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Stigma (episode)

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ENT, Episode 2x14
Production number: 040
First aired: 5 February 2003
39th of 97 produced in ENT
39th of 97 released in ENT
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 97 released in ENT Remastered  
668th of 728 released in all
Tucker and Feezal
Written By
Rick Berman & Brannon Braga

Directed By
David Livingston
Unknown (2152)
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T'Pol's position on Enterprise is jeopardized when the Vulcans discover that she has contracted a mind-affecting disease.


T'Pol learns that she has contracted Pa'nar Syndrome, a deadly neurological disease, from her less-than-voluntary mind meld with Tolaris the previous year. Phlox believes he can manage her condition, but he needs more information. The Enterprise NX-01 arrives at a meeting of the Interspecies Medical Exchange on Dekendi III, where several Vulcan physicians named Oratt, Strom, and Yuris are present. However, Phlox must lie regarding his motivation for obtaining information on this disease; those who suffer from Pa'nar Syndrome are stigmatized in Vulcan society, because the method of transmission is a mind meld, which is considered a deviant act and taboo in mainstream Vulcan society.

Dekendi III

Dekendi III

One of Phlox's wives, Feezal, comes on board Enterprise to install a neutron microscope, and finds herself flirting heavily with Trip Tucker. Tucker is uneasy that a colleague's wife is making overt sexual innuendo toward him and informs Phlox, despite warnings about how angry Phlox can get. However, Phlox then encourages a flabbergasted Tucker to indulge himself with Feezal and reminds him that Denobulans are polygamists and that typical Human sexual morality does not apply to him. Even so, Tucker declines Feezal's propositions.

When the Vulcan physicians are skeptical of Phlox's interest in the disease, they arrange to meet with T'Pol and covertly gather some of her DNA, which shows she is infected with the disease. The physicians inform Captain Archer of T'Pol's condition and threaten to reveal her status to the High Command and have her recalled. They also rescind Phlox's invitation to the conference. Captain Archer is disappointed that Phlox and T'Pol hid information from him regarding her condition, but is more outraged that the Vulcans would destroy an officer's career due to a disease or how the officer expresses intimacy with others. The Vulcan physicians remain unaffected by Captain Archer's pleas for assistance and understanding.

However, Dr. Yuris covertly contacts T'Pol and reveals that he himself is a mind-melder. T'Pol reveals to Yuris that she became infected during a violation, and the physician suggests T'Pol tell the others this, that they will sympathize with her if they believe she contracted the disease through no fault of her own. T'Pol decides not to reveal the specifics for moral reasons, not wanting to justify their prejudice.

Dr. Yuris reveals her secret, and declares himself to be a member of the minority. T'Pol's position is no longer in jeopardy, but she remains infected with a disease that will eventually kill her and Vulcan society remains prejudiced against this minority.

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Memorable Quotes

"I wasn't exactly pulling your leg, was I, commander?"

- Feezal to Tucker

"Well, I've got to get back to my warp engine. The plasma's runnin' a little hot."
"I know how it feels."

- Tucker and Feezal

"Don't you find her attractive?"
"Uh, sure. I mean no, she's your wife!"
"What does that have to do with it?"
"...she's your wife!"

- Phlox and Tucker, discussing Feezal

"My compassion guides my judgement"

- Archer, Defending T'Pol

Background Information

  • The episode's strong undertones regarding HIV and sexual orientation are not coincidental. This was Enterprise's contribution to Viacom's HIV awareness campaign of early 2003. [1]
  • Rick Berman commented, "They didn't actually say that they'd like us to come up with a story line. They invited us to a presentation that they had, which was quite impressive, that they asked all the producers on the lot to attend – which Brannon and I did. This episode depicts the Vulcan physicians as unwilling to supply research, medicine or preventative efforts in order to stop the spread of this disease simply because they don't condone the behavior of this Vulcan subset. Many in today's society believe that it is this kind of intolerance and ignorance that allows the HIV/AIDS epidemic to spread. In this case, the people are genetically capable of performing mind-melds. This is all something that would be different in the age of Kirk or Picard, but in our century there is definitely a stigma against people who go against normal mores and policies and attempt this very emotional and intimate act of mind-meld." [2]
  • Brannon Braga remarked, "We're not here to provide answers to questions. We're here to provoke thought about an issue. This episode stands on its own. Even if you don't draw the analogy, it's still an interesting episode, because it deals in general with prejudice. The metaphor will be clear to a lot of people." [3]
  • Some critics, such as John Ruch (of the Boston Herald) in an article archived here, felt that the episode was too vague in dealing with prejudice based on sexual orientation.
  • One of the two Dekendi written languages is either a reuse of the Vidiian written language, or is incredibly similar. The language can be seen on many banners, and the building's inner walls.
Vulcan PADD 2152

Vulcan Padd

  • The Dekendi ship that carried one of Phlox's wives was previously seen as a Ferengi vessel in "Acquisition".
  • The Vulcan PADD is a reuse of the Bajoran PADD, and the scanner is a modified modern-day computer scanner.
  • T'Pol's illness is not cured for another two seasons, in season 4's "Kir'Shara".
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Denobulans other than Phlox on the series.
  • In a 2011 interview, Brannon Braga commented that he thought this episode was "very strong." Concerning the way the episode depicts the taboo aspect of Vulcan mind melds, Braga stated, "To me, that's an interesting exploration of Star Trek and also tells us something about people who are ostracized." [4]

Links and references

Main cast

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars


aperture ring; blackberry cobbler; Black Cat, The; Bogga; coffee; condenser lens; Coridan; Council of Physicians; Dekendi III; Denobula; Denobulan language; doughnut; fargan; Forlisa; Groznik; imaging filament; Interspecies Medical Exchange; Karloff, Boris; Kessil; Klaban; Lugosi, Bela; monkey in the middle; neurolytic enzyme; neutron; neutron microscope; nucleotide; Pa'nar Syndrome; pathologist; plomeek soup; protein; psychiatric analyst; quantum filter; quantum optics; reflectometer; rose; subculture; Teerza Prime; thymic sclerosis; Tolaris; Vahklas; Vesena; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan High Command; Vulcan mind meld; Vulcan database; Vulcan Science Directorate; Vulcan transport

External link

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 2
Next episode:
"Cease Fire"

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