We’re less than a month out from the premiere of Star Trek: Picard’s final season! Here at Fangirlish, I’m helping you fill the time with my “Things to Do During the Star Trek Hiatus” series. Next up, is a good, old-fashioned list. Whether it’s been a minute since you’ve watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, if you’re new to Picard and are jumping in just for the TNG cast, or if you’re just new to Star Trek, I’m glad you’re here. With the help of my cohorts at the We Made This Podcast Network’s Star Trek shows, Make It So and We Are Starfleet, I’ve compiled a list of recommended classic Star Trek episodes for you to check out, highlighting our main Picard cast for season 3.
These episodes will help you get a feel for each character and help build anticipation for Picard season 3! Just because we’re on a hiatus, doesn’t mean we’re bored. Here’s our watchlist of key episodes to watch before Picard.
Geordi La Forge
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 4×18, “Identity Crisis” puts Geordi in danger of being changed into an alien lifeform because of an encounter he had on an away mission 5 years before. This episode gives you a bit of backstory on Geordi’s time before he was on the Enterprise, but also shows his overwhelming characteristics of curiosity and problem-solving. After all, that’s why he’s our chief engineer. An honorable mention for Geordi is the TNG episode 7×03, “Interface” where we learn more about Geordi’s Starfleet heritage.
For Counselor Troi, you’ll want to check out Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 3×05, “The Bonding.” What makes “The Bonding” a solid episode for Troi is that you get to see her deep empathy, her interpersonal skills, and her abilities as a counselor on full display. She counsels a young boy through an incredibly difficult situation, while also dealing with an unknown alien force. Honorable mentions for Troi are Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes 6×14, “Face of the Enemy” and 7×07, “Dark Page.”
Dr. Beverly Crusher
In this mind-bending alternate reality episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation, episode 4×05, “Remember Me,” the normally calm and collected, Dr. Beverly Crusher experiences her greatest fear–losing those she loves. Fun fact about this one—Gates McFadden did all her own stunts for this episode. An honorable mention for Dr. Crusher is Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 6×22, “Suspicions.” And if you want to watch the infamous Dr. Crusher episode, check out the TNG episode 7×14, “Sub Rosa,” which may or may not be based on Anne Rice’s The Mayfair Witches. You be the judge.
Worf is one of the most iconic characters in the Trek pantheon, as he not only starred in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well. That being said, when it comes to picking just one episode to give you a good feel for Worf, that’s quite the challenge. However, “Sins of the Father,” episode 3×17 of Star Trek: The Next Generation is THE key to understanding Worf as a character.
Michael Dorn said that his perception of Worf was altered by “Sins of the Father,” influencing his portrayal of the character going forward. I remember a feeling of profound sadness and injustice after finishing this episode, which is quite different from how I felt after finishing any other TNG episode up to that point. The nature of episodic television is that the story has a conclusion at the end of the episode. “Sins of the Father” doesn’t put a bow on it. However, the story does have some solid payoff later in the series. For that, you’ll want to watch TNG episodes 4×26 and 5×01, “Redemption” and “Redemption II.”
William T. Riker
Who doesn’t want Riker to be their Number One? I know I do. He’s got some great episodes to choose from, but I think if you want to get the full measure of his character, you should really check out Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter, episodes 3×26 and 4×01, “The Best of Both Worlds” and “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II.” When Picard is captured by the Borg and assimilated, Commander Riker has to step into captaincy and do his best to face the threat of the Borg, while also trying to save Captain Picard.
Widely hailed as two of the best episodes of the series, these episodes are must-sees for any Trek fan. Honorable mentions are Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 7×12, “The Pegasus,” and my personal favorite Riker episode, episode 6×21, “Frame of Mind.” Jonathan Frakes’ dramatic performance in that episode shows his range as an actor and is incredibly compelling.
Seven of Nine
If you’ve been watching Picard, you’ve already met Seven of Nine, but her introduction to the Trek universe actually took place in Star Trek: Voyager. Seven (Jeri Ryan) took the greatest enemy of The Federation and made them, well, human. By that, I mean relatable, and not without hope of redemption. To know how far she’s come, you need to see where she started. Seven of Nine makes her debut in Star Trek: Voyager episode 4×01 “Scorpion: Part II,” where Captain Janeway strikes the craziest deal you could possibly imagine. The deal itself isn’t actually that crazy, but the fact that it’s with the Borg is what really makes it wild. You’ll want to watch the previous episode 3×26 “Scorpion” first to get the setup. Honorable mentions for Seven of Nine are Star Trek: Voyager episodes 4×06, “The Raven” and episode 5×15, “Dark Frontier.”
While Raffaela “Raffi” Musiker (Michelle Hurd) enters the Trek universe in Star Trek: Picard, I know of a few folks who are only planning to watch season 3 of the show due to the return of the classic TNG cast. If you’re new to the Picard series or just need a refresher, check out Raffi’s introduction in Star Trek: Picard episode 1×02, “Maps and Legends.” An honorable mention that provides further insight into her past is Star Trek: Picard episode 1×05, “Stardust City Rag.” It will be interesting to watch how Raffi integrates with the rest of the old guard in Picard’s final season.
The man, the myth, the legend. Starfleet’s boy scout, Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) hardly needs an introduction. However, if you want to see the heart of his character, I think you need to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 2×09, “The Measure of a Man.” This landmark episode of Star Trek is one with real-world applications but also shows who Picard is as a man–someone who walks with integrity and is a champion of equality. An honorable mention for him is Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 6×15, “Tapestry,” where he gets the chance to correct a mistake he made as a young man.
That should give you plenty to work with while we wait for the premiere of Star Trek: Picard season 3 on February 16, 2023. By the way, if you missed TREKtalks2, fear not! The entire livestream of interviews is available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. In the meantime, stay tuned here to Fangirlish for more suggestions from yours truly on things to do while waiting for the return of Star Trek: Picard.
All episodes of all Star Trek series are available now on Paramount+.