"The Order of Things"
As you might expect, it is not easy to rank anything when you are talking about numbers from 1 to 694. Where do you start? How do you break it all down? Of course, it is even more difficult when you are trying to weave your way through all 694 episodes of the greatest science fiction masterpiece of all-time: Star Trek.
Unlike anything ever created, Star Trek is a true modern day mythology, with an incredible amount of consistency and continuity layered throughout five expansive series and hundreds of years on the calendar. So unlike a good Jem'Hadar soldier who would never question "the order of things," I had to come up with a ranking criteria that would run throughout my judgments.
My starting point when I’m doing any kind of ranking related to Star Trek is that I first ask myself the following question: If I could only watch one episode over-and-over again for the rest of my life, which one would I choose? Ultimately, that is my personal litmus test for how I rate one episode over another.
Put another way, when I'm choosing between two episodes, in my mind I’m choosing one that I can watch for the rest of my life over another that I can never watch again. Of course, that can be relatively easy when you are comparing just two episodes, but once you start getting into the hundreds? Not so easy.
To get through this Herculean task, I first ranked the episodes in each season, then merged those into a single comprehensive ranking for each series, and then merged all of that into a massive list of my all-time Star Trek episode ranking list (coming soon! I swear!).
Another key ground rule I utilized in breaking this all down was listing episodes clearly delineated as two-parters (as well as the majority of not-so-clearly delineated two and three-parters) in consecutive order as a group. Granted, I know this is a bit of a cheat, but there you have it.
Ultimately, I am fully aware that if I did this entire exercise again in six months (or six days), many of my decisions would change drastically. And, of course, some wouldn’t change at all.