The Top Eight

One of the reasons we did the rating system is because people like to rank things. Okay, I like to rank things. We had toyed with fractional warps but in the end, the rating system is less about scientific accuracy than it is about putting episodes in the same general group/pool as each other. Is “Obsession” better than “By Any Other Name”? Well… maybe. But we can at least agree they’re both better than “The Empath.”

You understand.

So let’s see the top tiers. Out of 79 episodes, only eight managed to get both Eugene and my unequivocal admiration.  Can you guess which ones?

The winners:

1×06 “The Naked Time”
1×15 “The Menagerie, Part I”
1×08 “Balance of Terror”
1×24 “Space Seed”
1×28 “The City on the Edge of Forever”
2×05 “Amok Time”
2×13 “The Trouble With Tribbles”
2×22 “Return to Tomorrow”


2×06 “The Doomsday Machine
3×04 The Enterprise Incident

Honorable Mentions:

1×01 “Where No Man Has Gone Before
1×16 “The Menagerie, Part II
1×14 “Court Martial
1×22 “The Return of the Archons
1×27 “Errand of Mercy
2×10 “Mirror, Mirror
2×11 “The Deadly Years
3×23 “All Our Yesterdays

Torie: The strange thing about looking at these episode rankings is that those I would call my favorites–the ones that I keep coming back to–aren’t all on here. I find myself drawn much more strongly to the ones that weren’t perfect. They’re the ones that were so close, and keep nagging at me, making me think, making me reconsider them and want to revisit them to try again. In addition to the titles in the chart, I would add “A Taste of Armageddon” and “The Changeling,” which I still think about from time to time and which still creep me out in fundamental, unshakable ways. Of all the Eden episodes I think that “This Side of Paradise” gives “The Menagerie” a run for its money. I really loved the Shakespearean twist of “The Conscience of the King,” and continue to be challenged by its genocidal main not-quite-villain. “The Enemy Within” strikes me as one of the most bold episodes of the entire series in that it so strongly emphasized compassion as a virtue equal to, if not more important than, courage or bravery. “Charlie X” remains heartbreaking, unfair, and tragic; while “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” is just so original, and beautiful, and inspiring.

And now I’m in the mood for a re-watch.

Eugene: I now see the wisdom in only using whole numbers for our ratings–what a nightmare this list would have been for Torie to compile if we were all over the starchart. It’s not too surprising that the top episodes adhere to so many “best of” lists, but of course this one will serve as the definitive one for all time. I’m so glad we were able to put an end to all the fan debates at long last.

Like Torie, I started asking myself where all the other great episodes were. Why isn’t “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky?” included? “Journey to Babel” doesn’t make the cut, really? I also agree that “A Taste of Armageddon” belongs on this list–I think about it often, for some reason. Then I recalled some of the life-changing lessons I learned during the course of this re-watch, which I touched on a little in our wrap-up post:

1) Sometimes, you remember episodes as being better than they are. How many times did I go into an episode with the false recollection that it was one of the best? I can never make it up to Torie for mistakenly hyping up “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” What the hell was I thinking? Even in reviewing our index, several episodes jumped out at me as being list-worthy, but then I saw the low rating I gave it and thought better of it.

I have no excuse for ever expecting “Plato’s Stepchildren” to be good, except perhaps that it caused some sort of localized brain damage. And I’m still seething over “Requiem for Methuselah.” On the other hand, I will always love some episodes, like “A Piece of the Action,” even though objectively I know they just don’t hold up. There’s often a fine line between “best” and “favorite,” and on occasion I allow emotion to rule over logic.

2) The corollary to lesson 1 is that sometimes, happily, episodes are better than you remember. Where did “All Our Yesterdays” come from? I was prepared to hate it, but it completely surprised me. I had the same experience with “For the World is Hollow…” and “Metamorphosis,” and even to some extent middling episodes like “Spectre of the Gun.” In part, I have newfound affection and respect for these episodes because I saw them in a new light, or because they surpassed my low expectations; they are now some of my favorites because in a way I’ve watched them again for the first time–one of the many rewards of this re-watch.

This is all a long way of saying that memories can be incredibly unreliable. Especially mine. But of course my tastes would change between the ages of 13 and 33–I’m kind of a different person now. I used to like bologna, too. Our Remastered Re-Watch, or as I originally conceived it, our “Re-re-watch,” was just a joke, but I’m also looking forward to rewatching some of these episodes again soon. Fortunately, I no longer need to rely on my swiss-cheese memory to guide my selections, now that I have this handy reference to the ones that are worth my time. I need never watch a bad Star Trek episode again, and that’s a wonderful feeling.

So, what are your favorites? Which ones are the best?

Next up: Why, the worst episodes, of course!

About Torie Atkinson & Eugene Myers

TORIE ATKINSON is a NYC-based law student (with a focus on civil rights and economic justice), proofreader, sometime lighting designer, and former blog editor/moderator. She watches too many movies and plays too many games but never, ever reads enough books. EUGENE MYERS has published short fiction in a variety of print and online zines as E.C. Myers. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the writing group Altered Fluid. When he isn’t watching Star Trek, he reads and writes young adult fiction. His first novel, Fair Coin, is available now from Pyr.