Spock/Uhura (AOS)

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Pairing
Pairing: Spock/Nyota Uhura
Alternative name(s): S/U, spuhura, spyota, spockura, team ashayam ([4])
Gender category: Het
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Canonical?: yes
Prevalence: popular, most popular het ship from the franchise
Archives: Spock/Uhura Shippers
Other: see also Spock/Uhura (TOS)
Su foreheads.png
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Spock/Uhura (2009) is a Star Trek pairing. Spock and Uhura have a canonical romantic relationship in the Star Trek Alternate Original Series movies . Initially introduced as student and teacher, later scenes establish that Spock and Uhura are also linked romantically (Uhura comforts Spock with a hug; in a later scene, the two share a kiss). [1]

The inspiration for this came from the original series, where apparently there are scenes of these two flirting [...] Since the rough-and-tumble badboy is always the one to get the girl, the writers wanted to pair Uhura up with the less obvious choice. Besides, since Uhura is a smart, mature woman, they felt that she would probably gravitate towards the more interesting, intellectually mature man. [2]

Orci and Kurtzman explain that Spock and Uhura's relationship "brings out his human side, it fits Spock’s arc for the surprise of the fact that he does share humanity and in the revelation that his father did love his mother, and therefore Spock himself is then capable of that and you see that with him and Uhura. It fits him." [3]. In DVD's commentary they, along with J.J Abrams, jokingly describe the relationship:

"This was the gutsiest thing that we did. Blowing up Vulcan was nothing compared to saying, 'Spock and Uhura are in love with each other and having this incredibly intimate relationship.'"[4]

The writers also explain that although hints about a relationship between them were included in the movie the scene in the turbolift "felt like it would be the best access point to reveal that to the audience." and "the reveal that they have been together comes hopefully organically in a moment where Spock is suffering"[5].
Later while talking with some fans at trekmovie.com Bob Orci revealed that J.J. Abrams himself admitted that upon reading the script for the first time the scenes between Spock and Uhura were "key to his decision to direct the movie". [6]

Background

Star trek XI

Initially, Spock and Uhura are introduced as student and teacher but several scenes establish that they are linked romantically to each other. As an instructor at The Starfleet Academy, fans speculate that Spock met Uhura while she was one of his students and he later got the chance to spend more time with her when she became the Academy aide for his Advanced Phonology class [7]. However, due to Uhura using the past tense when she said that she had been one of Spock's top students, and the fact that she has been already referred to with the rank of "Lieutenant" and not "Cadet", it's possible that a relationship between them was formed when she no longer was one one of his students. The official comics approved by one of the writers, Roberto Orci, confirmed this theory. (see also: comics )

Even though they both maintain a formal and professional relationship while both working aboard the Enterprise, the more personal nature of their relationship is revelated in some scenes through the movie where the apparent formality of their interactions is replaced by subtle hints of familiarity and intimacy that can be explained only later when it's finally revealed that they're romantically involved with each other.
Spockuhura turbolift1n.jpg

Following what TPTB said regarding scenes that hinted an established relationship between the two characters, fans believe that those hints can be found in various scenes through the movie. When Uhura openly confronts Spock about her getting assigned to the "Farragut" by him, even though they both know that she is qualified to serve aboard the "Enterprise" instead, and it is unfair for her to get denied of the chance just because of their (personal) relationship and Spock overcompensating to, as he says, "avoid the appearance of favoritism". Spock recognizes his poor judgment and promptly corrects the mistake.

Another hint of their relationship can possibly be a scene, later in the movie, where Spock is about to beam himself down to the Vulcan surface to rescue his parents: a concerned Uhura addresses Spock by his first name and not by rank and Spock, in the midst of a crisis, actually pauses to explain to her, and only her, what he is about to do and his reasons to do so. The two intently look at each other all the while the door of the turbolift closes.
Spockuhura turbolift2.jpg

However, their relationship becomes particularity obvious after Vulcan gets destroyed by Nero and Spock's mother dies: following him in the Turbolift, Uhura comforts Spock with a hug and a kiss that he, half wanting to take comfort from her and half trying to control his grief, reciprocates. Some fans interpret the scene as their first kiss and develop from that in fanfictions (especially short stories). Others, however, believe that the intimacy between Spock and Uhura implies that they were already a couple before this moment and this can explain why Spock seems so comfortable with her affections. This interpretation is particularly supported by the script and the movie tie-in novel where the scene is described as the moment where their secret relationship is revealed to us and thus the way he kisses her back is done "in a fashion that is sufficiently straightforward to indicate that he had done so before" [8]

Spock and Uhura kissing in front of Kirk
Later, their relationship is also revealed to James Kirk while Spock and Uhura are kissing on the transport pad where he also hears Spock calling her by her first name: "Nyota".

