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It's logical: on Spock/Uhura

In short: I totally didn't see it coming, but it completely worked for me. The more I think about it in retrospect, the more sense it makes. One thing that keeps popping up in the horde of mediocre fanfic and the various discussion forums bothers me, though: people seem to be assuming that Spock and Uhura were a couple when they were at the Academy.


I guess everybody can read what they prefer into the movie--it's nicely ambiguous on this point--but I don't think Spock and Uhura were a couple before the events in the movie. They were clearly more than just student and instructor, but I doubt anything could have prompted Spock to open up to her as anything more than an intellectual sparring partner.

He would certainly have been fond of her, but unwilling to really admit it to himself, never mind to her. His acute awareness of his split heritage and his desire to fit in as a Vulcan have driven him to perhaps seek an even greater depth of emotional detachment than the average Vulcan, if such a thing is possible. When he moves to Earth, it's more to spite Vulcan than it is because he wants to embrace the warmth of human culture. He still respects the Vulcan perspective more than the human one, perhaps even disdaining most human interactions as inefficient but necessary, to a minimal degree.

Uhura is intelligent, professional, and loves knowledge and learning, all characteristics that earn Spock's respect. She studies all forms of communication, although she's most known for her linguistic abilities. She's probably studied the subtleties of body language. Her knowledge of these subtleties and her extraordinary hearing (note her ability to detect Kirk's presence just by his change in breathing!) put her in the unique position of being able to "read" Spock's emotions / moods better than anyone, without him having to change his normal behavior. During the years that she gets to know him at the Academy, it is likely that a lot of what she would perceive when she was around him was his discomfort in his own skin. Given all of this, I expect that she would have felt rather protective of him. Out of respect for his wishes and to protect him from any potential censure, she would never have jeopardized their Academy relationship by hitting on him.

I can easily believe that he tutored her (where do you think she learned "all three dialects of Romulan" from?), and that would naturally have led to a stronger attachment to her than to any of his other students. He would have been aware of that attachment and it would have been distasteful to him (the only emotion he'd probably admit to regarding it). Even if he were to acknowledge to himself that he was attracted to her, he would never have allowed a more personal relationship to develop, because he wouldn't have wanted anything to cast doubt on the fact that she was advancing solely on her own merit. When he was required to complete the ship assignments, he chose not to assign Uhura to the Enterprise, to prove to himself (and to anyone else who cared) that he didn't have a special attachment to her. Uhura, of course, would have figured all of this out and that's why she starts out the boarding scene looking angry and makes a beeline straight for him. She demands that she be assigned to the Enterprise for two reasons: because she's proud enough to know that she's the best and thus should be on the flagship (the indisputably logical reason she gives him), and because she doesn't want to be separated from him. She's not ashamed of her attraction to him, is quite aware of it, and is willing to be very, very patient, knowing that it'll take a while to crack his shell, if she ever manages it at all.

I think only something on the level of losing his mother and Vulcan in the same moment could have:

  • pushed him even as far as to storm out of the bridge, upset
  • flagged Uhura on what was, for him, a emotional breakdown, and prompted her to break even her own rules about how she acted around him because she could perceive his pain so acutely
  • prompted him to let her see him give in and then (!) to kiss her back, even briefly.

When Sarek (Spock's Vulcan father) later admitted to Spock that he loved Amanda (Spock's human mother), that was the real turning point, I think. After that, Spock would be willing to consider a lot more with respect to Uhura.


In other words, I wouldn't have swallowed Spock/Uhura without the extreme events in this movie, but now that it's perfectly logical, they've got me hook, line, & sinker!

Comments

Ha ha. Spot on.

Plot is character as subtext is what makes this movie great. It elevates the film beyond your summer blockbuster. This is embodied in Spock, and Uhura helps drive this point into our subconscious. It's so well done, you don't really notice except for a few places which are absolutely necessary and part of character. Star Trek the show was far less sophisticated in handling the subtext. This is a different essay of course, and I'm working on it.

Anyway, I think Spock is angry at Vulcan when he goes to Star Fleet. Their rejection of his mother infuriates him. I agree he sides more with his Vulcan side, but this is, I think, in order to control his very Vulcan emotions. Such emotions require control. I don't believe Spock has a choice at this age but to try to follow the teachings of his Vulcan heritage.

His disdain is a shield. He doesn't know how else to cope. I think your read on Uhura reading him is perfect. I am in full agreement.

I'm glad someone sent me your link!

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I'd love to read your essay whenever it's ready!

The idea that Spock's anger is due the Vulcans' rejection of his mother (rather than their attitude towards him, directly) is fascinating. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

I love the idea of a character whose emotions are so powerful that the only way to cope with them is to control them so severely that he appears emotionless to anyone who doesn't know him well. There's such a lovely dichotomy there--he's basically a magnet for any reader / viewer who's the slightest bit moved by inner conflict.

Despite the common notion of Spock as always being coolly detached, Nimoy's Spock had plenty of emotional moments and he (slowly) found an anchor in Kirk's friendship. I don't think the canon characters had any interest in slash, so there's a level at which their friendship stops and Spock remains essentially alone in dealing with himself. Bringing Uhura into the picture allows Spock to go a lot further with someone, although in essence we're all alone, no matter how close we get to our loved ones.

Uhura can never fill the hole that Amanda's death left behind, but I'm sure there are aspects of her personality that are similar. It takes a very specific sort of person to be (a) attractive to a Vulcan, (b) not think the Vulcan was emotionless, haughty, and distant, and (c) willing to leave behind everything she knows to face a hostile reception while accepting that fate that with poise. I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if a large (perhaps unconscious) part of Uhura's appeal is that she reminds Spock of his mother.

p.s. -- Who sent me your link? :)
Spock touches more people than anyone else in the ST universe for the reasons you cite. He is the most popular character on the show. The creator tried to have the same success in future incarnations of Trek and managed to do well, but was never able to re-create the depth of the Spock character. We're fond of Data and the other misfits, but Spock resonates the most.

