My own take on some great moments in Star Trek history.
Feel free to comment on my list or TV Guides’ List (preview)
Great Moments in Star Trek
Mind you these aren’t the greatest, but they certainly are memorable
and some of my personal favorites.
"Balance of Terror"
Original Airdate: Dec. 15, 1966
Production Number: Ninth
There are so many precedents set in this episode, they can be difficult to
count. The famous Star Trek "Wedding Speech" starts the episode off
(and is then repeated in virtually every series since). We also get our first
peek at Romulans, Warbirds, and Cloaking Devices.
The setting of the episode is cramped and tense as the Enterprise and
the warbird play cat and mouse. When the Enterprise taps into a video
display inside the Romulan ship, they discover they look identical to Vulcans.
This sets off one crewman’s hatred of Romulans and focuses it directly at Commander
As the battle rages on, the Enterprise manages to gain an upper hand
thanks to Spock’s quick work (which also save the bigoted crewman). The warbird’s
captain, unwilling to be captured, self-destructs his ship. But not before admitting
to Kirk that, in another time and place, the two of them might have been friends.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
"The Measure of a Man"
Original Airdate: Feb. 13, 1989
Production Number: 135 (35th episode made)
I could summarize the entire episode (heck, I could reprint the entire script),
but it wouldn’t be the same. The real meat to the episode is the acting. Patrick
Stewart and Jonathan Frakes going to toe-to-toe over whether or not Data is
a sentient being is a real treat.
The plot revolves around a Starfleet Captain Bruce Maddox’s desire to create
more androids like Data. To do so, he needs to disassemble the one and only
Data, but may not be able to put him back together again. Data, of course, refuses
starting a debate (and legal battle) surrounding Data’s rights. Is he property
or a living being. Being short-staffed, Riker must reluctantly assume the role
of the claimant, pitting him against his friend and commanding officer Picard.
What follows are intense speeches, rapid dialogue, and a victorious ending.
One standout moment shows us Riker simply switching Data "off" going
limp like a rag doll. Harsh stuff which only helps the tension level in the
story go up yet another notch.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"In the Pale Moonlight"
Original Airdate: April. 15, 1998
Production Number: 543 (143rd episode made)
Desperate to bring the Romulans into the war with the Dominion, Capt. Sisko
approaches the only one he can trust for some "under-the-table" dealings,
Told in flashback from Sisko’s perspective as he narrates his log, and appears
to be talking to us. His demeanor and seething self-hatred is apparent from
the get-go, so we are drawn in to see what, exactly, has transpired. The follows
Sisko as he deals with a counterfeiter (whom he has to save from the Klingons
who’ve ordered his execution) to make a holodeck program to convince a Romulan
Senator that the Dominion is planning to attack them.
Exchanges between Sisko and various people (Garak, the counterfeiter, the Senator,
and even the audience) show how this "simple plan" dissolves into
lies, stealing, and eventually murder when the Senator leave, unconvinced of
the hologram’s authenticity, is killed when his shuttle explodes (and implicating
the Dominion in the process).
Sisko confront the former Cardassian spy to find out that his plan all along
was to assassinate the Senator since he knew the forged evidence wouldn’t stand
up to scrutiny. Sisko, disgusted with himself, realizes that the Romulans are
now in the war, and all it cost was the life of a Romulan Senator and the self-respect
of one Starfleet officer. A small price to pay he reasons…and then deletes
the log entry he just narrated.
[Sidenote: This is the only one of my picks to appear in this week’s TV Guide
Tribute. Oh well.]
Star Trek: Voyager
Original Airdate: Mar. 3, 1999
Production Number: 213 (113th episode made)
Beginning with a surprise (Tom and B’Lenna’s marriage), the episode quickly
shifts into high-speed with numerous technical problems popping up all over
the ship. Then dozens of crewmen, including Tom’s new bride, fall ill. The Doctor
races against time to cure the crew, but finds it’s a losing battle as his technical
systems break down as well.
We are left with a solution, towards the middle of the episode, that this is
not the crew, but rather a crew of duplicates created by the bio-memetic lifeforms
from the episode "Demon."
As their molecular cohesion fails, they race to build a beacon (made of real
material) to record their data findings so their mission won’t be in vane.
The probe fails, and as Kim attempts an quick jump to warp, the ship disintegrates
just before the real Voyager arrives, only to find a debris field. Oblivious
to the actual events, Janeway makes a note in the log and Voyager continues
its long journey home.
What was most standout about this episode was the finale, with its dark and
sad ending. It’s not a feeling we get a lot in Star Trek, and I applaud the
writers for having the courage to end the story on this note. It keeps us wonder
what else we may be missing in the world around us.