The “Spock’s Brain Award”: All Star Trek 101’s worst episodes ranked from to bad to worst

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the television series, "Star Trek."
Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the television series, "Star Trek." /
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Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Genesis”

Why does it deserve the “Spock’s Brain Award”?

"““Genesis” is the most…ahem… curious episode of The Next Generation. When the Enterprise crew gets the flu, the cure proves worse than the illness, causing them to “devolve” into a variety of primeval creatures. The lovely Deanna, for instance, turns into a gilled amphibian, while Riker becomes an unfriendly ape￾man. The cure for the cure has something to do with a litter of kittens. Seriously.”"

There seems to be an unwritten rule that when discussing the worst episodes of TNG, we do not discuss the first two seasons; I suppose, because that would be a little like shooting fish in a barrel. How else do we explain the Spock’s Brain Award not going to “Code of Honor,” “Angel One,” “Justice,” or “Up The Long Ladder?”

But I suppose if we’re cutting out seasons one and two, then “Genesis” could be a candidate for the worst episode (though I’d vote for “Masks.”)

Granted I was eight when “Genesis” first aired, but I found it terrifying. It still sends a chill down my spine. The Klingon proto humanoid monster that Worf turned into is a truly scary horror monster. The problem with “Genesis” is that it’s dumb, and makes no sense, but for visceral scares, “Genesis” is pretty effective. In this regard, “Genesis” is influential in laying out a template for 90s Trek’s horror episodes, such as Deep Space Nine’s “Empok Nor,” and Voyager’s “Macrocosm.”

It’s also nice to see Lieutenant Reg Barclay in manic weirdo mode, rather than than in pitiable creep mode. 90s Trek didn’t have a great track record with comic relief episodes, which made Barclay, an actually funny and charming comic relief character, a lot of fun…, that is when they weren’t writing him as a complete creep.