Star Trek: The Next Generation: Parallels   Rewatch 
October 22, 2021 6:03 AM - Season 7, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Worf loses a bat'leth tournament, discovers he has two more children than he thought, screws up at tactical badly enough to get a senior staff member killed, and becomes related to Lwaxana. Worst birthday ever.

I do remember. Memory Alpha just remembers differently:

• It was originally planned that Tasha Yar would be featured in the alternate timelines that Worf experienced, but it was decided that this would make the episode too similar to "Yesterday's Enterprise". Therefore, Wesley was included instead. Brannon Braga commented, "Wesley could have been explored in more depth, but I thought it would just be more interesting if he were just there."

• Braga stated that the romance between the Worf and Troi was initially conceived as a joke among the writing staff, but upon seeing the dailies, it was felt that the two actors had really good chemistry with each other.

• On the "Worf-Troi thing", Jeri Taylor commented, "It's been kinda fun, but it infuriates some people. Some people are so upset that we didn't put Riker and Troi together and just get it over with, and how dare we introduce this!"

• Jonathan Frakes disliked the Worf-Troi relationship started in "Parallels", commenting "The Worf/Troi idea is just absurd! It makes for great material at conventions but for real character development I think it's ridiculous".

• The last line of the episode – "Champagne" – was unscripted. It was added by Jeri Taylor after director Robert Wiemer asked for a more definitive ending.

• Braga noted that he was careful to downplay the idea that the alternate realities could be a result of Worf losing his mind to avoid similarities with "Frame of Mind".

• This episode takes place on the same stardate as DS9: "Sanctuary", which was broadcast the same week.

• The combadge from the universe where Worf is first officer shares the same design as the imaginary future simulation from "Future Imperfect".

• Data's eye color changes from yellow to blue and back again between universes. In commentary, writer Brannon Braga commented that this was something that he had not written and thought a nice touch upon seeing the episode.

• This episode was cited by Roberto Orci as providing the scientific rationale for the continued existence of both the prime reality and the alternate reality in the 2009 film Star Trek.

• Worf's trophy can be seen again during the dinner scene in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Resurrection".

• The Argus Array previously appeared in "The Nth Degree" where it was defective due to an alien probe.


"That was not a Klingon song!"
"It wasn't easy to translate. There doesn't seem to be a Klingon word for 'jolly'."
- Worf and Troi

"I know Klingons like to be alone on their birthdays. You probably want to meditate, or hit yourself with a painstick, or something."
- Deanna Troi, to Worf


Poster's Log:
I love this episode, and it occurred to me on this rewatch that that's probably because it has a little bit of everything: action, tension, dread, cosmic horror, geopolitics (er, astropolitics), some actually-funny comedy, romance, heartbreak, a smidge of real science, main cast characters doing different sorts of things, almost everyone getting SOMEthing to do, actual serial-style character development!! (i.e., Worf and Deanna's relationship referencing a previous episode, changing, and setting up future changes), and of course, Borg Is Everywhere Riker with new Action Offerman Beard. Must-watch Trek by any rubric I can think of.

This is the type of WTF-Reality story that IIRC has never gone to Worf before. Picard and Riker have had at least a couple, and of course Beverly got "Remember Me." The fact that it's Worf adds to the fun.

Wesley just suddenly being there was such a deft choice.

On this rewatch, I noticed for the first time that the warp core in one of the alternate dimensions is the messed-up one from "Phantasms"!

As WTF as the anomaly is this week, I thought the script did a fine job keeping everything coherent—so much so that if I were in charge of the franchise, this one would be required viewing for incoming writers—with one exception: when Captain Riker of the Bad-Wesley-Hair-Verse hails Prime-Picard, why is there a Worf on the Prime-D? Shouldn't they be Worfless?

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Fashion It So installment for "Parallels."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
How had I never heard of this episode before? This was fantastic.

There's so much good stuff packed in here, but Marina Sirtis is the one who really sells it. The "I'm going to advocate for the person I care for" energy is palpable. Worf's little "are we still married?" got me, too. Good writing, terrific delivery.

Poor Geordi, though. Worf just "oops, butterfingers" his buddy killed, and next thing everyone's down in sickbay sad that Geordi is dead for maybe three whole seconds before they're like "welp, back to work. Have we tried rebooting his sunglasses?" I know there isn't time in an episode like this to Have A Big Sad, but still: awww, La Forge.

