Published Sep 29, 2023
Below Deck with Lower Decks: Checking Your Emotional Baggage
Is everyone getting weird all of a sudden, or is it just a day that ends in -y?
By Dayton Ward
SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season 4, Episode 5 "Empathalogical Fallacies" to follow!
I know this is going to come as a shock to anyone reading this, but things get weird on this week’s all-new episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks.
"The first four episodes have already been pretty strange," I can hear someone saying. "About the only thing they haven’t done yet is have the crew affected by some kind of mental or emotional takeover thanks to visiting aliens."
Hold Mike McMahan’s synthehol.
On their latest adventure, Captain Freeman and the Cerritos crew play host as they transport a trio of Betazoid diplomats from Earth to Risa. The three ladies are flirty, doubtless graduates from the Lwaxana Troi School of Interstellar Relations, but T’Lyn soon notices this is more than simply flirtation and teasing. The Vulcan junior science officer theorizes one or more of the diplomats may be suffering from Zanthi fever, a virus that’s known to afflict the empathic abilities of mature Betazoids, causing them to project their emotions onto other individuals.
The first mention of this illness comes in the third season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Fascination,” in which the aforementioned Lwaxana Troi is affected by the virus and ends up projecting her romantic feelings for the station’s security chief, Odo, onto unsuspecting people. This causes a lot of awkward moments among the crew. Could one of the diplomats, suffering from the same condition, be why the Cerritos crew seems to be acting…well…weird?
Instead, everyone is surprised to learn the inadvertent culprit for all of this weirdness is T’Lyn herself. The young Vulcan is suffering from symptoms of Bendii Syndrome, a neurological illness that typically afflicts much older Vulcans, interfering with their ability to regulate their emotions. Like Betazoids suffering from Zanthi fever, Bendii Syndrome causes the affected Vulcan to project their very strong emotions onto other people.
The first mention of Bendii Syndrome comes from the third season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Sarek,” which brings the legendary Vulcan ambassador and father to equally legendary Vulcan Spock to Captain Picard’s Enterprise for an important conference. Only then do we learn Sarek is suffering from the affliction, his ability to manage his emotions dwindling with every passing day. A mind meld with Captain Picard enables the ambassador to assert enough control to complete his vital work at the conference to secure an important peace treaty.
Thankfully, we learn T’Lyn’s condition isn’t nearly so serious, triggered instead by issues she was having after being banished from her Vulcan ship for being “too emotional.” As it was Bendii Syndrome to blame rather than some other flaw and likely caused by her unresolved conflict with her former ship, T’Lyn decides to remain with the Cerritos.
And so ends another day at the office for the Lower Decks crew, where weird is most definitely part of the job.