Like a lot of folks in the kingdom of nerdom, I was rather startled to learn yesterday, while picking out fresh ingredients for pico de gallo, that Leonard Nimoy died at the age of 83. Suddenly the freshness of the cilantro didn’t quite matter as much.
To help us all work through it, I’ve thought about my favorite Spock moments. Of course, I know that Nimoy was more than Spock, which was only a role he played. He was a human being with a private life, family, ideas, and feelings that most people probably don’t know about. However, Spock was his primary conduit into my life, and it was his life’s work, therefore this is how I remember him; this is my en memoriam.
#5–Evil Spock with the beard (Episode titled Mirror, Mirror)
In the parallel, mirror universe, Spock is logical, but cruel and evil. He also has the best use of a beard in the history of anything.
#4–Spock putting the Vulcan death grip on that loud mouth metal-music guy in Star Trek IV.
You remember the scene, right? The crew is back on earth in 1980 something trying to steal a whale to come talk to the space probe in the future that is killing earth. Spock and Kirk are riding a public transit bus in San Francisco, and this headbanger has his jam box blaring awful music. Kirk asks him to turn it down a time or two, but the guy just turns it up. Then Spock calmly puts the Vulcan pinch on him and he passes out and the music is silenced. Everyone on the bus erupts in applause.
The scene is funny, but it is also ironic. During the television show, Spock was somewhat of a hippie. There is even one episode where he hangs out and plays music with space hippies. Spock can dig the peace and love counter-culture, but he has zero tolerance for angry and mean counter-culture. I’m with Spock on that one.
#3–Spock thinks he killed Kirk, all because of a woman (Episode titled, Amok Time)
This is an episode long memory that features Spock as the main character. Spock is in the middle of the pon farr, which is the mating season for Vulcans. It comes around every seven years and causes the logical race to lose their mind with hormone induced instincts. Kirk takes Spock back home to Vulcan (I believe this is the only original series episode set on Vulcan) where a woman, his betrothed, has set up an elaborate plan to get Spock killed so she can be with her new boyfriend she met while Spock was gallivanting around the universe.
In a wicked maneuver, she sets the parameter where Spock has to fight Kirk, to the death, and Spock is in the pon farr, so he has no rational thinking about what he is doing. Of course, Spock can kill Kirk without even trying hard, so McCoy rigs up an artificial death for Kirk. Spock thinks Kirk is dead, and then he loses the girl because she chooses the other guy, so he goes back to the Enterprise the most dejected person you can imagine. He killed his best friend and captain, he lost the girl, and now his career is over. But when he sees that Kirk is really alive, he has a brief moment of laughter, joy, and exuberance. It is one of the better Star Trek moments.
#2–Spock mind-melds with Captain Picard (Star Trek:TNG Episode titled Unification, Part 2)
Here we go with the generational motif so prevalent in Star Trek. Over the years Spock mind melds with a lot of different people and things. Remember when he mind melded with a brick? Yeah, that was lame. But my favorite is when he mind melded with Picard, who, strangely enough, had also mind melded with Sarek, Spock’s father. Spock and Sarek were, to put it in human terms, estranged. It is through Picard that Spock finally gets some level of peace with his recently deceased father.
The two part episode of The Next Generation in which this is featured is not all that great, but this is a great moment in the Star Trek Universe.
What more can be said? Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is not only the best Star Trek movie, it is in my top ten films of all time. I’m still upset at the remake of it–yeah, I’m talking to you J. J. Abrams.
This is Spock’s Jesus moment. He gave his life to save the lives of his friends. No greater love has anyone than this. In case you miss the spiritual reference, Scotty plays Amazing Grace on the bagpipes as he is launched into the void of space–symbolic of death. However, he lands upon the Genesis planet and thus begins his own resurrection story.
Live long and prosper.