Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 4
The Next Generation continued its rise to excellence during season 4.
Storytelling was at an all time high for the series in this season, and everyone got their time in the sun. Family was a big theme during season 4 as well, (including an episode that was titled just that: “Family”) and helped to further explore the characters. We were introduced to the Cardassians for the first time, a species we would become quite familiar with over the course of Star Trek’s history, specifically in Deep Space Nine.
Here are the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4.
10. Redemption Part I
A Klingon civil war is breaking out, and Worf hears the cry of the warrior.
While it’s doubtful there was any real question Worf would eventually return to the Enterprise, it’s a great sequence watching him disembark from the ship. The rows of officers from the turbolift to the transporter room was a great touch, and showed just how much respect he had earned from his shipmates. It’s always good to see Gowron and Kurn again, as this story is a continuation of what was started in “Sins of the Father” and “Reunion”.
9. Identity Crisis
A great episode for La Forge.
Years after being part of an away team on a distant world, it is discovered that members were infected by a parasite that started to transform their physiology into the aliens that inhabited the planet. The best part of the episode is definitely Geordi’s investigation that takes him to the holodeck in order to discover the origin of a mysterious shadow. The makeup department makes great use of black light to illuminate the fully transformed beings, and LeVar Burton brought it to life perfectly.
8. The Mind’s Eye
Geordi is in trouble again and this time he’s been brainwashed to be an assassin.
This is only one of a minuscule amount episodes where the audience gets to experience what La Forge sees through his visor. The Romulan torture he’s put through before he’s turned into a “sleeper agent” seems just awful. Can you imagine what it would be like for someone to tap directly into your visual cortex and be able to show you any number of horrors in your “mind’s eye” without being able to look away or close your eyes? Data does a good job drawing on his Sherlock Holmes skills and conducting an investigation that would eventually save the day.
(Quick question: if La Forge had to use the bathroom on that minuscule shuttlepod – where would he go?? That thing looked smaller than a Smart Car.)
7. The Best of Both Worlds, Part II
Not quite as exciting as Part I, but Part II definitely brings it when it counts. Specifically the rescue mission on the Borg ship and the battle that takes place during it.
This is one of the fewer episodes outside the first two seasons that has a great soundtrack to accompany the action taking place on the screen. While it may seem improbable in hindsight that it only took two officers to kidnap Locutus and escape, they certainly had the perfect two characters to pull it off. You could say that was one of the most important missions Worf and Data had ever been on. Things start to slow down a little bit during the back half, and one can’t help but wonder how ridiculously WEAK Earth’s planetary defenses seem to be. Might be time to step up the guard duty around home base, yeah?
The events of “The Best of Both Worlds” have many repercussions, just as a big event like that should. It is something that will always stay with Picard for as long as he lives.
6. The Drumhead
It all comes down to the near final scene where Picard masterfully tears down Admiral Nora Satie and all her conspiracy theories.
An accident had taken place aboard the Enterprise, and it was found out that a Klingon exchange officer was responsible. However the investigation didn’t end there, as the prominent Admiral and her team continued to dig deeper and started looking for trouble where none existed. Picard uses Satie’s reverence for her father against her, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch as she is ultimately humiliated and brought down from the pedestal she had put herself on. A very good story and well executed. Patrick Stewart nails that monologue.
Nothing beats a good mystery. Picard alludes to that very point within this episode. For a while there you really start to wonder about Data, and what exactly is going on. Has he been compromised? Is he really telling the truth? Troi sporting the deep voice when she’s taken over by the alien is in great contrast to her appearance. What would have happened if Picard wanted to investigate further a second time though, would they have ANOTHER “dress rehearsal” or was the entire crew one minor decision away from death?
Well what do you know…Tasha Yar had a sister.
Two federation officers are held hostage on a hostile planet, which was also home to the gone-but-not-forgotten Tasha Yar from season one. The Enterprise comes charging to the rescue and encounters someone they hadn’t previously even known existed: Tasha’s sibling Ishara. Data, having been close to Tasha, is now drawn to Ishara as well. As is the rest of the crew for that matter, as she gains their confidence to help rescue the hostages. However, Ishara isn’t exactly being totally forthcoming in her intentions.
“Legacy” is a very solid episode with some good action, some insight on a long -fallen character and a hard lesson for Data to learn. A fun note: In the captain’s log near the top of the episode Picard references bypassing their previous mission on Camus II. Camus II is the name of the planet where the 79th and final episode of The Original Series took place back in 1969. “Legacy” is The Next Generation’s 80th episode. A nice subtle tip of the hat to where TOS went, and how TNG is carrying on the “legacy” – going where no Star Trek show had gone before.
3. The Wounded
Chief O’Brien’s former commanding officer goes rogue on the Cardassians, taking matters into his own hands at the risk of starting a war.
A really good installment that not only has some great suspense and dialogue, but also deals with a deeper issue when it comes to prejudice. One of the bigger episodes for the Chief, as we get to learn more and more about his character. Bob Gunton plays Captain Maxwell perfectly, and he and O’Brien get to share a pretty touching scene near the end.
This is the first time we meet the Cardassians, and who knew they would go on to be a cornerstone of Deep Space Nine a few years later. One of the first Cardassians we ever meet, Gul Macet, is played by Marc Alaimo. He would later play an extremely prominent Cardassian on DS9, Gul Dukat.
2. Remember Me
One by one people are disappearing from the Enterprise…and Dr. Crusher is the only one to notice.
It’s a very good story, and having the characters around Crusher oblivious to the fact that any crew members are missing (nor acknowledging they were part of the crew to begin with), is great. More than once Crusher has to describe to her dwindling colleagues people they’ve served with in hopes to jog their memory. “Worf, Chief of Security. The big guy who never smiles?” As more and more people disappear, its fun to see Crusher struggle with trying to determine whether everyone around her is completely nuts…or is it just her? Once she does catch on though, it is some brilliant work of deduction and a humorous back and forth with the computer that carries this episode right to the climax. We also get a visit from The Traveler (a character we hadn’t seen since season one), who had some words with Picard about Wesley Crusher’s potential. Seeing The Traveler again backs up these claims he made a few years ago and indicates that perhaps there is more to Wesley than meets the eye?
This is one of those episodes I remember watching for the very first time.
There was so much going on: K’Ehlyr is back and she has a huge yet extremely tiny surprise for Worf. There are Klingons all over the place. Bombs, murders, revenge, politics…definitely one of the best season 4 had to offer. It also serves as the “middle” of a arc that was started with “Sins of the Father” back in season three, thanks to a line near the end of this episode implying this story isn’t finished yet. Suzie Plakson plays K’Ehlyr so well, and one wonders if Robert O’Reilly really had any idea when he was auditioning for the role of Gowron that this character would not only re-appear throughout THIS series, but continue on in another one for several more years…