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After Captain Picard receives a dark warning from an old friend, the Enterprise-D returns to Earth to stop an alien invasion from taking over Starfleet Command.



Data trying to laugh

"Yes, very humorous indeed. Hysterical, in fact."

The USS Enterprise-D is en route for the planet Pacifica for a scientific mission. Commander Riker, along with the rest of the crew, is looking forward to seeing the blue waters and beaches that make the planet a jewel of the galaxy. On the bridge, Geordi La Forge is telling a joke to Data, who, after going into detail of why it is funny, starts to laugh rather unconvincingly before stopping and returning to his console. While talking to Riker, Counselor Troi says that she is most looking forward to taking a swim while visiting Pacifica. After asking Worf if he will do the same, he remarks that he finds swimming to be too much like bathing. A moment later, Data detects a code 47 transmission coming in – meant for the commanding officer's eyes only.

Walker Keel

Walker Keel's clandestine communiqué

Asleep in his quarters, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is contacted by Riker and is told that the ship is receiving a code 47 emergency message from one Walker Keel, an old friend of Picard's who is captain of the Ambassador-class USS Horatio. Keel asks Picard for a secret rendezvous on the abandoned mining colony on Dytallix B. Even though it is a secured channel, Keel says to Picard that he cannot tell him what this is all about and insists they meet face to face.

Act One[]

Picard quickly arrives on the bridge and asks Data what he knows about Dytallix B. Data reports that Dytallix is one of seven planets mined for the Federation by the Dytallix Mining Company. Picard orders the helm to travel there immediately, with no record of the change and no communication to Pacifica. He goes to his ready room, leaving Commander Riker to wonder what is going on.

On arriving at Dytallix B, Picard meets alone at the entrance to a mining tunnel with Walker and two other captains, Tryla Scott and Rixx, who, after confirming Picard's identity with a series of questions about his past, tell him about their suspicions of a conspiracy of some sort reaching up to the highest levels of Starfleet Command. They don't have all the answers, but they cite recent suspicious orders and deaths. They are convinced that people, even top-level personnel, are "changing" somehow. Keel already suspects his first officer and chief medical officer. The only sign of the change appears to be loss of long-term memories. They ask that Picard stay vigilant.

Act Two[]

After returning to the Enterprise, he first consults Deanna Troi, saying he believes Keel and trusts him as a friend, even though he is violating Starfleet regulations. Picard looks into the matter, having Data review Starfleet directives of the past six months. While Data is reviewing the records in Picard's ready room, the Enterprise continues on to Pacifica, but along the way encounters an unusual disturbance in a nearby sector. Picard re-directs the Enterprise toward it, and they eventually identify it as shipwreck debris. Speculating that it could be one of the three ships they encountered at Dytallix B, Worf informs them that based on the volume of debris, it could only be the Horatio, Keel's ship.

Act Three[]

In light of Keel's death, Picard tells Riker about the suspicions Keel voiced in the observation lounge. Picard is connecting them with Rear Admiral Quinn's earlier that year when the admiral was aboard the Enterprise during its visit to Relva VII. During their conversation, Data enters and reports what he has found: during the past six months there has been a great deal of "uncustomary reshuffling of personnel – usually in the command areas" of a select number of starbases. Furthermore, the new officers have had a great deal of contact with the highest levels of command. Data hypothesizes that the reorganizations are an attempt by a hostile force or individual to control important sectors of Federation territory. Faced with this information, the Enterprise returns to Earth.

Starfleet command, 2364

Nothing to worry about, we're all fine here

Upon entering orbit of Earth, the Enterprise is contacted by three admirals from Starfleet Command, requesting an explanation for their return. Picard states that he would prefer a discussion of that sort occur in private; the three admirals convene for a moment, then invite Picard and Riker to dinner at Starfleet Headquarters for the discussion to take place. Quinn says that he will not be able to attend the dinner, but that he would like to see the Enterprise once again. Just before he is beamed up to the ship by Dexter Remmick, he looks at a purple, scorpion-like creature he has in a case.

Act Four[]

When Quinn is on board the Enterprise, he bluffs his way through references to old times, stating that his earlier perception of a threat to the Federation was merely a metaphor for the "tumultuous process" of assimilating new species into the Federation. Picard realizes that Admiral Quinn is an impostor of some sort and after leaving Quinn, tells Riker to observe the admiral closely while he beams down alone to dinner. Also, he wants Doctor Crusher to give him a full medical examination under false pretenses; after Riker reaches his conclusions, he is to join Picard on Earth, in force if necessary. Picard then beams down and meets with Rear Admiral Savar and Vice Admiral Aaron, as well as Remmick.

