An old friend of Captain Picard, Captain Walker Keel, sends him an eyes-only message, asking him to attend a secret rendezvous. Picard beams down to an abandoned mining asteroid and finds Keel accompanied by the captains of two other vessels. Before the meeting begins, Keel asks Picard several trick questions designed to verify that he is indeed Picard. After Keel is convinced that it is Picard, he then describes what he believes is a conspiracy at the highest levels of Star Fleet. Picard is skeptical, so he has Data search the records looking for anomalies in the patterns of orders. As only he can, Data finds anomalies that indicate something unusual is going on. While not conclusive, it strongly suggests there may be a conspiracy. This is reinforced when they discover that Keel's ship has been destroyed. After thinking about it, Captain Picard makes the decision to travel to Earth to make a call at Star Fleet Command. Upon arriving at Earth, contact is made with the commanders of Star Fleet and all appears normal. Picard and Riker are invited to beam down and dine with the commanders and Admiral Quinn beams up to the Enterprise. Picard quickly realizes that the man he is talking to is not the Admiral and instructs Riker to stay on the Enterprise and investigate Quinn. Suddenly, the aged Admiral starts fighting with Riker, easily defeating him and Geordi. Even Worf is no match for the incredible strength exhibited by Quinn. He is stopped only when Doctor Crusher stuns him with a phaser. Once the Admiral is in sick bay, Doctor Crusher discovers that a small parasite is attached to his brain and controlling him. Riker beams down to the planet with a false parasite installed and is able to rescue Captain Picard and together, they defeat the remainder of the infected Admirals. They discover a mother parasite, which they kill. The death of the mother causes all of the other parasites to die and their hosts then fully recover. While this episode is a good one and demonstrates what could be the most effective way to defeat the Federation. The tactics of the creatures is very similar to those used by Khan in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." However, there is one very weak point to the plot. To date, the creatures have been very effective in infiltrating Star Fleet, so the Admiral's open confrontation with the crew of the Enterprise is a very poor tactical move. This episode is most well known for the exploding head of the human containing the body of the mother of the parasites. In my opinion, it is appropriate, in that the creature inside had to be made visible. Since the creatures infect the brain, it is the logical way to expose them. I consider the episode to be average in terms of quality, not great, but certainly not one of the weaker ones. However, it would have been better if there had been more discussion about learning more about the life form rather than simply killing it off.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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When Picard receives a secret transmission from an old friend, Starfleet Captain Walker Keel (Jonathan Farwell), he agrees to attend a secret meeting on an uninhabited planet, even though it means breaking several Starfleet regulations and jeopardizing his career. Keel and a couple of other highly respected captains have gathered because Keel has begun to notice some bizarre orders emanating from Starfleet and suspects a growing conspiracy. Back on theEnterprise, Picard is skeptical, but Data helps confirm some of the strange orders. Picard sets up a meeting with Admiral Quinn (Ward Costello) to check it out. Admiral Quinn had previously boarded theEnterprisein episode 19 ("Coming of Age") in order to investigate the competency of Picard in the face of an unstated conspiracy, but now he seems like a different man. Though the writing is a bit forced, it's nice to see the show working on long-form, continuing story lines.--Andy Spletzer