Star Trek: TOS The Best Episodes

“Space, The final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”

 

Amok Time

Season 2, Episode 1

Original air date:  September 15, 1967

Stardate:  3372.7

Plot Summary:

McCoy stops Kirk as he makes his way through an Enterprise hallway to discuss how odd Spock has been acting.  He seems nervous and isn’t eating.  Just then Nurse Chapel comes through with a Vulcan soup she made special for Spock.  As McCoy is further discussing Spock’s odd behavior, the door to his quarters opens and he throws the soup at the wall and verbally chases Nurse Chapel out of his quarters. He straightens up when he sees the Captain in the hallway, and requests immediate leave for Vulcan.  Kirk ask why and Spock snaps at him.  Kirk then goes to see Spock in his quarters and ask as a friend why he has to go to Vulcan, why not shore leave on the planet they are heading toward Altair 6?  Spock says it must be Vulcan and as a friend don’t inquire anymore.  On the bridge, as they head toward Vulcan, Starfleet sends a message that the inauguration ceremony on Altair 6 that they are supposed to attend has been moved up a week and therefore they must head there right away and not divert to Vulcan. Kirk apologizes to Spock and changes course.

Laying in bed that evening (?) Kirk contacts the bridge, obviously worried about his first officer.  He asks navigator Chekov how much time they would lose if they diverted to Vulcan at maximum warp.  Chekov doesn’t understand the order as they are already headed to Vulcan on Spock’s orders.  Kirk goes to the bridge and commands Spock to come with him.  He demands answers, Spock acts strange and doesn’t remember ordering a course change.  He tells Kirk to lock him up, but instead Kirk sends him to sick bay where McCoy is waiting for him.  Upon arrival he tries to leave, but McCoy orders him to be examined.  Bones rushes to see Kirk, telling him Spock must get to Vulcan or he’ll die in seven or eight days, his body is producing the equivalent of massive adrenaline rushes and it will overtake his system eventually.  Kirk goes to Spock’s quarters where he is looking at a picture of a young Vulcan girl on the view screen.  Kirk asks Spock again what is going on, Spock stresses the very personal nature of what’s happening and how it’s not for non-Vulcans.  Kirk pledges confidentiality and Spock relents.  He tells Kirk it is Pon Farr the Vulcan time of mating, when they are stripped of their logic and their madness is cloaked in a ritual.  Kirk promises to get his first officer to Vulcan.  Kirk makes contact with Admiral Komack, but given his pledge he can’t tell him exactly what is happening just that he wants to go to Vulcan.  Komack refuses, as Altair 6 is very important.  Once he hangs up, Kirk decides to go to Vulcan anyway, Spock is his friend. Meanwhile Nurse Chapel goes to Spock’s quarters to check on him and they have a semi-romantic moment between them.

The Enterprise arrives at Vulcan and makes orbit.  The surface makes contact through Uhura who puts a young Vulcan woman named T’Pring on screen.  Her and Spock recite a poem to each other and Uhura asks who she is, as Nurse Chapel has arrived on the bridge.  “My Wife,” responds Mr. Spock.  Kirk and McCoy beam down to the surface with Spock saying he is allowed their company as his right because they are his friends.  Spock rings a gong and the “wedding party” enters Spock’s families ritual space, when McCoy says he thought Spock was already married, Spock explains that he and T’Pring were chosen for each other when they were children and while not a marriage it is more than a betrothal, they connected mentally which is what draws him to Vulcan now.  T’Pau, the leader of Vulcan and as Kirk points out, the only person to decline membership on the Federation Council, is there to officiate the ceremony.  Kirk is surprised and had no idea Spock’s family was this important.  T’Pau questions the presence of the “off-worlders” but Spock introduces them and claims his right to have them.  She agrees.  As the ceremony begins, T’Pring challenges the match meaning Spock will have to fight for her.  It’s apparent she really wants to marry Stonn a male Vulcan who accompanies her.  McCoy mentions that in Spock’s physical state he is weakened and may not be able to win a fight with Stonn.  But to everyone’s shock, T’Pring chooses Kirk to fight for her.  T’Pau tells Kirk he can decline as he is not a Vulcan – but he eventually accepts.  McCoy is worried that Kirk can’t take the thinner air and hotter climate of Vulcan, and Kirk is worried too, when he learns it’s a fight to the death.

