Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, father of Spock, beams aboard the Enterprise to be transported to his final diplomatic duty. But he is suffering the initial symptoms of a mind-deteriorating disease and his telepathic skills project violent, irrational impulses in the crew's minds.
Tropes featured in this episode include:
- Bar Brawl: Fueled not by alcohol but by Sarek inadvertently projecting his anger telepathically onto others.
- Big "NO!": Picard screams this just after the mind meld.
- Blatant Lies: Ki Mendrosan assuring Picard that Sarek is in perfect health.
- Gut Feeling: Despite being an emotionless android, Data clearly gets one when Sakkath starts asking about Picard's diplomatic abilities.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Picard and Riker go a round on the bridge until Data gets them to stop.
- Hate Plague: Sarek's Vulcan Alzheimer's causes him to lose control of both his emotions and his telepathic abilities, transmitting powerful anger randomly around the Enterprise, which causes a number of arguments and one massive Bar Brawl.
- I Have No Son: Indirectly pulled by Picard-as-Sarek, who mentions Amanda and Spock, but not Sybok or his first wife. Unsurprising, as the writing staff had agreed between themselves to consign Star Trek V: The Final Frontier to Canon Discontinuity status.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: Worf and Riker are headed to Ten Forward, discussing an ensign challenging Worf.Riker: Is it my imagination, or have tempers become somewhat frayed on board this ship lately?
Worf: I hadn't noticed.
[they enter Ten Forward to find a full-scale brawl going on]
Worf: I see what you mean.
- Large Ham: Picard really goes to town after the mind-meld.
- MacGuffin: The main goal for the characters in this episode is for the negotiations between the Federation and the alien race Legarans to succeed. However, the actual negotiations are not shown, and we don't even get to see what the Legarans look like.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
- Sarek's unusually testy behavior is revealed to be the onset of Vulcan Alzheimer's.
- Similarly, Beverly slapping Wesley, Geordi and Wesley sniping at each other, and then Picard and Riker having a massive blowup on the bridge as a result of Sarek's emotional control slipping.
- Right Behind Me: Sarek walks in behind Perrin when she tries to stop Picard from confronting him about his Bendii Syndrome.Perrin: Please, you mustn't do this to him.
Sarek: Must not do what, my wife?
- Sanity Slippage: Sarek is inadvertently projecting his emotions thanks to Bendii Syndrome, a rare ailment among elderly (200+ years) Vulcans.
- Shout-Out: During the argument, Geordi says that Wesley's more likely to spend his evenings with a good book than with a woman.
- Something Only They Would Say: A variant. After melding with Picard, Sarek starts calling Riker "Number One."
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Sarek, when Picard forces him to face his loss of emotional control.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Picard mentions in passing that he once met Sarek briefly at his son's wedding. This is the only on screen mention of "Mrs. Spock" (although there's plenty of fan fiction covering it, and according to the Expanded Universe, it's Saavik).
- Whole Plot Reference: Sarek visits the Enterprise for his last diplomatic mission that is compromised by an illness hidden from his human wife...