Friday, May 29, 2009

Star Trek--"Amok Time"

By the end of the first season, Spock was becoming the break out character. He was the cool philosopher type the counter culture dug at the time versus the space cowboy Kirk. There are rumors the subtle rivalry between Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner was so tense, Shatner counted lines in new scripts to make certain he had more dialogue than Nimoy. One assumes, if the rumor is true, the pair must have greatly enjoyed the famous fight sequence in the climax of “Amok Time.”

This is the second script penned by science fiction great Theodore Sturgeon. I am pleased gene Roddenberry decided to hand over the duties of creating the Vulcan mythology to someone else period, much less someone as talented as sturgeon. "Amok Time" is the second , final, and best of his filmed scripts for TOS, earning a 1967 Hugo nomination.

Before I go into the meat of the review, understand I think one of the many detrimental effects on Trek inflicted by ENT was how it cheapened ’Amok Time.” I liked the idea the Vulcans kept their rituals to themselves. It did not strike me as odd in the slightest no one on the Enterprise knew what pon farr was. It is logical for Vulcans to have kept that sort of intimate process to themselves. With that in mind, it isa testament to the friendship Spock feels for Kirk that he revealed the truth to his captain. Of course, Kirk disobeys orders to save his friend because there are higher principles in play. But ENT made all sorts of revelations between humans and Vulcans a century beforehand, including marriage rituals. The continuity screw up is irksome.

On with the show. Kirk does risk his career by diverting theship towards Vulcan and Spock’s cosmic booty call. Surprisingly, the two wind up in ritual combat over the manipulative T’Pring, Spock’s betrothed who actually has the hots for another Vulcan. This is the first and only time a woman chooses Kirk without having any romantic interest in him. She runs a pretty big risk here. She is hoping if he wins, he will have no interest in her, but Kirk is a horny little devil who goes after androids and green skinned slave girls. Her logic might have proven flawed if not for McCoy’s quick thinking to fake Kirk’s death by Spock.

it was all an elaborate ruse by T’Pring to free herself up. Like I said above, she hoped Kirk would have no interest in her if he won and Spock would release her from marriage over the stigma of her having challenged the union. Well, the plan did eventually work. Spock lost all interest after he believed he had killed his captain, although raging hormones a few minutes previously had not given him pause about killing his friend. At least everyone got a happy ending, including Spock.

“amok Time” has been mercilessly parodied throughout pop culture, from Stargate SG-1 to Futurama to The Cable Guy and well beyond. The duel between Kirk and Spock is the most famous sequence in Trek history.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Now, because T‘Pau was a character featured in this episode and I really like the song, here is 1987‘s “Heart and Soul’ by one hit wonder T’Pau:

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