Even among the biggest fans of the show, the general wisdom regarding Star Trek: The Next Generation is that you should skip season one altogether. While it’s true that the first season has some real stinkers (the less said about “The Naked Now” or “Code of Honor,” the better), it also contains the biggest unanswered question in the history of this Paramount franchise. Go pour yourself a big bowl of bugs to snack on because we’re about to dive into why Star Trek needs to show us what happened to those neck parasites from the episode “Conspiracy.”
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Conspiracy” introduced alien parasites that infiltrated Starfleet, and sent a message to deep space….but fans are still waiting for the payoff.
If you need a refresher, “Conspiracy” was a Star Trek: The Next Generation that took place near the end of the first season. It involved Captain Picard and crew investigating the titular conspiracy, which reached the highest levels of Starfleet. Eventually, they discovered the creepy truth: instead of Starfleet officers betraying their uniforms, the real culprits were these creepy alien parasites that infected high-level offers throughout the fleet.
Eventually, Picard and Riker discover that the mother of the parasites has infected Commander Remmick, and in a shockingly gruesome scene (especially for Star Trek), they end up vaporizing the infected officer as well as the mama parasite inside of him. Conveniently, this kills the parasites that have infected various other officers, but the episode ends on a pretty spooky cliffhanger. Remmick had been transmitting what Data speculated was a homing beacon into an unknown part of the galaxy, and the episode ends with some soft beeping sounds that highly imply he was successful in transmitting his message.
Fans have literally been waiting decades for Star Trek to let us know what happened to this message and to these creepy parasites. The closest we ever got to any kind of follow-up was the Lower Decks episode “Reflections,” where we discover that average Federation citizens are well aware of the conspiracy but often get the finer details wrong. For example, there are “truthers” who believe that these parasites infect their victims via the butt instead of the neck.
Star Trek can bring back the parasites in any era of the franchise, from a Discovery story about a first encounter, to Lower Decks uncovering someone that’s been infected for years.
However, we think it’s time for Star Trek to return to this storyline for several reasons. One of the big ones is that these little infections might honestly be the last scary guys in the franchise that haven’t been completely played out (unlike, say, Q or the Borg). Another big reason is that these parasites have so much narrative potential: they provide a built-in excuse to turn some of our favorite characters against each other, for instance, without permanently changing their relationships.
Another reason we want to see more of these bugs in Starfleet because they would fit into almost any era. We might get a Star Trek: Lower Decks episode where they return, and everyone (truthers and all) discover how spooky these “butt bugs” can be. Alternatively, we could get a story in Star Trek: Discovery that involves the recovered Starfleet discovering that these parasites have carved an entire section of the galaxy out for themselves and are now about to be a scarier threat to the quadrant than the Dominion ever was.
Star Trek: Lower Decks referenced the parasites in “Reflections,” including the theory that they infect victims through their butts.
Plus, with Halloween around the corner, we can’t help but feel like these parasites provide Star Trek with the perfect opportunity to dive back into some scary stories. The franchise has often been surprisingly adept at showing us just how scary exploring strange new worlds can be, especially with episodes like “Night Terrors” and “Genesis.” Now, the franchise could have their candy and eat it, too, with the return of an all-timer villain that also has the capacity to scare fans like no alien menace ever has before.