Spock is the first character in canon that calls her like that and thus reveals her first name to the audience. Previously, Jim Kirk had tried to get her first name from her without success.
Zoe Saldana seems to share, with some fans, the opinion that Spock knowing her first name is itself a hint of their relationship:

"For her to allow this man to be the only one to call her by her first name let you know there is a bond there that’s much bigger and deeper than we can imagine.” - Zoe Saldana [9]

While on the Narada, and being faced with the high probability of dying in the mission, Spock asks Kirk to give to Uhura a message from him in case he wouldn't come back from the mission. Kirk doesn't let him finish the phrase, insisting that their mission would end with a success, but fans assume that Spock wanted him to tell Uhura that he loves her, which isn't so different to what Zachary Quinto himself added in the gag reel of the scene (where he also joked about the phrase adding funny undertones to it). Fans also speculate that the revelation that his father had married his mother because he loved her, makes Spock feel more compelled to admit his own feelings for Uhura.

Star Trek Into Darkness

A year later after the events of the first movie, Uhura, along with Sulu, accompanies Spock to Nibiru aboard a shuttle in which Uhura helps him suit up with a special heat resistant outfit, so that he can be lowered into the volcano to prevent it from wiping out the Nibiran people.
The mission, though, doesn't go so well: the ash damages the shuttle forcing Uhura and Sulu to leave Spock in the volcano. Back to the Enterprise and after they successfully save Spock, Uhura is angry with him, distraught as she is after having witnessed that Spock was, apparently, willing to die in that volcano, rather than go against the Prime Directive to let the enterprise crew save his life (even though, technically, his own intervention in the volcano to save the planet was a violation of the directive as well).
Later, Kirk and his crew are tasked with the mission to hunt terrorist 'John Harrison' down on the planet Qo'noS where he is hiding. Since Uhura is the only one who speaks klingon, Kirk asks her to join him, Spock and two security officers in the mission. While on a shuttle to the planet surface, Spock coldly stating that the odds of them dying in the mission are high provokes an argument between him and Uhura where, remembering what happened in the Nibiru's mission, she accuses him of being too willing to die for a mission and not caring about how she would feel if he died and also his unwillingness, after the fact, to talk with her about what happened and why he seems to have a death wish (also implied in the IDW ongoing comic series). Spock finally explains that, when he was in the volcano, the thought of how she'd feel for his death, that is what he himself experienced when his mother died and home planet got destroyed, was so painful for him that he had to choose to feel nothing. So, what she perceived as a lack of care from his part was, in fact, pretty the opposite feeling.

"Nyota, you mistake my choice not to feel as a reflection of my not caring. I assure you the truth is precisely the opposite. " - Spock in the shuttle on the way to Qo'noS
Stidsukiss.jpg
Moved by his speech, Uhura understands that this is his way of telling her that he loves her and she smiles relieved. Later, after getting back to the Enterprise, the two shares a reconciliatory kiss.

Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto describe the Spock and Uhura's arc in the movie:

"I love that scene when we have that conversation (laughs). It’s in front of their boss too, the Captain is in-between us. We’re getting shot at and I ask him to commit to more. It feels like a typical, contemporary love story (laughs). That’s one thing that’s great about working with J.J. and his team of writers, in that you’re going to be stepping into shoes of human beings – whether they’re superhuman, or whether they’re fighting battles. Even considering what they do as work, they’re still being challenged with everyday matters of the heart, you know? And they’re still being challenged with politics and self-discovery. So the story and the journey between Spock and Uhura is, in my opinion, she’s learning the kind of person he is, and she’s encouraging him to cater to his human side, to his human half. And there’s a conflict there, because he doesn’t want to be compromised, because he feels like if he’s to be compromised he’ll be weak and a lot of people will suffer. And Uhura, she needs to learn to just understand his Vulcan side. She’s with a man who has duty before anything else, she needs to accept and embrace that when he tells her that she’s important to him, that she is." - Zoe Saldana [10]
"They’re really trying to understand each other, deepen their connection and grow their relationship. And I think that this is a challenging thing because they come from such different backgrounds and they’re such different individuals. In this movie you seem them working through that. You see the ways in which they misunderstand and miscommunicate, and you see the ways in which they understand and then come back together. You get the sense, I got the sense at least while I was working on it, that we were creating a dynamic and expanding a relationship that has a believable foundation and hopefully it will continue to evolve in that way." - Zachary Quinto [11]

