Amok Time doesn't make sense.

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Lt. Uhura-Brown, May 14, 2013.

  1. Lt. Uhura-Brown

    Lt. Uhura-Brown Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Having just watched Amok Time, there are a few things about the episode which made me feel it was badly written.

    A Starfleet captain who knows nothing about the culture of their fellow Federation co-founders is bad enough, but a Starfleet doctor who knows nothing about Vulcan physiology despite having a half-Vulcan crew member is just ridiculous.

    And as for "Oh well they just don't talk about it"?

    This thing that happens every 7 years to every member of their species that is so embarrassingly super-secret they never talk about it to non-Vulcans ever, yet they have this grand and pompous ritual ceremony where they invite their nearest and dearest to attend?

    I'm surprised the ritual didn't include a corridor of smashy crushers to traverse...

    So T'Pring didn't want Spock anymore as she'd grown attached to another guy, she was taking a big risk that the victor of Spock's battle didn't decide to drag her along and make her live on the Enterprise anyway.
     
  2. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As Spock said, T'Pring's logic was flawless.

    Vulcans' "nearest and dearest" are not Vulcans. T'Pau made mention of this, specifically questioning Spock's choice of "friends". Later, she praised Spock for those same choices.

    Many human groups on Earth today are also very private. Try crashing a KKK meeting, Shriner's ritual or Amish ceremony if you are not already an indoctrinated member. The outcome could be more unpleasant than a dressing down by T'Pau!
     
  3. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why.



    Does. It. Not. Make sense why,

    doyouthinkthat.

    Explain!
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    No such thing in "Amok Time". Spock likens his mating drive to that of the salmon, but he never says it would be cyclic (for the salmon, it isn't - they can do it exactly once). As far as this episode goes, the mate-finding craze is a unique event in the life of a Vulcan (male?), resulting in marriage or death - possibly only to be revisited in case of divorce or widowing, perhaps not even then.

    It is only in the much later "Cloud Minders" that Spock speaks of a seven-year cycle, but there he merely half-heartedly nods at Droxine's belief that "Vulcans only take a mate every seven years". He doesn't sound as if he were saying he swaps wives every seven years, so this reads more like he's saying he can choose a wife once in his life, with opportunities coming up only every seven years. After getting properly hitched, he's free of the cycle, and probably has very logical sex thrice a day and five times a night throughout the rest of his life, except when he feels like having a chocolate instead.

    Starfleet would not have to endure Vulcan maniacs at regular intervals, then. Most Vulcan males would know their mate-finding season to the day, and would arrange for a leave at that specific day well in advance - and be done with it, the drive never bothering them again. Spock's problem was that, being half-human, he didn't know when (or even if) his time would come. Also, being an outcast and a half-breed, he might have been among the very few Vulcans who would still remain single when joining Starfleet.

    Note how in ST3, Spock lives through several decades of adolescence and adulthood, yet supposedly only endures one pon farr. If that one is successfully concluded with Saavik, it means an easy remaining life for Spock and Starfleet. And quite possibly for Saavik as well, because we never get told that pon farr would be an urge to copulate. It's a mate-finding urge explicitly (thanks to 1960s euphemisms), and a successful male may simply add the conquest to his one-woman harem for later use.

    In any case, Vulcan males (or, on occasion, half-Klingon women thinking they are Vulcan males) go apeshit only when denied timely pon farr. Spock, Vorik or Tuvok might all well have avoided their plak tow if circumstances didn't conspire to delay them from their meeting with the prospective wife. Again a relief for Starfleet and the respective males...

    As for women, we've seen they don't need to have coinciding cycles (Saavik), they don't go apeshit even when in synch (T'Pring), and even when they do get complications, they aren't necessarily violent (T'Pol).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Lt. Uhura-Brown

    Lt. Uhura-Brown Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Um... I thought I did?
     
  6. retrogradeloop

    retrogradeloop Captain Captain

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    A lot of it IS hard to believe, at least without further development. Including some of the things you mention. But Amok Time was just beginning to lay a landscape. I don't think I could call it badly written, without reproaching myself for enjoying it so much for the past 40 years.
     
  7. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It may not make sense but it was so cool and exotic.
    And basically a great effort to make some of the aliens in Star Trek act differently from humans.

