I really should write the intros before I do the rest of the post, because now I don't want to write anything. I'm tired.
30. 'Unification', Parts I & II
Season 5, Episodes 7 & 8
I can think of two great reasons to love this two-part episode: Spock and Sarek. Those two major components aside, this is a solid double episode with some good twists and character moments, but really, it's the appearances by thowe two that make this one stand out so much. I'm a simple guy, and that means I love me some Spock, with Sarek being among my favorites as well, so getting to see them again was a huge treat. Spock, Picard, and Data all in the same room together? Pure magic.
Season 4, Episode 7
I've mentioned before that K'Ehleyr is one of my favorite Klingons, and this episode helped solidify that claim, as the sequel to the season 2 episode 'The Emissary'. This time, she brings along a little friend and certain events that take place during the episode help shape Worf's character over the next several seasons. It's a pretty powerful episode filled with plenty of Klingon treachery and violence.
28. 'Frame Of Mind'
Season 6, Episode 21
One of the most cerebral episodes, Riker finds himself going crazy while preparing for a play he's starring in about someone who's going crazy. All in all, it's pretty crazy. The attention to detail and awe some editing in this episode help it stand out, and even though you can already predict the ending in certain ways (SPOILER: he isn't actually crazy), the presentation and writing is top notch and would have functioned just as well in the Twilight Zone.
Season 1, Episode 24
The second-to-last (and my favorite) episode of the first season. There's a real sense of danger in this episode, which is a rarity for this show, and the body horror elements here are pretty awesome. It's one of the first episodes in the series that was built on plot points established in a previou episodes, and the payoff is pretty great. It's a simple enough body-snatcher story that just works. I think it should've been the season finale.
26. 'The Pegasus'
Season 7, Episode 12
Terry O'Quinn is awesome. I loved him during the redeemable seasons of Lost and he was incredibly creepy and intense The Stepfather, but apart from those roles, this might be my next favorite of his. I love episodes that focus on renegade war-hungry starship commanders, and this is one of the best ones. A great set-up and payoff, it's all wrapped in a tight story that keeps things moving forward and challenges the characters.
25. 'The Defector'
Season 3, Episode 10
And this is almost the opposite, story-wise, focusing on a renegade peace-hungry Romulan bent on preventing a war -- or so it seems. Star Trek has always been full of mysteries, and this is one of the most difficult of them all in a judicial sort of way. Is he being honest or deceptive? You're never quite certain until the end, which is one of the best finales in the series. James Sloyan is amazing in this one, giving one of the best one-off performances in the show.
24. 'Data's Day'
Season 4, Episode 11
Are you ready for one of the boldest statements you'll ever see? I really like Data. I know, mindblowing stuff. So, naturally, an episode focused almost solely on Data as he serves as a sort of marriage mediator, attempts to learn how to dance, and does other adorable Data-y things is pretty fun to watch. If there were any episode I would point to as a way to describe Data to someone, it would be this. And that's definitely a compliment.
23. 'Cause And Effect'
Season 5, Episode 18
Repetition is a key component to this episode, as the crew of the Enterprise begin to notice something is strange when they experience the same events over and over leading to the destruction of their ship. Time loops can easily be done poorly, but when they work they can make for a great story, which is exactly the case here. It's a blast to watch unfold (both literally and figuratively) with each go-through adding to the sense of peril and mystery.
22. 'Who Watches The Watchers'
Season 3, Episode 4
The prime directive is serious business, and this is one of the best examples of how tricky it can be to follow. When Dr. Crusher saves the life of an undeveloped Vulcan-like man, he returns to the surface of his planet with vague recollections of what he witnessed aboard the Enterprise, leading to religious paranoia, and complete social deconstruction. It's almost infuriating to watch, but oh so believable and realistic.
Season 6, Episode 15
Heyyy, it's a Q episode! This time he's in Picard's afterlife following an accident involving his artificial heart, as he provides Picard with the opportunity to re-live and affect changes to his life that might prevent his impending heart failure. It's an It's A Wonderful Life-esque setup that doesn't feel annoying or gimmicky like it easily could have been. Instead it's a thoughtful and somewhat profound episode that shows the importance of risk-taking and the wildness of youth.