Comics

In the official Star Trek Ongoing comic series (IDW) approved by writer and producer Roberto Orci [12], the Spock and Uhura relationship is also further explored and developed.
Spock and Uhura aboard the enterprise (IDW #4)

Some notable moments:
In issue #4, that is an alternate take on the original tos episode 'Galileo Seven', even thought the enterprise is unable to locate and save the away team (that includes Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Rand) that is stuck on the planet's surface due to their shuttle being damaged, Uhura takes a shuttle and she's successfully able to locate the team and save Spock and her other crewmates from a difficult situation.

Uhura asking Spock out for a date (IDW #18)
In issue #18 - dedicated to Uhura's backstory - it's revealed that Spock and Uhura started dating back in 2257 after Uhura completed Spock's course and she no longer was one of his students.

A few months into their relationship, Spock proposed Uhura to perform the "Emafa Kito" with her, which is a kind of mind meld that is part of the vulcan coupling rituals. Uhura accepted and during the meld she shared a dramatic memory from her childhood with him, which further their connection. In issue #23 (After Darkness series part 3), while Spock is affected by a sickness that turns him in one of the 'Sasauds' (which is a group of vulcans reverting back to pre-Surak primordial state due to the grief caused by the destruction of their home planet), Uhura remembers the first time in their relationship when Spock made her understand that he was in love with her. It happened back when they were dating, after she beat him for the first time while they were playing his favorite game: chess. The next day he left the "King" piece from his chess set on her desk without a note and Uhura understood that his chess set was now missing a piece and that, with the gesture, he was trying to tell her that he was in love with her and she had 'won' more than just the game: his heart.

Additional parallel realities showed in the comics

The comics have showed two other parallel realities, beside the one from the current movies: the mirror reality and the gender-swapped reality, where the genders of all the characters are reversed. It's implied that Spock and Uhura have a romantic relationship in these other realities as well.

Reception

While more conservative fans didn't appreciate Spock showing emotions with Uhura, many fans (both new and existing star trek fans) took interest in the relationship and its potential, as well as its possible implications for the characters, especially Spock, as it could be interesting to see how he deals with being in love due to him being half vulcan and half human. [13], [14], [15]
For the most part, existing star trek fans felt the relationship was a great addition to the characters. In one of the most popular star trek fanboards, trekbbs, several threads were opened to discuss the romance since the movie was released and the majority of the fans embraced the relationship and wanted it to continue in subsequent movies.
Many fans also applaud the writers for the step forward [16]as they're finally giving a chance to a pair that wasn't possible in the early 60s when, apparently, Gene Roddenberry himself had tried to set Spock/Uhura up from the get-go (also the first interracial kiss in TOS was originally supposed to be between Spock/Uhura and not between Kirk/Uhura [17], [18])but at the time an interracial couple was a controversial subject for the network. [19]
Nichelle Nichols, who had played the character of Nyota Uhura in The Original Series, expressed in more than one occasion the opinion that the romance in the movie by JJ Abrams works because even in the original series there were hints of attraction between the characters but a relationship could have never been developed between them due to time where the show was originally made. In 2008 (before the movie by Abrams came out) she said that she always thought that Spock was the person Uhura was the closest to on the ship. In an interview from 2009 she talks about the origins of her character and how she has created Uhura as a feminine version of Spock. She also confirms that Gene Roddenberry himself had intended to develop a relationship between the characters had the show gone past the third season:

"I decided then from the character that I read [Spock] that I wanted to be very much like that character but in a feminine way. And Gene said, and I was sharing this with George the other day, when I told him that I thought of Spock as my mentor. Because if you remember Uhura was the only one he was able to teach the Vulcan lyre too and he sang and spooffed on Spock. Now, you could have never had a love scene in 63 between Uhura and Spock but there were several hints and [back to Roddenberry] Gene was one in the kind of beginning to follow that and he wanted to do episodes if we had gone past the third year"[20]

Zachary Quinto who plays Spock in the movie appreciates the relationship because in his opinion (and he seems to agree with the fans' vision with that):

"it actually represents a depth, whereby Uhura is almost a canvas onto whom Spock can project the emotion that he is not able to express himself." [21]

