Ethics (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 16) Leaky cargo barrel-1, Worf-0.

Rewatching ST:TNG

Worf is paralyzed in a freak cargo bay accident.

When visiting neurospecialist Dr. Russell suggests an experimental “genetronic replication” therapy, Dr. Crusher fears the risk is too great.

A very composed Worf deals with his injury by asking Riker to assist him in a suicide ritual. Worf’s young son Alexander doesn’t share his father’s Klingon values, and Troi tries to mediate.

With help from Picard, Riker must weigh his own principles against Worf’s request.

The two storylines mesh very nicely. Riker finds a loophole that motivates Worf to reconsider his options, and Worf’s intended suicide gives Crusher a reason to reconsider her objection to Dr. Russell’s risky procedure. There’s also time for the scriptwriters to develop the conflict between Dr. Russell and Dr. Crusher, and there’s time for a good scene in which Worf asks Troi to consider raising Alexander for him.

Thank goodness the stuff leaking from the barrels doesn’t cause a Random Space Thing like a teletronic warp conduit manifold relay substructure breakdown, or mysterious microcellular crystal anodynetic compounds, or a subspace phased array particle field total existence failure.

The medical technobabble works to serve the story, without bogging it down. (I hadn’t seen this episode since it first aired almost 30 years ago, but at one point, when smiling faces and happy music lead us to believe a complex medical procedure is wrapping up nicely, I listened to the changing tone of the music and said to myself, “Cue the bad beeping sound in 3… 2… 1…” and perfectly predicted exactly when the next plot twist would manifest.

The character development is well done, as again we see signs of a closer relationship developing between Worf and Troi (hinting at their future character arc).