A Logical Look At Amok Time

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Title: A Logical Look At Amok Time
Creator: K'Sal
Date(s): 2003
Medium: essay, meta
Fandom: ST:TOS
External Links: web page, Archived version
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A Logical Look At Amok Time, by K'Sal, is "a logical dissection" of the original series Star Trek episode "Amok Time" in which "K'Sal argues that K/S is 'subversively' written into the canon here in the form of that mystical beast, the Vulcan bonding link."

See also soulbond.


Amok Time (episode 35) is not a favorite episode of mine. I'd really rather it wasn't canon, but it is. This is my interpretation of the episode. I'm not too pleased with it, but it's the only thing I find (shudder) logical and scientifically plausible. I've come to the conclusion that, in a sense, Kirk/Spock was subversively written into the original series, and then the movies made it canon!

Pon Farr is some sort of estrus cycle. Estrus cycles are usually moderated by environmental conditions (i.e. the urge hits when conditions are optimal for reproduction). We know Vulcan is a desert planet, so I'm guessing the seven-year Pon Farr cycle comes from the Animated Series episode when Spock goes through his Kas-wan or whatever you call it, and his comment that he and T'Pring were bonded at seven years of age. It makes sense that would occur after he'd passed the Kas-wan test, and had proved his survival fitness.

Here's guessing that Vulcan has about one wet year in seven (Earth standard years), so the estrus cycle hits right at the end of the dry period, or the beginning of the wet period. Those males who've survived the bad times are ready to rumble! It's the Vulcan jubilee year, so to speak. This would also explain why Vulcans have such long lifetimes - the slow breeding cycle made a longer lifetime optimal for survival.

So why did Spock join Starfleet as a sexually immature juvenile? Why, for that matter, was it permitted by the Vulcan authorities? It's made clear in the episode that Vulcan wants to keep this facet of their biology a secret! I'd guess because he didn't feel comfortable with T'Pring and wanted to see if being away from Vulcan would prevent Pon Farr from ever hitting if he wasn't subjected to the environmental cues. I'm guessing that if he never went into Pon Farr the "betrothal" would have been legally dissolved. Now when you consider the fact that it is semi-canon that Romulans, who are exactly the same species, don't experience Pon Farr like the Vulcans, this seems like a good theory. Who knows, maybe it would have worked if T'Pring had left Vulcan as well.

This could explain why Spock was considered "almost a legend" on Vulcan at the time of his Pon Farr. I'll bet everyone else was extremely interested to see what would come of his flaky experiment - even the authorities. No wonder Sarek didn't approve - we find out later that he really loves his son. T'Pring provided herself with an alternate, since Spock wasn't around and clearly did not intend to be. And then nature caught up with them - maybe because Spock was severely injured and stressed during the events of Operation Annihilate, which comes only a few episodes before Amok Time.

If we are going to analyze Amok Time logically, we have to acknowledge that for Vulcans, a mental link is an integral part of the biological urge, part of mating, just as touch is for humans. "One touches the other ...in order to feel each other's thoughts. In this way, our minds were locked together ... so that, at the proper time, we would both be drawn ... to ... Koon-ut-kaliffee." For all we know, the mental link between partners is required for conception to take place. Perhaps the female ovulates due to mental stimulation - perhaps the mental linking is a method to ensure that the pair is mated cohesively enough to protect and raise the child.

There must be some sort of biological value for telepathy to have evolved; perhaps the thin air of Vulcan doesn't convey pheromones very efficiently. Perhaps male Vulcans tended to be nomadic, ranging over large areas to find food, while the females stayed close to a well-watered area. Being able to communicate effectively with mates and intimates over distances might have a lot of survival value - the group's effective range to find food and water would be greatly enhanced.