Episode of the week: Conspiracy

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by MikeS, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    Wow! The end of this season seems to have appeared out of nowhere. I've always thought of Skin of Evil and We'll Always have Paris being much closer to the start of the final third of the season. Guess I'll have to get around to buying those flawed season two discs. Anywho...

    This episode feels "epic". It seemed to be much longer than 47 minutes, and not in a bad way. It was great to see continuity from Coming of Age and good to see Jack, Beverly and Picard's backstory fleshed out a little more with the introduction (albeit briefly) of Walter Keel (any novels mention more about him?)

    With regards to the HD remaster - I always remember an interview with Frakes where he bemoaned the fact that he ate one of the live maggots yet those frames ended up on the cutting room floor. I would have LOVED to have seen this found and added to that scene! Also visible in HD is the name PSI 3000 on the star map behind Remmick - nice reference to TOS.

    Nitpicks - Data seems to go missing in this episode. I know that as second officer, he's in charge in the absence of the Captain and First officer, but it seems like he's being kept out of the way on purpose. Like his involvement would end the story sooner.

    For an excellent continuation of this story read DS9's relaunch. I forget the precise books but the entire series is a good read.
     
  2. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2012
    Location:
    Va. Beach, VA
    Yeah, I read the books but that was about 7 years ago. I really wish there would have been a follow up episode to this. It was such a cool ending to the episode to with that shot of space and the transmitting sound. The Blue Gill parasites were in interesting and worthy enemy of the Federation.
     
  3. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Conspiracy

    Hey, I thought episode of the week was every Wednesday! Well, no matter.

    I'm pretty mixed about Conspiracy as a whole. On one hand, it gave TNG a sense of continuity by following up on a story line set up in a previous episode. I love that. On the other hand, it does come off as downright silly at times. Having the parasite turn an old man into superman simply by using adrenaline? Looney with a capital L.

    Now, that's not to say this episode doesn't have any highlights. The moment where Picard meets up with other Captains I thought was handled very well. I find it particularly important because it broadened Star Trek to be more than just the crew of the Enterprise solving every single problem ever. I was even pleasantly surprised that we got a black female captain who had this legendary status by being the youngest human ever to be promoted to the rank of Captain. Finally, Star Trek's future was looking promising and-

    [​IMG]

    ..... she's dead. Well, thank you for recommending the highest phaser setting Dr. Crusher. You've not only ensured that women can't have good things in TNG, you yourself are also going to get kicked out of the show after the next episode. I'm sure that Starfleet Medical will learn a lot from a doctor who believes that it is better to die than suffer from a non-lethal disease that makes you feel.... wait for it.... sick.

    But again, Conspiracy wouldn't be a mixed bag if it didn't have just one other positive to counter the negative. And what better positive can we have than having an episode that doesn't feature Wesley Crusher? Yep, a potential galaxy wide take over and Wesley isn't brought in to help save the day. Kudos Conspiracy.

    As for the queen parasite's reveal and execution? Yeah. If I was the writer, I wouldn't have killed it. Heck, I don't know why they didn't keep the original design from the concept art where it's head looked like the forward part of a Ferengi ship. That looked awesome and a lot more scary. AND WHO'S IDEA WAS IT TO MAKE THE SEQUENCE THAT GORY? You phaser a guy's head till it melts his skin off, revealing his muscles and eyeballs, and than make it all explode?? What were they thinking? Why even shoot the head?

    I had always hoped that future series would carry on the parasite menace in some form or another. When I look at it now, it feels a lot like ENTERPRISE's "Regeneration" episode where our crew deals with an unknown alien threat, kills it, but realizes that it sent a signal out into deep space warning their own kind of this potential target. I'm still crossing my fingers that we'll see them again in the prime universe.

    Stinger: *Pop!*
     
  4. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    Sorry, I thought it was Tuesday? If not I was only 1 hour and 28 minutes too early :techman:

    Nice observation about Wesley. I had missed that. The episode certainly doesn't miss him!

    Your musings on the Captains made me remember something I meant to put in my original post - IMO the Bolian presented to us here is much better than what we got later on. I don't know, he just seems more "real". A proper alien.
     
