Star Trek: 10 Things You Didn't Know About T'Pol

8. She Became The Face Of AIDS-Related Stigma In Trek

Star Trek Tpol Hair
CBS

Stigma is the second-season episode that saw T'Pol dealing with the prejudice in Vulcan society toward those affected by Pa'Nar Syndrome. Pa'Nar was analogous to HIV/AIDS. This was deliberate, as the episode was produced as part of Paramount's HIV awareness program of 2003.

T'Pol contracts the condition via a forced mind-meld. At this point in Star Trek's history, mind-melds were deemed an inappropriate and taboo practice among Vulcans. This leads directly to T'Pol's ostracization by her Vulcan colleagues. The episode was subtle re-use of the themes explored in the unproduced Blood & Fire, a script written by David Gerrold, which was rejected early in The Next Generation's run.

Critics of the episode said that it didn't go far enough in exploring the prejudice T'Pol faces. As she contracts Pa'Nar through 'no fault of her own', the episode ran the risk of judging those who acquired HIV through consensual sexual acts. Despite this, Blalock gives one of her strongest performances to that point in the show as she deals with the fallout of her diagnosis and discovery.

Regardless of whether the episode did or didn't go far enough in its message, it was an example of the franchise moving forward in how it shone a light on modern issues. Blood & Fire had been rejected for much the same reason that T'Pol was facing public exile. The simple fact of producing this episode showed Star Trek was growing up.

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Writer. Reader. Podcast Host. I'm Seán, I live in Ireland and I'm the poster child for dangerous obsessions with Star Trek. Check out my weekly podcast on all things....well all things film! Check me out on Twitter @seanferrick or at the website https://seanferrick.wordpress.com/