Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3
Ah, season 3. The show matures a little bit; collars are added to the uniforms, Riker puts on a few pounds, and Picard on shows us on several occasions you have to get up pret-t-ty early in the morning to pull one over on him. From here the show would continue to get better and better and earn the recognition is had always deserved (possibly thanks to one of the best cliffhangers in Star Trek history).
Here are the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3.
10. The Defector
The Enterprise takes on an apparent Romulan defector with knowledge of a secret base that could potentially start a war between the two powers.
The show really started to push a Romulan presence in season 3 (with potential that hostilities could break out at any minute), creating a very “walk on eggshells” feeling whenever we saw the pointed-eared foes. The one-armed man from Harrison Ford’s “The Fugitive” plays Commander Tomalak, a character we would meet a few times throughout the series. It’s a good episode, with Picard’s ace in the hole being the main highlight.
James Sloyan plays the Romulan defector extremely well, turning him into a character you can’t help but sympathize with in the end. This would be Sloyan’s first of a handful of appearances as various characters throughout multiple Star Trek incarnations over the next few years.
Picard is kidnapped from the Enterprise, replaced with a “doppelganger” and held captive with 3 other prisoners – all from different species.
This is one of those episodes that truly shows just how observant and smart the Picard character is, and how anyone trying to mess with his intelligence should beware. It’s hard to decide which Picard is more fun to watch, the one figuring things out in captivity, or the one who replaced him on the Enterprise. The “Captain” begins to display odd behavior – much to the crew’s confusion – especially in a great scene involving Picard leading his officers in a drinking song in Ten Forward. Esok, one of the real Picard’s fellow captives is a compelling character, and it’s too bad we don’t get to see more of his people throughout the series.
8. The High Ground
A small terrorist group that is angry with the fact that the government is currying favor with the Federation (along with medical supplies), kidnaps Dr. Crusher in an attempt to make their voice heard.
Some cool technology is on display in this episode, and a sequence where the terrorists board the Enterprise is pretty action packed. Dr. Crusher has plenty to do in this one, and her captor, Finn, is a complicated yet enticing character. A good episode with a serious tone, “The High Ground” is a solid addition to season 3.
7. Deja Q
Q is baaaaaaack, only this time he’s not quite himself.
Having been stripped of his omnipotence and powers by the Q Continuum for “bad behavior”, Q chooses to become human and asks to be brought to the Enterprise – because Picard is “the closest thing I have to a friend.” (Cue outstanding disgusted reaction from Picard.) Now that Q is powerless and just like everyone else, there is no end to the verbal shots taken at Q, and FROM Q as well, using insults as a defense for how truly terrified he is to be in this situation. Some of the best humor the series ever had is displayed in this episode, and Data is given a very special, rare and brief gift at the end that is a joy to watch.
6. The Hunted
A fun episode if you like manhunts, security lock-downs and outsmarting opponents.
An escaped “prisoner” from a planet vying for acceptance into the Federation is captured & held on board the Enterprise. During his incarceration we learn that he is only a product of what his government had made him years earlier to fight their wars: the perfect soldier. Through mental and physical manipulation this man and many others like him were transformed, only to be rejected by their own governments and deemed “too hostile” after the war was over. Troi has many thoughtful scenes throughout, and it is great to see Worf really fill out the role of Chief of Security during the pursuit of the escaped prisoner.
James Cromwell makes the first of a handful of varying guest appearances in Star Trek, his most notable role being Zephram Cochrane in the TNG feature “First Contact”.
5. Booby Trap
An episode that not only lets Geordi shine, but the orchestral soundtrack as well.
Somewhere along the line between the first season of TNG and the third season the music for the show became incredibly monotonous and bland, with only a few standouts throughout the rest of the series. (The vanilla soundtracks would continue into the other spin-off’s as well.) “Booby Trap” however, is one of those standouts. The music that is used as Picard realizes the Enterprise may be caught in an ancient trap, as well as when he pilots the ship free (an excellent sequence in itself) is top notch and memorable.
