Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 2
Where season 1 introduced us to the characters, season 2 is definitely where everyone started to gel.
There was tremendous character growth across the board during this season, and it still had that feeling of a fun group of people exploring space in their onesies before the stricter, militaristic collars were introduced to the uniforms in season 3. Worf has some outstanding moments in this season, and Doctor Pulaski was a fine replacement for Dr. Crusher – being much more of a foil character for Picard. The series solved its rotating chief engineer position by promoting La Forge, and a new lounge area where the crew can kick back was introduced in Ten Forward, complete with Whoopi Goldberg as bartender.
Some pretty solid upgrades for round 2! Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2.
10. The Royale
“It was a dark and stormy night…”
Yeah, the storyline is a little weak, but the scene with Worf on the phone in the hotel room talking to room service and also Data learning to play Blackjack and taking over the table at Craps makes it worth it. LOSTies will recognize the hotel clerk as a much younger, much thinner Bernard.
9. The Icarus Factor
A great look into Will Riker’s character and his troubled relationship with his father Kyle since he was a kid. The audience also learns along with Riker that his father and Doctor Pulaski had a fling back in the day, and in speaking with her Will learns things about Kyle that he never knew. The B-story in this episode is almost better than the A-story, with Worf approaching a special day in the Klingon calendar but with no fellow Klingons to “celebrate” it with. Wesley Crusher learns of the upcoming event and gathers Worf’s “family” on board the ship to ring in the special day, complete with a holodeck simulation and Klingon pain-sticks.
Yeah. Pain-sticks. Party on!
Worf is great in this one, complete with all the surliness you’d expect from the big guy, and the arc in the relationship between Riker and his father is quite satisfying.
8. The Emissary
How good is Worf in this one. Right from the opening teaser at the poker table through to the final scene he’s on point, with some outstanding lines.
The short sequence where the Enterprise brings aboard K’Ehleyr from the torpedo casing she was in was cool, and another look at Worf’s calisthenics program is a treat. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to see even more of that holodeck program throughout the series. The dialogue during the poker game in the opening between all the characters was so well written, it makes you wish you could just sit back and watch them play poker for the whole episode. Usually anything that involves Klingons is going to shine, and this one was definitely a great installment near the end of the season.
7. A Matter of Honor
Riker goes on an officer exchange program to serve on a Klingon Bird of Prey.
A storyline like that has GOT to be good, and it lives up to it. A misunderstanding/Klingon thirst for conflict puts Riker in a tight spot, and he’s forced to think quickly, with a little help from Worf. The scene in the mess hall where Riker bonds with his fellow Klingon officers is good, as well as Riker’s “last meal” on the Enterprise before departing for the mission. His collection of numerous Klingon dishes looks positively disgusting. X-Philes may recognize Lieutenant Klag; under all that makeup is the shape-shifting bounty hunter Mulder and Scully know all too well. Also, for any real children of the 80’s, the role of Captain Kargan is played by Christopher Collins, also known as Chris Latta. While his face may not be that recognized, his voice-work is well decorated: He was the voice of Starscream, Wheeljack, Sparkplug among others in the original Transformers cartoon, as well as the Cobra Commander, Gung-Ho and several other voices in G.I. Joe.
6. Peak Performance
Moments of loyalty, teamwork, camaraderie and trust are all showcased in “Peak Performance” – and are all reasons why it’s so good. Taking place after our heroes met the Borg in “Q Who”, the Enterprise participates in war games in preparation for the inevitable conflict to come. It pits Picard vs Riker, as the first officer and his hand selected crew will be operating the older Hathaway, taking on the flagship. Riker’s recruiting scenes are good (especially when he unknowingly interrupts Worf building a very delicate model) and the mediator character of Kolrami is fantastic. His complete lack of faith in Riker’s abilities and pure ignorance and cockiness when it comes to the game of Stratagema is done so well, you can’t help but smile when he gets put in his place both by Picard and Data, respectively.
You may recognize Ensign Burke. He was Aaron Pierce in “24”, amongst a million other movies and shows he has appeared in. “Hey, it’s that guy!”
5. The Measure of a Man
An outstanding episode centering on the question of whether the android Data has any “rights” or not, and whether he is treated as property or as an individual who can make his own choices. A hearing is held, and Picard steps up to the plate big time in representing Data. Riker also puts on a pretty convincing display of why Data should be considered nothing more than a talking toaster. There are a number of great scenes, with valid points being made for both sides. Picard’s final argument is the topper of the episode; his absolute conviction and intensity with which he makes his stand is chilling.
Another home run installment. After witnessing the self-destruction of one of their sister-ships, the Enterprise seems to have taken on the same “virus” and system failures that lead to the aforementioned ships destruction. Now it is a race against time to find the cause and solve it, all the while sitting directly across from a Romulan Warbird which seems poised to cause trouble.
Keep an eye on the landscapes that appear in the portal down on Iconia – one of the “distant” locations that flashes by is none other than Toronto, Ontario’s City Hall. Picard listening to his friend Captain Varley’s logs after his death and La Forge’s race to the bridge are highlights.
3. Time Squared
This one is the definition of intense. The crew comes across a drifting shuttle that they bring aboard which has a lone occupant: another Captain Picard. Turns out this one is from 6 hours in the future, and as they investigate further they discover he is the lone survivor of the Enterprise’s destruction. The question then becomes: what lead to the Enterprise being destroyed, and how can it be avoided? Do you turn left now when you were going to turn right? At what point do you stop second guessing yourself?
Picard’s reaction and attitude towards his future self is apprehensive to say the least, and the scene where the “future” logs are played for the crew is really good, coupled with some great music. Also outstanding is the opening scene to the episode where Worf has a great moment, and is really the only source of levity in the entire 42 minutes.
2. Where Silence Has Lease
There is just something about this episode that is so appealing…maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the steps the crew takes to try and find out what’s going on before finally being confronted by Nagilum (who I just found out while checking the proper spelling of the name was voiced by Dr. Silberman from The Terminator movies. No kiddin!) Maybe it’s the “rats in a maze” comparison. Maybe it’s Worf losing it on the away mission and exclaiming in frustration: “One Riker! One bridge!” Maybe it’s the piano playing in the background as Picard is explaining to “Troi” and “Data” what death is.
It’s all of those things combined.
(Side note: Picard CLEARLY knows where Riker and Worf are in the episode teaser; why is he so concerned??)
1. Q Who?
Hands down the best episode of the season, and it’s obvious why: the very first encounter with The Borg. What also makes it so good: Q.
After meeting him twice in season 1 where the character was still rough around the edges, it’s here in “Q Who?” where he becomes the serious threat he can be. What’s unfortunate is the subsequent times after this episode Q’s character takes on more of a humorous aspect, so you need to enjoy this one while you can. There isn’t a misstep this entire episode, and the Borg’s visit to engineering is especially tense.
If you are having a tough time trying to remember where you recognize Ensign Sonya Gomez from – she was the girl with three breasts in Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall. Yup.