Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Spock Amok
June 2, 2022 7:00 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Shore leave! A time and a place for the crew to take some time off and relax, enjoy their hobbies, meet up with the important people in their lives, and recuperate from recent trauma; certainly not necessarily the occasion for... hijinks.

Memory Alpha is where fun goes to die:

- Kepler-22b is a real exoplanet, and the first discovered that's in the habitable zone of its solar system (where water, if it exists on the planet's surface, would be liquid).

- Chapel apparently had a past date with a "gal on Argelius II"; that's the planet from TOS' "Wolf in the Fold", and a gal, huh? Happy Pride month!

- Pike's green wrap-around tunic is similar to one worn by Kirk in TOS, which started a bit of a tradition for captains to have the option of wearing a distinct uniform variant.

- There's a Vulcan lyre hanging on the wall of Spock's cabin; he doesn't play it in this episode, but he can, and, this being Trek, people have made their own IRL.

Poster's Log:

This is, of course, hardly the first Trek episode to indulge in hijinks, and not even the first to do so during shore leave, but, unlike, say, ENT's "Two Days and Two Nights", this went unexpectedly deep in a lot of places, although it's still a lot of fun. Una being known as "where fun goes to die" reflects on her characterization in "The Cage" as being super-serious and logical (when the first pilot was rejected, Gene Roddenberry essentially took her characterization and grafted it onto Spock, who was less so in that pilot), and having her team up with La'an to do Enterprise Bingo (the concept and execution of which I love, and I'm even glad that they didn't enumerate the entire list, as it leaves it open to be a running joke) was inspired. The body switch also has precedent, in TOS' "Turnabout Intruder", but, unlike that awful episode (unfortunately, TOS' last), this again had some amazing resonance with the characters. And they're actually developing the thing between Chapel and Spock, instead of just having it be an unrequited crush.

Couple of minor quibbles: although I get the purpose in the plot of the nice cop/tough cop routine, police interrogation just isn't as funny as it used to be (if it ever was). And, maybe it's just me, but I'm wondering how we get from this T'Pring, who I like a lot, to the one in TOS' "Amok Time."
posted by Halloween Jack (53 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Overall, a fun episode, but the phaser bit of “Enterprise bingo” violated the first rule of good science fiction: You can have whatever magical tech you want, but the tech has to be *used* in basically reasonable ways. And I just can’t imagine “let’s shoot one another with phasers” being something sensible humans would do. Too easy to leave the phaser on a fatal setting by accident. For that matter, it isn’t as if people on the Enterprise are carrying phasers as a matter of routine. Who’s issuing these to the bingo-players? And shouldn’t a phaser discharge set off all sorts of alarms on the ship, if it wasn’t previously scheduled?

Una and La’an might laugh at other bits of Enterprise Bingo, but they should be coming down like a ton of bricks on the phaser game. As in, formal investigations, charges, and possible court-martial.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 10:41 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


I am struggling to remember the last time a live-action episode of Trek was this much fun. Hijinks abounded! Multiple plot threads all vibrated on empathic resonance - Spock and T'Pring being hit with the Point of View gun, the R'ongovian negotiations where Pike Uses Diplomacy, Una and La'an seeking an understanding of the lower decks, even Dr. M'Benga casting in slow motion gave me a deep sense of what makes him tick.

Superb television. Just delightful.

One pressing question though... Chief Kyle is mean?!
posted by Molesome at 10:43 AM on June 2 [15 favorites]


Any episode that starts with hot Spock on Spock action gets a thumbs up from me.
posted by Catblack at 12:32 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


I thought this was gonna be the first clunker of the series, mainly because I don't like Spock very much. I thought it was all getting increasingly silly before I realised that it was not taking the silly vulcanness very seriously either and then I was in to it and I thought it was great.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:25 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


I love this series—the acting, the writing, the SFX, but there's one thing that's been bothering me.

That's right, Vulcan sexytimes.