Parasitic being attached to Quinn

A scan of the parasite attached to Quinn

On the ship in the guest quarters, Quinn offers to show Riker the creature and tells him about it. It was discovered by a Starfleet survey team on an uncharted planet, and Quinn refers to it as "a superior form of life". When Riker says he'll get his science officer to examine it, Quinn grabs his arm very strongly, saying the creature will only like Riker. After a brief scuffle, in which Quinn displays amazing strength, Riker is knocked unconscious, but not before calling security. Running down the corridor, Worf and La Forge arrive, calling a medical emergency. Quinn says that Riker slipped and hit his head, and then announces his departure. When they try to detain him, however, he throws La Forge out into the corridor, his body knocking down the door. He turns to Worf and tells him it is now between he and him.

Act Five[]

He similarly beats Worf before being repeatedly phasered with increasingly powerful stun settings into unconsciousness by Dr. Crusher. In sickbay, Crusher's scans show that Quinn really is Quinn, but she and Worf discover a bizarre appendage sticking out of the back of his neck.

On Earth, the two admirals try to subtly persuade Picard that there is in fact no conspiracy. However, they reveal they know his first officer by name, which is unusual. Furthermore, they know the Horatio is destroyed, and they blame Keel's negligence. Dinner is announced, so Picard takes a moment to contact Riker. Crusher answers on Riker's combadge, as Riker is unconscious. Crusher informs Picard that a parasitic creature of some sort has taken control of Quinn and all his brain functions. The spike at the back of Quinn's neck appears to be a gill, which is a helpful indicator of those who have been taken over by one of the creatures. Crusher states her doubts about removing the creature, believing it would kill Quinn. She instructs Picard to set his phaser to kill rather than stun, which has little effect on the creature or its host; Picard, however, believing that no one beams down to Starfleet Headquarters armed, has no phaser with him at all.

Eating worms

Insect larvae – it's what's for dinner

Picard goes in to dinner. The dish being served is a bowl filled with insect larvae. Picard is disgusted, and realizes that everyone at the dinner has been infiltrated by the aliens. He gets up to leave and runs into Riker. Riker has also apparently been taken over by the creature: he has a gill in his neck, as confirmed by the being inhabiting Aaron. So, too, has Captain Scott. The "conspirators" announce that they have known of Picard's intentions the whole time. They talk of their plan to infiltrate the Enterprise. Riker moves to eat the living food, but instead he pulls out a type 1 phaser and shoots the dining security guard. When Captain Scott draws her phaser at Riker, Picard grabs at her arm and throws off her aim, allowing Riker to shoot her as well. However, Admiral Savar begins to subdue Riker with a Vulcan neck pinch.

Savar Riker neck pinch

Savar tries to render Riker unconscious with a neck pinch

Picard then grabs the Captain Scott's phaser and uses it to take down Savar. Admiral Aaron flees the dining room, and Picard and Riker pursue and shoot him in the hallway after he returns fire. The admiral falls to the ground, and the parasite infesting him crawls out of his mouth and goes under a nearby door. They follow it to find Remmick sitting in a chair. He turns to look at it, unconcerned; Riker goes to shoot it, but Picard stops him, as the creature crawls up Remmick and enters his mouth. He swallows it, and it begins moving around in his neck. "We mean you no harm", he says as he stands, his neck noisily bulging in and out. "We seek peaceful coexistence".

Mother creature

The mother parasite is exposed

Picard and Riker open fire with their phasers, knocking Remmick back into the chair. Riker aims higher and destroys Remmick's head, the outer layer of skin vaporizing and the rest exploding. Remmick's chest cavity begins to dissolve, and a large creature breaks through with several blood soaked parasites trickling behind, screaming at the two Starfleet officers. With a disgusted look on his face, Picard opens fire again with Riker following suit, both phasers continuing until the creature is vaporized, leaving several blood-soaked parasites around the chair and floor, and the decapitated smoldering remains of what was once Lieutenant Commander Remmick.

Back aboard the Enterprise, Picard notes in his log on how strange it is to be taught to respect all life and then having no choice but to destroy it. Picard further elaborates that Admiral Quinn will make a full recovery, and with the death of the "mother creature" inside of Remmick, the remaining parasites died while Riker reveals that Dr. Crusher had simulated the gill on the back of his neck in order to fool everyone, including Picard. As the Enterprise moves on into space, Data theorizes that the message Remmick was transmitting at the time he died was a homing beacon.

