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Whole Enchilada Ranking by Titles Only
Peldor Joi, Star Trek fans! There’s plenty to be grateful for in terms of Star Trek stories and below you’ll find every single one ranked (list current as of June 14th, 2020). Well, at least for television.
However, we are faced with a fannish quandary. The challenge of weighing the merits (and demerits) of episodes against each other is hard enough in a single series. How do you do it for multiple series across the decades?
Well, people do that anyway in comparing one series against another, perhaps citing a particular banner episode of their favorite series as evidence that it deserves appropriate Trek cred. This exhaustive list simply takes that exercise to its logical ends.
Of course, that does mean that the dividing line between one rank or another can be “wafer thin” as members of Monty Python might say, so you may wish to check some of the individual series rankings first. With over 700 episodes of Trek, even some really great episodes can’t crack the top 100 (that’s certainly true for some of my personal favorites).
As mentioned on the main page, I hope all these rankings get you to revisit some episodes… or even try some new episodes –or series– you may have missed. And for you, yes, you over there with the frown, go ahead and do your own ranking. I’d just advise against doing all 700+. Because while there’s some great time travel tales in this list, we haven’t discovered time travel tech in this timeline… yet.
Live long and prosper!
739) “Code of Honor”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 4
So let’s say you haven’t seen this episode since it first aired in 1987, so you feel you need to give it a fair shake. And you know that the entire cast reviles this episode as a racist piece of filth and the director was evidently a piece of work too. But you try and approach it with the same open mind you try and approach a friend’s indie film because there’s usually something good in those and then OH MY GOD: I JUST THREW UP IN MY MOUTH. Yeah, not good.
738) “These Are the Voyages…”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 22
The idea, of course, was to find some way to pay tribute to the decades of TV Trek. But instead of doing, say, a non-fiction special and having past and present cast and crew talk about Trek, they decided to hijack the last episode of Enterprise to re-hash an episode of Next Generation that didn’t need re-hashing. As the Klingons would say: dishonorable.
737) “A Night In Sickbay”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 5
Listless angst combined with molasses pacing make this a pointless episode that’s easy to skip.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 15
Meddle not with the mysteries of the universe by going to warp 10, otherwise you too may turn into a giant space salamander, your captain will turn into a giant space salamander, and you shall mate with one another. No, I’m not kidding.
735) “Strange New World”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 4
A slow-moving and unsatisfying episode that really doesn’t do too much of anything except convince us to stay well away from the transporter.
734) “Let He Who Is Without Sin…”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 7
An almost entirely insufferable episode of forced mirth that has the slight saving grace of trying to explain Worf’s uptight nature.
733) “Terra Nova”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 6
There’s always great potential with a “mysterious colony” story and yet they seem to manage to not mine any of the possibilities fully, even if Erick Avari in any role is welcome.
732) “Turnabout Intruder”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 24
There are worse episodes of Trek overall, but until Enterprise, this was sourest of sour notes to end a Star Trek series on. And remember: for those of us who first watched Star Trek in syndication before the Picard and his crew appeared, this was The End of TV Trek (sorry, TAS). It’s too bad. Because Janice Lester in the hands of an enterprising writer could have been a nuanced villain, unfairly denied a Starfleet commission. Instead, it’s dated, sexist claptrap.
731) “And the Children Shall Lead”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 4
With a premise that could arguably be the most horrifying and dark as anything Trek has seen, we instead get glacially-paced menace from a game show host in a feathered mumu.
730) “The Practical Joker”
TAS, Season 2, Episode 3
It probably sounded better on paper, but in practice, this feels like an awkward draft of a Star Trek sitcom that eventually remembers it should be an adventure show. Painful. Bonus points for the proto-Holodeck.
729) “Shades of Gray”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 22
I really don’t want to hate this one as much as conventional fan wisdom demands because a) there’s flashbacks to episodes that don’t suck and b) we get to see Worf and Riker battle Skeletor’s cousin at the beginning. But the fact remains that clip shows are inherently unsatisfying and a clip show in the second season of anything is a singular failure which should not be rewarded. Bad Trek! No biscuit!
728) “The Last Outpost”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 5
In which the new Main Bad Guys, the Ferengi, are introduced and everyone wisely decides they don’t qualify as the Main Bad Guys. Besides the Enterprise being unable to engage in combat due to Starfleet thrift, you are left with waiting for something, anything, to happen. Eventually, some actor –evidently escaping a production of the Ring Cycle– appears to disrupt the Ferengi’s weird performance art. Unless you really want to see actors who later play Ferengi play proto-Ferengi, this is an episode you can skip without any shame whatsoever.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 15
An episode that demands you somehow summon the monumental suspension of disbelief that Sisko and O’Brien don’t simply point out they’re Starfleet, not part of this would-be cult colony, and they’ll be getting back to their strategically important space station, thank you very much.
726) “Where No One Has Gone Before”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 6
Look, producer-writers, we’re not sure how much we want to deal with the Mary Sue character that is Wesley Crusher and now you want to make him Mozart of the Warp Drive? Next, the episode title is a play on “Where No Man Has Gone Before” aka one of the most action-packed episodes of the Original Series. Heck, it’s the second pilot that allowed there to be a Star Trek. Seriously, couldn’t you have done something with the Romulans or Klingons or something? Blah.
725) “Doctor’s Orders”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 16
Didn’t Voyager give us the doctor having to guide the ship through a dangerous patch of space whilst the rest of the crew was dormant? Annoying. Also, it directly relies on the Xindi storyline for character motivations — though it escalates nicely as John Billlingsley puts in a fine performance. Plus, it features clips from “The Court Jester,” which makes anything better.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 5
The encounter with a heretofore unknown species is very interesting, but the payoff of the not-quite-pregnancy is just awkward all around.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 3
Look out, it’s SPACE WEREWOLVES! Okay, not really, but other than resolute Roger Cross as a guest star, this episode slogs through the mutagenic whatever-it-is. Yeah, I’m sure it was fun for the actors to use their movement training as not-really-werewolf cave people, but it’s not an interesting enough standalone episode nor a good continuation of the season-long arc.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 24
Okay, I’m going to give unequivocal props to Tom Wright for his portrayal of Tuvix. He’s a great actor who you can see doing great work in no end of films. Many consider this a great exploration of morality and identity in the grand Trek tradition. Perhaps I’d be more forgiving if it was one of the crazy-go-nuts episodes of the animated series (which got really crazy). Nevertheless, I’ve watched it multiple times and I still can’t take it seriously.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 7
Do you really need to spend an entire episode with Tom and Neelix bickering? No.
720) “The 37’s”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 1
The appearance of an odd object in space (a hand, Abraham Lincoln, a truck) never bodes well. At least some of the other episodes that start off this way have the decency to explore some intriguing ideas. This episode, however, spends undue attention to the heretofore unknown “Blue Alert” which normal people call “landing your damn spacecraft” and then proceeds to have the most interesting action of the story occur off camera (e.g., the visit to the civilization the humans’ built, the unlikely decision by all of the crew to stay on Voyager). What a sour note to start a season on.
VOY, Season 1, Episode 3
Say, how about we begin our first season with a little bit of the Maquis getting integrated with the Voyager crew and a whole lot of technobabble?
VOY, Season 2, Episode 4
Kes is feeling frisky. How about we give her and Neelix the room?
717) “Move Along Home”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 10
Starfleet personnel are forced to sing alien nursery rhymes to save their lives in a game that’s indistinguishable from a holodeck malfunction. You want a good game? Try Cosmic Encounter. You want a good episode? Try something else.
716) “Profit and Lace”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 23
Armin Shimerman gives it his all, I suppose, but this story does no favors to the cause of Ferengi suffrage. Painful.
715) “Blood Fever”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 16
Apparently, the only way to advance the Tom/B’Elanna relationship is by making Pon Farr contagious.
714) “The Royale”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 12
Viewers used to modern television and its shortened seasons will not understand why this episode exists. But simply knowing this is here for padding a season’s episode count doesn’t excuse the plodding pseudo-holodeck story and it’s another one that’s easy to skip.
713) “The Battle”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 9
Failing to present the Ferengi as any sort of physical threat, the creative team sees if they can present the Ferengi as duplicitous schemers. Still pretty weak, but at least they re-affirm the Ferengi’s love of profit over revenge (unless revenge is a dish that can be served at a considerable markup).
712) “Force of Nature”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 9
Picard: We admit that we were wrong in our assumption that warp travel doesn’t damage space. We’ll make sure a better equipped vessel studies this and I will personally make sure the findings are not swept under a 24th century rug.
Serova: I’m going to ignore the words you’re saying because you’re not acceding to illogical demands I haven’t even stated — and then I’m going to kill myself.
Picard: Rabal, your sister Serova has just ruptured space-time endangering 1,000 men, women, and children on this ship because we said we’d help her. Can you help us without going crazypants?
Rabal: No captain, I’m afraid all I can contribute is my flat acting.
Picard: Well, the hell with this episode then!
VOY, Season 1, Episode 14
“The Enemy Within” without any energy and zero cute space dogs.
TNG, Season 1, Episode 15
The few pluses of this episode, like the idea of a computer-dependent civilization, a massive starbase, and Catherine McCormack, are more than erased by glacial pacing typical of season one and, of couse, next to no action whatsoever — even in terms of meaty philosophical discourse. Both George Bernard Shaw and Michael Bay give this a pass and so should you.
TNG, Season 2, Episode 19
Though not entirely objectionable, Lwaxana Troi experiencing the Betazoid version of Pon Far is not my idea of a good time. A nice twist at the end, I suppose, but meh.
708) “Fair Trade”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 13
Neelix wants to feel important. This episode isn’t.
VOY, Season 1, Episode 13
An unremarkable alien possession story.
706) “The Haunting of Deck Twelve”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 25
Did you really think an episode with this title would be anything more than padding to get to the season finale? Blah.
705) “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 15
Boring when I first saw it and no different now. There are pluses in the introduction of the Enterprise’s self-destruct sequence and the incomparable Frank Gorshin, but the crew seems to alternate between dancing around the fact that the Allegorical Aliens before them are obnoxiously simplistic and generally padding for time until the episode ends. Don’t wait. Skip it.
704) “When the Bough Breaks”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 17
The Enterprise encounters an alien race advanced enough to cloak their planet, but not advanced enough to do root cause analysis. You know, if you’re going to steal all the children and force us to watch a Wesley-centric episode, you ought to work harder. Bonus points for that cool wood-carving tool though.
703) “The Empath”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 12
A ponderous, budget-conscious episode set in a very 60s black box theater with a performance artist. Our main antagonists are Talosian wannabes, one of whom can’t figure out you should fire your weapon when someone’s attacking you (and all the weapon does is force you to move in unconvincing slow motion). Not the worst episode of the original series, but by no means good.
702) “Mudd’s Passion”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 10
Some cool-looking rock monsters notwithstanding, this was an altogether uninspiring entry in Mudd’s hijinks, with Christine Chapel being unfairly portrayed as something of a dunce. Bonus points for Scotty/M’Ress “shippers,” I suppose.
TNG, Season 1, Episode 8
The Enterprise tries to mix first contact with shore leave on the spa world of blonde models. It’s somewhat interesting in portraying the difficulties of the Prime Directive in the face of what amounts to unquestioning obedience to religious authoritarianism, but although it ends decently, the whole episode is inelegant.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 9
Some credit should be giving for doing this episode after we’ve already grown to know the characters, but frankly, you’ve got better things to do than watch the crew get progressively more OCD for the better part of an hour.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 10
An unsatisfying “bottle episode” that takes too long to get where it’s going. Even Bill Cobbs’ presence doesn’t help.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 5
The possessed spaceship plot does little but reaffirm that Tom and B’Elanna do, in fact, have a relationship.
697) “Lonely Among Us”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 7
An intriguing premise and some reasonably cool-looking –if rubbery– aliens runs into early Next Generation’s tendency to awkwardly ape the Original Series as well as the beginning of Data’s Sherlock Holmes fascination. In the end, it just doesn’t gel.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 21
An anemic entry into the alternate timeline story is nothing special. Wait until “Shattered” and ”Endgame.”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 8
A generally forgettable episode riffing on Brigadoon that requires that characters fall in love in ridiculously short order.
VOY, Season 1, Episode 15
Some good ideas about prejudice and forgiveness are explored here, but it’s proportionate to how much you like Neelix.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 6
I suppose someone pitched a Star Trek “Beauty & the Beast” scenario and Roxann Dawson does have some tricks up her directorial sleeve, but the titular Exile comes across as intensely manipulative and creepy. Plus, the fact that Hoshi may have some latent telepathic ability does not get explored further. Also, we learn that Archer & Tucker cannot properly park a shuttlepod. Seriously guys?
692) “The Mark of Gideon”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 16
If every alien culture has machinations this boring, we should never put to space. Allegorical, but ludicrous.
VOY, Season 1, Episode 5
The Vidiians are introduced and, although they’re potentially a fun “villain race,” this episode is mainly unsatisfying.
690) “Sacred Ground”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 7
Look, the whole matter of Janeway coming to balance her love of science with a bit of faith is okay, but not great. The main reason I’m ever rewatching this episode is for Estelle Harris, Keene Curtis, Harry Groener, and, especially, Parley Baer. And for you young whipper-snappers who don’t know who they are, get off my sacred ground!
689) “The Way to Eden”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 20
The fact that Skip Homeier plays both a Nazi (in “Patterns of Force”) and a space hippie is amusing. This episode is not. Damn hippies.
688) “The Storyteller”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 14
I’d love for any episode entitled “The Storyteller” to be a Gaiman-esque exploration of writing, the writer, and the reader. However, both the main storyline and Jake Sisko’s “mini-Dauphin” storyline are snoozefests.
687) “Prime Factors”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 10
Tuvok betrays Janeway’s trust for what turns out to be no good reason. I mean, it’s logical, but we’re all a bit bummed by the end of this.
686) “The Fight”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 19
Chakotay likes boxing so much he will even box characters that seem to be from a Jack Kirby fever dream.
685) “Vis à Vis”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 20
Tom Paris is a jerk in a way that Tom Paris is not usually a jerk because of ALIENS.
684) “The Neutral Zone”
Season 1, Episode 26
“We’re the Romulans. We just wanted you to know.”
Oh man, you young whipper-snappers binge-watching this on Netflix probably have no idea how we waited all season to see some of the classic bad guys. “Heart of Glory” gave us a very tiny taste of the Klingons, who were no longer bad guys anyway, dangit. And then we get this? A Romulan courtesy call?!? And we have to spend the rest of the episode with 80s Uptight Banker, Nashville Doofus, and Angst-Mom. Not the worst, but absolutely not the best.
683) “If Wishes Were Horses”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 16
Fun to watch if you’re really into DS9 and want to see the actors having fun — or if you really need to see the origin story of Sisko’s baseball.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 10
A thoughtful enough look at the use of clones, but one that doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the Trek table.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 19
The Doctor falls in love and B’Elanna learns a bit more compassion, and, um, that’s about it.
680) “Favorite Son”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 20
Alien femmes have designs on Harry Kim, which means his romantic life remains bad.
679) “The Lights of Zetar”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 18
Look, far be it for me to nix an episode with a cute librarian, but this episode is a ponderous mess.
678) “The Muse”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 21
Jake is tempted by a creativity vampire. I’d accept this earlier in the series, but it still wouldn’t have been that good then.
677) “Coming of Age”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 19
The one incontrovertible fact we learned from both the plotlines of this episode? That whether they call it an “Inspector General’s Report” or a “Psych Eval,” Starfleet will find whatever reason they need to get all up in your yang and be dicks about it. Additional demerits to re-using the spaceport from Buck Rogers which goes one cost-cutting method too far.
676) “Man of the People”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 3
The “Dorian Gray” episode. Too on the nose and simplistic to be interesting.
675) “Eye of the Beholder”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 18
With a mystery fit for an empath and a guest turn by Mark Rolston, this should have been a decent if not great episode, but it just doesn’t catch fire (probably good, this close to warp plasma).
674) “Pen Pals”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 15
A so-so Prime Directive episode dominated by Wesley learning Very Important Lessons about leadership blunting some of the poignancy of Data’s storyline.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 17
Didn’t we just have a main character suffering from a mood-altering incident? Well, yes we did, but considering it’s the captain, you get to have the fun of mutiny. Better than “Turnabout Intruder,” but no Crimson Tide.
672) “Good Shepherd”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 20
Janeway works on team-building, which somehow turns into a life-or-death situation.
671) “Second Sight”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 9
Hey, let’s do a fall-in-and-out-of-love in an episode. Things haven’t changed since the 60s, right? Kassidy Yates can’t get here soon enough.
670) “Breaking the Ice”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 8
On the one hand, I really enjoy the Enterprise crew finding out they’re in over their heads. On the other hand, this is another episode that seems to be taking way too long to say what it has to say (and not say it as well as it might).
669) “Dramatis Personae”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 18
An episode about alien/anomaly induced paranoia which would have been “meh” in the original series is pretty much intolerable now. Come on guys, blaze some new trails.
668) “Spirit Folk”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 17
Due to a glitch, the residents of Fair Haven become more self-aware and — oh, for the love of all that’s Trek, can we give the malfunctioning holodeck episodes a rest?
VOY, Season 2, Episode 6
The crew pads for time as they explore Voyager-as-Magic-Labyrinth
666) “Fortunate Son”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 10
Tantalizing world-building of non-Starfleet Earthers, but it only goes so far.
665) “Human Error”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 18
An okay character-based episode where Seven of Nine tries to sort out how human she wants to become or can become. It errs a bit more on the frustrating versus existential side, though I suppose if it was in French with B&W cinematography it would be hailed at Cannes.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 20
More world-building about non-Starfleet Earthers, this time directly related to Mayweather’s family. Sadly, not as engaging as we’d like.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 21
A waste of a perfectly good on-screen reunion of Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula.
662) “A Man Alone”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 4
Odo’s physionomy is different and his personality is distant, so doing a story about how people don’t trust him in the first season makes sense. Plus there’s bubbling vats. Don’t tell me you don’t like bubbling vats!
661) “Fair Haven”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 11
How can Captain Janeway experience any romance on the long journey home? Why the holodeck, of course! If you’re on board for Voyager, this episode scratches a good character-based itch.
660) “Past Prologue”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 3
You’ll be forgiven for having not remembering this episode thanks to the insanely generic if apt title. It’s basically the first example of the political shades-of-grey stories DS9 does so well.
659) “Someone to Watch Over Me”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 22
It’s Pygmalion with the Doctor and Seven of Nine. Tell you more? It’s nice work if you can get it I suppose, but at the end, the Doctor, pardon my English, goes girl crazy. Okay, I’ll stop with the Gershwin references.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 19
John de Lancie and John de Lancie’s son play Q and Q’s son in this final Q outing. If you liked Q on Voyager, you’ll like this.
657) “Live Fast and Prosper”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 21
A somewhat charming, but far from amazing episode where the Voyager crew contend with some flim-flamming imposters. If the term “flim-flam” made you queasy, this probably isn’t for you.
656) “Desert Crossing”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 24
Oddly-paced episode that takes a gosh darn long time to get to some intrigue. Definite demerits for trying to imbue some desert lacrosse variant with the drama of Aragorn dueling Uruk-hai. And I’m not saying Clancy Brown has to channel The Kurgan in every role he’s in, but his portrayal of Zobral is pretty much 100% The Kurgan-Free
655) “The Alternative Factor”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 27
After ever-increasingly good episodes in Trek’s first season, we’re given this plodding bore — even though the fate of the universe may be at stake. Robert Brown acquits himself well enough as Lazarus and Lazarus — and hey, is that Janet MacLachlan as Lt. Masters? Still, the episode never seems to really catch fire.
654) “Shuttlepod One”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 16
Bonus points for the NASA shoutout about Chilean sea bass, but demerits for pretty much the rest of the episode, which mainly consists of Tucker and Reed getting on each others’ nerves.
653) “Precious Cargo”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 11
Better than some of the other comedic romantic misadventures of Trip, but at the end Padma Lakshmi has to pack her knives and go.
652) “Alter Ego”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 14
Harry falls for the wrong person… again. Tuvok does not prove to be a good wingman.
651) “The Pirates of Orion”
TAS, Season 2, Episode 1
After “Journey to Babel,” you would hope you’d get more than this plodding story with no surprises. Bonus points for the Orion ship design are offset by demerits for the Orion uniforms, which look like rejected minion outfits for some unknown Marvel villain.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 25
Seven of Nine learns that Voyager might just be her new collective. Awww.
649) “Author, Author”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 20
What rights do writers who are holograms have? The Doctor finds out.
648) “The Cloud”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 6
Janeway’s coffee-based motivation is never clearer than in this episode. Not bad, but could use a bit more story cream and sugar.
