Season Seven, Episode 11
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Robert Weimer 
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
Wil Wheaton as Lt Wesley Crusher
Patti Yasutake as Dr Alyssa Ogawa
Mark Bramhall as Gul Nador
Majel Barrett as Computer Voice

"Captain, we're receiving two hundred and eighty-five thousand hails."
-- Wesley Crusher. A communication officer's nightmare?

Worf returns to the Enterprise from a bat'leth tournament only to find himself shifting between alternate realities. At first the differences are subtle, such as the flavour of his birthday cake and a the subject matter of a painting given him by Data. Soon the changes become more startling -- Geordi is killed during a Cardassian attack, Riker is in command of the ship (Picard having been lost during the Borg encounter at Wolf 359) and Worf himself is married to Troi! It would seem that each time Worf shifted, Geordi was nearby and Data discovers that Worf's quantum flux is out of sync with the universe. Apparently Worf is trapped in a quantum fissure where numerous realities converge and Geordi's VISOR triggers his shifting. The aggressive Bajorans of this universe attack the ship, inadvertantly destabilising the fissure and causing thousands of Enterprises from different universes to converge in one. Worf makes contact with the Enterprise from "his" universe and pilots his shuttle through the fissure, returning the status quo to normal.


As Worf begins experiencing subtle but baffling changes in his environment we, the audience, similarly experience pangs of deja vu. As well as similarities to Frame of Mind, Future Imperfect and about a dozen Voyager episodes, Parallels could virtually be a template for Brannon Braga's infamous "techno-thriller" sub-genre. Given some of the more elaborate scenarios Parallels plays out surprisingly routinely, failing to capitalise on a lot of its inherent promise. That said, it's an engaging, enjoyable piece, which is more than can be said for a number of other episodes this season.

Worf's "sliding" between realities is built up quite well, with him first noticing subtle changes such as the colour of his birthday cake and the placement of Data's painting. The problem is, Braga spends too long dwelling on such trivial details and this is reflected by a lagging pace. Far more interesting than the arrangement of his decor are the alternate variations of the characters and circumstances. It was an asbolute scream when Worf found himself married to Troi, but this gag is stretched way too far. Braga is evidently trying to milk the relationship for an emotional resonance which simply falls very flat. "It's hard for me to accept there's a reality out there where you never loved me," sobs Troi at one point. How Marina Sirtis managed to keep a straight face is beyond me. 

Whilst this dynamic paves the way for the Worf/Troi "thing" that develops throughout the rest of the season, here it gets too much focus when there are far more interesting story possibilities to be mined. The alternate realities Worf shifts between are actually rather unimaginative. I mean, wow, so Wesley Crusher is still aboard (head for the hills!) and Riker is Captain. Gee, the bridge looks slightly different and they have different communicator badges!! We did get a fascinating glimpse of an Enterprise from a reality where the Borg were victorious and the ship is in all but ruins. Wouldn't it have been a lot more interesting had Worf found himself aboard that ship? I desperately wanted less of the Worf/Troi soap opera and bolder plotting. Yesterday's Enterprise this ain't.

That said, there is still a fair bit to enjoy. Braga's script is peppered by sparky dialogue and some nicely amusing touches. And although the pace tends to crawl in spots, the episode is nicely assembled and certainly held my interest throughout. Don't get me wrong, Parallels is a good piece -- it's just not as good as it could have been.

Rating: 7

What did you think of this review? Why not share your thoughts by MAILING ME? All feedback is gratefully appreciated (and, yes, I can take criticism but keep it friendly, OK! :-))

Disclaimer For the record, I acknowledge that Paramount Pictures/Viacom owns all rights to "Star Trek" and this site is here not to infringe on this copyright, but to support and promote interest in the show/s. Yadda yadda yadda.
All reviews on this site are copyright and are not to be re-produced or re-used without prior consent of the author.

Back to TNG Index  /  Back to Home / DS9 Reviews / Voyager Reviews