Review 33 - Episode 34
The One were Spock Vs. Kirk
This is always considered something of a classic by Trek fans and is one of the few to have saturated other media and joe publics knowledge. It's not hard to see why. There is so much going on in this episode that it's hard to sum up, so I'll take them one at a time.
The main theme of this episode is Spock's need to return to Vulcan and experience Pon Farr, a biological need to mate that drives emotions and violence. There is a certain frustration watching this as we know Spock will die if he doesn't return home, yet he seems willing to sacrifice himself as long as his customs aren't revealed. It obviously mirrors certain aspects of religions on earth such as arranged marriages and the secrecy of rituals, but you feel like screaming at the TV "Tell him you're dying you Vulcan SOB!!" Kirk also comes across quite harsh in not simply trusting that Spock has to go home, demanding to know an answer. It's easy with hindsight to simply wonder what is the big fuss, but Vulcan rituals do seem quite intense.
This is also the first episode where Kirk, Spock and McCoy are really bonded as friends for life and the scene in the lift where Spock invites them down as friends is quite touching. Kirk putting his career on the line for Spock is also another line drawn in the sand and it's interesting watching these knowing that he will sacrifice everything for Spock in the Movies.
The Vulcan rituals actually come across quite mysterious and ancient, no mean feat given the production values on the show. A lot of this must go to Celia Lovsky who brings an authority and presence to the role of T'pau and the proceedings. I can just about forgive the fact that Spock simply doesn't just say "it's to the death captain" and no one tells Kirk before accepting the challenge. It's worth it simply to see Spock in the heat of blood lust trying to kill Kirk. The solution by McCoy is simple, yet logical, although it wouldn't be very effective if they fought with blades for the whole fight. Spocks reaction at seeing Jim alive is also brilliant and probably guarantees this top marks on it's own. The only thing is, won't T'pau be rather annoyed she's been tricked? And wouldn't Kirk never be able to officially go back to Vulcan as he's meant to be dead?
Odds and sods: Chapel appears again and is still love sick over Spock, who doesn't appreciate her soup (another great scene, Spock looking angry for the first time - in fact any scenes with Spock angry are good); Chekov and Sulu are also good with their banter over course plotting. only Uhura is left out and Scotty's MIA.
So, very important episode from the Vulcan backstory aspect and probably helped make the Trek universe deeper and more rewarding.
Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 98/165