TNG’s “Conspiracy” almost didn’t get produced
The 25th episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Conspiracy” was a controversial episode. Captain Picard and Commander Riker uncover a conspiracy of Starfleet officers who are possessed by parasitic aliens. Those aliens are preparing to invade the United Federation of Planets. Where the controversial part comes in is when heads explode and Picard and Riker had to shoot an alien coming out of an officer’s chest which caused quite a mess. Undoubtedly, this was one of the more gruesome episodes of the series, and originally, it was vetoed.
After completion, the episode’s writer, Tracey Torme, submitted it to Maurice Hurley, who was, at the time, the series’ showrunner and admittedly considered himself a “keeper of the grail,” which means he adhered to Gene Roddenberry’s beliefs when it came to Star Trek. Hurley was horrified and immediately vetoed it, saying it wasn’t Star Trek.
Why Conspiracy ended up being produced
Rick Berman, the co-executive producer at the time, disagreed, and he overruled Hurley, a fact which caused friction from that point forward between Torme and Hurley. But Berman wasn’t the only one who disagreed with Hurley’s assessment as, after the episode aired, it won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for Makeup in a Series.
The episode also received a plethora of positive feedback, and even to this day, it is considered one of the best episodes of the series with Scott Thill at Wired magazine calling the episode one of the best and suggesting that “Conspiracy” could be a plot in a future film by J.J. Abrams. Total Film followed that up with the same suggestion and described “Conspiracy” as “easily one of the greatest episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And just think, this episode could have been left out of the series altogether.