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Recap / Star Trek S2 E1 "Amok Time"

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"As it was in the dawn of our days, as it is today, as it will be for all tomorrows, I make my choice. This one."

Original air date: September 15, 1967

We start off with McCoy catching Kirk on his rounds to talk about how un-Vulcanlike Spock's been for the past couple of days. Kirk at first dismisses McCoy's worries as being nothing... until another ill-fated attempt by Nurse Chapel to gain his eye causes Spock to throw a temper tantrum (and a bowl of plomeek soup), catching everyone by surprise. Unfortunately, the green-blooded primadonna refuses to let in on what's causing his behavior, only demanding leave on his home planet.

Nothing doing, though; the Enterprise is on its way to represent the Federation at the crowning ceremony for the new ruler of Altair VI, which has been bumped up by a few days - nowhere near enough time for a detour to Vulcan. Spock, however, won't take "no" for an answer, and defies orders to head to Vulcan, anyway, forcing Kirk to order him to McCoy's for a checkup to see just what the hell is wrong with him.

It turns out that Spock has hit that time in his life where as a Vulcan, he needs to return home and mate. If he can't, the massively elevated levels of adrenaline and other hormones will kill him within a week. note  Kirk, sympathetic, tries to talk to Starfleet about a quick detour to Vulcan, but his refusal to go into Vulcan reproductive habits doesn't convince them. Kirk, having made his own assessment of the situation, decides they can do without the Enterprise for a bit and heads to Vulcan anyway.

Once at Vulcan, Spock introduces the crew to T'Pring, his wife-to-be, and offers an invitation to both Kirk and McCoy to the wedding ceremony. Arriving at Spock's ancestral home, they learn that T'Pau, the face of Vulcan, and the only person ever to decline a seat on the Federation council, is overseeing the proceedings. Then T'Pring throws a spanner in the works by invoking a rule allowing her to refuse her husband-to-be unless he proves his worth by fighting a champion of her choice — and she chooses Kirk. Although he is offered an opportunity to decline, since he's not a Vulcan and needn't be bound by Vulcan law, Kirk accepts, intending to either knock Spock out or find a way of taking a dive. It's only after he's accepted that anybody thinks to mention that the fight is — of course — to the death. A protracted fight scene between the two friends ends with Spock seemingly killing Kirk after McCoy gives him something to help fight in the more hostile environment of the planet.

With the shock of killing his best friend acting like a bucket of cold water on the horny Vulcan, Spock orders Kirk's body and McCoy back to the ship while he confronts T'Pring on her choice; turns out, T'Pring hated the idea of marrying for money and fame, and fell in love with a more obscurely-known Vulcan male named Stonn, and arranged everything so that, regardless of the outcome, she'd be able to stay with Stonn. Satisfied, Spock leaves T'Pring to her lover, warning him that wanting may be better than having, and returns to the Enterprise to turn himself in for murder.

But wait! Turns out, Kirk isn't dead! Yes, the substance McCoy gave him during the battle was actually some Applied Phlebotinum which allowed Kirk to simulate death. The episode ends with Spock barely catching himself from having a joygasm over Kirk's survival, and Kirk and McCoy having a good tease over it. Meanwhile, T'Pau covers for Kirk's shenanigans, saving him from another court martial.

Amok Tropes:

  • Accidental Hug/The Un-Hug: Overjoyed that Kirk wasn't Killed Off for Real, Spock grabs him by the arms... and quickly attempts to pretend he didn't when he notices that Chapel and McCoy are watching.
  • Act of True Love:
    • Kirk decides to defy orders regarding an important diplomatic function to save Spock, fully expecting that Starfleet will terminate his captaincy in response. He gets reprieved, of course, thanks to T'Pau. However, he didn't know that would happen when he made the decision.