647) “Two Days and Two Nights”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 25
You get a smattering of plot with Archer, a gag with with Reed and Tucker, and Sato gets her groove on, linguistically and otherwise. Not objectionable, but you’re watching Star Trek for more than “not objectionable.”
646) “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 5
I will concede there may be truth in beauty if we all move on from this episode which is both fitful and forced.
645) “The Schizoid Man”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 6
If you wanted to see Data be a creepy old man, here you go.
644) “The Chute”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 3
Tom and Harry are wrongfully incarcerated and have to go through the typical motions of a prison story.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 17
A reasonably involving plot with some twists keeps this prison ship tale not too much a chore to watch.
DS9, Season 1, Episode 5
The anthropologist in me loves the discussion of language use and aphasia, but that’s not enough to make this an interesting story.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 20
Neelix as an investigative journalist is somewhat mitigated by his efforts moving the Seska/Kazon storyline along.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 6
An earnest episode showing how a low-gravity race copes with “normal gravity” and its inherent constraints that comes across as a bit too Important Message.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 19
How do we get the Ferengi on Enterprise and not breaking canon? Wait, I got it!
638) “Hollow Pursuits”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 21
Those of you who thought, “Man, why isn’t there an epidemic of Holodeck addicts in the 24th century? I’d certainly be one,” this is the After-School special for you. Okay, it’s not that bad, but would I miss this episode at all? No, no I would not.
637) “Home Soil”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 18
The premise of this episode isn’t bad and very Trek: we get to see terraformers in action, but a murder and mystery unfolds, which results in a first contact situation. The pacing is slow, as it is through much of the first two seasons, as if the writers are allergic to starting a scene as late as possible and finishing as early as possible. Also, even though we get one of the few instances of a character named Bjorn on American television, he’s pretty much a wanker covering up de facto genocide. His impressively cleft chin doesn’t make up for this. If you find the namesake and chin demerits subjective (which, frankly, you should), you can also point to some wooden acting and overly 80s costuming on the part of the terraformers. I will give points to the Velarans being entertaining, even if they do think of us as “ugly giant bags of mostly water.” Also, has anyone else noted that between LaForge and Troi, there’s two people on the Enterprise who can detect when anyone lies? Really, we need to do a Star Trek police procedural.
636) “The Naked Now”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 3
I guess the braintrust thought it’d be good to start with a callback to the original series, but instead of a charming callback to the past, we get a dire forecast of the season ahead. The reek of a moralistic 80s PSA has abated somewhat, but they clearly wanted younger viewers to know Alcohol Is Bad. Also still evident, season one’s general glacial pace and clumsy characterization. And speaking of characterization, what is it with these sci-fi shows doing episodes where the characters “act weird” when we’re just getting to know them? Don’t they know they’ll be a better payoff when both we and the actors know them better? Hey, we can’t all be Farscape. Anyway, bonus points for reasonably cool stellar phenomena and starship explosions.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 3
A kind of fun take on the Trek “mind-warp” tale where the Doctor questions his holographic existence. Hey, Philip K. Dick’s android said it was okay.
634) “Hide and Q”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 10
A tedious episode starting with Q going all Squire of Gothos on the Enterprise crew and ending with awkward, one-dimensional wish fulfillment. Extra demerits to the writers who apparently didn’t have the budget for a thesaurus and insisted on calling humanoid creatures in Napoleonic uniforms “animal things.” Blah.
TNG, Season 1, Episode 11
This is the first episode to feature Lwaxana Troi, who in general does not herald banner episodes, but this particular one about an arranged marriage is not without its charms, including an intelligent plant for a pet, Data’s investigation of petty bickering, and a plague-ridden Daryl Hannah impersonator.
632) “The Outrageous Okona”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 4
Let’s be clear: Jem and the Holograms are truly outrageous. This episode is what you get when a company’s HR department wants to plan a “zany event.”
631) “Mortal Coil”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 12
Neelix gets very existential exploring his ideas of the afterlife. Thoughtful.
630) “Too Short a Season”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 16
The premise of an aging Admiral making an essentially Faustian bargain in order to relive glory days and defeat an old foe seems the stuff of an epic two-parter or even a movie, but the execution seems rather clumsy and features the 24th century version of Viewmaster as part of the conclusion.
629) “Life Line”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 24
Robert Picardo gets to do a father-son drama playing both parts! Decent.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 10
A little Barclay goes a long way and this episode gives you a lot of Barclay. Gird your holodeck loins!
627) “The Lorelei Signal”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 4
At least these aliens aren’t trying to mate with a different species, just steal their lifeforce. And it’s nice to see some of the supporting characters like Chapel and Uhura do more, but it’s still not much of an episode.
626) “Learning Curve”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 16
The Maquis learn that “discipline” and “procedure” aren’t just things Starfleet created to annoy them and Tuvok learns to improvise. A little.
625) “First Flight”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 24
Not quite the right stuff (it’s a bit cliched) but then again, Archer is no pudknocker.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 6
B’Elanna goes on a magical mystery tour… in her mind. Okay, it’s more mystery than magical, but it’ll do.
DS9, Season 6, Episode 22
This being a Nog/Jake episode isn’t a reason to skip it (“In the Cards” is delightful). However, Red Squad is now 3 for 3 in being arrogant Starfleet dunderheads.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 18
What if the Doctor was EVIL?
DS9, Season 2, Episode 11
Look Chris Sarandon, I love you in Princess Bride, but I’ve got a few hundred more episode reviews to write, some screenshots to capture, and all of it to upload. I’m swamped. Also, this isn’t your finest hour.
620) “Fallen Hero”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 23
A decent entry in the ongoing series question “When will the Vulcans stop being such a-holes?” The question is not answered here.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 9
Thrill to the… okay, Marvel to the… Fine. Observe Chakotay’s backstory adventures in Flashback-Land.
618) “Non Sequitur”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 5
Harry gets caught in an alternate timestream allowing him to suffer general AND romantic angst.
617) “Spock’s Brain”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 1
While this episode isn’t the worst of the original series, it earnestly competes for the title. Really not worth re-watching without adult beverages.
TOS, Season 1, Episode 8
As with so many of less-than-stellar Trek episodes, this benefits greatly from playing things straight — to say nothing of the performances from Kim Darby and Michael J. Pollard. Definite demerits for the pointless “identical Earth.”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 22
Having done something of an after-school special with “The Naked Now” and the dangers of alcohol, Trek now deals with drug addiction. While the sci-fi scenario does present it in a potentially interesting light, the whole situation is too on the nose for enjoyable repeat viewing. But who doesn’t enjoy the moment when Captain Picard drops the hammer on the smug drug peddlers?
614) “The Big Goodbye”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 12
Farscape has its “there’s something wrong with Moya” episodes and this is the first of what will prove to be many “there’s something wrong with the holodeck” episodes which span multiple series. At least they figure out some good concepts to explore in future episodes. Even with interesting production design and some great guest actors like Dick Miller, we’re left wanting.
613) “Samaritan Snare”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 17
While the Pakleds have a marginally interesting twist, I refuse to believe the implied notion that said Pakleds were able to successfully blackmail the Romulans or the Klingons. The Pakleds ceasing to exist as a living race in the galaxy is far more likely. Also, apparently not content with ignoring Guinan’s warnings about the Borg in the previous episode, the crew ignores Troi aka Their Very Own Lie Detector. Seriously guys, what’s wrong with trusting these women? Bonus points for Picard’s confiding in Wesley, though we get a better treatment of his heart condition and youthful choices in “Tapestry.”
612) “Future Tense”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 16
It’s nice to have the Tholians and it’s nice to see something happening with the Temporal Cold War.
611) “Real Life”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 22
B’Elanna is something of a jerk, the Doctor gets the O’Brien treatment, and your room may get a bit dusty at the end of this one.
610) “The Magicks of Megas-tu”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 8
Trek explores the familiar sci-fi idea of aliens visiting Earth to become our myths and legends, but despite an explosive opening, journeying to the center of the galaxy, and trying to explain how magic could work, it ends with a rather boring court case. Yeah, there’s a traditional Trek twist at the end, but I’m just not feeling this one as much.
609) “The Terratin Incident”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 11
The “incredibly shrinking crew” plot is played remarkably straight which, in the end, saves the rather ridiculous episode from being just nuts.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 13
It’s like someone decided to do an awful version of “The Thing” and show Geordi have more romantic troubles in one episode. Why?
607) “The Game”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 6
Don’t hate Ashley Judd. Hate the game.
606) “The Dauphin”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 10
True, we get to see some true bug-eyed monsters and Worf face off against Gozer the Gozarian, but overall, this Wesley-centric episode isn’t too strong. Bonus points for faux flirting between Riker and Guinan plus indicating truly alien forms at the end.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 15
Not a standout episode, but certainly engaging for those who are following the Xindi storyline as both the nature of the mysterious spheres and crew relationships are explored further. Plus, you get the most drawn-out grudge fight this side of “They Live” and a truly “ooh!” Reveal at the end.
604) “Waking Moments”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 13
If you like Chakotay and lucid dreaming, you’re going to love this episode.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 12
A rather touching tale absolutely aided by Joel Grey.
602) “Business as Usual”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 18
Quark goes a bit to far to the Dark Side in order to get some profit and learns some life lessons along the way. A bit too on the nose at times to enjoy, but Steven Berkoff’s Hagath is charmingly intense.
DS9, Season 7, Episode 5
Bashir falls for a patient, a fellow genetically engineered human who’d be a perfect match, except her destiny is to be a panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”
600) “Child’s Play”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 19
Icheb’s parents are not nice. I mean, you can understand their motivations in a ends-justifies-the-means kind of Greek mythology not-nice way, but they’re still not nice.
TNG, Season 1, Episode 13
The lack of inventiveness doesn’t end with the title (“crystalline entity form,” anyone?). While I suppose any Star Trek character is entitled to an Evil Twin episode, certainly Brent Spiner, this one seems less than inspired — especially the way Lore posing as Data argues the aforementioned snowflake monster will be impressed by blowing up trees.
598) “Playing God”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 17
Jadzia Dax has issues with her mentoring techniques because of baggage with Curzon.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 13
Hearkening back to the bad old days of television when family relations never mentioned in years of a show suddenly pop into existence, we get Paul Sorvino as Worf’s human brother. Unsatisfying.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 20
Not a holodeck encounter per se, but it feels like we’re covering a lot of familiar ground.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 13
The Doctor learns a great deal about fame and fads.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 3
A reasonably involving story where a multi-species spacecraft race is used to illustrate B’Elanna and Tom’s relationship. They also make time for Harry to be unlucky in love again.
593) “The Forsaken”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 17
Look, I’m as surprised as you are the story between Lwaxana Troi and Odo is as touching as it is, but here we are.
592) “The Child”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 1
One of the re-purposed old scripts, from the canceled Star Trek: Phase II series, which Marina Sirtis gamely tries to make work, but it doesn’t quite seem to mesh.
591) “Ex Post Facto”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 8
It’s TNG’s “A Matter of Perspective” with a little smattering of DS9’s “Hard Time” with Tom as the Riker/O’Brien stand-in.
590) “Elementary, Dear Data”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 3
Yes, it’s another holodeck-centric episode, and probably worth skipping. However, if you do rewatch it for a sense of completeness, you will be rewarded by a great model of the sailing vessel HMS Victory, plus an even greater performance by veteran actor Daniel Davis as Moriarty.
DS9, Season 1, Episode 7
A clear attempt to get some interest in DS9 from TNG viewers, this season one entry gives us both Q and Vash. It has its moments, but let’s face it: you’re mainly here to see Sisko punch Q.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 25
It’s nice to see the Tellerites again. It’s not as nice to see Pon Farr again, but only because it seems to come up in most Star Trek series. Bonus points for continuing issues raised in “Judgment.”
587) “Heroes and Demons”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 12
A surprisingly enjoyable holodeck outing where the Doctor contends with a Beowulf-type tale. I’m still bummed he didn’t stick with the name “Schweitzer.”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 12
Odo has more patience with a chronically lying prisoner than you might with this episode. Not bad, but not necessarily wormhole-opening.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 2
You get both Nog and the Vasquez Rocks in this story of a young Kazon training to become a proper dudebro Kazon.
DS9, Season 1, Episode 8
Should current hosts of a Trill be liable to actions of a previous host? Demerits for an uninspired title, but bonus points for Anne Haney as Judge Renora. Decent.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 12
Janeway does her best Linda Hamilton impersonation as she takes on a macro-virus. If you’re on board for a wacky monster-of-the-week episode, it’s pretty fun.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 4
Tuvok is the Manchurian Vulcan in a reasonably effective mystery-thriller.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 16
Borg children are precocious. And by “precocious,” I mean “just as deadly as regular Borg if they can get away with it.”
580) “The Savage Curtain”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 22
Abraham Lincoln appears floating in space and things go downhill from there. Demerits for making the conqueror of the largest land empire the world has ever known (Genghis Khan) a thuggish Asian stereotype.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 25
Some attempts at serial storytelling come into play here what with callbacks to previous encounters with the Vidiians (aka, your make-up class final exam) as well as exploring the relationship between Chakotay and Janeway. However, there’s nothing exceptional.
578) “Rogue Planet”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 18
Neither as cerebral as Solaris nor as satisfying as Forbidden Planet. Still, you could do worse with stories about thoughts made manifest.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 15
A fun little look at predestination and prophecy is right at home in a Star Trek story.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 15
Janeway experiences a bit of Groundhog Day. There’s a lot of temporary death in this episode, which, depending on how you feel about the Voyager characters, is either a plus or a minus.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 10
An interesting exploration of immigration and prophecy that, in the end, proves unsatisfying.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 10
A fun, but lightweight and inconsequential episode mainly enjoyable to DS9 fans wanting to see how good the actors are at out-and-out farce.
573) “The Gift”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 2
Let’s officially make the ensemble change from Kes to Seven of Nine and give Kes a good sendoff, okay?
572) “Spectre of the Gun”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 6
One of those episodes from the original series that isn’t bad, but it sure ain’t good. The staging is clearly an attempt to minimize the episode budget and the story feels like it’s going back to the same well of powerful aliens testing the Enterprise crew, et cetera, et cetera.
571) “The Crossing”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 18
Non-corporeal aliens are up to no good, but it takes a loooong time for any kind of action.
570) “Extreme Risk”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 3
A notable story in introducing us to the Delta Flyer as well as showing a character work through clinical depression. Because let’s face it, life in a Star Trek series is pretty taxing for one’s mental health.
569) “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 16
I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that, If I’m being honest, I would not wager too many quatloos on this episode.
568) “The Catwalk”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 12
Heavy on the technobabble and, much to the chagrin of Right Said Fred, no one does a little dance on the catwalk. However, some excitement does eventually ensue both in dealing with radiation and unwelcome guests.
VOY, Season 1, Episode 9
An enjoyably philosophical episode comfortably in the Trek wheelhouse looking at beliefs around the afterlife. Plus, Harry Kim is tormented physically and mentally, so you get to check both those boxes off your Voyager bingo card.
TNG, Season 5, Episode 16
A laudable, but forced exploration of medical ethics is buoyed by exploring injury as seen by Klingons — and some nice moments between Worf and his son, Alexander.
565) “Cold Front”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 11
The Temporal Cold War heats up, by which I mean they put it in the microwave for a few minutes. So it’s not as good as freshly made Temporal Cold War, but it’s okay.
564) “Nothing Human”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 8
Following in the footsteps of TNG’s “Ethics,” the Doctor gets to question whether he can benefit from the research of a Cardassian Dr. Mengele type. Maybe not gold medal, but still Olympic-level wrestling with morals.
563) “The Loss”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 10
Some earnest attempts to explore issues of life-changing injuries and how telepaths or empaths deal with the loss of their abilities, but it’s like we only get the part of the movie where Troi is a schmuck and not the part where she learns the valuable life lessons.
562) “Before and After”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 21
An entertaining enough story where Kes becomes “unstuck in time,” serving as a prelude to the following season’s excellent “Year of Hell.”
561) “Sleeping Dogs”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 14
In which we learn that there probably aren’t any “Good Samaritan” laws among the Klingons.
560) “The Disease”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 17
Yes, Harry has another failed romance which, actually, almost kills him. In the meantime however, he gets his groove on and we get to see some okay drama about a generation ship.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 2
Character building between Icheb and Seven of Nine which isn’t bad, but rather dependent on you being more than a casual viewer.
558) “The Swarm”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 4
Irwin Allen is nowhere to be found in this installment which is titularly about xenophobic aliens and their flocks of ships, but really is more about what to do with the Doctor who has outgrown his holographic specs.
557) “The Omega Glory”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 23
The strange fate of the Exeter is almost entirely overshadowed by an identical Earth suspension of disbelief that require warp engines to power.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 13
A solid scenario where Federation ideals such as non-interference and no capital punishment come in conflict with a race that plans to execute some of their criminals. Good character moments for several of the crew.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 19
If you like the idea of space elevators and can abide by Neelix, you’re going to be perfectly happy with this one.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 2
Fun enough, action-packed, with shades of Voyager‘s “The Void.” Sadly, the Xindi storyline proves to be a slow burn, so pace yourself.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 23
Sigh. I know some people really want to celebrate this episode as a meta commentary on what TNG has meant to everyone as the series draws to a close, but for me it just strikes me as one more “Holodeck-gone-wrong” episode combined with a “Oh-something’s-wrong-with-the-Enterprise” episode — which season 7 already has in abundance. It also tells us “There’s one less episode in which you can see the crew do cool stuff.”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 6
Neelix finally gets to be besties with Tuvok, but Voyager still needs a good tactical officer, so his possible new career path as a jazz-loving baker is cut short.
551) “The Arsenal of Freedom”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 21
One of the better episodes of season one TNG due to a plot structure designed to build suspense and a standout performance by guest star Vincent Schiavelli who manages to both creepy and charming at the same time. La Forge’s conflict with This Week’s Chief Engineer is a bit forced, but just wait a few minutes and you’ll get Vincent Schiavelli again.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 23
The producers wisely realize that Delta Quadrant native Neelix probably won’t like being the lone Talaxian in the Federation and so they send him off in decent style, where he gets to rally a colony of his people against miners in a clear Homesteaders/ranchers homage. Bonus points for the obvious, but enjoyable bit of closure with Tuvok.
549) “Where Silence Has Lease”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 2
The poetical title that hearkens to the Original Series also gives us a familiar problem: the powerful alien testing the Enterprise crew. It’s interesting to see how the Enterprise-D peeps deal with it, but it’s eclipsed by many episodes later in the series.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 8
Okay, so maybe it’s okay for Harry Kim to remain an ensign for a while.
547) “The Seventh”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 7
Bruce Davison is an effectively slippery villain and Tucker is not an overwhelmingly convincing starship captain, both as you’d expect.
546) “Field of Fire”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 13
Criminal Minds: Deep Space Nine proves to be okay, but I wouldn’t put in a season order.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 16
A charming if light mystery story, aided greatly by guest turns from Kenneth Mars and Kenneth Tobey, with a touching character moment for Odo.
544) “Skin of Evil”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 23
This is another early episode whose premise that, upon rewatching, I can’t help but wonder what the actors and producers would have done with in a later season. The oil-slick-as-villain Armus could have been some sort of Sci-Fi One Ring, that would tempt and torment the Enterprise crew, potentially in a lovely two-parter. As it is, everyone seems to be doing their best, but it’s still just meh.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 9
Enterprise finally seems to be hitting its stride with equal parts joy at exploration and classic foiling of bad guys exploiting innocents.
542) “Workforce” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 7, Episodes 16 & 17
A decent, but not standout two-parter that gives some good character moments, especially, for Janeway and the Doctor — yet the story doesn’t match some of Voyager’s more epic two-parters.
541) “Wink of an Eye”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 11
Those technologically advanced aliens are after our women AND men for mating! Because, you know, they couldn’t try and use their technical acumen to handle their reproductive issues and don’t understand how two different species mating won’t produce viable offspring.
540) “Realm of Fear”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 2
Barclay’s paranoia about the transporter is put to good use. Bonus points for O’Brien getting to torment someone else for a change.
539) “The Voyager Conspiracy”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 9
Seven of Nine becomes a poster child for the every instructor who has ever wanted to illustrate how data is different from information which is different from knowledge which is different from wisdom.
538) “Once Upon a Time”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 5
A charming tale about Neelix living up to his role as Voyager‘s morale officer with a fun little world-building reveal at the end featuring Janeway, making you speculate whether there are holodeck versions of Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss books.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 10
Jennifer Lien has a field day playing a would-be military dictator who can’t quite escape Kes’ irrepressible niceness.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 3
I was all ready to learn more about Geordi’s family and what made him tick, but this episode just doesn’t deliver.
