Hello one and all and welcome to another top 10 list. Today I will be looking at my top 10 favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the greatest science-fiction TV shows of all time. The show follows the adventures of the USS Enterprise, captained by Jean-Luc Picard as it deals with alien species, internal conflicts, space anomalies, and other dangerous and interesting missions. During the shows run, it transforms from being a crew of Starfleet officers to a family who rely on each other. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a staple of my childhood and a show I hold near to my heart. So, let us get into my top 10 favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
S1 E24 “Conspiracy”
Conspiracy is one of the best episodes of the entire show, but it is definitely a strange one. It opens with a group of four Starfleet captains meeting under cover and secretly. Why did they meet? To tell Captain Picard that they believe that the highest echelons of Starfleet command have been compromised and they think that earth and the federation as a whole is at risk. Picard at first doesn’t believe them, until the other three captains and their ships get destroyed by Starfleet ships. Picard goes back to earth where he realises that the admirals have been taken over by an alien bug that controls their minds. Picard and his second in command, Riker deal with the issue and ultimately save the Federation.
The reason I love this episode is because Starfleet is always seen as being squeaky clean and that they could do no wrong. So when you see a possible conspiracy, even to the point where they are destroying their own ships, it made me pay attention. I also liked the fact that an alien species made it all the way to the top of Starfleet command and almost destroying Starfleet from within. Overall, I think it is a fantastic episode. The only problem is, you never hear or see about those aliens again.
S2 E9 “The Measure of a Man”
This is one of those episodes that explores the concept of what does it mean to be human, which is one of my favourite concepts that come up from time to time in Star Trek. Data, an android, one of the most advanced pieces of technology in the galaxy is also a valued member of the Enterprise crew. One of his main goals is to learn what it means to be human.
A Starfleet officer named Commander Maddox is trying to replicate Data, as he believes that every Starfleet ship should have a “data” model. Maddox has come close on his own, but he can’t seem to get it just right. Finally, he realises that he needs to find out what makes Data, Data. To do this, Data needs to be disassembled and dissected, which Data refuses. Maddox explains to Data that he is property of Starfleet and he has no rights. This causes Picard to get involved and defend Data in a court room to prove that Data counts as a lifeform and he deserves to live. Picard eventually wins and Data is now recognised as a lifeform in the Federation and in doing so, he has rights.
S3 E3 “The Survivors”
This is one of those episodes that makes you feel like an ant and I will tell you why. The Enterprise goes to a Federation colony that was recently attacked but they find that they are too late and everyone has been killed, everyone except for an elderly couple who seem to be living in paradise in their home. The Enterprise crew offer to take the couple away from the planet, but they refuse. The crew are perplexed because there is nothing left on the planet except for the couple. Suddenly the Enterprise is under attack by an unknown race who escape. The ship returns, but Picard tells the Enterprise to leave orbit, as he is suspicious that something is going on. The Enterprise returns again to find that the home is destroyed, and the alien ship is still in orbit. The Enterprise destroys the alien ship easily, a little too easily and Picard waits in high orbit. To his surprise, the house reappears. Enough is enough. Picard has the couple brought on board and it is explained that the man is actually a supreme being who fell in love with a human who was caught in the attack and killed. In his anger, and with the use of his mind he wiped the race that attacked the colony from existence and killed 50 billion people in a single stroke. In his shame, he chose to exile himself and bring back the woman who he loved, in spirit. Picard leaves the man with his illusion and issues a warning to any ships not to visit the planet.
I love this episode because it has a nice story of pure love that a man had for his wife. It also showed that in the galaxy there are beings that we should never, ever mess around with. I know you’ve seen Q long before this, but Q is more of a comedic character that sometimes poses a danger. I didn’t find anything funny about this being. Also, it has a conscience and it was actually ashamed of itself that it let itself get so angry that it wiped out an entire race with a click of its fingers. A horrifying thought in my book.
