This isn’t what it looks like.

I have much love for the TOS episode “Amok Time”: it’s Spock-centric, we learn cool stuff about Vulcan, and McCoy gets to be a drug-wielding hero.

And it features T’Pau, who spits out more good lines in this episode than Chekov gets in two seasons–
“Are thee Vulcan, or are thee human?’


Up until now, I’ve managed to overlook what seems now to me to be a huge leap (or absence) in the episode’s logic:

Spock doesn’t get laid.

How the hell does Spock get out of consummating his pon farr-ness? Isn’t that the entire point of the exercise–once every seven years, bird and bees are not Vulcans, etc.? We get one throwaway line from Spock right after he “kills” Kirk–he mumbles something about how the whole murdering-his-commanding-officer thing has chased away his urge to mate, an urge which the show spends its first 20 minutes or so establishing is biological in nature.

I suppose that we are to assume that strangling Kirk has the same effect upon our dear Vulcan as a good shag. But seriously–it’s pon-fricking-farr, and Spock doesn’t get laid! (Kudos to Nimoy for trying to explore this again in ST III: The Search for Spock. Savvik-kam, indeed.)

I read this no-sex-for-Spock episode as one in a series of narrative moves intended to un-sex Spock by preventing him from having a heteronormative relationship (even of the biologically-induced, culturally encoded type). I don’t think that Roddenberry and his cohorts were consciously making room for Spock’s sexual ambiguity; rather, I think that one of the effects of their attempts to place Spock “above” heteronormative sex–see, he’s really logical and shit–is the creation of a sexual absence into which ‘shippers can insert (so to speak) K/S.

I remember reading once that the writers and showrunners were surprised that many of the original series’ contemporary fans regarded Spock as a sex symbol. Perhaps their desire to more firmly establish Kirk’s position as the universal ladies’ man was intended, at least in part, to countermand the desire they read in their audiences’ letters. Hmm.

I’m amazed that this point hadn’t bugged me in the past.  Huh.

“I haven’t heard a word you’ve said,” indeed.


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