This episode, you guessed it, guest-starred Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard), father of Spock. The Enterprise-D was assigned to transport Sarek to his last mission, negotiating a treaty with a race called the Legarans. Sarek, at the ripe old age of 202, is in declining health — but his aides don’t tell the crew the specifics. Soon, tempers start flaring on the Enterprise, and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) diagnoses Sarek with Bendii Syndrome.
Since Sarek can’t attend a diplomatic meeting in his current condition, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) offers to share a mind-meld with him. Sarek gets the captain’s calm and resolve for the few needed hours while Picard takes on his anguish. The two men end the episode with a mutual understanding deeper than a lifetime of friendship could offer.
“Sarek,” especially Bendii Syndrome, is an allegory for dementia and the pain of seeing a respected elder lose their dignity to age. In the season 5 episode “Unification,” the disease ultimately leads to Sarek’s death. T’Lyn, though, is a young woman by Vulcan standards (she’s 62), so why does she have it?
The episode implies it is psychosomatic; T’lyn is having a “quarter-life crisis,” per Mariner (Tawny Newsome), and doesn’t feel like a true Vulcan. Since she doubts her ability to regulate her emotions, she’s subconsciously losing her ability to. After T’lyn shares her history with Mariner, the latter gives her a pep talk, calling the Vulcan “one of the most brutally efficient, distant people I’ve ever met” and reminding her that even a Vulcan as esteemed as Sarek shared her condition. With that reassurance, T’lyn’s symptoms fade and the crew comes back under control.
I, for one, can’t wait to see more of T’lyn being “Vulcan as a motherf***er.”
“Star Trek: Lower Decks” is streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes released on Thursdays.