Amok Time

by Laura Goodwin

Spock greets Jim joyfully

I just rewatched Amok Time on DVD: digitally remastered, nothing cut, no commercials. Nice!

Here's a very unusual episode. We visit Vulcan and get a slice of Vulcan life. This episode is also typical in many ways:

1) Kirk acts like a total masochist, as usual, for example, he can't resist the urge to get into a big fight with a much stronger opponent despite some pretty good advice to stay out of it, *again*. 2) Spock, despite supposedly being a pacifist, turns out to be a kick-ass fighter, *again*. 3) McCoy goes ashore although there is no really good reason for him to be there, *again*. 4) Kirk gets thrown into a spicy situation with a sexy woman and, as in the ep Mudd's Women (and many others), it's NOT HIS IDEA (and nothing much comes of it), *again*. 5) Spock is insubordinate, steals the ship, kicks the stuffing out of Kirk and basically treats Kirk and other people like shit and gets away with all of it, *again*.

Not only does it become clear that Spock doesn't really like women very much, but it's also made quite clear that (bad attitude and bad behavior notwithstanding) he's nuts about Kirk - and (strangely, in spite of everything) the feeling is very mutual. For once, somebody actually comments on it, too - so it's not just us seeing it, the people in Kirk's universe can see it, too.

It all begins with McCoy stopping a harried Captain Kirk in the hall outside of Commander Spock's quarters. Apparently that's the most logical place to look for Kirk if you are having a hard time catching up to him. McCoy warms to his topic by warning Kirk that Spock seems unusually nervous, and that he hasn't eaten in three days. As usual, Kirk blithely offers an excuse for Spock:

"That just sounds like Spock in one of his contemplative phases."

Kirk tries to beat a path out of there before McCoy can ask him what THAT is supposed to mean, but it doesn't work. McCoy stops Kirk again, just as Nurse Chapel is approaching with a tray.

Chapel, it turns out, is bringing Spock a bowl of Plomeek soup, in an attempt to entice him to eat. About this gesture of hers, McCoy slyly observes:

"You never stop hoping, do you?"

Meaning that it's obvious that Chapel is carrying a torch for Spock. She doesn't deny it.

As Chapel takes the soup in to Spock, McCoy tells Kirk something shocking that Spock had recently said to him:

"You will cease to pry into my private matters or I shall certainly break your neck!" quotes McCoy.

Jim is shocked. "Spock said that?" he asks, dismayed. That kind of talk is beyond rude, and Kirk doesn't offer an excuse for Spock this time.

Suddenly Spock's door opens and Chapel rushes out, terrified. The bowl of soup hits the wall. Spock is shouting:


[NOTE: this is not the first time we have seen Spock refuse Chapel's attentions. He also was not amused by her affectionate gestures in Naked Time. He already tried telling her nicely, now he's telling her in a way he hopes she'll actually understand and remember]

Kirk is momentarily stunned with horror at this disgraceful display. He apparently can't believe that Spock would even think of playing such a stimulating game with anyone besides himself.

Seeing Kirk standing there, Spock decides to take advantage of the moment by demanding in no uncertain terms that he be taken to his home planet, ASAP.

[NOTE: Spock gets away with acting bossy and high-handed with Kirk, again]

Kirk steps closer to the bristling Vulcan to gently ask, "Spock, what the devil is this all about?"

Spock snaps, "I have made my request. All I require from you is that you answer it - yes or no!"

There is a long pause as everybody just looks at each other. Kirk, after thinking hard really fast, oddly decides to come *closer* and try again to parlay with the hypersensitive and violently emotional Spock, but the irritated Vulcan retreats back into his quarters and ~swooshes~ the door shut right in Kirk's face, which no doubt frustrates poor Kirk something terrible.

[NOTE: Kirk, as usual, seems attracted by the possibility that if he pushes the right buttons at just the right time, he might get smacked around a little. What a shameless pain slut he is.]

In the next scene, Kirk has ignored Spock's signals to be let alone, NATCH! He is in Spock's quarters for a private confrontation with Spock. He wants some action, I mean some answers, damn it!

Spock tries to explain:

"It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers..." he begins.

Kirk cuts him off. He doesn't give a rat's ass about what Spock did to Chapel. He also doesn't give two hoots or a tinker's damn for the nasty thing that Spock said to McCoy. What he really wants to know is why Spock wants to take a separate vacation.

