Right off the bat I'm throwing out most of them to rank later, but I'm focusing on Best of Both Worlds, The Jem'Hadar, Improbable Cause, The Adversary, Call to Arms, Favor the Bold, Scorpion, Into the Forest I Go, Will You Take my Hand, and Identity.
Out of these I have the following rankings:
- Best of Both Worlds
- The Jem'Hadar
- Call to Arms
- Into the Forest I Go
- The Adversary
- Improbable Cause
- Will You Take My Hand
- Favor the Bold
Best of Both Worlds has to take the number one spot for me just solely because of the amount of buildup. We've only seen the Borg in one episode before this, but its bad enough that Picard BEGS Q to get them out of there. The music buildup is amazing, I don't think anyone musically inclined can get that cliffhanger out of their head.
Identity is an upset at number 2, which I give mostly for the sudden shock value. Isaac has been on the ship since the beginning, and has done so much for this ship, and we've never seen an inkling before of his true colors. Now at the end of this episode the Kaylon seem to have everything going for them. They have a Union ship, its crew as hostages, tons of ships with unknown capabilities, and most importantly, the element of surprise. The only reason this doesn't take the top spot is the popularity of Best of Both Worlds and the fact that the summer break in TNG gave room for so much more speculation than the one week break we're getting here before the next normal episode.
The Jem'Hadar is a HUGE change in tone for Star Trek as a whole. The Gamma Quadrant goes from being an unexplored paradise to the big baddie next door within 45 shock-filled minutes. We get the payoff of the constant name dropping of "The Dominion" that has been going on in other Gamma Quadrant episodes, and we get the setup for the fact that this is the biggest foe the Federation has faced since the Borg
Call to Arms is a pretty big deal. At the end of the episode, the wormhole is closed for good, or so they think, and Sisko has finally followed through and actually evacuated all of DS9's Starfleet presence. They sabotage the station, and Gul Dukat gets to correct Major Kira that its "Terok Nor" now.
Into the Forest I Go. Maybe its the shock value, maybe its the recency, but that field of starships and the leadup to that scene left so many questions in my head during the mid-season break that I actually paid for no commercial CBS All Access until the end of the season.
The Adversary. We're getting into the lower end of the spectrum of cliffhangers here, but this episode still packs a punch. Right off the bat, Commander Sisko finally gets promoted to Captain, and the final beat of the episode is a defeated Founder telling the crew that they are too late, and the Changelings have already infiltrated the entire quadrant.
Improbable Cause is far from a slouch in the cliffhanger department. We finally get to know more about Garak, and jump from "he's just a tailor" to "he used to be the right hand of the head of the Cardassian CIA" by the end of the episode.
Scorpion is ok, but as far as impact on the universe it's lacking like other episodes on this end of the scale. It DID give us Seven, for which I am grateful, but other than that all it did was introduce a new enemy that we saw way too little of.
Will You Take My Hand is very low on this list but not the lowest because of it's impact on what we've seen so far on Discovery. Seeing the Enterprise was great, but it only showed up for about 10 minutes in the premiere of Season 2.
Favor the Bold ranks the lowest on my list for a simple reason. At this point the series intro is still calling the series Deep Space Nine, and there's a huge Federation fleet ready to do battle to take back the titular space station. There is no question that they will be victorious because of the nature of the show.
What do you think? Did I leave something out? Did I throw out a really good cliffhanger? What are your rankings?