We have come three seasons with little connection to the Original Series save for a small, but impressive guest appearance in Encounter At Farpoint. There have been the occasional mention of other ships and events of the past but little else. Surely there is someone still alive from the classic series that could be a feature character. Of course there is, and we find out in the aptly titled episode that originally aired on May 14,1990. This is Sarek.
Stardate 43917.4 Sarek
The famed Ambassador Sarek arrive on the Enterprise D in order to negotiate a treaty with a race known as the Legarans. While on board crewmen begin to experience violent thoughts and tendencies which can be traced back to Sarek’s presence.
Picard and Riker go to the transporter pad to meet with Sarek and his delegation party. Before the Ambassador arrives, two of his party beam up and ask that Sarek be left alone during his visit as Sarek needs to conserve his strength for the negotiations. disappointed, Picard agrees but, when Sarek and his human wife Perrin arrive on board he seems fine and insists that his delegation party is being too cautious.
After discussing the planned concert in honor of Sarek, Picard is disappointed that he is not able to attend. Troi suggests that Picard invite Perrin and Picard goes to their quarters to do so. Perrin is quite amicable but explains that Sarek is likely not able to attend. After Picard leaves we discover that Sarek has been unable to meditate for several weeks and it is bothering him.
Later that evening, as the concert begins, Sarek makes a surprise appearance much to the delight of Picard and Riker. However, as the concert progresses, Troi and Picard notice that the Ambassador is moved by the music and even sheds tears. This concerns him as this is not in character for a Vulcan, especially someone of Sarek’s stature.
After several random violent outbreaks throughout the ship, including Doctor Crusher slapping Wesley and a bar room brawl in ten forward, Crusher and Troi determine that Sarek may indeed be a victim of Bendii syndrome, an affliction that causes a Vulcan over 200 to lose control of their emotions. Concerned over the situation, Picard confronts one of Sarek’s assistants, Ki Mendrossen, who deflects the accusation. Picard asks Data to talk with Sarek’s other assistant, Sakkath, who reveals that Sakkath has been assisting in Sarek’s mental health. Sakkath has been using him mental powers to keep Sarek in check but is losing his ability to continue to do so. The mission is indeed in jeopardy.
Picard confronts Perrin and she denies the accusation. Picard then informs her of Sakkath’s attempts to help. Sarek makes an appearance and also claims that he does not have Bendii syndrome. Picard reveals to Sarek that Sakkath has been assisting Sarek with his emotions. Sarek sends everyone away but Picard and they discuss the issues at hand. After confronting Sarek about his emotions, Sarek breaks down and it ultimately shows that there is an issue. There is no way Sarek can conduct the negotiations in his state.
Perrin proposes a Mind Meld between Picard and Sarek in order to stabilize Sarek to give him time to complete the negotiations. Picard agrees and, despite Sarek’s warnings, they go through with the Mind Meld. The Meld is completed and, as the Ambassador conducts the negotiations, Picard must deal with the onslaught of emotions that Sarek has been keeping at bay.
They all part ways at the end, Leaving Picard and Sarek with the best parts of one another.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a beautiful episode for many reasons. First, we get a chance to reunite with the classic character who has been with us since the Original Series, Sarek of Vulcan. Sarek is such an iconic person in the Star Trek Universe and to have him return is such a wondrous opportunity. This single episode provides a fitting continuation to Sarek’s story which leads to another appearance later in the series.
Another reason this is such a wonderful entry as it addresses a very real threat to mental health for humans. The Bendii syndrome is a disease that causes a Vulcan to lose all control over their lifetime of Logic. For a Vulcan, this is a fate worse than death and is not dissimilar to the human ailment of Alzheimer’s disease. So many people come down with it and, in many ways, it is as difficult for us as the Bendii Syndrome is for Vulcans. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Over time, sufferers deal with forgetting things from forgetting family members to even forgetting how to do simple tasks. They may also act strangely and irrationally. Sadly, despite much research, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and we don’t have the benefit of psychic Vulcans keeping the disease at bay.
Finally, when the mind meld is complete, we get to see Picard project Sarek’s pain and guilt in a way that Sarek could never express. You can tell actor Patrick Stewart really used his Shakespearean training to dive into this role and it was remarkable. The pain and anguish you get from him is a moment that surely deserved an award.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Picard mentions meeting Sarek once at ‘his son’s wedding’. This implies that Spock was once married unless Sarek had other children after Spock… We know he had another son at one point named Sybock so anything is possible.
We never actually see the Legarans but we do learn that they enjoy ‘150 degree Celsius’ slime to sit in.
Although mentioned by name, we never meet Ensign Suzanne Dumont, Wesly’s Date. For a 17-year-old, getting a date with an actual Ensign on the ship is impressive. Or maybe it was a pity date on the Ensign’s part?
During Wesley and LaForge’s fight, Wesley mentions that LaForge ‘gets his women on the holodeck’, it seems someone is still spending time with Leah Brahms….
During Picard’s time dealing with Sarek’s emotions and memories, we see that Doctor Crusher is present the entire time. Normally the Cheif Medical Officer would be in such a situation but notably absent is the ships Counselor Deanne Troi. This implies that Crusher was there not only as Picards doctor but also because she truly cares for him, which has been hinted at many times in past episodes.
Alzheimer’s is a real disease and if you want to know more please visit the Alzheimers Association Page.
While we dont have people who can use phycic powers to help control the disease, help is available.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease.
Thanks for reading today’s Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Menage a Troi
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Late To The Game 10/20/2019 (Originally Published 6/8/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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