"In all the years that I've known you, you've never asked for a leave of any sort. In fact, you've refused them. Why now?" As if he can't imagine why Spock would ever want to leave him. He asks if Spock has a problem like an illness in the family, and Spock says no.

[NOTE: Spock's lying. It ~is so~ a family health crisis.]

Kirk tries to tell Spock he'll let him take leave on Altair six, but Spock again insists on being taken to Vulcan, but won't say why. He stands with a knife hidden in his hand behind his back, and he tightens his grip on it as Kirk slowly approaches, radiating musk, I mean concern.

"What's wrong?" Jim asks, genuinely aroused, I mean puzzled.

"I" Spock lies.

Jim believes him. Jim uses Spock's intercom to call to the bridge and ask them to set course for Vulcan.

"Thank you, Captain."

"I suppose most of us overlook the fact that even Vulcans aren't indestructible." Jim smiles reassuringly at Spock, and exits.

Spock is speaking to himself now: "No..." he says and raises his shaking hand which is holding what appears to be a knife. He grabs the wrist with his opposite hand to stop the shaking. "...we're not!"

[NOTE: It was pointed out to me that the object is probably a stylus. It appears again later in the episode. In both incidents, Spock wields it like a knife, and there is an implied threat of violence.]

Unfortunately, Kirk is ordered to instead go straight to Altair 6. He apologizes to Spock and obeys the order.

Later, we see that Kirk is lying in bed thinking hard about Mr. Spock. He uses his bedside intercom to ask Chekov about a possible side trip to Vulcan, and is told that Spock already ordered the change. Kirk jumps up out of bed to investigate this oddity.

Spock is at his station when he hears Kirk's voice:

"Mr. Spock..."

He looks to see Kirk standing at the door of the lift, hands on hips.

"...Come with me, please" Kirk says, mildly.

[NOTE: Seriously, the way he says it, it sounds more like an invitation than an order.]

Once in the lift, Kirk asks Spock why he changed course, and Spock says he doesn't remember doing it.

[NOTE: He lied before, he also might be lying now.]

Suddenly Spock turns to Kirk and says, "Captain, lock me away! I do not wish to be seen! I cannot -no Vulcan could - explain further!"

Kirk orders Spock to go to sickbay. He reluctantly complies.

Next thing you know, McCoy tells Kirk that Spock is experiencing a growing imbalance of body functions as if huge amounts of adrenaline were being pumped into his bloodstream. He tells Kirk that Spock has maybe 8 days to live. In his medical opinion, it's a matter of life and death to get Spock to Vulcan, pronto! He complains that Spock knows what it is, but won't talk.

Kirk marches off to confront Spock, and to get some action, I mean answers, damn it!

We next see Spock looking at a picture of a Vulcan girl... not a young woman, a child. He shuts off his monitor when his door buzzer rings, as if he's guiltily hiding a copy of _Mandingo_ under his mattress.

"Come" he says to Kirk.

Kirk comes in. "Stay" he says to Spock.

[NOTE: I half expect somebody to say "Roll Over" or "Beg" next. I'm not making this up, you guys. They really do talk that way to each other.]

Kirk demands answers, and Spock finally decides to open up a little. He tells Kirk that outworlders generally aren't told, but there are exceptions made with the few (like Spock's human mom) who have been directly involved. Spock then proceeds to treat Kirk as if he *is* directly involved, by spilling his guts to Jim.

Spock's in heat. He tells Jim that Vulcans call it Pon Farr - "the time of mating".

"I hoped I would be spared this. But the ancient drives are too strong." Spock admits.

[NOTE: bear witness to the fact that Spock would have no reason to think he would be spared, if he had been through it all before. This is apparently his first Pon Farr. Why would he think he would be spared? Probably because he is half-human. Humans don't experience Pon Farr.]

[SPECIAL NOTE: just because Spock is experiencing Pon Farr for the first time doesn't mean he never has had sex before. We saw in Naked Time that he is capable of passionate feelings, including a longing to experience love. In This Side Of Paradise he shows active interest in a woman, and even possibly gets laid. Both of those episodes aired BEFORE Amok Time. If Spock was to any degree sexually functional before this, he *would* have a strong reason to suspect that he might be spared the rigors of Pon Farr. It also means he could have possibly established a sexual relationship with Kirk before this, which might explain (among other things) why Kirk is so forgiving about the rotten way Spock acted toward Chapel. It also might explain why he's so reluctant to talk about Pon Farr with even Jim: he may wish to spare Jim's feelings. We saw in This Side Of Paradise how jealous Jim can get.]

