Friday, January 29, 2021

Star Trek: Sarek

Episode: "Sarek"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 23
Original Air Date: May 14, 1990

The Enterprise is transporting Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) on his final diplomatic mission.  His presence has everyone on edge: Geordi and Wes are bickering, Picard and Riker are barking at one another and there's a full on brawl in Ten Forward.  It's not a coincidence.  The Vulcan Sarek is suffering from Bendii syndrome, a degenerative disease which compromises his ability to contain his emotions.  While he maintains his stoicism, his emotions are running wild through the ship's crew. 

Mark Lenard is one of my favorites, as much a part of what makes Star Trek's original series work for me as most of the principal cast.  He is the unforgettable guest star, as two different characters, in each of what are probably my two favorite episodes: "Balance of Terror" and "Journey to Babel."  The return of Sarek was a big deal for the series as a whole.  To this point, Gene Roddenberry had been reluctant to allow even a mention of anything related to the original series on Next Gen.  Understandably, he wanted the new series to be able to stand on its own.  "Sarek" opened the door.  The story is also seen by many as a clear reference to Roddenberry's own deteriorating health at the time.

Even with all of that, Patrick Stewart still managed to steal the show.  His talents are given free rein during his mind meld with Sarek.  Even Lenard was impressed.

Acting Notes

Joanna Miles played the role of Perrin, Sarek's second wife.  Miles was born March 6, 1940 in Nice, France.  Her family emigrated to the United States in 1941.  She grew up in Putney, Vermont.  She studied at the Actors Studio in New York alongside Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman.

In 1973, she won two Emmys for her portrayal of Laura Wingfield in a televised film of The Glass Menagerie.  Big screen appearances include Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Above Suspicion and Judge Dredd.  This is her first of two appearances as Perrin.


  1. This is o e of my favourite episodes. Mark Lenard should be more widely known because he is such a great actor. This version of dementia is heart wrenching and has always made me cry.

    1. It's a tough business. Even for one so clearly talented, there wasn't much high-profile work. I always wonder with someone like that, was he difficult to work with perhaps? He certainly found a nice niche with Trek.

  2. I do have some memories of this episode. Sarek is always interesting.
    The character is big part of season one of Discovery.

  3. I have always thought Mark Lenard was a very wonderful actor.

  4. The remarkable thing is that in clearly connecting the two series, they ended up emphasizing the quality of the new series while also putting a spotlight on an underappreciated character from the old one.