With the completion of Discovery‘s third season, Star Trek as a franchise now has a whopping 801 episodes of television and film. That’s a number that takes into account, The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, Lower Decks, and every film from The Motion Picture to Star Trek Beyond, with still more to come. As with any landmark occasion, this is a time to look back and reflect. So it’s time to hop on that bandwagon and choose my top 1% of Star Trek on the screen. I’m yet to see The Animated Series, Short Treks or Lower Decks, but everything else is fair game. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are eight epsiodes that encasulate my love of Star Trek:
1 – Blink of an Eye (VOY:6×12)
Probably my favourite Star Trek episode of all time, this is the one I’d show to anyone who wnats to know what the show is about. Voyager investigates a planet where passes at an extraoridnary rate, watching it go from a feudal era to the space age over the course of several days. A great sci-fi concept, some nice character work for Seven of Nine and The Doctor, and a guest appearance from Daniel Dae Kim make this epoisode almost flawless.
2 – Twilight (ENT:3×08)
I love the idea of ‘the road not taken,’ and this epsiode is one of the best. A glimpse of a possible future in which the Enterprise crew fail to prevent a second Xindi attack on Earth, this bleak look at a refugee humanity is possibly the best epsiode that ends with ‘but it didn’t really happen.’ The interplay between T’Pol and Archer is at it’s finest,a nd Reed gets a strong look-in too.
3 – Q Who (TNG:2×16)
When Q turns up, you’re in for something special. John de Leancie’s gleeful performances can elevate even the weakest of scripts, and this script is one of the best he has to work with. To illustrate the dangers Starfleet faces, Q throws the Enterprise into a confrontation with a mmysterious enemy: The Borg. The Borg here are at their most terrifying, and it’s a gripping hour os television. Also, Whoopi Goldberg is in it.
4 – The Magnificent Ferengi (DS9:6×10)
Deep Space Nine is usually remembered as the darker, grittier Star Trek, but it was also great at comedy. here, Quark puts together an elite team to rescue his mother when the Dominion capture her. It’s an hour of genuinely laugh-outy-loud hilarity, with endlessly quatable lines and a few genuinely heartfelt moments too. A perfect break between hevaier episodes, this also stars Iggy Pop.
5-6 – In A Mirror, Darkly (ENT:4×18/19)
As Dscovery has shown, the Mirror Universe is an idea that has to be used with caution, but Enterprise‘s two-part crossing is easily my favourite evil counterpart episode. Showing only the Mirror versions of the crew, this two-parter tracks the warship Enterprise as it brings terror to the Galaxy. Two hours of pure entertainment and some great acting from all involved, this epsiode also deserves credit for its tributes to The Original Series with appearances from the Gorn and Tholians.
7 – Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy (VOY: 6×04)
Another episode that shows the fun side of Star Trek, this one has The Doctor’s daydreams causing chaos as he looses the ability to diferentiate between reality and fiction. An opening musical number and some brilliant comedic moments come together for a Robert Picardo masterpiece that isn’t quite as consequence-free as it first appears. Certainly one of Voyager‘s most unusual episodes.
8 – Star Trek: Insurrection (Film 9)
Insurrection is the most Trek of the Next Generation-era films. Though there are phaser-fights and ship-on-ship action, it’s fairly light on explosions, favoruing a more personal drama. With ties to the Dominion War, Insurrection is a morailty play on that timeless question ‘do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?’ Filled with wonder, ethical debates and a smattering of soft jazz, this is what a Star Trek film should look like.