Jim promises to keep Spock's secret, and to get him to Vulcan somehow, and exits.

Uhura tries to communicate with Spock via intercom, and he stands up, crosses the room, and brutally smashes the squawk-box with a fist to shut her up.

[NOTE: for a guy who supposedly is in desperate need of a woman, he certainly doesn't seem to have any patience for them, no matter who they are.]

Kirk strives to convince Admiral Komak that the diversion to Vulcan is important, but refuses to explain why it's necessary, because he promised to keep Spock's reason secret. Komak is not amused and he tells Kirk to forget about Vulcan until after the Altair 6 ceremony. After Komak signs off, Kirk explains to McCoy that he can't let Spock die, so he's going to Vulcan despite his orders, knowing it could cost him his career.

Chapel rushes off to Spock's room to tell him the news, and catches Spock napping. She starts to touch him, then stops herself, apparently thinking better of it. As she turns to leave, Spock bestirs himself and has a very odd conversation with her.

"Miss Chapel?"

"Yes Mr. Spock?"

"I had a most startling dream. You were trying to tell me something, but I couldn't hear you. It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures... don't you think?"

A tear rolls down her cheek. "I don't understand."

[NOTE: Yes, she does. She knows he's trying to tell her to bug off again. That's where the tear came from.]

Spock touches the tear, and takes it. "Your face is wet." he says, pointing out that he can plainly see that she is bullshitting.

Struggling to choke back sobs, Chapel says, "I came to tell you that we are bound for Vulcan. We'll be there in just a few days."

Spock nods. "Vulcan." He doesn't seem happy.

She turns to leave, but Spock stops her.

"Miss Chapel?"

"My name is Christine!"

"Yes, I know. Christine...would you make me some of that Plomeek soup?"

"Oh, I'd be very glad to do that, Mr. Spock!" Christine gushes, and rushes off to do his bidding.

[NOTE: Spock is apparently a bit more sympathetic toward his besotted stalker now that he's had a taste of the overpowering force of Pon Farr.]

[Special NOTE: At no time does Spock seem happy about going home. You'd think he'd be all excited about getting laid, etc., but no. He pretty clearly isn't looking forward to his vacation there. We soon see why.]

Next we see Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in the lift on their way to the bridge. A very interesting conversation takes place:

Spock says, "It's obvious that you have surmised my problem, Doctor. My compliments on your insight. Captain... there is a thing that happens to Vulcans at this time...almost an insanity which you will no doubt find distasteful."

"Will I?" Jim chirps. "You've been most patient with my kinds of madness."

[NOTE: What's THIS!? This is one of those tantalizing little bon mots that Kirk drops now and then that might lead those with active imaginations to let slip the dogs of "what-if?" If Spock is speaking of sexual frenzy when he uses the word "insanity" isn't it possible that Kirk is using the synonym "madness" the same way? Hmmm! I still wonder what happened between Kirk and Gary Mitchell on Deneb 4, for example. I wonder if Spock was involved? After all, he did say that he felt for Gary too. Hmmm.]

"Will you beam down to the planet's surface and stand with me?" Spock asks Kirk. "There is a brief ceremony."

Kirk is pleased to be invited. Almost as an afterthought, Spock also invites McCoy, who also accepts with pleasure.

On the bridge, Spock has a weird, poetic conversation with his bride-to-be, T'Pring, a succulent-looking young Vulcan lady. Afterward he explains to Uhura that she is his wife. Chapel who is present, reacts with visible shock.

Moments later on the planet, for Kirk's benefit, Spock clarifies that he is actually not fully married, yet. His bond with T'Pring is actually "...less than a marriage, but more than a betrothal".

[NOTE: more evidence that this is Spock's first Pon Farr. Why did he tell the people on the bridge that T'Pring was his wife? Maybe because Chapel was there to overhear, and he wanted to further discourage her.]

[NOTE: to Chapel, he's married, but to Kirk, he's not. More things that make you go "Hmmm!"]

Anyhoo, Spock bangs the gong to signal that he's ready to get it on. Now the marriage party approaches. Just to make double extra sure that everybody knows he's ready to get it on, Spock bangs the gong again.

A motley assortment of Vulcans in ceremonial garb parade into the arena, including most notably a stern Vulcan matriarch - whom Kirk recognizes as the famous T'Pau - who is carried in in a litter chair.

