Given the episode title’s similarity to the iconic The Original Series entry “Amok Time,” it is only appropriate for this installment to begin with an illusory koon-ut-kal-if-fee for Spock and T’Pring that ends with a lirpa duel between Human Spock and Vulcan Spock. Complete with the TOS episode’s signature music and the inevitable torn tunic (this time on Spock rather than James T. Kirk), this dream sequence evokes nostalgia and highlights Spock’s concerns about being “too human” for T’Pring.
Following the battle with the Gorn in “Memento Mori,” the Enterprise returns to Starbase 1, the same facility that the Klingons overtook toward the end of their war with the Federation in Discovery’s first season. The crew prepares for much-needed shore leave, with Spock and T’Pring briefly rendezvousing before Spock once again departs to tend to some lingering duties.
Admiral Robert April briefs Captain Pike (wearing a version of Captain Kirk’s classic ‘green’ wrap-around uniform), Spock, and Cadet Uhura on the R’ongovian Protectorate, an independent state situated between Klingon and Romulan territories on a key route to the other side of the Beta Quadrant. A Tellarite delegation made a diplomatic overture, but the R’ongovians seemed to enjoy a quarrel even more than the inhabitants from Tellar Prime. The R’ongovians arrived to proceed with negotiations in one of their ancient solar sail ships, a design vaguely reminiscent of the Bajoran lightship that Captain Sisko built in Deep Space Nine’s “Explorers.”
The R’ongovian representatives interrupt the meeting, yet appear to be surprisingly cordial and friendly. Pike explains the Federation’s democratic process, while the R’ongovians remark that empathy is a hallmark of their own people. Meanwhile, Nurse Chapel and Erica Ortegas search for Doctor M’Benga so they can disembark for rest and relaxation. While chatting about Chapel’s relationship with another officer, Ortega mentions that Chapel endured an unfortunate misunderstanding on Argelius II, the same planet where Scotty would be accused of murder in “Wolf in the Fold.”
Realizing that T’Pring was disappointed in his decision to prioritize duty over their relationship, Spock receives advice from Chapel, who once again gives subtle signs of her interest in the science officer. After mentioning his pet sehlat I-Chaya from, previously referred to in “Journey to Babel” and “Yesteryear,” Spock resolves to undergo a Vulcan soul sharing with T’Pring so that they can better understand each other’s perspectives. The pair perform the procedure only to find that their consciousnesses have accidentally switched bodies, an unexpectedly humorous outcome for a Vulcan ceremony.
Unable to return their katras to their original bodies, Spock and T’Pring (or T’Pring and Spock?) attempt to conceal their mistake from Pike in hilarious fashion, only to unveil the truth when the Captain explains that the R’ongovians will only continue negotiations with Spock. T’Pring, still trapped in Spock’s form, chooses to meet with the aliens and pretend to be her betrothed. In an ironic twist, a Vulcan fugitive being pursued by T’Pring’s colleague refuses to talk with anyone but T’Pring, sending Spock on his own excursion with his katra still in T’Pring’s body.
Elsewhere, La’An Noonien-Singh and Number One respond to a security breach, only to find a young Bolian ensign and communications officer Christina attempting to exit an airlock to complete “Enterprise Bingo,” a series of challenges secretly undertaken by junior crew members. Hoping to prove they are actually fun people, La’An and Una begin to play the game themselves.
During their session with T’Pring (Spock), the R’ongovians strangely exhibit Vulcan-like behavior that is in stark contrast to how they acted around the Tellarites or with Captain Pike. As talks get a bit personal, Pike steps in to express his admiration for Spock’s sacrifices, an empathetic entreaty that is well-received by the R’ongovians. Spock (T’Pring)’s chat with the Vulcan does not go as smoothly, as the fugitive insults humanity and ends up receiving a punch from T’Pring’s fist.
A short time later, Doctor M’Benga demonstrates his medical prowess by concocting a procedure that returns Spock and T’Pring’s katras to their own bodies. As the Vulcan couple share their true feelings for one another, Pike makes one final plea to the R’ongovians… by arguing that the risks outweigh the rewards and that they should not ally with the Federation. After their guests depart, Pike explains that the R’ongovians mimic their counterparts as a diplomatic technique and actually value those willing to demonstrate the empathy necessary to see things from a R’ongovian perspective. As their solar sail ship leaves the space station, it flies a Federation flag to indicate that an agreement has been reached.
“Spock Amok'' is a lighthearted and enjoyable episode filled with hijinks, ranging from the Spock/T’Pring katra switch and Number One and La’An’s quest to prove themselves to be fun down to Doctor M’Benga’s ridiculously accurate fly fishing hat. The episode’s humorous tone is balanced by the diplomatic negotiations with the R’ongovians and Chapel’s apparent affinity for Spock, yet even those scenes tend to bring a slight smile to one’s face. “Spock Amok'' once again proves that Star Trek has always mastered comedy as much as social commentary. Will the R’ongovian treaty have lasting implications? How will Chapel handle her feelings for the ship’s science officer? Stay tuned as we continue to explore strange new worlds…
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer and consultant who has contributed articles to StarTrek.com, Star Trek Explorer, and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and StarWars.com. Jay serves as a BoldlyGo Campaign Ambassador for The Roddenberry Foundation. Jay can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia & the Nordics. The series will air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel & stream on Crave in Canada with additional international availability to be announced at a later date. The series is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.