1 The Inner Light Jun 01 1992 – Picard is struck by an energy beam from an alien probe, which renders him unconscious and places him in the life of a citizen on the planet Kataan, with his memory of the Enterprise intact. …more
2 Tapestry Feb 15 1993 – "Tapestry" is the 15th episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 141st overall. It was originally released on …more
3 Darmok Sep 30 1991 – Stardate: 45047.2 – Picard must find a way to communicate with the newly discovered Tamarians, who speak entirely in metaphors, when a Tamarian Captain is brutally killed.
4 Parallels Nov 29 1993 – "Parallels" is the 163rd episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is the 11th episode of the seventh season. After returning from a bat’leth …more
5 The Best of Both Worlds Jun 18 1990 – "The Best of Both Worlds" is a two-part storyline from the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It comprises the 74th and 75th episodes …more
6 The Best of Both Worlds, Part II Sep 24 1990 – Riker must pull out all the stops in order to save Earth from a Borg invasion being lead by none other than Locutus – otherwise known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
7 Déjà Q Feb 05 1990 – Stardate: 43539.1 A Calamarian starts attacking the Enterprise while seeking revenge on a powerless Q.
8 Lower Decks Feb 07 1994 – Stardate: 47566.7 – Four young ensigns compete for a promotion that only one of them will receive. However, they are soon placed on a top secret mission that places some of their lives in
9 The Measure of a Man Feb 13 1989 – "The Measure of a Man" is the ninth episode of the second season of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 35th episode overall, first …more
10 Timescape Jun 14 1993 – "Timescape" is the 151st episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 25th episode of the sixth season.
11 Gambit Oct 11 1993 – Stardate: 47135.2 – An away team investigates the apparent death of Jean-Luc Picard who was supposedly killed in a bar fight. When Riker is abducted by a band of criminals who loot …more
12 Gambit, Part II Oct 18 1993 – Stardate: 47160.1 – Picard and Riker covertly work together in an attempt to find out why the criminals are looting archaeological digs.
13 Cause and Effect Mar 23 1992 – Stardate: 45652.1 – While exploring the Typhon Expanse, the Enterprise is caught in a time warp in which they are repeatedly destroyed while colliding with another starship.
14 Face of the Enemy Feb 08 1993 – Stardate: 46519.1 – Troi is abducted and surgically altered by the Romulans as part of a ploy to smuggle intelligence operatives into the Federation.
15 The Drumhead Apr 29 1991 – Picard is accused of treason when an explosion aboard the Enterprise is investigated by a ruthless and paranoid Starfleet Admiral.
16 The Pegasus Jan 17 1994 – Stardate: 47457.1 – Riker is placed on a covert mission to find the missing starship he was once a member aboard, but the mission holds a secret that could destroy the peace treaty between the …more
17 Sins of the Father Mar 19 1990 – "Sins of the Father" is the 65th episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the 17th episode of the third season. The episode is one of three …more
18 Reunion Nov 05 1990 – Picard is asked to choose between two candidates to succeed the current Chancellor of the Klingon High Council as the new ruler of the Empire. Worf is disturbed by unexpected news when he is …more
19 Frame of Mind May 03 1993 – Stardate: 46778.1 – Riker questions his sanity when his reality seems to shift between an alien psychiatric hospital and a play he is performing with other members of the crew.