As the Enterprise moves on through space, the sound of electronic beeping is heard, focused on an unexplored sector of the galaxy, leaving the ominous possibility that some or all of Remmick's message might still reach its intended recipients, letting the parasites know where to find Earth.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"It's about Starfleet. About something we've always considered to be impossible."

- Walker Keel, to Captain Picard

"You owe me, and you owe it to yourself to hear what I have to say. Something is beginning. Don't trust anyone. Remember that, Jean-Luc. Don't take anything for granted."

- Walker Keel, to Captain Picard

"It won't like your science officer. It DOES LIKE YOU! Vitamins… they do wonders for the body."

- Quinn

"Friendship must dare to risk, Counselor, or it isn't friendship."

- Picard, on risking his career to follow up on Walker Keel's conspiracy theory

"Apologies, Captain. We had to be sure you were really you."

- Rixx, after lowering his phaser at Picard

"I'm glad, Jean-Luc. I'm glad you're still one of us. Tell Beverly I… I said "hello".

- Walker Keel

"Thank you sir, I comprehend."

- The computer, responding to Data describing how he was talking to himself

"Captain, you must set your phaser on kill. Stun has little effect."
"Doctor, one does not beam down to Starfleet Headquarters armed."

- Dr. Crusher and Picard

"If I could see, I'd be seeing stars."

- La Forge, after regaining consciousness from being thrown through a door

"You don't really think we were in the dark about your intentions, do you?"
"Patience is one of our virtues, Captain. We didn't go after you; we allowed you to come after us."
"More dramatic that way, don't you think?"
"Yes. The one thing both races share is a love of theater, and you've put on a fine show."

- Aaron, Savar, and Tryla Scott

"You don't understand. We mean you no harm. We seek peaceful co-existence!"

- Remmick

Background information[]

Production history[]

Script and story[]

Andrew Probert conspiracy concept art

An Andrew Probert concept art for the ending scene

Dan Curry with Remmick model

Dan Curry with the model

  • Writer Tracy Tormé, adapting a story by Robert Sabaroff to The Next Generation, had hoped to make "Conspiracy" a commentary on the Iran/Contra Affair, but this potentially controversial notion was nixed. A plot by Starfleet officers out to undermine the Prime Directive (already introduced six episodes before, in "Coming of Age"), turned out to be the result of an infestation of alien insects, not part of Tormé's original approach. (citation needededit)
  • The episode was critiqued by Maurice "Maury" Hurley. "I wrote this thing called 'Conspiracy' and I was intentionally trying to shake things up and do a different kind of story [....] Maury came back to me and said it's not Star Trek," Tormé remembered. "It's too dark, it's got a dark ending, it's unhappy, it's this and that, and he turned it down. Somebody overruled him, maybe it was Rick Berman, but somebody loved the script and thought it's exactly what we should be doing, but Maury and I had a very bad relationship from that point on." (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge)
  • The original version of the script did not feature alien parasites; the conspiracy in question was simply a military coup within Starfleet. Gene Roddenberry vehemently opposed such an idea, since he believed that Starfleet would never stoop to such methods; there was just no way Tormé could get away with suggesting that the Federation was anything less than a perfect government. Thus, the alien angle was introduced at his insistence. (citation needededit) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine later featured a similar plot, however, in the two-part episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost".
  • Indeed, the whole idea of the episode, its violence, and its unresolved ending caused quite a stir, but Robert H. Justman, Rick Berman, and Rob Lewin backed Tormé against the objections of Maurice Hurley, and the show stood pretty much as he had intended it, with the topical references subtly shoved under the carpet. Things did not go so well for writer Tormé in the future; he was left with the feeling that, as far as creative freedom for writers, the second half of Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season was the best part of the series as a whole. (citation needededit)
  • The ending in Tormé's original script had threat of the parasites definitively ended. Justman felt this was too anticlimactic and suggested ending the episode with the implication that the parasites were the vanguard of a much more powerful threat. [3]
  • Although the ending pointed toward a possible follow-up to the parasite storyline, none was ever produced, though some works of Star Trek fiction did carry on the arc (see "Apocrypha" section).
  • Michael and Denise Okuda elaborated in their Star Trek Chronology (rev. 1996, p. 290): "At the time the episode was written, this was apparently intended to lead to the introduction of the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season. The Borg connection was dropped before 'Q Who[!]?' (TNG) was written, and the truth about the parasites remains a mystery."
  • This episode originally had the working title "The Assassins". (Creating the Next Generation, p. 61)


