TALKIN’ ‘BOUT NEXT GEN­ER­A­TION

From ‘10 For­ward’ to ‘Num­ber One’, we present the de­fin­i­tive top ten episodes of Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion

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Fol­low­ing the iconic Star Trek was never go­ing to be an easy task, and The Next Gen­er­a­tion cer­tainly had a rocky start (ev­i­denced by the lack of any Sea­son one episodes on this list). Yet, Pi­card and the crew of the en­ter­prise-d did the im­pos­si­ble, redefin­ing the fran­chise with sci­en­tific thought ex­per­i­ments, so­cial com­men­tary ga­lore, and more holodeck episodes that you can shake a phaser at. So grab a cup of tea, earl grey, hot, and let’s count down the best TNG has to of­fer. en­gage!

10

Darmok (SEA­SON 5, EP 2) “Darmok and Jalad at tana­gra!” oft touted as one of TNG’S most ac­com­plished episodes, ‘Darmok’ sees Pi­card stranded on alien planet, try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with a po­ten­tially hos­tile alien com­pan­ion. nail­ing cul­ture clash while giv­ing us time­less quotes, ‘Darmok’s con­cept may seem dry, yet it re­mains grip­ping to the last minute. Also, a race that com­mu­ni­cates ex­clu­sively in cul­tural ref­er­ences? ‘Darmok’ all but pre­dicted mod­ern meme cul­ture.

9

QPID (SEA­SON 4, EP 20) A fit­ting episode for TNG’S 4/20, ‘Qpid’ sees ever-ir­ri­tat­ing om­nipo­tent, Q, match­make Pi­card with his old flame, Vash. it’s dif­fi­cult to pick just one Q episode for a spot in the top ten, as the ma­ni­a­cal god­like was al­ways a hoot. But with the en­tire se­nior staff roped into his game of Robin hood, ’Qpid’ is the stand­out — and not just be­cause it gave worf the im­mor­tal line, “i protest. i am not a merry man!” which, hon­estly, sums up his en­tire char­ac­ter arc.

8

relics (SEA­SON 6, EP 4) Flung decades out of time, long-lost Scotty (James Doohan) re­turns to a gal­axy he barely recog­nises. the stal­wart Scot gives it all he’s got in men­tor­ing geordi, re­sult­ing in a poignant tale of what each gen­er­a­tion can learn from the other. And if you don’t tear up as Scotty mourns his friends on the bridge of the holodeck-recre­ated ncc-1701, then as Mc­coy might have said, you’re noth­ing but a pointy-eared hob­gob­lin.

7

i, Borg (SEA­SON 5, EP 23) con­fronted with an adorable Borg drone named hugh, Pi­card has to deal with last­ing trauma from his own ten­ure among the col­lec­tive. thanks to a lit­tle help from sooth­say­ing bar­keep guinan (whoopi gold­berg), he ul­ti­mately makes the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion not to use hugh to kill all Borg in one fell swoop — a pro­posal that throws up all man­ner of moral ques­tions about the ‘utopian’ Fed­er­a­tion. it’s a good job too, as oth­er­wise Voy­ager would never have been blessed by Seven of nine. which is clearly the most egre­gious con­se­quence of Starfleet com­mit­ting geno­cide...

6

THE OUT­CAST (SEA­SON 5, EP 17) Af­ter years of Star Trek avoid­ing the ques­tion of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, ‘The Out­cast’ acts as a touch­stone for queer and trans­gen­der rights. As Riker con­tin­ues his quest to se­duce ev­ery alien in the gal­axy, we are in­tro­duced to Soren of the J’naii, an an­drog­y­nous race that con­sid­ers gen­der iden­tity as de­viance. But here’s the rub: Soren has al­ways con­sid­ered her­self to be fe­male. Lay­ing track for Deep Space Nine’s Jadzia Dax and Dis­cov­ery’s Lt Stamets, The Out­cast was a ground­break­ing episode in a more re­stric­tive era of tele­vi­sion.

5

CHAIN OF COM­MAND (SEA­SON 6, EPS 10 & 11) When Pi­card, Crusher, and Worf go un­der­cover to keep up with the Car­das­sians, the ven­er­a­ble cap­tain is cap­tured and tor­tured al­most to break­ing point. Trek’s dark­est, most un­flinch­ing episode to date, ‘Chain Of Com­mand’ fea­tures a stel­lar per­for­mance from Pa­trick Ste­wart, as Pi­card strug­gles to re­tain his free­dom of thought (“There... are... four… lights!”). Mean­while, Troi fi­nally gets out of those cleav­age-scoop­ing civvies.

4

LOWER DECKS (SEA­SON 7, EP 15) In TNG’S fi­nal sea­son, ‘Lower Decks’ in­tro­duced us to an en­dear­ing gang of en­signs who just want to get their jobs done with­out the ship al­most blow­ing up ev­ery week. This en­thralling look be­hind the scenes ex­pands our per­cep­tion of the En­ter­prise, as young Sito Jaxa is called upon to un­der­take a dan­ger­ous se­cret mis­sion. Af­ter this episode, we were never able to look at those piles of dead Red­shirts the same way again…

3

YES­TER­DAY’S EN­TER­PRISE (SEA­SON 3, EP 15) What hap­pens to utopia af­ter decades of war? Long be­fore Deep Space Nine and Dis­cov­ery pon­dered this ques­tion, ‘Yes­ter­day’s En­ter­prise’ un­veiled a re­al­ity wherein the Fed­er­a­tion never made peace with the Klin­gons — and only Guinan knows that isn’t the way things are meant to be. Fea­tur­ing the re­turn of much-mourned Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), Pi­card must de­cide whether to ask the crew of the En­ter­prise-c to sac­ri­fice their lives, or re­main in a time­line where 40 bil­lion peo­ple have al­ready died.

2

THE MEA­SURE OF A MAN (SEA­SON 2, EP 19) TNG re­ally came into its own in Sea­son Two, and this episode demon­strated the suc­cess of what would be­come a time-hon­oured tech­nique: shov­ing Pi­card into a court­room and get­ting him to ar­gue his way out. As Data is faced with dis­as­sem­bly, Pi­card has to prove not only that his an­droid crew­man is sen­tient, but that Starfleet shouldn’t build a new race of “dis­pos­able peo­ple”. Thought-pro­vok­ing and dra­matic, ‘The Mea­sure Of A Man’ may be an early TNG episode, but it is one of the en­tire Star Trek fran­chise’s all-time best.

1

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (SEA­SON 3, EP 26 & SEA­SON 4, EP 1) “Mr Worf, fire!” Riker’s com­mand brought Sea­son Three to an abrupt end, with Pi­card as­sim­i­lated by the Borg and un­der fire from his own ship. The re­sult­ing cliffhanger shook the fans, and even Next Gen­er­a­tion haters were des­per­ate to know what would hap­pen next — but that’s not the only rea­son this two-part episode rules the top spot of this, and many other lists. With ex­cel­lent per­for­mances from each cast mem­ber, se­ries-best ac­tion, and a psy­cho­log­i­cally com­plex arc that sent shock­waves through the rest of TNG and laid track for film First Con­tact, re­sis­tance to ‘The Best Of Both Worlds’ is fu­tile.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GEN­ER­A­TION SEA­SONS 1 TO 7 ARE ON NET­FLIX AND AMA­ZON VIDEO

Top left: The Jock and the Ge­ordie. Main: Nice Borg, dead ahead. Bot­tom left: Worf Scar­let and Data Tuck.

Top: Knife-crime was re­ally get­ting out of con­trol in space. Left: Riker: Alien sex fiend.

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