Why Mr. Spock truly is the center of the Star Trek universe…

“Spock, Serial number S179-276SP. Verified.”

The following is not just the opinion of a huge fan of the character of Mr. Spock (I am, but that’s another story). It is intended to be a quite logical analysis of Mr. Spock’s very central role in the Star Trek universe, and how he has a splay-fingered hand in just about every incarnation of Star Trek and all of its spinoffs since the original.

Spock, as a young science officer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) on the surface of Talos IV in “The Cage”; yes, he’s smiling, folks…

Spock (Leonard Nimoy/Zachary Quinto/Ethan Peck), as every Star Trek fan knows, is the half-Vulcan character who was the first Vulcan to refuse a fellowship at the esteemed Vulcan Science Academy; choosing instead to become the first Vulcan to attend Starfleet Academy, where he briefly served as an instructor. As an instructor, Spock created the ‘no-win’ training exercise known as the “Kobayashi Maru.” The Kobayashi Maru was the test that cadet James T. Kirk (William Shatner/Chris Pine) would ultimately defeat by reprogramming the simulation itself. Spock later became science officer and eventually first officer of the USS Enterprise, under captains Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter/Bruce Greenwood/Anson Mount), and James T. Kirk (William Shatner/Chris Pine), respectively. After his Starfleet career, Spock would become an ambassador, following in the footsteps of his lauded (and estranged) father Sarek (Mark Lenard/Ben Cross/James Frain).

Spock as interpreted by actor Ethan Peck in the Star Trek Short Trek, “Q & A” (2019). Yes, Mr. Spock’s reach as a character is felt very strongly in the more recent incarnations of Star Trek (“Discovery” & “Picard”) as well.

Originally intended to be just part of TOS Star Trek’s ensemble, the character of Mr. Spock soon became immensely popular, no doubt due to the wry, intelligent performance of Leonard Nimoy (and those cool ears, of course). Being half-Vulcan and half-human, Spock is a being born of two separate worlds, making him the living embodiment of the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC; Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, wherein differences combine to create meaning and harmony. Spock also represents a conflict many of us feel in ourselves… the struggle between the emotional and the rational. Spock is, as Kirk would later eulogize him, “the most human” of us all. No doubt Spock would’ve taken that as an insult if he were alive at the time (see: “The Wrath of Khan”).

The Animated Series’ episode “Yesteryear” (1973) would show that Spock’s childhood wasn’t a particularly happy one, especially when an altered timeline forces him to allow his mortally wounded pet sehlat to be euthanized after saving his own life. The older Spock (background) took the Guardian of Forever back in time to his own childhood in order to ‘repair’ this timeline and assure his continued existence…

But all of this is mere backstory. My purpose here is to illustrate how Spock is central to all of Star Trek, not just the original series (TOS) or its six spinoff movies. Spock truly is the center of the Star Trek universe, and these are the reasons why:

“As it was at the time of the beginning…”

However you watch TOS, either in broadcast or production order, Spock will be either the first regular character you see or hear. In TOS’ first-ever televised episode, “The Man Trap” (broadcast on September 8th, 1966), Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is delivering his opening “captain’s log” but we don’t see the captain. Kirk mentions that “Mr. Spock, (is) temporarily in command” of the Enterprise. We then see Spock (the late great Leonard Nimoy) in the captain’s seat, looking very much at home, I might add. Spock is the first character of TOS to be seen occupying the captain’s chair, even before Kirk.

The very first regular character seen in the opening episode of Star Trek on its September 8th, 1966 premiere was Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock.

If you watch Star Trek in production order, the first episode would be Gene Roddenberry’s original 1964 Star Trek pilot titled “The Cage.” After the opening credits, the camera peers through the top dome of the USS Enterprise’s saucer section, where we see the crew under Capt. Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter). The first spoken dialogue is from Leonard Nimoy’s ‘younger’ Mr. Spock, who says, “Check the circuit! Point, Spock.

“Check the circuit!” Spock as he appeared in the original Star Trek’s first pilot, “The Cage” (1964).

Now, since being first isn’t the most important thing, let’s consider Spock’s role in the rest of TOS. Spock often supplied that vital bit of previously missing or unknown information for Kirk to make the right decision and save the day (in nearly every episode), but it was the Star Trek movies where Spock took an even more central role than he would have in the series.

“You saved the ship. You saved us all!”