  5. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Captrek
    Exactly the word I was going to use. Yes, this is the first "epic" story of TNG. It's good scoring and a sense of atmosphere that make it work. I don't think the writing is all that great.

    Yes, it feels like it should have had a sequel. Let's throw some story ideas around.

    But for now, my notes:

    I love the way Spiner performs this. He's the only regular TNG actor with a good feel for comedy (unless you count Whoopi).

    This is kind of interesting. In The Big Goodbye, Picard says the holodeck seems completely real. Several seasons hence in Ship in a Bottle, Picard and Data will prove unable to distinguish the holodeck from reality.

    Is Troi saying here that there is a perceptible difference between a holodeck moonlight swim and a real moonlight swim, or is she describing a psychological effect where knowing that it's a holodeck diminishes the experience? If the latter, why would she expect Data to understand?

    Is this Data being an idiot or Data making a joke?

    He must mean "Don't trust anyone except me," because he has given Picard no other reason to divert to Dytallix.

    Wait, what?

    The questions about where they met and introducing the Crushers seem like good questions. On the other hand, the fact that Keel has two sisters and no brother is something the bugs could learn from records.

    But... "Don't trust anyone." :shrug:

    What happened to the bodies?

    Another great moment from Spiner.

    This is difficult to explain. It seems like Quinn's blowing his cover on purpose here. Why would he do that?

    One of the questionable joys of the Blu-ray is that Ward Costello's stunt double doesn't look like him at all.

    So showing it to Riker wasn't part of the plan? Did Quinn's bug go insane?

    Good thing he forgot the other test, which is to ask questions an impostor couldn't answer.

    The special effects of the bugs look laughably cheap in HD. Like the stunt double, it can't be helped. This show wasn't made with HD in mind.

    I might be inclined to give him a chance to explain what it is he thinks we don't understand. On the other hand, if I hesitate too long, my curiosity might get me killed.

    How can we not know? Wouldn't the people who had been compromised know that they had been compromised?

    This is what I call a SPOF DEM, which is a pet peeve of mine.
     
  6. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    CapTrek you missed the best part of the "Swim conversation", when Worf says "Swimming is too much like...bathing."

    It's very funny because of that little shake of the head Dorn gives. He hadn't quite become the Klingon whose every line reading we could predict for some 13 years. Also as seen in Skin of Evil, he makes some interesting choices.

    edit: also we seem to see a weird callback to that "Starships can't/are forbidden to return to Earth" thing in TOS that I *think* only appears in the Blish books.

    Picard: "While it is rare for a ship to return to Earth", and that line the Vulcan Admiral has...whatever it was...

    Double edit: Maybe it was in "Making of Star Trek"..i dunno...
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  7. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Captrek
    It does seem kind of bizarre that the captain has complete personal discretion to abandon a mission and take the ship where he wants to and doesn’t even have to provide an explanation. Bizarre though it may be, at least they’re pretty consistent about it. In the TNG universe, we just accept that those are the rules.
     
  8. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    I wonder what carpenter fitted those doors in Starfleet headquaters. They must be draughty as hell!

    Another thing I didn't notice until watching this in HD - the yellow-shirt, skant wearing ensign that passes by the tactical station shortly after the opening credits where Data is about to explain to Riker about Dytalix-B. She is wearing a bracelet. Must have been dress-down Friday.
     
  9. Reeborg

    Reeborg Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    I still did not understand why the bugs have build up this huge conspiracy, and then they just wasted all the effort because one of them wanted to beat up half the Enterprice crew. Not very smart writing IMO. That's the reason I rather dislike this episode.
     
  10. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2001
    Location:
    Sac, Ca
    Not only that, but once Picard and Co figure everything out, it doesn't take much effort to take down the alien queen. They just waltz in to Starfleet Headquarters with their phasers and shoot it dead.
     
  11. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    A fun, tense episode that's fast paced enough (especially by the standards of the era) enough for it to skip quickly past the oddities (pumping up the adrenalin in an old man wouldn't make him super strong and impervious to phasers, it'd probably give him a heart attack). There's a hell of a lot of stuff going on in this one compared to the rest of the season and most of it is very strong.

