Stigma (Star Trek: Enterprise)
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|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||David Livingston|
|Written by||Rick Berman
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Original air date||February 5, 2003|
In the episode, it is revealed that Sub-commander T'Pol has a degenerative disease, Pa'nar Syndrome, contracted from her mind meld in "Fusion." She must face being ostracized by Vulcan society and losing her position on Enterprise.
Dr. Phlox tells T'Pol that his treatment of her potentially fatal disease, Pa'nar Syndrome, is losing effectiveness, and he would like to make confidential inquiries about the disease with Vulcan doctors attending an interspecies medical exchange on the planet Enterprise orbits. She resists, but Phlox chooses to go anyway. Before he does, his second wife, Feezal (Melinda Page Hamilton), arrives to help install a new microscope, and she soon begins making amorous advances on Commander Tucker.
On the planet, Phlox's subsequent inquiries with the Vulcans yields little information. When the Vulcans request to come on board Enterprise and interview Phlox and T'Pol, it is clear that the subterfuge had failed. The Vulcans trick T'Pol into giving a medical sample, which confirms to them that she has contracted the ailment. Captain Archer is upset that he had to learn about T'Pol's condition from the Vulcans. It then comes out that T'Pol could lose her commission because Pa'nar is a stigmatized disease. It is only transmitted via mind-meld, and the Vulcans have a low opinion of the practice.
Archer then pays his own visit to the Vulcans—which is no more fruitful than Phlox's first. That is until one of the doctors, Yuris, sets up a secret meeting with T'Pol to give her the information she seeks. He is a closeted mind melder, and feels a sort of bond with her, but she lets it be known that the mind-meld in question, was forced. He begs her to tell the others before the Vulcan High Command is informed of her condition, but she declines.
Archer uses a loophole in Vulcan protocol to force a hearing. T'Pol stands by her silence, and Archer stands by his science officer, all the while resisting the Vulcan doctors. Dr. Yuris then reveals that he himself is a mind-melder, and exposes T'Pol's secret. As a result, he is suspended, but T'Pol is allowed to remain on Enterprise. She continues to take the high ground and will inform the High Command about the events and Archer hopes to encourage others to challenge bigotry. As for Trip, he cannot quite wrap his mind around a cultural polygamy, whereas Phlox and Feezal can only shake their heads and laugh in bemused wonder.
Pa'nar Syndrome is a fictional neurological ailment, fatal to Vulcans, and transferred between them via a mind meld. At this time in the Star Trek universe, only a small portion of Vulcans are believed to have the ability to initiate mind melds, and melding by Vulcans is not accepted by Vulcan society in general. People suffering from Pa'nar Syndrome are therefore stigmatized.
T'Pol contracts this relatively rare disease from a member of a rebellious Vulcan sect which had cast aside the rule of logic and experimented with mind melds and emotions. The event is seen in "Fusion," where T'Pol, apparently unaware of the risks, willingly participates in a mind meld initiated by Tolaris, but later resists the process. In "Stigma," she discloses that she was forced to it. In the fourth season episode, "Awakening," T'Pol learns that the condition was caused by an improperly trained melder and, contrary to the public declarations of the Vulcan High Command, it was actually curable by an experienced mind (in T'Pol's case, a service provided by future Vulcan elder T'Pau).
In late 2002, Viacom, the owner of the UPN network on which Enterprise was aired, mandated that all fictional programs on its schedule would, sometime during the 2002-2003 season, produce a special episode addressing the AIDS-HIV pandemic.
The episode proved to be somewhat controversial, with some critics feeling that the episode's social commentary was too timid and that it failed to fully address sexuality based discrimination. Other viewers responded positively to the parallels between the episode and the intolerance in human society.[dead link]
- Stigma at the Internet Movie Database
- "Stigma" at TV.com
- Stigma at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Stigma at StarTrek.com
- Pa'nar Syndrome at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)