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Spock’s Brain - Does it Really Deserve all the Hate?

Nutty Premise Still Entertains

By Rich MonettiPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Back in the mid 80s, long before I knew how reviled Spock’s Brain was, the episode did have a place in my heart. In college, there were times at parties that the girls would be on one side of the room, and guys were on the other. So I had the perfect allusion for my buddies, and a kicker from the episode really filled the bill for our desperation.

“Looks, it’s a perfect male/female schism.”

I explained, they still remained my friends, and now we all had a catch phrase every time it happened. How could I ever possibly hate Spock’s Brain?

Of course, the premise is ridiculous. But a giant cone traversing the galaxy and wiping out solar systems isn’t. Should I continue?

It’s what the story allows us to explore that matters. And if we’re not so lucky to have anything mind bending, it’s how much we’re entertained by the predicament or the characters we love. In Spock’s Brain, we get a nice dose of both.

Hot on the trail, I love how Jim Kirk plays a hunch, and our journey begins. Even so, it’s Nimoy that steals this episode, and in fact, may be one of his best performances.


The art of playing Spock is one that must continually deliver a character who is steeped in duality. Unemotional on the surface, the poor Vulcan brims with just as much or more emotion than his human counterparts.

Not really news, the joy of Spock is the way his human emotions subtly emerge, and a big part are the visual cues. The raised eyebrow, the contorted expressions when bested by Kirk’s reasoning, and the pained glare that doesn’t like doling the cold hard facts either.

Well literally out of his mind in this episode, Nimoy doesn’t have the benefit of his face to complete the mission. As such, the emotion the off camera Spock exudes is a sort of resigned joy.

What really can be done, Spock’s banter with Kirk and McCoy doesn’t pout. Instead, the Vulcan accepts and sees his circumstance as a new adventure. Picture him as he embarks into the giant amoeba and all the scientific possibilities that await.

We can’t so Nimoy does it for us, and he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. “While I might trust the Doctor to remove a splinter, or lance a boil, I do not believe he has the knowledge to restore a brain,” the Voice Over deadpans.

Imagine the smirk, Nimoy lets us see it without actually seeing it. No doubt, Dr. McCoy can concur by his reaction, and if you can get past the hate required here, you can almost forget that Spock’s brain is sitting in a pickle jar.

Then we get down to some business. This whole sophisticated technology was set up and left the people behind. They became dependent, and everything secured below, the inhabitants had their brains atrophy.

Or in Star Trek speak, what happens when you don’t move out of your parents’ basements. Now is that some relevant science fiction or what?

Our prime directive taken care of, it’s time for some fun, and for once Spock and Bones are on the same side. Not to worry, Bones doesn’t disappoint. “I'll never live this down. This Vulcan is telling me how to operate,” the good doctor laces up the sarcasm.

Spock’s turn, he’s got his face back and gets into it. A remarkable example of a retrograde civilization. At the peak, advanced beyond any of our capabilities and now operating at this primitive level which you saw. And it all began thousands of years ago…”

Is it really that fascinating? Spock playing two sides of the same coin, he’s just unable to conceal the thrill of being back in his body and the diatribe is the mask.

Of course Bones is having none of it and brings it home as well as any episode.

MCCOY: I knew it was wrong. I shouldn't have done it.

KIRK: What's that?

MCCOY: I should have never reconnected his mouth.

But this time Spock ain’t buying and doesn’t even try to hide the usual dismay of being the odd Vulcan out. As I was saying, a fascinating cultural development of the kind which hasn't been seen in ages. The last such occurrence took place on old Earth…

So human, the Episode works for me, and there’s no reason you have to believe the bad press.

star trek

About the Creator

Rich Monetti

I am, I write.

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