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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S3E23 "Sarek"

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Yes, that Sarek.
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Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, Spock's father, 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:

  • Actor Allusion: While arguing with Wesley, Geordi tells him "You'd get more action out of a good book than you'll ever see on this date, I guarantee it!"
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The one-on-one confrontation with Sarek heats up when Picard cites him crying at the concert and asks, "Is it logical for a Vulcan to cry?"
  • 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.
    Picard: NOOOO! It is... it is... wrong! It is WRONG!
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  • Blatant Lies: Ki Mendrosan assuring Picard that Sarek is in perfect health.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Sarek and his party go through the progression more-or-less in order.
    • Denial: For the first half of the episode, nobody will admit that Sarek is beginning to lose his mind. Ki Mendrosan in particular lies his butt off to Picard.
    • Anger: Despite the aforementioned denial, Sarek is unusually testy, but most of the anger comes out in the form of violence throughout the Enterprise. His confrontation with Picard is basically angry denial.
    • Bargaining: Once the truth comes out, Perrin pleads with Picard to undertake the mind-meld and allow Sarek to complete his final mission.
    • Depression: While channeling Sarek's emotions, Picard expresses both anger and regret over Sarek not telling his loved ones how he fells about them.
    • Acceptance: Sarek returns to Vulcan accepting his fate.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that Sarek has an onset of Bendii Syndrome is hinted at in the first act, as he is increasingly concerned about the decor in the conference room, with unnatural intensity in his voice.
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  • 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. Admittedly though it does make sense that Sarek would disown Sybok, as his rejection of Surak's teachings would not exactly have gone over well with his fellow Vulcans.
  • 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 a little frayed on the 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.
  • Irony: Sarek reflects on being accused of many things in his time, but never once of having excessive emotions.
  • Large Ham: Picard really goes to town after the mind-meld.
    • Sarek toys idly with a few dainties from the scenery trolley too.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Perrin, Sakkath, and Ki Mendrossen all know the truth, but they're keeping it from Sarek so he can complete his last mission and end his career on a high note.
  • 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.
  • Madness Mantra: "ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL!"
  • Mood Whiplash: After the Mind Meld, we get a quick scene of Sarek being suddenly back to his old self, to Riker's surprise, and heading down to the negotiations. An innocuous scene, right before immediately cutting to Picard flipping the hell out.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Beverly after slapping Wesley.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: Sarek's illness causes his impulses to project onto others around him, leading to the crew of the Enterprise to become testy, if not outright violent, with each other.
  • Noodle Incident: After Beverly talks about feeling a burst of anger and slapping Wesley, Troi admits she's heard similar stories from ten different crew members over the last couple days.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Sarek's unusually testy behavior is revealed to be the onset of Bendii Syndrome.
    • 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 losing his emotional control.
  • Planet of Hats: Apparently, the Legarans' hat involves hyper-exacting demands and a total lack/hatred of contingency planning.
  • 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.
  • Serious Business: Sarek makes sure to impart upon Picard the dangers of long-term mind-melding. He makes clear that Vulcans suppress their emotions because they're so intense, and that the full brunt of them could potentially kill a normal human.
  • Single Tear: Just shedding a tear is Serious Business for a Vulcan.
  • 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."
  • Starfish Aliens: We don't get to see them, but the Legarans are implied to be this. The wading pool of boiling sludge Geordi and Wes set up for them certainly suggests it.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!:
    • Picard and Riker arguing on the bridge.
      Riker: I don't understand this. Everyone is protecting Sarek. His wife, Mendrosan, even you!
      Picard: What would you have me do? March right down there and destroy the man?
      Riker: The mission with the Legarans cannot be carried out with Sarek in this condition!
      Picard: I know that!
      Riker: THEN TELL HIM THAT THERE IS NO WAY!
      Picard: DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
      Data: Captain...Commander...
    • Sarek, when Picard forces him to face his loss of emotional control.
      Picard: Sarek of Vulcan would never be afraid of looking straight at something he did not want to see.
      Sarek: I warn you, your efforts to discredit me will not succeed!
      Picard: Sarek of Vulcan never confused what he wanted with the truth.
      Sarek: I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO IN THIS MANNER!
      Picard: Do I hear anger in your voice?
      Sarek: It would be illogical for a Vulcan to show ANGER! It would be ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL!
  • Tender Tears: During their logical argument of the situation, Picard cites seeing Sarek cry during the concert as proof of him being emotionally affected.
  • 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...
    • The first line of dialogue even reveals the fate of Coridan, which was left hanging in the original TOS episode. (Unsurprisingly, Sarek convinced the other Ambassadors to vote in favor of admission.)

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