Spock, showing Scotty how it’s done, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979) sees Spock as the final holdout to join re-join his old shipmates on a revamped USS Enterprise. The ship’s in trouble and Spock helps the chief engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) to repair the ship…a ship that Scotty helped redesign (!). Spock’s help gets the Enterprise back on schedule to rendezvous with the V’ger entity, another mystery that Spock helps the crew to unravel, through his mind-meld with the V’ger sensor he encounters during his illicit spacewalk. Spock’s mind-meld, while not completely solving the riddle of Voyager 6, would greatly help Kirk in recognizing the immaturity of the being they were dealing with (“V’ger is a child. I suggest you treat it as such”).

Spock saves the ship, as well as her crew, with only time left enough to say goodbye to Kirk his heartbreaking death scene from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982).

Spock would also save the Enterprise and her entire crew of mostly trainees by repairing the damaged, radiation-leaking warp drive in The Wrath of Khan” (1982), which is similar to what the now-disabled Capt. Pike did to save a crew of trainees aboard an “old class J-starship” (“The Menagerie”). Spock’s sacrifice for his shipmates is a debt his colleagues repay to him in the next film, “The Search For Spock”(1984), which is one of the rare times where Spock was not a very active participant in a Star Trek movie, even though the entire film revolves around his resurrection. Spock is also the only TOS regular character to have his name featured in a Star Trek movie title (no “Quest for Kirk” or “Mission: McCoy”).

For clarity, the villain Khan (as in “The Wrath Of…”) was not a series regular.

Spock, becoming one with the humpback whale “Gracie” in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986).

In “The Voyage Home” (1986), a resurrected Mr. Spock (not yet ‘firing on all thrusters’) manages to complete complex time warp calculations to help send the crew back in time to 1986 San Francisco. Spock was also the first to realize their mission objective was to find humpback whales, since he recognized the cetacean probe’s call to be humpback whale song.

Yes, given his pointed ears and eyebrows, you just knew the antagonist of Star Trek V had to be related to Spock in some way.

“The Final Frontier” (1989) would see Spock take less of a proactive role (all the regular characters are just dragged along for the ride), but the film’s central antagonist, a renegade Vulcan religious leader named Sybok, would, of course, be revealed as Spock’s half-brother. Spock’s foster sister Michael Burnham would later turn up as the central character in the recent series “Star Trek: Discovery” (2017-present), but more on that later…

“It was I who committed Captain Kirk to that peace mission…”

Way back in TOS’ episode, “Errand Of Mercy”, the omnipotent Organians predicted that someday the Klingons and the Federation would become “fast friends” who would “work together.” Little did Kirk or the Klingons realize at the time, but the very person who would begin that long peace process was in that very room.

Captain (and embryonic ambassador) Spock opens a dialogue with Klingon chancellor Gorkon, much to the dismay of his former shipmates aboard the USS Enterprise-A, whom he commits to a peace mission.

The last movie featuring the entire TOS cast, “The Undiscovered Country” (1991) saw Spock committing the USS Enterprise (and his former shipmates) to a critical peace mission, escorting the Gorbachev-like Klingon chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) to peace talks on Earth. The mission was sabotaged by Spock’s protege Lt. Valeris (Kim Cattrall). Kirk and ship’s surgeon Leonard McCoy are falsely implicated in Gorkon’s assassination (oops!), which Spock feels terribly about. So, in true Spock fashion, he rescues his captain and the doctor, risking his ship in the process. Capt. Sulu (George Takei) later helps out with his own starship, the USS Excelsior. Ultimately, Gorkon’s surviving daughter Azetbur (Rosanna DeSoto) would continue the peace talks on the planet Khitomer, and the mission would be a success. The first steps between Federation and Klingon peace began, thanks to diplomatic efforts made by Spock. Spock took the first steps on the rocky road to peace with the Klingons that would ultimately take decades to traverse (and the sacrifice of the Enterprise-C at Narendra III). The Klingon Starfleet officer Worf’s presence on Picard’s Enterprise-D, as well as on Deep Space Nine is made possible by the groundbreaking efforts of Spock

Note: Worf’s grandfather also served as defense attorney at Kirk and McCoy’s “damn show trial.”

Spock connects with his father Sarek, through the mind of Captain Picard, as Data looks on in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Unification, Part 2” (1991).

