7. "Ad Astra Per Aspera" (season 2, episode 2)
"Ad Astra Per Aspera" sits at the 7th spot in my ranking, and it's quite the space odyssey to talk about. The episode tries to soar high, aiming to replicate the success of more serious, morally inclined episodes of previous series (this one really resembled "The Measure of a Man" from Star Trek: The Next Generation) but, ultimately, it doesn't quite peak as high.
Much like episodes of a similar caliber, it deals with hefty ethical questions that make Star Trek the brainy, heart-filled adventure we love. But here's the rub: where other episodes shine with their ability to smoothly deliver a powerful and lasting impression, "Ad Astra Per Aspera" takes a detour, choosing to resolve its central conflict not with a powerful logical or moral argument - but through a technicality. This move made us feel like we were taking a warp-speed shortcut in a story that deserves the scenic route.
This approach have you wondering if there should have been a bit more to this story. The episode has all the right ingredients to put it in the 7th slot in this ranking – the tension, the drama, the classic Starfleet ethical quandary. Yet, when it comes to the crunch, it doesn't quite deliver the satisfying philosophical punch we expect from Star Trek's best. It's like gearing up for a gourmet meal and ending up with fast food - it's still good, but not quite what you were craving. "Ad Astra Per Aspera" does entertain, however, and it keeps us hooked, but in the grand scheme of things, it's more of a steady cruise through space than a groundbreaking adventure to new frontiers.