Star Trek turns 50 this week! And The Sci-Fi Christian’s resident unrepentant Trekkie, Mike, has teamed with up J.W. Wartick, author of the Always Have a Reason apologetics blog and fellow Trek fan, to celebrate.
Through September 8, J.W. and Mike will be cross-posting their 25 personal favorite moments from the length and breadth of the Star Trek franchise. From the original series to the Kelvin timeline, these 50 moments in total are among the highest highlights Trek has to offer. Some are iconic scenes that show Trek’s true heart. Others have special resonance for Christian Trek fans. Still others are just a whole lot of fun.
In keeping with the 50th birthday theme, Mike and J.W. have limited their comments about why they chose these moments to 50 words or less. (It wasn’t always easy!)
We hope you enjoy counting down to Trek’s golden anniversary with us!
Today’s chosen moments again lift up Trek’s flair for wearing either the mask of tragedy or comedy, as the story demands. From Lwaxana’s deep and painful grief to Kirk’s tribble-induced exasperation, these moments give a sense of the franchise’s wide emotional range. They also show us how Trek can spark deep thought on unresolved ethical issues still shaping our society, for good or for ill, from racism to eugenics—and the place of religion in it all. Trek remains as relevant today as ever.
J.W. – Odo Can Turn Into ANYTHING (DS9)
Okay, it might not quite be true to say that Odo can turn into anything, but close enough. Throughout the course of DS9 fans see Odo shapeshift into all kinds of strange things, from vases to a combadge. The combination of ability and campiness makes Odo an intriguing character.
Mike – Spelled Out in Black and White (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” TOS, 1969)
When I was younger, I dismissed classic Trek’s most overt criticism of racial prejudice as “about as subtle as a sledgehammer.” Now, sadly, I’m not so sure white Americans don’t need as many blunt reminders about the dangers and sheer stupidity of racial prejudice and intolerance as we can get.
J.W. – Tribbles (“The Trouble with Tribbles,” TOS, 1967)
There’s a reason everybody remembers this episode. It may not be the greatest piece of film shot for Star Trek—far from it—but it got nominated for a Hugo award and is some of the most straightforward fun I’ve had watching an episode of Star Trek.
Mike – Fizzbin (“A Piece of the Action,” TOS, 1968)
Kirk’s knack for fast thinking and fast-talking his way out of tough spots has never been on more hilarious display. His impromptu “rules” aren’t internally consistent even as he makes them up, which only adds to the fun. Shatner’s clearly having a good time, and viewers do, too.
J.W. – Learning How to Mourn (“Dark Page,” TNG, 1993)
Lwaxana Troi, one of my least favorite characters, is given an astonishingly sympathetic role as one suffering mental trauma from the loss of a child. As a viewer, you learn that sometimes, there is little you can do to help but weep with those who mourn.
Mike – “Don’t Destroy the One Named Kirk (“Balance of Terror,” TOS, 1966)
McCoy encourages a self-doubting Kirk by putting him in his cosmic place: “In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us.”
J.W. – Eugenics = Bad (“The Masterpiece Society,” TNG, 1992)
Star Trek is sometimes at its best when introducing ethical questions, and “The Masterpiece Society” asks many. In particular, what price are we willing to pay for alleged perfection? It’s an ethical quandary that takes center stage in this thought-provoking episode.
Mike – Ambassador Kollos (“Is There in Truth No Beauty?,” TOS, 1968)
The semi-corporeal alien deemed too hideous to behold is one of classic Trek’s most truly “science fictional” aliens—and Dr. Miranda Jones’ impassioned challenge of conventional wisdom (“Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear, or too beautiful to bear?”) is an eloquent plea for embracing diversity. IDIC!
J.W. – The Power of Religion (“Accession,” DS9, 1996)
Though it could be faulted for portraying a somewhat pragmatist view of religion, “Accession” also shows at several points that faith is something that goes beyond simplistic stereotypes and into deeper aspects of personhood. It’s a moving episode that sees Sisko reinstalled as Emissary.
Mike – “The Klingon Battle” (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979)
Another standout musical moment from Goldsmith. The insistent clacks of his heavily percussive Klingon theme underscore the doomed aliens’ encounter with V’Ger, “voiced” by the wonderful “blaster beam.” Spectacular new Klingon ships, a high-tech Federation space station, and an immediately gripping threat to Earth, all in a few minutes’ time.