    • In return, Spock humiliates himself in front of T'Pau, the woman Kirk referred to as "all of Vulcan wrapped up in one package", by begging her to keep Kirk out of the kal-i-fee. T'Pau throws it back in his face with a few insults about his humanness, and it still isn't enough to stop him. As much as he fears breaking the taboo against emotions in front of his people, he fears more that Kirk will die if he doesn't attempt to save him. He says "He does not know," meaning Kirk didn't know it was a fight to the death.
  • Arranged Marriage: Spock and T'Pring were betrothed as children.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all their sparring, McCoy proves that he and Spock truly are Vitriolic Best Buds; when Spock asks him to accompany him to the pon farr, McCoy calls Spock "sir" and simply states he would be honored, without any attendant snark.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: T'Pring isn't a villain per se, but she's nonetheless the instigator of the episode's conflict, and gets exactly what she wants. Though, it is possible that her invoking of an ancient, pre-Surakian custom would have made her a social pariah. Then again, the whole koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony is pre-Surakian, which is one reason it's so damned embarrassing.
  • Batman Gambit: T'Pring pulls one on Spock. Rather than choose her actual boyfriend as her champion in a duel to the death to dissolve the engagement, she chooses Kirk, reasoning (correctly) that whoever wins will be too upset about killing his best friend to go through with the wedding. Even when McCoy Takes A Third Option and both Kirk and Spock survive, she still gets her way.
  • Battle Bolas: The Vulcan weapon ahn-woon, consisting of a leather strip with weights at each end, is used to entangle the legs of a competitor in a Kal-if-fee battle.
  • The "Be Careful!" Speech: McCoy tells Kirk to "be careful" as he enters the second round against Spock.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Vulcans who have entered the blood fever are supposed to have sunk too far into madness to speak. To T'Pau's astonishment, Spock breaks this rule to plead for Kirk's life.
  • Big "NO!": McCoy shouts an utterly terrified "Spock! NO!!!" when a pon farr-riddled Spock comes this close to beheading his captain.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: T'Pring. Granted, being married to a guy who you haven't seen in years would be potentially trying, but Vulcans have come to expect it. She is willing to force a fight between two best friends, one of whom is completely ignorant of what she is asking and the other of whom possibly has no more control over the Arranged Marriage than she does.
  • Blade On A Stick: The lirpa is basically a quarterstaff with a semi-circular blade on one end and a bludgeoning weight on the other.
  • Blatant Lies: Spock's reaction at the end of the episode. He was not "on the verge of... an emotional display"; he was simply pleased that Starfleet had not lost one of its finest officers. McCoy lampshades how poorly the Vulcan's lies stand up. However, the doctor is polite enough to wait till Spock is on his way out of the room to complete the sentence, probably deciding that the poor guy has had enough for a day.
    McCoy: Of course, Mr. Spock, your reaction was quite logical. ...In a pig's eye!note 
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: Subverted. Kirk becomes exhausted while duelling the deranged Spock, and McCoy calls a time-out to inject him with something that will give him a fighting chance. A Techno Babble explanation is provided — it'll help Kirk use the oxygen in his blood more efficiently, since the atmosphere on Vulcan is thin by Earth standards. Of course, McCoy has actually slipped him a mickey, giving him a sedative that will simulate sudden death and make it appear that Spock has won the battle.
  • Bowdlerize: The German dub infamously completely changed the plot to remove all sexual references, as over there, they think Star Trek is a kids' show. As a result, the entire episode plays out as if the whole thing was All Just a Dream (Spock is ill with "Space fever", and the fight between him and Kirk is a hallucination), which is kind of a screw to the audience if you've ever seen the episode as it was in America. In the 90s, a correct dub of the episode was finally released.
  • Comfort Food: For Spock, plomeek (or plomik — script drafts differ) soup. (Nimoy seems to pronounce it "plomag".)
  • Continuity Nod: Chapel's attraction to Spock from "The Naked Time" is brought up again. Apparently she's been constantly trying to raise his interest ever since, much to Bones' amusement.