20 Redemption "Redemption" is the name of a two-part episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Parts I and II of "Redemption" comprise the 100th and …more
21 Redemption, Part II Sep 23 1991 – Redemption,Part 2 was the season premiere of the fifth season; it was the 101st episode of the show and first aired on September 23, 1991 in the United states. In the Star Trek timeline, the …more
22 The Offspring Mar 12 1990 – Stardate: 43657.0 Data becomes a father when he creates a Soong-type android in the form of a daughter named Lal. Issues are complicated when Lal starts showing signs of a more evolved …more
23 All Good Things… May 23 1994 – Stardate: 47988.0 – Shortly after Picard is diagnosed with a long-term, potentially debilitating brain disorder, he starts experiencing bizarre shifts into three main time periods: 25 years into …more
24 All Good Things… (2) May 23 1994 – Stardate: 47988.1 – After his encounter with Q, Picard assembles the senior staff, and wonders if Q is actually giving him a chance to save humanity by showing him that the spatial anomaly also …more
25 Remember Me Oct 22 1990 – "Remember Me" is the 79th episode of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fifth episode of the fourth season. Set in the 24th …more
26 Yesterday’s Enterprise Feb 19 1990 – "Yesterday’s Enterprise" is the 63rd episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was the 15th episode of the third season. The episode first aired in …more
27 I, Borg May 11 1992 – Stardate: 45832.1 – An injured Borg is discovered and brought back to the Enterprise where he is ‘repaired’ by Dr. Crusher and befriended by Geordi, who names him ‘Hugh.’ Soon, Hugh starts …more
28 Q Who May 08 1989 – Stardate: 42761.3 Q hurls the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and introduces the Federation to a powerful new enemy that may destroy the Alpha Quadrant: The Borg.
29 Conundrum Feb 17 1992 – Stardate: 45494.2 – The Enterprise crew unknowingly receives a new first officer who claims that the Federation is at war with another species.
30 A Matter of Honor Feb 06 1989 – Commander Riker participates in an officer’s exchange program which lands him an assignment on a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Meanwhile, a Bezite ensign has trouble assimilating to the routines of the …more
31 Genesis Mar 21 1994 – Stardate: 47653.2 – Upon returning from an away mission, Picard and Data find the ship drifting in space, and the crew de-evolving into their animal ancestors.
32 First Contact Feb 18 1991 – Riker is abducted by a xenophobic race of aliens during a first contact mission. They believe the Enterprise is a scout for an invasion.
33 Who Watches the Watchers Oct 16 1989 – Stardate: 43173.5 An away team inadvertently breaks the Prime Directive and reveal themselves to a primitive culture on Mintaka III, causing the inhabitants believe that Captain Picard is a
34 Disaster Oct 21 1991 – "Disaster" is the 105th episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The fifth episode of the fifth season. The episode has an average rating of 4.4/5 on the …more
35 Rascals Nov 02 1992 – Stardate: 46235.7 – A transporter accident transforms Picard, Ro Laren, Guinan and Keiko O’Brien into small children who appear to be about 12 years old. Matters are complicated when the Ferengi …more
36 The Survivors Oct 09 1989 – Stardate: 43152.4 The Enterprise discovers a planet that has had all life eradicated, except for two mysterious residents and their home, which has been left in perfect condition.
37 Tin Man Apr 23 1990 – "Tin Man" is the 20th episode of the third season of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 68th episode of the series overall.
38 Hide and Q Nov 23 1987 – Stardate: 41590.5 Q places the senior crew of the Enterprise in a war game that pits them against a boar-faced, Napoleonic enemy.
39 Bloodlines May 02 1994 – "Bloodlines" the 174th episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 22nd episode of the seventh season.
40 Datalore Jan 18 1988 – Stardate: 41242.4 The crew of the Enterprise find android parts that are identical to Data’s while they are exploring his homeworld. When assembled, an ‘evil’ twin of Data is created and named
41 The Bonding Oct 23 1989 – Worf and Wesley must help a 12 year old boy cope with the death of his mother; an archaeologist killed during an away mission to a deserted planet.
42 The Perfect Mate Apr 27 1992 – Stardate: 45761.3 – The Ferengi try to abduct an empathic Metamorph who could bring peace between two warring worlds.
43 11001001 Feb 01 1988 – "11001001" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was first broadcast on February 1, 1988 in …more
44 The Most Toys May 07 1990 – Stardate: 43872.2 The crew are shattered by the apparent death of Data in a shuttle explosion, and are prevented from carrying out a detailed investigation when Starfleet gives them orders for a …more
45 Identity Crisis Mar 25 1991 – "Identity Crisis" is the 92nd episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 18th episode of the fourth season.
46 Ethics Mar 02 1992 – Stardate: 45587.3 – When Worf is paralysed in an accident he must undergo drastic back surgery. However, this experimental technique may cost him his life.
