Great Moments in Star Trek

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.

Star Trek

"Balance of Terror"

Original Airdate: Dec. 15, 1966
Production Number: Ninth
Season: First

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
Spock.

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)
Season: Second

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)
Season: Sixth

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,
Garak.

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

"Course: Oblivion"

Original Airdate: Mar. 3, 1999
Production Number: 213 (113th episode made)
Season: Fifth

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.

12 replies on “Great Moments in Star Trek”

  1. ballsmccoy says:

    I disagree – These are the greats
    Star Trek – The Original Series
    “Space Seed”
    The one with Khan, Nuff said
    or
    “I,Mudd”
    The one with the android planet and Harry Mudd

    Star Trek – The Next Generation
    “The Inner Light”
    The one where Captain Pacard lives an entire lifetime connected to a probe, and wakes to find only 25 minutes has gone by.
    or
    “The Best of Both Worlds Part 1&2”
    The one where pacard gets captured by the borg.

    Star Trek – Deep Space 9
    No good episodes, this series was a “career-booster” for thrown-away actors from bad 80’s sitcoms, comedys, and courtroom dramas. Also, a way for certain actors from NextGen to keep a job in Star Trek.

    Star Trek – Voyager
    “Blink of an eye”
    For the most part, this series was a damn soap opera, but there was a good episode. The one where Voyager gets caught up in the atmosphere of this planet where time moves faster for the people on the surface than it does anywhere else and Voyager is worshiped by the people, it spawns an industrial revolution on the planet, they send astronauts to check it out, etc etc. It also didn’t have a contrived cameo from Lt. Barkley or Diana Troy.

    Enterprise
    “Oasis”
    The one where they run across the ship full of “Ghosts” which are really holograms, and there are only two real people living on the ship. Great dialogue. The actress that plays the professors daughter and Trip’s love interest has the perfect build and face if they ever wanted to make a live-action version of Ghost in the Shell.

    • theangrymob says:

      Re: I disagree – These are the greats

      “Inner Light” made TV Guides’ list (#10, I think). And I agree with that decision, powerful stuff.

      I think most people will disagree with your assesment of DS9. Most people who didn’t follow it consistently didn’t get as much as those that did. Call it a failing or a gift, but the show was very serialized and as such certain episodes couldn’t stand on their own, but as part of the greater whole were unbelievable.

      P.S. Kids: Don’t be afraid of using HTML tags and the Preview button. It won’t hurt! Promise.

      • qlerik says:

        Re: I disagree – These are the greats

        “Inner Light” made TV Guides’ list (#10, I think). And I agree with that decision, powerful stuff.

        I think most people will disagree with your assesment of DS9.

        I agree with the Inner Light — I think that is the best of all Trek episodes. I think you’re wrong about “most people” on DS9 though — at least one friend of mine calls it Deep Sleep 9. I agree that the reason is partially because it tended to be serial rather than episodic (though that’s one of the things I liked about it), but the stories in general weren’t as compelling. One strong episode, however, was “IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON”, where DS9 crewmembers enlist the Holodeck character Vic to help Nog deal with losing a leg in battle. That is my favorite DS9 episode, though several of the ones with Garak dealing with his past were quite good as well.

      • theangrymob says:

        Re: I disagree (Correction)

        “Inner Light” made TV Guides’ list (#10, I think).

        Correction: “In The Pale Moonlight” was #10 on TV Guide’s list. “Inner Light” was #5.

    • TechnoGirl says:

      You Forgot….
      DuDe!
      You forgot “The City On The Edge Of Forever”. Great script by Harlan Ellison…wonderful ending….first TV appearance of Joan Collins as Edith Keillor…McCoy flips out on drugs…Kirk has to choose between the life of the women he loves and the fate of the entire world.

      • Dave says:

        Re: You Forgot….

        DuDe!
        You forgot “The City On The Edge Of Forever”. Great script by Harlan Ellison…wonderful ending….first TV appearance of Joan Collins as Edith Keillor…McCoy flips out on drugs…Kirk has to choose between the life of the women he loves and the fate of the entire world.

        If you liked the televised version of the script, check out Harlan’s original version. It’s as much fun for the episode as it is for Harlan’s acidic interpretation of the history surrounding that episode.

        (Short version: Before he died, Gene Roddenberry said things about the episode like “Harlan had Scotty dealing drugs” and that the episode went something like a quarter-million dollars over budget (in the 1960s, when money went a bit further than it does today). Harlan, of course, denies these claims. I won’t pretend to take sides, but Harlan’s version is buckets of fun to read.)

