In which Worf is a champion, a one-in-a-trillion kind of guy.
Worf is on a shuttlecraft, returning from a bat’leth competition, where Worf won a champion’s tropy, which appears to be the Klingon insignia made out of blades. He’s very pleased, but not looking forward to going back to work. The Argus Array has been malfunctioning (again) and Starfleet suspects it may be deliberate damage rather than maintenance problems.
During Riker’s explanation of the situation, Worf is on edge. It’s his birthday, and he doesn’t want people making a fuss. Particularly not a surprise party. While he’s holding a sword, and the aforementioned trophy made of knives. The crew does wait until he’s put the sword down before springing the energy confetti on him. Riker even makes him wear a jaunty hat. Worf is Not Amused, for he is Not a Merry Man. They even sing ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ in Klingon at him. Klingon doesn’t have a word for ‘jolly’ either. Go figure. Data got him a painting, and Riker and Troi enjoy messing with him. He has a brief dizzy spell and then mentions that he thought the cake was chocolate rather than yellow cake with chocolate spikes. Earlier, Riker mentioned that Picard was on the bridge, yet here he is eating cake and asking Worf’s age.
At the array, the transmissions have been rerouted from the Federation to the empty sector 19658. Definitely deliberate sabotage, then. That’s not the sort of thing which happens by accident. Riker arranges a repair team. Meanwhile, prompted by a gift from his son, Worf asks Troi to be Alexander’s official godmother, which would, as it happens, bring Lwaxana into Worf’s family. Ultimately, she agrees.
The array has been reprogrammed to spy on Federation sites which deal in starship development. You can actually see the pieces of a starship being assembled in Utopia Planetia. Of course, since these images all seem to use visible light, that might actually be the Enterprise being built, and that’s if the Argus Array is nearby. Seems everyone forgets about the lightspeed delay. The reprogramming seems to have been performed by a Cardassian ship, and as Geordi hands Worf the specs from across the Engineering table, Worf has another dizzy spell. Data catches him, only now Geordi is next to him and Data is across the table.
Now it seems Worf’s experience is beginning to diverge strongly from what we’ve seen so far. Now, instead of winning the bowling ball full of shards, he got hit over the head, got a concussion, and received ninth place. Worf’s first thought is that someone is playing a trick on him, but such a person would not have access to his personal log, unless Starfleet information security practices have remained exactly the same over the last few months. Someone is either gaslighting Worf, or the entire universe is gaslighting him.
Okay, here’s the thing, Cardassians. If you’re in Federation space and Picard asks you why you’re in Federation space, you don’t get to ask him why the Enterprise is in Federation space. That is a garbage question, and Picard lets them get away with it. I miss Kirk sometimes. In this scene, Worf says that the Cardassian ship matches the logs Data pulled from the array, but Data didn’t actually pull any logs from the array. And on re-examination, the array doesn’t have the Cardassian ship in the logs. Another dizzy spell, and Data’s gift painting has moved, and then changed. And then Troi’s strapless dress changes back into a uniform. And then Worf is on the bridge in the middle of a battle, marking the first time we see his shifts move him. Also, the bridge seems to havesome altered setpieces and an extended tactical display like the one in the Doomed Federation scenario. Whatever’s going on this time, something different happened far enough back that it changed the entire Enterprise layout. Worf takes himself off-duty after this results in the near-destruction of the ship, the severe maiming of LaForge, and the destruction of the Argus Array.
Worf goes to sulk in his quarters, and Troi shows up, annoyed that he locked the door and amused that he’s being overly formal and calling her ‘counselor,’ but wasting no time in suggesting he get to his other duties. The physical comedy in this scene is basically perfect. Small bacteria waiting to die on the anti-microbial Federation surfaces pick up what’s going on faster than Worf does, when it turns out they’ve been married for three years. Well, two years and a bit, but their relationship started shortly after his spinal injury. The one that, earlier in the episode, prompted him to ask Troi to be Alexander’s godmother. Turns out, Prime-universe Worf is pretty slow in a lot of ways.
We have at last moved into the investigation phase, in which Worf and Data will figure out that what unreasonably quickly and then move on to the ‘how fix?’ stage. Geordi seems to be a common thread in their shifts. Sadly, in this reality, Geordi died because of Worf’s shifts. When they hook his VISOR up to a diagnostic machine, Worf finds himself in a reality where he’s on command track, full commander, and the ship is apparently experiencing a fabric shortage because dead Geordi’s modesty cloth has gone from washcloth to potholder. Also, speculation on the chain of events that lead to the differences between Everett branches is fun. Obviously, in this universe they had a different insignia designer yonks ago, but I’m betting that Worf was able to avoid several impetuous decisions he made along the way, like not donating blood to that Romulan, and Riker didn’t stick around mooning over Troi after she married Worf.
Or no, I’m wrong. Riker is the captain. Maybe Picard was never rescued from the Borg? We’ll probably never know. Speaking of never knowing, somehow Data has determined that all matter in the universe has a property constant for that universe, but which can differ from universe to universe. How he managed to figure this out, we may never know, unless involves research into the Mirror Universe phenomenon. Otherwise, how do they have equipment to measure a property which by definition never varies?
Hey, Wesley is back. Backtracking Worf’s shuttle trail back in the prime universe, Riker and his one-command-chair bridge and his Cardassian helm officer find the rift that Worf just happened to fly though. What are the chances? I have a headcanon that every time something like this happens, where they chance on some phenomenon in the deep vastness of space where it makes no sense that the same ship should encounter all of this nonsense, it’s Q with one of his little tests. This pet theory also states that Q shows up every once in a while to be overtly annoying to throw everyone off the trail.
This rift, or ‘quantum fissure’ appears to be an intersection in space-time between all Everett branches which was torn open by the shuttlecraft warp engines and then also Geordi’s VISOR has something to do with it because it uses some subspace sensors. They do some science to try to find the Everett branch Worf belongs to, and various people come to terms with the idea that the Worf they remember may never come back. As the Enterprise scans the fissure, some Bajorans come by to try to kick the Enterprise‘ ass, and the battle causes every Enterprise nearby to appear as the barrier between timelines collapses.
Riker pulls a ‘look at my crotch’ pose while demanding options from Data. Data’s best guess is to ‘do the thing again and maybe it will fix the thing.’ They send out a general hail with the right signature, and Riker52164 gets a chance to get some closure with Picard1, which is a great little sequence. Data and his engineering team have found a way to reverse the warp field of the shuttle, and Worf kisses Troi goodbye. This is actually a really neat turning point for Worf, who has never really felt at home in the Federation. He’s now seen a reality where he was able to allow himself to settle down and have a family. In essence the past of a different Worf has opened up a new possible future for Worf prime.
Of course, that’s assuming the last five minutes of the episode get resolved. A Riker whose universe is so bad even the electric razors have stopped working attack the shuttlecraft to keep the rift from being sealed. It’s also neat to me that he says “the Borg is everywhere.” Q also called the Borg an ‘it’ rather than a ‘they.’ These are two sources who we might expect to have a slightly more intimate familiarity with how the Borg works. It’s a small moment, but consistent across multiple episodes. Anyway, Riker has to blow up hobo-Riker, Worf goes through the rift and intersects with a subset of every instance of himself before reappearing in his shuttle with a flash, and back in, if not the right Everett branch, then at least one that’s close enough.
Worf goes back into his quarters, dreading the surprise party, to find Troi in his quarters. She talked Will out of the party because she knows he’d hate it. Touched by her consideration and affected by his experience, Worf asks her to stay for dinner.