Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Amok Time"


Air date: 9/16/1967
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Season two kicks off with an episode that can best be described as, well, fun. Spock finds himself at the mercy of the Pon Farr, the intense Vulcan mating cycle that clouds his logic and causes him to lose control of his emotions, eventually requiring him to return home and take a wife. Failure to do so would cause a chemical imbalance that could kill him. Interestingly, Spock is completely non-forthcoming about this problem—it's such an illogical and shameful dilemma that Vulcans cannot bring themselves to openly discuss.

"Amok Time" is the type of episode that is a success of attitude and character, and came at a time during the series where the characters were well defined. The plot isn't much to speak of, but it serves its purpose—although the rules of Spock's chemical-emotional overload seem a little bit arbitrary. (How could he be distracted by Kirk's death enough to overcome unconditional biological functions?)

A visit to Vulcan, a big fight between Kirk and Spock, and McCoy rigging the game with a clever ploy—it's irresistible stuff. And who could forget the classic moment when Spock finds himself overjoyed to realize that he hadn't actually killed Kirk as he had thought?

Previous episode: Operation—Annihilate!
Next episode: Who Mourns for Adonais?

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8 comments on this review

Paul - Tue, Nov 29, 2011 - 6:25pm (USA Central)
I hated Amok Time. In season 1, we believed that the Vulcans (or Vulcanians) were logical. In Amok Time, we saw a Vulcan society depdndant on the pomp of circumstance and males with a 7 year emotional cycle. How is this logical? And before anyone says it, I know its all make believe, but why create a logical society on the foundation of illogicality? Not one of Sturgeons finest hours. He created the law "99% of anything is crud". I think he underestimated in this episode.
Strider - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 1:25am (USA Central)
I've heard others question the premise that Spock could just "get over" his terminal hormonal overload because he'd killed Kirk, but it made sense to me that after the battle, the hormones were dissipated. Vulcans allow for either battle or sex at that time, and Spock engaged in a battle, so he didn't need the sex.

I liked the earlier scenes in this episode, with the concern and awkwardness between Spock and Kirk, and McCoy's worry over Spock's behavior. I liked that Spock asked both men, not just Kirk, to stand with him. The battle scene was a missed opportunity, though--we could have seen more primal bloodlust from Spock and more don't-make-me-kill-you concern from Kirk. And yay for McCoy being the hero!
mike - Sun, Mar 3, 2013 - 10:34am (USA Central)
As a life long Trekker who is old enough to have seen TOS when it was the ONLY Star Trek, you completely miss that this is one of the most important episodes in the Trek universe. This is Vulcan Culture 101! This is first time we learn about Pon Farr. This is our only visit to the much mentioned but never seen Vulcan. This establishes the character T'Pau. Fun? That is entirely too glib an analysis of one of the most essential episodes to understanding Star Trek. This is a four star episode because of it's importance to everything that we understand about Vulcans in every series and movie 40 years henceforth.
mike - Sun, Mar 3, 2013 - 10:41am (USA Central)
Before someone nitpicks about my previous comments, this is only visit to Vulcan in TOS. Still to dismiss Amok Time as just another episode is like saying Scotty is just another red shirt. You can't understand Vulcans without watching Amok Time period.

kerry - Sun, Mar 3, 2013 - 11:00am (USA Central)
Paul, you obviously don't understand Vulcans. The Vulcans are not naturally born logical. They EMBRACED logic as a matter of self preservation. Vulcans are by nature savage and warlike. They embraced logic after their vicious nature nearly destroyed their civilization. The mating drive is the only part of their nature they couldn't tame. Vulcans are disgusted and embarrassed by Pon Farr but just as with human sex drive, they can't rule over their sex drive work just logic. Sex isn't
logical. That was the whole point of Amok Time. I'm so sorry you don't get it.
M.G. - Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - 3:09pm (USA Central)
Very fun and clever episode. @Paul - I understand your complaint, but I actually took that as the point of the episode; the Vulcan people pride themselves on their cooly logical exterior, but up close their culture, like their mating drive is actually as messy as everyone else's. Interesting that the p'onn farr is presented as a secret; apparently the Vulcans hide quite a lot they don't want known from other Starfleet races. A sign of vanity or insecurity among the "purely logical" Vulcans, perhaps? Great bit at the end where we see Spock's authentic happiness; one of the few times he's allowed to express emotions not caused by diseases or weird alien influences.
Ren C - Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - 6:40pm (USA Central)
My question about this episode is if it's supposed to be a fight to the death how does Kirk explain his continued existence to the Vulcans? Does that mean that Spock didn't actually have to kill him after all but just defeat him?
Corey - Tue, Apr 1, 2014 - 10:26pm (USA Central)
I'd give this four stars.

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