47 Violations Feb 03 1992 – "Violations" is the 112th episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 12th episode of the fifth season. In this episode, a member of an alien …more
48 Unnatural Selection Jan 30 1989 – Stardate: 42494.8 A mysterious hyper-ageing sickness kills the crew of a Federation cargo ship, and Dr. Pulaski must race against time to find a cure.
49 The Next Phase May 18 1992 – "The Next Phase" is the 124th episode of the American syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 24th episode of the fifth season. In this …more
50 The Hunted Jan 08 1990 – Stardate: 43489.2 A potentially new member of the Federation enlists the help of the Enterprise to track down a wanted criminal who has a reputation for his excessive violence. However, the …more
Filed Under: TV Episodes Film TV Scifi Scifi And Fantasy Star Trek Total Nerd
The Best Syfy Original Shows The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time The Greatest Characters We Watched Grow Up on TV The Greatest TV Aliens Living Among Earthlings TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time 30+ Jokes That Make Zero Sense Unless You’ve Played The Game The Ten Greatest Moments in Star Trek Slash Fiction
Top 10 Current Queries
in TV Episodes:
Joan Baez records punny jokes monster manual 3.5 watch get out wildcat mascots largest agricultural equipment manufacturers tennessee running backs dnd monsters Gian Carlo Menotti Soup Brands
If you’re anything like me, odds are that you’re still flying high from the recent announcement – by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart himself – of a new Star Trek series focused on Jean-Luc Picard. As recently as one year ago, a revelation of this magnitude would’ve been nothing more than a Trekkie’s daydream. But today, in a post-“Discovery is a massive hit for CBS” world, the galaxy is the limit when it comes to fresh Star Trek content. We’re entering Trek’s next “golden age” and I for one couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds.
Since we have yet to hear when the new show will air (we don’t even know when filming begins), that probably means that we’re at least one year away from laying eyes on a post-Nemesis Picard and Federation. We Trekkies are inclusive, smart, and loyal – patience, however, is not our strongest collective characteristic.
To fill the time between now and when the new show airs, most of us will undoubtedly be revisiting many a Picard-themed episode of The Next Generation. Which leads to the question which inspired this blog: what episodes would make up the ultimate Picard binge watch? Trickier still, what string of episodes could both satisfy a die-hard fan’s appetite and serve as a robust introduction to the character for a TNG-neophyte?
After some soul-searching and intensive Data-level-scanning of Memory Alpha , I’ve assembled the below list of ten episodes (I’m counting any two-parters as one episode – blogger’s prerogative). Each season of TNG is represented and every episode picked is either central to Picard’s overall story arc or serves to showcase a key character trait. So without further ado, happy bingeing Trekkies!
The ten best Captain Jean-Luc Picard episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation
1. “Encounter at Farpoint”
Season 1, Episode 1/2
The beginning is always a good place to start. While TNG’s pilot is relatively weak – particularly compared to the Trek pilots that followed – “Encounter at Farpoint” does a good job of introducing us to our deeply principled and headstrong Captain. His thoughtful and resolute rebuttal of Q and his reaction to the bizarre happenings at Farpoint establish a character willing to think before he acts.
Season 1, Episode 25
This is one of the weirdest and creepiest episodes of TNG – and a personal favorite (that very last shot – nothing quite like it in all of Trek). While time hasn’t been kind to the creature effects of this episode, the story of an alien infiltration of Starfleet more than holds up. “Conspiracy” cements Picard as a critical thinking and skeptical leader; one who believes the protection of the Federation’s founding principles to be of the utmost importance (even if it means disobeying orders).
3. “Q Who”
Season 2, Episode 16
While not a Picard-centric episode, “Q Who” introduces to one of TNG’s main antagonists and to the species that most profoundly impacts Picard’s psyche and story arc. This a key moment in Federation history and an episode that sets the scene for TNG’s biggest showdown (and one of television’s most epic cliffhangers).
