There are a couple episodes that I would like to mention as runners up - "Mirror, Mirror" where we see a parallel universe where the world and the Enterprise are evil, greedy and backstabbing and "By Any Other Name" which has the fun idea that these superior aliens can by undone by human emotions. These were really great episodes, but these are my top 5 favorites:
5. The Deadly Years
I think the main reason I loved this episode so much was because of the insidious terror in having this unknown ticking time bomb in the main characters. They are aging rapidly for an unknown reason and they need to find the solution before they die of old age. It was poignant to see Captain Kirk lose his memory but still fight to retain his position as Captain and to see how Spock reluctantly proves the case that Kirk is unfit. While the solution to the aging problem is a little bit too easy (and I don't think it explains reversing the aging process) this was still a very thoughtful and entertaining episode.
4. Amok Time
This episode is the first time we get to see anything of the Vulcan planet and their customs and their planet is pretty unusual! Especially when we find out more about this special time every Vulcan goes through when they are basically in heat. (By the way, poor Christine! I'm sure I understand her unrequited feelings for Spock, but I would really try to suppress it if I were her!) The real charm in this episode is in seeing Spock so uncomfortable and out of character and fighting Kirk! Although why wouldn't you just check before accepting the challenge if the fight is one to the death? Just a thought, Kirk. However, there is one moment that put this episode near and dear to my heart and that is when near the end Spock finds out that Kirk is alive and shows some emotion (although he tries to deny it). That scene was the best - bromance for the win! I was hoping we would see more of the Vulcans in this season (and also seeing Spock's parents was awesome) because there's lots to explore with them especially because they are so similar to Humans, yet not. I do find it interesting (or odd) how ritualistic they are for a race that values logic above all else.
3. Bread and Circuses
A Roman culture on an obscure planet? Sure that makes sense. I mean maybe not really but I loved the idea of the Enterprise crew having to deal with these sadistic men to find out what happened to a previous Starfleet scouting party. And when I saw that the Romans televise their gladiator competitions, I immediately thought - OMG Hunger Games! Although the real highlight of this episode for me is probably the antagonistic tone and the constant jibes between Spock and McCoy. I wondered at first at their relationship - because McCoy seems so unfair to Spock really - but I love that they do have respect for each other, but also find it enjoyable to ridicule each other. And hearing some of the things Spock says with such a deadpan delivery is hilarious. I also liked seeing the crew get out of trouble by just beaming out because really they should do that all the time. Haven't they gotten into enough situations where they beam down and are immediately beset by people with weapons? Wear a concealed phaser and have a code to Scotty or Sulu or whoever (like "vatican cameos"!) which means beam me up now asap!! At least Kirk did have a code for Scotty in this one.
2. A Piece of the Action
The planet in this episode features highly imitative aliens who are corrupted because another visiting Starfleet left them a book on Chicago mobsters and the aliens have modeled their society on that book. Any opportunity to see Kirk and Spock out of Starfleet regulation is a treat so I was already well on my way to liking this episode. And while (again!) I can't believe Spock would beam down to the planet with no precautions - completely ready to trust the mob leader because he said so - I loved that there was a tipping point for Kirk and he decided that if he can't beat 'em, he'd join 'em (to a certain extent). I'm sure William Shatner had fun acting the mob boss (as I had fun watching him do it!) and that made this episode one of the most enjoyable to date. Seeing Spock uncomfortably adapt and Kirk revealed as a terrible driver were also moments of pure joy.
1. The Trouble With Tribbles
Welcome to my not-original pick for top episode of season 2! I had heard about the tribbles episode before I started watching the series, so I already had high expectations for this one and I was not disappointed! As I mentioned in a previous post I love the funny episodes, and this one had a wonderful understated ridiculousness to it - understated because it was paired with a great A story - that the Enterprise had to protect a crop of special wheat and also keep an eye on those troublemaking Klingons. The tribbles steadily become more of a problem in the background while our attention is focused on what the Klingons might be up to. The two stories tie in well together and seeing how the tribbles gradually take over the Enterprise was hilarious. As was the scene where Kirk opens the wheat storage container and is deluged with furry tribbles! I feel like the crew must have taken a fiendish delight in throwing those things at him from above.
I had to delay posting this so I've already finished watching Season 3 and have my top 5 post for that ready to go! It should be going up within a couple of weeks!