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: Voyager – “Threshold”

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

"““Threshold” is the Voyager episode most likely to give Darwin a migraine. Here we learn that one unfortunate result of a human achieving warp 10 (Star Trek’s starships typically can’t reach this tantalizing threshold) is that the human mutates into a big salamander thingy.”"

I’m not going to defend “Threshold,” I’m not going to argue that it’s actually a good episode. But too many Voyager episodes, especially from season two, were simply forgettable, while “Threshold” was memorably bad. There’s something to be said for that.

It seems the worst thing a Star Trek episode can do is make no sense. All of “Threshold’s” problems come down to it not making sense. Star Trek 101’s blurb up there pretty much sums it up. In the Star Trek universe, warp 10 is infinite velocity, an impossible speed. When Tom Paris breaks the warp speed barrier, the consequence is that he turns into a giant salamander. He kidnaps Captain Janeway, who also turns into a giant salamander, and they’re found on a nearby planet with baby salamanders, implying they mated. While I maintain that there are worse episodes of Voyager, there are none that make this little sense. For this, it thoroughly deserves the “Spock’s Brain Award.”

Producer Brannon Braga did extensive rewriting on the script during the editing stage and later said he regretted taking out what he believed would’ve explained it all. The concept was that evolution is not necessarily progressive and that under the right circumstances, evolution might make a species primitive. Honestly, I can’t see this explanation making any difference. It would be a little like an episode in which the entire crew turns into pierogis, with the explanation that in an infinite universe, all possible outcomes eventually happen.

You can say one thing in its defense, though; “Threshold” does have Voyager’s most intentionally funny moment.