Leonard Nimoy (who originally played Spock in The Original Series and reprised his role as Spock prime in the movies by Abrams ) also stated that upon reading the script he was bemused by Spock's scenes with Uhura but when he watched them he was amazed by the relationship and it "worked brilliantly" for him. [22] Later, Nimoy jokingly stated that he was extremely jealous of Zachary because of his scenes with Saldana:

"I was, frankly, extremely jealous of his scenes with Zoe Saldana and I think it’s totally unfair that I never got to do that kind of stuff. I will never forgive the writers and the director for having put me in this position, that I have to be watching them instead of participating." [23]

Also, when interviewed by the site trekmovie, Nimoy admitted that the relationship between Spock and Uhura were one of his favorite parts of he movie and Zachary's take on Spock:

TrekMovie: Once you mentioned that he (Zachary Quinto) did something that blew you away. I am curious now that I have seen the film, what was it that you went ‘oh that is really interesting’?
Leonard Nimoy: His relationship with Uhura, he played something that I was quite touched by. So did she for that matter. They both were terribly available for each other. [24]

Fanbase

Spock/Uhura rapidly gained an active fanbase. As of May 2009, Spock/Uhura Shippers had over 1000 members. [25] Currently the community has over 1971 members [26].
However, it should be noted that in the last years almost every fandom, including the Spock/Uhura and star trek reboot fandom, has migrated from livejournal to Tumblr. As a result, most of the shippers seem to be more active over that social network compared to other sites, as the Tumblr platform has recently became a favorite place where the fans can post and share fanarts, fannish picspams, fanfictions and gif sets of their favorite moments from the movies that can get a considerable amount of likes and reblogs (notes) from those that also like the ship. The main Spock/Uhura tumblrblogs are [5] and [6] that have, respectively and in proportion, a considerable number of followers that are equal in number or biggest than the totality of members over the livejournal community.
At fanfiction.net in the Star Trek (2009) section Spock/Uhura's stories are fair in number [27], as the fans progressively felt compelled to further develop their relationship that is only hinted in the movie thus making Spock/Uhura the most popular het pair in the fandom and that is also canon in the franchise itself. Many stories explore the possible beginnings of Spock and Uhura's romantic relationship, and take place pre-series, while the characters are still at Starfleet Academy. Writers dealing with this time period frequently make note of the difficulty of a teacher/student relationship, as well as the challenges of an inter-species romance, for example Descartes' Error by StarTrekFanWriter. Stories set during the movie, or slightly afterwards are also popular. Writers expand upon Uhura's desire to comfort Spock after the destruction of his home world, and the loss of his mother.

Fanworks

Fanarts

Fanfiction

Unsorted recs:

Pre-Academy fic:

Aboard the Enterprise/future fic:

Fanvids

Communities

References

  1. Star Trek Writers Reveal Their Most Controversial Script Decisions And Why They Made Them. (Accessed May 21, 2009)
  2. Trek scribes speak, complaints addressed. (Accessed May 21, 2009)
  3. The Romance That Changed Star Trek Forever. (Accessed May 21, 2009)
  4. Official DVD extras commentary with JJ Abrams and the writers
  5. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman on SpockUhura Romance (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  6. BobOrci replies to the fans (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  7. As stated in the character dossiers at official Star Trek site (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  8. As described in The movie Tie-in Novel by Alan Dean Foster and The Official Movie Script (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  9. Spock and Uhura Go Where They’ve Never Gone Before
  10. [1]
  11. [2]
  12. Star Trek IDW Ongoing
  13. The Sexualization of Spock(Accessed April 26, 2012)
  14. TURNER’S TWO CENTS: Spock And Uhura? It's About Time! (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  15. Spock/Uhura: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Part 1: The Good.(Accessed April 26, 2012)
  16. Uhura is Not a White Girl by peri_peteia, (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  17. Plato's Stepchildren behind the scenes informations (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  18. Star Trek’s Uhura And Spock Were Supposed To Hook Up Years Ago, Then William Shatner Pulled Rank (Accessed Mary 18, 2013)
  19. Nichelle Nichols Answers Fan Questions (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  20. Nichelle Nichols, TrekFest 09 in Riverside, Iowa ( text version)
  21. The Romance that will change Star Trek Forever (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  22. Leonard Nimoy And Zachary Quinto Interview (Accessed April 26, 2012)
  23. Leonard Nimoy Press Conference(Accessed April 26, 2012)
  24. [3]
  25. 1000+ (Accessed May 21, 2009)
  26. 1960+ (Accessed April 25, 2012)
  27. Spock/Uhura tagged fanfictions at fanfiction.net(Accessed April 25, 2012)