This article contains Star Trek: Strange New Worlds spoilers.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 7
Share your pain! After several decades, one shadowy part of Spock’s family history has once again, been thrust into the light. In the seventh episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — “The Serene Squall” — a certain renegade Vulcan has returned. But, from the perspective of the “prime” Star Trek timeline, this is actually the “first” time this character has come back into Spock’s life. Here’s what this twist means, and how it fits into the chronology of the classic Star Trek series and, most importantly, the feature films of the 1980s.
Who is Sybok?
In “The Serene Squall,” the character of Dr. Aspen (Jesse James Keitel) is eventually revealed to have a dual identity. They’re not really Dr. Aspen, but instead, a ruthless pirate captain called Angel. However, Aspen is not the only person in this episode using an alias. At the very end of the episode, just when you think everything has been wrapped up, Spock reveals he has deduced that Angel’s rogue Vulcan lover is also using an “assumed name.” Instead, Spock “believes the Vulcan Angel was attempting to free is someone I was told to avoid at all costs. My half-brother, Sybok.”
If you’re confused by this reveal, it’s okay. Sybok was first introduced in the 1989 film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In addition to a smiling, laughing Vulcan, that film also includes Kirk meeting God at the center of the universe and Spock making jokes about everyone having eaten too many marshmallows. To this day, the movie has a decidedly mixed reception among longtime Trek fans. Even within the narrative of the film, Kirk incredulously points out: “Sybok couldn’t possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact that you don’t have a brother.” Spock responds, “Technically you are correct…I have a half brother.”
WHY is Sybok?
As Spock explains to Nurse Chapel in this episode, “Amadssor Sarek had a child out of wedlock. Although full Vulcan, he has rejected the teachings of logic.” This checks out with the backstory we got in The Final Frontier, in which Spock makes it clear that Sybok’s mother was NOT his human mother, Amanda Grayson. As Spock said in The Final Frontier: “Sybok’s mother was a Vulcan princess. After her death, Sybok and I were raised as brothers.”
So, Strange New Worlds has added several fairly big wrinkles to what we knew about Sybok.
- Sybok was an illegitimate child of Sarek’s.
- Sybok was in love with a human pirate!
- Sybok was in a rehabilitation center run by T’Pring, Spock’s fiancee.
Sybok’s fate beyond Strange New Worlds
The thing to keep in mind with all of these revelations is that everything we’re seeing in Strange New Worlds takes place well before The Final Frontier. Season 1 of Strange New Worlds happens in 2259, while The Final Frontier takes place in 2287. That means there are 28 years between Sybok in SNW and Star Trek V. And the only detail we have about Sybok in those ensuing years, is that at some point, he will be “banished from Vulcan, never to return.”
Because Sybok is now tangentially part of T’Pring’s backstory, Strange New Worlds is connecting Spock dots that nobody ever knew needed connecting. We know T’Pring will eventually betray Spock, and pit him in a fight to the death against Kirk. Could she have gotten any of these notions from Spock’s unhinged brother?
Either way, if Sybok does become a bigger deal in Strange New Worlds, the storytelling possibilities are pretty wide open. We know how his story ends, but other than that, when it comes to Sybok, the sky’s the limit.