the story: Worf skips along a series of alternate realities.
what it's all about: While fans in general don't think much of the seventh season, they all seem to agree that "Parallels" is a highlight of the series. It's just too much fun, more or less the "Trouble with Tribbles" of Next Generation.
It's really hard not to love. Like the cleverest episodes of the series before it ("Cause and Effect," for instance), "Parallels" sets up a simple premise, lets you know everything you need to know, and then begins to chip away at that knowledge as the story progresses. Worf returns from a Klingon tournament, which he has won, and it's his birthday, and the crew has a surprise party for him, even though Riker swears they wouldn't. Then things change, and we get to see variations not just on stuff we know from the series (where an average episode would have drawn on), but the basics of the story itself.
And it's easily the funniest non-Q Next Generation experience you can imagine. The more things change, the more you realize nothing's off-limits. The Worf/Troi relationship, long teased and headed toward its culmination in the series finale, has some great material, such as when Worf ends up in a reality where he's married to Troi and has no idea!
Wesley Crusher gets to pop up without too much fanfare thanks to the nature of the story, another prelude to later season developments (it can sometimes seem depressing, how easily Wes was to erase from later Next Generation lore, when he was so important in the early seasons, including a similar cameo in Star Trek Nemesis), and that's fun, too.
By the time the big convergence at the end of the episode occurs, and we see the harried Captain Riker of a reality where the Borg weren't defeated, "Parallels" brushes on just how serious this could've gotten, and you're grateful that it was kept so lighthearted. Instead, it's a classic romp. A classic, period.
- franchise - Any fan would love this one!
- series - Fans of the series, certainly!
- character - Fans of Worf, of course!
- essential - It's a classic.
Wil Wheaton (Wesley)
Patti Yasutake (Ogawa)