  • Cool Old Lady: T'Pau is an archetype. Few television shows ever have portrayed a woman of such advanced age (according to canon, she's 145, with Celia Lovsky herself being 70 at the time) in such an exalted position of power — aside from Queen Victoria or her descendants. You're looking at the gal who once told the Federation Council what they could do with their invitation, and who with a simple phone call to Starfleet Command saved Kirk from getting busted down to Spaceman Third Class for his hijacking of the Big E to take Spock home. All of Vulcan in one package.
  • Death Faked for You: McCoy gives Kirk a neural paralyzer to prevent an actual death.
  • Death World: Vulcan is quite inhospitable to humans, to the point that "hot as Vulcan" has become a common saying. McCoy brings this up when arguing for the right to give Kirk something to compensate.
  • Deus ex Machina: Kirk brought Spock to Vulcan against Starfleet orders to handle a time sensitive diplomatic event. Kirk mused once they arrived that he had better accompany Spock so he can more fully understand the event he sacrificed his career for. T'Pau is noted on her arrival that she is Famed in Story as the only person to refuse membership on the Federation Council. At the end it's mentioned that T'Pau pulled some strings claiming she personally requested them, absolving Kirk of the backlash he was facing with for half the episode.
  • Did Not See That Coming: T'Pring never mentioned McCoy when explaining her plan to Spock, and Spock invited him as a friend, not as backup. Nonetheless, he's single-handedly responsible for the episode's Happy Ending.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Not directed at Kirk himself, but on the verge of losing his sanity Spock practically begs T'Pau not to let the captain go through with the fight, as he does not want to kill his best friend.
  • Dutch Angle: Canted camera work appears soon after the three heroes arrive for the wedding, focusing on the Vulcans. It serves to show just how unbalanced Vulcans in pon farr become.
  • Easily Forgiven: In spite of Spock's attempt to hijack the ship and then murder him, Kirk is back to their regular relationship by the end of the episode. He's too fair-minded to blame his friend for a madness he fought as long as he could.
  • Engagement Challenge: Well, sort of. A Vulcan bride can make her husband-to-be fight a challenger to win her, a remnant of the past when Vulcan men fought each other for mates before the whole process became cloaked in ritual and tradition (and as much logic as possible when pon farr is involved). And it may be that the "property of the victor" clause is a consequence of invoking this ancient and little-used tradition. (This was how Ted Sturgeon had originally meant it; the woman would become chattel, with no other rights or status. That got left out of the final draft script.)
  • Exact Words: Spock attempts to use this on McCoy, saying that the Captain told him to "report to Sick Bay", and now that he has done so, he intends to leave. McCoy doesn't buy it, countering that he (obviously) has orders to give Spock a medical checkup.
  • Fantastic Racism: T'Pau isn't thrilled at Spock bringing two humans to a Vulcan wedding.
    T'Pau: Spock, are our ceremonies for outworlders?
    Spock: They are not "outworlders". They are my friends. I am permitted this.
    • On the other hand, when Kirk makes it clear that he and McCoy will stay with Spock to the end, T'Pau says, "Spock chose his friends well."
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Chapel encourages it with Spock, who actually goes with it. Though, to be fair, he is somewhat less than...completely logical at the point.
    • Spock calls Kirk by his first name upon seeing that he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Forgets to Eat: According to Kirk, one of Spock's habits when in "one of his contemplative phases" is not eating.
  • A Friend in Need: Kirk is patient with Spock's antics while in pon farr. Later, he sacrifices his command to save him (and almost sacrifices his life). His reason why? "He's my friend."
  • Friendship Moment: Spock's joy at seeing Kirk alive, breaking his usual Vulcan stoicism if even for a moment, shows just how much Jim means to him.
  • Grande Dame: T'Pau, a clan elder in Spock's family. T'Pau is a deeply commanding figure of respect with unquestioned authority. For instance, she makes sure Kirk does not get into trouble diverting to Vulcan to get Spock for the ceremony.