I thought they only had sex once every seven years during Pon Farr. Of course, there are lots of ways you could explain this new Vulcan-on-Vulcan action (maybe they have sex whenever but can only conceive during Pon Farr). But then I think of Spock's mother. In TOS they talked a number of times about how difficult it was for her to adapt to an emotionally distant husband (and son). I always thought that meant only light hand touching for 6.9 years. Has Amanda Grayson been shortchanged?
posted by PlusDistance at 1:41 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


I really liked this -- it's the kind of episode that has the potential to be really terrible, but they made it fun and crammed in lots of characterisation.
posted by confluency at 1:42 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Good chemistry between Chapel and Spock.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:13 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the old school music during the dream sequence.
posted by Quonab at 2:25 PM on June 2 [16 favorites]


Hijinks abounded!

“This is coming dangerously close to hijinks.”

“Hey, who doesn’t love hijinks?”

Good chemistry between Chapel and Spock.

In whichever body his consciousness is currently occupying. Gia Sandhu becomes the first woman to play Spock (at least, the first to make it off the cutting-room floor; Jenna Vaughn played an infant Spock in a deleted scene in the 2009 movie) and I think the tenth performer overall onscreen — this tally does not include some voice work in TAS and some Star Trek III screams by Frank Welker the Inevitable.

I found it a little shaggy dog-esque but it is still refreshing after the self-seriousness of Discovery saving the universe once per season. I am a little dubious about the “oh, by the way, we have a forcefield that allows us to walk on the hull in our shirtsleeves” which might have been useful at some point in the following nine centuries of stories but whatevs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:35 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]


I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the old school music during the dream sequence.

Hey, I hear that music (and often song that music) whenever I see hand-to-hand combat.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:36 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]


I thought they only had sex once every seven years during Pon Farr. Of course, there are lots of ways you could explain this new Vulcan-on-Vulcan action (maybe they have sex whenever but can only conceive during Pon Farr). But then I think of Spock's mother. In TOS they talked a number of times about how difficult it was for her to adapt to an emotionally distant husband (and son).

It’s never been said that pon farr is the only time Vulcans can have sex, and the writer of “Amok Time”, DC Fontana, said as much in interviews over the years.

I’m not sure what being married to someone emotionally distant has to do with sex. Vulcans don’t believe in PDA, that’s not the same thing as never doing anything but face-touching.
posted by rhymedirective at 2:58 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


This was a joy. Hilarious in parts but also good character fun along the way without trying to turn the whole thing into a sitcom. The Spock/T'pring stuff was well performed but also dug nicely into their relationship and their fears. And the show continues to look stunning. That meeting room on Star Base 1 with the Enterprise out the window was incredible. I love this show.

These were the five episodes sent out for review before the series started and so I knew the basic premise of each episode weeks ago. No idea of what to expect next.
posted by crossoverman at 3:45 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


The first five episodes this season have given us a little bit of everything I love about Star Trek. There’s character stories, there’s goofy Sci-fi plots, there’s cool space combat, there’s comedy, and even some queerness. SNW truly is everything I love about Trek thrown into a blender and made into the most delicious smoothie. Cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
posted by SansPoint at 7:06 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


I agree with the assessment that this episode could have gone over like a lead balloon, but it really succeeded as a breather from the last couple of action-packed, danger-filled episodes.

As much as I adore Anson Mount as Pike, my current favorite character is Jess Bush's Chapel. So much from her this week. Everybody else is playing tongue--in-cheek, and she is obviously running away from something in her life (Will it be Robert Korby or someone/something else?). but also falling in love with Spock.

Glad to see Robert April again. LOVED Spock's mention of Ichaiya, his sehlat. Both of thee have implications for the canonicity of TAS (one for, one against). The whole opening scene was perfect. Gia Sandhu is marvelous. I hope Ortegas gets her own focus episode soon, she's really the only one who hasn't gotten much to do beyond making snarky remarks.
posted by briank at 7:25 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


The retro music and the retro props (esp. the sandstone landscape) in Spock's opening dream sequence was indeed charming.