4. “Samaritan Snare”
Season 2, Episode 17
Airing immediately after “Q Who,” “Samaritan Snare” is the most surprising entry on this list. The main A-story revolves around Geordi being kidnapped by a pack of mumbling, quasi-space-pirates. However, the B-story – which takes place almost entirely in a shuttlecraft – centers on Wesley desperately trying to engage with and get to know our stoic Captain. Wesley is a proxy for the audience; until this point in TNG’s run, Picard had rarely let his guard down. When Picard finally opens up to Wesley (and us) we’re told surprising stories of a defiant youth, why he never married, and his views/opinions on a range of topics. For the first time, we see Picard well beyond the intellectual and focused leader.
5. “The Best of Both Worlds”
Season 3, Episode 26 / Season 4, Episode 1
Picard’s entire character arc can be divided into two-parts: pre-Locutus and post-. “The Best of Both Worlds” represents a definitive turning point for Picard (and for TNG itself). This is easily among the show’s finest hours, not just for the great story and action, but also for the ramifications for our Captain and for the entire Star Trek Universe (the events of this episode serve as the foundation for “Deep Space Nine,” for “First Contact,” and for many an element of “Voyager”). The Borg brutalize Picard and forever warp elements of his character. Picard carries the scars and trauma of his Borg-experience throughout the rest of the series and into the TNG films. The newly announced series will most definitely revisit this at some point.
Season 4, Episode 2
Despite the episodic nature of TNG, and of television at that time, “Family” is a direct sequel to “The Best of Both Worlds.” How does Picard begin to heal after his kidnapping and forced Borg-transformation? The answer is slowly and with even more conflict. This time, the conflict takes the form of something we can all relate to: complex family dynamics. While the Enterprise is being repaired in Earth’s orbit, Picard goes home to La Barre, France to spend time with his brother Robert and his family. What he finds in France is the airing of words and grievances that had lain dormant for far too long. We’re always told Picard is a military man, not a family one. In “Family” he’s forced to deal with a situation he can’t command and he is better for it at the end.
7. “The Drumhead”
Season 4, Episode 21
If there’s a setting – aside from the bridge of a starship – that really allows Picard and his principles to shine, it’s a courtroom. I’m of the school of thought that there’s no such thing as too much Picard ‘monologuing’ and “The Drumhead” is among the best of examples of it. An explosion goes off on the Enterprise and sabotage is suspected. The episode moves quickly through an extremely unnerving series of events that sees many crew members, including Picard himself, questioned and accused of treachery by a ruthless, Javert-like, Starfleet Admiral. Steadfast in his convictions and resolute in resolve, Picard never waivers and he and his principles ultimately win the day.
8. “I Borg”
Season 5, Episode 23
Even though this is a story about Geordi and the relationship he develops with an injured Borg Drone, “I Borg,” is a key point in Picard’s overall arc. After giving orders to develop and infect the drone with a virus that could critically cripple the entire Collective, Picard begins to question the morality of using a young, wounded Borg as a biological weapon. Picard ultimately decides against it – much to his surprise and the ire of Starfleet. One can’t help but wonder, given the death and destruction the Borg would continue to inflict if our Captain would make the same decision twice?
Season 6, Episode 15
“Tapestry” is one of my favorite episodes of TNG. Picard basically dies and wakes up in an afterlife ruled (or at least managed) by Q. Q gives our Captain a chance to relive, and “correct,” past-mistakes – the key mistake being none other than a fight with a mean group of Naussicans during Picard’s defiant youth (the main story Picard told Wesley back in Season 2’s “Samaritan Snare”). Picard learns that he is, like all of us, the sum of his experiences and that that incident, along with others, ultimately made him the person he is. “Tapestry” is Star Trek at its best.
10. “All Good Things…”
Season 7, Episode 25/26
If the beginning is a good place to start, then the end is a good place to finish. TNG’s finale is one for the ages. A perfect bookend to “Encounter at Farpoint,” “All Good Things…” sees our Captain travel back and forth through time – thanks again to Q – in an attempt to solve the mystery of how he could possibly be the reason for humanity’s annihilation. TNG’s last episode is a time-bending tale that perfectly showcases Picard’s resolve, determination, and his fidelity to both his crew and the principles of the Federation.