    Josh Marsfelder: Topping it all off is the mythically good performance of Austrian actor Celia Lovsky as T'Pau, “the only person to ever refuse a seat on the Federation council”. Lovsky has a black hole level of gravity and utterly owns every single scene she's in. She, more than anyone else in the production, completely throws herself at the ancient, ritualistic pageantry of the setting and sells every iota of it. When William Shatner-as-Kirk expresses has awe at being in her presence, we believe it.

    SF Debris Review: She's the only person who's ever turned down a seat in the Federation Council, she's that important, I mean, she is so important she is a TOS woman allowed to wear pants!
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Of the verbal variety. When Spock begs T'Pau to keep Kirk out of the combat, she responds, "It is said thy Vulcan blood is thin. Art thee Vulcan, or art thee human?"
  • Helping Another Save Face: "Amok Time" has Spock in the grip of blood fever during a bout of pon farr. Spock explains the situation to Kirk and McCoy, who both tell him that they'll never tell another soul about the private information he's divulged to them. This is especially poingnant for the Doctor, as he and Spock are Vitriolic Best Buds, and it would be easy for him to mock Spock over it, but he never does.
  • Heroic BSoD: Spock breaks after the koon-ut-kalifee, realizing he has killed his Captain. (Nimoy said later that "I shall do neither (live long or prosper). I have killed my Captain — and my friend" was his favorite line in the whole series. He was so overcome with emotion he could barely get the words out. It's a beloved line for fans, and not just among Slash Fic shippers.)
  • I Owe You My Life: Kirk says that Spock has saved his life a dozen times over when deciding to disobey orders.
  • Indy Ploy:
  • Instant Sedation: Not this time. It takes about two minutes for Bones' neural paralyzer to take effect, which makes sense as it needs to look like Kirk died in combat, not while taking a breather during halftime.
  • Karma Houdini: T'Pring. She essentially humiliates Spock by calling for the challenge, forces him to fight his best friend and captain to the death, and leaves Spock genuinely believing he murdered Kirk. And in the end she gets exactly what she wanted from the start.
  • Klingon Promotion: This episode implies Starfleet is open to it — Spock gets command of the Enterprise after Kirk's apparent death even though he's the one who killed him. McCoy is the one who brings it up, but Spock goes along with it, which means it's not a part of McCoy's bluff. Possibly there are some regulations obliging the ship's other officers (like third-in-command Scotty) to intervene in a Klingon Promotion situation, but the bluff ends before such details can come up.
    • Of course, since the entire duel was in accordance with Vulcan tradition and thus perfectly legal, there is a possibility that Spock can't be held responsible for Kirk's death. After all, considering Spock's mental condition at the time, Kirk was the only one of the pair who was legally responsible for his own actions, and he had agreed without coercion - in fact, almost everyone else (including Spock) had asked him not to do it.
  • Leave Me Alone!:
    • Spock snarls this when Uhura calls his quarters with a message, smashing the computer terminal while doing so.
    • Before that, he chases Nurse Chapel out of his quarters, hurling the soup she made for him against the wall. (That soup stain stayed on the bulkhead throughout the rest of the series. You saw it every time someone moved down that corridor.)
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: When Spock realises he's smiling and shuts down all expression, the swelling music grinds to a very awkward halt.
  • Living Legend: T'Pring uses almost those exact words when she tells Spock that he's too famous for her when explaining her rejection.
  • Manipulative Bitch: T'Pring.
  • Mate or Die: Bones speculates that this is the price Vulcans pay for keeping their emotions bottled up the rest of the time. Ultimately Subverted, however, as (seemingly) killing Kirk snaps Spock out of it. The dialog reveals that pon farr has a number of effects. Spock explains it in terms of natal homing. On Vulcan, Kirk says koon ut kal-if-fee is "marriage or challenge" because Vulcans once killed to win their mates. McCoy says "They still go mad at this time", indicating the involuntary loss of emotional control, not just a mating drive, is the "price".
