet, after he wakes up, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a recovering concussion, or any rips in his clothing or self one would get from the glass. He doesn’t even act like he’s got that post-nap drowsy feeling either.

Another thing is apparently Beverly managed to come up with the idea, replicate the make-up, do the make-up, and get Riker to beam down in the few minutes Picard ends up spending with his oh-so-appealing dinner. I’m assuming magic TV time where even though logically it couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes, it was a couple hours.

This episode adds to my theory that Riker is very adaptable.  I know in the next season its stated that he was born in Alaska, but I wonder if he traveled a lot with his father as a boy.  Wasn’t Kyle a Starfleet officer too?  I’ll have to pay more attention in season two for that.  But either way, Riker has acting skills and seems to adapt quickly to any situation. He also seems to adapt to various cultures quickly.

The end seems to wrap it all up very cleanly, a bit too cleanly considering half the admiralty was infested with these aliens.  The Enterprise is basically “Oh, we got rid of the alien, see you next year!”

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Tracy Torme based on the story by Robert Sabaroff
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • Continuation from episode 1.19 Coming of Age
  • Originally this was going to include a darker element with the idea of a faction within Starfleet being the conspiracy, but Gene Roddenberry objected, preferring the idea of a utopic future.  I imagine when he started to have less and less of a call when it came to the story lines, more and more ‘dark side of Starfleet’ came into being. Especially by the time of DS9, which is quite a bit darker.
  • Introduction of the Bolians, which were named after the Director Cliff Bole.
  • In one of the books for DS9 the alien is identified as an mutated trill symbiote.  Which I’m just going to go nope on.  Thankfully since it’s a book, I don’t have to consider that canon.
  • This episode won an Emmy for Best Makeup
  • Was edited by Canada and BBC because of the graphic content. Although at least the BBC has realised Trek was not meant for younger children.

Pros:

  •  Shows how close Picard has gotten to his senior officers.
  • There is a Vulcan Admiral.  Starfleet hierarchy always seems to be heavily human, so its nice surprise when we see a recognizable alien species in the mix.

Cons:

  •  Probably one of the worst fight scenes I’ve seen on Trek happens in this episode.
  • I don’t believe this episode was ever really seen through.  Where did the homing beacon go?  Should we expect to see them again on Picard or Discovery? Did I miss something?

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