  2. rickyjames says:

    A Forgotten Best Ep…
    I just can’t believe that nobody here or a TV Guide is mentioning one of the GREATS – namely, Chain of Command Parts I and II from ST:TNG Season 6. The more you look at this episode, the better it gets. ST has ALWAYS suffered from the perfect future-happy family-happy ending syndrome, which totally saps away its ability to present drama, which requires conflict between characters and uncertainty of outcome. Chain of Command has conflict and uncertainty in spades and as a two-parter took the time to do justice to both. It’s got ST uber-guest star David Warner (Gul Madred) in one of his best of many ST guest roles, and Ronny Cox does a great job as Jellico too. It’s got the crew whispering in bars about just what’s going on. It’s shows Jellico as a good captain that doesn’t give a damn about bonding with the crew as a family – showing that the two don’t HAVE to go hand in hand. It’s got Riker showing some backbone about something he believes in. It’s got Picard showing his age (and chest), with Bev showing appropriate affection for him, and Worf dealing with failure and being wounded. Its got Data as a competent second in command without humorous android overtones and it gets Troi out of the Seven of Nine / T’Pol cat-suit eye-candy trap once and for all and lets her continue the series as the competent officer she is. It dares to show true darkness – in Ten Forward, in the caves, in the chamber of lights, in the human soul. It dares to present true uncertainty – will Will Jellico retain command in future eps? Riker be permanently demoted? Picard break or die? either leave the series with this as a swan song? If every ST episode had this level of conflict, uncertainty and character development, ST would have had ratings like ER.

  3. coyote says:

    Picard dies
    I can’t recall the name of the episode, but the one where Picard dies and Q gives him a chance to relive his “mistake.” This was a common theme with Picard, and most people name another variation (“Inner Light”) as their favorite episode. But IL was passive – Picard was fed a fantasy – while this episode left Picard deeply shaken by both his experience and the realization that Q was not a simple boogieman. Too bad only saw this side of Q once.

    As for the Voyager episode, I still wish the series had ended with Janeway proclaiming “I am your Queen, none dare stand against me! Lead me to earth!!!”, a slow three count while the Admiral and others realize that she just blew apart a Borg ship and they really couldn’t stop her, but they have to die trying… then Janeway cracking a smile and saying it’s been a long day and she’ll file the formal report to Starfleet later but for now they just want to finish their journey.

    But since the writers didn’t have the guts, I have to agree that that Voyager episode was one of the best. I just wish the Voyager had better continuity – what was the innovation in drive design that they discovered? The real Voyager could have found it, used it during the last few weeks, and then found the transwarp nexus. It would have been another nice present for the hometown crowds.

    • qlerik says:

      Re: Picard dies

      But since the writers didn’t have the guts, I have to agree that that Voyager episode was one of the best.

      I was really put off by this episode — Janeway was so out of character it made my head swim.

      But a previous post was right: City On The Edge Of Forever was right up there with Inner Light as Best of All Trek.

      • coyote says:

        Re: Picard dies

        But since the writers didn’t have the guts, I have to agree that that Voyager episode was one of the best.

        I was really put off by this episode — Janeway was so out of character it made my head swim.

        Just to be clear, I was praising Destination: Oblivion, not at trainwreck of the series finale. I thought the last few minutes were exceptionally lame – we all know that Voyager can kick Borg ass, what we wanted to see was the interplay between Janeway/Voyager (to home fighting the Borg and winning was routine) and the Star Fleet characters (who still throw dozens of ships at a single Borg ship and lose them all.)

    • manly says:

      Re: Picard dies

      I can’t recall the name of the episode, but the one where Picard dies and Q gives him a chance to relive his “mistake.”

      The name of the episode is ‘Tapestry’. Season 6, episode 15. Your’re right, it is a damn good episode.

  4. scharkalvin says:

    Best episodes?
    DS9 – ‘Trials and Tribulations’ Great remake of the original ‘trouble with tribbles’ complete with bits of the original. And great video editing putting the crew of DS9 into the original footage! I liked Worff’s comment about the appearance of the Klingons, “Those are infact Klingons, but we don’t talk about that”.

    TOS – another vote for ‘City on the edge of forever’, however don’t forget ‘A piece of the action’ another good bit of comedy.

    BTW the ‘balance of terror’ was a good remake of the WWII movie ‘The enemy below’.

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