This is a great episode for Spock fans, because Spock is the star of the episode, and at the center of all the action. Even more delightful, Spock acts like a steely, logical, buttoned-up, _proper_ Vulcan the whole time.
This is especially remarkable, since Spock is relentlessly bedeviled by Dr. McCoy through the whole misadventure. Normally McCoy can get a rise out of Spock, but NOT TODAY.
This is not a good episode for McCoy fans. The relationship between Spock and McCoy is spotlighted, and it clearly is not a happy relationship. McCoy is nasty, cruel and unsupportive to Spock, pretty much through the whole thing. His bare-knuckled ugliness is not only painful to watch, but it's clearly unjustified and utterly unprofessional, to boot.
McCoy has never been harder on Spock, but strangely, Spock's never stayed cooler. This is remarkable, and demands examination.
As we saw in Journey to Babel and other episodes, Spock is a paradoxical creature. He's never more logical and relentlessly unemotional than when he is using his Vulcan mental disciplines to cope with huge emotional stresses. We've rarely seen Spock so stone-faced and mechanical as we do in this episode. Anyone who knows Spock well knows that he gets like that when he's coping with a horrendous emotional blow or strain.
What blow or strain? Well, what's the whole episode about? Spock and Kirk are separated. Kirk's life is in danger. Spock risks absolutely everything, tries absolutely everything, and almost loses everything, including the crew and ship - because he adamantly refuses to give up on Jim. Even after he has formally declared Jim to be dead, he refuses to give up and leave without him. That, my friends, is not logical - and McCoy tries to draw our attention to the fact that it's not logical, several times.
Spock's behaving logically, but he's not motivated by logic. Obviously he's motivated by love for Jim. His love for Jim, his desire to try anything, everything, in a wildly improbable attempt to rescue Jim - even if it costs everything... is nothing new. This insane, obsessive degree of devotion is a hallmark and linchpin of the Kirk/Spock relationship.
There is no heterosexual "romance" for even a second in this episode, nevertheless it is a fiercely romantic episode. Spock spends the entire episode obsessing about Jim Kirk: trying to save Jim's life, trying to be reunited with Jim. Blah, blah, blah alternate universes. Blah, blah, blah Tholians threaten the ship.
Boy visits derelict ship with boy, boy and boy are separated by bizarre circumstances, boy moves heaven and earth to get boy back, even long after it seems logical to try - that's basically the plot. Boy gets boy back... that's the happy ending.
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