Space. The final frontier. For fifty years Captain James T. Kirk and others have gone boldly where no one has gone before. “Star Trek: The Original Series” first aired Sept. 8, 1966. Created by Gene Roddenberry, it followed the crew of the Starship Enterprise, part of the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets, on a peaceful scientific exploration to discover new life.
Since airing, “Star Trek” has spawned six different series with a seventh planned, 13 feature films and countless comics and novels. Created during the Cold War, “Star Trek” was meant to show theworld a time where the human race has moved past war, racism and sexism. “Star Trek” was known for its multicultural cast which, at the time, wasn’tcommon. Heck, it’s still not common.
With any long running franchise, there were some bad episodes; even some bad series. But “Star Trek” is some of the best science fiction out there today. Here are five of the best episodes in “Star Trek” history.
5) Mirror, Mirror (Star Trek: The Original Series: 2x04)
A transporter accident sends Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Scotty into a mirror universe where they are members of a brutal empire where one is promoted by killing their superior officers. Spock has a goatee of all things. The original series had many moments that became part of pop culture history and this was one of them. This episode is so iconic that having a goatee has become synonymous with evil doubles.
4) Q Who (Star Trek: The Next Generation: 2x16)
“The Next Generation” was a big gamble. It was the first Star Trek show to remove focus from Captain Kirk. Set 70 years after the original series, it centers around a new Enterprise anda new crew as they explore the galaxy. There was a big chance that fans wouldn’t buy into this new series. “The Next Generation” set itself apart by creating characters that where thematic opposites of the original crew. Instead of a young, action-oriented American captain who was a ladies man with Kirk, we had Picard, an older French man who always thought before acting and was very disinterested in romance. Spock, an alien who was proud of his lack of emotions, was replaced with Data, an android trying to understand and have human emotions. The first two seasons were rather rough to be honest. The show had difficulty finding a balance between that “Trek” feel and having its own voice, but there were some good episodes. “Q Who” was one of them. A reality warping being called Q sends the Enterprise into unknown space where the crew come face-to-face with the Borg. The Borg was “The Next Generation’s” biggest contribution to Star Trek’s canon. A cybernetic hivemind that seemed to have only one goal; raid every planet of their resources, including the population. The crew finds themselves in the Borg’s sight and must find a way to stop an unstoppable force. This episode features some great performances and set pieces that really endeared this new crew to audiences.
3) Waltz (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: 6x11)
“Deep Space Nine” was an odd one. The third series of the franchise, instead of following a starship, followed a space station orbiting Bajor, a newly freed planet from the Cardassians, an interplanetary empire. The show was notable for portraying the Starfleet and the Federation much more morally vague or grey than the typical Trek show. “Deep Space Nine” never got the mainstream attention “The Original Series” or “The Next Generation” received but is still popular with fans for its serialized storytelling and dark themes. Captain Sisko, who is in charge of the DS9 station, finds himself trapped on a planet with Gul Dukat who was in charge of Bajor, back when it was controlled by the Cardassians. It’s a rather small story, but has powerful theme. It takes you into the mind of the villain and shows even in a world of grey, evil can exist.
2) The City On the Edge of Forever (Star Trek: 1x28)
Kirk and his crew finds a portal through time. McCoy falls through and finds himself in 1930s New York. Kirk and Spock realize that McCoy changed history so Nazi Germany wins World War II. Kirk and Spock go back in time to find their friend and find out what he did. This is one of the most tragic episodes of the series with Kirk’s final lines cutting like a knife.
1) The Inner Light (Star Trek: The Next Generation: 5x25)
Picard finds himself on an alien planet, where the native species haven’t discovered space travel. In addition, everyone knows him and claims he’s lived there all his life and his life aboard the Enterprise was just a dream. Picard must figure out how he got there and how to go home while dealing with his new life. A very low-key episode, but beautifully written. It’s a great look at Picard and really touches on what Star Trek is really about: a show where people can come together and the need to discover what’s out there. “The Inner Light” ends on a perfect bittersweet note.