Ten best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes
One of the great strengths of Star Trek in all its incarnations -- but perhaps most exemplified in TNG -- is its flexibility. Just as an episode like "Yesterday's Enterprise" excels at delivering high-proof space opera on a grand scale, "Darmok" exemplifies the smaller, think-piece approach. Here, Picard and an alien are beamed down to a planet and held there, where they have to learn to communicate to survive. Sure, the central conceit of a language made entirely of metaphor is a little shaky, but the way it's all worked out on screen is captivating, not because of crazy special effects, but because of a cool idea, well-executed. That's a style of science fiction that doesn't make it to television nearly often enough, and this season five episode is one of Trek's best examples of it.