'Star Trek: The Next Generation': The Top 10 Episodes

Image credit: Michael Leshnov

8. FIRST CONTACT

LOG ENTRY Riker has gone undercover as a denizen of Malcor III in order to evaluate whether the pre-warp-drive planet is ready to interact with the Federation for the first time. But when he's hospitalized for an injury, doctors suspect his extra-Malcorian origins and grow hostile. The Enterprise crew attempts to defuse the situation by informing a few select government officials about the existence of advanced civilizations on other worlds, but ultimately they must rescue Riker and retreat — with one open-minded Malcor native in tow.

CRITIQUE The Malcorians, though technologically primitive by Trek standards, offer intriguing parallels to modern-day audiences. While some welcome their interstellar visitors with a sense of wonder, many fear and reject them. The result is one of the series' most illuminating parables of xenophobia.

TRIVIA The Malcorian nurse who seduces Riker once his true identity is uncovered is played by Bebe Neuwirth. — Simon Vozick-Levinson

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