In the latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, “Empathalogical Fallacies,” the USS Cerritos feels the effects of a psychic affliction. This is revealed to be the effect of Bendii Syndrome affecting Lt. JG T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz). At the conclusion of the episode, Lt. JG Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) concludes, “Vulcan brains are scary strong.” For this week’s Trek Tuesday, we’re taking a look at six episodes that prove the hypothesis.
The premiere episode of Star Trek: The Original Series season 3 is somewhat infamous. However, it definitely proves the strength of Vulcan brains. In this episode, an interloper comes aboard the USS Enterprise and surgically removes the brain of Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This creates a countdown, as Spock’s body can only survive 24 hours without its brain.
James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Doctor “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) are able to locate Spock’s brain on an alien planet. They learn Spock’s brain has been co-opted as controller of the planet’s society. McCoy uses the alien’s technique for temporary mental enhancement to acquire the knowledge necessary to replace Spock’s brain. However, the knowledge begins to expire partway through surgery. Fortunately, Spock’s brain can help McCoy complete the procedure.
“Sarek” is the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3 episode and is the origin of the Bendii Syndrome that affects T’Lyn in “Empathalogical Fallacies.” In this episode, Sarek (Mark Lenard) visits the USS Enterprise-D to participate in diplomatic negotiations. But as soon as Sarek arrives onboard, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has reason to suspect something is amiss.
As the story continues, the whole Enterprise-D crew begins to feel the effects of Sarek’s Bendii Syndrome. This results in many violent and emotional outbursts throughout the ship’s crew. However, Picard is able to support Sarek through the diplomatic mission by consenting to a mind-meld. Thus, Picard endures the symptoms of Sarek’s Bendii Syndrome until the Vulcan can complete the important diplomacy.
In the Star Trek: Voyager season 3 episode “Flashback,” Tuvok (Tim Russ) experiences flashbacks to his time serving on the USS Excelsior under Captain Hikaru Sulu (George Takei). The episode also features a second TOS alum, Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney). Throughout the episode, Tuvok mind-melds with Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) to determine the source of a mysterious affliction. This means that both Janeway and Tuvok experience the Excelsior memories.
Eventually, it is revealed the affliction’s source is a virus that creates a false memory. The virus passes from Tuvok to Janeway, but fortunately, The Doctor (Robert Picardo) and Kes (Jennifer Lien) can kill it with thoron radiation.
In the Star Trek: Enterprise season 4 episode “Awakening,” Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) gets a first-hand lesson about the power of Vulcan brains. While on Vulcan, Archer and T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) encounter the Syrranites. Soon, it is revealed that Archer’s encounter with a dying Vulcan in the previous episode had serious consequences. It caused the Katra of Surak (Bruce Gray) to be transferred from the Vulcan into Archer.
Fortunately, the Syrranites can recover Surak’s Katra from Archer’s brain without damaging either one. This incident strongly recalls a subplot in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in which Spock implanted his own Katra within the mind of Doctor McCoy.
The Star Trek: Discovery season 1 episode “Lethe” is another example of Sarek (James Frain) demonstrating the scary strength of Vulcan brains. In this episode, Sarek is aboard a ship that becomes disabled by an extremist suicide bomber. However, due to a mind-meld he performed with a young Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), his adoptive daughter holds a piece of her father’s Katra within her.
This unique relationship means Burnham and Sarek can psychically communicate over great distances. In “Lethe,” it allows Burham to come to Sarek’s rescue after his damaged ship has been lost in a nebula. By exploiting the psychic link, Burnham is able to remotely revitalize Sarek so he can activate the beacon on his ship.
In Star Trek: Prodigy season 1, it is revealed that Dal R’el (Brett Gray) is a human genetic augment. Among the species DNA spliced into him are the genes of several psychic species, including that of a Vulcan. In “Mindwalk,” these psychic abilities cause Dal to switch bodies with Vice-Admiral Janeway, located on an entirely separate (but nearby) ship.
Fortunately, the Protostar crew can work together to find a solution to restore Janeway and Dal to their correct bodies.
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