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Star Trek: Asterisk "Conspiracy"


Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E25
Air Date: May 9, 1988
Written by: Tracy Tormé and Robert Sabaroff
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Synopsis
A conspiracy in the highest ranks of Starfleet brings the Enterprise back home to Earth in an attempt to get to the gut of the situation.

Review
So, remember when Admiral Quinn made Commander Remmick interview people on the Enterprise to see if something was wrong and everyone got really annoyed and Quinn eventually admitted to Picard that he thought there was a conspiracy? Well... there was. So, when Captain Walker Keel calls Picard using a Code 47 emergency to meet him on a distant planet, something rings familiar about the tone. Picard meets him and a couple other captains inside a cave and discusses some weird goings-on, strange orders, deleted records, etc. Picard thinks it's all a bunch of hogwash, though. He only entertained the meeting because Walker is a good friend and he generally trusts him. But once Picard starts to leave and discovers that Walker's ship has been destroyed... he's inclined to believe what Walker had to say.

Picard immediately sets Data to the task of looking for inconsistencies in Starfleet records, and this Data does quite well. He, Picard and Riker come to the conclusion that the best way to get to the bottom of this conspiracy is to head back to Earth, which is something a Galaxy-class starship rarely does. When they get there, they're greeted by a council of three admirals, including Admiral Quinn. And while they're talking, Commander Remmick shows up and whispers into someone's ear. After that, they invite Picard and Riker down for a meal and Admiral Quinn says that, while he can't make the meal, he'd like to see the Enterprise again. Which Picard takes as Quinn wanting to meet with them alone.
Everyone trusts Grampa Starfleet.
Before Quinn beams up, he reveals to the audience that he's bringing some kind of bug with him in a briefcase. So, now we no longer trust him. And when he gets on board, he goes for a walk with Riker and Picard, after which Picard confides in Riker that this is not the Admiral Quinn he knows. So, Riker keeps an eye on Quinn while Picard goes down to Earth for dinner. When Quinn and Riker are alone, Quinn starts beating up on Riker. Security is called, and Worf and Geordi respond quickly. Quinn immediately takes out Geordi and then the old man easily takes on the Klingon warrior. After going a couple rounds, Quinn is finally taken out by a few hits from Dr. Crusher's phaser.

Meanwhile, down in San Fransisco, Picard notices how empty the halls are in Starfleet Command. He talks for a while with Remmick and the other Admirals and they eventually invite him in to dinner, but he says he has to catch up with Riker first. When he calls Riker, Crusher answers and tells him everything that went on. How Quinn went crazy and is apparently infected with a parasite. So, now Picard knows something evil is afoot, and he goes to partake in the meal. Which happen to be grubs. And since Picard is not a meerkat, he is disgusted.
"Ah, you're a parasite! That's great! So are we!"
Well, 'round about that time Will Riker walks in the dining room acting all parasitic. He immediately gains the trust of the admirals and starts to partake in the meal, but just before he starts eating the grubs, he fires his phaser at the dudes. A fight breaks out and, in the confusion, one of the admirals gets away. Riker and Picard chase him down and shoot him in the hallway at which point the parasite leaves the dude's body and skitters away under a door.

Riker and Picard follow the parasite to find Commander Remmick in the room in front of a galaxy map. The parasite skitters up Remmick's leg, then his arm, and into his mouth. Remmick swallows the parasite and it kind of wriggles around in his neck. Remmick makes some grand speech about how the parasites just want to help humans out and give them peace, but Picard and Riker are having none of that. They fire both their phasers at Remmick and his head explodes like a watermelon at a Gallagher act. But that's not all, his torso melts away to reveal this:
"Hello my honey, hello my darlin', hello my ragtime gal!"
Riker and Picard shoot at what appears to be the queen parasite that has taken control of Remmick and the threat is finally over. When they get back to the ship, they find that Quinn is recovering and everything is back to normal. But Data has to ruin everyone's fun by pointing out that Remmick was sending out a beacon. Meaning that more parasites could be on the way. Don't worry, though... this is the last we see of them.

Overall Thoughts
This is the first time we see a story that begins in one episode and continues to another that's not side-by-side. The first story arc, if you will. We've seen two episodes tied together by Q, but that's held together by a character, whereas this was held together by a story. You can tell that in the first season of The Next Generation the writers are experimenting with new ways of writing for TV. Ways to bring TV into a new century. And this is the kind of writing that is going to carry this show into seven seasons as opposed to The Original Series' three. Unfortunately, while this writing style may be propelled forward, the story itself is not. This is the last we see of these parasite aliens which, in a way, is kind of a shame... but it's an idea that will be explored by Stargate SG-1, so... yay!