A shadowy force has infiltrated the highest echelons of Starfleet. The few high-ranking officers who haven’t been affected want Picard’s help to root out this conspiracy and put a stop to it. But can even the flagship of the fleet stand against this mysterious invasion of their own organisation?
These days, season-long arcs which weave in and out of the weekly storylines are par for the course, so this early attempt to do something similar looks laughably simplistic in comparison. Instead of building up the idea of a threat at the heart of Starfleet slowly over the course of the season, we heard about it once before in Coming of Age, and then promptly forgot again until the denouement in this episode.
As for the episode itself, it feels like someone just wanted to put together bits of their favourite action thrillers. There’s the shadowy conspiracy from every thriller ever, a random Indiana Jones style dinner scene where the controlled humans eat pots of worms, a horror-movie-esque touch on the shoulder moment, and a “killing the mother alien” bit straight out of the Alien franchise. Basically, it’s a story that needed a big build up for us to care about it, and even though the aliens send a homing beacon back to their point of origin, fortunately this storyline is never touched on again (except in some fanfic I read where it turned out Wesley was actually Data’s son).
Does anyone get any work done around here?
- At the beginning of the episode, the crew are looking forward to visiting the water planet Pacifica, presumably for some R&R. Weren’t they just recently all desperate for shore leave a couple of episodes ago? Lazy Federation bums.
- Apparently it’s highly unusual for a starship to return to Earth. Why? Most of the crew of the Enterprise, for example, is human, and whilst a fair number of them will hail from space colonies, sufficient of them have enough history and family back on Earth that they must want to visit from time to time. Or maybe the idea is that anyone who wants to get back to Earth has to make their own way there.
- Picard, Jack Crusher and Walker Keel were once inseparable – at least until they separated.
- Worf implies that Klingons dislike bathing. Are the sonic showers used on board the Enterprise ok? Do Klingons scrub themselves down with sand instead? Does Worf actually stink, but everyone is too scared to point it out?
- It’s good to see that one of the main admirals at Starfleet Command is a Vulcan. He also uses a nerve pinch, but it causes pain rather than unconsciousness.
A couple of points from previous episodes
- Riker was offered command of another starship, but refused it in favour of being first officer on the Enterprise. This is a recurring theme throughout TNG, until finally in Nemesis he accepts command of the USS Titan.
- In The Arsenal of Freedom, Crusher is able to use the knowledge of herbs she inherited from her grandmother to help Picard perform field medicine. Why would herbs on a completely alien planet behave anything like the ones Grandma Crusher used?
Summary – Conspiracy: And the invading aliens that no one had ever heard of before were subsequently never heard of again.