Amok Time repercussions?

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

  1. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  2. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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:

    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:

    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.
     
  3. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    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 façade, 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.

    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.

    Wait, was that actually an old custom and not just part of a Seinfeld routine...?
     
  4. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  5. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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:

    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?

    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.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Voyager: "Blood Fever"

    It isn't a matter of society but of biological urge:

    The reason "challenge or death" still exists is because they have no other outlet for their aggression. Either you win the mate and get your groove on, lose and die which you no longer need to get your groove on or win and the aggression you get out kills the urge.

    I think the episode and the rituals make perfect sense in a society where emotion is suppressed 99% of the time. Sex or violence in the absence of sex are the only acceptable outlets in their society. So they see the ancient rituals as still being "logical".
     
  7. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Their biology strips them of their logic at this time...therefore they don't deal with it "logically". It's an artifact of what's under the Vulcans' surface. They aren't just humans who have chosen to suppress their emotions...they are aliens. In their culture, things like the ritual likely have a more or less religious significance to them.
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    McCoy's trick might have resulted in some gradual changes to the ritual though. When Spock thought he had killed Kirk, that was enough to snap him out of it, without the final blow being lethal. Perhaps Nerfed ahn-woons and lirpas were later used, or the opponents were given some sort of delayed action knock-out drops.
     
  9. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Two thoughts on that:

    1) If the combatants know it isn't a combat to the death, will it have the same chemical effect on the Vulcan brain?

    2) How much did Spock's human biology have to do with the fact he didn't need the sex for the effects of Pon Farr to wear off?
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's understandable for the affected individual not to behave logically, and for the society to find release valves. That's different from the society choosing the particular release valve of battle to the death.

    I mean, even you insist on not letting the guy just go work it out with the Vulcan equivalent of a mind-melding "working girl [and/or boy, let's not be heteronormative]," and it absolutely must be a contest-for-the-woman thing, there are all sorts of athletic and/or psychic competitions you could figure out that don't involve battling to the death. Even if the thrill of possible death is required to release the angst of pon farr, there are still many options available that wouldn't involve gladiatorial combat.

    (Of course, gladiatorial combat has the advantage of not requiring the budget of filming Kirk and Spock doing an iron-man triathlon.)

    Thank you BillJ for the reminder of "Blood Fever." So, the idea was reused once... by Voyager. For whatever that's worth.
     
  11. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This is TV. What fun would it be if the stakes aren't incredibly high?

    You asked. It's all part of the greater Star Trek tapestry and "Blood Fever" is actually one of Voyager's better outings.
     
  12. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I kinda agree with the Doc in VOY about Vulcans being very tight lipped about the Pon Farr.

    EMH: For such an intellectually enlightened race, Vulcans have a remarkably Victorian attitude about sex.
    TUVOK: That is a very human judgement, Doctor.
    EMH: Then here's a Vulcan one. I fail to see the logic in perpetuating ignorance about a basic biological function.
     
  13. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Well perhaps with more Vulcan's serving in Starfleet, perhaps some details did come out to explain why your Vulcan crew might need a few days off every seven years.
     
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    You can try to outthink it all you want, but that's how it works for them, as seen in the episode. They all go through it, and as a society, they are anything but rational about it. I'll reiterate, this sort of thing may even have a religious significance to them.

    Bottom line, it's all about the contrast. They bottle up their emotions most of the time, but when the combination of biology and time-honored ritual causes them to let their hair down, look out!
     
  15. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No kidding.
     
  16. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Honestly, rewatching the episode, Kirk should've been able to put together that he was going to have to fight Spock to the death.

    Kirk just didn't put two and two together.
     
  17. Timewalker

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

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    There is an old article in Trek Magazine where someone posed the question of what T'Pau was actually referring to, since she spoke those words before T'Pring challenged. Since everyone there except T'Pring and Stonn expected a normal marriage to take place, what was T'Pau warning Kirk about?

    The article concluded that the ceremony would have ended with a public consummation (one logical reason why the parents weren't there!) and T'Pau was cautioning Kirk and McCoy that this is what was expected to happen.
     
  18. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

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    Just imagine Kirk and McCoy's reactions to that happening.

    McCoy stands there grimacing uncomfortably while Kirk tries to to hand out high-fives to scowling Vulcans.
     
  19. Timewalker

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

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    Maybe the immature jackass Kirk of nuTrek would have done that, but TOS-Kirk wouldn't have. TOS-McCoy would have been uncomfortable if Spock and T'Pring had consummated the marriage in public, but not privately. Actually, I think both Kirk and McCoy would have been glad for Spock (since both men enjoy sex and consider it a normal, enjoyable part of life), but they would have been uncomfortable if it had taken place in public.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh Jesus. What does nuTrek have to do with this discussion? :rolleyes: