Thanks everyone for your participation so far.
...after melding with Kirk. In that event, Sarek's conviction about the survival of Spock's soul and Kirk's conviction about the possibility of Genesis reviving Spock's body come together for the first time. It should be no wonder that Sarek at that moment changes his plan, then: he now wants to bring Spock back to life, not merely deposit his katra in some moldy old pot. And Kirk is of course immediately up to speed, too, since mind melds work both ways.
The only thing that needs explaining is Kirk's conviction that the body does survive. And in both the script and the final edit of the movie, the Grissom has already observed and reported the soft-landing of Spock's coffin, and the fact that it is now empty. So... Does Kirk know what Starfleet knows? This sounds reasonable, but OTOH Kirk isn't jumping with joy when Sarek arrives, so perhaps he doesn't know. Or perhaps his belief is not strong enough that mere empty tomb would convince him.
But all the same, ST2 already had Kirk expressing his belief that Spock might be resurrected: "If Genesis really is life from death" and all that. Combine that with Sarek's knowledge of Vulcan rituals, and everything makes sufficient sense.
That's all well and good, but Kirk seemed genuinely surprised that Spock's body lives when Saavik tells him.
I don't really see how any of the extra material from the novels would be helpful here.
Therin of Andor wrote:
The novelizations explain it more fully. The original ritual Sarek wanted for Spock was where the katra, in temporary storage in another's mind, would be temporarily reunited with the deceased body before its passage to the eternal Hall of Ancient Thought. IIRC, normally this ceremony only happens for certain Vulcans anyway. Not everyone's mind is pre-selected for this honour. Unknown to Sarek, Spock had seemingly chosen not to participate because his will requested burial in space.
Of course, the novelization of ST II was written long before anyone knew what events would unfold in ST III. Thus we learn that Saavik had secretly reprogrammed her mentor's torpedo/coffin so it would definitely softland on Genesis, not burn up on entry to its new atmosphere.
I read the novelizations in the 80's and am re-reading TSFS now. IIRC, Saavik actually re-programmed the original "burn up" trajectory to change to intercepting the last remnants of the Genesis Wave energy as the planet was being finalized, thinking it was appropriate that the matter of Spock's deceased body (and tube) would be reoganized on an atomic-level into the new planet/atmosphere. Then they later found out that it unexpectently soft-landed. I've already completely accepted for the movies that no matter what intended for Spock's coffin-tube, it ended up soft-landing on the Genesis planet. My point was that Spock's body wasn't saved on the ship for return to Vulcan for the katra-afterlife ritual in the first place.
Yes, I remember reading somewhere that the Vulcan afterlife may only be reserved for important Vulcans. I've thought about the possibility that Spock was not considered important enough. That seems contrary to the fact that Spock is considered legendary on Vulcan, despite the fact that he is half-human. I've also considered that Spock may have been descriminated against because he is half-human. Maybe, but these both don't seem too likely based on Sarek's dialogue with Kirk (see below).
Spock somehow not qualifying for the Vulcan afterlife could explain why he didn't will his body to go to Vulcan upon death. Perhaps the mind-meld with McCoy was a last minute decision, based on the pending Genesis device detonation and there always being "possiblities". That however still doesn't explain Sarek's interaction with Kirk (see below)...
When Sarek confronts Kirk, it's initially for Spock's katra. The issue of Spock's body does not arise. Sarek probably has no use for that piece of rotting meat - and moreover, he says he has read Kirk's report, so he has reason to believe that Spock's body is now buried in space, or burned to ashes in atmospheric entry.
Sarek only starts yearning for the body after melding with Kirk.
That's not at all the way it plays out in the dialogue:
SAREK: I will speak with you alone, Kirk.
KIRK: Please excuse us. ...Ambassador, I would have come to Vulcan to express my deepest sympathy.
SAREK: Spare me your human platitudes, Kirk. I have been to your Government. I have seen the Genesis information, and your own report.
KIRK: Then you know how bravely your son met his death.
SAREK: Why did you leave him on Genesis?! Spock trusted you. You denied him his future!
No matter who carried the katra, the only part of Spock that was left behnd on Genesis was his deceased body. Sarek is jumping on Kirk right off the bat about leaving Spock's body
on Genesis, which got there by launching it out into space (which had to be allowed by Spock's will). My above speculation that Spock may not have expected to achieve the Vulcan afterlife (but transfered his katra to Bones on the spur of the moment) falls apart here.
If Spock hadn't expected his katra to eventually achieve Vulcan immortality on Mt. Seleya, then why would Sarek? Yes, Sarek may have found out all about the Genesis incident, and even that Spock's tube had soft-landed on Genesis and that there were animal lifeform readings (in the scene immediately previous to the Kirk-Sarek scene in the final edit of he film) from an off-screen transmission from Grissom
to Starfleet. But Sarek interrogates Kirk like he should have known that the body should have been taken to Vulcan all along.
The novelization does go into more detail and attempts
to exlain this. Perhaps some or all of it came from a earlier script or dialogue was edited out in the final film... Spock willed his body to have a burial in space, but Starfleet regulations specify that bodies of deceased officers be sent to their homeworld. Kirk chose to resolve this contradiction by honoring Spock's request over the regulations. I have to admit that is very Kirk-like. Sarek points out the regulation, and Kirk explains that he ignored it because of all the discrimination Spock received from Vulcan for being half-human and choosing Starfleet over the Science Academy, including even from his own father. Kirk felt that if Spock wanted a Starfleet burial, that he should get the Starfleet hero's burial. A fitting end to the life that he chose by enlisting in Starfleet.
Of course, since the body is required for the transition of the katra to the Vulcan aftelife, the question is why would Spock choose
not to participate in the Vulcan afterlife when creating his will? This is why the novelization doesn't totally resolve things for me.
And regardless of the reason, why would Sarek not know Spock's choice? That is a little easier to explain. Regardless of their disagreements, perhaps Sarek would still want Spock to participate in the Vulcan afterlife tradition of having his katra available for future generations of Vulcans to benefit from his experiences. Perhaps Spock didn't want to have that argument with his father so lead him to falsely believe that he would participate in the Vulcan afterlife if possible, but really willed his remains otherwise (and then changing his mind to transfer his katra to McCoy at the last minute). ("You lied?" "I... mislead."
) If Sarek beleived that Spock wanted to participate in the Vulcan afterlife, that that could explain why he jumped on Kirk about Spock's body being left behind on Genesis.
I think we're making some progress here, but why would Spock not want to participate in the Vulcan afterlife when making his will in advance of the events of the movies?