My 10 Favorite Episodes of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
From 1987 to 1994, ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ told the story of a new Starship Enterprise and a new crew set some 70 years after the original series.
At first, I wasn’t sold at all on the notion of a new Star Trek television series. It took me a long time to get into the original series because it seemed so dated by the time I did get into it. But once I did, I was hooked, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to learn a whole new cast.
After the first few episodes, which improved drastically from the painfully-slow two-hour premiere episode, I quickly found plenty to like in the new Enterprise.
Here are my picks for the 10 best episodes of the series:
1. ‘All Good Things…’
The two-part finale of this series was probably one of the all-time best series finales I’d ever seen. It pulled together old characters and storylines and forecast the future while forcing Capt. Jean-Luc Picard to race against time to save all three time periods at once. The beautiful poker game scene at the end was a tear-jerker of a final nod.
2. ‘Cause and Effect’
This is one of the most maddening episodes of any series I’ve ever seen. But it’s also a very clever tale that makes perfect sense once you realize what’s happening. It begins with what seems like a normal night aboard the ship, complete with senior officers playing poker, when a sudden anomaly in space produces a second starship that crashes into one of the Enterprise’s rear nacelles, causing a warp core breach that destroys the ship. All of this happens in the prologue, then the opening sequence plays and you’re thinking, “How can there be a show? They just destroyed the ship and crew! After the commercial, Act I begins with the exact same sequence, but with slight alterations as the crew slowly experience feelings of déjà vu. Act I ends with the ship being destroyed…again. I lost track of how many times the ship is blown up before the clues finally come together, allowing the crew to escape the loop. But once you get past the shock, it’s a highly-satisfying episode.
The crew discovers a ship with an active transporter beam that contains a person’s image. When the beam is activated, it’s none other than Capt. Montgomery Scott, the chief engineer of Capt. James T. Kirk’s Enterprise from the original series. Scotty has been trapped in the transporter beam for 75 years when he was forced to crash-land his shuttle bay on a mysterious space object. Now Scotty, who was a master of the technology of his day, faces an enormous struggle in adapting to 75 years of technological advancement.
4. ‘Half a Life’
Counsellor Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana, falls in love with a scientist racing to save his people from extinction. But he tells her they have no future, because his society requires people who reach a certain age must commit suicide.
5. ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’
The appearance of a previous ship bearing the name Enterprise causes a rift in the timeline, and with it, the reappearance of security officer Tasha Yar who had been killed off. But Guinan’s ability to perceive that something is wrong leads her to help the crew make things right again.
Lt. Worf returns from a Klingon competition only to realize reality is shifting across parellel universes. An attack on the ship suddenly dumps many more alternative realities into the mix, and Worf must act quickly to return to the right one.
7. ‘The Best of Both Worlds’
Capt. Picard is captured by the menacing Borg, leaving Commander Will Riker to go into battle against his captain before the Borg can take over Earth.
8. ‘I, Borg’
The crew rescues an injured Borg crewmember who they nickname “Hugh.” Hugh begins to show signs of individuality, and though he must return to his ship, there’s a last-second glance that his individuality may cause major problems for his ship when he returns.
Spock’s father, Ambassador Sarek, is preparing for a difficult diplomatic mission as he begins to show signs of a mental illness that threatens the mission.
10. ‘The Inner Light’
A mysterious energy beam knocks Picard unconscious and transports him into the life of a man who lived on a now-extinct world.
Those are my 10 episodes.