(written from a Production point of view)
|TOS, Episode 2x05|
Production number: 60334
First aired: 15 September 1967
Remastered version aired: 17 February 2007
|←||35th of 80 produced in TOS||→|
|←||30th of 80 released in TOS||→|
|←||21st of 80 released in TOS Remastered||→|
|←||30th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Suffering through his first infliction of pon farr, the Vulcan biological mating urge, Spock must return to Vulcan to marry his betrothed or he will die. However, when the Enterprise arrives at Vulcan, complications at the ceremony may endanger Captain Kirk as well. (Season Premiere)
Dr. McCoy notices that Spock is growing restless and has stopped eating. He also is becoming extremely irritable, throwing Nurse Christine Chapel out of his quarters and physically flinging the Vulcan plomeek soup she has specially prepared for him. After this outburst, he demands a leave of absence on his home planet Vulcan.
Captain Kirk is baffled by Spock's behavior, but orders the Enterprise to Vulcan. However, a priority message forces him to change course back to Altair VI in order to be on time for the Planetary President's inauguration ceremony, which has been rescheduled to a week earlier than planned. When Kirk later asks Chekov how late they would be if they diverted to Vulcan, the navigator reveals that they are on course for Vulcan now as ordered by Spock. When questioned, Spock is visibly confused and says he does not remember doing this - though he fully admits that if Chekov says he did, he must have.
Kirk orders Spock to sickbay, where McCoy examines him and finds that if he is not brought to Vulcan within eight days, Spock will die due to extreme stress produced by high levels of adrenaline analogs.
When Kirk confronts him, Spock says he cannot tell the cause of his problem because it is a deeply personal affair. Kirk eventually cajoles Spock into revealing that his problem is "Vulcan biology," which Kirk correctly concludes means Vulcan reproduction.
Spock explains to Kirk that just as a salmon must return to the stream it was spawned in to mate, Vulcans enter into a mating cycle once every seven years. Vulcans are extremely reluctant to discuss this mating period even among themselves as much as possible, cloaking it in archaic ritual and pomp out of embarrassment. It is very shameful for such a logical race to enter this mating period, when they are overcome by powerful urges which overpower their intellect, stripping them of the veneer of civilization. Spock has reached this time, the pon farr, and if he doesn't get to Vulcan immediately to mate, he will die. Kirk jeopardizes his career by disobeying a direct order to the contrary from Starfleet, and proceeds with all possible speed to Vulcan.
Upon arriving at Vulcan, contact is established with a beautiful Vulcan woman over the viewscreen, and they exchange formal greetings. When asked who she is, Spock states that she is "T'Pring, my wife", much to the shock of Nurse Chapel.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the surface of Vulcan, to the ancestral lands of Spock's family. Spock explains to his companions that he actually has not seen T'Pring since they were both seven years old: at this age, Vulcan children enter into arranged marriages during a ritual ceremony. Spock further clarifies that while he earlier called T'Pring his "wife", this childhood bond does not have a one-for-one correspondence with human pairing, as it is "less than a marriage, but more than a betrothal".
As Spock's friends, Kirk and McCoy are invited to witness the marriage ritual – the koon-ut-kal-if-fee. The master of ceremonies is T'Pau, whom Kirk recognizes as the only person ever to turn down a seat in the Federation Council. Trouble starts when T'Pring announces she would rather not marry Spock. T'Pring invokes the kal-if-fee -- her right to have Spock fight for her. However, she chooses Kirk as her champion, over the strenuous objections of Stonn, another member of the wedding party, who won't shut up about his traditional rights until T'Pau commands "Kroykah!" (meaning "Stop!") Both Kirk and McCoy (correctly) speculate that Stonn is T'Pring's actual choice and would be picked next should Kirk decline. Fearing Spock is now too weak to fight Stonn, Kirk agrees. It is only then he is informed that it is to be a fight to the death.
The fight ensues and Spock quickly demonstrates physical superiority. McCoy objects to T'Pau that Kirk isn't used to the Vulcan atmosphere and climate. He asks permission to inject the captain with a tri-ox compound to compensate. T'Pau agrees and Kirk is given the injection.
During the fight, Spock apparently strangles Kirk to death, and McCoy accompanies the captain's body back to the Enterprise. Spock, his mating urges curbed by the knowledge that Kirk, his friend and captain, is dead by his own hand, demands to know why T'Pring took Kirk as her champion. T'Pring reveals that she did not want to be the "consort of a legend", as Spock had become to his people, and instead started an affair with Stonn; she chose Kirk as her champion to force a stalemate - Kirk, being an outsider and not knowing her, would have no reason to keep her as his bride, and Spock would either release her out of the stigma of claiming a wife who had challenged the marriage, or be too wrapped up with his career in Starfleet to be around to ensure their marriage stuck, thus allowing her to be with Stonn regardless of the outcome. Seeing the flawless logic behind the reasoning, Spock relinquishes T'Pring to Stonn, then returns to the starship, expecting to face court-martial for murder.