The writers finally give La Forge some success in the romance department, albeit this particular love interest is a hologram. This won’t be the last time we see Dr. Leah Brahams though, as events in this episode will have repercussions for Geordi down the road.
4. The Survivors
A planet lays completely wasted after what appears to be a brutal attack, save for one perfect plot of land – and two survivors.
Another episode in the season that highlights Captain Picard’s intelligence and mastery of command. Where others may have faltered, Picard sees right through “Kevin” and gets to the real truth of why he and his wife survived. There are a few space battles that occur with an extremely imposing ship, the design of which looks pretty menacing and is quite effective. The side-story of Troi and the constant music in her head is confusing at first, but becomes very clear at the end. Once understood, it was a smart move on Kevin’s part. Worf has some brief yet fantastic lines of dialogue.
3. Sins of the Father
Worf is tracked down by his brother Kurn, who is seeking his representation of the family to fight a dishonor that has been leveled against them by the rival Duras family.
What a great story for Worf. This acts as the first “part” that would be continued in Season 4’s “Reunion” & “Redemption”. We get more insight into Klingon tradition and culture in this episode, and Tony Todd is great as Worf’s younger sibling. It was a nice touch explaining Kurn’s post on the Enterprise, tying it in to the exchange program introduced back in Season 2’s “A Matter of Honor”. The way everyone reacts to Kurn (save Worf) is great, as they try and adjust to a Klingon superior officer. Duras is played perfectly as the dishonorable foe, and the final scene of the episode is some powerful stuff.
A great standout of Season 3.
2. Yesterday’s Enterprise
Not only is “Yesterday’s Enterprise” among the top episodes of Season 3, it is also easily one of the best of the entire series.
Glimpses into alternate realities are ALWAYS a good time, because we get to see a different take on things the audience has taken for granted. Maybe if a show had more budget, they would have always designed a set piece this way – but since it’s one-time only, they went ahead and changed it up. Maybe our beloved characters would have always acted a little differently if a certain set of events or circumstances had been written into their character.
And speaking of characters: we get to see Tasha Yar again, alive and well. In this timeline, she was never killed by Armus. (Also in this timeline, no Worf – war with the Klingons will do that to a bridge crew.) She is certainly the main character in this episode, and Denise Crosby does a fantastic job with it. It’s a shame she didn’t have this kind of stuff to work with when she was part of the cast, but perhaps it all works out in the end anyways. The events that take place here set up a whole new character down the road.
Another highlight besides an altered Enterprise and an old friend from the past? We finally get a look at the real live Enterprise-C, complete with Shooter McGavin as part of the crew. Anytime TNG brings back the old burgundy Starfleet uniforms is a treat.
A fantastic story with dire circumstances and great acting make this one a true classic.
1. The Best of Both Worlds, Part I
What a complete winner of a cliffhanger. This episode is the one all other cliffhangers in any other Star Trek SERIES is compared to. “Yeah it was good…but was it “Best of Both Worlds” good?”
We finally get to see a follow-up on The Borg, the cybernetic race that Q introduced us to in the fantastic season 2 episode “Q Who?”. Just as terrifying as they were when we first met, The Borg are on a very specific mission this time around: kidnap Captain Picard. Make him one of our own. Take down humanity. With apparent rumors of Patrick Stewart possibly leaving the show, his capture and assimilation made it all that more interesting.
We were also introduced to a new character in Commader Shelby. She brought a great intensity and drive to the crew, and was highly successful in being the kick-in-the-pants that Commander Riker needed. Sharp viewers will note that the actor playing Admiral Hanson (George Murdock) also played “God” in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Perhaps the only thing lacking in Part I is we don’t get to see any of the battle of Wolf 359, but luckily Deep Space Nine would have that covered a few years later. What definitely WASN’T lacking was the suspense built up in the final scene. The ticking clock, the slow push on Riker as he’s about to give the order to fire and that MUSIC made for an amazing final moment before those dreaded three words make their appearance on screen: To be continued….