S3 E10 “The Defector”
This was an excellent episode. A Romulan captain is on the run from a Romulan Warbird and requests amnesty with the Federation. The captain, Setal, came with information that the Romulans were gearing up for an invasion of the Federation. Setal refused to give up his evidence though, which made Picard sceptical of Setal’s claims. Setal eventually said that there was a secret base that the Romulans built in the neutral zone, a demilitarised zone between the Federation and Romulan empire. This base was to be a staging area for the invasion, but Picard wasn’t about to cross into the neutral zone on a baseless claim. Setal explained that he will never be able to go home or see his family ever again and that he risked it all to be there. Picard takes a chance and trusts him and flies to the planet which ends up being a barren planet, but it ended up being a trap and the Enterprise came under attack from the Romulans who explained that they thought that Setal was a traitor but they wanted to prove it. Picard was ready though and three Klingon Birds of Prey decloaked and the Romulans left. Setal, knowing he could never go home and faced with the fact that he was a traitor, he ends up committing suicide.
This was a fantastic episode and it showed that even though the Federation and Romulans were enemies, there could be some trust if they just worked at it. It also showed Picard to be a fair man and to give the benefit of the doubt when the chips were down. It also showed the ruthlessness and dangers that the Romulan empire posed and how far they were willing to go. It is definitely one of my favourite episodes.
Season 3 Episode 15 “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
This is one of the most important episodes in the entire Star Trek franchise. If this episode didn’t happen then the Federation would no longer exist. While exploring, the Enterprise D comes across a temporal rift. A Federation ship comes through the rift which changes the Enterprise bridge which becomes darker, the uniforms become more militaristic and the most important change? Tasha Yar is back on the bridge, a character that died in season 1. The ship that came through the rift also had an interesting name, Enterprise…Enterprise C to be exact.
One of the characters on the D called Guinan was the only one who knew something was different in this timeline and she felt that something was wrong. You see, in this new timeline, the Federation is at war with the Klingon empire and they are losing…badly. So badly that Picard believes that in 6 months the Federation will lose. They figure out that the Enterprise C and Tasha Yar shouldn’t be in this timeline and in fact the Enterprise C should have been destroyed while trying to save a Klingon colony from a Romulan attack. The Klingon empire thought it was such an honourable act that it lead to a peace treaty and alliance with the Federation. The Enterprise C accepted their place in history and so did Tasha Yar. She joined the Enterprise C crew to go back through the temporal rift and sacrifice themselves for the good of the Federation. Suddenly, everything went back to normal.
I thought it was an interesting episode as I LOVE alternative history storylines and it was fascinating seeing what could have become of the Federation if the brave crew of the Enterprise C didn’t do what they did. This is Star Trek firing on all engines, I loved it. Also, it was great seeing Denise Crosby back as Tasha Yar.
S3E26 “Best of Both Worlds”
Ah the Borg, one of the scariest enemies in the Star Trek universe. With their need to assimilate all other races and turn them into zombified drones, it is a fate worse than death. So, in a previous episode, the Enterprise was flung into the delta quadrant by Q to prove to them that they weren’t ready to be in space. The Enterprise encounters the Borg and Q saves them with a warning that now the Borg know about the Federation, the Borg will be coming. So, the Borg come to the alpha quadrant, kidnap Picard and turn him into a Borg drone named Locutus and destroy everything around them. The Federation try to stop them in what was to be known as the Battle of Wolf 359 when 40 Starfleet ships try to stop 1 Borg cube. The Borg cube defeats all the Starfleet ships bar 1. The Enterprise was late to the battle and they showed up to see the graveyard of Starfleet ships. The Borg cube continues to earth. The Enterprise rescues Locutus and Data accesses Locutus’s mind through a neural link. Through this, Data was able to send a protocol for the Borg cube to go to “sleep”. The Borg cube shuts down its weapons and shields and through a feedback loop it destroys itself. Locutus was saved and reverted back to Picard and earth was safe…for now. This is one of my favourite episodes as I love space battles and I loved seeing the awesome power of the Borg. The torture that Picard goes through has an effect on him throughout the rest of the show and I feel that the writing was fantastic.