    But of course, it's the exploding head we all remember. Still strong enough to be cut out of the most recent SyFi screening of the episode in the UK (I wonder if they'll do what the Beeb did and leave it in Shades of Grey?) it's a brilliantly insane OTT bit of violence.

    It's actually amazing Gene let that one through considering his general attitude towards the unblemished purity of our heroes at the time; Picard and Riker don't have any real reason to shoot Remmey. He's unarmed and they don't know killing him will switch off the plot. Without that knowledge having him alive gives them a hostage. Having him dead could have just really, really, really pissed off all the infected officers at Star Fleet headquarters... Such an arresting visual though I'm glad they did it.

    I also love that when Riker calls for security Worf (and for some reason Geordi, obviously he had itchy feet at this point but hadn't decided on his new career path) turn up unarmed, but Crusher arrives packing a phaser.
     
  12. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    At least Worf and Geordi had a *little* spring in their step. I've seen eps where security is just sauntering.

    And it would be hilarious if security looked like your standard correctional officer.
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Do we know for sure that Tryla Scott died in the episode? Admiral Quinn survived being shot with a phaser...
     
  14. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Quinn was brought down by Crusher when she used the high stun setting. The parasite was still attached to Quinn when in sickbay and she stated that any attempt to remove it now would probably kill Quinn. It wasn't until the mother parasite died that the parasite was removed safely.

    Crusher insists that Picard and Riker set their phasers to kill since it has little effect on the creature or the host, despite the high stun setting being effective on Quinn. Remember, this is the same doctor who was willing to let a group of people die rather than get infected with a disease that doesn't kill you. When they shoot Captain Scott, the parasite leaves her body. When Quinn was stunned, the parasite remained in the host. Why would a parasite remain in a non-living host if the parasite in Quinn's body still remained when he was alive?
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I just don't see any evidence, one way or the other, that she died. I'll have to break out the episode, it's been a few months since I watched it.
     
  16. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    To which disease/episode are you referring? :confused:
     
  17. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Why, the unnamed one from the infamous and totally not sexist episode Angel One.

    CRUSHER: This virus is totally out of control here. Until I know exactly what I'm dealing with, I can't let anyone new be exposed.
    RIKER: Doctor, these people are facing their deaths down here.
    CRUSHER: They might be facing the same thing up here. Until I have a better idea of what I'm dealing with, no one can beam up. I'm sorry, Will, but you must wait.

    Again, this virus has only shown to cause great discomfort and over time hasn't resulted in any deaths on a ship with a thousand people on it. This is literally the situation the crew is faced with when trying to save a group of people. Certain death, or possible death. Crusher is insisting on CERTAIN DEATH! What, does she have to do a mountain of paper work for every crew member who gets sick and doesn't want that work to stack on? That's the only reason why she's doing this after all. She doesn't want people to get sick period. What a lazy buffoon. And it's not like anyone who is sick gets any special high tech treatment either. When Captain Picard of all people gets the virus, this is how critical Crusher is to the Captain's health.

    CRUSHER: You're infected with the virus. Captain. In my opinion, you are no longer physically able to effectively command this vessel.
    PICARD: That is ridiculous, Doctor. I have an away team down there, in less than friendly territory, and in addition I have an appointment with several Romulan battlecruisers.
    CRUSHER: You have an appointment in your cabin, Captain. With your bed.

    Yep. A virus so scary that Crusher believes it is better to face certain death than to get infected, and her method of treating the Captain's health? Go to your room.

    At least Doctor Pulaski was smart enough to contain infected people in a shuttle. Where are the shuttles here? Where are the quarantine containment areas? The bloody cargo area has transporters in it. Just transport them into there. Why is Crusher more of a danger to everyone than the freaking virus??

    So it's no surprise that someone who used a phaser on a high stun setting which successfully subdued someone being controlled by a parasite would recommend the kill setting in dealing with anyone else being controlled by the parasite. I guess the paper work on a dead host is a lot less work than dealing with people who get sick.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Regarding the setting of the phasers in the final fight at SF HQ, we should note that it's something neither Crusher nor the one person told by Crusher to use "kill", Picard, would be in a position to choose.

