Friday, April 14, 2017

Top 50 favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, part 2

I've already talked about how much I love Star Trek: TNG. So let's not waste any more time and get on with the list.

Part 1 (#50 - 41) can be found here.

40. 'Relics'
Season 6, Episode 4

I love a little splash of nostalgia as much as the next mouth-breather, and beyond Unification, this is easily the next best episode in the series to satisfy it. If anything this episode served as a reminder to why Scotty was so much more interesting to watch than Geordi, as he brought a lot more life to his role than the nerdy black guy with space goggles. Still, I like Geordi, and watching these two work together was great fun.

39. 'A Matter Of Honor'
Season 2, Episode 8

The first (and only, if I recall correctly) time in which a Star Fleet officer serves aboard a Klingon vessel in TNG, and they couldn't have picked a better guy for the job than Riker. Watching him learn from and teach the Klingons is subtle, and the final standoff in the episode brings it all together in an appropriately intense way. Despite their treaty, there is an inherent mistrust between these two peoples, and this is a great episode to illustrate that.

38. 'Gambit', Parts I & II
Season 7, Episodes 4 & 5

A fun archeological pirate mystery two-parter that seems to go largely ignored by most people, and I can't imagine why. I thought this episode(s) was a blast, filled with backstabbing, double-crossing, piratey goodness. Picard and Riker's interactions in this episode are fantastic, as they use their familiarity as a tool to deceive and manipulate in all sorts of ways. It's clever, fun, and much more adventurous than most episodes in the show.

37. 'The Chase'
Season 6, Episode 20

Another archeology episode (hurray for Space Indy!), this one a little less fun and more tense. When several species are forced to work together to discover the secrets of what might be an important technical discovery, the backstabbing nature of various groups come to the surface. While the results of their venture may be seen as profound to some, it is a profound disappointment to others. The ending inspires hope for the future, and it's quite lovely.

36. 'Skin Of Evil'
Season 1, Episode 22

In what might be one if the greatest things to ever happen in Star Trek this episode murdered the crap out of one of its least interesting lead characters and gave their death no meaning whatsoever. While this is rectified later (unbeknownst to the crew), it was still a tricky move and worked quite well. The creature in this episode has an awesome look, and the lack of any sort of moral lesson found here makes it all the more intriguing. One of the very best episodes of season 1.

35. 'Preemptive Strike'
Season 7, Episode 24

The penultimate episode of the series, and one that worked remarkably well as a send-off for one of the best character additions of the final few seasons, Ro Laren. Unlike the (failed) attempt to give Wesley a sense of purpose in his final episode, this one hit all the emotional points required. This is a powerful episode that demonstrates the importance of following your own path and doing what you feel is right, even at risk of alienating your friends -- it sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, but trust me, it's way better than that.

34. 'Remember Me'
Season 4, Episode 5

Beverly Crusher was never the most interesting character in the show and had some pretty dumb episodes focused on her, but this one is a huge exception. It's a bit of a slow-burn, but the rapid escalation near the final third and the gradual way the story is revealed makes for a really great episode. Beverly is the star here, and her desperation and urgency comes through here quite well. Gates McFadden probably gives her best performance in this episode.

33. 'Half A Life'
Season 4, Episode 22

I said it in the last post, but I really am not a fan of Lwaxana Troi. She's annoying. But Majel Barrett is a pretty solid actress, and watching her struggle to keep the man she's fallen for by her side and prevent his impending ritualistic suicide is pretty tragic. This is the first episode she appears in where I felt more for her than just aggravation or embarrassment, as it opened her up in a way like never before. Powerful stuff.

32. 'Clues'
Season 4, Episode 14

I love mysteries, and surprise surprise, the episode titled 'Clues' sets up a pretty great one. Some of the best stories in the show are self-contained and conclude without anyone knowing what's just happened (apart from a select few people), and this is one that follows in with that tradition. Focusing on Data and an occurrence that left the rest of the crew of the Enterprise incapacitated for an indeterminate length of time, this story unfolds brilliantly as it slowly reveals itself like the episodic equivalent of a stripper.

31. 'Deja Q'
Season 3, Episode 13

Q is another character I have trouble with. Part of me thinks he's obnoxious and sends the show to a screeching halt with his arrival, but the other part of me acknowledges this is his purpose and enjoys the silliness of the character. And this is the episode that made me finally like him. This is among the funniest episodes in the show, with one line in particular making me cackle out loud for about a minute solid. Watching Q struggle as a human is always fun, and not just because he deserves to be mocked.

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