In this Very Special Episode of Enterprise, we discuss STD’s and polyamory. Originally broadcast on February 5, 2003 this is Stigma.
Captain’s Starlog Date Unknown
T’Pol reveals that she has contracted Pa’nar Syndrome from her forced mind meld with Tolaris a year before and, although Phlox is certain he can assist her, she feels the need to seek help from her own people. Archer is upset that he was not told of the situation earlier but she tells him that, had word gotten back to the Vulcan High Command, she could have lost her commission. They are soon contacted by a young Vulcan named Yuris who believes he will be able to assist with her illness but soon word gets out to the Vulcan High Command and the Vulcan Medical Council compromising Yuris and T’Pol.
Archer soon learns that T’Pol is to be removed from enterprise to be placed in the care of the Vulcan Medical Council but Archer demands that she has the right to a hearing under Vulcan Law. Although T’Pol is reluctant to participate at first, Archer convinces her to as having a Mind-Meld, especially one against her will, should not stigmatize her from her people or ruin her career. After the hearing T’Pol is allowed to remain on Enterprise due to the illness being the result of an attack and yuris is suspended. Archer makes an attempt to contact Vulcan High Command and defend Yuris from any further repercussions.
As T’Pol deals with her illness, one of Phlox’s wives, Feezal, visits to help install some equipment and takes a liking to Trip who gets very uncomfortable at the thought of being hit on by another mans wife. He soon discovers that it is very common for Denoblians to have multiple mates and encourages Trip to take advantage of Feezal if she is willing as Trip would be denying himself quite the experience.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I have said this before and I will say it again, I love when Star Trek makes an attempt to present socio-political statements through great storytelling. It is pretty clear that Pa’nar Syndrome is an analogy to the Aid epidemic of the 90’s and 2000’s as well as the stigma associated with the Virus and the continued stigma against various sexual orientations.
What I love about this episode in particular is how it blatantly shows how unforgiving the Vulcans are concerning Mind Melds and those who can performs them, as well as the previously unknown virus that can be transmitted between these people. What makes this interesting is that by the time Discovery and the Original series occurs, Mind Melds have become more or less acceptable in common culture, even used regularly on Federation ships for investigations and medical issues. However, 100 years prior, the very concept of having a Mind Meld is considered something that is to be punished, the fact that a disease can be transmitted makes it even more so.
Humans tend to have many of the same traits as these Vulcans who shun those who can initiate Mind Melds. In fact, there is a large contingent of humans even today who are against the LGBTQ+ community because they too are considered by many to be a ‘undesirable minority’. While this intolerance is still prevalent today, much of the hate was built on the rise of the AID Virus that was blamed on homosexuality early on. Much like what people are attempting to do with Covid-19 by referring to it with racist slurs, AIDS was sadly also treated in a similar fashion.
Anyone who watched this episode and did not see the parallels between Pa’nar, Mind Melders, AIDS and the LBGTQ+ community were simply being willfully blind. It shows very clearly that this horrible thought process is one that needs to end and the only way to move forward is to accept all people, no matter what their sexual preference or medical status. I mean, if the most stuck up species in the known universe can get over their stigmas, well, humans should be able to as well right?
Character wise, I love how T’Poll is unwilling to testify that she was forced into a mind meld as it would only validate the Vulcan’s hate against the Mind Melding Minority. This really speaks to her character and her determination to be an ethical and honorable person. While she herself is a minority in her own culture, it is amazing to see how many of her own traits become common place among other Vulcans in the future.
Overall, This is a tremendous episode that not only continues a story thread that was seeded earlier in the series but manages to present a wonderful social commentary. Honestly, if more people bothered to listen to these types of stories presented on Star Trek and other series instead of just looking at the space battles, maybe they would see our own world a little differently. Hopefully, this episode and ones like it manage to change the minds of a few of those who watch them, then maybe, just maybe even we can find enlightenment in time.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- This is not the last we hear about T’Pol’s illness
- While this is not the final time we see Feezal, she never does get a chance to explore her affections with Trip Tucker.
Thanks for reading the 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: Cease Fire
For more information on the LBGTQ community, I would recommend the SafeZone Project. They are one of the best resources to learn everything you care to know from those that are actually involved.
For more information about HIV and AIDS you should check out this article from JSO which contains some great links to resources that might help you understand this illness even more so.
more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 7/23/2021
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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