Top Five Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes
These are the voyages, that we love the most!
Being born in 1983 into a family of Star Trek geeks, I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Every Saturday night was pizza and Star Trek night in our house, and I’d have to say that pretty well shaped me into the Star Trek and sci-fi geek that I am today.
Lately Lynn and I have been watching TNG again from the beginning, in the form of the glorious HD Blu-ray releases. With Season 4 just having come out, I thought it was a good time to write out our favorite Next Generation episodes. Enjoy!
I have to say, putting together this list is so difficult, because there were simply so many great episodes that I find it hard to pick out just 5. I seem to have gravitated towards the two-parters for some reason.
The season 4 / 5 cliffhanger is, in my opinion, one of TNG’s best episodes. There is so much going on here, with the conclusion of the ‘Duras Arc’ that was started in Sins of the Father (though that would also be touched on both in Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Generations). We have the introduction of the Duras sisters, and of Sela, Tasha Yar’s half Romulan daughter. Sela actually was ‘introduced’ in The Mind’s Eye, but was hidden in shadow and the audience was meant to be unaware of who she was at the time.
Redemption is one of those episodes that helps build the grander universe of Star Trek. There is much more internal continuity going on than is usual for TNG, so having seen certain previous episodes (one of which is on this list) is much more important to understanding the nuances of the story.
One of my favorite parts here actually has nothing to do with the Klingons. In part 2 the fleet that Picard has put together to stop the Romulans from helping the House of Duras is low on commanding officers, so Picard assigns Data to command the USS Sutherland. I love this little sub-plot of ‘can Data effectively command’. His first officer, Hobson, was a bigoted dick no matter how he tried to justify his feelings, and I think everyone hated him at first, but Data proved that he could do the job. I love when we see Data actually get mad (or rather imitating that behavior he has seen) and yell at Hobson to fire torpedoes.
This is one of those episodes that has a bit of backstory to it. We’ve got the passing of Sarek, Sela shows up again, and of course, SPOCK! So it’s one of those rare TNG episodes that explores a wider portion of the Trek universe than usual, as odd as that may sound. Seeing Romulus for what, I believe, is the first time, though all we saw of it was mostly caves and such.
Having Spock come into TNG was a great treat, especially when you consider that in earlier seasons, the writers had to fight just to be able to say his name, in a episode that featured Spock’s father for crying out loud!
There were quite a few funny moments, such as when Picard is trying to sleep aboard the Klingon ship, and Data ends up just staring at him. I’d have to say one of my favorite scenes is the moment between Data and Spock, as Spock regards Data as what ever Vulcan strives to achieve. Whereas Data sees that Spock, being half-human, gave up the part of himself that Data is reaching for.
3. All Good Things…
I know opinions can vary a bit on the series finale, but for me it will always be one of my favorite episodes. The way it bookends the series, we get to see all the way back to the beginning again, it was just a great story to say goodbye to these characters we’ve spent 7 years with.
It’s great to have Q come back to finish the series off. Even though when you actually count it out, there were very few episodes with Q in them, he really was a part of the Star Trek family. It just wouldn’t be right to end the show without him.
The very end was a great moment, where we see the ship and crew will go on with their mission of exploring the galaxy. It’s not really the end, life goes on. And of course, there were movies too.
I really hope we get the special theater screening for this like we did with Best of Both Worlds. That can only be epic.
2. Yesterday’s Enterprise
Pretty much the only thing that keeps Yesterday’s Enterprise from being number one, is it sooo should have been a two-parter. Just imagine being able to spend more time in this alternate universe, a 20 year long war with the Klingons. I would love to see more of the back story of these people who are, but also aren’t our familiar characters. Why does Riker constantly seem angry at Picard?
Obviously one of the big points of Yesterday’s Enterprise was the return of Tasha Yar. It gave the character a chance to go out in something other than a meaningless death (something which is actually called out in the dialog). And of course, lead to some continuing threads for the show, that extend throughout the Star Trek universe still. If you play Star Trek Online currently you know what I mean.
This episode also gave us our biggest, at the time, battle scene to date, really letting us see the Enterprise fighting her ass off. For the time that was some crazy awesome effects work. Obviously more modern battles look even better, but I think this still holds up. Watching the D go down in a blaze of glory, Picard still fighting as the flames came up to him was awesome.
1. Shades of Gray…just kidding, The Best of Both Worlds
Seriously though, we speak not of Shades of Gray. It did not happen. But Best of Both Worlds, that sure as hell happened and it was freaking amazing. This was the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Hell it was the first time Star Trek ever did a season cliffhanger, and holy crap did they go for it. I don’t think any season two-parter has come close in my experience, with the exception of Battlestar Galactica’s ‘Pegasus’.
Picard assimilated by the Borg, Riker ready to use his special weapon to destroy the Borg cube, and Picard with it, and then the part one ending, holy crap if that wasn’t a ‘WTF?!?!’ moment I don’t know what is. I still remember as a kid watching that for the first time, freaking out about what was going to happen and being so ticked that we had to wait all summer.
You really came out of that first part thinking anything could happen, they could actually be killing off Picard here. Yes, the second half wasn’t quite as good as the first, and that may partly be due to the writer just coming up with this almost unsolvable problem for the first half. But on the whole, all together, I have to rate this as my number one (see what I did there?) favorite episode of TNG.
What do you think, do you agree with my selections, or do you think I’m bonkers and have your own Top 5 list you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!