Seems a little early for a hijinks episode, but this is a well executed shortcut to character building for a handful of characters.
posted by porpoise at 8:21 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Spock Amok Freaky F'Riday!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:35 PM on June 2 [15 favorites]


A fifteen-minute cold open has to be a record for Trek, and pretty high up there for television shows in general. I checked out a couple of TOS episodes for comparison: fifteen minutes into “Space Seed,” Khan is up and about and scheming; fifteen minutes into “City on the Edge of Forever,” Kirk and Spock are in 1930 New York and looking for disguises.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:48 PM on June 2


HIJINKS👏ARE 👏 THE 👏 ONLY 👏 LOGICAL 👏 OPTION
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:20 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


gawd I loved this episode though — the solar sail somehow manages to look just like a deliberate throwback to DS9-era CGI, yet somehow without looking cheap or aged
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:42 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


I'm really glad they brought back Spock's enjoyment of teasing humans. I have sorely missed that.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:15 AM on June 3 [16 favorites]


briank: There's a poster on /r/DaystromInstitute who takes an interesting approach to Trek canon: the stories and characters are canonical, but the visuals are not. I like that approach. It just happens that the way Robert April was shown in TAS isn't canon, but the TAS stories and characters are canon.
posted by SansPoint at 6:17 AM on June 3 [11 favorites]


The music continues to be the only sour note (ha!) in this series for me, and it was especially obvious this episode: somebody apparently didn't get Jeff Russo & the music team the memo that this episode was mostly light and goofy. The overly-serious scoring was a complete mismatch to the tone of the episode, and made it hard to view as mostly fun.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the old school music during the dream sequence.

To my ears, this has been the only musically interesting thing that's happened in the show so far. I seem to be the only person that the utter mediocrity of the music is bothering, but it really undermines the immersive effectiveness of any given episode for me. (But this is typical of so many shows/movies now, the expanded universes and inter-connected storylines have made the music unbearably generic and dumb. The most recent episode of Obi-Wan--a Star Wars show!--had lousy music, too.)
posted by LooseFilter at 6:53 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I loved hearing the fight music motif, as well as a bit of the TOS title motif in the title sequence, but generally it's been mediocre. But that's a challenging job.

The character trait emphasized in Chapel that she's commitment-shy provides a huge amount of insight into her attraction to Spock. Talk about unavailable! He's engaged and a half-vulcan!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:08 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Jeff Russo & the music team the memo that this episode was mostly light and goofy. The overly-serious scoring was a complete mismatch to the tone of the episode,

Thats funny because I was watching it like "I can't believe they pulled the "tee hee hee it's now broad comedy" music from TOS out of storage for this".

I really like this characterization of Spock. I liked how we got to know him first in Discovery. (Which, btw, was a different show doing it's own thing, just like every Star Trek show, every show has its own style & that was Discovery's style. I don't understand why everyone judges it for not doing something it wasn't trying to do. It was just being itself, and I enjoyed it for that.)

I especially enjoyed the low-key hijinks & how the actors utterly convinced me that they had switched bodies through the slightest changes in their faces & demeanors.

Another thing I've been enjoying that may or may not be real but all of these new trek shows remind me of things that happened in Futurama and that amuses me because it's like Trek influenced Futurama which is now influencing Trek which will probably go on to influence more Futurama. It amuses me.
posted by bleep at 9:56 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


it's like Trek influenced Futurama which is now influencing Trek which will probably go on to influence more Futurama

(Brings to mind Everything is a Remix)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:00 AM on June 3


Upset that Chapel's story hasn't mentioned Roger Korby yet? Akiva Goldsman says "Stand by".
posted by hanov3r at 2:28 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah the music early on had that sort of “it’s time for goofy hijinks” feel that made me think of, like, early MCU stuff, and as soon as I realized it was because this was going to be a deliberately fun episode, I was absolutely sold. This is an episode of TV that understands that “filler episodes” were the most fun, and the main source of characterization.

Fly fishing!
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:06 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Going into this now. But if you name something like "Spock Amok" and then not have part of the episode with him in a flower hat and a pennant coming out of his waist with a screw and a ball on it? That's false advertising.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:51 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I must admit, I was really expecting the aliens the Federation was negotiating with to be some kind of empaths who had the ability pick up on the emotions and intent of others and reflect them back. I even considered whether some kind of empathic/telepathic illness (or natural influence), like the one Lwaxana Troi (and Sarek know that I think about it) had was the reason why the soul swap went sideways and got stuck.

