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Home For The Holodecks: Our Favorite Star Trek Episodes to Watch Over the Holidays
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Home For The Holodecks: Our Favorite Star Trek Episodes to Watch Over the Holidays

Every Monday at 7:00 PM PT, a talented crew roleplays their way through the galaxy to fulfill a mission: to boldly go where no one has gone before on our Star Trek RPG show Shield of Tomorrow. Join them on their last adventure before the holiday break tonight, Monday December 18, on Twitch and Alpha starting at 7 PM PT.

The end of the year is a time when most people aren’t thinking about TV (unless one of their favorite shows is on their gift list). Long-running shows often would record a quick Christmas episode or a clip show to run in December with little fanfare, because most people are too busy with the distractions of the season to catch their favorite TV show. Things have changed in the days of binge-watching and on-demand video. Now, in those strange moments stuck at Grandma’s house or sequestered away at school, choosing an episode or two of a favorite show is just as comforting as a home-cooked dish.

Star Trek never did much in the was of Christmas episodes, but there are several excellent ones that resonate with the themes of homecoming, family, and reflection. We’ve selected a few of our favorites to watch while wearing comfortable pants over the next few weeks.

The Next Generation – “Tapestry”

Tapestry

Plenty of shows have done holiday episodes that riff on It’s A Wonderful Life. Q plays the part of Clarence in this episode, taking his frenemy Jean-Luc Picard back to a time when the stoic captain wasn’t the levelheaded leader fans knew. The cosmic trickster offers Picard a chance to change things he regretted in is wild youth. Picard makes a few different choices in his life given the opportunity and ends up as a low-level officer aboard his own ship in the new timeline he creates. It’s an excellent episode that explores Picard’s history and deepens the character, showing that his near-death experience helped him become the great captain fans came to love.

The Original Series – “Amok Time”

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An episode featuring a gladiator duel to the death between two lead characters seems like a weird choice for a season full of joy and peace, but hear us out. This second season premiere episode is not just Star Trek operating at the height of its power—the music from the fight is iconic for a reason—but it also features a theme that a lot of people have to wrestle with as they grow up. Spock spent the first season as cool, calm and collected, but back on Vulcan, he’s a slave to his emotions and trying to cope with the impossible demands of his family and culture. Anyone that’s come back home from college over the holidays has likely had a similar experience, only missing the sweet sash.

Sons of Mogh – “Deep Space Nine”

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So much of Worf’s journey as a character through multiple series and films is about a journey to find a family, it was difficult to choose just one. We finally settled on this fourth season episode of Deep Space Nine, which continues to deal with the fallout of the Klingon Civil War as Worf struggles to find a place aboard the space station. Klingons really came into their own with the mix of family drama and political intrigue that Worf’s character brought into the mix. This episode illustrates that even aliens have relatives that they would rather not deal with because of long-standing grudges.

Voyager – “Real Life”

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The non-human characters of Star Trek are used as mirrors to reflect the highs and lows of the human condition back on the view. The Doctor creates a perfect family in this episode of Voyager to better understand humanity. His wife and kids start out too perfect, but when he adjusts the program based on feedback from fellow crewmembers, the flaws of his family first prove frustrating and then frightening. Having a perfect family can sometimes be at the top of the wish list, but the episode reminds viewers that true family is about the highs and lows of being close to people.

Enterprise – “A Night In Sickbay”

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Much of the drama that comes from holiday gathering are the forced living situations causing friction between members of the family spending too much time together. Archer moves into the sickbay while his dog is quarantined and fights off an alien virus. Friction between Archer, Phlox and T’Pol comes from the aliens unable to understand why Archer values his pet so much, and Archer unable to deal with his burgeoning feelings for T’Pol. There is an old saying about hell being other people, but this episode shows that sometimes, it’s aliens, too.

What’s your favorite episode of Trek to watch this time of year? Tell us in the comments!

If you’re looking for more adventures set in the Star Trek universe, be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show, Shield of Tomorrow tonight starting at 7 PM PT for the last adventure of the year on Geek & Sundry Twitch and Alpha (where you can also catch past episodes of the show). 

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Feature Credit: CBS

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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