535) “The Communicator”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 8
Dr. McCoy would gladly go back in time to not have left his communicator with the Iotians. Here, we see the Enterprise crew try and remedy a similar situation, though it’s definitely not a comic episode.
534) “Scientific Method”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 7
Pitiless aliens experiment on the crew once again making a critical mistake pretty much all the villains make on Voyager: when you go against Janeway, you have to go all-in.
533) “Prodigal Daughter”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 11
Ezri has backstory, so we’re going to do that instead of focus on the Dominion War, because that will make everyone like Ezri that much more.
532) “The Passenger”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 9
Reasonably intriguing story with a criminal whose consciousness can hop from body to body in order to give you an entertaining sci-fi tale.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 15
A decent but not particularly surprising diversion of an episode involving gladiatorial combat. You could say this episode puts Seven of Nine between The Rock and a hard place. I won’t say it, but you might.
530) “Dead Stop”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 4
There’s no such thing as a free lunch… even in space. All the characters have their moments here… and the director even gets to cameo as the evil space station’s voice.
529) “Cost of Living”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 20
The sweetness of Lwaxana Troi connecting with Alexander mitigates this generally forgettable episode, but you probably forgot about that, didn’t you?
528) “The Quality of Life”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 9
The episode was clearly meant to play as another meditation on artificial intelligence and what rights they might have, but instead comes across as a marketing gimmick to sell toy versions of the Exocomp.
527) “Think Tank”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 20
Nefarious aliens will get what they want, and they want Seven of Nine! But have you noticed people who cross Janeway tend to wind up broken or dead?
526) “The Xindi”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 1
A decent if slow start to the season-long story arc where the Yamato -er- Enterprise needs to find and stop the mysterious Xindi and their weapon
525) “The Q and the Grey”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 11
The repercussions of “Death Wish” come to pass in an entertaining enough outing where John de Lancie’s self-important Q is joined by Suzie Plakson as his significant Q other. Bonus meta points for Miss Q flattering B’Elanna about Klingons.
524) “Assignment: Earth”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 26
In retrospect, the episode isn’t out and out awful, but it’s such an egregious attempt at a backdoor pilot, it sidelines the Enterprise crew in an unwelcome fashion.
523) “Mudd’s Women”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 6
Roger Carmel does great as con man Mudd, but the episode seems slow and unengaging by modern standards.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 5
Some mysterious subspace species is experimenting on the Enterprise crew and giving them all really bad hair. Oh, and occasionally killing them.
TAS, Season 2, Episode 2
Intriguing if goofy episode focusing on an alien observer. It’s good in that it establishes a really alien alien with a different outlook, but waits too long to try and delve into why he’s such a jerk for most of the episode. Luckily, there’s a goddess voiced by Nichelle Nichols and an ending that edges back to that Trek we know and love.
520) “The Counter-Clock Incident”
TAS, Season 2, Episode 6
After shrinking the Enterprise crew and turning some of them into mer-people, we get them de-aging. After Spock notes “our brains are working in reverse” it gets pretty silly, but the poignancy of Commodore and Dr. April’s story somewhat grounds the proceedings.
519) “We’ll Always Have Paris”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 24
I don’t mind a romance episode. Especially this late in the season where both we and the actors have warmed up to the characters. I don’t even mind them trying to have the higher ratio of romance plot to space-time danger plot even though the episode title would lead you to never guess that space-time shenanigans or fencing make an appearance. But the execution just isn’t there, so this becomes another First Season episode to get a “meh.”
518) “The Deadly Years”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 12
It’s not an awful episode, but what with re-using the corbomite ruse and having the key to people’s survival be Chekov, there’s a limit to how excited we can get.
517) “Journey’s End”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 20
Either the tale of Wesley Crusher taking a different path or the tale of the Enterprise (and Picard) facing disturbing historic parallels in forcibly evacuating ethnic Native Americans is interesting. Sadly, neither one comes off and they really don’t work well together.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 22
Ha! Joke’s on you Picard. We’ve spent all this time with a son who isn’t really your son not for a Ferengi revenge plot, but to infuriate viewers who know there’s only a few episodes of this series left, and we just wasted one. Mua ha ha ha!
515) “Dark Page”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 7
Another seventh season story that tries and fails to give satisfying backstory to one of the characters, in this case Troi and her mother. Oh look, Kirsten Dunst!
514) “Remember Me”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 5
Dr. Crusher finds herself in something of a Twilight Zone kind of episode as her reality collapses and those of you who were wanting the reappearance of the Traveler are rewarded.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 17
Brent Spiner gets to act up a storm and Patrick Stewart recalls some mask work from his theater days. Look, the anthropologist in me finds some of this fascinating, but that doesn’t make it a good episode.
TOS, Season 2, Episode 7
An intriguing, but ultimately unfulfilling episode that plays with the time-old Trek trope of magic in a rational universe.
511) “Shore Leave”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 15
Look, I’m not saying this episode is bad. Any episode with samurai, tigers, and Alice from Wonderland can’t be entirely awful. I am saying that the endless fight scene with Finnegan exemplifies the episode’s inability to get on with it.
VOY, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
A somewhat perfunctory, but decent enough series premiere gives us a taste of what to look forward to –and what we might find annoying– about the latest Star Trek series. That they revisit Janeway’s fateful decision to strand themselves in the Delta quadrant because of Federation ideals later in the series is good. It’s also nice that Voyager represents some technical sophistication after endless episodes of the Enterprise (in multiple series) being completely outclassed (and it also gives a good covetous motivation for the new villains, the Kazon).
509) “Life Support”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 13
If you’ve been wanting to see Bashir in the Federation’s fetching red surgical scrubs and need another reason to hate Winn Adami, have we got the episode for you!
508) “Honor Among Thieves”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 15
Have we had any stories about the Orion Syndicate? Okay, let’s do one now. And why not use O’Brien?
507) “The Survivor”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 6
The story goes in unexpected places and has a strong Trek feel at moments (e.g. finding beauty beyond physical appearance, etc.), but still comes up short.
506) “Beyond the Farthest Star”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 1
Starting the series off with a bang, we have a mission at the edge of the galaxy, an ancient ship, and an evil intelligence. All in all, very much in keeping with previous Trek and what’s to come in the rest of the series, but the ending could have used a better denouement.
505) “One of Our Planets Is Missing”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 3
A very Trek episode that has many specific callbacks to the original series, from Bob Wesley, to choosing not to kill… today. A nice entry in the animated series.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 14
In a great move for the overall Kazon narrative, Janeway and the crew find the limits of selling the Kazon on their Federation principles. Cultures used to betrayals and power games tend not to change overnight.
503) “Day of Honor”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 3
A good entry in both B’Elanna’s ongoing exploration of her Klingon heritage and her relationship with Tom Paris.
502) “Heart of Stone”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 14
Let’s make it official: Odo loves Kira.
Note: absolutely required viewing for Nog’s moment.
501) “Invasive Procedures”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 4
Thanks to a highly truncated set of circumstances, a far-from-gruntled Trill tries to get Dax. Hey, we get appearances from Megan Gallagher and Tim Russ, so that’s good.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 3
A thematic successor to TNG’s “Family,” this doesn’t have quite the same punch, but does set up some of the storylines of Enterprise’s final season.
ENT, Season 1, Episode 17
A character-driven installment that does good culture-building for Vulcans and sets up some important events that come to play in later seasons.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 14
“Mind warp” episodes have been a Trek staple since Next Generation, but Enterprise gives it a worthwhile twist here by making “the good guys” behind the mind warping.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 2
Mix a transporter mishap with the Borg and 29th century technology and you have yourselves a spicy meatball of an episode!
496) “Time’s Orphan”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 24
I’ll give it to the writers, they decided to make sure every single member of the O’Brien family suffered. In this case, it’s Molly. Parents beware: this ain’t a fun watch.
495) “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 16
As comes as no surprise, the Federation does not like people who dabble in genetic engineering. Also, Rom finally finds his Ferengi cajones.
494) “The Naked Time”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 4
While seeing the crew of the Enterprise get space drunk is not without its charms — both King Riley and swashbuckling Sulu are fun — it’s not an outstanding episode. Bonus points for the time-travel tease at the end, but demerits for not actually connecting it to “Tomorrow is Yesterday” as originally intended.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 19
A solid entry in the continuing Xindi storyline where Captain Archer finds how far he’s willing to go to succeed in his mission… and T’Pol admits self-medication may not be logical.
492) “The Forgotten”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 20
Some serious payoff in the Xindi storyline with Degra finally going all-in (albeit reluctantly) with the humans.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 6
The Seven Samurai, it’s not, but it does fit very well within the type of stories that Enterprise seeks to tell. Most all of the characters have some good moments here.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 17
A tale of assault, abuse, doubt, and trust that offers enough great moments for Seven, Janeway, and the Doctor to make one feel properly uncomfortable.
489) “Shockwave” (Parts I & II)
ENT, Season 1, & Season 2, Episodes 26 & 1
A narratively necessary, if somewhat unwieldy, two-parter where the Suliban make their best play to derail the humans and we end with the Vulcans still in dire need of more fiber in their diet, but willing to let Enterprise continue.
488) “Statistical Probabilities”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 9
Not everyone took to the genetic modifications as well as Bashir, so it’s time for some comedy gold!
487) “The Chase”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 20
An oddly disjointed episode which can’t decide if it’s going to be a backstory drama (as per the confrontation with Norman Lloyd’s Galen), an archaeological adventure, or something else. At least most of the characters are as dissatisfied at the end as we are.
486) “Cease Fire”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 15
A nice continuation of the Vulcan-Andorian tensions with Archer showing his first signs of the Federation-builder he will become.
485) “Infinite Regress”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 7
Jeri Ryan gets to act her socks off and Naomi Wildman continues her quest to become the “captain’s assistant.” Fun all around.
484) “The Ambergris Element”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 13
Apparently not content with shrinking the entire Enterprise crew a couple episodes previously, the writers decided to turn Kirk and Spock into mermen. Much like that other episode, playing it straight works out and tells a fairly nice story of overcoming prejudices, generational differences, and working together.
483) “Unnatural Selection”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 7
While I was happy enough to see the return of Dr. Crusher, I also didn’t mind the brief season 2 tenure of Dr. Pulaski. Her take on a curmudgeonly yet dedicated physician seemed a clear homage to Dr. McCoy. She’s never better than in this episode, where her working relationship with Captain Picard is tested. Plus, we get to see Colm Meaney handle technobabble like the chief he is.
482) “The Expanse”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 26
The 9/11 allegory episode that sets up all of season three. If you’re planning to watch the whole Xindi storyline, it’s a must-watch.
481) “Carpenter Street”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 11
Leland Orser: Whaddya got for me?
Orser’s Agent: You want to play another creep on a Star Trek show?
Leland Orser: Sure, but do I need to be in a lot of alien makeup?
Orser’s Agent: No, you just need to look like you’re some sleazeball from the 70s. And there’s this scene at a fast-food drivethrough which is wacky fun.
Leland Orser: I’m in!
ENT, Season 2, Episode 13
Let’s all admit Tucker plays the “Enemy Mine” scenario pretty well.
479) “Latent Image”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 11
The Doctor gets to experience conflict as never before in a thought-provoking story about ethics and choice.
DS9, Season 7, Episode 3
A narratively necessary, but not especially involving, episode where Ezri comes to terms with her former Dax lives and the writers find a way to get her onto the station full time.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 14
The events of “Fusion” are paid off in this allegorical episode which continues to illustrate the need for Vulcan culture to progress just as much as Terran culture.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 12
As with many couples suddenly facing a family addition, Tom and B’Elanna are forced to consider their heritage. B’Elanna’s struggles with her familial baggage are very real and a welcome presence in a Star Trek story.
475) “Captive Pursuit”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 6
A simple, but enjoyable tale of a society of hunters and hunted that gives the DS9 crew more time to warm up. The aliens, who are like JV Hirogen, have awesome weapons, uniforms, and transport effects.
474) “Suddenly Human”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 4
The allegory and the drama of this human raised by non-humans never quite comes together. And if you’re going to stab Picard, give us an episode like “Tapestry.”
473) “Up the Long Ladder”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 18
Come for the Space Irish, stay for the evil David Byrne impersonators. Not a bad episode per se –especially for fans of impractical sweaters– but would you be better served by watching The Quiet Man and “Stop Making Sense?” Probably.
472) “Friendship One”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 21
Do you remember Lieutenant Carey? He’s been with us since season one. Prepare to be depressed.
471) “In the Hands of the Prophets”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 20
Religion and science are the uncomfortable focus of this season one closer which also introduces us to one of the all-time great Star Trek villains in Louise Fletcher’s Winn Adami. Get used to hating her folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
470) “Fight or Flight”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 3
In its own quiet way, this episode is one of the most honest episodes of Enterprise, where the crew find their shiny new starship and noble ideals aren’t enough to make it in the deep, dark galaxy. Great character moments for Hoshi and bonus points for referencing the Axanar.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 14
A good story filled with enough action that will in no way alleviate B’Elanna’s anxiety about having a baby as her unborn child may be the Kuvah’magh… or the Kwisatz Haderach… or both! Also, for better or worse, we discover more about Neelix’s tastes in women.
468) “Plato’s Stepchildren”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 10
Yes, we get the first inter-racial kiss on American television. Yes, Michael Dunn is great as Alexander. But is it a banner episode? No, it is not.
467) “Natural Law”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 22
A perfectly enjoyable Trek outing about cultural progress and survival focusing on Chakotay and Seven of Nine.
466) “Time and Again”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 4
Writer David Kemper would go on to explore more time travel and causality themes in Farscape, but despite some technobabble, this is an entertaining entry. Bonus points for showing how Tom Paris can do some math in his head.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 22
A mystery episode that would have been ten times more effective if we didn’t have alien races with unknown abilities that could easily come into play in the last act. I’m still open for Dr. Crusher solving mysteries in retirement, though. Just putting that out there.
464) “Ephraim and Dot”
ST, Season 2, Episode 4
Taking Trek unexpectedly into the universe of Looney Tunes –and taking some inspiration from Pixar’s Wall-E— this lightning-fast ball of silliness is going to irk sticklers of continuity, but rolls along well.
463) “Sub Rosa”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 14
You want this to be a rattling cool ghost story, but it just comes across as half-baked melodrama. Bonus points for Governor Maturin feeling kinship for Scotland and for fog on the Enterprise.
462) “Imaginary Friend”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 22
When you’re spending more time looking at the cool scarlet strands entangling the Enterprise and considering how good the VFX team has gotten, it’s not the best of episodes.
461) “The Girl Who Made the Stars”
ST, Season 2, Episode 5
Clearly designed to hit parents of young daughters right in the feels, this short builds backstory for a major character and aligns well with the quintessential Trek theme of searching for knowledge and continuing the human adventure. For those reasons –and despite the uncanny valley that is the animation of Michael’s Dad– it inches out “Ephraim and Dot” by just a hair.
460) “Angel One”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 14
Yes, this is season one, which means a strong 80s vibe and sluggish pace are there. In fact, it seems like they add the virus subplot simply because not much is happening on the planet of power-shouldered matriarchs, but wait: the plotlines intersect and the virus becomes a key point in denying an easy solution. Plus, Riker strikes a blow for chest hairs everywhere. Definite demerits for teasing us about the possibility of seeing Romulans though. (we need to wait for the rest of the season before that happens). Also, there’s an inherent plot issue of the Enterprise not extricating Federation citizens to prevent an interstellar incident simply because they’re not in Starfleet. I guess some legal precedents were set by the time we got around to the Maquis.
459) “Children of Mars”
ST, Season 2, Episode 6
A short clearly tasked with giving some teasers regarding the first season of Star Trek: Picard, the mainly dialogue-free story makes great use of visuals, however the sum doesn’t add up to something greater than the parts (e.g. I love the Peter Gabriel cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” but it doesn’t quite gel here).
458) “Ask Not”
ST, Season 2, Episode 3
Yes, we continue the proud tradition of Starfleet (or at least Star Trek writers) where “tests of character” are really kind of messed up and often mean-spirited. At least this one has Captain Pike explaining the rationale in that way of his that makes everything seem reasonable.
457) “The Nagus”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 11
The first appearance of Grand Nagus Zek is not his best, but it’s still Wallace Shawn, so it’ll help you get through the Jake/Nog subplot.
456) “Thirty Days”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 9
A good framing device often adds to the richness of any story as well as drawing you in. Here, we want to know what happened that led to Tom’s demotion and we get some good wrestling with the Prime Directive as well.
455) “The Icarus Factor”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 14
In retrospect, it’s actually not a bad reflective/soap opera episode, although some of the dialogue gets a bit on-the-nose at times. Still, Anbo-jyutsu looks pretty cool, obnoxious exposition about it notwithstanding. Definite demerits for never revisiting it or Papa Riker in the TV series.
454) “The Escape Artist”
ST, Season 1, Episode 4
A welcome return of Rainn Wilson’s Harry Mudd, with a nice costume (and android) nod to the original series — which regrettably doesn’t set up anything for season two of Discovery.
453) “Body Parts”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 25
Ferengi intrigue always goes better with Jeffrey Combs’ Brunt — plus, we get one of the most cockamamie ways to explain a main actors’ pregnancy ever. Ain’t sci-fi grand?
452) “Survival Instinct”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 2
Seven of Nine being a first-class tool back when she was part of the collective has some repercussions. Also, Vaughan Armstrong needs to play another Star Trek race.
451) “Battle Lines”
DS9, Season 1, Episode 13
Kai Opaka exits stage combat left in an allegorical episode that you’ll probably enjoy unless you’re some of my fight choreography colleagues, who may be fair, but sure are tough judges of fight scenes.
ST, Season 1, Episode 1
Your exact ranking of this short will likely be in relation to how much your like or dislike the character of Sylvia Tilly — and this first entry in the Short Treks series is so clearly added backstory to be drawn upon for a future Discovery episode, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
449) “Vanishing Point”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 10
It’s a transporter-goes-wrong episode, but it breaks new ground and has some satisfying twists.
448) “Inside Man”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 6
While not as intricate a plot as the film “Inside Man,” this Dwight Schultz-packed story of deceit is reasonably satisfying.
447) “The Emperor’s New Cloak”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 12
We get one last romp in the Mirror Universe before the series ends and this romp is all about the Ferengi.
446) “The Host”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 23
This exploration about identity and, more importantly, how to love when someone you love changes drastically is intriguing and very worth a sci-fi treatment. It’s also nice to see Dr. Crusher explore a relationship. However, Odan has systematically lied for at least 30 years to the Federation and others about his true nature (the alternative is to buy his claim that he didn’t understand just about every other sentient race he met and negotiated with wasn’t paired with a symbiote). A pity, as other moments are quite nuanced
445) “The Omega Directive”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 21
The “omega particles” are about as ridiculous science as “red matter,” but it does make for some entertaining space opera amid the technobabble.
444) “North Star”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 9
With a John Ford name-check, more than a little directorial panache from David Straiton, and the welcome return of Glenn Morshower to Star Trek, it’s hard not to enjoy this episode. Plus, we have an ingenious allegorical situation with alien and human that’s right at home in the Trekverse. But come on, you all just wanted to do a Western, didn’t you?
443) “Eye of the Needle”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 7
A nice installment for season one, where the crew is still focused on getting out of the whole premise of being in the Delta Quadrant in the first place. Space-time twists can be the worst twists, can’t they?
VOY, Season 5, Episode 21
The character storyline of B’Elanna learning to deal with her rage and the plot storyline of monster aboard the freighter don’t quite mesh, but the resulting episode works well enough.
DS9, Season 1, Episode 15
A typical entry for season one that finds a character (in this case, Kira) dealing with some ethical conundrum while doing some modest world-building.
440) “Hero Worship”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 11
Your patience with this episode is proportional to how much you like Data and can deal with kids as being the epitome of unreliable narrators.
439) “The Brightest Star”
ST, Season 1, Episode 3
Saru gets a poignant origin story which is pretty much required viewing prior to seeing Discovery‘s second season episode “The Sound of Thunder.”
438) “A Fistful of Datas”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 8
If you’re willing to hitch your wagon to another holodeck tale that rustles up some excuses to have an infinite number of Datas, you’ll be all right, partner. Otherwise, best leave town… or, you know, watch another episode.
437) “Cold Fire”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 10
Kes learns more about her mutant -er- psychic powers from Gary Graham, who’s clearly honing his multilayered antagonist character in advance of playing Soval on “Enterprise.” Plus, we get followup on the Caretaker of sorts.
436) “Renaissance Man”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 24
We get one last relatively light adventure before the grim series finale, and focusing on the breakout character that is the Doctor is a good way to do it. If “The Blue Danube” isn’t stuck in your head by the end of this episode, you may have a natural resistance to earworms.
