‘Classic’ Trek Profile : Spock

Spock : 2230 – 2262 (following time travel)

Nimoy : 26 March 1931 – 27 February 2015

“I have been…… and always shall be…… your friend!” Spock

Spock first appeared in the original pilot The Cage – 1965, as the Science Officer to Captain Pike and cut a very different character to the one which we would all come to know.

This was, as Nimoy explained many years later, his attempt to create a dynamic relationship with each of the markedly different Captain’s. Alongside Jeffrey Hunter’s quietly intense portrayal of Captain Pike, Spock was outgoing and quite lively.spock pike the cage pilot

When Shatner did his turn as the charismatic and high energy Captain Kirk, Nimoy went polar opposite to become the quieter, more introspective and cerebal Spock that we know today. Beginning with the first broadcast episode – Man Trap, 1966 – S1.

Like Shatner, Nimoy was a journeyman actor and had spent many years plying his craft in various TV series, movies and theatre, including : Man From Uncle, Twilight Zone, The Outerlimits, Bonanza, Dragnet. It was playing a street punk-cum-boxer in the film Kid Monk Baroni – 1953 that brought Nimoy to the public attention. He was something of a method actor who liked to apply himself fully to his roles.

spock uhura harp charlie xIndeed, Nimoy would get lost in the role to some extent and it would come to cause him some personal trauma, playing the emotionless Vulcan – week in, week out.

Nimoy was to come up with a lot of Spock’s famous character traits : his stoic persona, his logical mind and his famous Vulcan salute.

After the pilot, Roddenberry was instructed to ditch the ‘pointy rated freak’ from the show, as the execs were worried he would scare kids. Roddenberry refused, but out of the show went Marjel Barratt as no.1 (she returned as Nurse Chapel later).

It’s also interesting that Spock had a slightly green tinge to his skin in Season 1, something probably due to his green blood, but a touch which was only fully evident on the Season 1 remastered Blu-ray.

Spock enjoyed playing the lyrette (Vulcan lyre or harp) and he also had a mind for 3 dimensional chess, regularly playing and beating the crew and also the Enterprise computer.

Link – Spock counsels Kirk

Spock would come to be Captain Kirk’s indispensable right hand man, offering cool, calm collected advice and an almost computer intellect. As one half of the “friendship axis” along with Kirk and McCoy, Spock would provide to Dr McCoy, a constant source of irritation due to Spock’s moralistic logic code and inability to admit weakness.

McCoy: “Spock, er, I know we’ve, er, had our disagreements. Er, maybe they’re jokes, I don’t know. As Jim says, we’re not often sure ourselves sometimes. But, er… what I’m trying to say is…”
Spock: “Doctor, I am seeking a means of escape. Will you please be brief?”
McCoy: “What I’m trying to say is, you saved my life in the arena.”
Spock: “Yes, that’s quite true.”
McCoy: “[Indignant] I’m trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!”
Spock: “Oh yes, you humans have that emotional need to express gratitude….’You’re welcome’, I believe… is the correct response!”

sarek amanda spocks parents

Journey To Babel, 1967 – S2 had Spock’s parents introduced against a backdrop of a diplomatic meeting. Spock’s father – Sarek, was the Vulcan ambassador to the Federation. Spock’ mother – Amanda was human, which interestingly made Spock half human aswell. This inner turmoil between his logical Vulcan side and more chaotic human side would come to be Spock’s greatest battle.

Also, his lack of acceptance from Vulcan or human society (and more importantly his father) affected Spock quite deeply. It was something he chose to bottle up in his stoic Vulcan persona. His father was also disapproving of Spock’s choice of career, to join Star Fleet. Although he did trailblaze the way as the first Vulcan officer.

Link – Spock & McCoy share some moments

Spock himself suffered regular mistrust and even racial abuse at the hands of the human crew. Labelled a “halfbreed”, a “pointy eared freak” and a “greenblood”. Spock would have regular on running battles with Doctor McCoy each week, they seemed to have a love / hate relationship. Mostly, these would be harmless jibes at each’s expense. However, when under a stressful or life or death situation, their bickering could reach epic proportions and required Kirk to officiate their arguments. In Balance of Terror, 1966 -S1 Spock is the victim of prejudice from Lt. Stiles who believed Vulcan’s and Romulan’s were the same mis-trusting race. His prejudice is challenged though when Spock saves him from certain death, under Romulan attack. It was a great parallell to the social segregation and racial prejudices of 1960’s America.

