Quick! Describe Mr. Spock in two words! Chances are, neither of those words is “romantic” or “exuberant.” While the science officer is half-human on his mother Amanda’s side, he fully embraces his father Sarek’s Vulcan heritage, purging himself of all emotions. So when actors portray Spock as giving into his feelings — at least, when those actors aren’t Leonard Nimoy — it’s always a bit surprising, and Star Trek fans tend to get a bit upset.
Judging by the latest trailer for the second season of Strange New Worlds, producers are willing to rattle fans’ cages a bit if it’ll lead to an interesting story. Among teases that include the return of Klingons from The Motion Picture and The Next Generation era, as well as a first look at live-action Ensigns Mariner and Boimler from Lower Decks, we see Spock (Ethan Peck) smooch Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), and then respond with an energetic fist-pump. See for yourself:
To be sure, shots like these exist to get people talking, so it’s very possible that neither the kiss nor the gesture is out of character for Spock, at least not in their larger context. (There could always be an outside force behind Spock’s sudden display of emotions.) But even if the two instances are exactly what they seem to be, the actions aren’t completely out of left field for Spock or Chapel.
Played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in The Original Series, Nurse Chapel clearly had feelings for Spock, as revealed in the season one episode “The Naked Time.” Chapel’s limited screen time on TOS pushed that plotline to the background, but it has come to the forefront in SNW, thanks to Bush’s charismatic performance. She and Spock shared a particularly vulnerable scene in the season one episode “All Those Who Wander,” which saw the two in a slightly more-than-friendly embrace.
While it may shock some casual fans, Spock’s romantic and even sexual impulses have long been important parts of the character, first revealed in the season two episode “Amok Time.” That episode not only introduced viewers to the concept of pon farr, the Vulcan’s biological need to mate every seven years, but also Spock’s betrothed T’Pring (played by Arlene Martel in TOS and Gia Sandhu in SNW). Tellingly, that episode opened with Spock violently throwing Nurse Chapel out of his quarters, setting the stage for emotional responses to her presence. And in the Kelvin timeline, particularly Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) have a relationship, which sometimes drives the former to make illogical decisions.
With all of that history in mind, there may be a very good reason for the two scenes teased in the SNW trailer. Given the fact that the season one finale takes place about six years before the TOS episode “Balance of Terror,” season two may take place seven years before “Amok Time,” meaning Spock may be reaching pon farr. If Chapel helped him deal with his previous experience, then her reaction to him in “Amok Time” gains a lot more meaning.
Then again, it could all be a tease to get us riled up about Strange New Worlds. As long as the show continues to develop these beloved characters in surprising new ways, we’re definitely in.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season two premieres on June 15.