On September 8, 1966 the first episode of Star Trek aired. If you haven’t watched a single episode of Star Trek in 48 years, then this list should help you on your journey to the final frontier and to discover just what you have been missing!
Debuting in 1966, Star Trek was a new science fiction show that was shown in color and aimed at both kids and adults. In all its various movies and spin offs, Star Trek is a show that has changed television. Showing us a peaceful and utopian version of the future that is rarely seen.
Star Trek is a show that can connect to anyone; regardless of politics, religion or culture. This is a series that proved that the human adventure has yet to begun, and the final frontier is much grander and thought provoking than we ever thought possible.
Here are five episodes of Star Trek in order that are timeless and should truly connect with any non-Star Trek fan. Luckily, there have been five Star Trek shows so I took the liberty of choosing one episode from each series.
5) Year of Hell Part 1&2 (Star Trek: Voyager)
Year of Hell takes the premise of Star Trek: Voyager and kicks it up another level. If you didn’t know, Voyager is a ship lost on the other side of the universe, far from Earth. In this two-parter, we see the ship physically beaten apart as the crew encounters a species that is hell bent on changing the universe as we know it. We live every day of a full year on the ship in two episodes, and see every sacrifice that Captain Janeway has to made to hold it all together.
This episode is plagued by some time travel timey wimey physics, but overall is a serious and ambitious look at Voyager. Especially Captain Janeway’s badass maneuver seen below in the episode’s final moments.
4) Similitude (Star Trek:Enterprise)
During Enterprise’s third season, the show entered an arc where the crew had to fight the Xindi, a species that had committed a 9-11 type attack on the Earth. During this mission, their chief engineer was injured, and the warp core was damaged. With no one on board to repair it, Captain Archer and his doctor used a “mimetic symbiote” to create a clone of Trip, the chief engineer. Their plan was to harvest organs from it to save Trip’s life.
What starts as an allegory about stem cells and cloning soon becomes personal as we see the clone grow before our eyes and become a real person. Forcing the captain to seriously contemplate whether its right or wrong to ask this clone to sacrifice his life for the greater good. The strength of this episode is Connor Trinneer’s performance as the clone. Since the audience sees his entire life, we feel as we are just as invested in the clone’s future as anyone on the ship. This episode tugs on your heartstrings when you finally see what the Captain decides what to do with our little clone.
3) The Inner Light (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
When a mysterious space probe zaps Captain Picard, he is forced to experience the entire life of a man named Kamin on a dying planet. Picard fights this life in the beginning, but by the end, accepts that he is Kamin believing the Enterprise never existed.
This was an episode that made us explore the meaning of our existence, and the value of life. Patrick Stewart gives a brilliant performance as a man not sure which is the real world. With lesser actors, this could have been a mediocre episode. Stewart however, elevates it to the point where we truly care about this man called Kamin and his family. Never before has the simple playing of a flute brought a tear to your eye.
2) City on the Edge of Forever (Star Trek: The Original Series)
One of the best, if not the best, time travel stories in all of Star Trek. In a story written partially by Harlan Ellison, Kirk, Spock and McCoy time travel to Depression-era New York. There they meet a lovely woman by the name of Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins. Kirk falls in love with her, but soon learns that her death is a preordained event that must take place. Otherwise, their future of peace and prosperity for humanity will disappear from existence.
It was a smart move to set this story in a pre-World War II world, and have Kirk’s love interest play a pacifist. Especially when the great war was still on people’s minds in the 1960s. For all its time travel story elements, this is a story about love and sacrifice. What would you sacrifice for the greater good of the universe? Well, after this episode, we know Kirk’s answer to this question. William Shatner’s tortured decision is a great scene in television history as seen in the final scene of the episode below.
1) The Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Captain Sisko dies in a warp core accident. Soon, Sisko’s son, Jake, keeps seeing the ghost of his father. Jake soon throws his life away; spending his entire life creating ways to save his father.
Whether you liked Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or not, it was essentially a series about a father and his son in the final frontier. No episode exemplified this more than “The Visitor.”
This episode is a great metaphor for how some us can truly be consumed by the loss of a loved one. And how precious it is to experience our lives, before time slips away. Some might consider this the greatest episode of Star Trek ever produced, I know I do.
So there you have it, five hours of solid science fiction television that anyone will enjoy. All the above episodes are on Netflix streaming currently. So sit back, relax, and take your first dip into the final frontier with Star Trek. Engage!