So what did you think of the above list? Is it worthy of your precious binge watching hours? Should I have included a Dixon Hill episode? How’s “Who Watches the Watchers” not on the list? What about “Captain’s Holiday”? “Chain of Command?” Let me and the rest of the TrekNews.net crew know your thoughts in the comments section below and on social. As always, thanks for reading and LLAP.
Stay tuned to TrekNews.net for the latest news on the new Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek series.
Connect with us on social: @TrekNewsNet on Twitter , @TrekNews on Facebook , and @TrekNews on Instagram .
Products from Amazon.com
QMX Star Trek The Next Generation Communicator Badge Replica
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Price: Check on Amazon
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series
Star Trek: The Original Series – The Complete Series
When not drinking coffee or watching Star Trek (or other sci-fi), Carlos spends his time running around London working on several projects. He has incredibly rambunctious boy-girl twins (his wife foolishly did not let him name them Luke and Leia).
You can follow Carlos on Twitter @doublemacc .
- patrick stewart
Join the Conversation →
- WATCH: Spock (Sorta) Smiles In Latest STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Season 2 Trailer0
- WATCH: Doug Jones Plays A Young Saru In The “Short Treks” Trailer For “The Brightest Star”0
- [REVIEW] STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – Season 1 on Blu-ray0
- 2018 Star Trek Holiday Gift Guide0
- [REVIEW] Star Trek: Short Treks: “Calypso”: Season Two Can Wait0
Around the web
TrekNews.net is your daily dose of Star Trek news, reviews, interviews and culture. We provide the latest updates on Star Trek Beyond, Star Trek: Discovery, along with coverage of past television series and films, conventions, video games, books, humor, comics, collecting and more.
© 2010-2018 TREKNEWS.NET
TrekNews.net is not endorsed, sponsored or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp or the “Star Trek” franchise. STAR TREK® and its various marks are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. 2018 © CBS Studios Inc./Paramount Pictures Corp
Legal Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
- WATCH: Spock (Sorta) Smiles In Latest STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Season 2 Trailer0
- WATCH: Doug Jones Plays A Young Saru In The “Short Treks” Trailer For “The Brightest Star”0
- [REVIEW] STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – Season 1 on Blu-ray0
- 2018 Star Trek Holiday Gift Guide0
- [REVIEW] Star Trek: Short Treks: “Calypso”: Season Two Can Wait0
We boldly go — and revisit the top episodes from TNG and the Enterprise-D.
How do you follow up one of the most beloved sci-fi TV shows of all time?
The cast and crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation can answer that question in a way few in Hollywood can, with the voyages of the Enterprise-D managing to step out of the considerable shadow cast by the original crew.
Patrick Stewart (Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), LeVar Burton (La Forge), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Crusher), Marina Sirtis (Troi) and Brent Spiner (Data) brought Star Trek to new heights over seven seasons and 178 episodes.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this month, The Hollywood Reporter counted down the top 100 episodes of Star Trek across all six TV series. Every day through Friday, we’re breaking that list down even further — ranking the episodes by individual series.
Here, you’ll find the cast and writers behind TNG sharing what makes these episodes the best of what the crew had to offer.
It turns out, sometimes it pays to be paranoid. Picard and Riker discover an alien infestation, with parasites preparing to slip into the Federation by taking over officers. The episode culminates with Riker and Picard teaming up to take down the possessed Lt. Commander Remmick (Robert Schenkkan) to explosive results. It’s the favorite episode of TNG property master Alan Sims, who had to use all of his talents for the hour. "Creating the tongue puppet parasites, the live worms that were eaten by Riker to puppeteering the queen parasite that burst out of Dexter Remmick’s host body … What an episode," recalls Sims.
Tasha Yar’s death famously came from actress Denise Crosby’s desire to leave Trek (though she would later return as an alternate timeline version of character and then, the character’s daughter, Sela). It’s shocking for killing off a main character, and her funeral gives us an early example of Data’s journey to understanding humanity.
Patrick Stewart stepped behind the camera to direct TNG‘s Halloween episode, which saw Data begin having nightmares — and gave viewers one of the most iconic and schlocky scenes in Star Trek history: the cellular peptide Troi cake (with mint frosting!).
