“Amok Time” is the second season premiere episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, scored by Gerald Fried, and directed by Joseph Pevney, it first aired on 15 September 1967.
The episode features First Officer Spock returning to his homeworld for a brutal Vulcan wedding ritual. It is the only episode of The Original Series to depict scenes on the planet Vulcan.
It was the first episode to air (though not the first filmed) featuring Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) as the ship’s navigator. It was also the first episode to list “DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy” in the opening credits, and the first episode broadcast in the series’ new time slot of 8:30 pm on Friday night.
Spock, the first officer of the Federation starship USS Enterprise, begins to exhibit unusual behaviour and requests that he be granted leave on his home planet Vulcan. Captain James T. Kirk and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, having witnessed one of their friend’s outbursts, agree and Kirk diverts the ship to Vulcan. En route, Kirk receives orders from Starfleet to travel to Altair VI to represent the Federation at the inauguration ceremony for the planet’s new president. Though Kirk instructs the crew to set course to Altair VI, Spock secretly changes course back to Vulcan. Kirk confronts Spock, who claims to have no memory of ordering the course change.
Kirk orders Spock to Sick Bay, where McCoy finds evidence of extreme physical and emotional stress, a condition that will kill him within eight days if not treated. Spock is forced to explain that he is undergoing pon farr, a condition male Vulcans experience periodically throughout their adult life, and that he must mate or die. Kirk contacts Starfleet to request permission to divert to Vulcan but is denied. Kirk disobeys orders, believing that saving the life of his friend is more important than his career.
At Vulcan, Spock invites Kirk and McCoy to accompany him to the wedding ceremony. He explains that Vulcans are bonded as children so as to fulfill the pon farr commitment, and that T’Pring is to be his mate. T’Pring arrives with Stonn, a pureblood Vulcan, whom she prefers to Spock. T’Pau, a matriarch renowned as the only person ever to refuse a seat on the Federation Council, prepares to conduct the ceremony. However, T’Pring demands the kal-if-fee, a physical challenge between Spock and a champion she selects. To everyone’s surprise, she chooses Kirk instead of Stonn. Spock begs T’Pau to forbid it as Kirk is unaware of the implications, but T’Pau leaves the decision to Kirk; another champion will be selected if he refuses. Kirk accepts the challenge, only to learn that it is “to the death.”
The two begin combat with lirpa, a traditional Vulcan weapon. Kirk is challenged by Spock’s strength and agility, even in his current state, as well as the thinner atmosphere of Vulcan. McCoy convinces T’Pau to allow him to inject Kirk with a tri-ox compound to offset the effects of the Vulcan atmosphere. The battle continues, with Spock eventually garroting Kirk with an ahn’woon. McCoy rushes to Kirk’s body and declares him dead, and requests immediate transport back to the Enterprise.
Spock renounces his claim on T’Pring, but not before demanding an explanation from her. She explains that she feared losing Stonn in the kal-if-fee. By choosing Kirk, T’Pring would be assured of having Stonn in some capacity regardless of the outcome: if Spock was the victor, he would release her from the marriage (for having made the challenge in the first place), and if Kirk had won, he would not want her either. Spock, now free of the pon farr, compliments T’Pring on her flawless logic, and returns to the Enterprise, warning Stonn that “having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.”
Aboard the ship, Spock announces his intent to resign his commission and submit himself for trial for killing Kirk, when he discovers Kirk is alive and well in sickbay. McCoy explains that the injection he gave Kirk was a neuroparalyser drug that merely simulated death. Asked about what followed, Spock states that he lost all desire for T’Pring after he thought he killed Kirk. Kirk then learns that Starfleet, at T’Pau’s request, has belatedly given the Enterprise permission to travel to Vulcan.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Joseph Pevney.
- Writer(s): Theodore Sturgeon.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 15 September 1967.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.