Here they are, my top five favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There not in any particular order because they don’t have to be. These episodes stand to prove this is one of the greatest television series ever created.
Tapestry (Season 6, Episode 15)
This was one of those great “be careful what you wish for” stories. Picard is on his way to a hospital to get his artificial heart serviced because it’s faulty. Wes comes along for the ride, for no real reason other then to give Picard someone to talk to on the way it would seem. Once under the knife there’s a complication and Picard almost dies. During all this Q comes and gives Picard the chance he always “wanted,” another chance to take less risks when he was young. Fast forward to present time and Picard is a lowly ensign who never amounted to anything.
The Measure of a Man (Season 2, Episode 9)
This is a rare gem in a mostly silly season. Measure of a Man is a defining moment for the Data character and poses a slew of questions to the audience on some deep issues. Picard has some amazing monologues in this one in his attempt to prove Data is a sentient being capable of making his own decisions. Commander Bruce Maddox is interesting in that you don’t like him because you’re rooting for Data however you can’t help but feel sorry for him at the same time. The B story here is fun to watch with some history between Picard and Captain Phillipa Louvois, who has is also the judge in the preemptive case for Data’s soul. Awesome episode and really sets the stage for what Data’s all about.
Sins of the Father (Season 3, Episode 17)
I have a thing for character building episodes since the devil is always in the details. Sins of the Father is one of great Klingon episodes that not only gives us some much-needed back story on Worf, but also the Klingon Empire. Klingon Commander Krun shows up on the Enterprise to take over as first officer as part of the Federation-Klingon Officer Exchange Program. As you can already guess he’s a bit uptight for a Federation ship and it’s funny to watch him check everyone on a few occasions. Fast forward a bit and we come to find out Kurn is Worf’s younger brother and has come to ask for Worf’s help in restoring his families honor in the eyes of the Klingon High Consul. We get a great inside look of how the Klingon Empire operates and what honor really means to them. Also, plenty of Klingon fashion on display of you’re into that sort of thing.
Time’s Arrow (Season 5, Episode 26)
Time’s Arrow is yet another time travel-centric Star Trek episode, but it is so good I’ll dismiss the common trope. It starts with the mystery of Data’s head found in an underground cavern in San Francisco. The most confused character is Data himself, who still has his head attached. Long story short Data is caught in a temporal distortion that brings him back to the year 1889. He meets Guinian, who was hanging out in San Francisco at the time (she’s old) and also meets Mark Twain, who starts to get pretty suspicion of Data in general. The pacing of this two parter is great and the fish out of water element of Data in the past is fun to watch. This is a must watch for any Trek fan.
Ship in a Bottle (Season 6, Episode 12)
What if something from the holodeck was smart enough to beat Data? That’s the question that was fed into the thing and no one thought that might cause issues. Following in line with Data’s liking of Sherlock Holmes the holodeck creates a version of the famous villain Professor James Moriarty and he’s just as devious as he is in the books. Moriarty learns he’s part of a computer program and figures out how to tap into the actual ship systems. This episode is awesome for a few reasons. Of course, Moriarty is one of those classic villains that’s great to see in a sci-fi setting but more importantly is what the character learns about himself by being given sentience. He realized he’s not real and confined into a small artificial world. I have a thing for stories about villains that you feel bad for and this follows right along wit that.