Today is the 45th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek on September 8th, 1966. Here are my picks for the five best episodes of Star Trek, ever:
05. The Inner Light (TNG)
When an alien probe puts Picard in a coma, he lives a lifetime with a wife and familiy in the course of a few minutes. Patrick Stewart's finest work makes this character study TNG's most poignant episode. The experience impacts Picard's character for the remainder of the series, a rare thing for TNG.
04. The Corbomite Manuever (TOS)
Kirk faces the destruction of the Enterprise when the ship unknowingly enters alien space. The original "no win" scenario builds the characters of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and begins to form their bonds as the perfect triumverate. It's hard to imagine how TOS would've developed without the building blocks established in this episode, the first produced after the two pilots.
03. The Visitor (DS9)
Jake spends a lifetime trying to rescue his father from a spatial anomaly. DS9 takes "City on the Edge of Forever" and goes one better, having an elderly Jake sacrifice himself to save his father from oblivion. It's simply the most moving episode of Star Trek ever produced, period.
02. Balance of Terror (TOS)
The Enterprise must respond when a Romulan ship attacks the outposts guarding the Neutral Zone. A taut storyline with a strong moral and a great performance by Mark Lenard as the Romulan captain makes this the best episode of TOS. The Romulans are the first of Trek's great villains, and have made their mark on every Star Trek series since.
01. Best of Both Worlds, Part 1 (TNG)
The Enterprise encounters a Borg ship invading the Federation, and Captain Picard is abducted and assimilated into the Borg collective. The ultimate cliff-hanger makes this the best episode of any Star Trek ever. The final scene, with Picard as Locutus staring down the bridge crew, and Riker ordering their secret weapon fired, was perfect.