T'Pau is not pleased to see that Spock has come careening to his wedding like a drunken sailor on leave with a rowdy pair of human comrades in tow. Spock has to pledge their behavior with his life, before T'Pau allows the ceremony to go forward.

T'Pring, instead of getting all googly over Spock, cries "Kali-fee!" indicating that she wants Spock to fight for her. When it comes time to choose her champion, she chooses Kirk, which shocks everybody, especially a Vulcan schlub named Stonn, who protests that he was to be the one.

For a second, nobody knows what to do. T'Pau then tells Kirk he is free to refuse to participate.

Spock astounds T'Pau by stepping up and arguing with her that she shouldn't give Kirk a choice -she should simply forbid Kirk to participate.

[NOTE: No duh! Spock knows that Kirk can't be trusted to simply make the sensible choice in a case like this. In every other case where Kirk is offered a choice to get the shit kicked out of him by a stronger opponent, he always takes it. Spock knows damn well he's capable of killing Kirk, and he doesn't want T'Pau to allow silly masochistic Kirk into the ring, for his own sake]

Spock amazes T'Pau when he struggles up from the depths of Plak Tow to protest being required to fight Kirk. Apparently no Vulcan man has ever been so chatty while in the grip of Plak Tow before. Spock, despite his disordered mental state, offers three perfectly logical reasons why Kirk should be forbidden to fight: that Kirk is his friend, that he doesn't fully understand what he's getting into, and also that "his blood does not burn". In other words, Kirk isn't risking his life to possess the woman.

T'Pau's rather cold reply is to ask Spock if he's Vulcan or Human. In other words, does Spock have what it takes to be a Vulcan MAN, or is he going to be a wimpy little human boy? Spock's reply is rather poetic. He doesn't say ~I'm Vulcan~! He doesn't accept either of those "choices". He just says, "I burn".

[NOTE: Notice he doesn't complain that he is the only one who really loves T'Pring. Spock doesn't love T'Pring, he's doing all this because he's driven by a compulsion.]

T'Pau is incapable of processing Spock's request. No Vulcan male has ever pleaded for the life of his opponent before, apparently. Despite the perfectly sensible excuses Spock offers, T'Pau refuses Spock's suit. Spock then steels himself for battle.

Spock has been public about thinking that it's a bad idea for Kirk to fight. Next, T'Pau advises Kirk to "not interfere" and to "keep thy place", apparently advising him to refuse to fight also. Next, McCoy takes Kirk by the arm, draws him aside, and firmly, clearly, unequivocally advises Jim to refuse to fight. Naturally, with three very smart people all advising Kirk to opt out, Kirk takes the conservative course of action and declines to fight. NO HE DOESN'T!

[NOTE: Don't be ridiculous, of course Kinkman Kirk is not going to miss a golden opportunity to get beaten up and humiliated in this exotic location. It's been 8 whole weeks since the last time Spock whupped his ass, the bruises have all faded, and now he's got that ITCH again.

Knowing Kirk, we all saw this coming. But what was T'Pring thinking!? At this point, we are left to wonder.]

Kirk blathers on to McCoy about his so-called reasoning behind this decision, bullshitting like mad, all the while salivating like Pavlov's dog for his pending date with pain. He tells McCoy he plans to let Spock win.

[NOTE: Oh Lord, of course you will, Jimmy-Boy. Somebody pass the popcorn. God, he's really gonna get it this time.]

Kirk and Spock are both handed serious looking weapons called Lirpa, and NOW Kirk is told that the combat isn't over until one guy is dead. Well, that's a little hard-core even for Kirk, so he starts having second thoughts, but he isn't given long to think them. The beginning of the battle is signaled, and the fight begins.

Spock very efficiently slices Kirk across the breasts right away. Kirk's eyes get big. He's all: good morning to you, too!

They fight, and fight, and fight, and fight. One of the Lirpa gets damaged, and a pause is called so another weapon can be offered. During the break, McCoy gives Kirk a shot of "tri-ox compound" to help Kirk breathe in the thin Vulcan air, with T'Pau's permission.

"You're going to have to kill him, Jim." McCoy says.

"That's not what we came to Vulcan for." Jim breathlessly replies.

[NOTE: We didn't come here to see Jim Kirk get spanked either, but here we are anyway.]

They fight some more, it's all very dramatic, and Spock finally succeeds in strangling Jim into insensibility. Jim falls limp, and the battle is halted. Spock has won.