If Data’s creator Noonian Soong could create an android — why couldn’t Data do the same? The surprisingly funny and touching episode showed Data dealing with loss after he creates — and loses — a daughter. The episode marked the directorial debut of Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker), who would go on to be among the most prolific actor-turned-directors in Trek history.
"They were always capable, but you saw the progression of them becoming not just good directors — but becoming really good directors," Michael Dorn (Worf) says of working with costars Frakes and LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) as directors.
Brent Spiner gets to show off his considerable acting chops in this episode, playing Data, his brother Lore, and their creator Dr. Noonien Soong — who has called his sons home to say goodbye as he nears death. There’s a real sweetness to Lore, who is genuinely upset when he learns Dr. Soong is dying, though that’s undone when Lore attacks his father later in the episode, which also introduces the notion of Data’s emotions chip.
The shine starts to come off Commander Riker in this episode in which he’s forced to come to terms between the demands of his duty to the Enterprise, and to his former commanding officer, who is up to no good. In many ways, this episode feels like a mix between the holier-than-thou TNG and the less perfect original series, giving Riker’s blind loyalty to his superiors a long overdue exploration. Of course, his former superior officer is none other than Terry O’Quinn, showing both slightly more hair and slightly more humanity than he would as Lost‘s John Locke.
Forget going back to a period of Earth’s history to hang out with Mark Twain — this Next Generation time travel story from writer Brannon Braga sees the Enterprise-D crew stuck in a loop that leads in their deaths over, and over. The teaser, showing the Enterprise being destroyed, may just be the greatest opening in Star Trek history.
If David Fincher had directed a Star Trek episode in the early 90s, perhaps it would have been something along these lines. The episode sees reality blur as Riker is imprisoned in an alien insane asylum and told he has committed murder. Jonathan Frakes gives a stellar performance of a tortured Riker that is unlike anything viewers saw in the show before or after.
The crossovers between The Next Generation and the original series were remarkably few, as if those working on the new show were fully aware of the potential that it would be overcome by nostalgia. This late-era episode — which brought James Doohan’s Scotty back from the void to deal with the fact that most of those he knew were now gone — threatened to be every bit as sentimental as that synopsis sounds, but managed to avoid that fate thanks to some nice performances from Doohan and LeVar Burton’s Geordi LaForge, and a great script from future Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore.
"Have you ever had a dream of working on the Starship Enterprise? I know — like every night!" says The Guardian‘s Hoffman of one of his favorite Next Gen episodes. "This season 7 Next Generation episode offers a glimpse at what life is like for the members of the crew who are off to the side, the ones who aren’t sure if Captain Picard knows their name and, yes, the ones who are in the most danger during away missions."
Star Trek always struck gold when Picard entered the court room, and in this episode he spoke out after one of his crew was the victim of a witch hunt, partially for being a quarter Romulan (not Vulcan, as he said on his Starfleet Academy application). Admiral Norah Satie (Oscar nominee Jean Simmons) conducted a trial, and makes it into an indictment of Picard himself.
"Jean Simmons was a joy to work with," recalls Michael Dorn, who rates the episode as his favorite from his Next Generation years. "If you watch the very ending, it’s a very cool scene between Picard and Worf, basically talking about how you have to be on guard from people like Satie. Constantly."
By the final season of TNG, the series was beginning to strain to find new stories to tell about the much-loved cast. On the face of it, audiences had seen the basic concept of "Parallels" before — a crew member finds themselves traveling to a different dimension without any control — but what makes this episode special isn’t just the insight it provides into the usually all-too-insular Worf, but also the thrill of seeing so many "What If"? versions of familiar ideas from the series’ past. As the series headed towards its conclusion, it was a surprisingly graceful, and fun, way to provide fan service without ruining the show as a whole.
Having successfully defined the Borg as an almost unbeatable hive mind of destructive force, "I, Borg" sets out to do the seemingly impossible and humanize them. The result is something that speaks as much to Star Trek‘s inherent humanist outlook, as one Borg is given his individuality back while Picard and Guinan are forced to overcome their own prejudices against the enemy that in some ways ruined both of their lives. More ethically tricky than a lot of TNG, it’s to be lauded for showing how flawed the leads can be — and also raising the specter of the many deaths the Enterprise was responsible for in "The Best of Both Worlds" two-parter.
