So, season one of Star Trek the Next Generation may not be the most memorable of seasons of television. But there was one episode that, well, had a very memorable moment. That would be this one. Jimmy and Tom have some thoughts on a mysterious “Conspiracy”.
There’s something rotten in Starfleet…
jimmy: I assume that memorable scene is Data talking to himself.
jimmy: I knew it!
tomk: It certainly wasn’t a scene of shocking violence for a Star Trek with a lot of unexpected gore that actually initially got the episode banned in Great Britain.
jimmy: Oh, the guy’s face melting and head exploding?
tomk: Yeah. A moment I found shocking and memorable when I watched it when the episode was new.
jimmy: I don’t recall. It certainly was out of character for the show.
tomk: Hence the reason it was so memorable.
jimmy: The whole episode was pretty dark. With the covert meetings, alien parasites taking over people, bowls of meal worms…
tomk: Ironically, the original draft was much darker. What you saw was the toned down version.
jimmy: Do tell.
tomk: Two things.
The aliens, called the bluegills in some places, were Maurice Hurley’s original concept for the Borg.
jimmy: I suspected as much.
tomk: And the original plot was about a military coup taking over Starfleet and the Federation.
jimmy: It was heading that way.
And what of the ominous beacon at the end? Sending for more bluegills that I’m guessing are never seen again?
tomk: Not on the show, no.
The Borg were originally planned as an insectoid race with a hive mind.
That turned out to be too expensive, so changes were made.
As for the coup idea, Roddenberry and a bunch of the other writers didn’t like it because Star Trek wasn’t that kind of show.
jimmy: That’s right. It’s the kind of show that will have a man’s chest cave away to reveal a hideous insect monster living inside and then that man’s face melt off and head explode.
tomk: OK, so, it was still dark, but remember this is Trek and Roddenberry wouldn’t allow an insurrection among the officers of Starfleet without some kind of outside influence.
If this was how dark it got when it went to air, think about how much worse it was in the original version.
jimmy: Obviously much changed, but it’s interesting that they had “Borg ideas” as far back as season 1.
tomk: Yeah. Well, the Ferengi weren’t exactly working out.
jimmy: That’s for sure.
tomk: Granted, this episode has some weird stuff too. Picard learns of a conspiracy, he is told to tell no one, and immediately tells, of all people, Troi.
jimmy: Well, Tasha was dead (but still in the credits). Who was he going to tell? Worf?
tomk: Riker apparently.
jimmy: You would think.
tomk: But Crusher just comes onto the bridge to ask about the captain Picard has met with, the one who introduced her to her dead husband, and Picard denies the whole thing.
jimmy: Crusher should mind her own damn business.
tomk: Well, that guy’s ship blew up later…
Also, apparently everyone in Starfleet knows each other.
jimmy: You don’t know everyone [at your job]?
tomk: No. Do you know everyone in Newfoundland?
jimmy: Of course.
tomk: Tell Craig he still owes me ten bucks.
jimmy: That’s so Craig.
tomk: And that’s so season one Data where even the computer wants him to shut up.
He was just so happy to be talking to himself, which is so human apparently.
tomk: Yes. Happy. The emotionless android was happy.
jimmy: Data has shown more range of emotion in one season than Spock showed in 3…plus all the movies.
At least Spock was just suppressing emotions. Data should simply not have any.
tomk: Any time Spock smiled on the old show, something went very, very wrong.
jimmy: Sounds like Batman.
jimmy: And if he has a goatee forget about it!
tomk: That one actually turned out to be reasonable.
jimmy: So those spindles sticking out of people’s neck seemed fairly obvious. How did this go undetected for months?
tomk: Starfleet was experimenting with the mullet?
jimmy: And here’s something that would probably get internet grief today: a black female rising faster than anyone in history to the rank of Captain…turns out to be evil.
tomk: Well, she was possessed by evil. Naturally Picard and Riker has to murder her.
jimmy: Crusher said the stun setting wouldn’t work.
tomk: She also said they were on permanent adrenaline boosts. That would actually kill the host bodies.
jimmy: Not a very good symbiotic relationship.
tomk: Or Crusher is a terrible doctor. Then again, she was supposed to be next.
jimmy: I have suspected the former a few times.
But makes sense to get the Doctor on your side to clear anyone that is under suspicion.
tomk: Also, she is the chief medical officer on one of Starfleet’s flagships.
jimmy: Well, Crusher in particular, yes. But seemed to be a common thread.
tomk: And Crusher has enough hair to hide a tentacle coming out of the back of her neck.
jimmy: Unlike almost everyone else.
tomk: Considering the Admiral was tossing people through doors and killing Worf, it wasn’t much of a secret conspiracy anyway.
jimmy: See…this would have been a better story to kill off Tasha in.
tomk: It’s still a clumsy episode, but there may have been a reason for that. A reason beyond Riker kicking the writers in the head.
tomk: There was a writers strike in Hollywood around that time. It mostly affects the next episode and all of season two, but they couldn’t, say, do a rewrite.
jimmy: Lousy writers and their need for fair wages.
tomk: Yeah, season two was supposed to be a season long story arc about the Borg…in the form of the bluegills. The little guys were just the advanced scouts.
jimmy: So…maybe that worked out for the best.
tomk: Well, it would have been a very different Borg.
jimmy: I like the Borg we have.
tomk: You mean a race of insects with mind control drones and organic ships doesn’t work for you? How long have you had it in for Species 8472?
jimmy: They’re like the bluegills’ older, tougher brother.
tomk: Also, they were on Voyager, so less cool.
jimmy: Don’t tell Janeway.
tomk: Can’t be helped. It’s not that Voyager isn’t cool. It just has no Picard to make it cooler.
jimmy: It had a Picardo.
tomk: OK, you got me there.