435) “The Breach”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 21
As good a look at prejudice and spelunking in the 22nd century as you could hope for.
434) “Random Thoughts”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 10
The premise of a race of telepaths who have a secret longing for unsavory thoughts makes this a fun mystery with allegorical overtones.
433) “The Homecoming”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 1
The first part of the ambitious three-parter opening season two is good, but eclipsed by the other parts. Also, there are absolutely no uncomfortable Pinter pauses, so it’s kind of false advertising.
DS9, Season 7, Episode 14
The fact that we’re stopping during the Dominion War to deal with one of the lost Hundred changelings is kind of annoying. However, the payoff at the end of the episode regarding Kira and Odo’s relationship is golden.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 4
Kinda wrestles with how all-in to go with the femme fatale. However, the end assault on the Enterprise is exciting, as we actually see some earnest attempts at repelling a boarding action — and it does advance the Xindi storyline.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 23
Kes is back for character-based closure –and a few explosions– and it works out pretty well.
429) “False Profits”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 5
In a fun follow-up to TNG’s “The Price,” we find the Ferengi lost in the Delta Quadrant are behaving like, well, Ferengi.
428) “Dragon’s Teeth”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 7
Voyager shows off its visual effects budget as we are introduced to the Vaadwaur, an ancient race not unlike the Iconians, except they used subspace tunnels versus portals as their chosen tool of conquest. Despite their antagonistic potential, we sadly never see them again in the series.
427) “Image in the Sand”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 1
The characters (and perhaps the writers) slowly dig their way out of the hole they found themselves in at the end of “Tears of the Prophets.” Slow-going, but essential for viewers of the whole series.
426) “Barge of the Dead”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 3
Both Klingon world-building and B’Elanna Torres character-building are on display as we get a look at Klingon hell (well, mainly the metaphorical road to hell and how it’s paved).
425) “Shadows and Symbols”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 2
We finally get to some momentum and payoff for the final season as Sisko gets his groove back, Sto’Vo’Kor gets Jadzia, and we get a callback to Benny Russell.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 19
The idea of Picard attempting a serious relationship and bumping against some of his self-imposed (and external) constraints makes sense this deep into the series. It’s well enough executed, with good performances by both Patrick Stewart and Wendy Hughes as Lt. Cmdr. Daren. However, since TNG was still quite cautious in terms of serial storytelling, that means we have the whole love-and-loss arc within one episode. Therefore, our connection to Daren is minimal.
423) “Persistence of Vision”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 8
Not content to have just one crew member experience a “mind warp” episode, the writers cleverly figure out how to get just about the whole crew involved. The villain, sadly, never appears again.
422) “Ashes to Ashes”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 18
The idea of an alien species reproducing by re-purposing old humanoid corpses is almost as interesting as the lengths Voyager‘s writers will go to in order to cause Harry Kim romantic heartache.
421) “The Collaborator”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 24
If you had any doubts whether DS9 would not go deep and wallow in the mire of religion and politics in all sorts of shades of grey, this episode casts aside any doubts.
420) “Rules of Acquisition”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 7
Essentially a world-building/set-up episode as the mysterious group known as the Dominion starts moving into the foreground and women’s rights among the Ferengi starts getting explored.
419) “Critical Care”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 5
A very blatant allegorical look at healthcare which is just as topical –if not more so– that it was when it aired about 20 years ago.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 5
Post-war intrigue and notions of adoption and identity make this a decent allegorical watch.
417) “All Our Yesterdays”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 23
The penultimate entry of the original series is marred by slow pacing, but aided by some of the introspective character study.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 10
A solid, enjoyable episode mixing elements of a heist or “long con” caper with a noble Starfleet goal of protecting people who are too different for an uptight race. Guest star Mark Harelik channels William Campbell’s Original Series performances as ingratiating villains, and Janeway gets to show her own form of three-dimentional thinking.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 11
Machinations with the Kazon –aided directly by Seska being the schemer she is and indirectly by Chakotay being a bit of an idiot– make this a decent entry in the overarching Kazon storyline.
414) “Rules of Engagement”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 18
Checking both the “Rashomon” and “Court Case” boxes on your Episodic TV Bingo card, this story benefits greatly by some directorial panache from LeVar Burton.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 4
Chakotay gets brainwashed to fight in someone else’s war in a story with allegorical overtones of far too many conflicts around the globe.
412) “A Simple Investigation”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 17
Odo in a slightly noir tale that includes doomed romance, so there’s that.
411) “State of Flux”
VOY, Season 1, Episode 11
Seska has multiple secrets as the Kazon storyline starts taking off.
TNG, Season 5, Episode 5
Okay, let’s be clear: this episode is not a disaster. Putting the now familiar characters in situations they would never ordinarily want to be in is ambitious and enjoyable — with Worf delivering Keiko’s baby being a standout.
409) “Distant Voices”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 18
A reasonably clever “mind warp” episode focused on Bashir that presents a few nice twists.
408) “The Raven”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 6
We get some quality backstory on Seven of Nine just as we learn she didn’t exactly have a quality childhood.
DS9, Season 6, Episode 8
The Mirror Universe is back and it’s here for heartbreak and mischief.
DS9, Season 4, Episode 13
Odo struggles with being in the friend zone. Of course, considering he has little basis for understanding relationships outside observing the solids and his own gender identity is metaphorically and physically fluid, I think we can give him some slack. And a bucket.
405) “Hope and Fear”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 26
A solid episode aided by a great performance by Ray Wise and a shipload of mystery. The one quibble is that, as a season finale, it lacks the heft of some of the two-parters Voyager proves to do so well.
404) “The Corbomite Maneuver”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 10
An entirely Trek tale of first contact that gives you a good taste of the original series characters, but, sadly due to the limitations of television, no taste of tranya.
403) “Loud as a Whisper”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 5
Coming off as a Very Special Episode when it first aired, it’s aged decently, though since I’m not a member of the deaf community, I may not pick up on disliked tropes or not. Still, deaf and mute actor Howie Seago gives a great performance and the thoughts on abilities, disabilities, and where we find our strength are intriguing.
402) “Charlie X”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 2
You will be forgiven for thinking this might be the Twilight Zone‘s “It’s a Good Life” transposed to the Enterprise. Not bad, but nothing special. Uhura’s singing will either be a plus or a minus for you.
401) “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 7
In light of TV since this aired, from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica to the more recent incarnation of Westworld, a lot of this will come across as quaint — and the plotting is a tad repetitive. Still, decent performances and bonus points for the Lovecraft reference.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 2
Voyager took a different, more serious take for their 30-year anniversary assignment and it’s both entertaining and ingenious.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 13
Lori Petty learns that Vulcans are hard to love as Trek writers find yet another way to mess with space and time, which works quite well both thematically and plot-wise.
398) “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 8
That time on Star Trek where you’re reminded that even though predator species are dangerous, prey species continue to survive because they themselves can be dangerous (shh, season two watchers). Great character moments for Saru that have echoes to Odo’s first experience of the Great Link, but overall, the episode feels incomplete.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 24
A surprisingly engaging mystery where the Voyager crew is cautious but helpful… and gets overwhelmed by a bunch of medieval hat fanatics. Luckily those marauding milliners didn’t count on Starfleet stubbornness and ingenuity. Bonus points for the universal translator being useless in the face of alien computer displays.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 19
The kid in me wants more Harryhausen monsters and the anthropologist in me wants more scientific accuracy. Both of us are disappointed, but the episode remains pretty entertaining.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 13
Frequent Trek guest star Rick Worthy is unrecognizable under his robot costume, but the tale of artificial intelligence gone awry, plus the ethical questions Torres and the rest of the Voyager crew face are familiar and nicely done.
394) “Hippocratic Oath”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 4
DS9 tackles the chestnuts of doctors treating patients (whomever the patient) and the duties of prisoners captured by the enemy. Oh, and we get pretty firm on O’Brien being enlisted.
TAS, Season 2, Episode 4
Generally decent episode showing a not-quite humanoid race with quirks and grudges and different characters.
392) “The Alternate”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 12
The introduction of the previously alluded to Dr. Mora and a little sci-fi inciting incident give us some good room to explore his fractious father-son relationship with Odo.
391) “Message in a Bottle”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 14
Voyager‘s sending out an S.O.S. The Doctor as an S.O.S. But there’s Romulans in the bottle. And by bottle, I mean pretty darn cool experimental starship located in the Alpha Quadrant.
TNG, Season 1, Episode 25
Finally! Some action. Wait, did they just phaser that guy’s head until it exploded?!? Talk about overcompensation. Enjoyable when it first aired because something was actually happening –and who doesn’t like a good conspiracy?– it really doesn’t hold up well for the aforementioned incongruity of some gross-out special effects, the stereotypical evil aliens (“we only eat stuff that’s nasty to humans just because”), and a storyline that is completely, utterly dropped (although I understand they revisit it in some non-canon novels). Worth a curiosity watch, I suppose, but there’s better paranoia and stop-action animation elsewhere.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 25
In something of a follow-up to “Dreadnought,” the crew contends with an AI that, in this case, takes over the Doctor. Entertaining variations on the theme.
DS9, Season 5, Episode 10
Scenery is chewed as visions are seen — and the Federation begins to realize that having Sisko be a local religious icon is actually problematic.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 2
A comical take on diplomatic contact (well, except for poor Picard) that is uneven, but not without its moments.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 25
No good deed goes unpunished and O’Brien must suffer. Understand that and you understand this episode.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 4
Joined Trill origin stories are way more complex, especially when one of the lifetimes is the equivalent of “redacted.”
384) “In the Flesh”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 4
You could speculate that this was simply a cost-effective way to get another story about Species 8472, but I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t just a ploy to get Ray Walston back to Star Trek. Nevertheless, the tale has satisfying Trekkish overtones of cold war detente.
383) “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 3
Klingons and Ferengi men behave badly — with a little bit of Cyrano de Bergerac. If you enjoy the characters, you’ll enjoy the ride.
382) “Armageddon Game”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 13
Entertaining outing with O’Brien and Bashir trying to evade bad guys who’ve decided they know too much. The end reveal of Keiko’s faulty yet life-saving premise is brilliant.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 15
The first episode with the Hirogen is pretty solid as the newly discovered race stands between Voyager and better contact with the Alpha quadrant. Somehow, we also find time for Harry Kim’s angst. Focus on the Hirogen.
380) “One Little Ship”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 14
Almost as much fun as the conceit of shrinking a Runabout is ridiculous, this story is aided by a fun subplot of rivalries between Alpha and Gamma Jem’Hadar, a reminder that Sisko knows his way around a starship (and can technobabble with the best of them), and –of course– Klingon poetry. Okay, maybe not the last bit.
379) “The Paradise Syndrome”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 3
Because O’Brien hasn’t been born yet, Kirk gets to suffer horrendous heartbreak.
378) “True Q”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 6
A solid enough entry in Q’s appearances as it explores a young woman’s acceptance (or rejection) of her Q powers.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 7
I will be the first one to voice my displeasure at Worf getting overwhelmed by Ferengi, and the episode has no right to be as fun as it is, but it is. I’m not saying it’s my number one episode, but I have to admit I always enjoy rewatching it.
376) “This Side of Paradise”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 24
Spock rediscovers his emotional side thanks to hippie spores and Jill Ireland. It plays better than you’d expect, even if it gives outsize validity to umbrage and anger as problem solving tools.
375) “The Quickening”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 24
A good illustration of what drives Dr. Bashir and also just how ruthless the Dominion can be.
374) “Who Mourns for Morn?”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 12
A fun, comedic story that offers a little bit of fan service and a whole lot of hijinks.
373) “Broken Bow”
ENT, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
As with basically all the other series premieres post-TNG, this proved to be a reasonably intriguing episode enough to make viewers hopeful for what lay in store ahead while not completely wowing us.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 16
An immediate improvement over “Hunters” thanks to the appearance of Species 8472 and Tony Todd as an Alpha Hirogen. Plus, we get some mileage out of Seven of Nine’s adjustments to Voyager.
371) “Flesh and Blood”
VOY, Season 7, Episodes 9 & 10
An occasionally ungainly two-parter that explores the aftermath of “The Killing Game” and the notion of sentient holograms. Iden’s descent into crazed would-be savior is uneven, but the moral and ethical questions raised throughout are classic Trek.
370) “Silent Enemy”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 12
A more action-packed, less character-driven version of “Fight or Flight” where the Enterprise crew once again realizes not everyone wants to get along.
369) “Birthright” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 6, Episode 16 & 17
Both Data and Worf explore their past — and while Data’s storyline is pretty “blah,” Worf’s is reasonably interesting. I’m just not sure it merits a two-parter.
368) “Future’s End” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 3, Episodes 8 & 9
Look, I know that Ed Begley, Jr. may not be anyone’s ideas of a villainous industrialist nor is Sarah Silverman the first person you picture when I say “plucky astronomer,” but the whole two-parter works a lot better than you’d expect. Plus, the Doctor gets a mobile emitter out of it.
367) “Broken Link”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 26
A pivotal episode that only becomes apparent later (in the case of Section 31’s skullduggery, you have to wait until season 7), the story still moves things along to set up the Dominion War at the end of season 5.
DS9, Season 4, Episode 17
A story that scratched the narrative itch of whether Sisko wants to be the Emissary in the first place. Bonus points for the callback to Worf delivering Keiko’s baby on TNG.
365) “The Thaw”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 23
Of course Micheal McKean can play a freaky clown well. His villainy creeps up into the episode quite effectively, but Janeway’s got a schedule to keep, so…
364) “Elaan of Troyius”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 13
Shakespearean in concept, but not in execution, this would-be Trek Taming of the Shrew has some interesting twists, but nothing to make it shine.
363) “Storm Front” (Parts I & II)
ENT, Season 4, Episodes 1 & 2
An exciting way to kick off the season and it’s full of great effects and clever plot bits, but the motivations of Vosk, et al, are generic. Besides, aliens as Nazis AGAIN?!? Bonus points for ending the Temporal Cold War storyline.
362) “Distant Origin”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 23
A bold and fun story about dogma and scientific discovery with Voyager and her crew being a catalyst for questions. Though I don’t mind a Chakotay-focused episode, demerits for having Janeway and several of the others inelegantly disappear from the narrative near the end.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 17
While they don’t completely escape the problems of gender stereotypes inherent in the phrase “Orion Slave Girls,” it is an inventive episode with some twists.
360) “The Trouble with Edward”
ST, Season 2, Episode 2
Alita and Archer face off in resulting in one of the silliest Star Trek episodes around. The disappointment of humans being involved in the Tribbles’ prolific reproductive abilities is somewhat mitigated by the bonkers faux commercial at the end.
DS9, Season 4, Episode 6
An exploration of the Trill taboos regarding symbionts having relations with each other across multiple host lifetimes also serves as a way to explore love, loss, and letting go… and of course societal views of homosexuality. Yes, for you young whipper-snappers, the same-sex kiss was a reasonably big deal when it first aired.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 17
O’Brien suffers (I mean, he dies multiple times), but it’s all in the service of a fairly entertaining time-shifting tale involving Romulans.
357) “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 19
A straightforward, but nevertheless engaging time-travel tale, with requisite moments of cleverness in the treatment of time travel tropes.
356) “The Eye of the Beholder”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 15
Another great example of the animated series going where no live action budget could go before with a familiar, but sufficiently involving tale of advanced aliens putting a crew in a zoo.
355) “Vox Sola”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 22
A solid episode of first contact entirely in the Trek tradition aided by advances in visual effects to portray a very alien alien. The subplot of cultural misunderstandings supports the theme — and the story has the courage to be realistic and not offer up solid answers on alien motivations. Bonus points for actually giving Crewman Rostov some character, but equal demerits for just having Crewman Kelly sleep through the proceedings.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 9
Give us a Riker appearance we didn’t expect and lay the groundwork for the later Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar assault on the Founders, eh? Well played, DS9. Well played.
DS9, Season 6, Episode 11
While no “Duet,” this two-hander between Sisko and Dukat sets up Dukat’s motivations for much of the rest of the series.
352) “Basics” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 2, & Season 3, Episodes 26 & 1
The on-again, off-again Kazon storyline (with Seska seasoning) finally pays off with some inventiveness in both halves, though peaceful it’s not. Bonus points for the Harryhausen-esque monster.
351) “Chosen Realm”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 12
Some good world-building about the cultures of the Expanse as the Enterprise deals with a smug cult leader. Who doesn’t like dogmatic zealots meeting their comeuppance?
TNG, Season 7, Episode 10
Data gets to know more of his family and how telling the truth is not alway cut and dried. Solid.
349) “Identity Crisis”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 18
Mystery and transmogrification is always welcome in sci-fi. Nicely done.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 19
Some nice pre-TOS background on Klingons and the rule of law, but the empire still won’t be friends of the Earthers until the 24th century.
347) “Children of Time”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 22
A technobabble-instigated alternate timeline provides great fun from the Sons of Mogh to Miranda O’Brien to Yedrin Dax — plus good character moments for the crew and a crucial confession from Odo.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 21
An important character-based wrap-up of Worf and his son Alexander. Yes, it basically gets undone by DS9, but it’s still worthwhile.
345) “The Emissary”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 20
The entertaining premise of wartime Klingons waking up isn’t bad, nor is the personal drama between Worf and his paramour, though moments such as retrieving the warp probe and some of Suzie Plakson’s snark seem a bit too precious at times.
344) “Peak Performance”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 21
There’s some enjoyment to be had with the whole war games scenario, but involving the Ferengi at the end just kind of sours the fun. Also Stratagema is an abstract letdown. Finally, the Dominion War called and wanted you to know that your assertion that “Starfleet is not a military organization” is absolutely adorable.
343) “Heart of Glory”
TNG, Season 1, Episode 20
Ermegerd, Klingons! In reflection with the rest of the series, this is a whole lotta inconsequential nothing, but at the time, it was incredibly welcome action and world-building — because previous to this, we basically understood the Federation was at peace with the Klingon Empire solely so Worf could be hanging out on the Enterprise. Bonus points for the build-your-own-disruptor kit the Klingons had hidden in their armor.
342) “New Ground”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 10
Another step Trek takes towards more realistic family issues as Worf needs to deal with the fact he’s a dad. Not a banner episode, but not awful. Bonus points for Jonathan Frakes convincingly handling puppets.
ST, Season 2, Episode 1
While Number One may never get a number one hit, this two-hander with her and Spock proves to be an insightful addition to both characters… and just a bit subversive (in a theater geek kind of way).
TNG, Season 3, Episode 1
Some great special effects and the welcome introduction of far less spandex in the uniforms is mitigated by Wesley giving rise to a new sentient life form and endangering the entire ship due to his pulling an all-nighter. What an irresponsible yet studious scamp!
339) “The Council”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 22
The Xindi storyline starts galloping to its conclusion with some major plot twists and satisfying moments. Bonus points for the Harryhausen-esque demise of Corporal Hawkins.
338) “Shadows of P’Jem”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 15
The Vulcan-Andorian conflicts boils over in this episode full of intrigue and, um, not-quite-funny slapstick. I’m not sure if Gregory Itzin ever plays a character we can trust, but he plays his characters so well, I don’t mind.
337) “Dark Frontier”
VOY, Season 5, Episodes 15 & 16
Much ballyhooed when it originally aired as a feature-length episode, it remains an entertaining exploration of Seven of Nine’s backstory along with some Voyager vs. Borg action that becomes a mainstay in the latter half of the series.
336) “Sons and Daughters”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 3
An all-around solid middle entry in the season six opening story arc where Worf (once again) must figure out what it means to be a father to Alexander and Dukat continues his sliminess using his own daughter Ziyal as an instrument of his machinations.
335) “The Apple”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 5
An okay episode that helps establish Kirk’s attitude towards the Prime Directive as well as the series’ ideas about expendable crewman (beam down all the ones you need!). Vaal seems to have a 70s horror movie attitude against intimacy.
334) “The Killing Game”
VOY, Season 4, Episodes 18 & 19
A disturbing amount of alien races in Star Trek seem to be at home in Nazi uniforms, but the Hirogen work the schtick pretty well. Plus, we get some fun moments of holodeck-imitating-life as the crew finds ways to resist in character. Best of all, the ending isn’t an unabashed win for the Voyager crew, leading us later to “Flesh and Blood.”
333) “Once Upon a Planet”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 9
This sequel to “Shore Leave” actually improves on the original episode by leaps and bound because it actually explores ideas like artificial consciousness, what it means to serve, and knowledge. Bonus points for the proper way to interact with a two-headed dragon.
332) “Concerning Flight”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 11
John Rhys-Davies’ outsize performance as Leonardo da Vinci makes this more than just an average get-back-Voyager‘s-tech caper.
331) “Observer Effect”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 11
As I live and remain corporeal, it’s the Organians! Even if that lovely little Trek reference wasn’t delightful, this proves to be an unexpectedly fun episode exploring some new twists on the old “mind possession” stories.
