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9/5/11

Star Trek's 45th Annivsary, Pt. 2

 

Here's the second installment of my forty-five best Treks ever list:

35. Dark Frontier (Voyager)
The Borg Queen lures Seven of Nine back to the Collective, and Janeway mounts a rescue mission into the heart of Borg space. Despite the premise, this two-hour episode succeeds not as an action show, but because of the flashbacks to Seven's past. Her parents' obsession with the Borg plays almost as a Greek tragedy, and gives new depth to Seven's quest to regain her humanity.

34. Arena (TOS)
When an outlying colony is destroyed and the Enterprise is ambushed, Kirk pursues the attacking vessel into unexplored space, only to find himself facing the alien captain in single combat when the advanced Metrons invervene. Not only do we see Kirk turn his rage to understanding as the motives behind the Gorn attack are revealed, but we also see him apply his itelligence to building a canon from native elements. That bit has become part of pop culture, and a chemistry lesson to kids everywhere.

33. The Ship (DS9)
Sisko attempts to salvage a crashed Jem'Haddar ship, but is soon trapped by Jem'Haddar reinforcements. Sisko faces the ultimate dilemma as he must choose between surrendering to get help for a mortally injured crewman, or holding out to prevent the enemy from gaining their objective regardless of the cost. The final twist, which reveals that both sides could've achieved their goals if they'd been willing to trust each other, is heartbreaking.

32. Darmok (TNG)
When confronted by the Tamarians, who communicate solely by metaphor, Picard struggles to learn to communicate while Riker considers risking war by using force to rescue his captain from a potentially deadly situation. This episode provides the answer to the question how do you communicate when the universal translator doesn't work? It's one of TNG's best hard sci-fi stories.

31. The Forge (Enterprise)
Archer's investigation of the bombing of Earth's embassy on Vulcan turns up evidence of a deadly consipracy. Not since TOS' "Amok Time" has an episode of Star Trek delved so deeply into Vulcan culture. Add in Manny Coto's reconciliation of Enterprise's arrogant Vulcans to the calm, serene ones in later shows, and "The Forge" becomes one of Enterprise's best episodes.

30. Sacrifice of Angels (DS9)
Sisko's attempt to retake DS9 from the Dominion results in a huge space battle, while on the station, Quark and Ziyal must decide which side they're on as Kira, Jake, Leeta and Nog are to be executed. The epic six-part arc which opened the Dominion War is brought to a satisfying close as one character dies and several others are transformed. We also get the first hint of the lengths Sisko will go to win the war.

29. Devil in the Dark (TOS)
The Enterprise is called in to protect a mining colony from a mysterious and deadly creature. This classic episode presents all of Roddenberry's idealism as Spock slowly convinces Kirk that killing the Horta might not be the best solution, and it's revealed that the miners are at fault for the conflict. It also includes one of my favorite McCoy-isms, "I'm a doctor, not a brick-layer!"

28. Scorpion, Part 1 (Voyager)
Voyager arrives at the edge of Borg space, and discovers that the only passage free of Borg ships is filled with an even more deadly threat. Janeway makes a quintessential deal with the devil in order to get home. Species 8472 is the perfect foil for the Borg, and having Voyager caught between them was the ideal way to up the stakes. It's too bad they only appeared two more times in the series.

27. Q Who? (TNG)
Q introduces the crew of the Enterprise to the Borg. This episode introduces Star Trek's greatest alien threat, who'd rather assimilate you than kill you. The interplay between John DeLancie and Patrick Stewart is brilliant, and Whoopi Goldberg has some great scenes playing against type. The final moment, when Picard realizes the Borg are coming, is superb.

26. Call to Arms (DS9)
After Sisko mines the wormhole, the Dominion attacks DS9 with overwhelming force, and not everyone gets away when Starfleet is forced to evacuate. This episode kicked off the Dominion War, and proved even better than the Klingon attack two seasons earlier. Every character in the ensemble has a part to play, and the tension is racheted up steadily, but rather than ending with the typical "everyone in jeopardy" cliffhanger, Ira Behr lets the audience know it'll be a long time before things are back to the status quo.

I'll post the next installment tomorrow. Click here to comment on this post.

 

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