I’ve never identified myself as a Trekkie (or is the preferred term Trekker now?), but I’ve always had a soft spot for the adventures of Starfleet’s finest.  As a young’n, I would get up on Sunday mornings to catch the classic Kirk/Spock/McCoy episodes, and by the time I got to college, Star Trek: The Next Generation had shaken off its early awkwardness to become a fine science fiction program worthy of its predecessor.  (Well, maaaaybe not ‘Shades Of Grey’, but even classic Trek had its weaknesses. *coughSpock’sBraincough*)  For my money, though, it’s hard to find a more engrossing hour of fiction than ‘Darmok’, a fifth season Next Gen episode which puts Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a situation that taxes not only his combat strengths, but his cleverness, his empathy and his decency.  Dealing with issues of cultural transaction, translation and miscommunication, it’s a classic Trek examination of social issues, and also one hell of a good episode, inspiring today’s idle query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) will even open things up for fans of the Version 2.0 JJ Abrams ‘Star Trek,’ because it’s still where no man has gone before, asking: What’s the best episode/moment in ‘Star Trek’ history?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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18 Comments

  1. Bob
    March 21, 2014 at 11:51 am — Reply

    Best of Both worlds…the first 2 parter they did on Next Gen which led to the Borg being the big baddies for the Next Gen crew.And full of surprises!I thought for sure they were going to kill off Picard and have Riker as Captain.But they didn’t and I am glad it didn’t happen!

  2. Dino
    March 21, 2014 at 11:58 am — Reply

    I can’t remember the episode name, but the episode of DS9 when the Klingons attack the station. It brought Worf on to the show, which was a great addition, and all of the cast get cool action moments. Once the Dominion war kicked off, I couldn’t miss an episode. I might get a little flak for this, but I always thought DS9 was the best series.

    • March 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm — Reply

      You’re not alone. I consider DS9 my favorite Trek series, but I will admit it started off a bit slow.

  3. comicfan1974
    March 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    Although it may seem like a cliched response, I think the end of “The City on the Edge of Forever” still stands as one of the great moments of the original series (still my personal favorite iteration of the franchise). it’s not just because Kirk says “hell” (and network censors shuddered) but because the despair and regret and doubt in the moment seems a beautiful way to sum up the legacy of a show that was so often about utterly “human” moments and sci-fi as both powerful allegory (the consequences of history) and internal exploration (life lived in an uncertain universe). I would also pull for Wrath of Kahn’s meditation on mortality and the idea of heroism.

  4. March 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm — Reply

    As far as favourite moments go, I think it’s whenever a new Enterprise is unveiled and you get the dramatic flyby accompanied by the epic film score.
    I tear up a little every time it happens.

  5. March 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm — Reply

    The Voyager episodes “One,” “Riddles,” and “The Year of Hell” are some of my fondest memories of Trek. Robert Picardo’s Doctor was a constant highlight throughout the series.

  6. Rob
    March 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    The DS9 episode Far Beyond the Stars, probably the most political episode of treks most political series and it still manages to be great drama.

    • Arbor Day
      March 22, 2014 at 1:32 am — Reply

      Man, I was going to say that. I liked how DS9 explored humanism/religion in a sci-fi setting.

  7. Kirby
    March 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm — Reply

    Incredibly divisive, but In the Pale Moonlight. I like that it stands in such contrast to what came before, and probably had some of Garak’s finest moments in the show.

    • March 22, 2014 at 10:44 am — Reply

      YES! And the framing device is some of the most compelling Sisko moments of all (and since he’s the central character of the ensemble, that’s saying a lot.)

  8. March 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    “For my money, thought, it’s hard to find a more engrossing hour of fiction than ‘Darmok’”

    You’re not wrong. It was on twice in the past week on BBC America, and I actually appreciate it much more now than I did back when it was new.

    As for my favorites:

    – I absolutely love anything to do with the Mirror Universe, from the classic TOS episode, the DS9 episodes and even the two-parter on Enterprise. I also rather enjoyed the novels that were co-written by Shatner that involved the Mirror Universe, with the Mirror Kirk also surviving to the time of “Generations”, but by completely different means.