You get a gold star.
tomk: Well, all I know is there’s a YouTube channel I like called Reverse Angle. Every Monday, they release a video where two guys talk up an episode of Next Generation. Though they are currently on season three, they gave each season a distinct opening credit sequence made up of the goofiest and silliest out-of-context scenes and shots from the season, and their season one opening had more shots from “Conspiracy” than any other.
jimmy: Cool video. Definitely two guys that you would tell to stop thinking so much about stuff.
And I forgot about that Hills Have Eyes guy as one of the Captains.
Oh, and they didn’t know how the bluegills were Borg prototypes. You go, Tom!
tomk: Yes, but those guys seem to be having fun with talk of exploding heads.
jimmy: They did quite enjoy this one.
tomk: Well, we might have. Apparently, if you call security, Geordi shows up.
jimmy: Well, he was with Worf.
tomk: Right until he went through the door. The one time there wasn’t an automatic opening.
jimmy: Heh. Well, in fairness, it happened so fast they probably wouldn’t have had time to open.
But they were pretty flimsy.
tomk: Probably a good thing the bluegilled admiral didn’t toss Geordi towards a window then.
jimmy: I was just thinking along those lines. If those closed doors can’t stand up to Geordi being tossed at them, I sure hope there isn’t a hull breach in that area.
tomk: Explosive decompression sure is one way to deal with a possessed officer.
Or Riker can kick him in the head a few more times.
jimmy: Those kicks were truly outrageous.
jimmy: Batman gets it.
tomk: Batman always gets it. He would have figured out the whole scheme three months earlier with just a single clue in the form of a single mealworm on a table.
jimmy: The guys in the video made a good point, why were they eating the meal worms the way they were? They were very big on theatrics for Picard’s sake.
tomk: They said they were a superior species and yet they haven’t even invented the spork.
jimmy: Who needs to invent it? I’m sure they’re right there next to the pile of chalice bowls.
tomk: Well, they clearly don’t know how to work one.
tomk: Maybe Picard should have just waited for those fools to take themselves out then.
jimmy: They weren’t overly intimating.
tomk: They can beat up Worf, but c’mon man. It’s Worf.
jimmy: Good thing Wesley was in his room. He would have figured it all out.
tomk: His mother did. No one told her there was anything going on. And she was next for assimilation.
jimmy: So, when whazziname was on the Enterprise earlier in the season interrogating everyone…did he have a giant bug living inside him then?
jimmy: You’d think the transporters would have some safeguards or alarms that went off when it detected a giant big living inside a man.
tomk: Oh, you want the transporter to solve every problem now? What do you think you’re watching? The animated series?
jimmy: Heh. It did there?
tomk: Three or four times in a twenty or so episode run.
jimmy: Scotty was a wizard.
jimmy: Speaking of theatrics…did Riker need to go through his whole charade? Couldn’t he have just come in phasers blazing? Him pretending to be one of them really amounted to nothing.
And why come alone?
Or just, you know, beam Picard out of there? Or beam anyone there to the brig?
tomk: Maybe they needed to know more of what was going on.
jimmy: Or confirm who exactly was in on it.
tomk: I mean, you don’t just beam three top admirals to the brig.
Do you know how many kicks to the head you need to deliver to keep them pacified?
jimmy: I’m sure there was some way Crusher could use scanners to detect who had a crab wrapped around their spine.
tomk: They still don’t know about Mama Monster.
jimmy: Which they only learned by chasing the bugs around.
tomk: See, you gotta chase bugs.
jimmy: And they didn’t even know there was a Mama Monster until that guy who I can never remember his name was half disintegrated.
tomk: Isn’t that always the way? You just about learn some schmuck’s name, and he goes and gets himself half-disintegrated.
jimmy: Never fails.
tomk: He probably was on the Nostromo or something when it found some bluegills.
jimmy: He did seem stupid enough to be looking directly into a hatching alien egg sack.
tomk: Well, that’s the sort of stupidity that gets you onto Starfleet’s Internal Affairs division.
jimmy: So let’s step back again. During the last episode when the Admiral warned Picard there was something afoot…was he not infected at that point? I guess the whole “I know Admiral Ackbar and that is not Admiral Ackbar” would kind of imply that.
tomk: That’s my guess.
The Admiral’s memory was a bit…fuzzy since the previous episode.
And then he carries a case full of blue gill around and doesn’t even try to hide it.
jimmy: For a secret conspiracy group, they sure were cocky.
tomk: Yeah, well, they clearly suck at what they do.
jimmy: They had a good run for a few months, but yeah. And apparently they never left instructions on their home planet what the homing beacon meant.
tomk: I think it meant “BRING MORE WORMS”.
jimmy: Hence the great “Meal Worm Invasion” of 2365.
tomk: Well, we’ll never know for sure. Everyone that wasn’t shot to death in Starfleet HQ got better and the homing beacon never called anyone.
Then again, there may be other threats out there. Some are more…familiar than others.
jimmy: Sounds like we might see one soon…
tomk: Yeah, how about the worst of all possibilities: a Wall Street financier!
jimmy: Those sons of bitches!
tomk: Shall we move on?
jimmy: To where?
tomk: Maybe…the Neutral Zone!