    I have another pon farr type question though. Sorry to change the topic slightly. The 'Intrepid' had I assume 400+ Vulcans aboard. Assuming everyone on board goes into pon farr every 7 years then they'd be turning back to Vulcan 400/7 ~ 57 or times per year or about once a week. Is my maths OK? Or was there something in DS9 or VOY about Vulcans always serving in Starfleet as couples. Except for Spock or Tuvok or that other Vulcan guy in VOY.
     
  8. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I had no problem making sense of the episode.
    :vulcan:
     
  9. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe living in an enclosed ship, their pheromones cause their cycles to synchronize. :vulcan:
     
  10. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    FESTIVAL! FESTIVAL!!!
     
  11. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Of course you could argue that Starfleet should know more about Vulcan biology. But information being in the computer wouldn't lead to any plot so the episode does reveal this information in a dramatic way.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    You don't have to turn a starship around if a crewman needs to visit Vulcan. You just give that Vulcan the necessary leave at an appropriate time, and he or she gets there by other means (which is probably quite easy, what with Vulcan being one of the most central worlds in the Federation). Spock was a very special case because he had no advance warning of his onset of pon farr.

    Also, as said, most Vulcans might undergo their pon farr without much fuss most of the time. We met hapless singles in exotic predicaments, often undergoing pon farr completely out of schedule, so our viewpoint is quite biased.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thank you! About time someone else pointed this out. Even Spock said he hoped he would be spared, but the mating drives were too strong. I don't know why this 7 year thing was even mentioned in Could Minders. Of course everyone latched onto it, even Roddenberry, and it was used in TSFS.
     
  14. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It was far from clear at the time that "Amok Time" was written that Vulcans were "co-founders" of anything. We had never seen a Vulcan other than Spock and had no clear idea whether anyone else on the Enterprise had, either.

    I know that's hard to imagine forty-odd years later, but Vulcans were rather mysterious and exotic (to use a somewhat politically incorrect but useful word) and little if anything had been said about any alien members of the Federation other than Vulcans. Sturgeon was an imaginative science fiction writer and he approached the Vulcans as if they were an alien species, rather than simply a national or ethnic grouping (the latter being the way Trek has chosen for the most part to treat alien life since) who lived on an isolated planet. He thought in sf terms, IOW, rather than TV.
     
  15. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    True, and remember most times the Enterprise was mentioned as being a "Earth ship." Spock was apparently the only alien on board and there was no indication of "founding members" of the Federation. And Starfleet seemed to be Earth-centric (United Earth Space Probe Agency, for example). Most of what fans know about the Feds and the Vulcans came much later in the sequel series.
     
  16. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Your problem is you're trying to evaluate the original Star Trek in light of what later Treks became rather than by what it actually was.

    Later Treks have developed a Trek history that says Vulcans were very involved in Earth's first "baby steps" into space and were ubiquitous (and overbearing) on Earth through much of that time.

    In TOS, Spock, as an alien serving on an "Earth ship," was a real rarity, and the Vulcans were a mysterious and rather secretive species.

    EDIT: I see Admiral Buzzkill and ssosmcin made the same points while I was composing this post. :lol:
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Sturgeon also conceived - as the producers of Trek at that time apparently also did - of interstellar travel as a time consuming challenge that only a limited number of vessels could routinely undertake. A privacy-minded species living on a distant planet could very well have been expected to keep a great many secrets.

    These days in Trek, Kirk would probably have given Spock the use of a shuttle and Spock would have jetted off to Vulcan on his own for a long weekend while the Enterprise kept its itinerary - and if it wasn't done that way, some fans would want to know why Kirk didn't think of that.
     
  18. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    Like a secret brother, for example....

    ;)
     
  19. Lt. Uhura-Brown

    Lt. Uhura-Brown Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I still don't buy that the Captain was completely ignorant of the cultural history of the species of one of his own crewmembers. How could he have graduated from Starfleet Academy having failed his Xenoanthropology paper?

    Even more so for the Chief Medical Officer not to know about the typical Vulcan life-cycle, regardless of having a half-Vulcan crewmember or not. You don't expect a veterinary surgeon to "not know dogs" for example.

    There's suspension of disbelief and there's stretching it to breaking point.
     
  20. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ In TOS, Vulcan culture would not have been taught at Starfleet Academy because the Vulcans did not discuss such things with "outworlders." Same with Vulcan sexual practices.

    (And if you're tempted to counter that, taboo or not, Spock would have easily discussed it with his captain and best friend, then you need to rewatch "Amok Time." ;))

    In TOS, there was not a Vulcan around every corner like there was in some of the spinoffs.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013