Sunday, April 23, 2017

Top 50 favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

20. 'Parallels'
Season 7, Episode 11

Hurray, it's a Worf episode! As much as I enjoy Klingon episodes, this one covers something a little darker and more nihilistic -- how we define reality and the random meaningless nature of it. This is a tricky episode that covers a lot of ground and never bogs itself down with filler material. Timelines are crossed, realities are altered, and Worf discovers certain possibilities he had never even considered before that create lasting development with his character.

19. 'The Wounded'
Season 4, Episode 12

In my last post I mentioned how much I enjoy the episodes about war-hungry renegade starship commanders, and this is one of them. In ways, it's the best one, actually. This is also the first time the Cardassians appear on-screen, so it's a really important episode to the series for that reason alone. There are moral complexities all over in this episode, which doesn't allow for any easy answers. It's pretty close to a perfect example of great Star Trek.

18. 'A Matter Of Time'
Season 5, Episode 9

I really do love episodes revolving around the prime directive and other things similar to it in nature. In this episode, the aforementioned "nature" actually involves time-travel and the hesitation surrounding revealing facts that might alter the timeline. It's a geniusly crafted story that forces Picard to second-guess himself. Considering how strong of a character he is, this is a rare thing. Also, the ending reveal is pretty great and very satisfying.

17. 'Ship In A Bottle'
Season 6, Episode 12

The sequel to one of the most well-loved classic episodes of the earlier seasons, this episode finds Moriarty back to his old nefarious ways when he realizes the time he spent in the ship's memory wasn't being utilized to his liking. The results are a total mindtrip, which never ceases to twist and turn at every step in incredibly satisfying and intriguing ways. This is one of the most clever episodes of the series, and packs an emotional punch as well.

16. 'Sarek'
Season 3, Episode 23

Sarek is one of my all-time favorite Trek characters (main characters aside, I'd consider him my #1), and getting to see him again was a source of great joy for me. And when you consider his mental state in this episode, it was all the more emotional for me. Watching Sarek lose himself is tragic. Mark Lenard's performance was incredible, with Patrick Stewart handling his own tricky material here so well it manages to elevate both Picard and Sarek as complex and compelling characters.

15. 'Lessons'
Season 6, Episode 19

I've said it before, but I'm a total sucker for a good romance, and with Picard being possibly my favorite of all Star Trek characters, watching his budding romance with a crew member could have easily been disastrous, but the results were surprisingly beautiful. This is a sweet, charming, and touching episode focused on a character I love being able to open up in ways he'd never really done before. It's a sappy pick, but I don't care. I love the crap out of this episode.

14. 'Disaster'
Season 5, Episode 5

Yeah, okay, this is another episode I love because I love Picard and seeing Picard do un-Picard-y things just makes him all the more wonderful of a character. He starts off the show practically hating children (to an almost comedic level), but thanks to Wesley he slowly develops a tolerance and eventual soft spot for them, and this one was the tipping point. Pair that with the intense nature of the episode and creative uses of each character on the ship, and you've got yourself a fantastic thriller.

13. 'The Drumhead'
Season 4, Episode 21

It's almost ridiculous how much I love Picard episodes, but what can I say? Picard is the man. And this is one of his all-time great moments, as he stands up for what is right regardless of the risks to his life and career within Starfleet. Picard in a courtroom is always incredible, and watching him defy his superiors in favor of the truth makes for compelling material. Power corrupts, and the witch-hunt in this episode is a terrifying example of that.

12. 'The Offspring'
Season 3, Episode 16

One of the few Star Trek episodes that actively made me cry, this is one of the best Data episodes, as well as (obviously) one of the most emotionally powerful stories in the entire franchise. Data creates himself a daughter who he teaches how to behave and imparts his knowledge and wisdom on, which leads Starfleet command to attempt to take her from him in an effort to expand her knowledge and experiences. The final scene between Data and his daughter gutted me.

11. 'The Measure Of A Man'
Season 2, Episode 9

Another fantastic Data episode this one focusing on something that's both horrifying and difficult -- is Data a life form or just a machine? It's impossible not to love Data, but when a court case (which forces a distraught Riker to oppose Data's side) examines whether he should be given the right to choose his own path or be treated as an object belonging to Starfleet, we're rocked to question morality, rights, and what it really means to be alive. Also, Picard gets to be in a courtroom. Pure gold.

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