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In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode Conspiracy Picard and crew are drawn into an alien conspiracy to take over the Federation. This ends with Picard and Riker destroying an alien "mother" beast, but not before it manages to send a signal to an uncharted sector of space. The feeling at the end of the episode is that this will be a threat that the intrepid crew of the Enterprise would be facing again at some point, but this never happens.

Why was the implied threat at the end of this episode never brought up again on the show?

  • 7
    Because it was a bad, bad, reaaalllyyyyy bad episode..... Did I mention it was bad??? – BBlake Sep 4 '12 at 12:26
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    @BBlake Name a first season episode that was really good. – Xantec Sep 4 '12 at 20:13
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    @Xantec: Challenge accepted ... how about "Hide and Q"? "Datalore" perhaps? Maybe it's just because I like de Lancie and Spiner. – bitmask Sep 5 '12 at 1:00
  • @bitmask: Two excellent episodes. – BBlake Sep 5 '12 at 1:12
  • I enjoyed "Symbiosis." But oh God... "Angel One". – YonkeyDonk64 Jun 13 '14 at 20:50
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Near as I've been able to determine, they were intended to be the first wave of the Borg attack - a plotline abandoned when the Borg were switched from insectoid to cyborgs due to budget constraints. The three main reasons I have in mind:

  • Originally, the Borg were planned to be insectoid, like the parasites.
  • Data suspects the signal they sent was a homing beacon for the location of Earth - a pretty good tie-in for the Borg already being on their way in Q Who.
  • The "scoops" in the Neutral Zone were directly tied to the Borg in Q Who, and were first introduced immediately after the homing beacon in Conspiracy.

The parasites do reappear in the novels, where it's stated that they're a mutated form of Trill:

The parasites have also returned in Pocket Books' new DS9 series of 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 then picks this up, leading into the novel Unity in which it is revealed that the Trill symbionts and the neural parasites 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.


EDIT - I thought I'd seen an official quote, but couldn't find it before. Here you go:

The writers originally intended the parasites to be agents of the Borg. Due to the Writers' Strike of 1988 as well as budget cuts, the connection between the Borg and the parasites was never established. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)

  • Trying to imagine insectoid parasite action figures... – Brian Ortiz Sep 5 '12 at 17:58
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    Could this mark the first time in television history where a budget cut resulted in a good change? – jpmc26 Aug 29 '14 at 5:16
  • I always thought they were evil Trill. – HighInBC Dec 6 '15 at 7:17
  • The Memory Alpha article attributes this claim to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, but I checked that book and the entry on the making of "Conspiracy" doesn't mention anything about Borg connections. It's possible this could be discussed elsewhere in the book but I'm skeptical. – Hypnosifl Jul 26 '16 at 16:15
  • They do also crop up in Star Trek Online being used by the Iconians to screw with things. Though it that game most everything unexplained anywhere in Trek were changed into 'The Undine (8472) did it.' or 'The Iconians did it.' – IG_42 Jul 26 '16 at 19:31
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David Gerrold talked about this at a convention in Richmond, VA, back within the first season or two of the series.

He said it was basically Tracy Torme saying, "Let's write a good old fashioned horror-story!" And he did.

But apparently, at the time, he had not yet made plans to follow it up.

And, beyond any comments from Gerrold that were directly about this story, there were other complications. At the end of the first season there was a writer's strike. The last script of the season, for example, "The Neutral Zone," came from nowhere. (No writer could officially work on it during a strike, so any work on it until after the strike was unofficial.)

Then, in the second season, there were a number of changes, such as moving Geordi to Engineering and replacing Dr. Crusher with Dr. Pulaski. I don't know all their plans, but there were budgeting and other issues that resulted in that season being 4 episodes shorter than usual.

It's very possible that Torme planned on following up on the episode, but with these issues, may not have been able to. He was not with the series after the second season, so any of his plans would have been dropped in favor of the plans of the writers on the staff at the time.

I do have to question the statement, from Memory Alpha, about the intent for the parasites to be agents of the Borg. While Gerrold wasn't on staff at the time, he was familiar with what was going on, and was quite clear that, at the time, the episode wasn't part of an already planned "official" arc.

It's a lot easier for people, when remembering, to look back and consider integrating what was already done and say, "Yeah, this was the basic plan."

As to a canon explanation of what was going on, there is none.

  • The quote is attributed to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, which I don't have. Do you? – Izkata Sep 3 '12 at 14:49
  • No, I don't. I just find it odd, with the kinds of questions that we were asking Gerrold, that there was no mention of a longer arc at that point. Like I said, it's always easier to incorporate early stuff and think one was planning something earlier than it actually started. But so far, I've found little of solid evidence that they were planning long term arcs as early as the 1st season. There's too many inconsistencies. I could be wrong, of course, but there just doesn't seem to be a coherent picture there. – Tango Sep 3 '12 at 17:10
  • There is some possible evidence of wanting a long-term arc that early - The Ferengi: "The Ferengi were initially conceived by the early writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation to become a real threat to the Federation, as the Klingons were in The Original Series." However, there isn't any reference here, so I'm not certain where it came from. – Izkata Sep 3 '12 at 17:21
  • Gerrold addressed that to. They wanted a wild and ferrel type of alien, almost bobcat-like - and they were quite disappointed with it not working out like they planned. But I'm not sure if that was an intended arc or just an intended adversary, like the Klingons were. Personally, I'm glad they didn't have one specific adversary. – Tango Sep 3 '12 at 21:11

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