5. Tomorrow is Yesterday
For a Sci-Fi show that I thought would be all about traveling through space and NOT time, I was in for a surprise because there is time travel in this show. Awesome. It's more accidental when it happens (although in one episode it seems like Spock could figure out how to do it) but having it occur rarely does make the time travel episodes stand out for me. Two of the episodes in my top 5 deal with time travel and this is the first one.
The Enterprise travels back to the 60s in a freak black star encounter, and 1960s Earth is ready to take down the Enterprise as a UFO. To avoid an attack, Captain Kirk beams up the scout sent to check out his ship. Of course there are complications when Spock tells Kirk that he can't allow the Air Force Captain to go back to Earth with this knowledge of the future. What I liked about this episode was how it was almost a Mission Impossible type scenario where Kirk had to make sure the Air Force Captain was returned to Earth safely, but unable to use his knowledge of the future to change the timeline. There are some close calls and suspenseful scenes where things seemed to be getting worse as the Enterprise crew tried to avoid letting anybody find out who they were.
4. Shore Leave
Almost with all the TV dramas I love, I really adore it when they include a funny episode in the season to lighten things up. While this episode has some intense moments, I think it is mostly humorous and therefore makes it into my Top 5. But it is also an interesting mystery since for the longest time nobody knows why the things that the characters think of suddenly materialize on the planet. You also get to see a different side to Captain Kirk and it's interesting how they gradually leak more and more information about the personal lives of the Enterprise crew as you continue to watch the show. While this episode is fun, it's also developing the characters and their bonds very well which made it such a joy to watch. And honestly, I would love to visit this planet and think up so many cool things to experience. I just have to make sure not to think of anything scary. Like they did in this episode.
3. Balance of Terror
The story is pretty simple - there's a threat and despite Kirk's attempt to keep the peace, he engages with the Romulan ship who initiated the aggression. Even though the Romulan ship has a ship-invisibility cloak (as it were) and weapons more powerful than the Enterprise, which means Captain Kirk has to outmaneuver the Romulan commander. And that battle of wits is what makes this such an exceptional episode. Especially because the Romulan commander is more than a match for Captain Kirk and to see him gain respect for Kirk is a nice touch to this very tense episode. It's a clever story, with strong leads, and clear line between good and evil. There's also an interesting tension added by having the Romulans resemble the Vulcans, and some ugly racism rears it's head on the Enterprise. Even though Spock is clearly above suspicion! But it is nicely resolved in the end, even though it reminds the viewer of our human weakness - which leads me too:
2. The Devil in the Dark
This was a surprisingly thought-provoking episode! Where I was expecting a straightforward kill the Evil Evil creature causing such panic on this human space colony, we get a thought-provoking exploration of humanity's reaction in the face of something we don't understand. This creature - the Horta - is extremely dangerous, almost immune to weapons, and attacks very viciously, but when Kirk and Spock find out it's habitat was destroyed by the miners and it's eggs were broken, it's suddenly an extremely poignant moment when Kirk and Spock connect to the Horta. And I was so impressed by the message this episode embodies of tolerance and cooperation. Spock's friendship with Kirk was also a highlight for me. When in the beginning Spock is more logical in the fact that the Horta should not be harmed if possible, his immediate reaction when Kirk was trapped with it was for Kirk to do anything he could to neutralize the Horta. The bromance in this show is killing me!
1. The City on the Edge of Forever
Well if anyone reading this is a fan of this show, then I'm sure my Number 1 pick isn't a surprise. I had to google this episode immediately after watching it because it was so good I wanted my love of it to be validated. And fortunately it is commonly thought one of the best episodes of the Original Series. I completely concur, having not finished watching the series. This episode is just heartbreakingly beautiful.
Poor Dr. McCoy is the cause of all the trouble, when he accidentally shoots himself with a drug that makes him go paranoid and delusional. When the Enterprise crew comes across a portal into the past, McCoy runs through and suddenly the Enterprise ship is gone. McCoy changed the past, and now Kirk and Spock must go through the portal and reverse whatever McCoy did. And unfortunately it means Kirk losing something he loves. The whole episode is so well done - from the humor in the awkwardness of trying to blend in with 1930s New York City (Spock's ears give him such problems) to the romance between Kirk and the unfortunate visionary Edith Keeler. I always love a good romance. And it's heartbreaking how Kirk can't stop what happens to Edith. Although I was thinking he would find a way to change the future. The way Kirk deals with his dilemma and his feelings shows off again how noble and admirable he is, and this was a truly moving hour of television.
Well that's my top 5! If you have any favorites from season 1, I would love to know what they are! And I will continue to plow through Season 2 so I can post my top 5 fave episodes from it here soon!