Roughly 75 years later, Ambassador Spock would commit himself to the secret task of opening talks with an underground Romulan dissident movement to test the waters for eventual reunification between the Vulcans and the Romulans; two races which used to live as one, until wars on their home planet Vulcan 1,800 years earlier bifurcated the species into those who embraced pure logic, and the departing Romulans who would settle the twin worlds of Romulus & Remus in the Beta quadrant. The renegade Romulans chose to live as emotional, warlike beings, eventually forming the Romulan Star Empire. While Spock’s initial efforts to unify Vulcan and Romulus were less than successful, he decided to remain on Romulus and continue to help its dissident movement achieve the same enlightenment with logic as his own people on Vulcan.

In one lifetime, Spock was directly responsible for peace initiatives with two of the Federation’s most implacable foes; the Klingons and the Romulans.

Spock, stranded in an alternate reality he inadvertently helped to create, sends his ‘old friend’ James Kirk back to the Enterprise in “Star Trek” (2009); a movie that is both sequel and reboot, allowing the original universe of Star Trek to remain both separate and intact, while creating all-new adventures with the classic characters.

Spock’s diplomatic efforts, and perhaps his own hubris, would lead him to champion the Romulan people once again when a local star in their system threatened to go supernova and destroy their home world of Romulus. Spock negotiated with the Vulcans to send their fastest ship in order to drop a payload of “red matter” into the star, which would prevent the supernova from occurring by inhibiting its out-of-control nuclear fusion. In a rare miscalculation, Spock was a bit late…the star went supernova faster than predicted, and destroyed Romulus. Spock did manage to send a drop of the powerful red matter into the supernova, preventing it from spreading beyond the Romulan system. Spock’s actions also created an artificial black hole, which sent both himself and a pursuing Romulan mining ship, the Narada, backward in time…

“Going back in time you changed all our lives.”

Both Spock’s ‘jellyfish’ vessel and the Narada are thrown back from the late 24th century (2287) into the early 23rd (2233), with the Narada, under command of the vengeful Romulan Nero (Eric Bana), somehow arriving first. The Narada’s destructive presence led to the death of James T. Kirk’s father (Chris Hemsworth) aboard the USS Kelvin. The ripples from this event would create an alternate timeline known as the Kelvinverse in Star Trek lore.

Spock oversees an alternate Kirk’s promotion to captain of a new USS Enterprise in “Star Trek” (2009).

It’s in the Kelvinverse where the 159-year old Vulcan ambassador would ultimately die, presumably after being listed as missing (or already dead) in his own prime timeline. During his four years in the Kelvinverse (2259-2263), Ambassador Spock (aka “Prime Spock”) would also locate a new colony for the roughly 10,000 or so survivors from his shattered home planet of Vulcan, which was destroyed by Nero’s Narada in retaliation for Nero’s wrongheaded assumption that Spock (and the Federation) allowed Romulus to be destroyed by the supernova.

The Kelvinverse Spock (Zachary Quinto) receives word of his Prime Universe counterpart’s demise in “Star Trek Beyond” (2016).

Prime Spock would remain with the Vulcan colony, while his younger Kelvinverse counterpart (Zachary Quinto) explored the universe aboard the USS Enterprise (and Enterprise-A) under command of Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine). After the death of Spock Prime, Kelvinverse Spock briefly considers resigning from Starfleet, but ultimately chooses to stay, honoring the earlier wishes of Prime Spock.

“It is not customary to return a gift…especially when one doesn’t have a receipt.”

Spock’s younger counterpart in the Kelvinverse would have an on-again/off-again with his shipmate Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana). This may have been based on flirtations seen between the two characters in TOS episodes such as “The Man Trap”, “Charlie X” (where a playful Uhura serenaded the mildly embarrassed Vulcan), and “Who Mourns For Adonais?” where Spock gave a rare compliment to Uhura for her capabilities. It’s not inconceivable that with a little wine and the right music, these two could’ve been an item. In the Kelvinverse, they are.

In short, Spock is partly responsible (along with the Romulan Nero) for the creation of an entirely new timeline which would spawn three films ( 2009’s “Star Trek” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Star Trek Beyond”).

Series-ly, Spock.

Aside from the critical role Spock would play in the two-part “Unification” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (above), Spock would have other roles, both major and minor, in all of the Star Trek series that have followed the original series (TOS).

Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS)

Yes, many people don’t count TAS as ‘legitimate’ Star Trek, but I do, because it was sanctioned by Roddenberry in 1973, was written by some of the writers from TOS (Dorothy Fontana, David Gerrold, Samuel Peeples and others) and it features the voices of the original cast, save for Walter Koenig (Chekov), who was cut for budgetary reasons but would go on to write the Spock-centric story “The Infinite Vulcan” (one of the worst episodes of the series). One of the best installments of TAS was the Dorothy Fontana-scripted “Yesteryear”, which saw Spock using the Guardian of Forever (from “City on the Edge of Forever”) to repair his own past, which was accidentally disrupted by his prior use of the Guardian.

Mr. Spock has to return to his own past in order to repair the timeline in the exceptionally well-written D.C. Fontana scripted “Yesteryear”, arguably the best of TAS, and yes, it centers around you-know-who.

Spock went back to his own boyhood to help himself survive the kas-wan ritual of manhood for which his younger self was preparing. Young Spock’s death in a corrupted history caused his parents to divorce, and led to a shuttle disaster which killed his mother. To get close to his younger self, Spock assumed the alias of a distant cousin named Selek, who stays at the home of his parents Sarek (voice of Mark Lenard) and Amanda (now voiced by Majel Barrett, instead of TOS’ Jane Wyatt). A miscalculation by older Spock leads to the death of his boyhood pet sehlat (a large domesticated bear-like creature). The old pet’s sacrifice helped save younger Spock and repair the fractured timeline. The older Spock was predestined to help his younger self survive in the past, thus restoring time to its proper “shape,” as the Guardian itself might say.

Spock’s tormented, bullied childhood was first hinted at by his mother Amanda (Jane Wyatt) in TOS’ “Journey to Babel”, and would be explored later in 2009’s “Star Trek” and Star Trek: Discovery (DSC).

Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)

As mentioned at length earlier, Spock’s presence in TNG is profound. His guest appearances in “Unification” Parts 1 & 2 would see some of TNG’s highest ratings, as ambassador Spock tried to aid a nascent Romulan dissident movement aimed at unifying the Vulcan and Romulan peoples. For the second time in his life, Spock helped lay the foundations for galactic peace (at least in the Alpha and Beta quadrants of the galaxy…).

“Unification Part 2” would also reunited Nimoy (center) with Malachi Throne (left) who played Commodore Mendez in the two part TOS episode “The Menagerie.” Throne also voiced “The Keeper” in “The Cage” as well (his voice was electronically altered later on when he was cast as Mendez in the “Menagerie” framing story).

Spock’s work with the Romulan underground movement would also bear fruit in the 6th season episode “Face of the Enemy” which saw Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) abducted and surgically altered to appear Romulan in order to help smuggle members of the Romulan dissident movement into Federation space. How smuggling dissidents helps with Spock’s unification goals, I have no idea, but since we see Spock advocating on behalf of Romulus later in 2009’s “Star Trek”, one can assume that Spock’s hand in the smugglings remained a secret to the Romulan government, who would otherwise be quite pissed, I imagine.

The Vulcan ambassador is sure hoping Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) washes his gloves regularly…

The TNG movies would reference Spock twice. First in 1994’s “Generations” where Kirk tells Picard that “if Spock were here” he’d try to talk them out of their dangerous, illogical mission to stop madman Soran (Malcolm McDowell) from destroying the Veridian star system. And the 1996 TNG film, “First Contact” saw mid-21st century human scientist Zefram Cochrane create the prototypical warp drive engine that would attract the attention of aliens visiting Earth’s solar system. Those ‘aliens’ of course, turn out to be the Vulcans. That early (uneasy) Earth-Vulcan alliance would eventually form the basis of the United Federation of Planets a hundred years later in 2161.

Even when Spock isn’t mentioned in the films, his people are still very important.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9)

Spock wouldn’t play a major role in the events of Deep Space Nine, but he was still memorably seen in the comic romp, “Trials and Tribble-ations,” which saw Capt. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and the crew of the station’s warship, USS Defiant, accidentally thrown back in time to the events of TOS episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles” (1967). Once in the 23rd century, Sisko learns that a surgically-altered Klingon spy from that era (Charlie Brill) still holds a grudge, and plans to assassinate Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). The Defiant’s crew replicates period-appropriate uniforms and sneaks aboard the USS Enterprise in order to locate a bomb set to explode somewhere near Captain Kirk…

Deep Space Nine’s Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) has eyes for Leonard Nimoy’s Spock in “Trials and Tribble-ations.” In real-life, Farrell would go one to marry Adam Nimoy, so one could say her character’s attraction to the Nimoy boys wasn’t all acting (hehe…). Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) are not amused.