"As a kid watching Star Trek I would never have imagined that I would be the first Borg to define an entire alien race- playing Hugh has shaped my life in so many great ways, proud to be a part of the legacy," says guest star Jonathan Del Arco.
The original series may have primarily been the Kirk, Spock, Bones show, but The Next Generation was able to truly have seven leads — each getting his or her own time to shine multiple times a year. Next Generation celebrated its 100th episode by delving deeply into Worf’s story, examining a family dishonor that has plagued him. It’s a complicated and undeniably badass arc, seeing Worf resign from Starfleet, Picard navigate the tricky waters of a Klingon civil war, and the Enterprise bridge crew temporarily commanding their own ships. For good measure, there’s the return of Denise Crosby as Sela, Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter, born after the "Yesterday’s Enterprise" version of Yar went back to the past.
The emotional touchstone of Next Generation was Data’s quest to understand humanity, and there’s no more poignant example than the android’s very sentience being put on trial — with Picard and Riker finding themselves on opposite sides of a trial for Data’s rights and life.
"Even though I was hardly in the episode, I thought it encapsulated everything that was good about Star Trek," recalls recalls Marina Sirtis (Troi), of her favorite episode from TNG.
Holodeck episodes became a mainstay of Star Trek beginning with Next Generation — and the greatest contribution to this genre came courtesy of Data’s love of Sherlock Holmes. Geordi asks the computer to create an adversary who could beat Data, and the computer grants that wish in the form of the sentient Moriarty (Daniel Davis).
"I was twenty years old when we began to boldly go and twenty three years later, I was going with them," recalls Davis, a fan from the days of the original series. "I was sent sides for an episode of The Next Generation called ‘Elementary, Dear Data.’ I auditioned for the role of Professor James Moriarty and two days later I was on the holodeck with Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton. It was a brilliant script that combined the Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek mythologies. But it was mostly Star Trek, and presaged the questions of reality vs. virtual reality, computer generated consciousness, whether self awareness is all that is required to define our humanity."
Daniel Davis had already established himself as one of Next Generation’s greatest villains with his turn as Moriarty in season 2, and he cemented his status with the sequel, which raised even greater questions about the rights of artificial intelligences and the nature of reality. The holodek program is initially able to outsmart the likes of Data and Picard — who ultimately grants Moriarty his wish to live in the real world, though he in fact will continue to live in a holographic simulation in a Matrix-level twist that predates the 1999 film by years.
"It was an extraordinary thing to be a part of and five years later, I was able to revisit the character and some very mind bending plot twists," recalls Davis of his work on Next Generation. "The cast and crew were as great a pleasure to work with as any I’ve known in my career. And thanks to the world of conventions, I’m able to enjoy reunions with them from time to time. Cogito Ergo Sum! Happy Anniversary, Live Long and Prosper."
Trying to sum up seven years’ worth of adventures seemed like a tall order for the show’s grand finale, but writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore pulled off the near-impossible with a story that doesn’t just send Picard spinning through time into the past of the series and the future of the characters, but goes all the way back to the pilot of the series to reveal that everything really had been leading up to this moment, but no-one had realized it just yet. Add in some fond farewells from familiar faces and great performances from the regular cast, clearly relishing their last chance to play on TV together, and you have arguably the best series finale of any of the Star Treks.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, ad veteran Trek producer Ronald D. Moore recalls his first meeting with Patrick Stewart years earlier on set of the writer’s first episode, "The Bonding."
"He was very gracious meeting this young writer and in my enthusiasm, I pitched him the story for the next episode I was writing," says Moore. "He listened with a smile, then said, ‘Lovely. Just bear in mind that the Captain doesn’t do nearly enough screwing and shooting in this show,’ and then he walked away."
