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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old October 12 2013, 08:12 PM   #31
Timewalker
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

SignGuyHPW wrote: View Post
Something always bothered me about Amok Time. Kirk and McCoy openly disrespect an ancient Vulcan tradition and decieve one of the most respected leaders on their world. Obviously, the Vulcans figured out that Kirk's death was a sham and McCoy had lied to them. Was there not any type of repercussions over this? I'd think that Star Fleet would be livid over the blatant disregard for the safety of fellow officers by Spock not to mention the three of them were in collusion to defraud some of the most influential Vulcans. Plus, I'd think that the Vulcans would be highly upset that their sacred traditons were mocked like this.
Spock didn't know T'Pring was going to challenge; therefore, the three of them could not have been in collusion to defraud anyone.

McCoy gave Kirk a drug that simulated death, but since he wanted Kirk alive and Spock not to have to face a murder charge (he didn't know T'Pau would invoke the equivalent of "diplomatic immunity" for the occasion), I'd hardly call that a "mockery" of Vulcan traditions.

If anyone "mocked" Vulcan traditions, it was T'Pring. She was not acting in good faith (logical faith?). She didn't care whether Spock lived or died. She just wanted his property, and would have carried on with Stonn whether Spock was still alive or not.


BillJ wrote: View Post
The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Presumably a Starship Captain, a representative of the Federation should know this.
So he's suppose to know the local laws and customs of hundreds of Federation worlds? I think that is a little much to expect of anyone.
Maybe that's one of the reasons Picard was assigned a Counsellor (Deanna did occasionally advise Picard on points of law and diplomacy). Starfleet learned from all the times Kirk got into trouble!

Melakon wrote: View Post
It's also apparently the first time either Kirk or McCoy have set foot on Vulcan, and not even Spock warned them of the details of the ceremony before beaming down.
Spock expected a straightforward ceremony. He had no idea that T'Pring intended to challenge, and therefore had no reason to tell Kirk that "Oh, by the way, Captain, if she doesn't want me, I will have to fight someone to the death and it might be you."

The Dead Mixer wrote: View Post
^My take on T'Pau's responsibility for allowing Kirk to put himself in danger is that she gave them every opportunity to leave or back out, but she wasn't going to volunteer any information about what was involved, reinforcing the whole pattern of behavior of Vulcans trying to keep this side of themselves secret.

Her clout as a Federation VIP, which got Kirk off the hook with Starfleet, and the private nature of what was involved, would have protected her from any repercussions for endangering Kirk...and the fact that she had allowed Kirk to get into a situation in which he had to kill or be killed by his best friend, added to the private nature of the proceedings, would have kept her from pushing the matter of Kirk and McCoy having "cheated"...so as far as anybody getting in trouble for this, it was a wash, on to the next episode.

I suspect that some details of the Vulcan mating customs did get out into the public domain after this incident, possibly initiated by T'Pau, to stop something like this from happening again. Hence Droxine's knowledge. And once it was officially out there, it would have been illogical for Spock to deny it when asked.
Logically, T'Pau should have been completely honest with Kirk that it was a death-duel before he accepted.

As for word getting out about Vulcan customs... some of the fanfic that deals with the aftermath of this episode has Amanda telling people about it. Sure, Amanda wasn't present at the ceremony. But she would have heard about it, been angry with T'Pring, and upset enough to make it known that T'Pring was not to be trusted, and that while some secrets are understandable, it can be dangerous to take them to such an extreme.

A beaker full of death wrote: View Post
T'Pau represented the old guard; the Orthodoxy. Is it any coincidence they cast an Eastern European, with a thick accent, in the part?
I thought it was because her accent conveyed the idea of "this ceremony would normally be conducted in the Vulcan language, but I am making a concession to offworlders who don't speak Vulcan."
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Old October 12 2013, 08:40 PM   #32
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

^I think it makes more sense / is more satisfying for T'Pau herself to have let the information out..."Only Nixon could go to China" and all of that.
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Old October 12 2013, 10:40 PM   #33
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

Nebusj wrote: View Post
Granted, 1818 England is not the exemplar of reason that 23rd century Vulcan ought to be, but, much of the point of T'Pring demanding combat was that this was something that was on the books centuries past the point that it still made any sense.
The bolded part is very much correct. And yet, note that 1818 England was enough of an exemplar of reason that, when the long-since-obsolete ritual was evoked, the person challenged to battle refused to participate... (Yes, I know "Amok Time" loads up the situation so that Spock can't take this route, but that's always felt a bit on the fishy side.)
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Old October 13 2013, 05:59 AM   #34
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

The way I view it, Spock knew there was a possibility of a challenge which would lead to a fight to the death. He invited down his off world captain and doctor without telling them this information. T'Pau did not inform Kirk that the contest was to the death, but he accepted to take part in an effort to impress her. McCoy deliberately lied about the medication he gave Kirk knowing it'd simulate death yet not kill him. It seems like they made a mockery of an ancient Vulcan tradition to me. Plus, it'd seem like it'd strain relations with the Vulcans if they flaunted how they fooled the Vulcans.

Another thing that bothers me is that they establish Pon Far is not to be discussed with off worlders in this episode. Then Spock goes on to go into detail about it with a girl in The Cloud Miners. What was the logic there?
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Old October 13 2013, 06:12 AM   #35
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

I'm starting to wish that Harvey someday dedicates an article on how Theodore Sturgeon developed his script for this episode and its details.

But it can wait until he gets a job again.
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Old October 13 2013, 07:46 AM   #36
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

SignGuyHPW wrote: View Post
The way I view it, Spock knew there was a possibility of a challenge which would lead to a fight to the death.
The possibility was so remote as to not be worth mentioning. When you chose your best man, did you really expect him to marry your wife if you didn't show up?
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Old October 13 2013, 08:12 AM   #37
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

BigJake wrote: View Post
Honestly, what bothers me most about "Amok Time" is that there's a medieval fight-to-the-death ritual still on the books on Vulcan that the Elders will allow to be pressed into service in the modern age.
Its not really a choice though is it?
Its a biological necessity. I suppose the ritual and the weapons are niceties but in the end someone has to die if challenge is made.
I'm sure the Vulcans would use drugs or anything to stop the pon farr if they could. Tuvok couldn't do anything to stop it 100 years later.
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Old October 13 2013, 08:29 AM   #38
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
Its not really a choice though is it?
Its a biological necessity. I suppose the ritual and the weapons are niceties but in the end someone has to die if challenge is made.
One would think, all the more reason to make the effort to disavow rituals that force do-the-death challenges on your people who have supposedly embraced logic to put an end to unnecessary violence. (The idea of there being some ritualistic baggage in Vulcan culture isn't bad, but the notion that this supposedly hyper-intellectual culture left a detail like this to chance is... like, not impossible, just incredibly bizarre.)
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Old October 13 2013, 09:00 AM   #39
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

BigJake wrote: View Post
The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
Its not really a choice though is it?
Its a biological necessity. I suppose the ritual and the weapons are niceties but in the end someone has to die if challenge is made.
One would think, all the more reason to make the effort to disavow rituals that force do-the-death challenges on your people who have supposedly embraced logic to put an end to unnecessary violence. (The idea of there being some ritualistic baggage in Vulcan culture isn't bad, but the notion that this supposedly hyper-intellectual culture left a detail like this to chance is... like, not impossible, just incredibly bizarre.)
What's the solution then?

If a woman challenges then just put the rejected guy to death humanely? He needs a girl/boy to link with or have sex with or he's going to die painfully. So at least the fight gives him a chance.

And I think from the script he needs the fight to get out of plak tow or the consumation of the marriage.
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Old October 13 2013, 09:12 AM   #40
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
What's the solution then?
Honestly, there isn't one that salvages the episode.

- What would make most sense would be for Vulcan culture to not betroth kids at the age of seven, or

- If they're going to do so to at least employ a class of pon farr courtesans or something as a fallback in case the betrothal doesn't work out (not exactly the kind of thing you'd want to discuss with outsiders either, but surely far preferable to still having battles to the death when you're the galaxy's ambassadors of "logic"). Beyond that,

- It also probably helps if, when someone tries to evoke obsolete customs, the culture of logic has a habit of saying: "Yes, we recognize that's still technically a custom, now please make a logical case for why we should actually solve a problem this way in our day and age."

All boringly functional, of course. "Spock experiences pon farr, goes home and gets laid" doesn't make for much of an episode.

Perhaps a better idea might have been to make this whole cultural feature part of another alien society entirely in which it makes more sense, and have a visiting guest star get Enterprise and her crew entangled in the mess. But that unfortunately loses pon farr as a Vulcan trait, one of the genuinely interesting atavistic holdovers from the species' past and one of the things that makes them feel like something more than just a riff on "logic." So, maybe there's another solution? I couldn't say.
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Old October 13 2013, 09:40 AM   #41
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

Why should an alien culture have to act like humans? There's nothing wrong with the episode. Logical? Of course their choices are logical, you may not agree with the premises they work under but that doesn't make their choice unreasonable. Their species has a biological urge to mate which will bring on large numbers of rape murder binges if not dealt with. Further, they are a telepathic species which seems to play a function in this as well, whether as a cause or effect. Arranged marriages are a very reasonable way for such a folk to make sure the couples have someone to connect with and make sure outsiders tend not to break up. Breakups leading to someone dying one way or another.

