D.C. Fontana is a Romulan Agent

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Title: D.C. Fontana is a Romulan Agent
Creator: Jean Lorrah
Date(s): December 1968
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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D.C. Fontana is a Romulan Agent is a 1968 essay by Jean Lorrah.

It was printed in Triskelion #2.

Some Topics Discussed

  • the episode "The Enterprise Incident"
  • the episode's inconsistencies regarding Spock's characterization about sex and lies
  • comparing D.C. Fontana's professional duties as script writer to fans (specifically female ones) writing fiction
  • drawerfic

From the Essay

D.C. Fontana is a Romulan agent!

In one fell swoop she has managed to violate the integrity of Mr. Spock and, in doing so, to insult every Earthwoman who has ever loved him (and don't we all?). I refer, of course, to "The Enterprise Incident," that beautifully-written, beautifully-acted Star Trek episode that held us all spell-bound until the end, when the realization suddenly dawned: "We've been had!"

Somewhere in the drawerfull of unfinished scripts that every loyal Star trek fan accumulates, I have notes for an episode in which Mr. Spock must pretend to romance a woman for purposes of espionage. In my case the woman is, like Spock, half Vulcan, but she was raised on Earth. Embittered by the prejudice she encounters, she enters into a life of crime, gathers about her a large band of galactic misfits, and is soon running a notoriously successful pirate operation, preying on small trading vessels, much to Star Fleet's chagrin at not being able to break it up. So the Enterprise is offered as bait (think what pirates could do with a starship!), with Spock playing misfit malcontent. Sound familiar? Of course -- you've got something very similar in your drawer, as D.C. Fontana had in hers.

But why haven't you and I finished our scripts? Because the basic concept -- Spock playing gigolo -- violates the integrity of Spock's character!

How does Miss Fontana get around this problem? Easy. She simply changes Spock. Now we're used to Spock's being contradictory; for example, we accept that he claims to feel no emotion in order to cover the fact that he feels more strongly than humans. But Miss Fontana makes him appear to contradict that contradiction; he claims to feel emotion toward the Romulan Commander, but does not -- at least not to the extent he leads her to believe. There is, of course, an ambiguity here, which will be discussed later.

More important, we have come to believe, in the two years that we have known Mr. Spock, that what the Romulan Commander says of him is true: He cannot lie. We have known him to be mistaken, even to fool himself, although never for long. But an out-and-out deliberate lie? Never before, yet that is exactly what he is doing when he says, "It is no myth," to the Romulan Commander's assertion that Vulcans cannot lie. Worse, when he tells the blatant lie concerning Kirk's incompetence...

Now, as to that sensuality, Spock was presumably prepared to play the discontented betrayer of his Captain for the Commander of whatever Romulan Fleet captured the Enterprise; there would have been no reason to expect that Commander to be a woman. Thus he would have been prepared to praise the cuisine and anything else that might have been offered as an inducement to turning Romulan. But prepared to make love for the sake of the Federation? He seems completely at ease with the possibility, an attitude most of us find irritating in Captain Kirk, and which is quite unacceptable in Spock. We have only two choices open: Either Spock is pretending throughout, or he really becomes emotionally involved with the Romulan Commander. Either choice is untenable.

... if we assume that Spock is pretending, is in the interrupted love scene, for two reasons. First, what Spock and the Commander apparently begin is the Vulcan touching-and-touched betrothal ceremony! Surely this must be too sacred for Spock to use without meaning it. Second, the ceremony involves a touching of the minds -- the Commander would know immediately if Spock were not sincere. I am assuming that the Romulans have the same ceremony, since among Vulcans it dates from the prehistoric "time of the beginning," and the Commander seems perfectly familiar with it.

If Spock were only slightly interested in the Commander, he would not initiate the betrothal ceremony. But if he truly loves her, as the intensity of his appearance at the end of the episode suggests, then his character has been violated. He is no longer capable of preventing himself from showing emotion, and worse, from letting it affect him in a situation in which it might interfere with his duty. True, Spock finally does put the Federation first, but does he have any alternative? His exposure as part of the plot to steal the cloaking device is inevitable from the beginning, and so the Commander could never trust him again no matter how he might act.

Will we ever be able to trust Spock again? I think so, for "The Enterprise Incident" was merely a mistake -- one of those instances where the idea was so enticing that the script just had to be written. We women can understand Miss Fontana's predicament -- yet we can also regret that she did not have the Vulcan restraint necessary to keep it in her own "What I'd like to see on Star Trek if it weren't impossible" file.