I'm sure this is explained in the canon somewhere but if there was a sail ship in existence at the time of the Enterprise why was Sisko so insistent on recreating one and "proving" they were possible. It seems the evidence is right there, so even if Sisko recreated a much earlier ship, its plausibility should have never been in doubt because the Federation has records of this sail ship being a reality.
posted by sardonyx at 7:57 PM on June 3


Loved the way Number One signed the scorch:

Una Chin-Riley #1
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:28 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


sardonyx, I think that the point of Sisko making the ship--aside from spending more time with Jake--was to see if they could reproduce some of the voyages of the ancient Bajorans. Whether or not the R'ongovians used tachyon eddies to hit warp speeds, as the Siskos did, or if the R'ongovians had a warp engine in addition to the solar sails (the way that some sailing ships today have a supplementary engine to avoid getting stuck in the doldrums), is something that they didn't get into.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:31 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Loved the way Number One signed the scorch:

Una Chin-Riley #1


Don’t blame me; I voted Quidnunc Kid.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:55 AM on June 4 [11 favorites]


There are so many great characters in this series, and this episode did a great job of giving us a little more insight into a whole bunch of them. Number One is where fun goes to die. Nurse Chapel has commitment issues but likes to have fun (with men and women). The doctor doesn't mind being a goofball; until he does. Chapel and Spock are connecting more and more. T'Pring looks like she'll be a somewhat semi-regular.

Plus, it was a relief to make it through an episode where the only phaser shot was fired as part of a game.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:11 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


This felt like one of the lighter, goofier, more ensemble-y Voyager episodes, and I mean that as a compliment. (In fact, VOY pulled off a more convincing body-swap outing, performances-wise, in season seven's "Body and Soul," but they had the advantage of the two swapped actors having worked together for years at that point.)

Nice to see L'a'a'n' seeming to enjoy life for a few moments. She was in danger of becoming one-note. And Ortegas definitely needs a spotlight soon.

It took me a few minutes to convince myself that the lead alien dude wasn't Armin Shimerman.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:46 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]


It took me a few minutes to convince myself that the lead alien dude wasn't Armin Shimerman. Yes! That was uncanny!

Favorite line of the episode (out of many really good lines): "Surely you could tell the difference by our vastly different mannerisms?" (Spock has clasped his hands in front instead of behind, and T'Pring the opposite, but that's really about it).

Early on, had a Lower Decks moment: T'Pring looks at Spock and calmly says something like "I will wait here until your return." I could not resist doing a Vulcan captain's "T'Pring, restrain yourself. These emotional outbursts help no one."
posted by Mogur at 6:57 AM on June 4 [13 favorites]


It's remarkable how quickly this show has found its tone and characters. And how different it is from Discovery and Picard. The simple explanation is "they decided to copy TOS" and while I think that's the main brief, it definitely feels like a contemporary show too. Pike was more Shatner-like than ever here but also felt more like a thoughtful human being and less like a dumb macho dude. It's Spock who really leads here, and while that's obviously the writing I also think Peck is really just a terrific actor for this role.

I love the fighting pit dream and of course the iconic music but I'm a little surprised they used that up for a quick dream scene this episode. I woulda saved that for a whole episode that was a remake of Amok Time (with a twist, of course). That's one of the best episodes of TOS I think, particularly the Kirk/Spock tension.

Nurse Chapel is also a delight.

And good lord but if you swapped bodies with your lover isn't the very first thing you'd want to do is have sex? Maybe Vulcans are just more familiar with the idea of swapping katras, seeing as how they have all these rituals and a whole medical procedure for it and all.
posted by Nelson at 7:18 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]


I remember hearing about one actor (maybe Mark Lenard) who couldn't do the Vulcan greeting, so he had to pry his fingers apart with his other hand and then, with the v already formed raise his hand into the view of the camera. In the dream sequence, it seems like the actor who plays Spock (sorry, I don't know any of the actors' names yet besides Rebecca Romijn and that's only because of her past roles) pulled the same trick: raising his hand up into the shot while his fingers were already in place.

I don't know if that was just an odd shot with some strange editing or if the actor finds the action of separating his third and fourth finger similarly challenging and has to compensate.
posted by sardonyx at 10:08 AM on June 4


Zachary Quinto cannot do the Vulcan Salute. In the first film, when he meets Old Spock, his hand are behind his back because his fingers are glued together two by two to allow him to do the salute at the end of the scene
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 3:44 PM on June 4


I remember hearing about one actor (maybe Mark Lenard) who couldn't do the Vulcan greeting…

As I recall, it was Celia Lovsky, playing T'Pau in Amok Time.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:18 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I lost some respect for Admiral April's character when he questioned Captain Pike's diplomatic strategy in front of the R'ongovians.
posted by fairmettle at 9:17 PM on June 4


why was Sisko so insistent on recreating one and "proving" they were possible

He wasn't working to prove solar sail ships are possible, but that the Bajorans developed and used one in the past, which the Cardassians denied as it would prove the Bajorans were very capable rather than needing Cardassians to bring them forward as a civilization as we see in the real world from certain groups.
posted by juiceCake at 7:47 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


And I just can’t imagine “let’s shoot one another with phasers” being something sensible humans would do

The humans lower decks are in their early twenties and I can tell you with absolute certainty some of them have shot each other with minimum power phasers. We were still having bottle rocket fights on the beach at 25.
posted by shothotbot at 9:45 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


juiceCake,
Ah yes. That is the set of details that slipped my mind.

The phaser thing kind of made me go "huh?" as I figured that during Star Fleet officer training everybody would have had to go through phaser training, which would have included getting hit by a phase set on the stun setting.
posted by sardonyx at 2:11 PM on June 5


La’an is a fine character who can stand on her own and I wish her eye makeup didn’t always make me think of her as a dime-store Camina Drummer.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:13 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


I could see being zapped by a low setting phaser a bit like when they send soldiers through tear gas chambers. So doing it for shits and giggles seems totally plausible.
posted by M Edward at 10:00 PM on June 5


Enterprise Bingo ("Vulcan Marsupial" challenge is a Voyager reference)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:03 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


I loved the little detail that the agreeable Chief Kyle, when not around his commanding officers, is “so mean.” That felt really true to life.

But I think my favorite detail in the episode is Una, La’an, and the others being struck speechless at the site of the sail ship, not for any plot reasons but just because they’re sailors, with sailors’ innate love of the vessels they travel on. “You are the most beautiful ship in the world.”
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:31 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


I wish her eye makeup didn’t always make me think of her as a dime-store Camina Drummer

I don't get this impression at all, and was about to say that La'an is obviously much younger than Drummer -- and then I looked it up and discovered that Christina Chong and Cara Gee are (almost) exactly the same age. Mind blown. So I guess what I mean is that La'an comes across as much younger -- a young person who has Seen Some Shit and puts up an exaggerated wall of toughness as a result. Whereas Drummer comes across as a much older and more experienced person whose toughness has built up organically. I file them in very different drawers.
posted by confluency at 3:36 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


great episode!!

i did not care for the bad cop thing, and generally speaking the 'we like to work, what's wrong with that' vibe was chill until the show decided to explicitly remind us that they are cops and do cop shit.

other than that though, great Trek here.

and omg Pike's green jacket and belt combo???? love!
posted by lazaruslong at 8:39 PM on June 7


Going into this now. But if you name something like "Spock Amok" and then not have part of the episode with him in a flower hat and a pennant coming out of his waist with a screw and a ball on it? That's false advertising.

Agreed. It should have been called "Amok Spock"
posted by Sparx at 9:06 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Is it just me, or is this iteration of Vulcan culture.... kinda Jewish?
posted by schmod at 4:52 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


.... kinda Jewish?

As it has always been.
posted by porpoise at 2:34 AM on June 16 [9 favorites]


Ah yes. That is the set of details that slipped my mind.

I've seen a DS9 a lot of times so I recall a lot. It remains the best Trek for me.
posted by juiceCake at 4:54 PM on June 19


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