There! Are! Four! Lights! The two-part "Chain of Command" manages to mix another bravura performance by Patrick Stewart — the second episode, which focuses on Picard being tortured by the Cardassians, is compelling viewing thanks to the interplay between Stewart and David Warner as Gul Madred — with a sly commentary on the status quo of the show itself, with Picard’s surly temporary replacement (Ronny Cox’s Edward Jellico) finally letting Deanna Troi wear a real Starfleet uniform and calling some of the regular cast out on their storytelling tropes. A victory lap from when the show was at its peak.
No alien race in Star Trek history has been as terrifying as The Borg — and it all began with Q flinging the Enterprise to the other side of the galaxy. The hive mind villain’s terror would only increase with "Best of Both Worlds" — and subsequently lose some of its mystique as the Borg was further explored with "I, Borg" and in Voyager. But it all begins here, where the Borg is at the height of its mystique.
Not many shows would be gutsy enough to start an episode by killing off the leading man, but TNG was in the middle of its imperial period, and knew that Picard could be magic-ed back to life via the omniscient Q at any point. He does indeed return, but with a twist — given the opportunity to change his past by Q, he takes it and finds himself a lesser man as a result. Essentially "It’s A Wonderful Life," Trek-style, the episode reveals more about what makes Picard tick (literally; the Macguffin is his artificial heart) and plays out as a morality tale about letting go of regrets over past experiences.
The episode followed the traumatic events of "Best of Both Worlds" and allowed Picard to deal with the trauma of being made into a Borg pawn who murdered thousands of people. Pausing to consider a previous episode was a rarity for Trek at the time — as the show went from adventure to adventure without stopping to reflect on what had come before. It contains the best Picard monologue of the series — but not everyone was a fan of the episode.
"Gene Roddenberry hated it. He wanted to throw it out," Ron Moore, then a young writer on Next Generation, told THR last year . "We all met in Gene’s office and Gene just said ‘this isn’t the 24th century.’ ‘These brothers reflect outdated, 20th-Century modes of childhood development. Mankind had solved these kind of issues by then. I hate this.’ " Fortunately for us, the episode made it to air.
Considered one of the greatest sci-fi stories every told on television, the story grew from Next Generation‘s unusual policy of allowing the submission of unsolicited story pitches. Writer Trent Christopher Ganino pitched the story and ultimately shared a credit with Eric A. Stillwell, then a production assistant on TNG. This Next Generation tale explores what would happen had a key historical event not kept the peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It turns out, Picard would be in charge of a militarized version of the Enterprise, and Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) would still be alive. The Enterprise-D teams up with the Enterprise-C, whose crew ultimately decides to return to their own time to sacrifice their lives to defend a Klingon outpost, thus restoring the universe to its proper timeline. Tasha goes with them … and later we learn gave birth to a daughter.
Without doubt the best Star Trek episode named after a George Harrison song — although who could forget Enterprise‘s third season classic "Wah-Wah"? — this episode is a poignant showcase for Patrick Stewart, who gets to live out the remainder of Jean-Luc Picard’s life in just 40-odd minutes after the captain is transported into the life of an alien scientist after being zapped by a probe on the Enterprise bridge. Watching him grow old against the backdrop of a dying planet is one of the most beautiful things TNG managed during its seven year run. No wonder this episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
The two-part episode was the first (and many consider the greatest) cliffhanger in Next Generation history, seeing Picard abducted by the Borg and forced to be its de facto head, Locutus. The arc introduced layers of psychological complexity to the show and would pay off with 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, considered the finest TNG film.
"All of us were quite thrilled they had the balls to leave Picard on the Borg cube," Jonathan Frakes told THR last year for the arc’s 25th anniversary. "It’s commonplace now. Shows like Lost and House of Cards — they’ll kill off a regular and think nothing of it. This was 1990. It was not commonplace to be killing off any of your series regulars. That was a big "who shot J.R." type of plot."
What’s Hot on The Hollywood Reporter
"Were All Trying to Service the Story": The Composer Roundtable
Ava DuVernay Signs Massive Overall Deal With Warner Bros. TV
Stephen Hillenburg, Creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, Dies at 57
- Hollywoods 100 Favorite TV Shows
- Hollywoods 100 Favorite Movie Quotes