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The Twenty Greatest Episodes of Star Trek — Part II!

April 29th, 2009
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Yesterday I began listing the Twenty Greatest Episodes of Star Trek.  (Click here for numbers 20-16).  Let’s continue, shall we?

15. Treachery, Faith, and the Great River (ST:DS9 season 7, episode 6) — The title of this episode sums up everything that DS9 was about — character, faith, and politics.  It’s a small episode, with little of galactic import happening, and yet it is a critical episode nonetheless.  A familiar Vorta offers Odo important information about the Dominion in exchange for Odo’s protection if he defects, and back on the station Nog utilizes all of his Ferengi wiles to help Chief O’Brien track down the equipment he needs to repair the Defiant despite shortages caused by the war.  In this seemingly minor episode, we learn an enormous amount about the cultures, history, and beliefs of the Ferengi and the Vorta, as well as so much about many of DS9′s regular characters.

14. The Measure of a Man (ST:TNG season 2, episode 9) –Not only is this one of the few watchable episodes from Next Gen‘s first two seasons, it is also (as you can see by its inclusion on this list) one of the finest Trek episodes ever crafted.  A Starfleet scientist wants to disassemble Data in order to learn how his positronic brain works, in order for Starfleet to construct more androids like him.  When Data refuses to submit, he is ordered to do so.  What follows is an emotional, thought-provoking examination of what makes someone a sentient being. Is Data a man, or is he a piece of property?  Witness tour-de-force performances by Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart as well as Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan (in one of the best Picard-Guinan scenes of the entire series).

13. The Way of the Warrior (ST:DS9 season 4, episode 1) — After three somewhat uneven seasons, DS9 reinvented itself with this amazing two hour episode that turned the show around and set the stage for the ground-breaking storytelling of seasons 4-7.  The Klingons send an enormous task force into the Bajoran sector, ostensibly to help defend against the Dominion.  But several troubling incidents make clear to Captain Sisko that the Klingons have a hidden agenda.  In order to help him ferret out the truth, Starfleet assigns Worf (without a posting after the destruction of the Enterprise D in Star Trek: Generations) to DS9.  Worf’s discovery tears apart the Federation-Klingon alliance (which had been a centerpiece of the 24th century Trek shows), and leads to what was by far the best sci-fi action sequence ever televised at that time (and still one of the greatest today) in which the Klingon fleet brutally attacks the station.  But the best thing in the whole show?  Well, that would be Garak and Quark talking about root beer.

12. Necessary Evil (ST:DS9 season 2, episode eight) — One of the first episodes that made me sit up and take notice of how amazing DS9 could be.  An incident on the station seems to connect to a murder investigation from years prior that Odo had never solved.  The episode tells parallel stories of Odo’s present-day investigation as well as a series of flashbacks that shed light on life on the station during the terrible years of the Cardassian occupation.  We learn how Odo first stepped into his role as head of station security, and we get to see his first meeting with Kira.  It’s a great character-building episode and also a terrific mystery, suspenseful right up until the brilliant, hauntingly open-ended final scene.

11. The Trouble with Tribbles (Star Trek season 2, episode 15) — This comic romp was, right from its original airing, rightly considered one of the finest hours of the Original Series, and it is also one of the original Trek episodes that holds up the best today.  Kirk and the Enterprise are summoned to Space Station K-7 where they must confront a Klingon plot, a disreputable merchant, poisoned grain, an irate politician, a double agent, and lots and lots of tribbles.  David Gerrold’s sharp, hysterical script is absolute gold — each and every scene is a gem filled with memorable one-liners (such as the results of McCoy’s analysis of the tribbles: “They reproduce at will.  And brother, have they got a lot of will!”).  Special note also goes to William Ansara for his terrific guest-appearance as the Klingon Captain Koloth.

Click here for episodes #10-6!

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