(written from a Production point of view)
T'Pol's position on Enterprise is jeopardized when the Vulcans discover that she has contracted a mind-affecting disease. Meanwhile, one of Phlox's wives comes aboard and expresses a romantic interest in Tucker, much to his discomfort.
In sickbay, T'Pol has just undergone an examination and learns that a disease she has lived with is worsening. Doctor Phlox sees the upcoming medical conference hosted by the Interspecies Medical Exchange as an opportunity to talk to some Vulcan physicians, whom he hopes may have more research on the disease. T'Pol wishes to keep it secret, as it will result in her being recalled from Enterprise, but Phlox promises to be discreet. He also says there's no choice, as she may very well die.
The Enterprise arrives at Dekendi III. One of Phlox's wives, Feezal, comes on board to install a neutron microscope, and begins flirting heavily with Trip Tucker. Tucker is uneasy that a colleague's wife is making overt sexual innuendo toward him.
At the conference, Phlox meets Doctors Oratt, Strom, and Yuris. He explains that a colleague on his home planet is hoping to get more information about Pa'nar Syndrome, as it is similar to a disease at home. Oratt explains they are hesitant, as those who suffer from Pa'nar Syndrome are stigmatized in Vulcan society. They leave to consider his request.
Captain Archer and T'Pol, at a meal, are interrupted by a communication that a Vulcan transport wishes to dock and speak to Phlox and T'Pol. They soon make it clear they are skeptical of Phlox's interest in the disease, as they found out a Vulcan is serving on Enterprise. Through the thinly-veiled skepticism on the Vulcans' end and the innocence on Phlox' and T'Pol's end, the Vulcans hand T'Pol a PADD with the names of Vulcans who mind-meld. She only recognizes that they are Vulcan names and hands it back.
When the Vulcans return to their ship, they use T'Pol's DNA left on the device to confirm she has the disease.
Tucker and Feezal continue to work on the microscope in sickbay, this time with Phlox on the other side of the room. Tucker is visibly uncomfortable, but interested in the microscope's capabilities. Phlox is called to the ready room, where Archer reveals that the physicians informed him of T'Pol's condition and threaten to reveal her status to the High Command and have her recalled. T'Pol is forced to explain to Archer that she has contracted Pa'nar Syndrome 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 physicians also rescinded Phlox's invitation to the conference. Captain Archer is disappointed that Phlox and T'Pol hid information from him regarding her potentially deadly 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, despite the fact that T'Pol is not a part of the sub-population and only received the meld. However, Dr. Yuris, the youngest doctor in the Vulcan delegation, covertly contacts T'Pol and asks her to meet him on the surface. She goes to tell Archer she's meeting him and heads to the surface alone.
There, Yuris gives her the research that Phlox had requested, and adds that there is too much intolerance these days. T'Pol asks why he is jeopardizing his career and he reveals that he himself is a mind-melder.
Yuris says he is not infected himself – he tells her only a very small minority of melders have the illness. T'Pol tells 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.
Back on the ship, Tucker continues trying to avoid Phlox's wife while she continues to pursue him. He eats with Sato for a while talking about the upcoming showing of a movie, whereas Sato would rather visit the planet. He sees Feezal getting food and wants Sato to stay for a few minutes. Feezal starts rubbing his leg discretely and flirting. Sato leaves, and Tucker then notes she's married. She isn't fazed, so Tucker politely leaves. Tucker asks Reed for advice, but Reed just suggests Tucker try to avoid her. He warns Tucker that Phlox has a real temper when he's angry, as observed when he's feeding his animals, and strongly disagrees with Tucker's suggestion that Phlox be informed.
Phlox reviews the research from Yuris, and tells T'Pol it's not a cure, but it will help his own research. Since he is more motivated than the Vulcan Medical Council in this case, he has hopes that he can find a treatment. The captain enters sickbay and tells them both that the senior doctor in the Vulcan delegation is a ranking member of the Vulcan Medical Council, and he has decided to recall T'Pol and take her back to Vulcan with them. The High Command will be informed of the situation when they reach home. Archer and Phlox urge T'Pol to tell them she was forced into the mind meld. She says it doesn't matter how she got the illness; if she uses the coercion as a defense, she would condone the prejudice and indict everyone in the minority.
Archer goes back down to the planet and confronts Dr. Oratt. Archer says T'Pol is entitled to a hearing under Vulcan protocols, and Oratt reluctantly agrees to hold one the next day.
In sickbay, Phlox is treating Travis Mayweather for a sports injury when Tucker comes in and asks to speak to him privately. Tucker explains that Mrs. Phlox has been expressing an attraction to him. Phlox is delighted, making Tucker very confused. Tucker says he was brought up not to fool around with another man's wife, and Phlox says that it's Tucker's loss.
Archer tells T'Pol about the hearing. She is reluctant to participate, but Archer says this is her opportunity to defend the minority, and the unjust treatment they have been receiving from Vulcan authorities. She says she won't reveal the assault, and Archer assures he will respect her conditions. At the hearing, it's established that it's the method T'Pol contacted the disease which is the reason she is being recalled. Archer makes it clear what the implication is: that any Vulcan, no matter the distinguished record, can have one mind-meld and lose it all. T'Pol notes that it isn't a choice for the minority – they are born with the ability. Strom chimes in that she was foolish enough to be drawn in. Archer points out the hypocrisy: every Vulcan he's ever met told him Humans were narrow-minded and prejudiced, but now the Vulcans are showing even more prejudice. T'Pol directly confronts them by saying she is being recalled because their culture decided to oppress a minority that doesn't conform to their idea of "acceptable behavior." Strom doesn't see a need to continue the hearing, but then Yuris comes to her defense, and reveals he is a member of the minority. He declares there's nothing "abhorrent" about the way they live their lives. Shocked, but not swayed, the other two doctors get up to end the hearing. But then, Yuris reveals T'Pol's secret: T'Pol was assaulted. T'Pol refuses to confirm this, and Archer stands by her.
