Lwaxana Troi arrives to the Enterprise, declaring that she is to hold her arranged wedding there. She is to marry a man with whom she shared many interests, according to a matchmaking computer system which declared them perfect mates. Picard refuses, but when he is told she wants him to give away the bride he changes his mind, saying, "Nothing would make me happier than giving away Mrs. Troi."
Deanna is shocked when she is told that Lwaxana will not follow the Betazoid tradition of a naked bride at weddings. Lwaxana replies that it is offensive to her future husband's people. But Deanna still doesn't think someone with such a position as her mother should just throw away a fine Betazoid tradition just like that.
Worf and his son Alexander have problems with fulfilling obligations, Alexander not doing the chores he has been told to do. Deanna Troi suggests that they make a contract including matters such as Alexander only playing after he has performed his chores. But Lwaxana ruins this by saying "A contract is something you make with someone you distrust." She several times takes Alexander to a holodeck simulation called the Parallax colony; "a place for free spirits". It's a fantasy land involving such fantastical characters as a smiling, multi-colored humanoid head inside a "floating" sphere; a juggler who eats one of the balls he's juggling; a rotund humanoid noted for making such comments such as "every moment requires a purpose. Every purpose requires a plan" and "the higher, the fewer"; and two twins, each with large hairdos and a habit of constantly arguing. Mrs. Troi teaches Alexander to do what he feels like and "be a free spirit". Deanna complains that her mother is giving the little Klingon conflicting messages.
Lwaxana's husband-to-be arrives, proving himself to be less suitable than the test indicated. After talking to Alexander, who asks why she seems so sad, Mrs. Troi arrives to the wedding naked according to Betazoid tradition, ignoring any potential offense. Her husband-to-have-been leaves, upset. Lwaxana thanks Alexander for teaching her to be a free spirit. The episode ends with Deanna, Lwaxana, Alexander and Worf mudbathing in the free thinkers' colony, Worf asking "You're just supposed to sit here?"
The material nitrium, used in the construction of Federation starships, is referenced in this episode. Parasites are found feeding on Enterprise components made of this substance, jeopardising the ship's integrity, and so introducing a sense of urgency to the story.