At the conclusion of the seventh episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season one, a surprising character makes a reappearance: Sybok, half-brother of Spock! This son of Sarek was first introduced in the fifth Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Final Frontier. What does his return (before the events of that film) spell for Spock? Trouble!
Star Trek: The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier, released on June 9, 1989, was directed by William Shatner and written by Shatner, Harve Bennett and David Loughery. After Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Shatner was eager to step into the director’s chair himself.
In the final version of the story, we learn many details about Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill). While he has the same father as Spock, his mother was a Vulcan princess. When she died, the pair were raised as brothers. In the scene in TFF in which Spock explains this, it’s clear that Kirk has never before heard of Sybok.
Over the course of TFF, Sybok leads the Enterprise-A on a mission to locate God. At the movie’s beginning, he is in exile on Nimbus III, the Planet of Galactic Peace. To escape, he takes a trio of diplomats hostage. When the Enterprise arrives at Nimbus III, he uses his mind-control abilities to brainwash members of the crew. He then leads them beyond the Galactic Barrier to the location of “Eden,” where “God” resides.
Unlike the unemotional and aloof Vulcans with which we are best acquainted, Sybok is a passionate individual. He seeks to reconnect with ancient Vulcan emotion.
According to Nimoy’s memoir, I Am Spock; he had a problem with Spock’s behavior in the script that was not resolved by the time the movie was finished. In the scene where Sybok shows Spock, Kirk and Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley) “their pain,” Spock sees his father’s disappointment in his human heritage at his birth. Although Spock is able to overcome this “brainwashing,” it does cause him to shed a tear.
Nimoy rejected this demonstration of emotional pain. He felt Spock had resolved his internal issues with his human and Vulcan heritage in The Voyage Home. “Even with numerous rewrites, the script and story remained weak,” wrote Nimoy.
However, SNW is set in 2259, while TFF is set in 2287, almost three decades later. For one thing, this means that Spock has yet to resolve his internal struggle between his human and Vulcan heritage. Sybok says to Spock when they reunite in TFF that it has been “years” since they’ve met each other. This could easily place their previous meeting during the events of SNW.
Our Current Spock
What does the return of Sybok mean for Spock (Ethan Peck) on SNW? It seems likely that whether or not Sybok returns, we will see more of Angel (Jesse James Keitel). In “The Serene Squall,” Angel played an important thematic role.
Spock is currently struggling with his two “halves.” He is facing a binary he can’t seem to resolve: human or Vulcan. But Angel embodies a different approach. They say that all species put things in boxes, and adhering to the binaries imposed by others can be delimiting. They embody a different approach, one that annihilates these boundaries and borders.
However, their name, “Angel,” does raise some questions. Does it hint that they are aligned with the entity posing as “God” beyond the Galactic Barrier? Or are they a different kind of Angel? According to I Am Spock, the original script for TFF didn’t just have the crew of the Enterprise meeting the actual God. It also had them meeting the actual Devil.
In the final script, only “God” appears. Furthermore, Kirk eventually proves that the entity is not divine but only pretending. He does this by asking why God would need a starship; a line alluded to in “The Serene Squall.” Furthermore, if Angel is involved, can a binary like “god and the devil” really be involved?
This isn’t the only legacy sibling we’ve been introduced to on SNW. In addition to Spock’s brother, we’ve also been re-introduced to James Kirk’s brother, Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte).
We already know that we’ll be meeting James Kirk in future episodes of SNW, played by Paul Wesley. And co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers told Inverse that the relationship between the Kirk brothers is “complex” and that we’ll “eventually learn more about” it.
“[Sam] is very much not his brother, and that is important,” Myers said. “He’s a different person. He comes from a different place.”
Likewise, Sybok comes from a very different place than his half-brother, Spock. Is the stage set for the second season of SNW to be “A Tale of Two Brothers?”
This article was originally published on 6/16/22.
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