In sickbay, the Phloxes examine the new microscope and talk as Tucker stands by awkwardly, eventually leaving. The Phloxes laugh at the Human's inability to respond to her advances.
In Archer's ready room, he tells T'Pol that Yuris has been suspended and T'Pol says that was to be expected. Archer says one good thing did come out of this – the delegation believed Yuris that T'Pol was infected as the result of an assault. She will not be recalled. T'Pol asks for Archer's permission to contact the High Command and speak on Yuris' behalf. He agrees, and she says she hopes this incident will encourage others to speak out.
"You can bet they're not coming up for coffee and donuts."
- - Archer, on the Vulcans heading to Enterprise from Dekendi III
"This is a bitch."
"Oh, not you. Uh, heh, the – the microscope."
- - Tucker, trying to operate the neutron microscope with Feezal's help
"The accusation against T'Pol stands. It's not open for debate."
"Where I come from everything's open for debate. And if I read these protocols correctly, so is the accusation you made against my science officer."
"You're wasting your time."
"It's mine to waste."
- - Orat and Archer, on T'Pol's rights
"Is it definitive?"
"Unmistakably. She's suffering from the syndrome."
- - Yuris and Strom, discovering T'Pol has Pa'nar Syndrome
"I wanted to see both of you. It's been a while since I was embarrassed by a Vulcan dignitary."
- - Archer, to Phlox and T'Pol
"We don't condone the intimate acts that these people engage in. They defy everything our society stands for."
- - Strom, on Vulcans who practice mind melds
"We're orbiting an alien world, and most of the crew are free to go down and visit. Why would anyone want to stay aboard and watch a movie?"
"Are you kidding? They're showing The Black Cat. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi."
"It sounds like you're the one picking the movies."
"Who else would choose an obscure horror film? Why not something a little more, I don't know, romantic?"
- - Hoshi Sato and Charles Tucker, about watching a horror movie on board Enterprise
"Maybe I should tell the doc."
"Tell him what? That his wife is trying to seduce you? Not a good idea!"
- - Tucker and Reed
"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
- The episode's strong undertones regarding HIV and sexual orientation are not coincidental. This was Star Trek: Enterprise's contribution to Viacom's HIV awareness campaign of early 2003. 
- 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."
- 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."
- Some critics, such as John Ruch (of the Boston Herald) in an article, felt that the episode was too vague in dealing with prejudice based on sexual orientation.
- One of the written languages seen on Dekendi III is a reuse of the Vidiian written language from Star Trek: Voyager. Another language, seen on some of the banners in the Conference Center was the Andorian language developed for the Star Trek RPG supplement Among the Clans from Last Unicorn Games. (A different Andorian written language would later be introduced in Enterprise.)
- 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 until 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." 
- This episode is very similar to TNG: "The Outcast" where Soren, a member of an androgynous race (the J'naii) is revealed to have been born with female attributes – a quality treated as an aberration and criminal perversion in J'naii society. Soren is put on trial for her crimes and makes a very similar diatribe to that of Dr. Yuris.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles Tucker III
- Melinda Page Hamilton as Feezal
- Michael Ensign as Oratt
- Bob Morrisey as Strom
- Jeffrey Hayenga as Yuris
- Antony Acker as Vulcan official
- Patrick Barnitt
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Ken Gruz as Vulcan medical technician
- Roy Joaquin as science division crewman
- Mark Major as Vulcan official
- Louis Ortiz as Vulcan medical technician
- Monica Parrett as operations division crewman
- Lidia Sabljic as command division crewman
- Unknown actor as Vulcan official
ability; accent; accusation; accused; activation sequence; aperture ring; atom; bigotry; bit; blackberry cobbler; Black Cat, The; Bogga; Chef; coffee; communications officer; condenser lens; Coridanite; Council of Physicians; data chip; Dekendi III; Denobula; Denobulan language; doughnut; emotion; endocrine system; ethical misconduct; exercise bike; fargan; Forlisa; grammar; Groznik; gyrosphere; hearing; imaging filament; immune system; Interspecies Medical Exchange; Karloff, Boris; Kessil; Klaban; Lugosi, Bela; medical care; medical officer; melder; melon; memory; midbrain; monkey-in-the-middle; morality; neurolytic enzyme; neutron; neutron microscope; nucleotide; Pa'nar Syndrome; paranoia; pathologist; persecution; plomeek soup; prejudice; pride; protein; province; psychiatric analyst; quantum filter; quantum optics; reflectometer; rose; science officer; sexual advances; sharing; stigma; subculture; synaptic pathway; synopsis; Teerza Prime; telepathy; territory; thought; thymic sclerosis; Tolaris; transitive verb; Vahklas; Vesna; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan High Command; mind meld; Vulcan database; Vulcan Science Directorate; Vulcan shuttle (Vulcan transport); wish list
- "Stigma" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Stigma" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Stigma" at Wikipedia
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