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TNG 7-11

TNG 7x11
"Parallels"

Original airdate: 11/29/1993
Rewatch date: 12/27/2012


Worf finds himself skipping through alternate quantum realities.

Spoiler-free notes:

The Argus Array is the same array repaired by Barclay in "The Nth Degree."

It's wise of everybody to wait until Worf puts down the bat'leth before shouting "SURPRISE!"

As much fun as it is to see Worf wearing a party hat and a frown, this is yet another weak hook. A surprise party? That is supposed to draw in the audience?

Though this episode has the potential to be a copy of either "Remember Me" or "Frame of Mind," the writers demonstrate care not to dwell on the same ground.

This had to be a fun (and busy) episode for the set designers, costume designers, and prop department. There are far too many changes from scene to scene to list, both subtle and dramatic, and you can watch this episode a dozen times and not catch them all.

I love that Wesley just happens to be there, with no fanfare or anything to highlight his arrival (not even a mention from Worf).

When all the other Enterprises start appearing, the crew of the Bajoran vessel that is in the middle of attacking must start losing bladder control.

So because there is no surprise party when Worf arrives in his universe, that means he had already changed realities before getting there at the start of the episode, but he doesn't come across Geordi, the catalyst for his quantum leaps, until the surprise party.

This is still one of my favorite episodes, for any number of reasons. The first is that it is one of the first genuine attempts to dramatize the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, though it wraps it up in a lot of nonsensical technobabble. Alternate realities were already a staple of science-fiction before this episode aired (including in TOS and TNG), but they rarely enjoyed the backing of a legitimate scientific hypothesis. (Granted, I don't buy the many worlds interpretation because I believe it violates Occam's razor--it requires you to come up with a whole new branch of science to explain where all these other realities are popping into existence--but I grant I am no theoretical physicist.) Another reason I think this is a good episode is because it gives Worf a new direction by showing him the many possibilities of what he can be, not the least of which is romantically involved with Troi. On top of all that, it is also an episode that actually belongs in the last season of the show, because it requires our characters and our universe to have gone through enough that the changes are noticeable. For example, we can appreciate how Troi and Worf can get romantically involved because of "Ethics," and we understand how easy it would have been for Riker to become captain after "Best of Both Worlds." Lastly, there is an incredibly subtle subtext in this story that deals with aging and regret--it's no coincidence that the whole thing takes place on Worf's birthday--and as should be clear by now, I am a sucker for subtext. I once listed "Parallels" as the 19th best episode of Star Trek, and I don't think this rewatch has changed my high opinion of it.



Spoiler section:

Writer Robert Orci cites this episode as being justification for the alternate reality reboot philosophy of 2009's Star Trek.





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