Back on the ship, McCoy repeatedly attempts to explain something, but Spock cuts him off to continue spelling out his guilt and the consequences. When he tells McCoy that Scotty must take command, Kirk comes in behind him and playfully demands "Don't you think you'd better check with me first?" Here, he is overjoyed to find Kirk alive, betraying his emotion with a big smile though he quickly ended the display when he realized that McCoy of all people had seen it. Kirk reveals that McCoy hadn't really given him a tri-ox injection, but a neuro-paralyzer to knock him out and make him appear to be dead. Kirk receives a message letting him off the hook for disobeying orders when Starfleet retroactively grants permission to divert to Vulcan at T'Pau's request.
- "Captain's log, stardate 3372.7. On course, on schedule, bound for Altair VI via Vulcan. First Officer Spock seems to be under stress. He has requested and been granted shore leave. Ship surgeon McCoy has him under medical surveillance."
"It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers."
- - Spock to Kirk and McCoy, after throwing Chapel's soup bowl
"I think I'm going to get space sick."
- - Chekov, on the changing flight plans between Vulcan and Altair VI
"But you're not a fish, Mister Spock. You're –"
"No. Nor am I a man. I'm a Vulcan."
- - Kirk and Spock, on comparing salmon spawning with pon farr
"Hot as Vulcan. Now I understand what that phrase means."
- - McCoy, on his first visit to Vulcan
"What they are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning, without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way."
- - T'Pau, as the Vulcan ceremony begins
"It is said thy Vulcan blood is thin. Are thee Vulcan? Or are thee human?"
- - T'Pau, before Spock accepts T'Pring's challenge
"All of Vulcan in one package."
- - Kirk to McCoy, describing T'Pau
"Kill Spock? That's not what we came to Vulcan for, is it?"
- - Kirk to McCoy, during a break in the fight
"Now be careful."
"Sound medical advice."
- - McCoy and Kirk, after McCoy uses a hypospray on him
"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."
- - Spock to Stonn, on winning T'Pring
"Live long and prosper, Spock."
"I shall do neither. I have killed my captain and my friend."
- - T'Pau and Spock, before he returns to the Enterprise
- - Spock, smiling and seeing Kirk alive
"Sounds logical to me. In a pig's eye!"
- - McCoy, regarding Spock's joyful outburst.
Story and script
- This episode marked the first use of the Vulcan salute (by T'Pau) and of the words, "Live long and prosper" (by Spock).
- Kirk at one point says to Spock, "You have been called the best first officer in the fleet." It was McCoy who said this, in "Operation -- Annihilate!"
- In Theodore Sturgeon's original script, Kirk did not have to depend on T'Pau's influence to justify the departure to Vulcan. He knew the officials on the other planet, and asked them to divert the ceremonies until he got Spock back from Vulcan. This planet (Altair VI in the episode itself) was named Fontana IV as a tribute to writer and then-story editor D.C. Fontana. During the combat, when the ahn-woon was announced, Kirk was surprised for not receiving a new weapon, as ahn-woon meant "unarmed combat". (The Star Trek Compendium, pp 74-75)
- In the original script, there were a few more Vulcan words. Spock described Kirk and McCoy as his lak noy, the equivalent of best man. When T'Pring makes her challenge, the wedding party begins to discuss what's going on, all in Vulcan, until T'Pau shuts them up.
Cast and characters
- James Doohan (Scotty) does not appear in this episode, although Spock mentions him.
- According to Nimoy, Celia Lovsky couldn't actually do the Vulcan salute naturally, so she had to use her other hand to put her fingers in the right pattern below camera, then hold it up at the right moment. (Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Memories)
- Mary Rice was photographed as a young T'Pring on 16 June 1967 during the filming of the episode. She only wore one pointed ear since only one side of her face would be visible in the photo. Also, the ear was clearly made for an adult, as it does not fit the young girl.
- Although this episode was originally aired as the second season premiere, this was the last episode filmed in which Walter Koenig wore a wig. He had worn a wig in three previously shot episodes while his hair grew out.
- Spock has definitely been promoted from lieutenant commander as of this episode. The nameplate outside his quarters reads "Commander Spock," and Vulcan Space Central later asks for him as "Commander Spock."
