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.
Doctor Phlox tells Sub−Commander T'Pol that his treatment of her potentially fatal disease, Pa'nar Syndrome, is losing effectiveness, so he would like to make confidential inquiries with Vulcan doctors attending an interspecies medical exchange on the planet Enterprise is now orbiting. T'Pol resists, but Phlox chooses to go anyway. Before he does, his second wife, Feezal, arrives to help install a new microscope, and she soon begins making amorous advances on Commander Tucker. Unfortunately, a confused Tucker cannot quite wrap his mind around polygamy, which, in Denobulan culture, is quite a normal practice.
On the planet, Phlox's inquiries with the Vulcans yields little information. When the Vulcans request to visit and interview Phlox and T'Pol, it is clear that the subterfuge had failed, since the Vulcans trick T'Pol into providing a medical sample, which confirms their suspicions. Pa'nar Syndrome is only transmitted via mind-meld, a practice which is considered taboo on the Vulcan homeworld. Captain Archer is upset to learn about T'Pol's condition from the Vulcans. Archer then pays his own visit to the Vulcans - a visit which is no more fruitful than Phlox's first. One of the doctors, Yuris, sets up a secret meeting with T'Pol to give her the information she seeks. He reveals a closely guarded secret: he himself is a mind–melder. T'Pol tells Yuris that the meld which gave her the disease was forced on her. Yuris begs her to tell the others before the Vulcan High Command is informed of her condition, but she declines.
It then comes out that T'Pol could lose her commission since Pa'nar is a stigmatized disease. Archer uses a loophole in Vulcan protocol to force a hearing. T'Pol remains silent, but Archer stands by his science officer, all the while resisting the Vulcan doctors. Yuris then reveals his status as a 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 stand her ground and states her intent to inform the High Command of recent events, hoping to encourage others to challenge prejudice.
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. Furthermore, Vulcan society has "more intolerance today than there was 1,000 years ago" (statement by Dr.Yuris, in this episode) and melding is not accepted by Vulcan society in general. People suffering from Pa'nar Syndrome are therefore stigmatized – a situation that will not begin to change until the fourth season story arc culminating in the episode "Kir'Shara".
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 (in T'Pol's case, via a meld 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]