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Here's all the 'Star Trek' episodes on Paramount+ that you need to watch

Paramount+ is rolling out Star Trek shows at maximum warp. Here are all the key episodes you need to see.

By Vanessa Armstrong
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The universe of Star Trek series is ever-expanding and Paramount+ shows no sign of slowing down. The streaming platform recently announced there will be a fifth season of Discovery, a fourth season of the animated series Lower Decks, and a second season of Strange New Worlds, a show that has yet to even air its first episode.

With so much Trek to look forward to (we didn’t even mention that Picard will be back in March with its second season), now is a good time to catch up on some of the best Star Trek episodes currently available on Paramount+.

Read on for our list of essential Star Trek episodes to watch (or rewatch) before we get to explore new Trek seasons and new Trek series, and boldly watch what no Trek fan has watched before. 

Star Trek: Discovery

"Despite Yourself" (Season 1)

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The first season of Star Trek: Discovery ended with an adventure in the mirror universe, an alternate reality where the ruthless Terran Empire rules, and where we meet darker, meaner versions of the Trek characters we’ve come to know.

The Mirror Universe has been a thing since the original series, and the U.S.S. Discovery crew find themselves thrown there in “Despite Yourself,” where they have to pretend to be their Terran counterparts. The mirror universe storyline really ups the stakes of the season, and it also is a turning point for characters like Ash (Shazad Latif) and Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz). It’s also fun to see the mean versions of Discovery characters, particularly Tilly (Mary Wiseman), whose Terran counterpart is the captain of the I.S.S. Discovery.

"What's Past Is Prologue" (Season 1)

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Discovery spends four episodes in the Mirror Universe, and the last installment, “What’s Past Is Prologue,” faces a major showdown between Lorca (Jason Isaacs), the Terran Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yoeh), and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green).

The battle is an epic one, and more than a few characters die before the U.S.S. Discovery makes its way back to their universe with a little help from Stamets (Anthony Rapp) navigating the mycelium network. While this isn’t the last episode of the season (there’s still that whole Klingon war storyline the show has to tackle), it is the end of what’s arguably the most compelling arc of the show's first 15 episodes.

"If Memory Serves" (Season 2)

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Season 2 of Discovery introduces us to Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), and a young version of Spock (Ethan Peck). There’s friction between the new crew and the remaining Discovery crew members, and things get even more complicated between Spock and Michael, who are siblings with unresolved issues. 

In “If Memory Serves,” Spock and Michael are AWOL and heading to Talos IV where Spock can get help for the temporal confusion he's experiencing. This episode not only has a nice TOS callback to Talos, but also explores the relationship between Spock and Michael, specifically how they became estranged as children. We also find out more about the mysterious “Red Angel” that keeps popping up in Season 2, and "If Memory Serves" is the starting point for resolving that mystery, which ultimately throws the U.S.S. Discovery over 930 years into the future.  \

"Die Trying" (Season 3)

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The beginning of Season 3 finds Michael and the core U.S.S. Discovery  crew almost a thousand years into the future, the farthest we’ve ever been in the Star Trek universe.

Because time travel is complicated, Michael ends up in this far future a year before the rest of the crew make it. During that time, she has forged her own path and befriended Booker (David Ajala), a trader.

In “Die Trying,” Michael is reunited with the U.S.S. Discovery crew, but things are still a bit awkward. Michael has changed in the last year, and the rest of the crew still has to deal with the fact everyone they used to know has been dead for centuries. This episode also introduces us to Federation Headquarters (or what’s left of it), and sets up the main mission for the season — to get back warp drive functionality that was mysteriously wiped out by The Burn.

"But To Connect" (Season 4)

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Only the first half of Discovery’s fourth season has aired so far, and the last episode we have is “But To Connect.” This episode ended on a cliffhanger (Booker is off to destroy the Dark Matter Anomaly, or DMA, even though the Federation and other interested parties voted not to!), but "Connect" also included a touching exchange with Zora, the artificial intelligence managing U.S.S. Discovery that has developed sentience. The exchange about Zora was a touching one, with Kovich (David Cronenberg) ultimately ruling that Zora is a sentient being and who ultimately becomes an official member of Starfleet.

Where Discovery goes from here is unknown, but we’ll soon find out as the back half of the season premieres on Feb. 10, 2022.

Star Trek: Picard

"Remembrance" (Season 1)

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Jean-Luc Picard, played by the veritable Sir Patrick Stewart, was the ballast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and we’re incredibly lucky to get more of him in the relatively new Paramount+ show, Picard. The first episode of the series, “Remembrance,” brings us back to Jean-Luc on his vineyard and gives us a nice balance of remembering the past while setting up the storyline for the first season.

By the end of “Remembrance,” we know that there were two “daughters of Data” out there, something especially remarkable since synthetic lifeforms had been banned, and that one of them is killed in right in front of Picard by a mysterious group of Romulans. The mystery unfolds from there, and Picard is off to put together his own ad hoc crew to find and help the surviving daughter, Soji (Isa Briones).  