This is an interesting episode as it is more like a family drama than a true episode of Star Trek. This is about Picard trying to get over the guilt he had while he was Locutus of Borg and the amount of people he killed while he commanded the Borg. Picard goes back to his family home in France. His brother, Robert runs a vineyard with his wife and son. Robert isn’t so happy to see his brother back, as he feels that Picard abandoned the family to go and be in Starfleet. Picard and Robert argue a lot until Picard finally breaks and tells Robert all about the guilt that he feels and how is he finding it hard to live with himself. Robert makes up with his brother and Picard learns to deal with his guilt and returns to being a Starfleet captain.
I really liked this episode because I liked seeing Picard dealing with the psychological horror of once being a Borg. I’m glad that the writers didn’t just brush all the trauma under the rug. I also liked seeing some of Picard’s backstory as he is usually a man who plays his hand really close to his chest and very rarely lets anyone in. It was a very good episode.
5.19 The First Duty
This was a fantastic episode as it really delved into what it means to be a Starfleet officer at heart. Dr Beverly Crusher and Picard go to Starfleet academy back on earth to visit Beverly’s son, Wesley who is hoping to become a Starfleet officer. While there, the best Starfleet cadets, including Wesley put on an air show where an accident happens and one of the cadets die. The Starfleet cadets wanted to put on a real show for the crowd and attempted a banned maneuver that previously resulted in all the cadets dying. The cadets attempted to cover up the fact that they used this banned maneuver, but Picard knew something was wrong and confronted Wesley. Under duress, Wesley confessed which resulted in Picard lecturing Wesley about what it means to be a Starfleet officer. Wesley was given an ultimatum, either he tells Starfleet or Picard will. Wesley eventually tells Starfleet and the leader of the cadets, Nicholas Locarno admits he told the cadets to do it. He is expelled and the rest of the cadets lose their flight privileges and all their academic credits for that year.
I really like this episode because it shows the honour and pride that a true Starfleet officer has. Picard wasn’t about to allow these cadets to tarnish everything he believes in when it comes to Starfleet and their duties as cadets and he wasn’t going to let them get away with it. It was a tough lesson for Wesley and the rest, but it was one that needed to be learned.
6.10/6.11 Chain of Command
I like episodes where things get changed up. Picard, Crusher and Worf are sent on a secret mission by Starfleet, so a new captain gets brought onboard to take over the Enterprise. This new captain’s name is Jellico and while he respects the chain of command, he expects things to be done his way and that is it. He has very little respect for the opinions of people who are under him. Picard sets out on his mission and Jelleco rules the Enterprise with an iron fist which clashes with Riker. Picard’s mission is to sneak into Cardassian space, an alien species that the Federation have had problems with from time to time and check out claims that they are making weapons. The Federation enlist the help of the Ferengi, a greedy race that have also had problems with the Federation to sneak them into Cardassian space. The Ferengi freak out and start to accuse Picard of being a spy. Crusher charms the Ferengi and they stand down.
7.25 All good things
The final episode of a show can be a hit or a miss and for me, this was a hit. Picard’s mind is caught going through three different timelines, one in the past when Picard first commands the Enterprise, the second is in the present during TNG’s run and the third is twenty five years in the future. This is all another trial by Q who reveals that there is a spacial anomaly that exists in all three timelines and eventually it would stop humanity from ever evolving unless Picard can figure out what is causing the problem. Picard eventually figures out the problem, to which Q congratulates him and says that Picard has proven that humanity can still evolve and allows the Enterprise to continue on its journey.
I thought that this was a nice send off to a fantastic series. The writers paid tribute to the past, present and future, showing us what could be in the future of a story that for all intents and purposes is over. The stories were all interesting and I thought it was a nice touch that they went back to the first episode but told a a different story with it. It was bittersweet as I didn’t want to see the end of all these characters that I enjoyed watching, but I was glad to have such a great show that had a big impact on my life.
So, that’s the end of my top 10 Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. I hope you enjoyed and as always, thank you for reading.