  • Mating Season Mayhem: The episode shows Spock gradually losing his mind to the madness of pon farr while trying to keep the whole thing from his friends, as Vulcans find the whole experience mortifying. When Kirk finally gets him to confess in private, he invites the captain and McCoy to his wedding, only for it to go off the rails when the bride insists Spock fight to win her hand and picks Kirk as the other fighter. The results leave Spock devastated almost to the point of suicide before he finds out Kirk wasn't really dead.
  • Mindlink Mates: Spock had a mindlink (Sturgeon called it a marn tam, and it's different from a mind meld) placed in him as part of an Arranged Marriage when he was a child. This mindlink was suspiciously easily overcome. Ted Sturgeon's idea was that pon farr was related to natal homing and then fully relieved either by having sex or engaging in mortal combat. This would dissolve the mind link because it would no longer be needed. Spock is cured when he believes he has been in and won a fight to the death. In the novel The Vulcan Academy Murders, Spock reveals to his father Sarek that he'd attempted to reach T'Pring via this mindlink in order to try and quell his madness. However, he wasn't able to, and later realized that she'd rejected him so thoroughly that the link was all but gone anyway.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: While Stonn would presumably have thrown his all into the kal-if-fee, his girlfriend proves to be the far greater danger.
  • Morton's Fork: When Spock confronts T'Pring after killing Kirk, she explained that by selecting Kirk she kept Stonn out of harm's way while hoping Spock would release her from the marriage because she had "dared to challenge". Of the many possible outcomes, her worst case scenario was to still be wed to Spock but as he would be gone on Starfleet duties she would have ample opportunity to remain with Stonn. All other outcomes, including Spock's death and Kirk would naturally reject her, would allow her to safely be with Stonn anyway.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Spock, believing that he has murdered Kirk, loses his will to live. (An earlier script draft has Spock explaining via a Vulcan proverb, ahn een kai larth — without reason to live, there can be no will to live.)
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying Over You: Played with when Spock expresses his regret to McCoy for Kirk's (believed) death, and doesn't stop agonising over it until Kirk himself intervenes.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kirk.
  • Not So Stoic: A famous and happy example; when Spock sees Kirk alive and well, his normal emotionless demeanor drops as he grins and nearly hugs the captain while calling him by name.
  • Now You Tell Me: Kirk protests that T'Pau didn't mention the combat was mortal until after he'd agreed to it.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: The fight scene features a stunt double that looks nothing like William Shatner fighting an equally non-Leonard Nimoy-ish stuntman.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kirk, when he is in Spock's quarters and realizes that Spock has been holding a knife in his trembling hand for their entire conversation.
    • When Kirk realizes his fight with Spock is one to the death.
    • Spock's reaction when he realizes he's just been emotional in front of Kirk, Christine Chapel, and McCoy. Unlike the others, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Kirk, thanks to McCoy slipping him a mickey.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: As in, "life-and-death" serious. Spock loses his temper on a number of occasions and completely forgets about having changed course. Under normal circumstances he has immense self-control and an encyclopedic memory.
  • Pet the Dog: T'Pau comes across as cold and a touch xenophobic, but she declares that Spock made wise selections with regard to his friends and saves Kirk's career by sending a request to Starfleet for the Enterprise to go to Vulcan.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Spock begs T'Pau to block Kirk from the Kal-if-fee. She throws it back in his face with a few insults about his humanness.
    "Thee has the power, T'Pau... in the name of my fathers, forbid, forbid! I plead with thee. I beg...."
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Spock would literally rather die than have the problem explained to Starfleet Command. This is apparently true of all Vulcans at this point in history.
    • It's also possible that Kirk could've explained things to Komack in a way that would've gotten him permission to go to Vulcan without letting too much slip. Kirk even had his Chief Medical Officer's statement that Spock would die if he didn't return to Vulcan. He could have implied that it was an illness, but not bother to mention specifics to the Admiral.
