15 Best Mr. Spock Moments

As everyone knows by now, Leonard Nimoy passed away last Friday, leading to a great many tributes from all parts. Here's mine, a collection of Spock moments I love. Obviously, Mr. Nimoy did a lot more than play Mr. Spock in his career, and I could mention Mission: Impossible, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, In Search of... and other things, but given this blog's mandate, and how iconic Spock is, I don't think I can avoid making it about Star Trek's No.1 Vulcan. I even found it difficult to narrow it down to 15 (which is why it's not a classic Top 10 list), even sticking to strict rules. Those rules? Only live action (no moments from books, comics or animated fare even if voiced by Mr. Nimoy), only Nimoy in the role (obviously), no more than one moment per episode/film, and a list in chronological - not preferred; which feels impossible - order. Given how many I had to discard for space's sake, I'll miss some of your favorites. Please use the comments section to set the record straight.
Losing control (The Naked Time). An early showcase for Spock's dual nature and inner struggle, it's still one of the best. Spock's powerful emotions come to the fore due to an alien virus, and he must isolate himself from the crew as much to hide his shame as protect them from his violence. Spock's pain over never telling his mother he loved her is simply heartbreaking - and remembering this was made in the 60s, probably not too far from the reality of many male viewers.
A Song for Spock (Charlie X). While I almost put the Space Hippie Jam here, there's much more meat to the scene where Spock accompanies Uhura on the Vulcan harp, showing early chemistry between these two characters, and the former really enjoying himself no matter what his logical proclivities are. And it's a song about him, after all, one that's not always flattering, yet he lets it slide.
Mindmeld with the Horta (Devil in the Dark). Of all the mindmeld moments, I had to award this one over my other favorites - the first one in Dagger of the Mind (for historical value) and the one with NOMAD (because NOMAD) - because it's just so loopy. How do you make a giant plate of spaghetti and meatballs that acids people to death into a sympathetic character? You give it voice through Leonard Nimoy is how.
Stone knives and bear skins (The City on the Edge of Forever). Great chemistry between Nimoy and Shatner in this, the best of all Star Trek episodes yo, but to pick out a moment, it has to be the deadpan comedy of that line and Spock's repressed irritation with the 1930s tools he's forced to work with.
Post-Pon'farr wisdom (Amok Time). Who doesn't love the moment when Spock lets some elation slip out when he sees he didn't kill Kirk after all? And yet, if I have to select a moment from Amok Time, it has to be the advice he gives his romantic rival Ston after the fight: "You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting." It's perfect.
Encouraging Uhura (Who Mourns for Adonais?). Spock is so critical of humanity and most humans that his positive review of Uhura's abilities, and encouragement of her developing them further, stands out. It stands out so much, it could well have inspired the romantic relationship between the recast characters in the J.J. Abrams films. Not one for fanfic, I nevertheless enjoy (once again) the chemistry between the characters and wish they would have done more with it.
Rocking the beard (Mirror, Mirror). Not so much a moment as an iconic look. Bearded Spock is great and second only to Regular Spock. Except when he's on screen and then he's first.
Jailed with Bones in Space Rome (Bread and Circuses). A list like this needs a great Spock/McCoy moment, and surely, the best has to be this one: McCoy tries to thank him for saving his life, but Spock's logic doesn't allow him to accept it. McCoy turns it against him and calls him on his fear of living, lest he one day slip up and show emotion. Heck, it's on You-Tube, have at it.
"Spock, you're a disembodied brain!" "Fascinating." (Spock's Brain). Star Trek was sometimes campy, and there's nothing wrong with that, especially when it allows for exchanges like that one. Makes me laugh every time. Spock - the master of understatement.
Seducing the Romulan Commander (The Enterprise Incident). A role usually reserved for Kirk, Spock made his considerable female following swoon with this performance for the Romulans' benefit. It's intellectual yet sexy, and deadly cold-blooded.
"What would you have me say, Doctor?" (The Tholian Web). Spock's minimalist reaction to McCoy pushing him to admit he cares about Kirk's apparent death. When a man cannot admit he has feelings, the ambiguity of language is his best refuge.
What V'ger is missing (The Motion Picture). I never want to watch the first movie, and you can't make me. Except for this one scene in sickbay after Spock's psychedelic trip through V'ger'd data banks. For Spock to identify the sentient probe's emotionally complex problem while also showing his deep friendship to Kirk is just about the only reason to pop the disc into the machine. It's a great moment, doing a lot with very little ("This"), which is very much what playing Spock has always been about for Leonard Nimoy.
The death of Spock (The Wrath of Khan). A powerful ending to what most call the best of the Trek films, Spock's sacrifice at the end of ST II is incredible and never fails to bring me to tears (heaving sobs, really). I don't even need the context. Spock solves his Kobayashi Maru in the most heart-wrenching way and in a sequence that makes it clear the theme of all six films is really death and rebirth. None as epic as his own.
The rebirth of Spock (The Search for Spock). Leonard Nimoy doesn't appear a lot in ST III, which probably helped with the directing, but the final scene at Mount Seleya, when he suddenly recognizes Kirk, is the perfect grace note to a story where the good captain thinks to have lost everything. (And now I regret not finding room for the start of ST IV which connects to this when the computer asks Spock how he feels and he just stands there confused. Damn it. But who does a Top 16?)
Mindmeld with Valeris (The Undiscovered Country). You can have The Wrath of Khan, I admit it's the better film, but ST VI is my personal favorite, and in no small part thanks to Nimoy's understated performance as Spock. He OWNS every silence in this thing, content to let the other characters have their funny lines and so on. If I have to pick ONE sequence, then it's everything from his surprising Valeris in sickbay to his "I've been dead before", and at the core of that is his telepathic violation of Valeris' mind. So powerful. Here he forces himself on his prize pupil who has betrayed everything he stands for to get information, a necessary evil that nevertheless shocks his crew mates and visibly fills him with guilt and regret. It's a personal sacrifice on the order of his death in ST II, perhaps an even greater one. Shame the Special Edition DVD intercuts parts of this scene with lame-brain flashbacks of the conspirators, which is why I must keep my VHS tapes forever.

