It's true. Starfleet officers really do like caves! For them, getting trapped in one is more of a favourite pastime than the holodeck or the clarinet. On one of the first planets the crew of the first Warp Five starship ever visited, where did the away team end up? Stuck in a cave, tripping on pollen! Where did the Talosians trap Pike? A fancy cave! Where did Guinan first get to know Captain Picard? A cavern down a mine shaft! And so, soooo many more caves!
Star Trek's latest spin on the speleological was the decidedly brilliant cave and cave and cave and turbolift as cave within a cave in the episode Caves of Lower Decks. Things get grotty on Grotto-nus for our four Lt jgs; in this cave, the moss gathers the rolling stones!
As the lieutenants reminisced, their little inside joke got us thinking — what would we pick as Trek's greatest cave moments? There's certainly no dearth of dankly deep episodes to choose from, so don't be too disappointed if your favourite doesn't rock up — none of these choices are set in stone! Caves itself could have had its own entry, but this list is meta enough as it is.
So, it's time for a bit of spelunking. This one's for the troglodytes!
10. Once Upon A Time
This episode of Star Trek: Voyager rarely features on anyone's favourite list, but it undoubtedly deserves more consideration. There might equally be a few caveats as regards our cave premise, but if Tendi gets to share her turbolift story then, damn it, I get to tell the tale of Once Upon a Time (with or without the aid of Flotter and Trevis).
Star Trek: Voyager has, rightly or wrongly, been criticised for not making the most of its central conceit — that is, being stranded far from help and home. It's certainly true that more could have been made of the unique challenges and triumphs of Delta Quadrant parenting, but as it was, the most intimate look we got at the mother-daughter relationship between Samantha and Naomi Wildman was in Once Upon a Time. Although, of course, the first half of that hyphenated pair was stuck in a cave for most of the episode.
Once Upon a Time might not be perfect, but it is heartfelt. As Samantha is trapped in a failing Delta Flyer, itself in a cavern it has burrowed out on a barren planet, she must come to terms with the fact that she may never see her daughter again. At the same time, on Voyager, godfather Neelix struggles with how best to take care of the young Naomi as he re-processes the trauma of losing his family to the Metreon cascade on Rinax. Ultimately, it's Tuvok who speaks the most comforting words of the episode. Who'd'a spelunk it!