Saturday, May 10, 2008

Nose-Talgia: Running Amok for Star Trek

Arguably, "Amok Time" is the best Star Trek episode ever created. I know this area is highly subjective and personal and will be prepared to accept heated dissent from hard core Trekkies, techies, nerds and assorted mouth breathers for why THEIR favorite episode of Star Trek is better. Here are my reasons to support "Amok Time":

In "Amok Time", Spock undergoes a biological change that causes him to become somewhat unhinged. In short, he is "in heat". On Vulcan, they call that "Pon Farr", and for Spock that means trouble. Every 7 years, Vulcans must return to their home planet to mate. Sort of like salmon going back to their stream to spawn. I was 11 years old when I first watched this Star Trek episode, and it helped contribute to my vast confusion and ignorance about all things related to sex education.

When Kirk finds out that Spock will actually die if he doesn't return, he diverts the Enterprise from its course and off they all go for a little Vulcan R&R. And from that excursion, we get the following unforgettable Star Trek moments.

#5 Reason for loving "Amok Time": We get to see the planet Vulcan and its culture. And what a weird, warlike tribal culture it is. It's hot on Vulcan. And the sky is red. The Star Trek set creators really did an excellent job creating an alien ambiance. One immediately sensed that "Dorothy wasn't in Kansas anymore", and neither were Kirk and crew.

#4 Reason for loving "Amok Time": T'Pring, Spock's intended wife and T'Pau, the powerful female leader of the whole planet. First of all, Huzzah for making Vulcan a matriarchal society. Second, I flip every time I hear the wonderful (almost Yiddish) sounding accent of the actress Celia Lovsky who plays T'Pau. When she sees that Spock has brought crew members to the ceremony on Vulcan, she raises one fabulous eyebrow and says, " dis cedemony for outvorlda's?" T'Pring is also perfectly cast as Spock's emotionless, beautiful and flawlessly logical betrothed.

#3 Reason for loving "Amok Time": The fantastic fight scene between Kirk and Spock, which I'm posting below. Spock must fight to the death the opponent chosen by T'Pring. When she choses Kirk, Spock has no choice but to comply. The fight itself is perfectly choreographed and tremendously exciting. You can practically feel the hot breath of the combatants. Why do the technologically advanced Vulcans still fight with Medieval weapons like swords and hatchets? Don't know, don't care. This fight to the death is still exciting to watch, even though we all know the outcome.

#2 Reason: Early on in the episode we get to see Spock spin out of control in anger, as his Vulcan hormones get a grip on him. When he smashes his computer with his bare hands, it is shocking and strangely erotic.

#1 Reason: The ending of course. Spock returns to the Enterprise to be arrested. He thinks he has killed Captain Kirk in the Amok battle and is devastated because he has lost his best friend. Well thanks to that wiley Dr. McCoy, Kirk wasn't dead at all, just in a little drug induced coma. Kirk walks onto the Enterprise fit as a fiddle, and Spock, overcome with joy yells "Jim!". And then he smiles. When Spock smiles, we all have to stand and salute.

Here is a little taste of the fight scene. Wonderful!


Scott said...

Jane, an excellent case for why this episode is tops. Well done. I thought about adding this to my list, and if I did I would probably take out "The Corbomite Maneuvre," since that was probably a nose-talgic reflext, not really a better episode. Am glad I'm not the only one who saw a bit of Jewish Mother in Vulcan's leader! I've always thought that!

Lisa said...

How could I not also think this is the #1 Trek episode? It's got everything -- mysterious reproductive biology, Christine Chapel making plomik soup for Spock, Spock watching the Vulcan equivalent of child porn as he gazes as an underage T'Pring on his computer screen, the completely iconic and amazing music score (especially the fight theme which was used in a pretty funny take-off in Jim Carrey's "The Cable Guy" and in a hilarious episode of Chris Elliot's "Get a Life") and of course the great Celia Lovsky. I did a post about her on another blog where her "Star Trek" role was of prime importance, of course:

"Amok Time" shows off everything that makes Star Trek the best show ever! Great post, Jane!