Readers of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.
J.W. – Worf is Shunned (“Sins of the Father,” TNG, 1990)
One of the most poignant scenes in TNG is the Klingon High Council all turning their backs on a lonely Worf in the middle of a circle. It’s a radically unfair moment that contrasts Worf’s true honor with the subterfuge of his rivals.
Mike – “What does God need with a starship?” (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, 1989)
Yes, really. Kirk shows us the importance of iconoclasm—challenging false gods—with this wonderful question. He may not believe in God, but he at least knows enough to “test the spirits” (1 John 4.1). Not every claimant of our ultimate trust, obedience and worship is deserving. Discernment is demanded.
J.W. – Dealing with a Violent Past (“Duet,” DS9, 1993)
The Cardassian/Bajor conflict was apparent all through DS9 and certainly parts of TNG as well, but here it comes into true focus in beautiful ways rarely explored on Star Trek. It remains one of the better episodes of Star Trek across all series.
Mike – “I won’t kill you!” (“Arena,” TOS, 1967)
Kirk relies on his intelligence, ingenuity and mercy to survive, refusing to kill the Gorn he earlier wanted to destroy. He proves to the Metrons’ satisfaction (but not Spock’s) that humanity is “a most promising species.” One of the classic series’ most iconic and memorable hours, and deservedly so.
J.W. – Invading Fleet “Can’t Stand It” (Star Trek: Beyond, 2016)
The latest Trek movie has all kinds of fun moments, but the self-referential humor of blowing away an invading fleet with music that hearkens back to the first reboot film tops them all. Tune into a modern classic to fight baddies.
Mike – Spock Melds with the Horta (“The Devil in the Dark,” TOS, 1967)
In a day when science fiction on TV often meant scary monsters (as in TOS’ own first-aired episode), Trek challenged the idea that the unknown, the alien, the “other” must, by definition, be the enemy. Innovative costuming and Nimoy’s empathetic acting sell the series’ most memorable moment of first contact.
J.W. – We Learn What’s Important (“Family,” TNG, 1990)
Picard must try to reconcile with his brother back home in France as viewers get not only a tantalizing look at life on Earth in the future, but also an education in what’s important. Hint: it’s the episode title.
Mike – Benny Russell Dreams (“Far Beyond the Stars,” DS9, 1998)
Trek’s most direct assault on racial bigotry remains too timely in 2016. Sisko, in a Prophet-induced vision, learns the dangers of being black in 1950s America. It’s also one of the franchise’s most stirring affirmations of hope’s power: “You can pulp a story, but you cannot destroy an idea!”
J.W. – That’s How You Premiere a Series (“Emissary” DS9, 1993)
“Emissary” was a rare moment for me- a pilot episode of a Star Trek series that was genuinely amazing. Sisko’s backstory was intriguing, all the other characters gave hints of potential, and the tension was ratcheted up with the discovery of a wormhole.
Mike – Tasha’s Farewell (“Skin of Evil,” TNG, 1987)
While Trek’s theology of immortality (living on in others’ memories) offers less hope than the Gospel, Tasha’s memorial shows the power of ritual and the necessity of community when coping with grief. Ron Jones’ score sings with heartbreak but also, as if by grace, healing. Season one’s most beautiful moments.
The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.
Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.