It was nice to see a competent Captain Riker; so often the moment he's left in charge things go horribly wrong. Here he's doing a great job running the Enterprise and handles the situation deftly. He really is captain material! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you that Riker is panicking and attempting to blow up Worf and the shuttle

Loved Surprise Wesley and the 280,000 incoming hails. As cosmic calamities go, "Oops, All Enterprises" is a pretty good one.

I was also confused by the Worf on the original timeline bridge. The episode makes sense if you think of the timeline jumps as transpositions, which explains where the alternate Worfs have gone, as well as why prime Data was already aware of the overall situation; presumably the alternate Worf in the prime timeline had already undergone his own transpositions since, as well.
posted by phooky at 7:30 AM on October 22 [6 favorites]


Also, "hit yourself with a painstick or something"? Saucy, Troi. SAUCY.
posted by phooky at 7:32 AM on October 22


I always enjoy this one. But a problem with it is that Michael Dorn delivers a lot of his lines in a rather surly way. Not just a Klingon way, but kind of mean. When Riker asks, "You don't remember any of this, do you?" Worf replies, "I remember it different." Dude, I said I remember things, they're just changing! Pay attention.

And the panel thing when the Bajorans attack is just dumb. How many times do we see the crew encounter alien tech for the first time and just instinctively know how to do things and Worf can't figure out basic Fed tech fast enough to fire a torpedo? I'm not buying it.

But this is one of the best of season seven and always worth a watch.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:43 AM on October 22


Lotta cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

Fissure Research gives you something to do with your red Alternate Universe (AU) icon personnel besides staffing ships, not bad. Parallel Romance is a bit heteronormative, you wouldn't write it like that today. Space-Time Portal provided a powerful means of playing your AU ship with a crew at the same time, free people are always good. ❖ Bat'leth Tournament is a super easy Klingon mission which you could use duplicates of, a fairly popular choice. Quantum Fissure is a pretty good space wall. Bajoran Warship wasn't that useful because you didn't get that many AU Bajorans and it's too big to report at Docking Ports. Great stats compared to an average purple ship though.

Second Edition brought us a new Fissure Research, the crew-shifting •Worf, First Officer(the AU icon is yellow in 2E), a shiny new version of the and a new Bajoran warship(Purple decks rely on discard manipulation a lot, losing the whole thing is pretty harsh). Quantum Incursions provides some handy draw manipulation, and Fractured Time is a standard crew size limiter. It's always risky to take more than 9 personnel in 2E, making you strategize around making those 9 as effective as possible.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:59 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]


phooky: "Oops, All Enterprises" made me laugh very hard when I needed it. Thank you.
posted by brainwane at 8:24 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]


I love this one too, although I ended up there after doing a 360 on this ep--not actually disliking it, but asking myself, was this a quote-endquote real Worf episode? I mean, any of the crew could have been on that shuttle and ended up flipping through parallel universes (well, not La Forge, after a while). But then, on the latest rewatch, it occurred to me that the episode, while not a Klingon episode per se as most Worf ones are, was a really good Worf episode because of how well it suited his personality. Given that the crew are all competence pornstars, any of them would panic if they seemed to be screwing up badly enough to get someone killed, but it's especially important for Worf because of his need to belong that he can never say out loud because of his whole Big Stoic Warrior thing. The bit with the bat'leth tournament trophy, that he's obviously so proud of, and then loses it by virtue of never having gotten it in that continuity, just pins that character beat so well. And then having that eventual admission of needing help flowing into his date with Troi makes that work, to the extent that it does, although at this point in the series it seems like a little too little, a little too late. (I just rewatched part of DS9's "The Way of the Warrior", and while Jadzia Dax isn't especially flirty towards Worf, you can see the genesis of their relationship in their interactions.)

And there's so many neat little bits scattered throughout the episode. "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in Klingon; the eye color change (which I didn't notice the first couple of times that I watched this); the Cardassian officer (Cardassians are an unlockable playable race in Star Trek Online for different factions); and of course the Crisis on Infinite Enterprises-D. (That scene was in the TNG edition of the After Dark screensaver, back in the day, complete with Offerman Beard Riker appearing.) The bit with Worf peeking around the corner is one of the funniest moments in the series, maybe the funniest that's not dependent on dialogue. One very minor quibble is that the scene in the shuttle where multiple Worfen appear could have used a bit more variety; one with his Klingon uniform from "Redemption" (he's with the KDF, but taking part in the exchange program), and maybe even one blue one, although that begs the question of what science Worf would be specializing in; if you buy the premise that theology would be considered a science in the Federation, given all the gods and godlike beings that they have met and will meet, it would seem valid to have a chaplain of sorts on the ship, although someone who believed in Sto-vo-kor might have some conflicts with the beliefs of others. (They could go the route taken in Harry Harrison's superlative SF satire Bill, the Galactic Hero and have Worf personally minister to every faith, although he might struggle with some of their tenets; "Blessed are the peacemakers--seriously?" And, yes, that sound you're hearing is Roddenberry's ashes spinning in their urn.)

