Sarek (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 23) Aging with Dignity and Vulcan Mind-melds

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

The Enterprise-D ferries Spock’s father to a diplomatic meeting that will define his career — but the 202-year-old Sarek is not well.

The Vulcan’s entourage includes his human wife Perrin and two aides, all of whom get decent story arcs. Wesley gets some good scenes with LaForge and his mother, and Riker and Worf set up a laugh-out-loud sight gag in Ten Forward.

The B-plot scenes of ensemble members getting mad at each other mesh reasonably with the main plot, as long as you accept the premise that as Sarek loses the ability to control his emotions, he stokes the anger of random people on the ship. Why only anger? Why wouldn’t the effect be more intense the closer you are to Sarek? ¯\_()_/¯

While I’ve complained that earlier TNG episodes required us to care too much about guest stars, I already cared about Sarek, and in this episode I felt he was hustled through his big scene too quickly, so the show could linger on Picard’s reaction.

But what a reaction!

After a mind-meld that temporarily boosts Sarek’s self-control, Picard experiences a lifetime of Sarek’s repressed emotions. In two notably long takes, Patrick Stewart displays intense fear, anger, despair, and love. Tears well from his eyes at just the right time in the monologue.

A slime pit, man tears from two great actors, a bar fight, and Wesley getting slapped. What’s not to love?

Although we’ve seen Chief O’Brien play the cello, he’s not in this episode’s string quartet. (He is in the bar fight, though. Priorities, I guess.)