- At the onset of the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee, T'Pau is clearly seen initiating a prolonged Vulcan mind meld. T'Pau begins the meld by carefully positioning her fingers on his face as Spock kneels before her. Kirk and McCoy are shown as they observe from several feet away. The camera returns to show T'Pau continuing to meld with Spock. We then see Stonn and T'Pring observing from their viewpoint. As the camera returns to T'Pau, Spock rises from the meld and withdraws. T'Pau appears to have been assessing Spock's readiness to commence the ceremony. Her later statement that Spock was deep in the plak-tow (blood fever) stage may have been confirmed by the mind meld. A similar ceremonial mind meld can be seen at his Kolinahr ritual in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- When McCoy emerges from the doorway in the first scene, there is no elevator set inside. The elevator is accessed from a side doorway for this episode. This was probably done in advance of the next episode filmed, "The Doomsday Machine", to show the wrecked condition of Matt Decker's starship. When the landing party beams onto the Constellation, the door is open at the end of this same corridor and no turbolift is inside. In "The Ultimate Computer", a turbolift is located right outside sickbay and the one at the corridor terminus is not utilized. Set drawings indicate the doorway at the end of that corridor did not regularly contain an elevator, however.
- A change in this season is thick painted stripes across the corridor floors. On the sister ship USS Defiant, as seen in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", it was revealed that these stripes delineated various features like the edges of grav plates. Originally, they may also have been meant to mark areas on the stage where walls were to intersect, or maybe as decorations.
- This is the first episode of the second season to offer a look at the further-expanded sickbay that now includes McCoy's new office. In "The Deadly Years" more beds in the infirmary section of the sickbay are added.
- This is the first time Spock's quarters are seen fully. A very brief shot of his quarters is seen in "The Menagerie, Part I", with a tricorder and red glass statue seen behind him to make the room look different from the Kirk's quarters set. Here, a large statue with blinking lights, red curtains and objects resembling molecular models are seen, among other "Spockian" decor.
- The statue in Spock's quarters appears to be the same statue seen outside the door of the ruins in "The Man Trap". It later appeared in his quarters in "The Paradise Syndrome", "The Tholian Web", and "The Way to Eden".
- Romulan helmets are reused from "Balance of Terror", this time worn by Vulcans during the pon farr ritual.
- The fight music for this episode was re-used in a number of second-season episodes, among them "A Private Little War", "The Omega Glory", "Bread and Circuses", and "The Gamesters of Triskelion". It became one of the most memorable themes of the show, and also appeared in numerous other television series and feature films, usually as a spoof or homage to this episode. (See: Star Trek parodies and pop culture references.) Composer Gerald Fried became aware of the popularity of this theme, when he began getting royalty cheques for its usage from The Simpsons.  Michael Giacchino incorporated the first few notes into the climax of Star Trek Into Darkness.
- The Spock theme, played by bassist Barney Kessel, was also recycled for numerous episodes, usually in connection with Vulcan mysticism (such as mind melds), among others, in "The Changeling" and "Journey to Babel". Hoping to emphasize Spock's alien nature, as well as the lost romantic side of his character, Gerald Fried sought to compose a romantic-type theme to be played on an instrument incapable of playing romantic music (in this case, the bass guitar). 
- As the first episode aired in Season 2, this segment debuted the new second season opening credits. DeForest Kelley's name was added to the "starring" cast and the theme music was extended and had a female soprano voice (Loulie Jean Norman) and percussion added to it.
- The planet Vulcan is a reddish color-corrected version of the planet created for "Operation -- Annihilate!", portraying Deneva. It appears in subsequent episodes, representing Gamma Trianguli VI in "The Apple", Vulcan again in "Journey to Babel", Tycho IV in "Obsession", the Melkotian homeworld in "Spectre of the Gun", and Memory Alpha in "The Lights of Zetar". It is also featured in the second/third season opening credits.
- Since the Vulcans' mating cycle seemed to be too adult a topic for German TV at the time, ZDF aired a version that radically changed the dialogue, rearranging some scenes, while cutting others. As a result, Spock, instead of going through pon farr, suffers from some lethal disease (the German episode title "Weltraumfieber" translates as "space fever"). To save his life, McCoy administers an experimental drug that leaves Spock delusional. Large parts of the episode – such as the Enterprise visiting Vulcan, Spock fighting and eventually killing Kirk – are explained away as hallucinations. In 1996, using the title "Pon Farr", the episode was re-dubbed, restoring the original story.
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1968 as "Best Dramatic Presentation".
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of "Ten Essential Episodes" from the original Star Trek series.
- Bantam Books published a series of novelizations called "foto-novels," which took photographic stills from actual episodes and arranged word balloons and text over them, to create a comic book formatted story. The twelfth and final installment was an adaptation of this episode.