"Nepenthe" (Season 1)

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“Nepenthe” takes place in the back half of Season 1 of Picard, with the former Starfleet officer and Soji on the run together. What makes this episode especially enjoyable, however, is that the two flee to the homeworld of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, the much-loved TNG couple played by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis.

Soji tries to come to terms with who she actually is and unlock her memories while hanging out with Riker and Troi, and there are some touching scenes between her and Picard. We also see Riker cooking a pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, which is delightful.

"Et in Arcadia Ego, Parts 1 & 2" (Season 1)

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This two-parter wraps up Picard Season 1. Here, we finally make it to Soji’s home planet, Coppelius, and have another cameo by Brent Spiner playing yet another Soong, this one the father of Data’s father, Dr. Noonian Soong.

There are also many other synths on Coppelius, and the Romulan Tal Shiar want to kill them all. Picard and his team, which includes another Trek favorite Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), manage to hold them back until Starfleet comes. Picard ends up dying but don't worry! He comes back to us for two more seasons in a positronic body, making him a synth himself, in certain ways.

Star Trek: Lower Decks

"Much Ado About Boimler" (Season 1)

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Lower Decks is a lighter take on the Star Trek motif, and focuses on a group of ensigns in a California class starship, the U.S.S. Cerritos. While the animated show is full of jokes, it also embraces what makes Trek so great — the drive to help others and explore new places. It's also not afraid to give us all the Star Trek references we want. 

In “Much Ado About Boimler,” ensign-for-life Mariner (Tawny Newsome) tries to impress her best friend from Starfleet Academy who is now a visiting captain. Meanwhile, brown-noser Boimler (Jack Quaid) gets "out of phase” after a transporter accident. The show includes a bog planet and high-stakes adventures and also gives us some background as to why the show’s main characters are why the way they are.

"No Small Parts" (Season 1)

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“No Small Parts” is the first season finale for Lower Decks, and the show goes out with a bang.

It not only features Riker and Troi (aka Frakes and Sirtis) in another cameo but also has the largest explosions and battles we’ve seen so far in the series. It also sets up some major changes for Season 2 – Boimler is now on the U.S.S. Titan under Riker’s command, and Mariner is now getting along with the Captain, who is also her mom. It’s a great Trek season finale, and it makes even a lukewarm Lower Decks fan eager to see what happens in Season 2.

"wej Duj" (Season 2)

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Season 2 of Lower Decks is full of strong episodes. One of the funniest and most original, however, is the penultimate episode, “wej Duj,” which profiles the crew of three different ships: the Cerritos, a Klingon warship, and a Vulcan ship. (Fun side fact: "wej Duj" in Klingon actually means three ships!)

On the Cerritos, the crew has a long warp trip and Boimler tries to find a bridge buddy in his neverending attempt to get promoted. On the Klingon ship, we follow the Boimler-esque Mach and on the Vulcan ship we follow T’lyn, the “emotional” Vulcan who does what she wants even if her superiors find it illogical that she’s breaking the rules. The three mini-stories converge at the end in a battle against the Pakled, who are getting weapons, we find out, from Mach’s captain.

The episode is entertaining and expands the Lower Decks world, and is well worth a rewatch.

"First First Contact" (Season 2)

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“First First Contact” is the Season 2 finale for Lower Decks and teases that Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) might be getting a promotion, another major change for the crew of the Cerritos. Before she gets that promotion, however, the crew goes on a heroic mission to save another Starfleet ship. They succeed, but just when they’re all celebrating, things go sideways when Freeman is arrested by Starfleet and falsely accused of blowing up the Pakled planet.

How things turn out remains to be seen, but it’s a safe guess that the Cerritos crew, led by Mariner (and maybe some of the crew we saw in “wej Duj” from the Vulcan or Klingon ships?!) will lead the effort to clear her name.

Star Trek: Prodigy

"Lost and Found, Parts 1 & 2" (Season 1)

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Prodigy is the first Trek series targeted to a family audience, and it brings the Trek franchise into new territory. We get little of Starfleet here, and the show’s two-part opener introduces us to the young characters that become the misfit crew of the U.S.S. Protostar, a ship that had crashed on Tars Lamora, the realm of the malicious Diviner (John Noble) and his hench-robot, Drednok (Jimmi Simpson). These two episodes give us the lay of the land, and also ends with our first look at the hologram version of Captain Janeway, voiced by Kate Mulgrew.

"Kobayashi" (Season 1)

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“Kobayashi” is a delightful blend of callbacks to Star Trek characters from shows past, as well as scenes that shed light on the young Prodigy characters we’re still getting to know.

Part of the episode involves Dal (Brett Gray) taking the holodeck "Kobayashi Maru" test with a crew that includes Spock, Uhura, Odo, Scotty, and Beverly Crusher, all with archival audio from those characters, (except for Crusher). Gwyn (Ella Purnell) also has some pivotal moments in “Kobayashi” as she tries to settle into being part of the Protostar’s ragtag crew. It’s a wonderful episode, and one that both hardcore Trek fans and newbies will both love.