Commenter's log, supplemental: I'm currently reading The Space Between Worlds, a very interesting take on the concept of voluntary travel between parallels.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:32 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]


Watched this one the other night with one of my roommates who, although a TNG fan since she was little and regularly watched with her mem, hadn't seen it. It's been proclaimed the best episode she's ever seen.

Sirtis sells every single line she speaks, every quirky grin and cocked eyebrow and sad-doe-eyes-moment. I think this one may be her greatest performance overall. As much as this is a Worf episode, it's also very much a Troi episode that, thankfully, doesn't involve Lwaxana outside of a quick mention.

Thanks, Halloween Jack, for touching on the "Worf peeking around the corner" bit. You're right - it's the funniest bit of non-dialogue comedy in seven seasons.

I missed the Cardassian navigator until this rewatch, and I've still completely missed the Data eye-color change.
posted by hanov3r at 8:40 AM on October 22 [5 favorites]


Aside from being a quality S7 episode, I consider "Parallels" to be one of the most important episodes in TNG. Worf undergoes very real character development when the other realities show him that the relationship between him and Troi, that TNG has been inching towards for awhile now, is a very real possibility, and he goes for it, which will have repercussions down the line. That is some advanced storytelling!
posted by Stuka at 8:40 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]


Also, my headcanon is that Worf-Prime swapped places with the other Worfen; that means that, potentially, the Worf who we see on the bridge of the Enterprise-D-Prime was still getting used to Picard still being alive.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:42 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]


the Worf who we see on the bridge of the Enterprise-D-Prime was still getting used to Picard still being alive

Pretty sure that would be the Worf who expected yellow cake for his birthday and a personal congratulations from Captain Picard.
posted by hanov3r at 8:57 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]


if you buy the premise that theology would be considered a science in the Federation, given all the gods and godlike beings that they have met and will meet, it would seem valid to have a chaplain of sorts on the ship, although someone who believed in Sto-vo-kor might have some conflicts with the beliefs of others.

Oh wow--Star Trek absolutely should absolutely steal "applied theology" from Vinge and A Fire Upon The Deep. It's such a natural fit within this universe that I'm now totally amazed that (a) it hasn't happened and (b) it never even occured to me, a man whose headcanon is that there are Vulcan Jesuits who use Loyola's Spiritual Exercises to get through Pon Farr while maintaining their vow of celibacy.
posted by thecaddy at 9:09 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]


(To tie these rambling thoughts into the episode, if there's an alternate universe where I'm in the Lower Decks writing room, I kind of want to go there.)
posted by thecaddy at 9:12 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]


There's so much to discuss in this episode, but the biggest impression on my friends and I back in the day when this first aired was the "BORG IS EVERYWHERE" timeline. Frakes does a great job in both the role of desperate, frightened Riker and of shaken, "There but for the grace of God" Riker.

But, seriously, I remember my group of friends sitting around just trying to draw out what that universe must have been like and hoping that it might come back again in an episode.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:59 AM on October 22 [3 favorites]


Given that the crew are all competence pornstars, any of them would panic if they seemed to be screwing up badly enough to get someone killed, but it's especially important for Worf because of his need to belong that he can never say out loud because of his whole Big Stoic Warrior thing.

Having accidentally killed a classmate in junior high sports is probably a factor for him, too.
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 12:32 PM on October 22 [2 favorites]


I realize at this point that I've rewatched much of Season 7 so few times that I either don't remember the episodes or I conflate them with others--this one is a case in point. For some reason, in my head this was going to be the one where they turn into cavemen and that's why Worf is having memory issues about the crew. That'd actually be an improvement on that actual episode, I think.

But this one is a lot of fun, until we get to desperate, pleading Riker. I always get lost in the weeds thinking about the other universes and the horrors happening there; I remember as a kid seeing Mirror, Mirror on TOS and just being stuck on things like the agonizer and all the people getting tortured and killed willy-nilly...yeah, thinking about the Borg victory timeline is very upsetting to me.