    The phasers used in the fight were taken from the possessed people. The one possessed person who retained use of his weapon, Admiral Aaron, fired at our heroes but missed; the beam created a bright flash but did no damage whatsoever to the wall it hit, or to the painting on that wall. It would appear the phaser was at most on one of the "heavy stun" settings, because "kill but don't vaporize" in the 24th century seems to leave scorch marks.

    Riker in turn beamed down some time after Crusher had his discussion with Picard. Quite possibly, new information was uncovered, and Riker knew there was no need to use the kill setting to subdue the possessed people; heavy stun would do.

    When the time comes to destroy the Remmick-shaped creature, it's Riker's gun that does physical damage; Picard's bigger sidearm, confiscated from the conference room , merely creates the sort of chest glow typically associated with stun. So we could well assume that Picard isn't touching the settings, while Riker has enough extra information to know when to key his personal phaser up or down.

    Why Quinn goes on a rampage could have two basic explanations:

    a) It's Quinn fighting, not the parasite. Quinn is ruining the plan by trading blows with Riker; the parasite is for some reason powerless to stop this, perhaps because Quinn has confused it into thinking that the fisticuffs would be a good idea, perhaps because Quinn has somehow gained the upper hand.

    b) The idea is to both eliminate Riker and other top officers, and to lure in Crusher to treat them. Quinn's body is expendable; by beating up Riker, jamming his ability to call Security (an Admiral could do that easily enough, I trust), and instead sending a message that lures in Worf, LaForge and Crusher, the parasite eliminates a number of threats while taking over a "lucky survivor" who can subsequently ease other parasites aboard.

    We do know that the possessed people aren't very convincing in their imitations (who would believe Remmick's words about peaceful coexistence when delivered like that?), while OTOH the parasites should know a lot about mankind and about what it would really take to manipulate our heroes. It would thus be possible to argue that the parasites have poor control of the host bodies, and it is for this reason that they generally fail to convince, and specifically fail to control Quinn during the fight.

    On the other hand, if Quinn did triumph over the parasite, this means the critter apparently only managed to influence Quinn's face and speech, but couldn't control his limbs. Odd for it to go that way... And why would the parasite bother to invent rationales for Quinn's undesirable behavior ("I enjoy beating you up!")?

    Assuming that everything did go according to plan is fairly easy. The Quinn creature had eliminated Riker and LaForge as threats, and was going to accomplish that with Worf as well in pretty short order. Then it would be time for Crusher to arrive, be subdued, and for the parasite to be injected (we don't know how that happens, but supposedly it's fairly complicated and best accomplished by luring the victim into a locked room and subduing her conventionally - fist in the jaw, phaser on stun).

    The parasite side of things makes sense, then. What does not make sense is that Worf and LaForge arrive "unawares", walking right into the trap - but Crusher comes in armed, something she basically never does otherwise. Being unprepared for such a startling twist of events does not make the parasites look stupid. It does make one wonder what sort of a message Quinn sent out that was going to lure the victims in unalert but running, and the doctor in unarmed and unawares...

    Regarding the "Angel One" issue, an unknown disease is not that big a problem if the idea is to beam up the Odin folks. It only becomes a problem if there is going to be any beaming down going on; in that case, an entire planet might die.

    However, it doesn't seem as if Crusher would have a reason to think that the deaths on the planet are particularly imminent. Indeed, hurry would not be a factor: Mistress Beata is only going to execute the Odin crew if they refuse to leave. Them being unable to leave for the next few days because of a force majeure would not be a problem for Beata.

    Crusher doesn't condemn anybody to death. And Beata only does so after Ramsay declares he wants to be executed rather than deported.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Because any good doctor would assume that anyone "facing their deaths" can surely wait on them. It's almost as if the virus was some last minute attempt by the writer to create more tension in a story that didn't need any. It's not like the whole series, let alone this episode hinged on whether or not these two dopey looking buggers would be executed or not.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Actually, it seems that our good doctors do relatively little assuming and quite a bit of eavesdropping. Granted, it is only in a couple of early episodes that Picard explicitly calls the CMO and ascertains that she has indeed been listening in and is aware of the situation, but this is only for the benefit of visiting villains who might not know of this standard Starfleet practice...

    Timo Saloniemi