I'm sitting in the DeForest Kelley theater at the 50th anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, dressed as an original-series starship captain and surrounded by members of my tribe. We're here on an hour-long mission to figure out the 10 worst episodes of Star Trek ever made. Any series is fair game.
I have my personal favorite choices for worst episode. "Spock's Brain" from the original series comes to mind. Here's the premise: Aliens steal Spock's brain! And that's all you need to know about how big a stinker that episode is. "The Way to Eden" (space hippies!) is another strong contender. "These Are the Voyages" was the series finale for prequel show "Enterprise." It sucked on so many levels by reducing the main cast to glorified cameos and including the pointless and frustrating death of a main character.
My outsider candidate for worst episode is "Let He Who is Without Sin" from "Deep Space Nine." Pleasure planet Risa episodes should be fun, but this one descends into a weird world where Worf turns ultraconservative and decides it's OK to help out a prudish terrorist group. And Dax takes him back anyway. What the hey, Dax?!
The discussion at the convention was led by Jordan Hoffman, a writer for StarTrek.com and host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. Fans nominated episodes and the crowd whittled it down from there. The commentary got contentious. Almost every terrible episode had its defenders.
Here's the final bottom 10 as decided by the fans in order of slightly-less-horrendous all the way down to the absolute pits:
10. Precious Cargo (Enterprise)
9. The Alternative Factor (Original Series)
8. Move Along Home (Deep Space Nine)
7. And the Children Shall Lead (Original Series)
6. Sub Rosa (Next Generation)
5. Shades of Gray (Next Generation)
4. Turnabout Intruder (Original Series)
3. Threshold (Voyager)
2. Code of Honor (Next Generation)
1. These Are the Voyages (Enterprise)
So our "winner" is "These Are the Voyages," the series finale for "Enterprise." It's a true travesty made worse by being the final episode to the prequel show. It brought in guest characters Commander Riker and Deanna Troi from "Next Generation" and made the "Enterprise" cast play secondary roles on their own show. Spoiler alert: It also killed off Trip Tucker for no reason at all other than to try to manufacture a dramatic moment. It failed and it deserves its place of ignominy in the Star Trek canon.