    – I also enjoyed the episodes of the later series that touched on the past, such as the appearances of Dr. McCoy, Scotty and Spock alongside the Enterptise-D crew and the DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” (one of my favorite Trek episodes of all time).

    – Worf shouting “Sir, I protest, I am NOT a merry man!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vk5VK5tnJA

    – Data searching for lifeforms with his emotions chip installed
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiH5pxs9ym4

  9. Hannah Jones
    March 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm — Reply

    “There are four lights!” That was an amazing episode.

  10. Josh
    March 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm — Reply

    One of my personal favorites has to be the Season 2, (or was it 3), episode of TNG where Picard had to defend Data’s right as a sentient being in court against Riker.

    • Hannah Jones
      March 22, 2014 at 6:02 pm — Reply

      That one was spectacular.

  11. Gehrigan
    March 22, 2014 at 3:42 am — Reply

    The first season episode of DS9 “Duet”.
    It showed what DS9 could become, the acting was fantastic and the reason for the appearance of the Cardassian “War Criminal” was tragically uplifying. A thoughtful treatise on the horrors that man can perpetrate against man. “They felt clean because they were clean.”
    Still topical today after Guantanamo and our own [Australia that is] Manus Island concetration camp fiasco.

  12. Frank
    March 22, 2014 at 9:10 am — Reply

    I have too many favorites to list, so I narrowed it down to 3 per show:

    TOS: Balance of Terror – Introduction of the Romulans
    TOS: City on the Edge of Forever – As mentioned above
    TOS: Shore Leave: Just a fun episode

    TNG: Lower Decks – Shows what happens elsewhere on the ship.
    TNG: Cause and Effect: Fun time loop story.
    TNG: Inner Light: Picard is given insight into an extinct civilization.

    DS9: Blood Oath: TOS Klingons running amok.
    DS9: Explorers: A bottle show with Sisko and Jake bonding.
    DS9: Tribbles and Tribulations: Crew meeting the TOS crew

    I am hard pressed to find any *Good* memorable episodes of Voyager. Mostly, I remember the awful ones like “Threshold” otherwise known as “Newts from Warp 10”

    Enterprise – Most of the 4th season I enjoyed.

  13. Oldcomicfan
    March 23, 2014 at 8:33 am — Reply

    Balance of Terror is my favorite episode of all. Oddly enough, my second favorite was The Doomsday Machine – with reservations. The original episode was pretty dreadful, with the plastic AMT model kit standing in for the starship hero models, and a giant turd roaming the galaxy, shooting moonbeams hither and yon. But the revised version, with modern special effects, corrects all the flaws of the original and allows the great story to rise above the dreadful special effects which had rendered the original version laughable. There’s just too many excellent episodes to list, sadly there are also a lot of dreadful ones like the salt vampire episode, the Apple, Shore Leave (the Alice in Wonderland episode), the space hippies episode, the Gamesters of Triskellian. The entire first season of Next Gen was pretty dreadful, as they kept retreading original series episodes and the actors hadn’t make the characters their own yet. The whole first season was like “See? See? See how much like Star Trek we are?” mixed with “See how different we are? We split Kirk into Riker and Piccard! We split Spock into Data and Troi! We got a Different Minority on the Bridge, too! See!!!” Inner Light is my favorite Next Gen episode. The episode where the Voyager crashed on the ice planet killing all on board was my favorite Voyager episode. Little Green Men is my favorite Deep Space Nine episode. I liked the mirror universe episodes of Enterprise best.

  14. Oldcomicfan
    March 23, 2014 at 8:39 am — Reply

    I forgot to mention that the Darmak episode was, in my opinion, one of the better Next Gen episodes – when you consider different cultures even on our own planet, it’s a miracle than we can manage to understand one another on any level. Try translating something out of Japanese into English to see what I mean. But this episode had one of the biggest continuity blunders of any Trek episode ever. When Riker fires on the other ship, they shoot phaser beams out of the torpedo bay, and not from any of the phaser arrays. I’m surprised that they haven’t gone back to correct this when they cleaned the episode up for DVD and Blu-Ray release, because that idiotic blunder takes me entirely out of the episode every time I see it.

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