- James Blish adapted this episode in his compilation Star Trek 3. His description of the aftermath of the fight, wherein a paralyzed Kirk overhears the conversation between Spock and the others, is reproduced verbatim in Planet of Judgment by Joe Haldeman.
- Mike Johnson adapted the episode for the alternate reality in the three-part "After Darkness" story for IDW Publishing's Star Trek comic book series.
- Leonard Nimoy remarked, "I remember ['Amok Time'] very well. Excellent script. Very poetic, very dramatic, intense and important I felt immediately – for Spock and Vulcans." He concluded, "It was a very, very exciting episode to shoot and perform – it was so beautifully written and [had] great casting of the other people – it was very good." ("To Boldly Go...": Season 2, TOS Season 2 DVD special features)
- "Amok Time" was first shown on the 1967 World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, ca. two weeks before the season premiere, and gained an overly positive reaction. One of the most pleasant and significant surprises for fans was the addition of Ensign Chekov to the Enterprise crew (rumors about a young crewman signing on for the purpose of attracting younger female viewers were in circulation for about a month by then). Everyone welcomed his presence in the cast and anticipated that he would provide many good moments in the future. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 69)
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writers thought about using a particular scene from "Amok Time" to be reedited for "Trials and Tribble-ations" and used to show Sisko meeting Kirk. Ronald D. Moore commented "In 'Amok Time' there's a scene with Kirk and Spock in a turbolift. Spock is freaking out, doing the whole pon farr thing, and Kirk is watching him with this weird look on his face. Finally, Kirk says 'report to Sickbay, have Doctor McCoy give you a full physical'. It would have been funny to have Sisko stumbling all over himself saying to Kirk 'I just came to tell you what an honor this is to meet you', and Kirk is looking at him like he's crazy and then tells him to go to to sickbay for a full physical. The "Amok Time" scene was not used for fear of making Sisko "look silly, not sweet". (The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations)
- Story outline by Theodore Sturgeon, 12 December 1966
- Final draft script, 2 May 1967
- Second revised final draft, 5 June 1967
- Filmed 9 June 1967 – 19 June 1967
- Score recording, 19 July 1967
- Original airdate, 15 September 1967
- Rerun airdate, 26 April 1968
- First UK airdate 25 November 1970
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1986.
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 18, catalog number VHR 2343, release date unknown.
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.2, 24 February 1997.
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 17, 24 October 2000.
- As part of the TOS Season 2 DVD collection.
- As part of The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series DVD collection.
The remastered version of "Amok Time" first aired during the weekend of 17 February 2007. In addition to new space sequences showing the Enterprise arriving at the planet Vulcan, a sequence was inserted showing digital representations of Kirk, Spock and McCoy walking over a large natural outcropping to Spock's family ceremony site. This is the first instance in the remastered edition episodes in which original sequences have been replaced with all-new computer-generated shots. Shots of the Vulcan landscape also featured a glimpse of the city of ShiKahr from Star Trek: The Animated Series. The background in the image of a young T'Pring was updated to resemble the entrance set seen in T'Pol's mother's house in "Home".
Links and references
- Majel Barrett as Christine Chapel
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- Byron Morrow as Admiral Komack
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Frank da Vinci as a Vulcan bell and banner carrier
- Walker Edmiston as the Vulcan Space Central voice
- Charles Palmer as a Vulcan litterbearer
- Eddie Paskey as Leslie
- Joe Paz as a Vulcan litterbearer
- Russ Peek as the Vulcan Executioner
- Mary Rice as the young T'Pring
- Mark Russell as a Vulcan litterbearer
- Mauri Russell as a Vulcan bell and banner carrier
- Gary Wright as a Vulcan litterbearer
- William Blackburn as stand-in for DeForest Kelley
- Frank da Vinci as stand-in for Leonard Nimoy
- Jeannie Malone as stand-in for Celia Lovsky
- Eddie Paskey as stand-in for William Shatner
Ahn'woon; Aldebaran shellmouth; Altair VI; Altair system; "Bones"; Earth; eel-birds; Federation Council; Finagle's law; flight plan; hypospray; Kah-if-farr; Kal-if-fee; Klee-fah; Koon-ut-kal-if-fee; Kroykah; Lirpa; logic; plak tow; plomeek soup; pon farr; quarterly physical; Regulus V; Sarek; sedan; solar day; space sick; tri-ox compound; sailor; Sector 9; Vulcan; Vulcans; Vulcan lute
| Previous episode produced:|
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
| Star Trek: The Original Series|
| Next episode produced:|
"The Doomsday Machine"
| Previous episode aired:|
"Operation -- Annihilate!"
| Next episode aired:|
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
| Previous remastered episode aired:|
"The Doomsday Machine"
|TOS Remastered|| Next remastered episode aired:|
"The Paradise Syndrome"