Monday, June 9, 2014

Character Insight No. 100: Spock

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, we celebrate 100 segments by giving the most iconic character in Star Trek lore the first repeat appearance on this segment. That character being Spock, of course. 

"Live Long and Prosper"

  Spock, 2293
(Who would've guessed this would only be halfway along the journey of five decades for Leonard Nimoy Trek appearances?)

Today this segment will focus on Spock of the TOS movies because this is where the character really takes a different slant, and also because the movies are a current focus of this segment with the best villains series. The movies are where the dual culture of Spock really comes out in full force, as he swings between seeming fully Vulcan and strong moments revealing humanity as well.

When we first see Spock in the movies, he has just aborted a kolinahr ritual he had chosen to remove the displays of emotion he was prone to during the five-year mission. However, the V'Ger mission drew him back in, and while he was more steadfastly emotionless and Vulcan at this point, he realized the benefits of staying the way he was for the benefit of his friends on the Enterprise and in Starfleet.

Spock then becomes a Captain and trains academy students on the Enterprise before being drawn back in as Kirk's first officer for the missions against Khan and the Whale Probe.  Between those two encounters, Spock is resurrected by rejoining his Vulcan soul or katra with his body, which was regenerated by the Genesis planet, and this leaves him acting more Vulcan and emotionless over much of the remaining TOS movies.  It is interesting that Spock retires with the rank of Captain and as an ambassador rather than as a flag rank like Admiral, which is different than his close friends Kirk and Bones.

Although Spock was always there for Kirk and his crew when needed (QOTW: "I Have Been, and Will Always Be, Your Friend"), he follows his own path to build an even more unique officer and character in the movies. That unique character development such as his ambassador role leads to many natural storyline tie-ins that led to his appearances on TNG, plotlines on Voyager, and his re-appearance in the JJ Abrams reboot movies also.

In my opinion, Star Trek is not a success and does not exist today without the great work of Nimoy on this character. For example, the TOS crew likely does not do over four more movies post-The Wrath of Khan, had Nimoy not agreed to come back. Spock is the lynchpin of diversity and science fiction that makes this franchise memorable and important in the cultural pantheon.

Leonard Nimoy played Spock, and he will lend his voice talent to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III game, for those interested in his most recent work. Did you know he, like Shatner, also tried to have a singing career? Check out this gem from a few decades ago: (Insert "Bilbo Baggins" chorus)

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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