TNG: S5E10: “New Ground”

In which Worf gets a surprise, a stern look from the principal, and an unexpected day at the gym. 

"Here is a communicator, Mister LaForge. I would urge you to contact someone who cares."

“Here is a communicator, Mister LaForge. I would urge you to contact someone who cares.”

The Enterprise is checking in on some scientists developing a method of propulsion called the Soliton Wave which has the capacity to remove the need for bulky and dangerous warp engines, and Geordi is gushing at the wrong crowd. Worf doesn’t care because removing the antimatter reactor from a ship will probably limit its phaser potential, and Data doesn’t care because he’s trying to be one of the cool kids. Or he’s incapable of caring. You know, one of the two.

Then Worf gets a call from his mom, who’s bringing Alexander. Remember Alexander, Worf’s kid whose mom died in front of him? The kid that Worf foisted off on his grandmother? Turns out, she can’t handle another Klingon child and Alex is about to share the Wesley experience of being a child of a single parent on a starship. Wheeeee. They can’t keep up with him, you see. He’s running rings around them.

Worf takes his waist-high to meet the teacher on the Enterprise, and the kid isn’t really paying that close attention. Like when she reads his name off the computer and then asks how to spell it. Also, the awkwardness when Worf doesn’t know his own son’s birthday. I mean, there would be a legit reason for that if Worf wasn’t an adult with the capacity to ask these things beforehand.

It makes Worf late for his meeting with Picard where he has to set up a whole bunch of new security personnel, like Worf’s entire life now is caring for people who would very quickly die without his direct involvement, and it keeps getting interrupted by people who need him to do stuff about his kid. Because the Enterprise doesn’t have any way to set yourself to ‘in a meeting’ status. Seriously, when even Skype is a better messaging service than you use, something is drastically wrong.

"Nice job, mocking voice. There goes the Skype sponsorship."

“Nice job, mocking voice. There goes the Skype sponsorship.”

 

Picard is understanding, and tells Worf that the security matters can wait. After all, it’s not like Starfleet Security is a vastly underfunded, untrainted organization full of people who weren’t smart enough to stare at a screen and push buttons all day on their slow march towards an unexpected and slightly humorous death and wow that got dark in a hurry.

So, the Soliton Wave thing requires a planet-based warp field coil array which will shoot a subspace wave at a ship and carry it in a specified direction. Presumably you get energy economies of scale, but on the other hand you completely end ship autonomy. The generator array is way bigger than a single ship’s warp drive and would have to go from planet to planet. If a ship meets anything on the way, it can’t slow down, and if it’s stopped, it’s stranded forever. This is like saying that the development of train tracks would make the car obsolete.

Oh also you need to have something on the other end emit a scattering field to dissolve the wave. Otherwise, presumably, any ship it carries will slam into the destination at speeds that allow it to traverse three light-years within a matter of hours and creating what can only be described as ‘an earth-shattering kaboom.’ Nobody can tell that this is an idea that needs significant further development.

"Look, Worf... no."

“Look, Worf… no.”

Worf reschedules some work to go on a field trip, and Alexander pockets a little lizard model and lies to Worf about it. Worf is… peeved. He’s trying to explain his idealized view of Klingon culture (which he has repeatedly found to to be total and utter dren) to a kid who has been raised by a woman who hates Klingon culture and two old people who are afraid of him. He gives a very short speech about why it’s important to him, though. When he was orphaned, that Klingon honor was all he head of his heritage, and that seems to have been a helpful chat. Of course, Troi, having slightly more experience, doubts this miracle cure. In fairness to Worf, it was a pretty good chat.

The grand experiment is ready, and everything is go. The wave hits the test ship and starts it moving with a jerk that looks like it out to shatter the thing. There’s no graceful acceleration like we’re used tos eeing with the Enterprise, but the ship is only going warp 2.5. It’s also highly efficient, more than 2.5 times better than the Enterprise, before the wave starts collapsing, decolumnating, and blowing the test ship into tiny bits in a pulse that knocks down several lights on the Enterprise. 

So now there’s a wave of energy heading towards that other planet and we all just have to hope that they detect it coming and send out the dissolution wave before it slams into the other planet and takes a tectonic plate to Warp 2.5, but that’s not as important as Worf’s parent-teacher conference! Alexander is behaving like a Klingon in class and still stealing and lying and not being a perfect model Klingon child. Worf goes to find him, and he’s doing Worf’s calesthentics program on the novice level and handing Skeletor his own skull.

Of note: apparently if you freeze the program, the computer will continue to simulate dry ice being pumped out of vents in the soundstage. Now you can’t unsee it. Back to the narrative. Worf can’t deal with his kid, so like all parents who are out of their depth, he threatens to send his kid to military boarding school. Only replace ‘military’ with ‘Klingon.’

So yeah, the wave is still going, and has increased in speed and is continuing to get stronger and yes, will sunder the planet into tiny bits. Once again, it’s vitally important that this technology be kept from any of the other major powers. Imagine if you’re the Romulans and you find out about that tech. You could just fire it off towards Earth and Quo’nos and anywhere you want. Heck, by the time it gets that far it might be capable of ripping a star apart.

And Troi convinces Worf to maybe have a longer talk with Alexander, but it’s interrupted by Worf being called to a conference about how to disrupt the wave in an incredibly dangerous manner. They’re going to have to go through the wave from behind, get in front of it, and shoot it with some torpedoes. Going trough the wave jacks up

Remember. never lift with your back or your knees. Always lift with your feelings.

Remember. never lift with your back or your knees. Always lift with your feelings.

the Enterprise badly enough that they need to evacuate the rear section, including Alexander who has gone to go play with the endangered species. Worf and Riker go to take care of it under a ticking clock and Worf literally rips pieces of the ship apart to get to his kid. Alexander is just barely conscious enough to appreciate this moment. Worf takes his kid, and they just barely get out in time to avoid the ionizing radiation from five antimatter explosions and dying from smoke inhalation and collapsed lungs. And then everyone is a happy family, because that’s just how these things go.

Did we miss something awesome?