Friday, October 7, 2011

Amok Time

***** (5 stars out of 5)

Amok, amok, amok!

Season Two of Star Trek starts off with a bang (so to speak) in "Amok Time", a fierce and clever story about Spock and the Vulcan mating drive. More sensitive viewers (and German censors) may want to look away now.

Moody and lashing out, Spock is forced to reveal much about Vulcan reproduction to his Captain. McCoy confirms the biology of it all. Spock has 8 days to get back home and mate with his life-long pre-arranged partner, T'Pring, or he'll literally die. Vulcan males go through this every seven years of their adult lives.

If you thought 'blue balls' were tough, try green balls, pal.

The whole thing is rather hard on Christine Chapel, who still pines for our Mr. Spock. And it's hard on the new navigator, Chekov, who figures changing course over and over to accommodate the first officer will make him nauseous. (Side note: Chekov's got a biological motive, too: he was added by the writers to appeal to the ladies. Also the Russkies. Russian ladies in particular must have been simply swooning over his trendy haircut. Never mind, back to Spock and his hot, hot world of hotness.)
The desert world was souped up for the special edition. (Plomeek souped up. Heh. Nerd joke.) It matches the image of Vulcan seen in the later series and films, and if you find the change intrusive... well, nuts to you! I'll take you on with lirpa or ahn-woon. Which is, of course, what happens here.

Spock's intended spurns him for a local cipher, the stony-faced Stonn. Rather than have to marry a legend, T'Pring (the logical minx) invokes her right to choose a challenger, and names (gasp!) Captain Kirk.

Crazy with hormones, Spock fights Kirk to the death. Spock "wins" and, restored to his senses by grief, gives the fickle girl up as bad business.

Like the surprise eyelid trick last episode, Kirk's not dead! McCoy slipped Jim a neuroparalyser during the fight. Spock's relief and joy is writ large on his face... it's nearly as embarrassing as all this 'birds and bees' talk.

Of course, the burning of the Vulcan blood happens every seven years. It might be best to book vacation days the next time a booty call is required. At least, if your definition of safe sex includes not murdering your best man.

There's a terrible equivalency here: Spock has gone mad and sex is the only cure...except throttling the life out of someone. So... apparently killing ALSO works? That's... unfortunate. Not evolutionarily helpful, either.

Dr. McCoy deserves all the credit here- he saves both their lives with some quick thinking and a ready supply of unfeasible drugs.

The moral: Repression of basic biological drives is crazy-making.

Leave it to a guy called Sturgeon to write a race of people who have to return home to spawn. Pretty fishy, Ted!
Still, Sturgeon knew his audience: there were plenty of times I thought if I didn't get laid I was going to die.

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