Star Trek TOS: Spock Left at the Altar after Fisticuffs with Kirk

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 2, Episode 1

Amok Time

Season Two kicked off with an announcement by McCoy that Spock was refusing food. Spock did some weird stuff by conventional standards, but intentional starvation was probably too much. Then, Spock began flipping out — so, something was certainly awry. 

Spock requested a leave of absence, presumably to get his emotions under control. As it turned out, he just wanted to go home because he “needed rest.” All in all, who could blame Spock for yearning a little paid time off after all the life-altering stuff he and Spock encountered. 

Kirk made a plan to get back home in due time, but Spock switched the flightplan, bumping Vulcan up on the itinerary. This was not met kindly by Kirk, resulting in a trip to sickbay for Spock as his insubordination pointed toward some kind of mental breakdown. After the meeting with McCoy, the stakes changed. McCoy explained Spock’s trip to Vulcan was a life-and-death scenario. An unexplainable hodgepodge of physical and mental stresses was inching Spock close to death. 

A hard-nosed tactic was used by Kirk for Spock to reveal his diagnosis. He ordered him to disclose the malady as a commanding officer. Spock told Kirk that he was basically in “heat,” and per Vulcan biology, must return home to marry/mate — or die. Just like a salmon returning to his home stream to spawn. 

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Starfleet was not keen on the idea of Enterprise changing course for Vulcan, so Kirk was faced with a decision of outright defiance or following the chain of command. What would you do the save the life of your best friend?

The cool part? Kirk and McCoy were nominated by Spock as groomsmen. Interestingly, Spock’s wife resembled a sister of Michael Jackson. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beamed down to Vulcan — which looked like Mars. 

The plot thickened when Spock had to fight for his wife’s hand in continued matrimony. And his opponent was muscularly ripped. Spock wasn’t. The queen-like figure of the Vulcan, T-Pau, decided to insert Kirk to fight in the muscular guy’s place. What a strange series-opening episode. On the menu: Kirk vs. Spock for marital rights to the Vulcan woman. Too, the combat was established with “fight to the death” regulations. 

Well, Spock killed Kirk. He choked him out. Spock’s wife even orchestrated the fight so she could end up with a different Vulcan dude. 

Kirk’s death was a ruse as McCoy injected him with a compound that feigned death. There was no real parable in the episode aside from recognizing the complexity of other cultures’ marital practices. And friendship usually conquers all in Star Trek.

Finally, this was the first occasion in the series in which the Vulcan hand greeting was used. “Live long and prosper” was spoken for the first time in the series.

Themes: Friendship

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).