Spock and Kirk square off, first with Pugil stick like weapons with a large club on one end and a blade on the other.  Spock cuts Kirk almost right away but it seems minor.  Spock is clearly at an advantage but Kirk holds his own.  When both weapons are damaged, T’Pau calls a break in the fight.  McCoy begs her to allow him to give Kirk and injection that will counter the affects of the thin atmosphere giving him a chance.  She allows it.  They resume the fight with long straps with weights on one end, similar to Peruvian Bolas.  Spock immediately gets Kirk on the ground and wrapping the strap across his neck he strangles him, killing his Captain.  The fight over, McCoy asks Spock what to do next as he is now in command. Spock sends Bones up to the ship with the Captain’s body acknowledging that he will have to turn himself in for murder at the nearest Star Base.  Once they leave, he questions T’Pring’s logic.  She claims that Spock has become famous and she does not want to be the consort of a famous man.  She knew if she picked Kirk and he won, he wouldn’t want a Vulcan and she could marry Stonn; if Spock won he wouldn’t want her for having challenged the match, so she could marry Stonn; and if for some reason Spock did want her he would stay with Starfleet and she could still have Stonn.  Spock finds this very logical.

Back on the Enterprise, Spock goes to sickbay to turn himself in to McCoy, the next most senior officer.  McCoy tries to interrupt his speech but he continues.  Finally, a completely healthy Kirk comes up behind him.  Spock grads Kirk by the shoulders and excitedly with a smile on his face yells “Jim.”  McCoy explains the shot he gave Kirk was not what he claimed but rather a neuro-toxin that simulated his death. Just then Starfleet sends a message to Kirk telling him that their diversion to Vulcan, at T’Pau’s request, is granted.  McCoy gives Spock crap about his emotional outburst at seeing Kirk, Spock points out it’s only logical to be happy such a fine captain is alive.  McCoy says that sounds very logical, “In a Pig’s Eye.”

 

Known to Fans As: 

Kirk and Spock fight

 

Notable Guest Stars: 

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Celia Lovsky as T’Pau:  Born in Czechoslovakia,  Lovsky was a rising theatrical star in Austria and German when she met her husband, Peter Lorre in 1929.  She and the Jewish Lorre needing to flee Hitler’s rise, first from Vienna and then Paris, ended up in London. It was in London when she got her first part in a film, though uncredited, in her new husband’s movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Moving to Hollywood, Celia played the role of housewife as her husband’s iconic career continued.  But upon their divorce in 1945 she restarted a career of her own.  She appeared in many movies and TV shows, but her thick accent limited her to paying Nazi’s or Russian Spies, although those roles were plentiful in the 40’s and 50’s.  Other than this role in Star Trek, her most notable appearance was as The Exchange Leader in Soylent Green.  She made her last appearance in The Streets of San Francisco in 1974.  She died in 1979 of natural causes at the age of 82.

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Arlene Martel as T’Pring:  Martel attended New York’s High School of the Performing Arts (FAME!) and spent some time in theater before heading to Hollywood where she had quite a career doing guest spots and recurring roles on TV shows.  Known for being able to do accents and having an undefined “ethnic” look she was able to play many different types of roles. From a Native American in Iron Horse, to a Russian Cosmonaut on I Dream of Jeannie to perhaps her most well-known role outside of Trek, as Tiger a French Resistance leader on Hogan’s Heroes.  Martel died in 2014 at the age of 78 after having complications with Heart Surgery .

Continuity Issues:

Our First Chekov episode, welcome little Russian man.

Pon Farr is referenced continually in Trek and is apparently no longer a “private” thing that Vulcan’s don’t discuss.  The seven year period of Pon Farr is actually not discussed in this episode it was something retro’d on later.

Sulu and Chekov joke around with each other in an early attempt to show their relationship

This is the first time we’re on Vulcan, which is described as being a much harsher environment than earth, with hotter temperatures and thinner air.

Nurse Chapel’s love of Spock is back from Naked Time – although she is made up to look much younger suddenly being a blond instead of going gray.

 

Vulcan Nerve Pinches: None surprisingly

 

Damn it Jim: “It’s finished, he’s dead!”

 

Kirk’s Shirt Off:  Partially, Spock’s makes a slice right across it, exposing those Shnipples.

 

Aged the Best:

Exploring Vulcan culture always makes for a reliable and interesting episode.

While the ritual space itself was typical cheap looking set design, the wide shots of the natural arches that lead to it, and the shot of Spock, Kirk and McCoy walking across one of those arches is a really well rendered, it almost looks like it comes from a different show.

When Kirk is handed the pugil stick and he makes a little move to show it’s much heavier than he expected, that’s a nice little acting touch.

I liked the touch of T’Pau bailing them out at the end, meaning she saw through the whole dead Kirk ruse right away.

 

Aged the Worst:

We all love Kirk, but Spock should have killed him in a minute at best.

T’Pring will be the “property” of the victor.  I’m going to chalk that up to the language in the old time ritual and not to Vulcan sexism – especially since their leader is a woman.

The stuntmen were very visible again in the fight scene, one second Nimoy is about an inch taller than Shatner (because of the lifts, he was actually 3-4 inches taller) and the next the Kirk stuntman is easily 6 inches shorter than the Spock stuntman.

 

Overall Grade:

A-, the fight scene is the crux of the whole episode and wasn’t that well done and that loses half a grade for me.

 

Tomorrow’s Episode:  Mirror, Mirror (break out your goatees)