So there you have it. My personal favorites. Not enough Jill Ireland or Tribbles for your tastes? Need a little Elder Spock to accompany the classic goodness? You know what to do.

In conclusion, let me add the usual thoughts and prayers to Mr. Nimoy's friends, fans and family. I know he will be missed, and this geek is thankful for all the entertainment and wisdom he's blessed us with over the decades. You could say he lived long, but we prospered.

11 comments:

Toby'c said...

When I found out on Saturday morning the first thing I did after getting out of bed was put on Wrath of Khan. I later managed to talk Dad into watching Journey to Babel with me (he's usually more interested in TNG). It was going to be Mirror Mirror but I somehow screwed up ripping it onto his computer and we didn't have the DVD available.

Siskoid said...

My grieving regimen was Star Trek II-IV and VI, all on Saturday, blubbing all the way.

Anonymous said...

"Losing control (The Naked Now)"

You mean "The Naked Time", sir. It is improper to speak of "The Naked Now" in polite circles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX7k6OgZJzU#t=10m35s

Siskoid said...

A common mistake, and as a commoner, I made it.

De said...

The most recent DVD release of VI has the theatrical cut. No lame intercut flashbacks and no Scooby Doo ending.

Siskoid said...

I may have to reinvest.

Does it also have the TV edit? It's got a much tighter final battle that isn't deflated by the as-constant back and forth with the boring old conference.

Anonymous said...

I always loved the back and forth between Spock and Sarek in Journey to Babel; I thought the humour was a lot more subtle (and effective) than in Trouble with Tribbles.

"Emotional, isn't she?"
"She has always been that way"
"Indeed. Why did you marry her?"
"At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do."

Mike W.

Twistyarm said...

For me, it's Spock's earlier conversation with Valeris that seals it. "Logic is the beginning of all wisdom, not the end." He has already made the journey that Kirk himself is undergoing in VI.

JeffJedi said...

One of my favorite Spock moments comes from the Space Hippies episode.

When they have taken over the ship Spock calls them on the communicator and says "You know I reach." along with more of the lingo.

When this does work he just looks at Kirk and does his hand in a "Well I tried, Captain." type of motion that I always find hilarious.

Siskoid said...

That episode is a special one for my household. "We reach" is often used to indicate reachitude.

JeffJedi said...

Glad to see you're not a Herbert.

 

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