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Recap / Star Trek: The Animated Series S1 E2 "Yesteryear"

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"Shhhh, young me, don't try to make sense of all this."

While investigating the past through the Guardian Of Forever, Spock's past is accidentally changed so that he no longer exists as the Enterprise's first officer, and now he must go back to his own past to fix whatever happened in the past that changed everything.

This episode provides examples of

  • Continuity Snarl: Either the animator did not get the memo that Vulcan has no moon, or he just plain ignored it.
  • For Want of a Nail: Spock comes back through the Guardian a couple of steps behind Kirk and McCoy, and thus erases himself from history.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Spock in a blooper.
  • Friendless Background: This episode lets us see Spock having this. His agemates torment him endlessly for being "a Terran" and Sarek, who expects his son to act like a Vulcan, is disappointed by Spock reacting to their teasing.
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  • Grandfather Paradox: Spock in this episode saves his own life.
  • Kids Are Cruel: We get our first glimpse at Spock's childhood in this episode... and it's not pretty.
  • My Future Self and Me: Spock guides his seven-year-old self through a dangerous Vulcan rite of passage.
  • Never Say "Die": Actually averted. The computer explicitly states that Sarek's son died in childhood, and D.C. Fontana included the aspect of putting I-Chaya to sleep specifically to teach children that pets die and it's best to let them pass with dignity.
  • Portal to the Past: The Guardian Of Forever.
  • Ret Gone: Spock in this episode—rather he did exist, but died in childhood.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Only Spock and Kirk remember the original timeline.
  • Rite of Passage: The Vulcan's kahs-wan.
  • Sequel Episode: To "The City On The Edge Of Forever".
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  • Shoot the Dog: I-Chaya is stung by a venomous animal. The vet gives young Spock the option of saving him but forcing him to live with constant pain, or euthanizing him. Spock chooses the latter.
  • Stable Time Loop: Spock mentions the "cousin" who helped him survive the desert. There is a difference, however—in his present memories, his pet sehlat did not die.
  • Temporal Paradox: If Spock hadn't survived to adulthood, he couldn't have protected his younger self from an early death.
  • The Time Traveller's Dilemma:
    • We certainly hope Thelin the Andorian got a comparably good job in the rewritten timeline. At least he accepts his fate bravely and Spock wished him a long and prosperous life in whatever circumstances he would be placed in. (Like most Trek time travel, it's unclear whether or not he got to stick around in a divergent timeline.)
    • Spock posed as a distant relative when interacting with Sarek and Amanda from the past. Yet he didn't bother to disguise his appearance or voice. Shouldn't his parents remember this man and recall his exact resemblance to their now adult son? Possibly not, if there is a consistency to how the Guardian works. In City On The Edge Of Forever, the Guardian assured that if the proper timeline was restored, "it will be as though none of you had gone".

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