TNG Episode 1.25: Conspiracy

In which EXPLODING HEADS. Okay just one! BUT EXPLODING HEAD!

Memory Alpha says: After the mysterious death of a distinguished Starfleet captain and the destruction of his ship, the Enterprise-D finds Starfleet Command acting erratically, with key officers possessed by alien neural parasites. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information. The part in the Apocrypha about the Trills is pretty cool.)

My Review
Okay, I do remember seeing this episode when I was a kid, and digging it. It has the most astonishing moment of gore in all of Star Trek, and I just darn well like conspiracy stories, even if this one had to turn out to be masterminded by parasites, because Gene Roddenberry would not countenance a plot that relied on the existence of untrustworthy people in Starfleet.

My high school art teacher had a small scar on his neck in the approximate position of the alien ‘gill’ on the admiral’s neck, and being a complete dork I rationalised this as part of why I didn’t like him. (Main reason: he wanted me to draw a sheep’s skull when I wanted to learn to draw people. And I was an unreasonable little girl.)

Here we go! At least, it looks like here we went, but I actually went and made myself a grilled cheese sandwich in between paragraphs. Mm!

  • Riker gets to do the opening narration! They’re going to the ocean world ‘Pacifica.’ My God, that’s corny. Anyway, he’s looking forward to going to the beach, because screw that nerdy science stuff that’s actually the purpose of the visit. I would point out that they just had shore leave last week, but I really don’t begrudge Riker his beach time, as long as his vacation clothes are better than Julian Bashir’s.
  • Down front, Data and Geordi apparently think they’re on holiday already, because Data is sitting sideways listening intently while Geordi tells what, I’m sorry, sounds like a naff, boring, possibly slightly off-colour joke, and laughs at it himself. Data carefully analyses the joke and pronounces it ‘very humorous indeed. Hysterical, in fact.’ Then he tries to produce a laugh, and it’s either the weirdest laugh ever or the most sarcastic one, which makes me laugh. Then he stops completely, turns away and gets on with his work. You know me – I want to believe that was actually the most comprehensive stealth burn for a bad joke in Starfleet history.
  • Up the back, Riker and Troi are giggling together, either at how precious Data is or at how Geordi just got owned by the guy who can’t feel. I presume they made out after downing a lot of Blue Parrots on shore leave, because they’re very affectionate towards each other this week, with a lot of leaning and gazing, and Deanna does a little slinky stretch of her arms as she talks about how she’s looking forward to a nice swim, like, here, Will, permission to imagine me in my swimming togs.
  • ‘One can swim in moonlight?’ Yeah, and then one gets eaten by Jaws. I’m sorry, after what happened to Chrissie you are not getting me into the sea after sunset. Although what Data’s imagining is rather more poetic – and I hope one day he has a dream about it, because it sounds really pretty and trippy.
  • And instead of answering the poor confused android’s question, Troi and Riker exchange looks and decide to bother poor Worf.
  • ‘Swimming is too much like… bathing.’ Makes sense. Worf definitely seems like more of a quick efficient shower person. He does have a gift for the italics of contempt.
  • There’s an emergency, so we’re going to wake the captain by flashing the lights in his bedroom.  Picard, to his credit, becomes alert remarkably quickly, so maybe he wasn’t deeply asleep, or he’s just a waking-up badass. His bed and sheets look like brick-red microsuede, and the pillows look very firm and uncomfortable.
  • I actually don’t know how well I’d sleep under an uncurtained skylight/window with the lights of stars going past all the time.
  • And we get our first look at Picard’s favoured shortie pyjamas!
  • Picard gets up and pours himself a rather small drink of water from a nifty Starfleet-logo carafe. At least, I presume it is water and he’s not starting his day with a belt of vodka or gin. Needless to say, I would like that carafe and glass for my room – except Pearl the cat would knock them over, as she knocks over all drinking vessels on the bedside table with the exception of a lidded plastic water bottle, because that won’t spill or break and is therefore no fun.
  • V NECK MIDNIGHT BLUE PJS AND GREYING HAIRY CHEST. What a visual treat for ‘Walker,’ the friend who’s calling him on the emergency hotline. Walker is in such a flap he won’t even talk about what’s wrong on this secure line, and insists on ruining everyone’s beach holiday plans by telling Picard to change course to meet him on Italics B or something like that. Damn you, Walker, Deanna has a new bikini, and Data and Geordi are planning an epic sandcastle!
  • Anyway, he’s all TRUST NO-ONE and leaves Picard looking thoroughly spooked.
  • Okay, I looked up the name of the italics planet. It’s actually Dytallix B, and in a curious apparent example of public-private partnership, it is ‘mined for the Federation’ by the Dytallix Mining Company. Is that a private enterprise?
  • Anyway, Picard announces that they’re all going to Dytallix and it has to be a total secret. Riker is dismayed to miss out on Pacifica, and Troi makes her I’m Sensing Something face. They fly off with some very dramatic music!