While Spock isn’t necessarily central to the episode’s storyline, there is a delightful moment where a smitten Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) catches a glimpse of Spock and is taken by “those eyes!” This is ironic since Terry Farrell would eventually go on to marry the late Leonard Nimoy’s real-life son Adam Nimoy, making her Spock’s daughter-in-law! Farrell and Dax must both have a thing for those Nimoy boys (hehe).

Once again, even when he’s not onscreen….

Star Trek: Voyager (VGR)

Perhaps the Star Trek series with the weakest Spock connection would be VGR, though it would still feature a Vulcan main character, Lt. Tuvok (Tim Russ). Tuvok was the USS Voyager’s tactical officer, which is an ironic position for a member of the traditionally pacifist Vulcan race. In the episode, “Flashback”, Tuvok suffers a debilitating (false) traumatic memory of his failure to save a young girl from falling. Attempts to probe the trauma through a mind-meld with Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) lead to memories of Tuvok serving under Captain Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) aboard the USS Excelsior, 80 years earlier. Tuvok’s served aboard Sulu’s ship during his “first” Starfleet career, before he left the service to get married. He would return to Starfleet many years later, rebuilding his career apparently from the ground up (which would explain Tuvok’s holding only a rank of lieutenant, when he is over 100 years old).

Coffee, Tea or Kalifee? Tuvok (Tim Russ) and Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) take a trip down memory lane onto Sulu’s USS Excelsior in the Voyager episode “Flashback”, where Tuvok was remembering his ‘first Starfleet career’ serving under Captain Sulu (George Takei) during his against-orders rescue of Kirk, McCoy (and Spock) in “The Undiscovered Country.”

While Spock isn’t central to the current “Flashback” story, Tuvok’s memories aboard the Excelsior do center around the events of the movie “The Undiscovered Country,” which concerned Mr. Spock’s outreach to the Klingon government following an ecological disaster to the Klingon homeworld (an analog to Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union). While we never see Spock in the episode, Sulu does allude to his former shipmate when he tells Tuvok that he knows for a fact Vulcans are, indeed, capable of telling jokes…

Note: One wonders if series co-creator Rick Berman’s decision to include a Vulcan in VGR’s crew was an attempt to recall the chemistry of the TOS cast. Ironically, the most Spock-like character of VGR would turn out be the rehabilitated Borg drone, Seven of Nine (played by the magnificent Jeri Ryan). Seven’s struggle between her cold Borg-logic and her reemerging human nature would directly mirror Spock’s own conflict. The very popular character of Seven would later return in Star Trek: Picard (PIC).

Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT)

ENT was the underrated prequel to TOS which took place in the mid-22nd century, roughly 80 years before the birth of Spock. That said, the spirit of Spock was still alive and well in this series, even if the character wasn’t yet born. Like VGR, ENT would feature a Vulcan main character named T’Pol (Jolene Blalock). T’Pol’s initially uneasy relationship with Capt. Archer (Scott Bakula) is typical of the distrust that has sowed between humans and Vulcans since their first contact nearly a century before. Humans accuse Vulcans of holding back their advanced technology to the government of Earth. We later learn that Vulcans are quietly fearful of humans, whom they see a reflection of their former warlike selves.

The ending of “Terra Prime”; the performances of Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer will just rip your heart out.

T’Pol would also form a very complicated relationship with the NX-01 Enterprise’s chief engineer, Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker (Connor Trinneer), whose relaxed, southern charm directly recalls the future USS Enterprise’s chief surgeon, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley/Karl Urban) a century later. T’Pol and Trip’s mutual (and antagonistic) attraction would later turn sexual by the third season when T’Pol comforts a grieving Trip, following the death of his beloved sister Elizabeth in a 9/11-style alien attack on Earth. In the series’ penultimate two-parter (“Demons/Terra Prime”), a cloned hybrid of Trip and T’Pol is created without their consent. Sadly, the baby girl (named Elizabeth, to honor Trip’s fallen sister) doesn’t survive due to an error made in her cloning process. However, the baby’s autopsy reveals there is nothing otherwise impossible for a future human/Vulcan child…

…which directly leads to the birth of Spock, some 80 years later.