DS9, Season 7, Episode 9
If you’ve read about Jim Jones and others, the plot won’t come as a surprise, but –by the Prophets– Dukat makes one creepy cult leader.
329) “Ferengi Love Songs”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 20
Assemble the usual players of Grand Nagus Zek, Liquidator Brunt, and Quark’s mother Ishka, and of course Ferengi hijinks will ensue.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 23
A fun exploration of ancestry, using the contemporary coming of the millennium to good effect as Janeway learns the truth and myth around some of her family lore.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 25
It’s a Dax backstory bonanza allowing the cast to stretch their acting muscles and with a surprise twist as to which former host proves to be a problem.
326) “Q Who”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 16
The first appearance of the totally non-Swedish Borg isn’t all bad. However, when the Enterprise just hangs out in front of the massive Borg cube that was carving it up for dinner earlier, I have to question Picard’s tactical acumen — not to mention inviting Guinan to tell them more about the race that annihilated her homeworld and then ignoring her advice.
325) “The Outcast”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 17
Gender identity gets the Star Trek allegorical treatment here that also serves to build out Riker’s character more.
324) “The Vulcan Hello”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 1
Visually stunning and with a very promising set-up, the first TV Trek in ages suffers from some surprisingly clunky exposition and Klingons who apparently belong to the Intergalactic
323) “The Andorian Incident”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 7
Introducing us to the Vulcan-Andorian conflicts with style as well as the very welcome entrance of Shran, perhaps one of Star Trek veteran Jeffrey Combs’ best characters.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 14
An unsettling episode that you’ll be forgiven for thinking wandered in from the DS9 writers’ room. Regardless, it raises some great Trekkish questions about how history is remembered.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 22
A welcome gentler look at Bajoran-Cardassian relationships in the framework of a Kon-Tiki style space expedition. We get our first looks at the Sisko goatee and the fabulous Bajoran “lightship.”
320) “Time Squared”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 13
An intriguing episode dealing with doppelgangers, bending space-time, and the choices we make, but these ideas are much better handled in later episodes.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 22
Tuvok enters and then exits, playing his part in this strange eventful history: one whose twist is second childhood and mere oblivion.
318) “The Bonding”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 5
A thoughtful episode that explores the grief, loss, and the cost of exploration. The execution doesn’t quite measure up to the ambition.
317) “A Matter of Perspective”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 14
The Next Generation does Rashomon! It’s a fun enough conceit that adapts to science fiction quite nicely — albeit with a technobabble twist at the end.
TNG, Season 3, Episode 25
You may remember this as the one with the amnesiac, spandex-wearing Space Jesus or simply the one where Geordi gets his groove on. Also, you also get to see the pros and cons of having Worf as your wingman. I’m not saying skip it, but you’re probably fast forwarding a few scenes so you can get to “The Best of Both Worlds.”
315) “The Shipment”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 7
What’s this? Something is happening in the season-long Xindi storyline? Okay, that’s not strictly fair. The search for the Xindi has inched along in fits and starts and they’ve absolutely built upon story points in previous episodes, but it was usually, MAIN PROCEDURAL STORY TOPIC with a little serial storyline seasoning. This gives you a taste of what the season long saga could be, where they finally have a lead on where part of the planet-killer weapon is being constructed and they begin to realize how the Xindi are no more monolithic and single-minded than humanity. Now we’re getting into DS9 territory. If only we got to see what tree scarabs looked like.
VOY, Season 7, Episode 11
Voyager does an inventive and entertaining take on the “alternative timeline” tale that makes full use of the seven years’ worth of storylines.
313) “It’s Only a Paper Moon”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 10
Because DS9 liked to explore consequences and fully use their ensemble cast, we get to see Nog work through his PTSD after his injuries in “The Siege of AR-558.” Bonus points for “The Searchers” love.
312) “Second Skin”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 5
A solid Bajoran-Cardassian intrigue story with Major Kira as you’ve never seen her before… and as Kira has never seen herself before. Multilayered.
311) “Bride of Chaotica!”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 12
Look, if you can’t enjoy this goofy homage to old Flash Gordon serials and somewhat meta-commentary on Voyager itself, you’re going to miss out on some wonderful character moments and a chock full of delight.
310) “The Adversary”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 26
From time immemorial, no changeling has harmed another change– dammit Odo! Too bad we never see the Tzenkethi in the series.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 22
Some significant suspension of disbelief is needed to accept that anyone could forget Virginia Madsen, but the tale of reclusive, biologically unmemorable aliens is a solid tragic romance tale. Bonus points for pen and paper being the solution to all the technobabble.
308) “The Slaver Weapon”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 14
Pretty exciting episode all around introducing Larry Niven’s Kzinti into the Star Trek universe. In some ways, this had all chances to be one of the best. However, between introducing the history and culture of the Kzinti and explaining all the backstory of the slavers, it feels like a whole lotta exposition in a very short episode. Additional demerits for having Uhura impersonate “Dangerprone Daphne” from Scooby Doo.
307) “The Maquis” (Parts I & II)
DS9, Season 2, Episodes 20 & 21
Look, it’s going to take a while for us to warm up the whole Dominion-as-anti-Federation storyline, so in the meantime, let’s get you some villains that are completely in line with the whole shades-of-grey DS9 oeuvre. Oh, and let’s throw in some betrayal as well.
306) “Proving Ground”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 13
A pivotal episode in the Xindi storyline that moves along briskly with multiple deceptions from multiple sides. Remember: the Andorian Mining Consortium runs from no one.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 24
Because Voyager is ultimately not a horror movie, we end up with a very Trek end to discovering a strange new world and new life, but what a wonderfully creepy ride through a great sci-fi scenario in the meantime!
TNG, Season 3, Episode 18
Picard’s doppelganger has way too much fun on the Enterprise while actual Picard riddles out his captors designs elsewhere. Decent.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 14
Mix a TNG “mindwarp” story with TOS’s “The Immunity Syndrome” and add in a bravura performance by W. Morgan Sheppard, and you have a humdinger of an episode, you betcha!
302) “Battle at the Binary Stars”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 2
Originally shown together with the season opener, this serves as the second act of the series premiere very well. We do still have T’Kuvma proving he’s not going to be a Klingon auctioneer anytime soon, but we do get some serious, if occasionally incoherent space battles, Terry Serpico being a wonderfully red-shirted admiral, Burnham showing she took notes during Starfleet Academy’s “Outtalk a Computer 201” just like Kirk, and best of all: a well thought-out plan to stop the war and give our hero a shot at redemption which fails so spectacularly, you can picture the DS9 Writers’ Room smiling somewhere.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 17
B’Elanna’s past sins and Voyager‘s current problems with the Kazon are all wrapped into an action-packed race to disarm a doomsday weapon.
VOY, Season 6, Episode 22
A wonderful story that explores the power of storytelling within its own plot of an ancient Greek type civilization and an artist struggling to please his patron. Kudos for having B’Elanna Torres as the irascible muse and bonus points to Harry Kim for clearly remembering all his Starfleet survival training.
DS9, Season 6, Episode 18
To the eternal umbrage of those who want Star Trek’s vision of the future to remain optimistic, this story introduces of Starfleet’s own ends-justify-the-means Machivellians: Section 31.
298) “A Matter of Honor”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 8
After season one’s all-too-brief look at the 24th century Klingons, this was a great chance to delve deeper… and it’s great fun to see Riker adapt to life aboard a Klingon ship while being himself. Still, the Klingon commander seems paranoid to a degree unsupported by the script and the Benzite subplot on the Enterprise, while a nice thematic counterbalance of cultural misunderstandings, is rather boring.
297) “Death Wish”
VOY, Season 2, Episode 18
A spirited, philosophical Voyager entry that takes us to the dawn of time back to the 24th century, wrestling with notions of mortality and purpose in an insouciant manner that only the Q can.
296) “Half a Life”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 22
A great allegorical treatment of mortality where Lwaxana Troi’s marrow-sucking lifestyle is a perfect match for the theme and David Ogden Stiers’ performance. Thoughtful and heartbreaking.
295) “Behind the Lines”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 4
Sure there’s the whole Sisko-becomes-an-adjutant subplot as he shifts from commanding a ship to helping direct the war, but the main thing is the female shapeshifter arrives at DS9 and THE LINK IS HITTING THE FAN!
TNG, Season 4, Episode 6
Tasha Yar gets some backstory, we an enjoyably plotted tale, and Data gets some heartbreak as only an android can.
293) “Requiem for Methuselah”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 19
Another Shakespearean episode: this time, we touch on The Tempest and, by extension, Forbidden Planet. Not bad, but strangely uninvolving.
292) “More Tribbles, More Troubles”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 5
Just like the original Tribbles episode, this one packs in a lot of plot and is pretty satisfying, especially if you like to see Klingons tormented.
291) “The Jihad”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 16
Just when you thought they couldn’t get more crazy-go-nuts than “The Infinite Vulcan,” we’re introduced to an “Alien Legion commando team” hunting for an ancient artifact to stave off a potential galactic war. Pretty fun all around, but it loses something with most of the aliens being one note and lacking some of the Trek-ness of other animated episodes.
290) “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 17
Dukat continues demonstrating his Olympic-level narcissism, we get to understand more about his obsession with Major Kira, and Kira gets to learn some of her family history that will make you want to take a shower to wash off all the ugly.
289) “The Perfect Mate”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 21
A potentially clunky episode about arranged marriages, men and women, destiny, and duty benefits greatly from a performance by Famke Jannsen supported by the welcome appearance of Tim O’Connor (sans Dr. Theopolis). Even the bumbling Ferengi do not derail the proceedings (though they certainly try). Picard does a formidably stoic Hornblower impression that Kirk would well understand.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 5
28 Days Later: Vulcan Edition. Seriously, the Vulcan rage zombies in this episode are wonderfully frightening. Bonus points for the transporter just generally sucking.
287) “Into the Forest I Go”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 9
The mid-season cliffhanger delivers a good set of stakes as well as sets up the second part of the season in a manner that gives us both satisfying action scenes and character moments. Ya should have just let ’em warp, Stamets.
286) “Ties of Blood and Water”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 19
A great follow-up to “Second Skin” which has similar Bajoran-Cardassian intrigue, the re-introduction of Weyoun (and Vorta as clones), and some great character moments for Major Kira.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 3
How do we get the Romulans into Enterprise without breaking continuity? Nicely done.
284) “Booby Trap”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 6
Geordi wants to make beautiful music with faux Dr. Brahms, but they have to save the ship before everyone’s irradiated.
283) “Operation: Annihilate!”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 29
At first glance, you might discount these the plastic vomit creatures, but I’d say they rank pretty high on the freaky/insidious villain scale, what with destroying multiple planets, and having a hive mind with which to threaten <echo> THE GALAXY </echo>. Bonus points for showing the crew using trial and error to defeat the little buggers and blinding Spock, later realizing only ultraviolet light is needed. Definite demerits for throwing in some of Kirk’s family simply to kill them off. The inner eyelid is both cool and a deux ex biologie — though since they build on its evolutionary purpose in later Trek, I guess it’s cool.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 21
A time-travel tale that hearkens to DS9’s “Children of Time,” VOY’s “Deadlock,” or perhaps TNG’s “All Good Things.” The weight of all those previous Trek outings is felt, but Enterprise has a decent take on it, definitely aided by David Andrews as Lorian.
TNG, Season 2, Episode 11
The generic and inaccurate title covers up what turns out to be an absolutely action-packed episode featuring the Space Cruiser Yamato, Carolyn Seymour as a Romulan coveting power and ancient secrets, and a long-lost interstellar empire that has secrets aplenty to covet. My only complaint is they could have cut Geordi being a bouncy ball in the turbolift so we’d have time for a good denouement to the episode. Plus, we don’t get to learn more about the Iconians for ages.
280) “Zero Hour”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 24
The conclusion of the season-long storyline is pretty satisfying all around, including the cliffhanger that leads into season 4’s “Storm Front.”
279) “Cold Station 12”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 5
An exciting installment of the Arik Soong/”Augments” storyline with most of the action taking place at Starfleet’s version of Fort Detrick.
278) “Unimatrix Zero” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 6, & Season 7, Episodes 26 & 1
What’s this? More Seven of Nine backstory, you say? She’s part of what could become a Borg Liberation Front, you say? We’re going to have a rousing two-parter with a cliffhanger that makes us wonder how our heroes will recover? Count us in.
277) “Apocalypse Rising”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 1
Come for Captain Sisko as a Klingon, stay for Dominion skullduggery within the Klingon Empire. Pretty pleasing all around as season openers go.
276) “Whom Gods Destroy”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 14
This episode seems to exist for three reasons. First, to prove that not all episodes of the third season suck. Second, to demonstrate how enterprising the producers were at re-using props and costumes from previous seasons. And third: to stage a scenery chewing competition between Garth, Marta, and Kirk. This last part is easy because it’s set at an insane asylum and the first two characters are flamboyantly cray-cray. Next to Khan, Steve Ihnat’s Garth is one of the standout villains from the original series. He is crazy, but absolutely dangerous between his ability to shape-shift and his penchant for blowing things up. I would totally have the character suffer a relapse just to bring him back. Bonus points for Batgirl’s poetry readings — and really: where can we buy Garth’s boots?
275) “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 4
The Doctor contains multitudes and within those multitudes can be found comedy gold — as we see in this Walter Mitty-esque sci-fi outing.
TOS, Season 2, Episode 9
A decent enough entry in the series, right in line with other episodes that explore alien motivations. However, it does seem to suffer from a bit of a slow pace.
273) “The Augments”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 6
A generally satisfying conclusion to the “Augments” storyline that connects to the wider world of Trek as Arik Soong goes from genetic engineering to cybernetics.
272) “The Sound of Her Voice”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 25
Debra Wilson gets to show off her voice acting chops and the crew gets a necessary reflective episode before everything goes to hell in the season finale.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 14
You suffer right along with O’Brien as he tries to uncover a conspiracy that gets deeper and more disturbing until the final, wonderful reveal.
DS9, Season 3, Episode 24
Bajoran intrigue abounds in this story introducing Shakaar of the famed Shakaar Resistance Cell that Kira was part of. Plus one-armed comic relief. And did I mention intrigue? Enjoy the limits on Kai Winn’s ambitions while you can. You think you loathe her pettiness now…
269) “Dagger of the Mind”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 9
Come for Morgan Woodward’s crazed Dr. Van Gelder. Stay for Spock’s mind meld. The stuff on the surface with Cpt. Kirk and Lt. Noel? Not so much.
268) “Despite Yourself”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 10
Deep Space Nine wisely decided to explore the Mirror Universe in several episodes over its run. Enterprise decided to raise the stakes by connecting their foray with the fate of the Constitution-class Defiant.
Discovery proudly proclaims, “Hold my blood wine.”
This first episode in Discovery‘s Mirror Universe sequence provides fun connections to the Trek that has gone before, provides ample opportunities for the crew to question what their mirror selves are (with Captain Killy being especially delightful) and sets up much of the moral quandaries of the rest of the season.
267) “The Ascent”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 9
Quark and Odo spending quality time together works pretty well because it’s so unwanted by either of them… and Nog captures the “new convert to [self-improvement trend]” perfectly.
266) “Prophet Motive”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 16
Following through on the thought experiment of what the Prophets would make of the Ferengi is fun enough. Following through on what Quark would do if his beloved Rules of Acquisition were messed with is golden.
265) “Civil Defense”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 7
The crew discovers that the Cardassians were quite devious in terms of monitoring their Bajoran slave labor… and themselves. Inventive and fun.
264) “Vaulting Ambition”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 12
What with raising stakes in the form of freshly cooked ganglia, betrayal, and group head trauma (I’m sure Phantasm fans approved) this episode moves fast and appropriately Mirror Universe-y. However, the best part might be the poignant reunion between Stamets and Culber.
263) “The House of Quark”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 3
Ferengi and Klingons go together like peanut butter sandwiches and chili: you might not think of the pairing at first, but, really, it’s great.
262) “Project Daedalus”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 9
Good news, LCdr. Airiam! You get more backstory. Bad news: it’s to help make your demise more emotionally resonant. That being said, the cold equations employed by the writers’ room do not entirely take away from a contemplative episode that expands the crew dynamics and moves the season two story arc along ably. Bonus points for referencing Kadis-kot and the creepy reveal of a long-dead admiral.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 8
A nice middle entry in the “Vulcan reformation” storyline that provides Vulcan court intrigue and nice character moments, but suffers from a little bit of Archer ex Machina in the problem-solving.
260) “Course: Oblivion”
VOY, Season 5, Episode 18
A surprise follow-up to “Demon” that surpasses its predecessor and ends on an incredibly downbeat ending — while still holding true to Starfleet boldly going and the desires (and constraints) of the silver blood aliens. Well done.
259) “The Jem’Hadar”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 26
The Romulans announce their return in TNG with a courtesy call. The Dominion announces itself by demonstrating their disdain for forcefields, destroying a Galaxy-class starship, and providing their resume of previous starship destruction. Badass introduction goes to the Dominion.
258) “Return to Grace”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 14
Does Dukat contradict himself? Yes, he contradicts himself. He contains multitudes.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 15
How did the Klingons, who looked so bumpy in “Broken Bow” get to be smooth-foreheaded villains we met in the original series? Find out this week and next in Enterprise: the show that connects all the Trek dots in its fourth season!
256) “Encounter at Farpoint”
TNG, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
Clunky? Yes, but pilots are often clunky. Not as good as the pilots that followed? Yes, but the pilots that followed were made because of the voyage that started with the Enterprise D here. You’ll see me be pretty tough on a lot of early TNG episodes because let’s face it: we had seen Star Trek II and Star Trek IV. We remembered how good individual episodes of the original series were. We wanted this series to boldly go. Well, it doesn’t pull it off for this first outing. Still, this episode is part of the payoff for the series finale, so even if you want to skip a lot of the first two seasons, you still ought to Vulcan up and check this out.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 1
A season opener packed with moral quandary as a Janeway is presented with deal with the Devil that promises to banish her own demons.
254) “A Time to Stand”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 1
After the triumphal ending shot of “Call to Arms” (look at all those ships!), we get the cold, hard reality of the Dominion War and an exciting opening incident for season six’s opening storyline.
VOY, Season 3, Episode 17
An intriguing take on the needs of the many versus the needs of the one using the Borg… or a variant thereof as a stand-in. It hints at the events of “Scorpion” and the nuanced Borg stories to come.
252) “Descent” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Seasons 6 & 7, Episode 26 & 1
The return of both the Borg and Lore and the manipulation of Data and his nascent emotions sounds like the making of an epic two-parter. It has its moments, but isn’t as engaging as most of the other two-parters.
251) “‘Til Death Do Us Part”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 18
Prepare to get uncomfortable for this installment of the DS9’s concluding storyline as Kai Winn behaves at her Winn-iest, Sisko behaves like a man, and the Prophets behave like jerks.
250) “Family Business”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 23
Not only are we introduced to two great characters in the form of Jeffrey Combs’ Brunt and Penny Johnson’s Kasidy Yates, we’re introduced to Quark and Rom’s mom Ishka and the theme of Ferengi cultural reforms that will continue through the rest of the series. Light, but enjoyable.
249) “Galaxy’s Child”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 16
What with Star Trek already saving Earth whales in “The Voyage Home,” we knew it was only a matter of time before Star Trek did space whales and the result is pretty good. Also, Geordi is still unlucky in love, which is kind of like TNG’s “O’Brien must suffer.”
248) “The Siege”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 3
Season Two’s three-part “Bajoran Civil War” arc comes to a satisfying close, though perhaps with a few too many predictable notes. Nevertheless, it gives us a good taste of the complex storylines to come.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 16
The conclusion to the in-universe explanation as to why Klingons didn’t need to spend as many hours in the makeup chair is quite satisfying.
VOY, Season 2, Episode 16
The episode proves to be an almost theatrical exploration of ideas –and no easy answers– right in Trek’s wheelhouse absolutely elevated by Brad Dourif’s portrayal of the remorseless Lon Suder and matched by Tim Russ’ now placable Tuvok. Dark humor points are grudgingly awarded for naming the victim “Darwin.”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 23
The penultimate entry in the Xindi storyline is chock full of action and exciting plot developments that reward you for watching the season.
244) “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”
TAS, Season 2, Episode 5
An ambitious episode that takes full use of animation’s ability to blow past all budget realities as we get treated to a tale with equal parts ancient astronauts, “Who Mourns for Adonais?,” and Stargate. You just have to accept the coincidence that Ensign Walking Bear was at the helm on this particular shift.