  • The opening credits to this episode include Denise Crosby's character, Natasha Yar. Yar was killed off and didn't appear regularly after "Skin Of Evil".
  • Jonathan Frakes states that during the dinner scene, grub worms did "cross" his lips. [4](X)

Cast and characters[]

Sets and props[]

Mother parasite prop

The "mother" parasite prop



  • This episode marks the first appearance of a Bolian.
Tellarite councilors

Tellarite dignitaries

  • The exterior footage of Starfleet Headquarters was recycled from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; as such, this episode is the only time Tellarites appear on TNG. They are wearing robes originally worn by Kazarites in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • When Data is commenting on the orders he has just read, the computer interrupts him by saying "Thank you, sir. I comprehend." This is an unusual instance of a Federation computer speaking in the first-person narrative ("I"). The non-canon reference work Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual explains this by stating that the Enterprise-D computer was one of the most advanced ever constructed and was in fact self-aware. It is also one of the only times the computer has expressed "frustration" with its user, more often the frustration is the other way around.
  • Among the logs reviewed by Data, the "great bird of the galaxy" can briefly be seen.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of the Starfleet admiral's uniform which was seen through the first season of The Next Generation, not including flashback scenes as shown in "Shades of Gray". The uniform, notable for its "triangle pip" insignia, was replaced in season two by an interim uniform which used the more familiar "boxed pip" insignia. By Season 3, the admiral's uniform was changed again to become the standard which was used for the rest of the series.
The Explored Galaxy

Alpha and Beta Quadrant star chart seen behind Remmick

  • A star chart featured in this episode, on the wall behind Remmick's chair, was created by the art department and shows several dozen planets and star systems mentioned in Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series. The star chart was re-used in many more TNG episodes and later appeared in the pilot episode of the Doctor Who spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures in the eponymous main character's attic. This graphic also appeared in DC Comics Supergirl, Volume 7 Issue 1 (November 2016) as a display on a wall on the planet Krypton.
  • This is the first episode of the series to feature Earth and Luna.
  • The Vulcan nerve pinch is used in this episode, however unlike TOS, a person doesn't fall unconscious after the pinch but grimaces in pain. It's possible, however, that the parasite controlling Savar may not have been performing the neck pinch properly.
  • "The Drumhead" would later establish that Admiral Norah Satie had been instrumental in uncovering the parasite conspiracy.
  • During the fight scenes with Admiral Quinn, his stunt double is clearly seen several times.
  • During the scene, after Data's attempt at laughing, Commander Riker clearly states to conn to increase speed to warp 6. Lieutenant La Forge however, replied with: "Aye sir, full impulse".



Video and DVD releases[]

Natasha Yar's face is obscured by shadow on the video sleeve, reflecting her death in the previous volume.


  • The parasitic beings have thus far never reappeared on-screen but have been shown in a comic book taking control of a spacefaring species called the "Onglaatu" in a DC TNG story entitled "The Broken Moon!".
  • The parasites also returned in Pocket Books' Deep Space Nine relaunch series novels, first in The Lives of Dax, in which Audrid Dax and Christopher Pike discover that the parasites are closely related to the Trill. The last book in the Mission Gamma series, Lesser Evil, then picks this up, leading into the novel Unity in which it is revealed that the Trill symbionts and the parasitic beings have been fighting a long secret war, with several species' worth of hosts and governments as their weapons against each other. The parasites' latest gambit has been the continued fervor for Bajor to join the Federation; for unknown reasons this would represent a great victory to their secret plan. (Bajor does become a member of the Federation in 2369.)
  • This story arc is completed in the novella "Trill: Unjoined" by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, in which the parasites are revealed to actually be genetically modified Trill symbionts, created on the remote Trill colony of Kurl. A deadly plague had been killing symbionts, and the experiments were intended to develop a cure. However, the experiment failed, and the symbionts so affected became violent and xenophobic – the parasites – and swore revenge on Trill society for this disaster.
  • In the Star Trek Online bonus episode "What's Left Behind", it is revealed that the parasites were bio-engineered by the Iconians as a way of controlling the Vaadwaur.

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]

Guest stars[]

Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



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Library computer references[]

External links[]

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