I rewound twice at one point, trying to figure out if they had explained Wes's presence and I'd tuned it out somehow. That was a cool trick, I loved it.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:45 PM on October 22 [3 favorites]


I always refer to this episode as the one with the The Great Worf Swap but Oops! All Enterprises will probably supplant that.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:44 PM on October 22 [3 favorites]


I always get lost in the weeds thinking about the other universes and the horrors happening there

The thing about parallel universes is that for every terror universe with agonizers and Borg incursions and disheveled Rikers, there's another universe where the Borg are fluffy, loving kittens who just want to cuddle, where the Ferengi are renowned throughout the galaxy for making the absolute best hot chocolate, where Will can decide to shave his beard and have it look good-- hey, yeah, Will, that's a great look for you!-- where La Forge and Doctor Crusher run a nice little pastry shop out of Ten Forward, and Captain Guinan makes sure it all works out. Or maybe it's a universe where Picard is the only one on the ship, and he gets lonely and so he makes the little felt dolls of his imaginary crew, and he does all the voices and takes them with him on his adventures. Or maybe Picard is a capybara, and Riker and the rest are hamsters. Except for Worf, who's a baby turtle. Awww! I could go on.

It's a little disappointing that writers keep going back to the well of "here's a parallel universe, and it's worse." From an audience satisfaction standpoint, it makes total sense; the audience doesn't want to feel like the timeline they've been watching for the past however many episodes is suboptimal. Still, I'd love to see an episode where the Enterprise popped into a universe so nice that they were the ones begging not to be sent back to their original timeline, and UltraPicard and his Awesome Crew had to have the sad observation lounge meeting where they determine that, although it seems cruel to send the Enterprise back to a parallel universe where sex isn't how you make ice cream, it is all for the best.

Anyway, next time you get stuck in a rut thinking about life in the awful universes, just remember that there are just as many awesome ones out there, too.
posted by phooky at 7:10 PM on October 22 [9 favorites]


I'd love to see an episode where the Enterprise popped into a universe so nice that they were the ones begging not to be sent back to their original timeline, and UltraPicard and his Awesome Crew had to have the sad observation lounge meeting where they determine that, although it seems cruel to send the Enterprise back to a parallel universe where sex isn't how you make ice cream, it is all for the best.

But the Federation basically is that universe. They've thwarted two of the most viciously hegemonic interstellar powers in the galaxy within the same decade, more or less. They have holodecks that let you have sex to the limits of your own imagination, and beyond that, with the help of AO3ULTRA, and replicators if you feel like having ice cream before sex. The only thing that would be better would be the Culture, with really impressive AIs and genetic engineering in the mix. Or just have a galaxy of wireheads that bypass all the sticky stuff and hit that pleasure center directly, forever.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:06 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]


"That was not a Klingon song!"
"It wasn't easy to translate. There doesn't seem to be a Klingon word for 'jolly'."
- Worf and Troi


Sapir-eponypothesisterical.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 3:41 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]


and replicators if you feel like having ice cream before sex.

CW: ice cream, sex
RIKER: I still can't stop thinking about it, captain. You say they use replicators for ice cream?
PICARD: It seems so, Number One.
RIKER: So what do they get after sex?
PICARD: Well, usually, a mess. Sometimes, a disease. And once in a while, a baby.
RIKER: A baby? Don't they have storks in their universe?
PICARD: Apparently not. Well, there but for the grace of, as they say. What did you get this time?
RIKER: Mint chip. You, sir?
PICARD: Rocky road.
RIKER: Again? Don't you think you should see Doctor Crusher about that, sir?
PICARD: Oh, I don't know, Number One. I rather like rocky road.

posted by phooky at 9:24 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Desperate, crazed Riker is THE BEST Riker. That scene is one that has stuck with me since I first saw this ep when it originally aired.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:13 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


It was weird that Worf appeared on the Enterprise-prime bridge when thatWorf is supposed to be the one currently on Enterprise-Riker, but I take that to mean that Worf was actually switching places with other Worfs rather than displacing the, mostly because I can’t bear to think of that universe's Deanna being widowed and left to bring up Shannara and Eric-Christopher (wtf, how did that half Klingon, one-quarter betazoid kid end up with the most WASPy name ever?).

Marina Sirtis absolutely killed it in this episode, showing great range. I remembered this as a really good episode but didn’t remember what made it so good other than the high-concept plot. Worf and Troi is so much more interesting than Troi and Riker, and Michael Dorn does a great job working his way through his developing feelings in this episode.
posted by skewed at 9:33 PM on October 23


They have holodecks that let you have sex to the limits of your own imagination,

And they mostly use them to re-enact Victorian novels.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:59 AM on October 28


They mostly use them to re-enact Victorian novels while on screen.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 3:21 AM on October 28 [2 favorites]


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