      • This gets dissected and analyzed in a monumental Fan Fic series, Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Kraith. In the Kraith novel Federation Centennial, we learn that Vulcan has been trying for decades to get Starfleet to make a new regulation to grant home leave to Vulcans who request it, no questions asked. Many other Fan Fic stories cover this regard for Vulcan privacy and what can be done to address it respectfully.
    • Poor communication also almost killed Kirk in this episode. Would it have hurt T'Pau to tell him that the fight was a death match before he signed up? Maybe she assumed that, since Spock apparently trusts these two enough to bring them with him, they do know the details... Or maybe she just doesn't care either way.
    • The apparent lack of communication between Spock and T'Pring also nearly serves to kill Spock and leads to the combat between Spock and Kirk - one has to wonder about the logic of not informing your betrothed you don't wish to marry them until almost literally the last second before he succumbs to the pon farr, which WILL kill him if not consummated. Some of the Expanded Universe works and fanfics have this play out as T'Pring fully intending to murder Spock, for varying reasons.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Dear old DeForest Kelley as Dr McCoy in this second season opener. At last, the whole Power Trio is in the opening credits.
  • Property of Love: How Vulcan marriages seem to work for the wife, as shown when T'Pring invokes the ritual challenge. Though this could be because T'Pring has willingly chosen an older, way more barbaric ritual.
    T'Pau: Thee are prepared to become the property of the victor?
    T'Pring: I am prepared.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Vulcan's sky is scarlet when the Power Trio arrive for the wedding, almost as though foreshadowing what's going to happen. Cinematographer Gerry Finnerman is responsible for that; his use of color to evoke setting and mood on the show was already legendary, and he made sure that the Alien Sky of each planet reflected the nature of the inhabitants or what would happen there.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Chekov is introduced as already an established crew member, though there's some odd close-up camerawork and some friendly chitchat between them to make sure we know he's not just another one-off co-pilot for Sulu.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Upon returning to the Enterprise, Spock starts detailing his plans to leave Starfleet when Kirk suddenly walks in.
  • Repression Never Ends Well: Vulcans suffer from an intense mating drive, coupled with a total loss of control, every seven years. While this might appear to be just Bizarre Alien Biology, Dr. McCoy theorizes that the race pays for their complete repression the rest of the decade with this madness. Given that Romulans (Vulcans who split off from the planet when emotional repression became the norm) are never mentioned as suffering from pon farr, he may have a point.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When McCoy complains about how disadvantaged Kirk is in Vulcan's atmosphere, T'Pau dismissively says "The air is the air. What can be done?" She doesn't seem to expect McCoy to actually have a means to even the odds a bit and give Kirk a fighting chance, but she allows it.
  • Runaway Bride: T'Pring, in a way.
  • Say My Name: Spock cries "JIM!!!" for one of the only times in the series when he sees Kirk alive.
  • Series Continuity Error: T'Pau is shown to speak unaccented English in the prequel series. Kara Zedicker, who played young T'Pau, modeled herself closely on Celia Lovsky and said if they'd wanted her to speak with a similar accent she was ready.
  • Slipping a Mickey: McCoy gives Kirk a shot, saying that it would help Kirk breathe the thinner Vulcan air. He really gave Kirk a neural paralyzer that made it look like he was dead.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: As Spock is explaining how he's going to resign his commission and turn himself in for Kirk's murder, Kirk walks up behind him. Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel can't keep the grins off their faces.
  • The Talk: Spock is forced to explain Vulcan mating habits to Kirk partway through the episode.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Spock really doesn't appreciate Chapel's bowl of plomeek soup.
    Spock: What is this?! (Chapel rushes out of Spock's cabin as the bowl goes flying across the corridor) Poking and prying! If I want anything from you, I'll ask for it!
    Everyone else: ("WTF?" faces)
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Spock ends up with a horrified stare (inasmuch as a Vulcan can express it), clearly deep in Heroic BSoD and apparently about to commit suicide after 'killing' Kirk in his madness.
  • Through His Stomach: Christine Chapel shows her concern for Spock by bringing him some Vulcan food.
