Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Star Trek geek-out

20th July, 2010

For my birthday, I was lucky enough to receive a Star Trek box set containing the best Borg episodes from all seasons as voted for by Trekkies themselves.

One of the first I watched (resisting the urge to watch chronologically) was an episode called Endgame, the final episode (or 2 if you watched it on TV and they split it up) from the entire Voyager series.

Now I happen to think that this is pretty much the best you’re going to get - an absolutely classic and undoubtedly awesome piece of television which wraps up my favorite Star Trek series of them all. Some would argue it is too abrupt an end, but I think it is a good compromise.

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Anyway, back to the point of the post - after I proclaimed how much I liked the episode, a lot of other people piped in with their suggestions for what they thought constituted the best-ever episode of Star Trek. Here’s a run-down of the suggestions. (It’s well worth reading to the bottom).

Darmok - The Next Generation

The Tamarian language is unintelligible to Starfleet’s universal translators because it is too deeply rooted in local metaphor, so its sentences do not have any meaning to other civilizations. A Tamarian ship approaches the Enterprise and the two races attempt to make contact, but the language barrier prevents anyone on the Enterprise from understanding what the Tamarians are talking about (even though they can understand the actual words). When the Tamarians realize that this attempt has failed, the Tamarian captain has Picard and himself transported to the planet El-Adrel IV, which is occupied by a hostile entity.

Picard and Dathon do battle with the dangerous entity inhabiting the planet, which results in Dathon being mortally wounded. In an effort to communicate something of Earth’s folklore to Dathon, Picard retells part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, concluding with Gilgamesh’s mourning for his slain companion Enkidu, much like Picard’s own sorrow at Dathon’s imminent death.

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The Visitor - DS9

On a rainy night on Earth, the elderly Jake Sisko is visited by an aspiring novelist Melanie, who is curious to learn why Jake gave up writing after publishing two successful books. Jake, knowing the time in his life is short, decides to tell her his story, revealed as flashbacks in the episode.

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The Inner Light - The Next Generation

The Enterprise has just finished a magnetic wave survey of the Parvenium System, when they encounter an unknown probe which scans the ship and sends an energy beam to Captain Picard, rendering him unconscious. Picard wakes up to find himself on the surface of Kataan, a non-Federation planet; A woman identifies herself as his wife, Eline, telling Picard that he is Kamin, an iron weaver recovering from a feverish sickness. Picard talks of his past memories on the Enterprise, but Eline and their close friend Batai, convince Picard that his memories were only dreams, and acclimatize him into their society as Kamin. Picard begins living out his life as Kamin in the village of Ressik, starting a family with Eline, and learning to play the flute.

Knowing that their planet was doomed, the planet’s leaders placed the memories of their culture into a probe and launched it into space, in the hope that it would find someone who could tell others about their species. As he watches the probe launch aboard the missile, Picard suddenly recalls his earlier life aboard the Enterprise.

Extra: the prop flute later was in a deleted scene in Star Trek: Nemesis, and sold at auction for $48,000.

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Year of Hell - Voyager

A huge ship appears in the sky of a distant, alien colony and fires a massive beam, transforming the bustling city below to mountains and fields. As the wave encompasses the planet, the ship’s crew comment on the colony’s erasure before targeting the species’ homeworld.

On board Voyager, Captain Janeway is informed by Seven of Nine that the area of space they are currently in belongs to a species that the Borg know as the Zahl. Upon entering this space, though, a small vessel appears off of Voyager’s port bow and begins an unprovoked attack. The ship is a Krenim destroyer, and the captain of the vessel (unnamed) barks an ultimatum at Janeway that Voyager must leave “Krenim” space or be destroyed. As the ship’s weapons prove useless against Voyager’s hull, Janeway ignores the ship and proceeds to negotiate with the Zahl, who disdainfully threaten the weaker Kremin vessel. During their discussion, Tuvok receives ship readings that a temporal disruption involving the homeworld of the Zahl race has just occurred. As they stand there trying to understand what has happened, a wave of temporal energy reaches their sector of space.

The wave hits all three ships - wiping the Zahl race from existence, making the Krenim vessel bigger and more powerful, and reducing Voyager to a severely damaged state. Now cocky and more arrogant, the Krenim captain tells Janeway that Voyager must submit to the Krenim Imperium and prepare to be boarded. Janeway instead takes advantage of Voyager’s speed and escapes. A scan of the region in the new Astrometrics bay provides the answer: Krenim warships dominate this region of space and it will be hard for Voyager to sneak past them.

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In the Pale Moonlight - DS9

Sick of the losses the Federation is taking in the war, Sisko enlists Garak’s help in getting the Romulans to join the Federation against the Dominion. Sisko soon learns that in order to save the Federation, he must violate the values for which it stands.

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Trials and Tribble-ations - DS9

The episode sees the crew of DS9 travel into their past, and encounter the events of the original series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” The crew interact with events of that episode, meeting James T. Kirk and visiting the original Enterprise by means of modern special effects technology which allows the DS9 actors to be inserted into footage from the original episode.

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