243) “The Sword of Kahless”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 9
Klingons may not need badges, but they still can get gold -er- bat’leth fever as if they were in the Sierra Madre. John Colicos is always welcome as Kor and we get to see a side of Worf we haven’t seen before.
TNG, Season 5, Episode 12
Yes, a modern version of this story would take the freakiness and discomfort up to 11, but in the context of having a reasonably family-friendly syndicated broadcast TV show, this tale of intrusive telepaths is pretty darn engaging.
241) “A Matter of Time”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 9
It’s really sad to see Edison Carter turn to a life of time-travel crime, but it does make for a good episode.
240) “The Circle”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 2
The Bajoran Civil War get complicated in the best way, as the various players in maneuver for advantage, we learn about betrayals and counter-plots, and Sisko gets to decide about the letter and spirit of the law vis a vis the Prime Directive.
239) “Things Past”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 8
This episode serves as a friendly little reminder that the DS9 writers aren’t just after O’Brien. Everyone gets to suffer as do their most cherished ideals… like Odo’s idea of justice and fairness.
DS9, Season 2, Episode 23
DS9’s first foray into the Mirror Universe is wonderfully inventive, subversive, and satisfying.
237) “The Red Angel”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 10
It definitely feels like the interim-episode-in-an-ongoing-arc that it is, but there’s plenty of fun character moments and two outright surprises, one of which being Captain Leland making you completely anxious about your next eye exam.
236) “The Void”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 15
A quintessential piece of Star Trek as the Voyager crew is faced with ignoring their Federation ideals in order to escape the titular void, but finds a solution through those selfsame ideals. The demerits for the convenience of the alien stowaways are offset by the bonus points for them representing lifeforms that others do not value.
DS9, Season 4, Episode 5
Another Kira/Dukat episode that has major ramifications to the rest of the series with the introduction of Tora Ziyal. Plus, we get our first look at the previously mentioned Breen and debate whether or not they’re fans of thermal detonators.
234) “Blink of an Eye”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 12
Take a seat, armchair anthropologists, and enjoy the epic of a species’ evolution with Voyager as its constant star.
VOY, Season 4, Episode 5
A spectacularly creepy episode of AI gone wrong due in no small part to Leland Orser’s effective performance. Plus, you get at little Harry Kim romantic angst to lighten things up.
232) “Time’s Arrow” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 5 & 6, Episode 26 & 1
Much like “Descent,” this two-parter has oodles of potential from Guinan’s backstory to Data causing temporal paradoxes and it’s not a bad watch — but it’s not a great watch.
231) “The Search” (Parts I & II)
DS9, Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2
Season three kicks off in high gear (which it ought to, given the literally explosive season two finale) and Odo gets what he wishes for in finding his people. And you know what happens when you get what you wish…
230) “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 4
We’re solidly in the land of tough Trek choices as Burnham starts to wrestle with what truth her own self should be true to. Landry also manages to fulfill her destiny as the reddest of redshirts in a demise that any creature feature fan would understand, which is both a plus and a minus. The season-long storyline feels like it’s filling out and gaining speed here.
229) “The Wolf Inside”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 11
Of all the ways to try and find redemption and a way to uphold the ideals of Starfleet, impersonating a bloodthirsty captain of the Terran Empire has to be one of the worst… which is why it’s so fascinating to see Burnham attempt it. Tilly also has a great turn trying to help Stamets and we get a truly killer queen, er, emperor.
TNG, Season 5, Episode 14
This episode proves that you will watch an okay episode with great characters. Because let’s face it, the plot is preposterous. The length the villainous Satarrans need to go to in order to trick the Enterprise crew into destroying their enemy is quite absurd. If this was a season 1 story, we would all talk about this episode in the hushed tones of embarrassment we refer to “Home Soil” And yet, the episode is tremendous fun. We get a great deal of introspection and we get to see the essential nature of each and every one of the main cast come through despite losing their identities. It doesn’t advance the concept that reptilian-humanoids are people too, but hey, that’s perhaps too much to ask.
227) “Take Me Out to the Holosuite”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 4
Taken in original broadcast or binge-watching sequence, some viewers may get a bit impatient to get into some of the quality space opera with which they’ve grown accustomed. Taken as a love letter to baseball (a sport enamored by many a sci-fi writer), this episode is absolutely delightful, from Odo getting into his role as umpire to the whiskey-flavored chewing gum. Play ball!
226) “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 8
A surprisingly packed and touching episode including notions of generation ships, a love story, and blind faith and dogma. It’s just marred a bit by pacing and execution.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 4
Enterprise gets into its new season proper (post-Temporal Cold War and Xindi wrap-up) and boy does it boldly go. Alec Newman does a great job as conniving would-be superman Malik and Brent Spiner is a welcome addition as Dr. Arik Soong, proving the Soongs have a long history of deciding to do whatever the hell they want, regardless of wider ramifications. The Orion world-building is fun too.
224) “Shattered Mirror”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 20
A great entry in DS9’s Mirror Universe storyline that introduces mirror Worf as well as the mirror Defiant and leaves us with some non-mirror heartbreak.
223) “Dear Doctor”
ENT, Season 1, Episode 13
A seminal episode of Enterprise (that in a sense, only fully comes to fruition in the fourth season), which explores the difficulty in doing the right thing — and gives some origin as to why the Prime Directive came to be.
222) “The Return of the Archons”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 21
With this episode, you get a good sense of mystery (with hooded, inquisitorial enforcers!), Star Trek doing its version of The Purge (albeit 60s style), and –most importantly– quality Kirk-talks-computer-to-death. You’re sure to enjoy it whether or not you’re of the Body.
221) “The Man Trap”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 1
The first episode broadcast isn’t all that bad in a thoughtful, monster-of-the-week kind of way — and I’m given to understand the monster in question still gives some people nightmares.
VOY, Season 5, Episode 24
A clever and engaging time travel episode where Seven of Nine gets to shine, Janeway gets to show off more of her backstory, and Braxton gets to be more than Captain Ahab vis-à-vis Voyager.
219) “Blaze of Glory”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 23
The Dominion doesn’t play second fiddle to any villains, so the Maquis have to go. But before that, Eddington gets one last play.
218) “Badda-Bing Badda-Bang”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 15
As with many season seven episodes, this can seem like an unwelcome interruption in the Dominion War story arc. And noting the discrimination in 60s Vegas, while relevant, feels a bit forced. Still, if you accept DS9’s penchant for lighter episodes amid the darkness, you can enjoy a very Trek take on the caper/heist films they so clearly love.
217) “Bar Association”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 16
Labor relations, Ferengi-style, is full of the commentary and hijinks you might expect from DS9 at this point. This particular episode benefits, as always, from Jeffrey Combs’ “Liquidator Brunt” as well as a character development twist at the end for Max Grodenchik’s Rom.
216) “The Offspring”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 16
Jonathan Frakes’ directorial debut is a fitting follow-up to season two’s “The Measure of a Man” in raising some great questions.
215) “Empok Nor”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 24
Your creepy reminder that Garak is one psychotropic drug away from full-on serial killer.
214) “One Small Step”
VOY, Season 6, Episode 8
A homage to the explorers that have inspired Trek… just as Trek has inspired people to become scientists and explorers. Seven of Nine finds your observation that the room is getting dusty entirely valid.
213) “The Enemy”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 7
Did you get enough of Geordi last episode? Of course you didn’t. And here he is teaching an uptight Romulan that old prejudices may be wrong. Bonus points for Worf having honest trouble moving past his prejudices and Andreas Katsulas as a great Romulan commander.
DS9, Season 7, Episode 17
The series conclusion arc begins with Dax/Worf relationship complications, Sisko learning a bit more of the penance he was told he’d pay in “Sacrifice of Angels,” and Dukat goes in for some plastic surgery that we just know is going to make us queasy in the future.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 8
The increasingly paranoid aliens are fun and it’s nice to see Picard and Crusher’s relationship explored, but there’s still too much status quo at the end of the episode.
210) “Maps and Legends”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 2
After the emotionally charged series premiere, it’s hard for this entry to feel more than the second movement of the season-long arc that it is. Nevertheless, it arranges the pieces artfully even as it drops the F bomb a couple times less elegantly.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 23
Is trying to find any way to involve the crowd-pleasing Borg into Enterprise a sign of desperation? Maybe, but it also proves to be an inventive and involving affair, including some great “Who Goes There?” moments and Dr. Phlox being the stand-up Denobulan he is.
208) “Worst Case Scenario”
VOY, Season 3, Episode 25
Yet another holodeck episode… only done right. Starting as a holodeck Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, mayhem quickly ensues thanks to the impossible appearance of Seska. Bonus points for the reprogrammed Doctor and the general meta commentary on writing.
207) “Once More Unto the Breach”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 7
As pretty a Klingon curtain call for John Colicos and Kor as one could ask for… Klingon notions of beauty invariably involving blood and sacrifice.
TNG, Season 4, Episode 20
Worf saying “I protest sir. I am not a merry man!” is one of the best lines in all of Trek. That said, the overall episode is just okay.
205) “The Price”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 8
An okay episode focusing on negotiations, machinations, and Counselor Troi. Just do not try and be more sensitive or caring than Matt McCoy. He understands your pain at not being as much of a sensitive, new age guy as he is. He really does. He just does it so, so well. Perhaps he can get you a drink and you can tell him all about it?
204) “Body and Soul”
VOY, Season 7, Episode 7
Sci-fi makes for a great excuse for a body-swapping farce and both Ryan and Picardo deliver. Plus, when they’re in their respective bodies, we get wonderful banter erupting between Seven and the Doctor with Harry Kim as the bewildered Ralph Bellamy straight man (come on, the character was born for this!). Megan Gallagher and Fritz Sperberg round out a great cast — and Tom Paris proves to not be a total schmuck (I think that’s a Vulcan term).
203) “Blood Oath”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 19
Based on behind-the-scenes interviews, this didn’t turn out to be quite the Kurosawan epic intended. Terry Ferrel gets swamped at times by some of the gravitas brought by the veteran actors, but much like her character, Jadzia, she does not back down in her performance. And it’s remarkably good fun to see all three original series Klingons return, inexplicably in modern make-up (we’re pre-retcon at this point), and out for vengeance.
202) “The Siege of AR-558”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 8
On the one hand, it doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen in countless war films. On the other hand, it’s an important entry in the overall Dominion War arc and good to see how it’s impacting the different characters. Quark, as always, has some very trenchant observations about humanity.
201) “The War Without, The War Within”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 14
With the previous episode leaving the crew home, but a bit too late to save the day, the quickly-hatched plan win the war is both fast-paced and entertaining.
200) “Context is for Kings”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 3
The two-episode opener is shown to be clearly a prologue as we jump into quite the packed episode that introduces us not only to the mysterious Captain Lorca, but the delightfully uptight Lt. Stamets and also Cadet Tilly, who fully understands the importance of a Trek character being earnest. There’s still a little on-the-nose dialogue, and the Event Horizon-level gory fate of the Glenn makes one wonder just how dark the rabbit hole gets, but the pace is surprisingly brisk and sets up so much mystery and possibility you have to go to the next episode.
TNG, Season 4, Episode 3
We get to see a single android take control of a starship, Brent Spiner have a field day in three similar, but different roles, and there’s a nice little thematic subplot that adds to the dramatic urgency to cut short Data’s unscheduled family time. If The Patty Duke Show was more like this, I’d watch.
TNG, Season 7, Episode 6
A nice little Data-centric episode with mystery, misdirection, and some horrific images as Data explores nightmares… or not. Absolute bonus points for Freud analyzing himself in a dream within the dream. This episode deserves cake. With mint frosting!
197) “The End of the Beginning”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 3
Picard finally gets enough of his
Island of Misfit Toys disaffected Starfleet/Federation crew together to put to space, but not before having to deal with a messy past, weighing in on his family legacy, and — Hey look! Another Romulan Death Squad!
196) “Point of Light”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 3
A decidedly darker episode compared to the first two episodes –severed baby heads will do that– this nonetheless deepens the “Red Angel” storyline quite well, gives Tilly’s ghost a truly disturbing twist, and makes you wonder if Sarek and his family make Victorian ideals look freewheeling and unrestrained by comparison. Bonus points for going old-school with the Klingons bleeding lavender.
TNG, Season 4, Episode 14
A solid mystery episode with a great reveal for Data and yet another example of how Worf will like it better on Deep Space Nine, where he’ll actually be able to defeat enemies, rather than just demonstrate how powerful they are.
194) “Azati Prime”
ENT, Season 3, Episode 18
Finally, the promise of “Strategem” is fulfilled and we’re at the fabled Xindi weapons facility. Pacing and plotting are good. Bonus points for the Enterprise-J.
193) “The Ship”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 2
One of those little gems of an episode where you realize that Sisko really is the most Kirk-like of all the post-TOS captains. And yes, that means some quality scenery chewing. The story itself feels like DS9’s followup to TOS episodes like “A Private Little War” (just as TNG’s “Darmok” is to TOS’ “Arena”)
192) “The Mind’s Eye”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 24
A suspenseful entry as you know Geordie’s up to something, but even he doesn’t know it. Plus, O’Brien doesn’t suffer, but a simulated version of him is killed, so we’re sort of warming up for DS9.
191) “Carbon Creek”
ENT, Season 2, Episode 2
T’Pol’s not quite tall tale of Vulcans visiting pre-warp Earth is surprisingly charming and full of references to the original series. They even found a way to slyly honor the actual inventor of Velcro (i.e. “Mestral”).
190) “The Time Trap”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 12
An episode of the animated series I actually wanted to last just a little longer as it felt like there was more story to tell about the pocket dimension society as well as the antagonist Klingons.
189) “I, Borg”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 23
No, ME Borg! Okay, seriously, it’s not a bad episode and it sets us up for “Descent,” has good ethical quandaries, and fencing with Guinan.
188) “Choose Your Pain”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 5
Saru’s storyline is a standout in this episode that has torture and tardigrades. Also, kudos to Rainn Wilson for making Harcourt Fenton Mudd the man most in need of an airlock vacation in ages.
187) “The Forge”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 7
This literally explosive beginning to the “Vulcan reformation” timeline connects so many Trek dots from the original series to the animated series (dig that sehlat!) and where Enterprise was trying to go before its cancellation.
186) “Living Witness”
VOY, Season 4, Episode 23
An absolute standout sci-fi tale playing with perception and how history is written that starts with Voyager and her crew, but goes far beyond it.
DS9, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
Fortune favors the bold narrative, and this series premiere gamely attempts to go where no Star Trek has gone before — from a setting full of conflict and conflicting characters to a story that involves explaining the concept of linear time to non-corporeal aliens. Clunky at points, which all of the series premieres seem to be, but rewarding as both the plot and theme come together with Sisko’s journey of loss to a shot at redemption.
TOS, Season 2, Episode 13
A solid episode expanding Kirk’s character and motivations with an alien creature that is totally not a benign Calvin Klein fragrance. Redshirts beware!
183) “For the Uniform”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 13
DS9’s take on a captain’s obsession, this rather theatrical episode (thanks to the one-time “holographic communicator”) divides fans to this day. Does Sisko go too far? Do we need this many Victor Hugo references in Trek? One thing’s for sure: you’re safer assuming Sisko isn’t bluffing.
182) “The Nth Degree”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 19
Taking a few flowers from Algernon and many a page from tales of mind-controlling aliens and you have a not entirely unfamiliar tale with a very Trek treatment.
181) “Ménage à Troi”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 24
I know what you’re thinking: it’s a TNG story with Ferengi and Lwaxana Troi, what can I honestly expect? The answer is “a light, delightful episode” that introduces “oo-mox” to Star Trek canon.
180) “By Any Other Name”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 22
A decent episode which quietly underscores how important peaceful coexistence is for Kirk and the Federation in general. Bonus points for Scotty’s tactical drinking game.
179) “The Begotten”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 12
You figure this mid-season episode dealing with Kira’s pregnancy and Odo’s study of a gooey cousin will pass the time — and all of a sudden you get some high farce in the birthing scene and some absolute feels at the end.
178) “Tin Man”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 20
The always enjoyable Harry Groener gives a great guest appearance as a telepath tired of his powers being turned up to 11, Data finds new meaning in his Starfleet family, and we get some wonderful strange new life. Solid.
ENT, Season 2, Episode 22
An absolute standout in terms of exploring cultural values, understanding the delicacy of cultural exchanges, and the unintended consequences of the best of intentions. This is Enterprise at its finest.
176) “The Darkness and the Light”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 11
A disturbing, uncomfortable exploration of the life Kira led during the occupation and the lives she took. A great story and teleplay by Bryan Fuller and Ronald Moore respectively — and bonus points for Randy Oglesby’s intense and multifaceted “Silaran.”
175) “The Infinite Vulcan”
TAS, Season 1, Episode 7
Taking full advantage of animation’s lack of budget constraints, Walter Koenig takes a shift in the screenwriter’s chair and produces an adventure with an entire sentient plant civilization, giant clones from a Eugenics War mastermind, and an invasion fleet to pacify the galaxy. If you’re up for the usual animated series wackiness, you are rewarded with a very Trek ending.
174) “Second Chances”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 24
A TNG take on the malfunctioning transporter that gives a look at the different choices that made Riker Riker.
173) “Will You Take My Hand?”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 15
Knowing that the season very much had the arc of Burnham’s quest for redemption, this finale lands pretty well, with action, intrigue, and a surprise return of the space whales. I’m kind of split on the writers clearly taking the “Klingons have redundant everything” to its TV-MA extreme.
172) “Patterns of Force”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 21
The egregiously bad premise historian John Gill makes in not only violating the Prime Directive, but installing a fascist government on another world is greatly tempered by the Enterprise crew fighting and defeating Nazis.
DS9, Season 4, Episode 11
Topical then and depressingly still topical now, Trek examines the balance between freedom and security in the prism of the Changeling threat. Bonus points for Brock Peters’ Poppa Sisko and his non-Starfleet take on things.
170) “The Vengeance Factor”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 9
Have we given generational blood feuds the sci-fi treatment yet? No, then let’s do it with a little doomed romance, shall we? Nicely done, with quite a lot of story covered in such a short time, but some demerits for the director’s blocking of the actors at the end.
169) “Night Terrors”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 17
An inventive and occasionally creepy entry in the “lost starship” category of episodes with enough mystery and twists to deliver us to a satisfying ending.
ENT, Season 3, Episode 8
Thankfully, there’s nary a sparkly vampire to be seen as Star Trek does Memento, albeit in the familiar alternate timeline format that all Treks go through. It’s a great what-if full of action and a solid episode all around. Two quibbles. One, Alternate Timeline Malcolm Reed has a Van Dyke and should therefore be evil. Two, this kills the momentum on the season-long timeline hoped for with “The Shipment.”
VOY, Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26
Give credit where credit is due: Janeway leads her crew home and wins a decisive victory over the Borg. Oh, and she picks up some fancy futuristic technology along the way. For a conclusion that ends with our crew winning, it’s surprisingly grim — even DS9’s conclusion, with its elements of genocide and a Pyrrhic victory, had a charming curtain call for the benefit of the viewers. Still, it’s a solid entry following in the footsteps of “All Good Things…”
166) “Paradise Lost”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 12
The payoff to the previous episode “Homefront” is profound, giving us not only a good wrestle with morals and values, but some fine starship combat as well.
165) “The Abandoned”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 6
If we learn one thing from this episode, it’s that DS9 is comfortable with unhappy endings. If we learn two things, it’s also that the Founders are evil genetic engineering geniuses. If we have to learn three things, there’s that sub-plot with Jake and the Dabo girl which I suppose is okay if you’re wanting to see some father-son relationship vignettes in Star Trek, but really, let’s be happy with the first two things.
164) “Gambit” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 7, Episode 4 & 5
An almost too-clever-by-half plot is buoyed by decently paced action, intrigue, and the fact we’re really here for the characters at this point. Plus, the artifact is pretty damn cool.
163) “In the Cards”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 25
With just enough plot to keep us edging towards the explosive season finale, we are left with this completely charming calm-before-the-storm entry that goes just far enough with Jake and Nog’s unique problem, in part by going too far at just the right moments. Bonus points for poking the sacred Federation philosophy that is “we work to better ourselves” (I mean, it’s lovely, but deserves a little ribbing from time to time).
VOY, Season 5, Episode 6
A well-told time travel story filled with heroism, regret, and a nice cameo by director LeVar Burton.
161) “The Wire”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 22
A welcome if entirely onion-layered dive into Garak’s backstory where everything is true, especially the lies.
160) “Change of Heart”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 16
Worf makes the right decision and the wrong decision at the same time. If you think back to this episode when you watch “Tears of the Prophets” and cry a little, it’s okay.
