On Friday, the Star Trek 50th anniversary convention in Las Vegas came alive with passionate debate as Star Trek fans bantered their way through a discussion of the worst episodes Trek ever committed to film. There's another side to that equation. Star Trek is also full of episodes that stand among the best in television. As tight as the race was for worst episode, the competition for the finest is even tougher.
I have my personal favorites. "City on the Edge of Forever" from the original series has stayed with me since I first saw it as a child. I can feel the heart-rending moment when Kirk stops McCoy from saving Edith Keeler. "Yesterday's Enterprise" from "The Next Generation" showcases Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan and also offers a much more satisfying wrap-up for Tasha Yar's story than she got from her untimely and pointless death in season 1.
My dark-horse candidate for a Top 10 episode is the thoroughly entertaining "Trials and Tribble-ations" from "Deep Space Nine." It combines footage from the original "The Trouble with Tribbles" with an adventure featuring the "DS9" cast going back in time. It's got old-school uniforms, fun crossover action and plenty of cooing tribbles.
Jordan Hoffman, a writer for StarTrek.com and host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, led the discussion, organized the nominations and directed the passionate conversation as we whittled down the candidates. Spirited arguments led to this final consensus. Every episode on the list is fantastic, but the ultimate champion is deserving of its spot:
10. The Magnificent Ferengi (Deep Space Nine)
9. In a Mirror, Darkly (Enterprise)
8. Balance of Terror (Original Series)
7. Chain of Command (Next Generation)
6. The Visitor (Deep Space Nine)
5. Yesterday's Enterprise (Next Generation)
4. Amok Time (Original Series)
3. The Inner Light (Next Generation)
2. In the Pale Moonlight (Deep Space Nine)
1. City on the Edge of Forever (Original Series)
It's interesting to note that "The Trouble with Tribbles" clung onto the No. 10 spot until the very end, when fans voted it out and replaced it with "The Magnificent Ferengi" from "Deep Space Nine." It was close.
"City on the Edge of Forever" makes for a nice counterpoint to the fans' choice of the series-ending stinker "These are the Voyages" from "Enterprise" as the worst episode. As bad as "Voyages" was, "City" represents one of Trek's finest moments. It's a love story. It has time travel. It has a great sacrifice. And it's a shining example of the chemistry and camaraderie between Trek's lead trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.