Star Trek: Discovery (DSC)

The character of Spock is very prominently featured in DSC, which debuted some 12 years after ENT’s cancellation. DSC is another prequel series, set in the Prime timeline (even if looks a lot more advanced), some seven years before the voyages of Captain Kirk’s Enterprise in 2265. After committing an act of mutiny in a futile attempt to save the crew of the USS Shenzhou from a dangerous Klingon fundamentalist movement, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) is sent to prison for the well-intentioned crime. The incident inadvertently triggered a bloody war between the Federation and the Klingons. The Spock connection comes when it’s revealed in flashbacks that Burnham was adopted by the Spock’s parents, Amanda and Sarek (Mia Kershner, James Frain) after a Klingon attack left her orphaned as a child. She and Spock (Ethan Peck) were raised together as brother and sister, though they had an estrangement during Michael’s turbulent adolescence. Former prisoner Burnham is later exonerated, following her probationary assignment aboard the USS Discovery, where her actions put an end to the Federation/Klingon war. Her commission restored, Burnham is made first officer of the USS Discovery by the end of the first season.

Note: No mention is made of Spock’s half-brother Sybok, by the way...

Michael learns that Spock “ain’t heavy…he’s my bro-therrrr.”

Burnham and a renegade Spock would be reunited during the second season of DSC, when another TOS character, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) assumes temporary command of the USS Discovery to track down seven mysterious signals from a “red angel” which leads the ship to key locations in an attempt to solve a galactic puzzle, and stop a rogue artificial intelligence from destroying the universe. Spock is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, but is later exonerated as well, when Pike rescues his renegade science officer and learns the truth behind his framing. The end of the second season sees Spock reunited with his foster sister, but forced to say goodbye to her once again, as she and the USS Discovery must go forward in time to save the entire universe from the deadly AI. Pike, Spock and the USS Enterprise crew create a cover story to protect the future location of Michael and her crew from falling into the wrong hands someday. Spock is sworn never to speak of his ‘sister’ ever again. And boy, does he keep that promise…

Note: There are many who pick apart the myriad of seeming continuity issues between the Star Trek TOS vs DSC. I have a catch-all explanation that covers the whole thing, with the events of the movie, “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996) acting as the catalyst. The explanation is in my review of “First Contact”: Re-assimilating “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996)…

Star Trek: Picard (PIC)

Spock’s earlier peace initiative with Romulus (TNG’s “Unification” two-parter) would later be taken up by Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in the new series PIC (2019–present), which sees Picard lead an effort to relocate surviving Romulans within Federation space from their destroyed home system (following the events of 2009’s “Star Trek”). This effort of Picard’s is sabotaged by a cult of Romulans fearful of artificial intelligence, as well as a conspiracy within Starfleet itself.

Jean-Luc Picard would take up Spock’s passionate advocacy on behalf of the Federation’s former foes, the Romulans. Picard would even keep two displaced former Romulan intelligence officers on as groundskeepers at Chateau Picard in La Barre, France.

The Romulan cult against artificial intelligence destroys the Starfleet shipyards and colony at Mars through a massive act of terrorism (manipulating android laborers for the dirty work), derailing further efforts by Picard to relocate more surviving Romulans. Picard would try to keep Spock’s torch for peace with Romulus lit, but at great personal cost to his own career, forcing his own resignation from Starfleet’s admiralty, which also leads to the downward slide of Picard’s last First Officer Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd). While many relocated Romulan survivors hold Picard in disdain for resigning, others appreciated the sacrifices he tried to make on their behalf.

Note: While I enjoyed PIC very much, particularly Picard’s Romulan groundskeepers, the return of the Rikers (“Nepenthe”) and the final closure with Data (Brent Spiner), I was a bit annoyed by the show’s reuse of another ‘evil AI destroying the universe’ storyline, as it’s nearly identical to the climax of DSC’s second season.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (LD)

While I’ve not kept up on Lower Decks since the third episode, I could see in previews that there are plenty of references to Spock, as seen on Mariner’s conspiracy board (in fact, she’s pointing to a humpback whale from “The Voyage Home”...).