The Tholian Web, 1969 – S2, Wink Of An Eye, 1969 – S3 and Mark Of The Gideon, 1969 – S3 had Kirk go missing and his disappearance meant Spock had to step into the Captain’s chair and guide the crew in the Captain’s absence. A feat he would get to repeat more permanently in Star Trek II – Wrath Of Khan, 1982. Spock would find many battles to overcome in Kirk’s absence, no more so than his tense relationship with McCoy. The two would regularly squabble and the result would be McCoy ordered back down to sickbay.

Link – Spock and McCoy go hammer and tongs

“I realize that command does have its fascination, even under circumstances such as these, but I neither enjoy the idea of command nor am I frightened of it. It simply exists, and I will do whatever logically needs to be done….” Spock – Galileo Seven

The Galileo Seven, 1967 – S1 explored Spock’s alien-ness to his human crew mates in some detail. Whilst commanding the shuttlecraft Gallileo, Spock and his small crew are forced to land on an unchartered planet.
Spock has to battle not only the giant fierce inhabitants of the planet but his “emotional” crew’s resistance led by McCoy and Scotty, annoyed at their leaders cold logic in the face of the death. Spock orders the crew to fix the ship and leave the planet, rather than spend time burying their dead.

Whilst this is the best logical approach, it has the crew on the point of mutiny. Spock eventually concedes just enough (but not much) to allow the crew to escape the planet and in doing so Spock learns a valuable lesson in commanding human’s – realising that cold logic does not always win the day.
Link – Spock acting very illogically

spock dancing platos stepchildrenSpock always tried to maintain his Vulcan discipline, but at certain times the mask would slip (usually under Alien influence!).Naked Time, 1966 – S1 had Spock infected with the “PSI 2000” virus and weep uncontrollably as Nurse Chapel confessed her undying love for him. In This Side of Paradise, 1967 – S1 Spock was affected by some mind-altering hippie spores on a planet and spent his time swinging from trees laughing and making out with a girl. Kirk managed to snap Spock out of it by picking a fight with him and saying more than a few hurtful remarks to Spock. Plato’s Stepchildren, 1968 – S2 had Spock under the influence of the Platonian’s who made Spock laugh, cry, dance for their amusement and make out with Nurse Chapel.

Link – Spock acting “illogical” with Nurse Chapel

Spock very rarely acted irrationally but in Menagerie Part I & II, 1967 – S1 Spock hijacked the Enterprise to return Captain Pike back to the planet Telos where The Cage had taken place. Spock then submitted himself for court martial, much to the discomfort of Kirk, who was made to try him.

Amok Time, 1967 – S2 showed Spock undertaking the Vulcan ritual of “Pon Farr” – a wild sexually crazed state, which affected Spock every 7 years. This was a side effect of thousands of years of repressing emotion for the logical, emotionless way of life and as a consequence, he was liable to rape somebody, unless he passed this horny phase.

“…After a time, you may find that “having” is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as ‘wanting’. It is not logical, but it is often true….” Spock – Amok Time

Spock had to return to Vulcan to be married and ended up in a fight to the death with Kirk. Kirk had been injected with a drug to knock him out by McCoy, so appeared to be dead. Spock had thus completed his ritual and Kirk was later revived back on the Enterprise. Upon finding out Kirk is alive, Spock exudes an uncharacteristic joyful response which he later denies when quizzed by McCoy.

Link – Spock and Kirk fight to the death!

Court Martial, 1967 – S1 had Kirk on trial for the death of Lt. Finney and Spock use his logical mind to work out that the Enterprise computers were malfunctioning by playing and being able to beat it at games of chess. This leads Spock to realise that Lt. Finney had tampered with the computer system and helps to exonerate Kirk.

evil spock mirror mirrorAlthough the Vulcan’s were a cerebal intelligent race, this masked a dark war like past. Spock was much stronger than a human, had a much stronger constitution and would live for many hundreds of years. His physiological differences and advantages were highlighted many times throughout Trek. In Operation : Annihilate! 1967 – S1 Spock was attacked by a flying omlette which would have been fatal to a human. Spock was seriously injured but managed to recover enough to help McCoy discover the omlette’s weakness and advise Kirk on a plan of attack.

