One of Star Trek’s most famous episodes is “Amok Time”, in which seemingly unemotional science officer Spock undergoes pon farr, a biological mating ritual that Vulcans go through every 7 years. But while the plot focuses on Spock’s marriage to fellow Vulcan T’Pring, I say that “Amok Time” is actually a retelling of Romeo And Juliet. But the love story isn’t between Spock and T’Pring. It’s between Spock and Captain Kirk.
First, let’s establish some roles. You may think that, since Spock is the one engaged to a person he’s not in love with, he’s the Juliet of this scenario. But I think, actually, Jim is Juliet and Spock is Romeo in this case.
So, the story. R+J begins with Romeo pining for a girl named Rosalind. Similarly, Spock is longing for T’Pring so he can mate with her. Rosalind has spurned Romeo, just as T’Pring ends up spurning Spock for Stonn. It’s important to note that in R+J, Romeo’s feelings for Rosalind are presented more as lust than love. Spock barely knows T’Pring; their bond is solely physiological, not mental or emotional. But Juliet makes Romeo forget all about Rosalind…
…and this time, it really is true love.
(Spock is so overjoyed when he sees Jim alive in this scene, he literally twirls him around.)
(And I know that R and J’s romance is emblematic of adolescent idiotic love, but make no mistake, they are soulmates. “Star-crossed” means doomed – doomed to fall in love, and doomed to be destroyed. The forces of the universe literally pushed them together. And according to Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Jim is Spock’s t’hy’la, a Vulcan word for “friend, brother, and/or lover” – it’s basically the Vulcan equivalent of soulmate. So, yes, Jim is Spock’s soulmate.)
Meanwhile, Jim is forced to choose between his orders, or saving Spock’s life, much like Juliet’s loyalties are torn between her duty to her family and her true love. There’s even mentioned that T’Pau turned down a seat on the Federation Council, so while it’s not exactly like Spock’s clan and Starfleet are feuding, they are, respectively, the Montagues and Capulets of the story. And like Juliet, Jim ultimately choses love over duty.
Spock, like Romeo, is forced into a fight that he doesn’t want to be in (except it’s with “Juliet” and not Tybalt). And Jim, like Juliet, ends up faking his own suicide by taking a drug given to him by a trusted friend to solve the problem. Romeo and Spock are both despondent at their beloveds’ deaths. Romeo kills himself and Spock is prepared to hand himself over to authorities for murder (killing a commanding officer is a court martial worthy offense in Starfleet, so Spock is therefore committing suicide by cop). Luckily, in this version of the story, Juliet awakens and gets to stay with Romeo.
Let’s talk about the fight scene. Spock is literally in a “fuck or die” scenario. In Shakespeare’s time, people commonly associated death with sex. The French term for sexual climax was even called le petit mort, or “the little death”. The Italian madrigal, “Baci, soavi e cari” by Claudio Monteverdi, is basically about a person saying the kisses of the person they love make them feel like they’re going to die (read: have an orgasm). This pops up in Shakespeare’s works frequently as well. In R+J, the two young lovers perish after consummating their marriage. Jim “dies” during his fight with Spock. Remember, Spock had to have sex to survive pon farr, but he never actually got laid…or did he? Some moments in that fight scene sure look homoerotic… x
Maybe he got laid after all. 😉 -TRL