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TNG 3-23

TNG 3x23

Original airdate: 5/14/1990
Rewatch date: 10/14/2011

The Enterprise escorts an aging Vulcan diplomat, Sarek, but the crew starts experiencing unusual emotional outbursts while he's aboard.

Spoiler-free notes:

Sarek has a thing for human wives. What's up with that?

Picard says he attended Sarek's son's wedding. Did Spock get married? Does Sarek have another son?

This episode has many references to TOS, but they're not as ham-fisted as they could be. TNG does well to do this from time to time, just to honor where the show came from and to stay true to what Star Trek is all about. There's also a big Spock tease, leaving the audience wondering if we're ever going to learn what has happened to the original crew (everyone but Dr. McCoy, who was in "Encounter at Farpoint").

Picard laments that Sarek's seclusion will prevent the captain from "sharing his thoughts, memories..." It's not exactly subtle, but it's still good foreshadowing.

Number of episodes in which a member of the crew is subverted by an alien lifeforce: 8.

What a remarkable episode! It takes a tried-and-true Star Trek formula--a seemingly routine mission, strange happenings, a problem that seems unsolveable, and someone coming up with a creative solution at the last minute--and makes it shine. The acting from both Mark Lenard and Patrick Stewart is absolutely stellar, without a doubt the best of the entire show thus far. On top of that, there's the subtext of Gene Roddenberry, whose health was starting to slowly deteriorate at this point in the show's production. This one is something special.

Spoiler section:

Picard's relationship with Sarek has a profound effect on his character from this point on, ultimately setting up his relationship with Spock in "Unification," which is partly about Spock and Sarek "unifying" after Sarek's death, through Picard.

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"The Most Toys"
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TNG 3x24
"Ménage à Troi"
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