To be honest, I’ve not seen any more of this series beyond the third episode (not my cuppa Earl Grey, I’m afraid), but there were references to Spock aplenty in what little of the series I’ve seen.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (SNW)

As yet, there is very little on the newly announced Star Trek series “Strange New Worlds” (SNW) since it hasn’t yet gone before cameras due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. What is known is that it will go back to the missions of the USS Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), and his crew, including his first officer “Number One” (Rebecca Romijn) and his half-Vulcan science officer, Spock (Ethan Peck). We’ve already seen a few proofs-of-concept for this series with the popular Captain Pike storyline in DSC’s second season, as well as the delightful Short Trek episode, “Q & A”, which chronicled Spock’s very first day aboard the USS Enterprise, during which he is stuck in a malfunctioning turbo-lift with his new superior officer, Number One.

Spock (Ethan Peck) & Number One (Rebecca Romijn) on the bridge of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) in the Short Trek “Q & A”, which makes a great demo reel for the proposed series “Strange New Worlds.”

The eventual friendship between Spock and Capt. Pike will presumably grow to become as deep as the friendship seen between Spock and Capt. Kirk. For proof of this, see TOS’ “The Menagerie”, where Spock would later risk his own career (and life) just to see his horribly mutilated former captain find solace in a life of illusion on the planet Talos IV. It’ll be interesting to see if SNW fills in the missing definition of this deep bond between Spock and Pike. Given Anson Mount’s charismatic performances to date, it’s a safe bet that most of Pike’s crew were easily charmed by their captain.

Torn between two captains: Spock helps his permanently disabled former Capt. Pike (Sean Kenney, taking over for Jeffrey Hunter), even at the risk of his own life as well as the life of his current Captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in TOS’ “The Menagerie.” Perhaps “Strange New Worlds” might fill in the gaps of how Spock and Pike grew so close over their “11 years, four months and five days” of service together…

Note: TOS’ “The Menagerie” incorporates most of the footage from the unsold TOS pilot “The Cage” (seen as flashbacks broadcast from the aliens of Talos IV) was also the only two-part episode of TOS. And yes, it revolved around the court-martial of you-know-who.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015).

As a fan, I am so grateful for the brief encounter I had with the late Leonard Nimoy at San Diego Comic Con in the summer of 2009. Spock was one of my childhood idols growing up. His intelligence, stoicism and even-keeled nature (even in the face of adversity and prejudice) were inspirational. In addition to his acting career, Nimoy was a gifted photographer and film director (“Three Men and a Baby” “The Good Mother”). In fact, Nimoy would direct two of the Star Trek franchise’s most charming entries (“The Search For Spock” and “The Voyage Home”) and would co-create the story that became “The Undiscovered Country” (my favorite Star Trek movie, if I had to choose). I will cherish the memory of meeting the man who breathed life into one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I was also heartbroken when he passed away in February of 2015.

My own pic of Leonard Nimoy, taken at San Diego Comic Con in the summer of 2009. If the image is slightly blurry, I apologize, but my hands were no doubt shaking a bit. I rarely get starstruck these days, but that was definitely one time where I got a bit cotton-mouthed, I won’t lie!

I must also say that I have no issues with other actors re-interpreting the Spock character. My reaction is quite the opposite, in fact. I welcome the continuance of Spock in pop culture. Like Sherlock Holmes, James Bond or Doctor Who, the character is worthy of exploration by other actors for generations to come. That said, Leonard Nimoy made an indelible and permanent impression on pop culture with his 50 year association with the Spock character (beginning with filming of “The Cage” in 1964 to his passing in 2015). Yes, there will be other actors playing Spock, and I welcome their contributions, but the late Leonard Nimoy will forever be Spock Prime.

Spock’s splay-fingered Vulcan salute, introduced in TOS’ “Amok Time” was from the Hebrew alphabet’s letter ‘shin’ (first letter in the name of God). The greeting would also become the general hand salute used for Trekkies everywhere.

COVID-19 Safe Viewing.

“Star Trek” (all series and movies) can be viewed safely at home via streaming on CBS-All Access, or through Prime Video/YouTube streaming rentals, as well as DVD/Blu Ray purchase (via contact-free shipping from Amazon.com and other retailers, such as BestBuy.com and BarnesandNoble.com). Spock lives, both in streaming and physical media.

To my readers, I once again wish you and all of your loved ones good health and strength during the current coronavirus pandemic.  The current number of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States is around 200, 000 as of this writing (that number is increasing daily).  So, for the time being, please continue to practice social safe-distancing wherever possible, wear masks in public, and avoid crowded outings as much as possible.

Live long and prosper!

Photos: Trekcore.com, Author.

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