- Season 4, Episode 2 “Family”
- Season 3, Episode 19 “Captain’s Holiday”
- Season 2, Episode 9 “The Measure of a Man”
- Season 5, Episode 25 “The Inner Light”
- Season 5, Episode 21 “The Perfect Mate”
This is a list of my favorite Star Trek The Next Generation that feature Captain Picard. The reasons why an episode can appear on this list ranges from heartfelt personal importance to just being a really fun romp. They all showcase aspects of Picard’s character.
Unlike my Favorite Top 10 Star Trek Next Generation Episodes playlist, I have chosen to rank the episodes from my top favorite, to my fifth favorite episode. Keep in mind that these are ranked due to my personal preference not to any sort of outside gauge such as importance to the series or best acted or most crucial to their character. Although I do find all five of these episodes highly important for the character development of Captain Picard.
I had a hard time narrowing it down to five episodes, one notable episode which was on the list was “Chain of Command Part 2”. I ended up replacing it with “The Inner Light” because, well, I like watching “The Inner Light” more than I do “Chain of Command Part 2”. The latter is a very important Picard episode and if the list was themed on along the lines of character development, rather than enjoyment, it may very well have made the list.
This is my favorite Picard episode. In this episode he is recovering from the trauma of being assimilated into the Borg Collective and in the process killing thousands of Starfleet personnel. He has chosen to go to his family home in France, where his brother, sister in law and nephew live. This is the first and only time you get to meet his family.
You learn about his tumultuous relationship with his brother, his asperations as a child, a bit about his family and their place in keeping the traditions of Earth alive. Most importantly you get to learn more about Captain Picard’s fragility. In a powerful scene, he gets into a fight with his brother. It’s a little humorous, they roll around in some mud, but Picard finally breaks down and describes the pain he went through at the hands of the Borg. For this reason I always include it with a watch through of the Borg story line in the series. (Click HERE for that playlist)
This might be one of the most fun episodes that most feature our dear Captain. He is somewhat forced by the crew to take a much needed vacation. Unlike the peace and quiet they expect him to get during his holiday, it becomes an adventure featuring a beautiful woman, a Ferengi a legendary artifact and two time hopping aliens. You get to see a side of him that is fun and adventurous.
The episode plays into his moral character. While he is initially intertwined purely as a patsy for Vash, the previously mentioned beautiful woman, it wasn’t till the two time hopping aliens intervened and informed him of the galactic stakes that finding the legendary artifact had, that he decided to take an active role in the adventure.
Through watching the adventure you find that what kind of vacation Picard really needs to relax. It’s not reading by the pool or playful sexy time with the locals, no, it’s an adventure. One full of high stakes, intrigue, a little romance and one of his true passions, archeology. It’s one of the most fun sides of Picard you’ll see in the series.
Measure of a Man
This is an iconic episode. It made it on my Top 10 Favorite List. If you want to see Picard give some of his best speeches then this is a must see episode. In it he has to defend Data’s right to choose if he may or may not resign from Starfleet. Does he have the same basic rights of any of the sentient races in the Federation? This question causes them to have to go to litigation with Picard being Data’s advocate.
Picard is faced with the job of proving that data is a sentient being. He is setting future Federation law in regard to how artificial beings are treated and what are their rights. I love the process and the journey that Picard makes as he defends data. At one point he feels like he lost before he even got a chance to defend Data, but is reinvigorated after a discussion with Guinan when he is guided to the realization that he is fighting against nothing less than slavery. The episode has all the drama of a procedural show while being in space.
The Inner Light
This episode is a mind trip. A strange probe zaps Picard with a beam and in the matter of a few hours he lives a whole life time on an alien planet. It’s amazing because it’s the only time you get to see what kind of husband and father Picard would make and he doesn’t disappoint.
In the episode he is living the last days of a dying planet. Despite being in a strange world he adapts but keeps his scientific nature and keeps records of the health of the planet as it dies. I can’t overstate how important this character is to Picard. It had a profound impact on him and it comes up in later episodes, if only subtly.
One thing he learned how to do while living this other life was to play a flute. He didn’t just learn about the death of the planet but also about some of it’s culture, through music. When he went back to being Picard the probe went dormant and within it was the same flute that he learned to play in this other life. He had something to always connect him to this life that he lived. The flute comes up in later episodes.
The Perfect Mate
When I hear people talk about Picard this is not an episode that I hear about. It’s almost a throw away episode, if any Star Trek episode is a throw away episode. They are hosting a peace negotiation and treaty ceremony above the Enterprise. There is a woman who is called a metamorph who is a gift for the chancellor of the other side. She has the ability to become the perfect mate for anyone and she is in the middle of the process of imprinting on her life long mate.
Picard has to deal with thoughts of slavery and the Prime Directive, but what really attracts me to this episode is that we get to find out what kind of partner Picard would be attracted to and his mental fortitude to resist the metamorph’s advances.
It is mentioned at the end of the episode that the ambassador that was accompanying the metamorph was chosen more for his age, over 200 years old, which gave him some measure of resistance to her charms. Even then the ambassador admits that he wouldn’t have been completely immune to them. Picard obviously struggles to resist her, which allows us to see a human side of him we don’t often get to see, but he still managed to keep his hands to himself where other men would have succumbed to her advances.