Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993): S07E11 – Parallels


Introduction

“Parallels” is the 11th episode of the seventh season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 163rd overall. It was originally released on 29 November 1993, in broadcast syndication.

The episode was written by Brannon Braga, and directed by Robert Wiemer. Executive producer Jeri Taylor wrote the final scene of the episode, but was uncredited.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) returns from a bat’leth tournament and slowly discovers that he is being moved across parallel universes. The crew of an alternative Enterprise realise what is happening and seek to return him to his own reality, but, after an attack by a Bajoran ship, a space-time fissure explodes, causing hundreds of thousands of alternative versions of the Enterprise to enter the same universe. After Worf reverses the course through the fissure, he and all the versions of the Enterprise are returned to their respective universes.

Braga intended to focus the “Parallels” on Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), but this was changed to Worf. The change was made in order to make the differences more obvious across the timelines, as Braga worried that Picard’s relationships could not significantly differ across near-universes. The producers were concerned with the confusing nature of the initial proposal, but felt that further changes greatly improved it. Wil Wheaton appeared as Wesley Crusher, replacing the initial plan to include Tasha Yar, after Braga was concerned about copying “Yesterday’s Enterprise“. “Parallels” received Nielsen ratings of 12.8 percent, one of the highest for the season, but some fans were upset at a Worf/Deanna Troi romance. Critics responded favourably to the episode, with praise directed at both Dorn and Marina Sirtis.

Outline

After competing in a bat’leth tournament on the planet Forcas III, Lieutenant Worf returns to the Enterprise and is treated to a surprise birthday party, much to his annoyance. As he attends the party, he starts to notice subtle changes, such as the flavor of the cake changing, and a painting given to him by Data appearing on a different wall. The changes start to become more pronounced; as a Cardassian vessel attacks the Enterprise, unfamiliar controls result in Worf failing to raise the shields, leading to the death of Geordi La Forge. Despite retaining his initial memories, Worf has no evidence that reality has changed, and his own personal logs support the stories given by the other crew members. Other major changes occur: Riker is Captain of the Enterprise in a reality wherein Picard was killed by the Borg, the Bajorans became the oppressors of the Cardassians and enemies of the Federation, Wesley Crusher is a lieutenant on the Enterprise, Alyssa Ogawa is the Chief Medical Officer, and Worf finds himself married to Deanna Troi.

Upon investigation, the crew find that Worf’s RNA has an unusual quantum signature and confirm that he is from a different universe. The crew theorises that Worf, on his original return from the bat’leth tournament, passed through a time-space fissure, with the shuttlecraft’s engines causing Worf to quantum flux between several parallel universes. Data determines that Worf’s proximity to La Forge’s VISOR caused Worf to shift between universes, and that each universe covers a different possibility. In effect, anything that could possibly happen has done so in a parallel universe, hence the believable changes in the reality that Worf is experiencing. The Enterprise returns to the location of the fissure, attempting to return Worf to his original universe. The Enterprise is then attacked by a Bajoran ship, which causes the fissure to destabilise and the various realities to merge, resulting in over 285,000 versions of the Enterprise appearing in the same area of space.

Data determines that the only way to restore the realities is to send Worf via shuttlecraft to the Enterprise of his universe, passing through the fissure and using the shuttlecraft’s engines to reseal it. After locating the correct ship, Worf begins to travel back but is attacked by another Enterprise that has come from a Borg-overrun universe, its crew refusing to return. The Enterprise that he left fires upon the hostile ship, trying to disable it, and accidentally destroys it. Worf safely passes through the fissure, finding himself back in normality with a single Enterprise in front of him. After boarding, Worf finds that no time has passed since he initially entered the fissure. When he returns to his room expecting a surprise party, he finds only Troi waiting to give him a single present and, knowing that the two are married in many alternate universes, he invites her to share dinner with him.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Robert Wiemer.
  • Writer(s): Brannon Braga.
  • Release Date: 29 November 1993.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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