As a side note, I despise the way Trek fans throw around the word logical. Logical does not mean something will be peaceful, happy, compassionate, benign or in anyway nice. Logic is a system of reason. Any outcome can be logical, even fights to the death, it's just a matter of the premises you start with.
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Old October 13 2013, 09:58 AM   #42
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

Gov Karnstein wrote: View Post
Why should an alien culture have to act like humans?
They don't. It's just nice if they act as rational beings when we're told this is the core of their identity. To skip ahead a bit:

As a side note, I despise the way Trek fans throw around the word logical. Logical does not mean something will be peaceful, happy, compassionate, benign or in anyway nice.
Strictly speaking, the word "logic" does not mean this, no. But the way it is used in the show -- and I agree it's something of a misnomer, but we're stuck with it -- is precisely to mean benign, reasonable and nice, something like "humaneness" and rationality. We are told this over and over. Vulcan logic is specifically an antidote to the irrational violence and the destructive passions of the past, and it saved them from destroying themselves.

Ergo:

Their species has a biological urge to mate which will bring on large numbers of rape murder binges if not dealt with.
Unfortunately this just makes the problem worse. This being true, why would you solve a problem like this with ritual combat? It makes eminent sense for the pre-rational warrior culture of which the ritual is presumably a holdover, but not for the rationalistic culture we're repeatedly told the Vulcans now are. That it is employed "logically" in the story doesn't change the fact that the story's revolving around such a device creates difficulties.
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Old October 13 2013, 01:12 PM   #43
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

But the beautiful thing about this episode is that it gives us something that enriches Vulcans, makes them more than a one-note alien species. Spock himself emphasizes that the ritual is anything but logical. It's a holdover from the barbaric Vulcan past that we'd only heard lip service to prior to this episode. It demonstrates many things about the Vulcan culture...that they're proud of tradition even when it predates Surak, that they really are violent savages underneath their logical fašade, and possibly the reason that they don't find a more logical way of dealing with their mating cycle is because it is in such stark contrast to everything that they like to think they've become. We're pretty illogical about sex in this culture...everyone enjoys it and we base our lives around obtaining it, but you can show gruesome murders on TV before boobies.

SignGuyHPW wrote: View Post
The way I view it, Spock knew there was a possibility of a challenge which would lead to a fight to the death. He invited down his off world captain and doctor without telling them this information.
Spock wasn't exactly his proper self this episode. And he was genuinely surprised when T'Pring halted the ceremony...just go back and look at his reaction.

A beaker full of death wrote: View Post
The possibility was so remote as to not be worth mentioning. When you chose your best man, did you really expect him to marry your wife if you didn't show up?
Wait, was that actually an old custom and not just part of a Seinfeld routine...?
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Old October 13 2013, 05:18 PM   #44
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

SignGuyHPW wrote: View Post
Another thing that bothers me is that they establish Pon Far is not to be discussed with off worlders in this episode. Then Spock goes on to go into detail about it with a girl in The Cloud Miners. What was the logic there?
The Vulcans probably thought it over and figured that after Kirk nearly got killed thanks to their secrets, they might as well grow up a bit and share some secrets now.
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Old October 13 2013, 05:46 PM   #45
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Re: Amok Time repercussions?

The Dead Mixer wrote: View Post
But the beautiful thing about this episode is that it gives us something that enriches Vulcans, makes them more than a one-note alien species.
Indeed you may note that I said precisely this earlier. It's not that the basic idea of the episode, gesturing toward Vulcan's weird and primitive past, isn't sound. It's just that the duel-to-the-death business is a crude way of accomplishing it that even most human cultures superannuated long before space flight. Having them be to some degree "illogical about sex" is one thing... having them be illogical about it to that degree is something else again.

Part of the problem it introduces is this:

that they really are violent savages underneath their logical fašade,
Because it's indeed the impression the episode gives, and it's never really been the greatest fit with the Vulcan mythos before or since. The Vulcans are supposed to have the potential to be violent savages if they don't restrain their emotions; being actual practicing violent savages who just kind of bullshit about being "logical" without employing rationality where it would really count is not at all the same thing. Do we ever hear about this particular ritual ever again in any form of canon Trek?

and possibly the reason that they don't find a more logical way of dealing with their mating cycle is because it is in such stark contrast to everything that they like to think they've become.
Possibly so. But if it's basically the indulgence of hypocrisy for reasons of sexual thrill, then that robs Vulcan culture of many sympathetic qualities.

Like I said, I don't know that there's a good solution to this. Losing pon farr and Vulcan mumbo-jumbo altogether isn't desirable, making the Vulcans more rational in dealing with this problem probably doesn't make for an entertaining episode, transferring the ritual and child-betrothal business to another culture in which it would make more sense does rob the Vulcans of some interesting depth.
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