Spock’s alien pointy eared appearance caused something of a problem whenever the crew visited Earth or a planet where Alien’s weren’t known of. In Star Trek IV, 1986 – The Voyage Home Spock had to wear a headband to cover his ears. In City On The Edge Of Forever, 1967 – S2 Spock keeps his features under a Beanie as not to cause panic in 1930’s America and a German helmet in Patterns Of Force, 1968 – S2 .

spock nerve neck pinchMirror, Mirror, 1967 – S2 was a fine performance from Spock playing an alternative dimension goatee beard warlord version of himself. This Spock suspects that Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura aren’t the evil versions they claim to be (the evil versions had been thrown into the other reality).

“Apparently, some sort of transposition has taken place. I find it… extremely interesting!” Mirror Spock – Mirror, Mirror

“Evil” Spock’s suspicions are confirmed when he forcibly mind melds “good” McCoy in sickbay to discover the truth. However he comes good in the end, helping Kirk and co. escape back into their own reality. Leaving “evil” Spock with a few ideas about how to turn the evil Terran Empire into something more akin to the normal Star Fleet reality.

Another memorable episode, (but not for the right reasons!) was Spock’s brain, 1968 – S3. Spock had his brain stolen by Alien’s, and his body is hooked upto a machine by the McCoy that keeps him alive and controls his every move. Classic Trek this episode was not!

Spock was also incredibly handy in a fight, as his devastating Vulcan neck/nerve pinch could instantly incapacitate an opponent whilst his human comrades battled on around him. Nimoy introduced this as he felt a Vulcan was too graceful to get embroiled in a fist fight.

Link – Spock mind melds with Kirk in Dr Lester’s body!

spock valeris mind meld star trek VIHe could also connect his mind to another by means of touching their face. This was incredibly handy when dealing with insane people such as Dr Gelder in Dagger Of The Mind, 1966- S1 and the huge pregnant rock pizza – the Hortaa in Devil In The Dark, 1967 – S2 when the other humans wanted to exterminate it. Spock would get to the bottom of why Kirk was mincing about in Turnabout Intruder, 1969 – S3 by melding with Dr Lester, who was claiming to be the real Jim Kirk. In Star Trek IV Spock would meld with the one of the whales and discover it was pregnant. In Reqiuem For Methuselah, 1969 – S3 Spock uses his mind-meld to help Kirk forget about the android female Rayna. Spock would also use the mind meld on McCoy to transfer his Katra (soul) to McCoy in Star Trek II, 1982. Also in Star Trek VI – Undiscovered Country, 1991 whilst attempting to probe Lt. Valeris into revealing who the conspirators in Star Fleet were.

Link – Spock mind melds Dr Gelder

spock motion picture kolinahrSpock would leave Star Fleet after the original 5 year mission and return to Vulcan to study the ritual of “Kolinahr” to purge all of his remaining emotion, something which he interrupted when a crisis came in the form of the V’ger probe. Spock re-enlisted in Star Fleet and returned to offer Admiral Kirk and Captain Decker his valuable insights; going even as far to leave the Enterprise in a spacesuit to attempt to mind meld with the massive probe.

“It’s life, Captain [Decker], but not life as we know it!” Spock – Star Trek Motion Picture

In Star Trek II – Wrath Of Khan Spock was now Captain of the Enterprise and eagerly overseeing the emerging career of Lt. Saavik – a young Vulcan Officer in Starfleet. Whilst undergoing an inspection by Admiral Kirk, the Enterprise and its inexperienced crew were sent out to investigate a distress call, where they meet Khan in a stolen Federation ship (The USS Reliant) who had stolen the experimental Genesis device.

A desperate dogfight in space ensues, followed by a game of cat and mouse in the Mutares Nebula. The badly damaged Enterprise then attempted to evade the Reliant in the confines of the Nebula where sensors and viewing screens where inoperable. When the Enterprise finally gets the upper hand and cripples the Reliant, Khan sets off the Genesis device; knowing that the ensuing explosion will destroy the Enterprise which cannot goto warp.

Spock then goes down to engineering and (after Vulcan neck pinching Dr McCoy) touches the unconscious McCoy’s face and tells him to “remember”. He then steps into the room where the warp drive is housed which is flooded by radiation and repairs the drive, allowing the Enterprise to goto warp just before the Genesis device goes Supernova. Overcome with Radiation sickness, Spock dies after a touching moment with Kirk. Spock is placed in a torpedo tube and after a funeral service is shot out over the newly formed planet Genesis.

“The needs of the many, out way the needs of the few…….or the one!” Spock – Star Trek II

Link – He’s dead already!