And then the bloodied but victorious Spock claims his prize, seizes his reluctant bride T'Pring, and porks her right there on the spot. NO, HE DOESN'T! That's what would happen if Spock were a typical Vulcan male in heat, but as has been established, he is anything but typical.

[NOTE: Which is probably the real reason why T'Pring wanted out of the marriage.]

McCoy pronounces Kirk dead, and Spock sags. Spock shuffles sadly away, obviously overcome by feelings of grief and remorse. He does not go tripping happily over to T'Pring with Kirk's severed head in his hand. He walks away from everybody and just sulks. It's as if, with Kirk gone, all the color and meaning has drained out of his world. He doesn't even speak to T'Pring or look at her, at first. McCoy asks him if he has any orders, and Spock says that he'll follow McCoy to the ship in a few minutes.

[NOTE: he hasn't even talked with T'Pring yet. Already he has decided to dump her at the altar and beat a path out of there.]

Spock asks T'Pring to explain why she did what she did. Her reason is that she wanted Spock out of the way so she could marry Stonn. Her reasons for preferring Stonn are rather interesting. She says:

"Stonn wanted me. I wanted him."

[NOTE: whereas between Spock and T'Pring, nada. Neither one of them really wants the other one.]

"As the years went by I came to know that I did not wish to be the consort of a legend...but by the laws of our people I could only divorce you by the Kali-fee."

[NOTE: as the years went by Spock became legendary FOR WHAT? For not being the kind of guy who would want T'Pring, maybe.]

[NOTE: The only way T'Pring can legally divorce Spock is by arranging to have him killed by his would-be replacement. Harsh!]

T'Pring adds, "If your Captain were the victor he would not want me..."

[NOTE: GOOD LORD! How does she know that!? How does she know that Kirk a) WOULD agree to fight, but b) wouldn't want the bride he had thereby won if he were the victor? THINK ABOUT THAT. Obviously, Spock isn't the only one who has become a legend!]

"If you were the victor you would free me..."

[NOTE: How does she know that? And what about the executioner guy, isn't that why they keep him hanging deal with reluctant bridegrooms?]

Blah, blah, blah. Spock palms T'Pring off on Stonn and says goodbye to T'Pau.

[NOTE: He could have done that in the first place, if T'Pring had simply told the truth from the start.]

"Live long and prosper, Spock" T'Pau says.

"I shall do neither. I have killed my Captain and my friend."

[NOTE: Spock is stating flat out that he doesn't expect to live long. Well, no duh. He's not mating with anybody. He doesn't want T'Pring, he SURE AS HELL doesn't want Nurse Chapel, and Jim - the only person who really loved him, whom he really loved - is dead.]

Later, aboard ship, Spock tells McCoy he'll resign at once after ordering Mr. Scott to assume command.

[NOTE: Some people seem to think that Spock expects to be judged for the death as if it were a simple murder. This is nuts, and makes no damn sense whatsoever. Spock killed an opponent in lawful combat, plus he's an ambassador's son, and T'Pau's nephew. He's not going to jail. Preposterous. Naturally there will be some kind of inquiry, but Spock wouldn't be executed. When Spock says he doesn't expect to live long, we should assume he means that, since his mating drive remains unassuaged, that he's not long for this world.]

Spock (in sickbay) is next astounded by Kirk's reappearance, and he greets him joyfully. Spock is absolutely ecstatic that Kirk is alive. He calls him Jim, grabs him, swings him around, bathes him in the light of a great big grin, and in short, acts wildly emotional. Kirk BTW, eats it up. So much for being logical! It's now revealed that Kirk was actually simply stunned by the drug McCoy gave him. They chat a bit and Spock says, among other insane things, that Kirk seems uninjured. Look, we all saw him get injured, so we know that isn't true. Spock is clearly not in his right mind yet.

[NOTE: And why should he be? He hasn't mated yet! But something about the way Kirk streamlines the debriefing and exits with Spock tells us it won't be long.]

McCoy draws attention to the fact that Spock acts like he's all emotional about Kirk. He shows waaaay more excitement over Kirk than he ever did over T'Pring! It's not even subtle, dude! Spock offers some plausible-sounding bullshit, and McCoy basically calls it bullshit, which it is.

Then Kirk and Spock run off together (presumably to finish what T'Pring wouldn't). And that's the happy ending.

[NOTE: I kid you not! It honestly ends that way. Seriously! It's not only canon, it's ~official~ canon, folks.]

All site contents Copyright L. Goodwin 1990 - 2002

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