159) “New Eden”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 2
While not quite as packed as the season premiere, this second chapter of season two still gives us some beautiful cinematic moments and, more importantly some character moments. The producers and writers clearly decided we should both know more about the rest of the crew and we should have a bit more fun this season… and it shows. Finally, we get a bit deeper into some of the season plotlines and arcs including Tilly’s ghost and the Red Angel — all while giving us a little Trek look at religion and the Prime Directive.
158) “The Enemy Within”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 5
Shatner gives a bravura performance in this Star Trekyl and Hyde episode. Bonus points for using the phaser to heat rocks and the adorable space dog.
157) “Little Green Men”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 8
The premise of the Ferengi as the Roswell aliens should be more than enough to capture your attention, but the guest cast, including Charles Napier and Megan Gallagher, helps as well.
156) “Profit and Loss”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 18
Not only does DS9 do Casablanca, they do it primarily with the actors in prosthetic make-up. An unexpected delight thanks to some great performances. Remember: phasers are supposed to hurt and some people should never get promoted.
155) “In Theory”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 25
You knew we had to do an episode of an android in love at some point, and the resulting story, directed by Patrick Stewart, gives us all the comedy-drama we were expecting.
154) “I, Mudd”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 8
Probably the closest Star Trek gets to going full Monty Python with the crew’s “Confuse-a-Cat” performance at the end, which I admit, delights me every time. Let’s face it: logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.
153) “Bread and Circuses”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 25
Okay, I’ll accept we’re just going to drive the “alternate Earths” into the ground with the original series — and this bit of modern Rome is fun, with some great villains showing that they don’t need to have all the latest technology to be devious and cunning. However, your mileage may vary with the final twist.
152) “The Masterpiece Society”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 13
A great example of what TNG can do with both the Enterprise ensemble and a good guest ensemble while exploring the ethical boundaries of non-interference, self-determination, and so much more. Quintessential Star Trek.
151) “Our Man Bashir”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 10
Relax, Trek fans tired of malfunctioning holodeck episodes. This is a transporter accident, which is completely different. Besides, this send-up of 60s Bond films is so inventive, you’ll enjoy all the twists through to the end.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 4
Although the Dyson Sphere gets short shrift — or more to the point, the distinct lack of Dyson Sphere builders does — you’re here to see James Doohan give everyone’s favorite Scottish engineer a curtain call. Well done.
149) “The Changeling”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 3
A goofy episode that some people might like if they’re in the mood for a high redshirt bodycount or want a low-budget version of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture in one third of the time. Just be warned that you need to deal with Spock mind-melding with a machine and Uhura apparently being okay the following week even though her entire memory gets erased.
148) “Through the Looking Glass”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 19
Can you help oppressed people in an alternate universe even if it means abandoning the love of your life a second time? Sisko can.
147) “Babel One”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 12
Kicking off the “Prelude to the Earth-Romulan War” storyline in fine style, we get allusions to classic TOS episodes like “Journey to Babel” and “Balance of Terror” along with some fun diplomatic tips for how to deal with Tellerites.
146) “Strange Bedfellows”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 19
The runaway train that is the DS9 concluding storyline accelerates as Damar questions his allegiances, Kai Winn makes her Faustian bargain, and Worf discards all those times on TNG when he was defeated with one moment of exquisite Klingon martial poetry.
145) “Rightful Heir”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 23
A surprisingly packed episode that starts with Worf searching for his roots and ends up with possible intergalactic ramifications as well as personal reflections on faith and being, including a great moment between Worf and Data.
144) “The Squire of Gothos”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 17
It is medically impossible for one to be as delighted with this episode as much as General Trelane (retired) is delighted with himself. Nevertheless, we are forced to enjoy William Campbell’s all-in performance as the proto-Q he so totally is.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 9
A satisfying conclusion of the “Vulcan reformation” storyline that gives us a better understanding of the Vulcans we see in TOS and other series… and why we don’t see Vulcans like Robert Foxworth.
142) “The Reckoning”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 21
In which we see yet again that Sisko can make tough choices and Kai Winn will make self-serving ones.
141) “Light and Shadows”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 7
We finally meet Spock and he’s decided Mirror Spock didn’t go far enough with his beard. While seeing the full Vulcan family drama come into focus –Amanda’s character and motivation is great to see– the overall episode feels very much like a middle entry.
140) “The Aenar”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 14
Entertaining Andorian world-building combined with some tantalizing hints at the Earth-Romulan War to come.
139) “The Cloud Minders”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 21
A look at class and racism that has some action and nuance enough so it holds up as a classic Trek treatment of the ideas. Also, Spock almost gets his groove on.
138) “Absolute Candor”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 4
At long last we get a vital clue as to why the Romulans separated from the Vulcans so long ago: Romulans were prepared to go full Space Elf. The episode itself offers some additional backstory to Picard’s failed Romulan rescue, yet more holograms on the Misfit ship, hints at current power struggles in the Beta quadrant, and a rollicking space battle with a fun reveal at the end.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 20
Peter Weller can play a great hero or villain, so it comes as no surprise that his John Paxton his a wonderfully played villain convinced of his own heroism. An excellent episode for Trek continuity. Bonus points for the James Bond Villain-grade base ship.
136) “Equinox” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 5, & Season 6, Episodes 26 & 1
Obsession, duty, and the importance of choices dominate this taut two-parter with some truly freaky monsters, some truly monstrous acts, a great performance by John Savage, and a guarantee you’ll never look at the Doctor the same way again.
135) “…Nor the Battle to the Strong”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 4
A wonderfully uncomfortable episode exploring how wars make it hard to distinguish heroes from cowards and where Jake Sisko learns much more about what it is to be an honest writer and a man.
134) “Improbable Cause”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 20
No storyline with Garak is every straightforward and this one proves to be a twisting, turning delight, only bested by its follow-up, “The Die is Cast.”
133) “In Purgatory’s Shadow”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 14
The rumblings of the oncoming Dominion War grow louder as we get a huge reveal in Bashir being a longtime prisoner of the Dominion to an absolutely marvelous cliffhanger. Bonus points for the interplay between Garak and Worf.
132) “Captain’s Holiday”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 19
Clad in vacation-wear that has launched a thousand memes, Picard manages to get his groove on whilst also dabbling in his love of archaeology and solving a time-travel mystery. I suppose it’s a prerequisite for Enterprise captains to be so overachieving.
131) “Future Imperfect”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 8
You think it’s an alternate timeline episode, but really, it’s a mind warp episode — and even with that, there’s one more twist that is wonderfully Trekkish.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 25
A perfectly enjoyable “what’s happened to the Enterprise?” mystery that also answers questions you didn’t know you had, like “Does Troi do impressions?” and “What happens if Picard doesn’t clip his nails?”
129) “Devil’s Due”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 13
Another classic Trek idea given the TNG treatment that tackles myth and superstition. Sadly, Marta Dubois’ Ardra does not return (a la Harry Mudd) to torment the crew in a future episode.
128) “Ensign Ro”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 3
The on-the-nose title notwithstanding, this is a good introduction to Michelle Forbes’ Ensign Ro Laren as well as Bajor, all wrapped up in a tale of intergalactic intrigue with modern Earth parallels.
127) “Déjà Q”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 13
Corbin Bernsen, ice cream sundaes, and the mariachi band make this a pretty fun Q episode. Don’t tell me you don’t like mariachi bands.
126) “Through the Valley of Shadows”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 12
The penultimate episode prior to the two-part season finale, this Valley of Shadows includes a cargo hold of creepiness, a D7 (yay!), a failed Vulcan nerve pinch (ooh!), and what may be Christopher Pike’s defining moment (OMG!).
125) “By Inferno’s Light”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 15
A thoroughly satisfying follow-up to “In Purgatory’s Shadow” that continues Worf’s transformation to full-on epic hero, epically ends Garak’s storyline with Enabran Tain, and makes us all feel better about never really wanting to have Gul Dukat as one of the good guys.
124) “Necessary Evil”
DS9, Season 2, Episode 8
I still remember seeing this title coming up on screen and thinking, “Well that’s a bold title.”
And then, this neo-noir mystery delivers, both in terms of intrigue and in terms of some of Odo’s “origin story,” full of wonderful character moments and an ending that is satisfyingly unresolved.
123) “When It Rains…“
DS9, Season 7, Episode 21
Halfway through the concluding storyline, we get stakes raised all over the place, from Odo’s disease to Dukat’s blindness to Gowron’s metaphorical blindness… and then there’s Kira going to teach her former oppressors how to fight guerilla warfare.
122) “Tacking Into the Wind”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 22
I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the virtual waterfall of consequences wonderfully couched in character-based actions from Damar’s decision to kill a friend in the hopes of an bold new future to Worf’s challenge to Gowron — finally doing something about that honor thing that he’s been obsessing about since The Next Generation.
TAS, Season 1, Episode 2
An absolute delight of a time travel story that gives us a look at Vulcan and Spock’s childhood courtesy of an inventive and nimble script by D.C. Fontana.
ENT, Season 4, Episode 13
A standout entry for the “Prelude to the Earth-Romulan War” storyline where we begin to see how Archer and his crew are instrumental in laying the groundwork for the United Federation of Planets. The duel with Shran and its clever resolution may be Archer’s finest hour (that we get to see anyway).
119) “Scorpion” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 3, & Season 4, Episodes 26 & 1
Starting with what is arguably one of the best ever Trek cold opens (assuming viewers know of the Borg), we get an action-packed, Borg-infested, issue-wrestling two-parter that takes things to eleven and gives us Seven of Nine.
118) “Treachery, Faith, and the Great River”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 6
You didn’t think you’d find Weyoun so sympathetic and tragic and then the DS9 creative team pulls out a Pixar emotion wrench. Ingenious bastards.
117) “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 16
Why is this episode here? Because Admiral Ross was too nice an admiral for Star Trek and because we were overdue for some well-seasoned Section 31 intrigue in a rich Romulan sauce.
116) “Soldiers of the Empire”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 21
A pivotal episode for Worf and a fun story centered on a Klingon ship. Kind of like what TNG’s “A Matter of Honor” wanted to be when it grew up.
TNG, Season 4, Episode 2
It’s important in all sorts of storytelling to give the reader or viewer a chance to slow down and breathe while still telling the story. This is that moment. That the producers of TNG realized that they should and could do this is one of the reasons why Next Generation became the excellent series it did.
114) “Sons of Mogh”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 15
Because Worf and Kurn need to suffer for their honor… or rather Kurn needs to suffer for Worf’s honor. Then Worf gets to lose his last vestige of family.
113) “The Ultimate Computer”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 24
A solid adventure that explores automation and, let’s be clear, some exciting space combat (even more so with the special edition VFX which I did not include in the ranking). Bonus points for William Marshall as Daystrom.
112) “Who Watches the Watchers”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 4
Apparently deciding to let everyone know that Season Three was officially stepping it up, this cracking good episode takes a Classic Trek notion of how the Prime Directive should be followed and gives it that thoughtful Next Generation treatment. I love the glimpse of the proto-Vulcan culture, the heartfelt performance by Ray Wise, and the look at science and superstition.
111) “Court Martial”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 20
Prepubescent viewers will enjoy this about as much as Casablanca, but if you give this a view as an adult, you’ll get a hint of the façade that is the “perfect” Federation we see explored further in Deep Space Nine. You’ll also be treated to good (if 60s dramatic) performances by pretty much the whole supporting cast including Percy Rodriguez, Joan Marshall, and Elisha Cook Jr.
110) “Call to Arms”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 26
After seasons of buildup, the Dominion War begins for realz in this appropriately epic season finale that finds time for farce, duplicity, and a really awesome space battle. And how about that ending shot? Immensely satisfying.
109) “The Survivors”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 3
One of my favorite versions of a classic Trek idea done in the Next Generation style, definitely benefiting from guest performances by Anne Haney and John Anderson. I love so much of the dialogue, from Worf’s befuddlement to Picard’s nautical commands — and that final reveal about the Husnock has to be one of the best “Holy Nuck Futs!” moments of the whole series.
108) “Final Mission”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 9
In a sense, we get Wesley Crusher’s last test before he goes to Starfleet Academy and it turns out he’s more than ready.
107) “The Next Phase”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 24
An inventive and entertaining Romulan story focusing on Geordi and Ro that manages to give just about everyone some good character moments and features one spectacular chase through the Enterprise.
106) “Tears of the Prophets”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 26
A painful season finale where just about every slight or doubt that the characters have experienced comes to the forefront ending with the death of a major character and Sisko losing his way.
105) “The Most Toys”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 22
An insidious villain (Saul Rubinek) and a loyal crew that will leave no android behind ably support what turns out to be an absolutely fantastic character study of Data.
104) “Lower Decks”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 15
We get to see the Enterprise from a whole new vantage point of some of Enterprise’s 1,000-member crew who aren’t on screen every week. A simple story idea, well executed.
103) “Preemptive Strike”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 24
Closing up Ensign Ro’s character arc as they wind down the series is a nice touch, with some great character moments and ideas that will get explored further and deeper in DS9.
PIC, Season 1, Episode 1
A perfectly lovely return of a beloved character that rewards longtime fans with some “deep cut” references. At the same time, it comes across as an exciting and intriguing opening chapter that newcomers can enjoy in what promises to be a solid “prestige” TV series.
ST, Season 1, Episode 2
Using the long-abandoned U.S.S. Discovery as a backdrop for a standalone story may seem like a cheat to some, but that would ignore the exceptional tale of love, loss, and what it means to be a sentient that’s right at home in the Trek universe. And here’s to the smile you get when you realize the reason for the title.
100) “Year of Hell” (Parts I & II)
VOY, Season 4, Episodes 8 & 9
Take a villain with an obsessive quest, played wonderfully by Kurtwood Smith, and place it in a story that allows you to do whatever you want (thanks to a magic sci-fi reset button) and you have Voyager‘s best episode bar none. Every member of the crew gets some great moments here and the ending lands expertly.
99) “Hard Time”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 19
The writers of DS9 apparently had a mandate to “make O’Brien suffer” throughout the series and never did they do a better (read worse) job than this episode. Well done, but incredibly depressing. I guess the writers or the Argrathi have a career ahead of them designing Starfleet psych evals.
98) “In a Mirror, Darkly” (Parts I & II)
ENT, Season 4, Episodes 18 & 19
Fan service pumped up to eleven, this delightfully anti-heroic two-parter gives us Tholians, Gorns, and a whole lotta connecting of dots within the universe of Trek. Bonus points for finally being able to ditch the treacly theme song, if only for two episodes.
97) “The Menagerie” (Parts I & II)
TOS, Season 1, Episodes 11 & 12
This two-parter represents quintessential Trek, in all the good and bad ways that implies. But really, the majority of that is good, with thoughtful sci-fi, some classic twists in trying to out-think the Talosians (and be out-thought by them), as well as revealing a huge side of Spock’s personality and his sense of loyalty.
96) “What’s Past is Prologue”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 13
This end to Discovery’s Mirror Universe storyline may not be the most surprising thing ever, but it winds up being immensely satisfying. We get not one, but two engaging fight sequences, wrap-ups for several characters, and a great speech by Saru: all with some cinematic packaging. Bonus points for numerous nice touches in the sound design including some pleasant callbacks to the original series.
95) “Starship Down”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 7
While no “Balance of Terror,” this remains an altogether satisfying “submarine” episode of Trek with great character moments all around and a welcome guest appearance by James Cromwell.
94) “The Magnificent Ferengi”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 10
A darkly comic take on The Magnificent Seven (and by extension, The Seven Samurai) is arguably the best Ferengi tale of DS9’s many great Ferengi tales. Plus, you get Iggy Pop who has enjoyed his time on this little space opera, but may have to kill you.
93) “The Galileo Seven”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 16
A tense episode, not because you think any of the main characters will die (this is 60s TV), but worthwhile to see Spock in this unique command situation.
DSC, Season 2, Episode 1
Leaving us with a fannish cliffhanger at the end of last season by meeting the Enterprise, we quickly get introduced to an engaging Captain Pike and colorful uniforms, with plenty of callbacks to the first season and general Trek along the way. The overall tone feels brighter even as they set up the season-long story arc with something that threatens the galaxy (naturally). Well deployed quips abound, Stamets is actually relatable, and Tilly is 100% Tilly. Demerits for the rather forced action setpiece of the landing pods, though it’s mitigated by us then meeting Tig Notaro as a wearily heroic Starfleet engineer.
91) “Sins of the Father”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 17
The debut of Tony Todd as Kurn sets us off on Worf’s multi-year odyssey to figure out that honor thing. It’s an excellent episode in terms of both theme and worldbuilding.
90) “Terra Prime”
ENT, Season 4, Episode 21
This ranks higher than “In a Mirror Darkly” as, while that masterfully done two-parter is delightful in its anti-heroics, it’s more of a bit of backstory for the mirror universe. “Terra Prime” gives you a glimpse of the backstory of the Federation and the Prime universe we know and love, to say nothing of where the series might have gone before its ignominious end.
89) “What You Leave Behind”
DS9, Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26
Given the epic space opera heights the series aspired to, especially with the final storyline, it’s to be expected that the final episode wouldn’t be the best. The division between the end of the Dominion War and Sisko’s personal battle makes the pacing a bit disjointed. The curtain calls, while welcome, go on longer than necessary. Still, we get one last glorious batch of space battling, the pyrrhic resolution of many a character’s storyline, and a Starfleet captain truly going where no Trek series captain has gone before (or since).
88) “A Piece of the Action”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 17
If you’re going to keep having imitation Earths, you might as well have some fun with them. The conceit of an entire planet modeled after Chicago mobs of the 20th Century is ridiculous, but pursued with such conviction, you have to go along for the ride (but don’t let Kirk drive). Shatner bluffing his way through the game of Royal Fizzbin is such a comic highlight that Nimoy almost starts laughing.
87) “You are Cordially Invited…”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 7
If the phrase, “we’re having a Klingon wedding” doesn’t make you geek out and tune in, you’re not meant for Sto’Vo’Kor or this episode.
86) “The Assignment”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 5
Because the DS9 writers don’t just want O’Brien to suffer when his wife can as well. An ingeniously plotted thriller of an episode with a very satisfying ending.
85) “Cause and Effect”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 18
The “One where the Enterprise keeps exploding” turns out to be great fun, keeping twists throughout and with a fun cameo at the end.
84) “Frame of Mind”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 21
The best of the TNG “mind warp” episodes sees Commander Riker debating whether it’s real sci-fi life, or just theater fantasy… and then there’s one twist more. My only quibble is that as a former stage tech, I wanted to see 24th century set construction and strike techniques, but that’s no reason for demerits.
83) “The Immunity Syndrome”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 18
Settling once and for all whether Earthlings or Vulcans will fare better against giant space amoebae, this reasonably action-packed episode gives you some classic Kirk-Spock-McCoy interactions.
82) “Thine Own Self”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 16
Data will do as a Data does in this tale that should warm the cockles of any scientist’s heart. Plus, if you think that Starfleet won’t have messed-up psych tests for the ship’s counselor, think again!
81) “Past Tense” (Parts I & II)
DS9, Season 3, Episodes 11 & 12
A look at the increasingly near future that is disturbingly still plausible with plenty of fun twists and turns. Demerits for asking us to take B.C. as a serious threat when he’s clearly some 90s executive’s idea of “a tough” and a wayward member of Rockapella. Bonus points for Gabriel Bell being referenced in future episodes.
80) “The Tholian Web”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 9
There’s a lot going on in this episode from dimensional rifts to mutiny — and a lot of people love this one because of Tholians and their titular web, but the pacing saps the episode’s energy, much like the Enterprise’s warp engines.
79) “Stardust City Rag”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 5
Our misfit crew is out of the gravity well that is setup and exposition and off to Space Vegas. We are rewarded by some of the most fun moments of the series to date as well as some of the most harrowing, plus plenty of references to previous Trek. Demerits for the torture-porn at the beginning Didn’t you all get this out of your system with Season One Discovery?
78) “That Which Survives”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 17
Call me a sucker for a visual effect that’s been around for over a century (seriously, I’ve seen it used in a pre-WWI Russian short), but Losira’s freaky transfer effect combined with the quiet menace portrayed by Lee Meriwether make this a memorable episode. Bonus points for Scotty’s Macgyvering.
77) “To the Death”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 23
The introduction of Weyoun, the return of the Iconians, and some great action make this a quality episode all around. Bonus points for O’Brien’s motivational speech.
76) “Power Play”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 15
Terrorists trying to seize the Enterprise would make for a good episode alone, but making them body-possessing spirits levels up the whole proceeding — just don’t think about the mechanics of possessing Data too much.
75) “Return to Tomorrow”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 20
Another Trek tale that deals with godlike beings — and the story unfolds like a sort of myth in terms of power, love, and betrayal. Good stuff.
74) “The Changing Face of Evil”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 20
Twists and turns abound in this exciting entry in the final storyline. We end with a ravaged Starfleet headquarters, a destroyed Defiant, a blood sacrifice, and Damar surprising everyone (probably including himself).