Star Trek III – Search For Spock had Spock’s father Sarek visit Kirk and inform him that Spock had given his Katra (Vulcan soul) to McCoy and it must be reunited with his body. Kirk travels back to Genesis to retrieve Spock’s body and return it to Vulcan, to attempt to give Spock life once more (and McCoy his sanity back!) in the Vulcan ceremony of “Fal-Tor-Pan”.

star trek iv voyage home spock mccoy

Star Trek IV – 1986 had reborn Spock re-learning everything and rediscovering his friendships with the other crew members. In some respects, the new Spock was mellower than his previous incarnation and he was more inclined to look at things from perspectives other than just logic. After their previous ordeal together, Spock and McCoy finally buried the hatchet, finally gaining a mutual understanding – having shared minds.

Link – Spock deals with a punk Vulcan style

Star Trek V – Final Frontier, 1989 had Spock meet his half brother – Sybok. Sybok was on a mission to breach the great barrier and go in search of Shakaree – a mythical planet on the other side. Spock is reluctant to go along with Sybok, instead siding with Kirk but shows some sorrow when Sybok is killed attempting to join with a mysterious god creature.

Link – Spock saves Kirk ass on Shakaree

Star Trek VI had Spock feeling that father time had caught up on him, finally. Whilst Captain of the Enterprise again and overseeing the career of a new Vulcan helmsman, Lt Valeris. Spock is drawn into peace talks with the Klingons only to get thrown into a conspiracy which seemingly goes all of the way to the top of the Federation.

Spock is shocked to learn that Lt. Valeris is one of the conspirators, and by lying – has rejected her Vulcan heritage.

“[To Valeris] What you want is irrelevant, what you have chosen is at hand!” Spock – Star Trek VI

Link – Spock swears like a …human!

star trek next gen picard data spock unificationSpock then appears to have gone into a semi retired nomadic existence after this time. He did appear again during the next Generation episode Unification Part 1 & 2 attempting to broker peace between the Vulcan’s and Romulan’s but was greatly pained when his father Sarek died.

In Star Trek XI Spock journeyed back in time from the future, to help his younger self and Kirk in their battle against some rogue Romulan’s who have gone back in time themselves and altered the timeline. Thus resulted in the planet Vulcan being destroyed. Old Spock was quick to impart council on the younger Spock about his importance and his burgeoning friendship with a young Jim Kirk. He also appeared in Star Trek XII and referenced in Star Trek Beyond where it was confirmed that he had passed away.

star trek XI old spock

So Spock’s adventures go on seemingly, as he outlives the original crew with his Vulcan longevity. His story in Trek is probably the deepest in terms of character development, from his stuffy Vulcan beginnings to his friendship with Jim Kirk, his untimely death and subsequent rebirth. Spock became something more than the sum of his parts. He came to understand the best and worst of the Vulcan and the human condition, and in doing so, he finally embraced his own uniqueness in the Universe.

Spaceman


  • the cully

    very good artical indeed,but i never agreeded with spock being in the last star trek movie(which i hated for timeline issues)

  • the cully

    very good artical indeed,but i never agreeded with spock being in the last star trek movie(which i hated for timeline issues)

  • cully1

    nice

  • cully1

    nice

  • Souki76

    It was great to see Spock in the latest Trek movie. Nimoy is a legend. I can’t think of any other actor who created a character so universally recognised and loved. He gave Spock such depth too, little hints of back story where we find out that Vulcans are close cousins of the Romulans. Also we learned about planet Vulcan’s violent past which drove the inhabitants to live lives of logic. Over the series we discovered the strange customs and abilities of the Vulcan race which all stemmed from Nimoy. I bet if you do a Vulcan salute in any country in the world it would be recognised and reciprocated (well maybe not China or North Korea). The guy is a genius. I always feel a tinge of sadness that the role of Spock drove Nimoy to alcoholism. Great article Spaceman. Really enjoying your work.

  • Souki76

    It was great to see Spock in the latest Trek movie. Nimoy is a legend. I can’t think of any other actor who created a character so universally recognised and loved. He gave Spock such depth too, little hints of back story where we find out that Vulcans are close cousins of the Romulans. Also we learned about planet Vulcan’s violent past which drove the inhabitants to live lives of logic. Over the series we discovered the strange customs and abilities of the Vulcan race which all stemmed from Nimoy. I bet if you do a Vulcan salute in any country in the world it would be recognised and reciprocated (well maybe not China or North Korea). The guy is a genius. I always feel a tinge of sadness that the role of Spock drove Nimoy to alcoholism. Great article Spaceman. Really enjoying your work.