Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990) – Sarek, and Menage a Troi

Captain’s log: stardate 43917.4

Airing on 14 May, 1990, Star Trek: The Next Generation began formal relations with the Original Series when it debuted the episode Sarek. Written by Peter S. Beagle based on an unpublished story by Marc Cushman and Jake Jacobs.

Sarek (Mark Lenard returning to the role) at the age of 202, is on one last diplomatic mission. Picard (Patrick Stewart) is troubled by the request of the ambassador’s staff to keep him sequestered and in solitude for the extent of the mission.

It seems Sarek is suffering from bendai syndrome, which in the case of Vulcans who catch this rare disease, destroys their much-honed self-control and mental walls, broadcasting their emotions to any and all within range.

With the possibility of the failure of the mission, Picard offers himself up as a repository for Sarek’s emotions via a mind meld, and letting the Vulcan draw some of the captain’s control. It allows Stewart a chance to turn in a stellar performance, as usual, and embeds the story and the series more deeply in the Star Trek universe.

It also highlights the concept that mental illness can affect any and all and can cripple the best of us. Both Lenard and Stewart turn in fine performances, and Stewart’s scene filmed all in one take is incredibly emotional.

It did leave one story thread undone, in fact, it’s never touched upon again, but it seems Picard was at Sarek’s son’s wedding… which son? One assumes Spock (Leonard Nimoy) but he could have had another son, later in life… but what if?

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Captain’s log: stardate 43930.7

Menage a Troi first aired on 28 May, 1990 written by Fred Bronson and Susan Sackett the episode does not stand up to the title.

Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett)  returns as Deanna Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) mother. She and other delegations are aboard the Enterprise for diplomatic negotiations. While aboard ship she spurns the advances of the Ferengi, DaiMon Tog (Frank Corsentino).

Not to be put off, Tog kidnaps Lwaxana, Deanna, and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) in an attempt to woo her in his way.

The episode plays up the comedic side of things, and and has Picard putting on a show to play the spurned lover to scare Tog into releasing his prisoners.

Tog ‘s aide is Dr. Farek (Ethan Phillips who returns to the Trek universe in Voyager as Neelix!). And in other veins of continuity, we get a hint of the on-again, off-again relationship between Riker and Troi.

There’s more continuity to the series as Wesley (Wil Wheaton) gets promoted to full ensign, and dons the uniform for the first time. At least he won’t be wearing any ridiculous sweaters from here on out.

It’s a slightly goofy, light-hearted episode that entertains, and lets us have a breath before the end of the third season, which we know from having been through it back in 1990, is going to be a doozy.

The Human Adventure continues next week as we come to the close of the season with one of the all-time great cliffhangers.

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