Well, after a brief break, we’ve begun watching Season 2 of TOS, which kicks off with “Amok Time,” otherwise known as the episode where Spock goes into heat and murders the captain.
God, I can’t even begin to imagine how many Kirk/Spock fanfics this episode must have inspired.
There will be SPOILERS for this episode and probably the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.
WHAT GOES DOWN, BASICALLY
Something is seriously up with Spock.
He’s belligerent, refusing to eat, murdering innocent computers, etc. He also refuses to explain what’s wrong, just insists that he wants to take shore leave on Vulcan ASAP. Unfortunately, the Enterprise is schedule to arrive on Altair VI, and they’re under direct orders to stay on course. But when Bones discovers that Spock will actually die if he doesn’t return home, Kirk disobeys those orders.
Spock, it turns out, is going through Pon Farr, or the mating time. He is to wed T’Pring, his childhood fiancée, only T’Pring insists that he fight for her and–rather than picking this nearby surly Vulcan suitor–chooses Kirk to be her champion. Kirk accepts, figuring that Spock wouldn’t be able to defeat the suitor in his current condition, but neglects to ask the obvious question: yes, friends, this is a duel to the death. Kirk’s not doing too hot, either–the heat and thin air are getting to him. Bones gives him a shot to help compensate for the crappy oxygen but alas, Spock still bests Kirk and strangles him to death.
Well, shit, that was a quick Season 2.
Kirk’s death satisfies Spock’s Vulcan primal urges, and his physical illness and madness disappear. He gives up T’Pring to the surly suitor and returns to the Enterprise to await punishment, only to discover that Kirk is alive and well. Turns out, the injection Bones administered to Kirk was actually a neural paralyzer that merely simulated death. Spock outright beams in his surprise and joy, and then immediately tries to play it cool. No one believes him.
This is one of the rare TOS episodes I’ve actually seen before, and I enjoy it well enough, so long as I divorce myself from my Inner Feminist, screaming obscenities into the void.
On the upside, Nurse Chapel’s crush on Spock is a surprising bit of actual continuity; unfortunately, she’s mocked for it by both Kirk and Bones, not to mention the whole scene where she goes to tell Spock about the course change to Vulcan and, like, is weirdly crying for no reason and gets all overwhelmed with happiness at the opportunity to make Spock soup again, even though he threw the last bowl at her, and ugh.
Meanwhile, on the most logical planet that’s ever existed in our far-future, supposedly progressive civilization, women are literally still described as “property.” Like, come on. At least T’Pau gets to be all commanding and cool, I suppose. And while I’m probably not supposed to, I actually kinda like T’Pring. Yeah, she willingly risks both Spock and Kirk’s lives without a seeming shred of remorse, but she also does what she feels is necessary to carve out the future she wants on this backwards-ass planet. Near the end of the episode, Spock essentially tells Surly Suitor, “Careful what you wish for, cause the chase is more fun than the capture, and this bitch be cold as hell,” but honestly, if I was gonna be defined as someone’s property? Shit, I might make people fight for my ass, too.
Still, it’s neat to see more aspects of Vulcan culture, even if I’m not totally thrilled with everything we see. And, of course, it’s always a delight to see Spock fighting his own emotions–or, in this case, his horniness-induced irritability and eventual psychosis. I like Kirk’s willingness to disobey orders to help his friend, too; you wouldn’t think that’d be particularly surprising, but the truth is–bizarrely–Spock is a much bigger rule breaker than Kirk in TOS. So, I find it noteworthy. And yes, it’s pretty much amazing that Bones saves the day by straight up cheating. Good on you, McCoy. Knew I liked you for a reason.
Hey, Season 2 has given us extended credits! Still only three actors billing, though.
First Time We’ve Encountered: Jesus, so much. Pon Farr, obviously, although it’s treated as a deeply guarded secret, even though by the time Voyager rolls around, like, not so much. Also, “live long and prosper,” which, excellent. Vulcan itself, obviously. Plomeek soup. And, of course, Chekhov! Hey, Chekhov!
Sulu Watch: Sulu and Chekhov are playing the roles of dual comic relief as they wryly discuss how Kirk and Spock keep going back and forth on the course heading.
Sulu, finally, is the one who predicts their ultimate destination and tells Chekhov to just fly to Vulcan regardless of their current order. These two are a fun dynamic duo, and I’m hoping they actually get some decent screen time together.
That being said, Chekhov’s hair is just spectacularly awful. I know it’s the 60’s and all, but dude. No.
Spock wants Kirk and Bones to be present for his highly private Vulcan wedding. It is, in a word, adorbs. Tellingly, the family who raised him is nowhere to be seen–although, to be fair, Spock’s family has gotten progressively weirder and more convoluted over the 50+ years of Trek history. Still. If I was going by this episode alone, I would definitely get serious “chosen family over birth family” vibes.
FASHION REPORT: It’s interesting to me that Spock can apparently just get married in his Starfleet uniform, while everyone else is absolutely dressed up. Although he does get a purple battle sash later, I suppose. Meanwhile, T’Pring’s whole look is very 60’s, T’Pau’s hair/headpiece is amazing, and the Vulcan extras? Well, they’re just hilarious. I’m not sure any of my descriptions can do their outfits justice: it’s like someone took a sunshade for their car, crafted ceremonial armor out of it, and completed the look with a colorful crocheted belt, a dumb, shiny helmet, and–I don’t know–duct tape boots? Oh, and one dude has a black mask that covers his nose, mouth, and chin–but not his eyes or cheeks. I’m not even sure what to do with that.
There are some good quotes in this episode. I’m fond of T’Pau’s, “The air is the air. What can be done?” It’s like a Vulcan c’est la vie. And this exchange between Spock and T’Pau is great, too:
“Live long and prosper, Spock.”
“I shall do neither. I have killed my captain, and my friend.”
Still, just because I’m a sucker for some well-delivered, witty banter, I’m going with this:
LINE OF THE EPISODE
“You’re going to have to kill him, Jim.”
“Kill Spock? That’s not what we came to Vulcan for, is it? What’s that?”
“It’s a triox compound. It will help you breathe. Now be careful.”
“Sound medical advice.”*