THREE GUYS AND… A TELEVISON SERIES
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
by Dominick Cappello
Star Trek: The Original Series — Season 2, Episode 1
Yet another classic episode which showcased the immense talents of the great Leonard Nimoy. Mr. Spock, second in command and science office stationed aboard the USS Enterprise, is acting uncharacteristically emotional, lashing out at Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett). These actions are witnessed by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Mr. Spock requests shore leave for first time since Captain Kirk assumed command, so this raises a few red flags. Mr. Spock’s tone is outright disrespectful. He demands to take his leave on his home planet of Vulcan. He holds a dagger behind his back when addressing his captain. His hand trembles, so he is fighting the urge to attack someone who is both his superior and a close friend. It is unclear whether or not Captain Kirk realizes the danger that he is in. Mr. Spock will not elaborate, but Captain Kirk grants his request. Unfortunately, Captain Kirk is informed by Starfleet command that the Enterprise must attend a ceremony at Altair VI.
This was the first episode which aired to feature navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and he is wearing a wig so to be reminiscent of The Monkees. Mr. Spock takes the news of his shore leave being cancelled in stride, but Captain Kirk would still like to swing by Vulcan. He is then surprised to learn from Chekov that the Enterprise has already been diverted to Vulcan. Captain Kirk confronts his first officer, wanting to know why his orders have been defied. Mr. Spock is out of sorts and has no recollection of altering the ship’s course. He asks to be locked away. Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) examines Mr. Spock and learns that for reasons unknown, he is dying. Again, Captain Kirk questions Mr. Spock and he finally relents. It is the time of Pon Farr, the Vulcan mating ritual, which if he misses, boiling blood and madness will cost him his life.
Starfleet command denies Captain Kirk permission to change course back to Vulcan. Throughout the episode, Chekov and Lt. Sulu (George Takei) jest about all of the course changes. Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) doesn’t have much of anything to do in this episode other than to relay information. Captain Kirk, always the rebel, knows that his presence on Altair VI is not a necessity, so he diverts to Vulcan because Mr. Spock’s life hangs in the balance. Nurse Chapel shows affection for Mr. Spock in scenes that are sadly cut for time when the episode airs in syndication. Mr. Spock requests that both Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy accompany him to the planet surface to serve as his groomsmen since they are his closest friends. It brings a smile to my face when Mr. Spock has to admit that he and Dr. McCoy are in fact friends.
As they orbit Vulcan, they are contacted by T’Pring (Arlene Martel), Mr. Spock’s wife-to-be. The marriage was arranged when they were children. The wedding ceremony, which is curiously being held in what looks like a gladiator arena, will be overseen by T’Pau (Celia Lovsky), an esteemed high priestess of Vulcan. Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy are warned by T’Pau that they might not like what they see. Shockingly, T’Pring challenges the arranged marriage, so Mr. Spock must in engage in mortal combat with a champion of T’Pring’s choosing. The anticipation builds.
It seems that T’Pring will choose her lover Stonn (Lawrence Montaigne), but instead she chooses Captain Kirk. Even Stonn is baffled by her decision. Not being a Vulcan, Captain Kirk is under no obligation, buy he accepts because he was not aware that the fight will be to the death. Every Trekkie worth their salt knows the famous fight scene well. It was recreated in “The Cable Guy” (1996). Mr. Spock is possessed by his boiling blood and Captain Kirk is overmatched due to the planet’s thin atmosphere. Dr. McCoy administers his captain with an injection that will give him a fighting chance. During the second round of the fight, Mr. Spock strangles Captain Kirk to death. Dr. McCoy then points out the irony that Mr. Spock is now in command.
Leonard Nimoy truly shines in the closing moments of the episode. He asks T’Pring to explain her rejection of him, which she does quite logically, then he warns Stonn about the pitfalls of becoming romantically entangled with someone as savvy as T’Pring. T’Pau offers Mr. Spock the standard Vulcan farewell. “Live long and prosper.” But, Mr. Spock rejects the pleasantry. He returns to the Enterprise and offers to relinquish command to Mr. Scott (James Doohan), who never appears in the episode. He is then overjoyed to discover that Captain Kirk is alive and well. The injection from Dr. McCoy was so to knock him unconscious. Simulated death. With his guard temporarily down, Mr. Spock goes to embrace his captain before he thinks better of it. A Vulcan always knows best. He is now free from the madness that is Pon Farr and thanks to T’Pau, the Enterprise is allowed extra time to travel to Altair VI. A happy ending for all involved.
Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015)
You have been and always shall be our friend.
– Dr. Jelly