  • On the bridge, Riker is using Data as his auxiliary brain again. I know it’s a device to deliver information to the audience, just like when Harry Potter is a lazy fuck and Hermione has to say ‘Don’t you know anything? This is all in Hogwarts: A History!’ and explain something basic about the amazing wizard world into which they’ve both been inducted but about which apparently only SHE feels any curiosity, Harry preferring to wait until something smacks him in the face before making even the vaguest investigative effort. I know this, but I still think Riker is a lazy bastard for essentially making Data read the Wikipedia entry on Dytallix B aloud to him.
  • Tracy Tormé does write good comic material for Data.
  • The two ships waiting for them are called Renegade and Thomas Paine. So, uh, those are subtle, insurrectionist kind of names. One is commanded by a Captain Rixx. Like the chalice?
  • Horatio! Named for Hornblower or Nelson?
  • ALONE, NUMBER ONE! Give me my space.
  • Weird music of unease as Picard descends into the tunnel – and some Hills Have Eyes-looking fucker comes out and points a phaser at him. I love this actor’s face. It’s amusing to me that they’ve put alien makeup on him because he’s one of the few human actors who really doesn’t require it.
  • Walker starts asking questions to determine, it seems, whether Picard is really Picard or some kind of, ooh, changeling!
  • Awesomely, a young black woman is a Starfleet captain. And she’s very confident about how good she is, and I like that immediately.
  • This is such a great, sinister plot. I’m really enjoying the development of suspense, and the competently created sense of the society these people come from and are concerned to see changing. The feeling of something rotten in the state of the UFP is just so unnerving and thrilling! Ee!
  • Aw, Picard says ‘Jack Crusher (mayherestinpeace).’ Is he telling Deanna about this before anyone else? Okay, she is the counsellor and he must need counsel, but it seems oddly assorted by how at other times he seems to have little time for her opinion, or feels uncomfortable with her touchy-feely approach.
  • Yay, thinks Riker, we’re going back to Pacifica! I get to feel the wind in my chest hair!
  • Data’s tiny pleased smile when Picard tells him he’s got a special assignment for him is absolutely – you know what word I’m going to use. Anyway, the job boils down to Googling and speed-reading.
  • BUT NOOOOOO they’re once again NOT GOING to Pacifica! It dangles in front of Riker’s nose and then gets snatched away like Tantalus’ fruit!
  • The Horatio has been destroyed with all hands! Bev and Picard’s friend Walker is dead!
  • Nice linking back to Admiral Quinn in ‘Coming of Age.’
  • Data is thrilled to his very microchips to realise that he has been unconsciously talking to himself. It’s very, very nice how they reveal this through an interaction between him and Computer, rather than with a human who might say something patronising. Instead, he has this sweet little moment to treasure by himself.
  • Even Computer cuts Data off when he gets into information-vomit mode.
  • And Datective has found a fishy pattern! And is correctly using an aphorism! He is having a good day!
  • Riker is hugging himself again.
  • I loved Data’s ‘Why not?’
  • Now we’re going to Earth! Well, there are beaches there, so Riker’s plans aren’t completely scotched.
  • I liked the shot of the Enterprise passing the Moon and approaching Earth, until I started thinking, shouldn’t there be shuttles coming and going? Other ships? Earth should be a transportation hub, shouldn’t it? This is like approaching Washington D.C. and not finding a traffic jam.
  • Young black women can be Starfleet captains, but I see two out of three admirals are still old white guys. WOOP WOOP ADMIRAL ALERT. BRACE FOR DICKERY.
  • Oh, that’s not suspicious at all! Why in the world does Riker say they seem normal enough?
  • This Vulcan uses the word ‘delighted’ a lot for, you know, a Vulcan.
  • SIN. IS. TER! Flimsy plastic box with wiggly pink bug in it! There really is a strong element of tragedy in the fact that Quinn was one of the first to suspect something was wrong, but They Got Him Too.
  • Apparently being taken over by a bug makes you feel great.
  • So, while casually strolling down a corridor where people in skants and random, nobody-really-controls-where-they-go little kids could overhear them, Picard asks Quinn about the terrible threat to the very fabric of the Federation. I want to hear a little high-pitched voice go ‘Whaaaaat?’ and the camera swings down to show tiny, adorable ginger Alexandra from ‘When the Bough Breaks,’ her little chin trembling.
  • Picard’s suspicions are clearly up, because he decides to leave Riker here in case of shenanigans.
  • Apparently you can talk more privately in a transporter room? Well, it does look like it has soundproofing tiles on the walls.
  • This is such a crazy situation! I’m so excited! I’m bopping in my chair!
  • And poor Remmick, too – he wanted to work on the Enterprise and have adventures with the heroes! Now he’s just an alien bug’s bitch!
  • A superior form of life that fits in a lunchbox.
  • IT WON’T LIKE YOUR SCIENCE OFFICER. IT DOES LIKE YOU!
  • Riker and Quinn proceed to have the most awesome fight of the whole first season. It’s got stuff in it like this!