TNG, Season 7, Episode 11
Worf excels in this thoroughly enjoyable alternate dimension tale with little bits of payoff for longtime viewers. Also, in a truism that I dearly want copied in other alternate dimension stories: when the cake turns from chocolate to yellow, trouble’s afoot.
72) “The Die is Cast”
DS9, Season 3, Episode 21
The events of “Improbable Cause” are paid off in epic fashion and the entire series shifts its trajectory to what will be the Dominion War.
71) “Who Mourns for Adonais?”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 2
It’s hard not to like this uneven episode, probably because it grabs us from the beginning with a giant green space hand. Nevertheless, it mines meditative ground where Trek often explores in the future of gods and belief, technology and magic.
70) “The Enterprise Incident”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 2
A reasonably exciting episode that keeps you on your toes, albeit with some suspension of disbelief for the hijinks. Demerits for having a “Klingon-Romulan alliance” just so Romulan ship designs didn’t have to be scared up.
69) “Saints of Imperfection”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 5
Coming off the gangbusters episode that was “An Obol for Charon,” this doesn’t quite have the same punch, but we do get a lot of touchpoints on continuing relationships between the characters, a lot of heart, and Section 31. Basically, DS9 fans should feel right at home. Just stop teasing and show us Spock, people.
68) “Favor the Bold”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 5
The female shapeshifter learns about intimacy, we learn more about Vorta physionomy, and the Federation learns it’s time to take a big risk as we go thundering into the conclusion of the opening Season Six story arc.
67) “Errand of Mercy”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 26
An ambitious episode that introduces the Klingons, the whole cold war atmosphere between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, and the Organian Peace Treaty that casts a shadow across the rest of the original series. The constraints of a single 60s TV episode, even with the VFX additions of the special edition, creaks under the weight of extensive world-building. Nevertheless, the main story is still solidly entertaining, with John Colicos stealing just about every scene he’s in, setting the tone for Klingons to this day.
66) “Wolf in the Fold”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 14
An inventive story that, let’s be honest, has misogynist elements that really haven’t aged well. However, the mystery moves along briskly with a fun sci-fi twist and good performances all around.
65) “The Impossible Box”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 6
Ratcheting up the tension that was already bursting at the seams of the previous episode, we learn that when it comes to breakups, it’s really Narek, not you. Also, we better see Elnor versus some Bat’leth-wielding Klingons next season.
64) “Perpetual Infinity”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 11
Michael’s mom deals with her own scenario of being unstuck in time as past, present, and future weave in and out — and all the while Michael is trying to understand the struggle of a mother she thought long dead amid the noble and ulterior motives of other characters. Delightfully dizzying.
63) “Data’s Day”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 11
A quiet epic of an episode built around the ingenious framing device of Data narrating the events of what turns out to be a not-remotely-normal day. You get a wedding, intergalactic intrigue, and tap-dancing. What more do you need?
62) “The Conscience of the King”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 13
While it doesn’t top its inspirations (both Shakespeare and classic Greek tragedies), this episode is amazingly engaging even today, with great performances by the regular cast and some great turns by Arnold Moss as Karidian and Barbara Anderson as the seemingly ingénue, but really insane daughter. We get great McCoy-Spock scenes, good Kirk-McCoy scenes, and a lot more hinted at Kirk’s background.
61) “For the Cause”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 22
Not only is this a pivotal episode to make DS9 more serialized and less episodic, but it’s full of payoff for characters we know (Kasidy Yates) and thought we knew (Lt. Cmdr. Eddington). George Bernard Shaw awards copious bonus points to the Maquis argument against the Federation and Sisko’s rejoinder.
60) “Starship Mine”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 18
It was pitched as Die Hard on a Starship, so — Data’s wonderful skills at small talk aside — get ready for a surprisingly high body count and grim humor.
59) “The Dogs of War”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 24
DS9’s penultimate episode is an embarrassment of narrative riches as it starts wrapping up all sorts of storylines all while presenting tantalizing new avenues the characters may go down. It expertly sets up the finale finding myriad ways to be both epic and character-driven. Top notch.
58) “The Hunted”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 11
A great showcase for Trek as a source of timeless, allegorical tales. In this case, it’s in the form of an action-packed episode about how societies treat veterans.
TOS, Season 1, Episode 18
When I finally got to read the Fredric Brown short story upon which this is based, it’s kind of hard to go back to this less-nuanced version, but to harp on that would be unfair. Television rarely gets to get into the inner life of its characters like literature and this is first-class Trek all-around. You just need to embrace the cheesy reptile costume and papier mache rocks. Do that, and you get a master class in Kirk Fu, including Kirk’s underlying humanity.
56) “The First Duty”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 19
Voted “Episode Most Likely to Be Discussed in a High School Class” when it came out, it’s still a wonderful look at honor, integrity, and, yes, Wesley Crusher’s character arc. But really, you’re here for Picard being the moral rock that you know he is.
55) “Rocks and Shoals”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 2
The abundant character moments in this wartime story of Sisko facing off against the Dominion make it excellent. Folding in Kira’s sickening realization of what she has become make it extraordinary.
54) “A Taste of Armageddon”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 23
A great allegorical tale from the age of Mutually Assured Destruction where Kirk gets to show off what a clever barbarian he is and you learn that you do not mess with Scotty. You bring a knife, he’ll bring a starship ready to obliterate the inhabited surface of your planet. It’s the Aberdeen way.
53) “The Drumhead”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 21
It’s depressing how well this episode has aged, but in a sense, it was trying to speak to timeless issues around justice and abuse of power when it was written. Stellar, earnest performances all around give nuance to wonderful shades of grey, yet with a strong ethical center. It’s not a light-hearted rewatch, but an episode that deserves a rewatch every now and then.
52) “The Pegasus”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 12
Loyalty, moral quandary, and really cool tech make this an episode that scratches just about all your Star Trek itches.
51) “Et in Arcadia Ego” (Parts I & II)
PIC, Season 1, Episodes 9 & 10
An amazingly tense first half gives way to a somewhat more by-the-numbers second half, but it still hits the notes of a feature film/season finale quite well. There are character moments and curtain calls sure to please long-time fans, not the least of which is Data fully embracing what it means to be human.
50) “The Sound of Thunder”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 6
Squashed butterflies are nowhere to be found in this sequel to the Short Trek episode “The Brightest Star” that served as Saru’s “origin story.” It’s an involving and exciting look at oppressor and oppressed that’s very Trek.
49) “His Way”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 20
DS9 fans will happily insist that the series could do light as well as dark, and this entry, much needed in-between two exceptionally grim episodes, is a banner example of that.
48) “A Private Little War”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 19
A satisfying downer of an allegorical episode whose story DNA can be found later in many a DS9 tale.
47) “Extreme Measures”
DS9, Season 7, Episode 23
Sure you’ve seen or read other stories of people “going into the mind” of someone else, but this Trek take, where Odo’s life is at stake, is absolutely electric as Bashir and O’Brien race against time in a Sloan’s dying brain.
46) “Day of the Dove”
TOS, Season 3, Episode 7
An exciting if wacky episode of an alien that feeds off aggression. The plot moves briskly, Michael Ansara is wonderful as Kang, but the overall execution doesn’t take it over the top.
PIC, Season 1, Episode 7
The action doesn’t completely stop for this reflective episode because Narissa apparently needs to earn her “Callous Murder” merit badge. However, that death does underscore much of the quiet sorrow and perseverance we see in characters old and new. Troi has never been better.
DSC, Season 1, Episode 6
Character development and motivation abounds in this episodes that gives us some solid justification for having Michael Burnham be Sarek’s ward, we learn more about Admiral Cornwell and Captain Lorca’s friendship, and we are reminded that the Klingon concept of “honor” is hella elastic.
43) “Friday’s Child”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 11
A great entry in the “cold war encounters” with the Klingons giving us an interesting culture in the Capellans, a good guest turn from Catwoman -er- Julie Newmar, plus McCoy in the spotlight.
42) “Far Beyond the Stars”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 13
A love letter to the inspirational science fiction magazines and writers of the 50s, an examination of race and perseverance, and a charmingly meta study of Star Trek all wrapped in one satisfying package.
TNG, Season 4, Episode 7
Setting up much Worf’s “tragic hero” arc (which basically continues into DS9), we get the Duras family’s tradition of dishonor, the first appearance of Gowron, and Klingon loopholes involving duels. Sto’Vo’Kor awaits, K’Ehleyr.
40) “The Measure of a Man”
TNG, Season 2, Episode 9
Oft cited by fans as one of the best episodes of The Next Generation. Your mileage may vary depending on how much trauma you endured watching the first two seasons, but there’s no denying this is classic Trek as Data’s rights as a sentient being are debated passionately on both sides. Over 30 years on –and ever closer to true artificial intelligence– this episode seems to only grow more relevant.
39) “Silicon Avatar”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 4
It’s like someone in the writer’s room re-watched “Datalore” and said, “Hold my synthehol.” The crystalline entity is shown to be the danger it truly is, but Starfleet’s efforts to seek peaceful contact is also tested wonderfully… and Data has another banner episode.
38) “The Ensigns of Command”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 2
While Picard and Troi face off against a rock creature gone rogue from the Jim Henson Company, Data faces off against humans who clearly need Muppets because they take themselves waaay too seriously. An altogether enjoyable episode.
37) “Broken Pieces”
PIC, Season 1, Episode 8
The penultimate episode of the season has a starship full of payoff as we learn a lot more backstory and motivation as well as Seven of Nine wielding her version of the One Ring. Thoroughly engaging.
36) “If Memory Serves”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 8
Not only does this entry win the “Previously on” award by going to “The Cage,” it clears up the stakes for the Red Angel storyline while performing impressive double duty. On the one hand, we have a sequel to “The Cage” and set-up for “The Menagerie” as we understand Pike, Vina, and Spock’s motivations to a deeper degree. On the other hand, we also see all the season-long reaping being sown for the rest of the characters: Doctor Culber’s miraculous return doesn’t mean everything is hunky dory, Saru may need to re-assess his moral compass sans ganglia if he’s going to continue as the executive officer, and did anyone really think that having an evil empress be a Section 31 operative was not going to bite ya? Oh, and we get further insight into why Spock has issues with his human half for a good chunk of the rest of his life. Very satisfying on multiple levels.
35) “Such Sweet Sorrow” (Parts I & II)
DSC, Season 2, Episodes 13 & 14
Originally shown over two weeks versus together, the very calm-before-the-storm, say-our-goodbyes first half is better viewed together with the absolutely gonzo action second half. The sum total is payoff you want in a season finale, whether it’s seeing the Enterprise’s lovely phaser fire or the Inception-inspired fight scene.
34) “Trials and Tribble-ations”
DS9, Season 5, Episode 6
How the DS9 braintrust managed to come up with something so pitch-perfect for both the Original Series and DS9 is a marvel. It’s absolutely delightful and a sequel worthy of song (even though the Klingons won’t be singing it anytime soon). Still, I have to credit some of the ability to delight being based on the source material, so that gets a bit of an edge, Tribble v. Tribble
33) “The High Ground”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 12
I still remember seeing this episode when it was first broadcast and thinking to myself, “Now that I think about it, this season is really cooking with gas. This, this is the Star Trek I’ve been looking for in this new show.” And even though this particular episode of “the new show” is over 30 years old, its themes about armed resistance and terrorism still resonate as well-defined characters on either side try and do the best they can with an ugly, imperfect situation and the Enterprise crew is caught in the middle. Both George Bernard Shaw and Michael Bay will pull up a chair for this one (though Bay will say, “it needs a few more explosions.”)
32) “The Wounded”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 12
The introduction of the Cardassians is immensely satisfying in the tradition of TOS episodes showing the Federation’s detente with the Klingons and Romulans. Plus, it’s like we see O’Brien’s destiny of being tortured on Deep Space Nine birthed in this episode.
31) “Face of the Enemy”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 14
Troi is called upon to carry not only an episode, but one full of deceit and spycraft… and does so brilliantly. Bonus points for the cold open.
30) “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”
DSC, Season 1, Episode 7
Excellent as a standalone episode that’s clearly going boldly after watching many a time travel tale before, both from Trek and elsewhere. It’s all the more enjoyable at this point in the season because you see both the character development and motivation in their decisions. Bonus points for the space whales and Mudd’s murder montage.
DS9, Season 1, Episode 19
For countless Star Trek fans, unsure of how much clunky roughness we’d put up with in this latest Star Trek spin-off, this was the episode that clinched us for the long haul. Harris Yulin delivers a powerful performance that, at the end, you realize contains volumes of nuance. Kira’s character arc throughout the episode is breathtaking.
28) “The Trouble with Tribbles”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 15
Not only is this one of the best episodes of the original series and all Trek, it serves as a bellwether for people. You may want to re-examine your friendship with anyone who outright hates this episode or at least recommend they get more fiber in their diet. It is absolutely delightful, balancing a chock full of plot with great humor.
27) “First Contact”
TNG, Season 4, Episode 15
Not as action-packed as the TNG movie of the same name, this episode is filled with moments of delight and introspection, giving us a fresh take on how the Prime Directive is handled. Both George Coe and Michael Ensign bring their character’s convictions to wonderful life.
26) “The Doomsday Machine”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 6
First-class space opera episode absolutely buoyed by a great performance by William Windom as Commodore Decker and Sol Kaplan’s intense score. A winner all around.
25) “The Visitor”
DS9, Season 4, Episode 3
Tony Todd has never been more anti-Candyman in this tearjerker about loss, regret, perseverance, and love. Exceptional.
24) “The Defector”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 10
Star Trek does the Cold War, but thanks to a well-crafted script by Ronald D. Moore, this tale has a timeless quality (Shakespeare always helps in that regard, doesn’t it?). The whole cast shines in their respective parts with great guest turns from both James Sloyan and Andreas Katsulas with a great twist and a powerful denouement.
TNG, Season 3, Episode 23
The welcome return of Mark Lenard as Spock’s father heralds an emotional epic of an episode that’s spectacular Trek.
22) “Amok Time”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 1
Personal and general Vulcan worldbuilding with the always interesting Spock? Absolutely!
21) “Space Seed”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 22
This episode casts a huge shadow across the Trekverse for both establishing and confounding continuity, but it’s perfectly fine to watch on its own merits — due in no small part to a commanding performance by Ricardo Montalban.
20) “An Obol for Charon”
DSC, Season 2, Episode 4
Packed almost to bursting with plot lines and spiced up with more raising of stakes than Kelpian ganglia can bear, this episode delivers a Trek tale of friendship and death that echoes back to the original series. Exceptional. Bonus points for the improvised trepanation.
19) “Sacrifice of Angels”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 6
Friends: this is what paying off the story is all about. Sisko and the crew try to win in the face of setback after setback only to rely on Prophet ex Machina, which comes with a price, the full weight of it will only be felt by the series conclusion. Meanwhile, we see Dukat’s ego and delusion at its height, only to see that hubris result in a downfall that impacts more than just him. All along, we get great moments from the characters between Odo not being ready for paradise to Quark discovering his heroism. Oh, and we get glorious space battles, too.
TNG, Season 6, Episode 15
A classic “what if” story that gives us not only satisfying backstory on Picard first hinted at in season 2, but some timeless resonance in exploring the regrets and acceptance that come from choices made — and you see Q in a whole new light.
17) “Unification” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 5, Episode 7 & 8
Between Sela, Spock and even Stephen Root(!), this is an incredibly satisfying two-parter despite the heartbreaking end of Sarek. For that, you have our gratitude.
16) “Ship in a Bottle”
TNG, Season 6, Episode 12
One of the more unexpected callbacks to an earlier season results in one of the most ingenious episodes, with Daniel Davis returning as Moriarty who turns out to be every bit the cunning villain he ought to be.
15) “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
TNG, Season 3, Episode 15
A perennial mainstay on “Best of” lists in part because it scratches that “what if” itch so familiar to fans of classic Star Trek episodes like “Mirror, Mirror” and fans of science fiction in general.
14) “The Way of the Warrior”
DS9, Season 4, Episodes 1 & 2
Akira Kurosawa reportedly wanted his epic The Seven Samurai to be “entertaining enough to eat.” While this double-sized season opener cannot compete with a signature work by one of the legends of cinema, I maintain that the DS9 team were also on a mission to make something enjoyable and epic. It has major impacts to the overall Star Trek universe in the Klingon Empire withdrawing from the Khitomer Accords. It has wonderful moments between characters such as Quark and Garak’s examination of root beer as an analogy for the Federation. It introduces Worf to Deep Space Nine, where he gets to solidify his status as one of the best characters in all of Trek. In short, this is a sumptuous Star Trek feast.
13) “Balance of Terror”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 14
An exceptional sci-fi treatment of The Enemy Below and a must-see episode of the original series, this installment packs in a lot of origin along with introducing the Romulans to Trek mythology. Gold stars to Mark Lenard, William Shatner, writer Paul Schneider, and director Vincent McEveety.
12) “Redemption” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 4 & 5, Episode 26 & 1
Oh, what a long way we’ve come from season one with Klingons… and Worf. Full of action, intrigue, and more than a little political worldbuilding, this sprawling two-parter about the Klingon Civil War is a great watch giving both Picard and Data a chance to shine.
11) “Journey to Babel”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 10
This adventure goes to eleven as we get diplomatic intrigue, attempted assassinations, and family drama aboard the Enterprise. Writer D.C. Fontana gives us a little bit of everything, including giving McCoy the last word.
TNG, Season 5, Episode 2
Often thought of as TNG’s answer to “Arena,” the simple conceit of the universal translator failing in an interesting way (don’t think about it too hard) gives us a great exploration of first contact and validation for mythology geeks who’ve read the Epic of Gilgamesh.
9) “All Good Things…”
TNG, Season 7, Episode 25 & 26
While I know some find this series finale gave short shrift to the rest of the ensemble –it is a Picard-centric story through and through– I find that ignores what turns out to be an immensely satisfying two-parter, “what if” story, and an altogether pleasing note to end on.
8) “The Devil in the Dark”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 25
One of the most quintessential episodes of the original series which really captures that Trek attitude towards peaceful exploration. There’s great turns especially by Kirk, Spock, and the apprentice bricklayer, McCoy. Mad props to actor and stunt performer Janos Prohaska for making the Horta more than just a weird pizza carpet.
7) “The Best of Both Worlds” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 3 & 4, Episode 26 & 1
The Borg are back and they’re on a mission… which just happens to make for an absolutely riveting adventure. If the second half flags a bit, it’s only because the first half ends with one of the best cliffhangers in all of television history. Stellar all around from the performances to the story to the action.
6) “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 3
Now we’re cooking with stellar gas! The second pilot of the original series is an indulgent slice of space opera, containing all the delights that a spiritual heir to the likes of Forbidden Planet should. If you go in with that in mind, you can get past any awkwardness or velour.
5) “Mirror, Mirror”
TOS, Season 2, Episode 4
Jerome Bixby’s inventive and action-packed story makes for an episode of Trek so iconic, you know it the instant I mention, “Spock’s beard.”
4) “The City on the Edge of Forever”
TOS, Season 1, Episode 28
Look: you knew this was going to be at the top. Everyone cites it. Yes, the 60s melodrama of it all has diminished its impact over the past 50-odd years. Yes, you get better banter between the Enterprise crew in other episodes. However, upon watching it again, it’s still a damn fine single dose of sci-fi that excites audience imaginations full of what-if scenarios to this day.
3) “In the Pale Moonlight”
DS9, Season 6, Episode 19
While Deep Space Nine is justly lauded in its push for serial storylines, the payoffs did not simply involve plots, they involved engaging characters. This episode stands as the epitome of character payoff. We watch Captain Sisko struggle with one of the central premises of the entire series: how do you uphold the ideals of the Federation you are sworn to protect in the face of endless shades of grey? Here, life and death are on the line — and watching Sisko come to terms with the consequence of his choices (or does he?) is unforgettable.
2) “Chain of Command” (Parts I & II)
TNG, Season 6, Episode 10 & 11
Not only does this tense two-parter give just about every single member of the main cast a moment to shine — it also shows us the uncomfortable truth that captains like Ronny Cox’s Jellico can be complete assholes, but are going to still be captains in Starfleet for years to come. Oh, and we have the standoff between Picard and David Warner’s Gul Madred that is one for the ages. Phenomenal.
1) “The Inner Light”
TNG, Season 5, Episode 25
The best Star Trek stories are so often simply great science fiction stories with a strong central premise. Here, the idea of living a lifetime in the space of, oh, let’s say an hour with commercials, is executed so expertly that it never gets old. Thoughtful, haunting, and voted “Most likely to make you stare wistfully into the middle distance” by It’s Dusty In Here magazine.