Amok Time repercussions?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by SignGuyHPW, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Bedford Falls
    OK, part of my response was that I misunderstood what you were saying in this post:

    While browsing through the thread, I had taken the ambiguous "this" to mean that Kirk should have known about Vulcan mating customs/rituals...which he couldn't possibly have known if Vulcans were going out of their way to keep them secret, which is what this episode establishes. (I don't give a rat's ass what ENT retcons into the mix 40 years later, and everything else happens later...Vulcan attitudes about this apparently changed very quickly, given Spock's own openness on the subject in "The Cloud Minders".)

    Upon rereading, I realize that "this" was referring to "ignorance of the law is no excuse." However, you then argued....

    How could she expect an outworlder to understand customs that she strongly felt weren't for outwordlers? Presumably she was chief amongst those who believed that this part of Vulcan society should be a closely-guarded secret.

    On the topic in general, I think T'Pau's reaction to McCoy's trick might have gone something like this:

    "De neural paralyzer is de neural paralyzer...vhat can be done?"
     
  2. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2004
    Location:
    Gov Kodos on Mohammed's Radio, WZVN Boston
    Forget about later movies and series. When this episode was made Vulcans were meant to be mysterious and alien. They didn't share their customs with non-Vulcans. Dead Mixer is quite right. As to what Droxine knows, perhaps the Vulcans just get along well with the folks of Stratos. They both do rather live in The Clouds.
     
  3. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Location:
    CommishSleer
    T'Pau was being quite unreasonable from a human perspective. She should have considered that Kirk might not have understood thedparticularly dangerous aspects of the marriage ceremony? Especially after Spock practically begged her to forbid it.

    But should she have got rid of the humans as soon as she saw them? Should she have excluded them from the ceremony because they weren't capable of understanding it?

    You're quite right about her probably being one of the elders that insist on Vulcans keeping this part of there biology secret. Maybe she realised after this Vulcans were going to die or attack innocent nurses if they kept up the secrecy that by the time "Cloud Minders" came along Spock too was happy to talk about it with relative strangers. :rolleyes:

    Also T'Pring being the 'property' of the victor seems dreadful.

    However if T'Pring objects to marrying Spock during pon farr that virtually means that Spock is sentenced to death so she's got to have a big disincentive to do it.

    So they have a gutsy elder like T'Pau controlling proceedings. Spocks life is on the line, T'Pring's freedom. Humans insisting on being there then mucking about isn't to be tolerated. Her priority is Spock and T'Pring not some inconsequential human.

    One of the great things about this episode was that it shows that Spock is an alien from a planet with weird/different/sexist culture and customs. He's not just a pointy-eared human.

    :guffaw:
     
  4. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Bedford Falls
    ^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.
     
  5. scifib5st

    scifib5st Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Could ST Aurora touch on this with it current episode "In Mudd's Eye"
     
  6. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Location:
    Melakon's grave
    T'Pau presents the offer sort of like Monty Hall used to on Let's Make a Deal. "Would you rather return to your ship, or take what's in the box here?" And Kirk finds out the box contains a fight to the death with his best friend.
     
  7. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    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.

    That's something illogical enough that a magistrate among us funky Earth monkeys in the present day (or even the Deep Dark Sixties) would laugh it out of the room; it's as though someone in my hometown tried to get the local courts to run him out of town so he could be given the horse and shotgun the law still technically promises in those circumstances... and our soberest, most respected judge gravely accepted.

    It's also rather illogical for the Vulcans to be so uptight about acknowledging and dealing with the Pon Farr in the first place, but that I'm willing to let go since the shakiness and contradictions in Vulcan claims to "logic" are part of what make their culture feel organic.
     
  8. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    ^ You're comparing Vulcan ritual to civil law. In fact, the culture as presented is much more based on orthodox religion. Under Nimoy's significant influence, the mentality of orthodox Judaism came to be embodied in the way the Vulcans were portrayed.

    To go off on a tangent, I'll go a step further: Spock and family perfectly reflect the experience of Jews in America. Let's start with Sarek: though he is "old school" in many ways, having come from a prominent family and risen to a respected post , he is something of a rebel. As an ambassador he spends more time with other cultures than his own. He marries a shiksa. And yet he is supposed to represent the Vulcan people. Is it any wonder he was so cold toward and unapproving of his half-human son, who himself distanced the family even farther from their Vulcan roots?
    In Sarek's eyes, Spock rejected his Vulcan upbringing to run off and join Starfleet. Even though this was a logical extension of Sarek's own strayed path, Sarek was clearly tortured by this. Spock, for his part, was fiercely proud of his Vulcan heritage - but was going to live it on his own terms.

    T'Pau represented the old guard; the Orthodoxy. Is it any coincidence they cast an Eastern European, with a thick accent, in the part?
     
  9. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    True as that is (and I think your subsequent comments about Spock and family as a metaphor for Jewish life in America are right on the money), rabbinic Judaism also has a significant juridical aspect and a vast tradition of debate over the law -- and the ability even among the most orthodox to reject laws and customs that do not make sense. (The number of archaic customs orthodox Judaism retains are dwarfed by the number of scripturally-ordained customs it no longer uses.) So for example, you'd think that, given Surak's whole deal was supposed to have been about purging violence through the embrace of logic, this is one particular ritual that would have stood out for that reason.

    (Although, maybe Surak and the reasons behind logic hadn't come up yet by this point in the series?)
     
  10. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Quite illogical, yes, and yet ... well, there was Ashford v Thornton, upholding the medieval and centuries-abandoned right of trial by battle (in a case appealing a murder acquittal), which the judges had to admit was ridiculous yet still on the books. 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.

    (In Britain the trial-by-battle was finally repealed after this nonsense established that it was still in existence. Perhaps something parallel happened on Vulcan. But the social attitude of the Vulcans not bothering to change part of a ritual ceremony when the objectionable part is just not done anyway feels natural enough to me.)
     
  11. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Location:
    In many different universes, simultaneously.
    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.


    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!

    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."

    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.

    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."
     
  12. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Bedford Falls
    ^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.
     
  13. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    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.)
     
  14. SignGuyHPW

    SignGuyHPW Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2013
    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?
     
  15. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Location:
    Melakon's grave
    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.
     
  16. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    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?
     
  17. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Location:
    CommishSleer
    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.
     
  18. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    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.)
     
  19. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Location:
    CommishSleer
    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.
     
  20. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    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.