The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard is set to air on February 16th. The Enterprise Captain Picard has been a fan-favorite character since his debut in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series follows Picard years after he retires from Starfleet as he is drawn back to the stars. Many fan-favorite Trek characters appeared in the show, as well as plenty of new favorites. To celebrate the show’s final season, we are taking a look back at the show that started it all. Here are the 10 best The Next Generation episodes centered around Captain Jean Luc Picard.
10. The Battle (S1, E8)
Before he was captain of the Enterprise, Picard was the head of a ship called Stargazer in The Next Generation. While the Enterprise is his heart, his time on the Stargazer will always hold a special place for him. That is why his curiosity is peaked when a group of Ferengi offers the ship to the captain as a gift. Things quickly begin to take a turn when the Captain begins seemingly losing his mind, boarding the ship and acting out the battle that made him a Starfleet legend. This episode shows just how strategic and cunning the Captain is and shows early fans why he was a worthy successor to Captain Kirk.
9. Captain’s Holiday (S3, E19)
Like many great captains, Jean Luc is a workaholic. His life is the Enterprise, and he will work tirelessly to ensure things are running smoothly and those aboard are safe. Sometimes, this is to a fault, as is with this season three episode. After he successfully mediates a particularly tricky trade agreement, the crew of the Enterprise convinces their captain to take some much-needed shore leave. Of course, things aren’t as relaxing as he would like, as an alien race asks him for help finding a mythical weapon. Many episodes of The Next Generation deal with galaxy-threatening issues, but episodes such as this, where less is at stake, are just as entertaining.
8. The Big Goodbye (S1, E11)
Like Captain’s Holiday, The Big Goodbye is a The Next Generation episode where there isn’t much at stake. However, fans still get to see the characters in a more relaxed state. Here, they utilize the Holodeck, and Picard lives out the adventures of a childhood hero. Picard acts out the life of Dixon Hill, a detective operating in the 1940s. Dr. Crusher and Data join him, but as with many things in the Enterprise, things begin to go south. The fun and restful exercise turn deadly when the ship is scanned by aliens, causing the Holodeck to malfunction and the trio to become trapped.
7. Family (S4, E2)
After the legendary encounter with the Borg, the Enterprise crew decides to take some much-deserved shore leave. Picard returns to Earth to visit his brother for the first time in 20 years. The two have become estranged but work out their differences. Family introduces the family vineyard that the Captain runs when he is first shown in his titular show. This episode of The Next Generation is important, as it not only shows the importance of family but it deals with the effects of serious post-traumatic events.
6. Darmok (S5, E2)
The Enterprise’s mission is to make contact with new civilizations and study them. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. This episode of The Next Generation sees the Captain Picard stranded on a planet with an alien he cannot understand. His translator isn’t working, and he must rely on his wits to get them out of this situation. Durmok is exactly what Star Trek is all about at its core. It shows two members from vastly different cultures coming together for a common goal. The captain does a great job finding a peaceful resolution while maintaining a cool head.
5. Tapestry (S6, E15)
From the get-go, it is clear that Picard is never one to back down from a fight. When he is gravely wounded in battle, his mind meets the always mischievous Q, who offers him a second chance at life. The two go back to the Captain’s days at the academy, where he is given a choice to right a wrong he made. He makes the choice, only to see his present has been altered. Instead of a fearless captain, he is a simple analyst who makes safe choices. He must figure out how to change his life back or be stuck in this altered reality forever.
4. Q Who (S2, E16)
The Next Generation introduced many classic characters into Star Trek lore. one of the most interesting is Q, a mysterious being able to manipulate reality. After their meeting in the show’s first episode, Q is fascinated with the captain, often showing up to test him. This episode sees Q try to convince the captain that the Enterprise needs him by launching the ship 7,000 light-years off course. What makes this such a great episode is the debut episode of the Borg, the beings that become the main nemeses of the captain.
3. Chain of Command (S6, E10 + 11)
The crew well respects the captain. This is evident when he is replaced by a no-nonsense man the crew doesn’t take to. In the meantime, Picard takes on a top-secret mission that, of course, goes south. This episode is so good because it shows what it takes to be a successful captain. It isn’t just a person who will do everything by the book. It is someone who will do whatever it takes to ensure the right thing is done, even at the cost of their life.
2. Inner Light (S5, E25)
When it comes to classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, few can compete with The Inner Light where Captain Picard falls unconscious and awakes in a village. He has a wife and children and delusions of being a Starship Captain. With the help of his wife and friends, he comes to the realization that the life of traversing the stars was all in his head. This episode is one of the best in any Trek series. It shows what one would do when their entire life is presented to them as a lie. Do they accept they made it up? Or do they fight for the life they have lost?
1. The Best of Both Worlds (S3, E26; S4, E1)
This is one of the most legendary episodes in any science fiction series. When discussing Star Trek or the character of Picard, this story is almost always to be brought up. The Enterprise once again finds themselves in contact with the deadly Borg. After a while, Picard is brought aboard the Borg ship and assimilated into a being known as Locutus. As acting captain, Riker makes the only call he can. He orders the ship to fire upon the Borg ship with its doomed captain inside. This is one of the most legendary cliffhangers of all time, and the follow-up the next season more than delivers. The episode was so legendary that a sequel of sorts was the basis of the second TNG movie, First Contact.