Parallels (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 11) Worf gets technobabbled into a timeline where he married Troi

Rewatching ST:TNG

After returning victorious from a bat’leth tournament, Worf is ambushed by a surprise birthday party, where a chocolate cake turns yellow, his big pointy first place trophy turns into a ninth place blob, and things continue diverging from the recent past he remembers.

A great comic scene features a terrified Worf reacting when a very relaxed Troy undoes his ponytail and gives him a backrub. (As she sees it, she is just helping her husband of four years to relax.)

The structure of the story is a little herky-jerky; sometimes, when Worf jumps to a new parallel universe, he has to explain his problem from the very start to a new set of skeptical crewmates; other times, “our” Worf seems to be joining an in-process investigation of his jumping-around problem. And it seems strange that, after marrying Worf, Troi, whose quarters have big windows and are almost as spacious as Picard’s, would settle in with him in his cramped, interior box.

The writers focus on the relationship between Worf and Troi, but we get glimpses of an an alternate version of the Enterprise-D where Picard was killed by the Borg, Riker is captain, and Worf is first officer.

I think the director overdid a scene where Worf reacts to a painting that changed location, but most of the other timeline shifts contain subtle details for observant fans, such as the Cardassian chilling at the navigation console. Cameos from Dr. Ogawa (in a blue cardigan) and Tactical Officer Wesley help liven up the infodump scenes.

Because we visit several different versions of the Enterprise, this “bottle” script (which used only the standard existing sets) didn’t feel cramped. I would have loved seeing glimpses of Shelby as First Officer, Lal mixing drinks like a boss in Ten Forward, Tasha Yar at Ops, and a slightly greying Captain Jack Crusher — each of which would signal that “our” Worf was passing through timelines more and more remote from his own.

It’s a rather nice touch when, after our Worf has said goodbye to the alternate Deanna, the plot gets even more complicated when a hostile Bajoran ship technobabbles the Space Thing so badly that hundreds of copies of the Enterprise-D start appearing.

The images that stayed with me most from when I saw this episode 30 years ago include the alternate Captain Riker reacting to seeing “our” Picard, and the grizzled, unhinged alternate Riker begging not to be sent back to a timeline where the Borg have destroyed the Federation.

But on my rewatch, I found myself grinning and vocalizing an “Aww!” in the final scene, in which Worf invites Deanna to stay for dinner, and surprises her by ordering champagne.