Star Trek: Discovery finally did the thing. After much teasing, we got our first glimpse of Ethan Peck's Spock this week, and we learned surprising new details about the iconic character in the process.
Showrunner Alex Kurtzman, who will share top duties with writer Michelle Paradise next season, teased a very different Spock, and he's stayed true to his word. While we hadn't seen Spock up until now, the series has painted a pretty clear picture of where he is in previous episodes. This a conflicted Spock whose inability to grasp the logic behind apocalyptic visions of a Red Angel has essentially broken his brain. After checking himself into a psychiatric facility on Starbase 5, he subsequently broke free, allegedly killing several Starfleet officers in the process, and has been on the run as a wanted man ever since.
Thursday's episode, titled "Light and Shadows," tracked down the troubled Vulcan, who'd been hiding out on his home planet with help from his mother Amanda (Mia Kirshner). A stunned Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) found a disheveled Spock in a cave, feverishly uttering the First Doctrines of Logic over and over again while etching the same six numbers on the walls. A heated family debate between Burnham, Amanda and Sarek (James Frain) ended with Burnham turning Spock into Section 31's custody, where Leland (Alan Van Sprang) planned to extract his memories — a move that would have fried his brain. With help from Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), Burnham and Spock were able to escape from the covert organization. Back on the run, Burnham finds herself headed to Talos IV in search of answers about her brother.
Here's what we learned from the revealing episode...
1. Spock suffered from a learning disability as a child
We already knew that growing up as a half-human, half-Vulcan was difficult for Spock. However, it turns out there's more to the story. This week's episode revealed that he inherited the learning disability, L'tak Terai, similar to dyslexia, from his human mother which made it difficult for him to learn, read, and write. In an effort to help her son cope, Amanda read Alice in Wonderland to him — the same book she read to Burnham after her arrival.
2. His brain might be broken, but he's not crazy
Repetitive mutterings aside, Spock's writings on the wall weren't total nonsense. As Burnham figured out, he'd been scribbling coordinates to the planet Talos IV, the home of the Talosians. The big-brained, telepathic aliens will use their abilities to get inside Spock's mind and, hopefully, provide some much-needed answers to this Red Angel mystery. The visit sets the stage for Spock's return a decade later. In TOS, Spock revisits Talos IV to deliver Captain Pike, who was forced to live out his remaining days on the M class planet after suffering from delta-particle radiation poisoning.
3. He didn't always hate Burnham
Spock wasn't exactly receptive to Burnham when Sarek and Amanda first brought her home. He slammed a door in her face when she extended her hand, setting the tone for a rocky relationship. Their years-long estrangement suggests things may not have improved much in that department. But a flashback showed at least one genuine moment between the pair, with Spock seemingly intrigued by his new adoptive sister. With Burnham fighting so hard to save him, it's clear that there's much more to this already complicated dynamic.
Catch Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c exclusively on CBS All Access.
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