  • Too Important to Walk: T'Pau is carried to Spock's wedding in a sedan chair.
  • Understatement: After almost giving Kirk the biggest and most joyous Man Hug in the history of Star Trek, Spock quickly restrains himself and simply says "I' see you, Captain." Really? We would never have guessed.
  • Unwanted Spouse: T'Pring really doesn't want to marry Spock, and he doesn't want her either after she sets him and Kirk against each other..
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Spock’s warning to Stonn:
    "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."
  • Wedding Episode: It's supposed to be an episode about Spock's upcoming wedding, but T'Pring throws it Off the Rails.
  • When He Smiles: Spock has the biggest smile ever when he sees that Kirk isn't dead. Not that he'll admit it.
  • Woman Scorned: T'Pring and Spock were bonded at seven. They should have been mated at eighteen - that's right, T'Pring has been waiting twenty years for her wedding night - instead Spock humiliates her by putting off their consummation and, according to D.C. Fontana's novel Vulcan's Glory (which considering her Creator status should count at least as Word of Dante) tries to buy her off by announcing their marriage but paying the "bride price"note  until pon farr forces them to go through with it. Is it any wonder she wants him dead? [invoked]
  • Worldbuilding: Vulcans were already the most fleshed out alien species on Star Trek beforehand because of Spock, but this episode dives headfirst into their culture, practices and biology.
  • Worst Wedding Ever: Spock has to go through with a childhood betrothal to T'Pring. T'Pring does not love Spock, and uses the ancient Rite of Challenge to either kill Spock (so that she could be with her lover Stonn) or have Spock win (in which case he would either reject her and she could be with Stonn, or go through with the marriage and she would still be with Stonn because of Spock's career keeping him off-world). Spock didn't really love her either, but the scheme almost resulted in him killing Kirk, who had been invited along as the best man, leaving him traumatized and devastated.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Even if Kirk had refused the challenge, or Spock had won but still been willing to go through with marrying her, her husband's Starfleet position would mean that he'd be gone most of the time, leaving her free to have an affair with Stonn in his absence (of course, it is shown that Spock would probably have killed himself if Kirk had died in the duel, leaving her free to marry again, but she couldn't have known that); at a minimum, she's no worse off than she was to start with. Spock himself acknowledges the logic of her plan, even while personally repelled by it.
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: Writer Theodore Sturgeon apparently wanted to show that the Vulcan language, or at least an older form of it, had separate second-person singular and plural forms (as French does with "tu" and "vous"). They showed this by using the archaic second-person familiar pronoun "thee" for "you". But T'Pau and Spock, when they use these formal archaisms, used "thee" even when "thou" would have been the correct word.note  Even if Vulcan used the same word for both pronouns (as modern English does with "you"), the translator should have been programmed to recognize the difference between subjective and objective pronouns. As it was, formal Vulcan as rendered by Celia Lovsky and Leonard Nimoy sounded more like Quaker 'plain speech'. If thou art the subject of a sentence then the object of the sentence wouldst be thee. It also seems unlikely that "thee/thou" is the correct set of pronouns for the situation anyway - like the French "tu" it would only be used when talking to an inferior, a member of your family or a closer friend, so using it in a ritual like this would probably be highly inappropriate, at least when speaking to T'Pau. (Nowadays we tend to think of thou as the formal option since we only really hear it addressed to God in older hymns, but they're actually using the language of a child talking to their father.)
  • You Are in Command Now: A somewhat unusual example. Blood-fever-affected Spock apparently kills the captain. After coming to his senses, Spock finds himself in command, as noted by Dr. McCoy.
    McCoy: As strange as it may seem, Mister Spock, you're in command now. Any orders?
    Spock: Yes. I'll follow you up in a few minutes. You will instruct Mister Chekov to plot a course for the nearest Starbase where I must surrender myself to the authorities.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Probably the most famous time Spock has ever foregone Kirk's title for his first name. It would be hard to think of a situation that warranted it more.
    Spock: Captain... Jim!