    and this!

    and THIS!
  • The dude just killed a coffee table! You know shit just got real in TNG when a coffee table buys it! (Really, violence to coffee tables becomes a bit of a Thing and I’ll be pointing it out as we go along.)
  • I’m serious guys it’s the best fight EVER! Okay not EVER, there will be better fights, but it’s the best fight in TNG SO FAR. I commend everyone involved, especially the stuntman in a white wig who looks nothing like Admiral Quinn.
  • Let’s have some tea that you drink out of aperitif glasses! Note that we haven’t provided a glass for Remmick, as if we knew he would be leaving the room.
  • Don’t taste the tea Jean-Luc. OH NO YOU TASTED THE TEA!
  • What the living fuck? The security team consists of Worf and Geordi. Now Worf I understand, because, despite all the clobberings to the contrary, they evidently believe he’s a big tough guy. But Geordi? Geordi is one of the shortest adults on the ship. He’s not particularly strong and there’s no indication he has security training. He can be instantly incapacitated by knocking his visor off. Why?
  • So is it any wonder this happens?
  • AWESOME!
  • LOOK AT THOSE PLYWOOD DOORS POP STRAIGHT OUT OF THEIR GROOVES!
  • So then Worf is like RAR:
  • GUYS I’M SO HAPPY WE GOT A TWO-FIST CLUB IN THIS EPISODE! THIS SCENE IS EVERYTHING A STAR TREK FIGHT SHOULD BE!
  • I LOVE HOW THEY TRY TO PLAY WORF UP AS REALLY MENACING. Because Quinn drops him with one good hard thump on the back. Please note, I think Admiral Quinn, an old white guy with a paunch, just beat up Worf faster and more effectively than Lore did.
  • And then this happens!
  • Doctors are shooting people! It’s like Lost!
  • It has been noted by someone with an eye for detail better than mine that, pretty much every time Beverly is called upon to shoot with a phaser, she hits her target dead on. Dude. Dude. Does she have one hand in her pocket? I’m so in love with Beverly Crusher right now.
  • Geordi makes a really goofy noise as he gets up.
  • ‘If I could see I’d be seein’ stars.’ Do you mean your visor isn’t working?
  • I really enjoy Worf’s little inhale and growly exhale when Geordi is complaining that Quinn picked him up like a ragdoll. I think perhaps he’s glad nobody else saw his own ragdoll impression.
  • Geordi farts off back to the bridge, despite the fact that he was briefly unconscious, probably has concussion and should be kept under observation for a while.
  • Oh my goodness, the fake neck with the little wiggly gill sticking out of it!
  • Mmm, paranoid delusions! Almost as tasty as bantering with the captain.
  • Oh God I couldn’t stand having a bug on my spine.
  • Your food is getting cold, captain. It’s almost stopped wriggling!
  • So, I guess the audience is supposed to be thinking that maybe Riker was compromised by the pink bug from the lunchbox while he was lying in the wreckage of the coffee table.
  • So, um, I guess they’re serving Ferengi food?
  • Everyone’s like UM YUM YUM and Picard is like eeeeeeewwww…
  • The actor playing the other old white guy admiral is obviously really really enjoying the chance to eat worms on TV – he’s gleeful.
  • Hey, where did that goldshirt come from? Who is he supposed to be?
  • Tsk, such messy eaters! No cutlery or anything.
  • Picard slooooooowly backs for the door.
  • Riker, thank God! We’re leaving. This is the worst dinner party ever.
  • AARGH THEY GOT TRYLA TOO. THESE ALIEN BUGS ARE A FORM OF THE MAN.
