Amok Time

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"Amok Time" is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episode #34, and first broadcast on September 15, 1967. It was repeated April 26, 1968. This was the first episode of the second season, and the first to air after the series moved to Friday nights at 8:30pm. It was written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, and directed by Joseph Pevney.

Quick Overview: Mr. Spock returns to his homeworld for a brutal Vulcan marriage ritual.

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On stardate 3372.7, Mr. Spock, first officer of the starship USS Enterprise, requests an abrupt leave of absence to his home planet of Vulcan after displaying several days of irrational behavior. Dr. McCoy witnesses one of Spock's outbursts, including the throwing of a bowl of Vulcan Plomeek soup specially prepared for him by Nurse Chapel, and agrees Spock needs some "time off".

Captain Kirk is baffled by the strange behavior, but honors Spock's request and diverts the Enterprise to Vulcan. Soon however, Kirk receives a priority signal with orders to proceed to Altair VI to represent the Federation at a coronation ceremony for the planet's new monarch. Kirk tells Spock his leave will have to be delayed. As soon as Kirk leaves the bridge, Spock orders a course change back to Vulcan.

When Kirk discovers Spock's violation of a direct order, he has him confined to sickbay for a full examination. Once there, Dr. McCoy discovers Spock's blood chemistry is extremely active and has the presence of unknown hormones. If the condition persists, Spock may die in eight days from the physical and psychological stress. Spock does not wish to discuss what is currently affecting him, but Kirk demands an explanation.

Seemingly embarrassed, Spock informs that his condition is called Pon farr, a very personal biological syndrome that all Vulcan males painfully endure every seven years of their adult life. During this time they must seek out a Vulcan mate. Spock compares his need to return to Vulcan to the need for eel birds of Regulus to return every eleven years to the caverns where they hatched, and also to salmon of Earth who must return to the stream where they were born in order to spawn. Kirk gets the idea that it is essentially Spock's mating season.

Kirk contacts Admiral Komack at Starfleet Command Sector 9, and requests permission to divert to Vulcan. The Admiral denies permission, but Kirk ignores the order, arguing there are already three other starships attending the Altair VI ceremony. In the meantime Spock has another outburst, where he smashes a display screen when Lt. Uhura tries to contact him. Spock seems to calm down once he learns Kirk is doing what he can.

The Enterprise finally arrives at Vulcan, and Spock invites Kirk and Dr. McCoy to accompany him to the surface. Once there, Kirk comments on Vulcan's extremely harsh environment and its thinner than Earth's atmosphere.

Spock explains to them that Vulcans are married as children with the understanding that they will fulfill this commitment when they become adults. His bride T'Pring, who was betrothed to him at the age of 7, awaits him. He must enter Kunat kalifee, the Vulcan marriage ceremony.

T'Pau, a highly respected member of Vulcan society, and best known as the only person to ever turn down a seat in the Federation Council, will conduct the ceremony. Kirk is let off the hook for disobeying orders when Starfleet retroactively grants permission to divert to Vulcan at the T'Pau's request.

T'Pring announces that she would rather marry Stonn, a pure-blooded Vulcan, and evokes her customary right to a physical challenge between Spock and Stonn. But instead, she picks Kirk to be her challenger to fight Spock. After learning that another champion will be chosen if Kirk declines the challenge, Kirk accepts battle with Spock, but he doesn't realize that the fight is to the death.

The duel pains Spock, but both accept the challenge. Regardless of Spock's condition, he displays superior strength and agility. Kirk on the other hand is weakened by Vulcan's thinner atmosphere and must struggle harder against Spock's strength. McCoy objects to the combat telling T'Pau that Kirk is seriously disadvantaged, and suggests he inject Kirk with a tri-ox compound to compensate. T'Pau allows the injection, but McCoy actually injects the Captain with a neuroparalyzer drug that will simulate death. The combat continues and Spock slams Kirk down, to which the Captain simply drops "dead". McCoy pronounces the Captain dead and has his body quickly beamed back to the Enterprise.

With the battle over, Spock now realizes his urge to marry T'Pring cost the life of his Captain. He gives up his claim on her and sadly returns to the ship. Upon his arrival however, he finds his Captain alive and well and exerts an overjoyed smile (unusual for a normally emotionless Vulcan). McCoy and Kirk then explain their ruse to Spock, and Spock explains T'Pring knew Kirk would have a disadvantage and chose him to guarantee her marriage to Stonn, and that is a woman he doesn't wish to marry.

Trivia

  • T'Pau would be referenced in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation by way of a starship bearing her name. She would appear on the holodeck in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Darkling". The character herself would appear decades later in the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Awakening" and "Kir'Shara". Since these episodes take place more than a century before "Amok Time" the character is portrayed as a young woman, and by a different actress (Kara Zediker).
  • This episode marks the first time that a Starfleet Admiral appears in a Star Trek production. The Admiral in the episode was known as "Admiral Komack".

External links