  • ‘The one thing both races share is a love of theatre.’ This line just makes me giggle, because I am imagining bugs putting on plays, and it’s extremely cute.
  • WHO IS THE GOLDSHIRT AND WHY IS HE HERE.
  • OH I SEE HE’S HERE FOR RIKER TO SHOOT.
  • I love those illuminated flower wall fittings. Just, you know, noticing the décor in the middle of a fight.
  • So, the smart, confident young black woman who climbed the ladder to captain quicker than anyone in Starfleet history’s dead. Yup.
  • I LOVE THE LITTLE CLAYMATION BUGGIES THEY’RE SO CUTE!
  • Seriously, the stop-motion is adorably, hilariously bad.
  • And Remmick’s neck’s going like a bullfrog’s!
  • And Riker and Picard just look at each other like ‘That ain’t right’ and without the need for a word to be spoken they both SHOOT THE HELL OUT OF REMMICK UNTIL HIS HEAD EXPLODES.
  • I AM GIDDY WITH GLEE
  • CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GRAPHIC BURSTING HEAD, THAT DEFLESHED SKULL WITH STARING EYEBALLS, WAS JUST ON STAR TREK?
  • oh I sound like such a ghoul
  • but sometimes I love gross things
  • And then Remmick bursts open like Mr Creosote and this ADORABLE alien monster sticks itself out of his tummy, like I don’t know HOW there was room for that and his guts too, he should have looked pregnant, and they shoot it too!
  • And Remmick’s headless, eviscerated corpse lies there steaming, with little plastic dead alien babies scattered all around him!
  • And… the Enterprise just goes away. The hell? Would there not have to be a huge investigation, and medical examinations of absolutely everyone in Starfleet, and purges, and a Federation-wide scandal totally destabilising the common people’s sense of trust in their military-scientific overlords and… oh wait, did they HUSH IT ALL UP? Is that the REAL ‘Conspiracy’ of the title? Did some nice men from Section 31 say to Riker and Picard ‘We can make all this go away’?
  • Also, earlier Bev said she didn’t think she could remove the parasite without Quinn dying, but now she has and he’s fine. Apparently the parasites died when their mother did (how the mum alien got to be inside poor Remmick is, apparently, a story we’re not going to be told) so did she just have to dig a dead alien bug out of his neck? Its death didn’t harm him? Okay, I’m just going to buy this on the principle that Beverly is a great doctor.
  • And this episode has such a great, great, downbeat, sinister ending. It was a homing beacon. Inviting the others. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!
  • I LOVED THAT EPISODE!
  • AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
  • Man, I’m hyper now.

Anyway, next time it’s ‘The Neutral Zone’ and that will actually take us to the end of Season One. Yaaay!

Also, the gifs I’ve heavily featured in this review, and most of the ones in other entries on this blog, come from the Random Tuesday Gif Archive, linked in the sidebar. It really is great.

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2 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.25: Conspiracy”

  1. lori Says:

    I do enjoy your excited bullet point squeeness interspersed with multiple animated gifs tho it does make me happy for broadband internet YAY.

    Awesome review. I remember laughing my butt off at this episode, especially the claymation buggy going up Remmick’s shoulder.


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