LOL

I think that's another essay and no, I haven't started that one!

I think the slash issue in canon is debatable and Roddenberry himself left the door open somewhat, although it can be argued differently. I'm not sure it matters whether it is there or not, as there is more than enough material in the original series to keep people with that point of view happy for a lifetime.

Personally, I'm flexible. I want my characters interesting first and if a story has a slash or a het focus, that's ok as long as it is interesting on some level.

I thought the same as you regarding Uhura probably having characteristics in common with his mother, and this being a reason he finds her attractive. I almost wrote about this in depth here, but I got distracted - oh god, what's that! A spare thought! A random moment! A turn of phrase! - what was I gonna write???? DUH

Regarding being alone, Vulcans are not like humans. They are not alone. This is one of the things that drives us towards the character. Yes, he is alone because he's isolated himself but he doesn't have to be alone IF he can find a mate.

Vulcans are touch telepaths. Spock does not have to be alone with Uhura. And she has an opportunity to be a part of something larger, something only a few humans have ever had.


ps. JulesRaven sent me a link to your journal. She's quite brilliant but doesn't write on LJ.

pps I wrote the essay about a week ago. I'm just waiting for a few people to take a look at it because of the sensitive nature of its content. But your "plot being character" is one of the summary points. I was very pleased to see it written elsewhere as I don't want to believe my thoughts are off base.

pps. sorry if this is disjointed. Have a headache. Rather fierce too.

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Personally, I'm flexible. I want my characters interesting first and if a story has a slash or a het focus, that's ok as long as it is interesting on some level.

If it makes sense and it's compelling...it's just that a lot of slash and het fic out there isn't well-written. And personally, I just can't see Kirk/Spock working. Kirk is too het, and Spock is too reserved.

I almost wrote about this in depth here, but I got distracted - oh god, what's that! A spare thought! A random moment! A turn of phrase! - what was I gonna write???? DUH

LOL

You are not alone.

Regarding being alone, Vulcans are not like humans. They are not alone.

I didn't understand this bit. Do you mean that because they can connect telepathically, they never feel alone?

Vulcans are touch telepaths. Spock does not have to be alone with Uhura. And she has an opportunity to be a part of something larger, something only a few humans have ever had.

Ah, now THIS is an interesting idea. It suggests all kinds of fascinating possibilities. I think I'd be in seventh heaven if they kept making good plots happen in future movies, with very subtle sketches of Spock/Uhura in the background throughout. The fact that the two of them could communicate with just a touch could be an incredibly powerful plot device (and we'd get "the touch that launched a thousand fanfics" :).

It wouldn't necessarily amount to "Spock does not have to be alone with Uhura", though. For the people who work with Spock on a daily basis, they know he's not a physically-demonstrative type of person. Making the act of touching her seem natural and unnoticeable would not normally be easy, although at times it would be possible.

Still looking for JulesRaven...all I can find is somebody on Flickr.
Me thinks you should grab a hold of the TOS remasters. They are EXCELLENT and will answer a lot of the questions you have.

And personally, I just can't see Kirk/Spock working. Kirk is too het, and Spock is too reserved.

The argument is thus: Kirk is portrayed in het because the show was created in 1966. Just because we see him with women, doesn't mean he's not interested in others. We know he's a horn dog, however this behavior doesn't really apply to Spock anyway. Kirk and Spock are something different. Watch Kirk in the first season. Watch his interactions, his expressions and tone of voice.

When Jim Kirk steps onto the bridge the first place his eyes go is to Mr. Spock. The fondness in his expression is shocking by today's standard. They do not do this in modern television. They're too freaked out to play it this way. Men aren't supposed to care this much, this openly.

I started watching the the re-masters 2 months ago and I totally get where people read the subtext.

Anyway, that's my understanding.

I was pretty fascinated by this as a kid and as a young woman. But I hadn't seen much of the show past the early 70s and I ended up interested in slash because when you went to conventions, that's what you found in fanzines. If you loved Spock (and I did) you didn't have any other place to go that wasn't completely made up.

The movie is a great thing for fans because it gives fans another creative place to take Spock romantically.

I didn't understand this bit. Do you mean that because they can connect telepathically, they never feel alone?

I stated that with too much emphasis. We don't really know their state of mind connectedness. But we do know some things:

They are bonded as children so the male can survive the Pon Farr (sp?). Always touching and never touched (paraphrased... something like that). The bond is there. There is a mating bond which is consumated.

Also, in the episode the "Doomsday Machine", when the Intrepid is destroyed, Spock is stunned and staggers. He knows when the Vulcan ship is gone because he feels the death of 400 minds.

They didn't go into this in the movie. I believe they may have felt the loss of the mother was enough, and non-fans wouldn't understand if Spock and Sarek collapsed from the intensity of the death of billions. Another way to interpret this might be that her loss is so personal and intimate, it blocks out the death cries of the billions.

This is speculation. I don't know why they didn't go into it. It bugs me, but only a little. Long time Trek fans can't get too wrapped up in the loss of details or they won't enjoy the movie. LOL

Touch telepathy, mind melds and bonding are so much a part of Star Trek culture, it's in Gen stories. In fact... in the movie Kirk melded with Spock Prime and came away with knowledge. What does he know about Spock that Spock doesn't know about himself?

This mind meld is spawning stories all over the place. Young Spock doesn't even know it happened.

Think about the ramifications. It's fascinated story wise.

Yes, there will be 1000s of fics involving Uhura and telepathy. I haven't seen many outside of Pon Farr centered stories, but they will come as these new fans learn more about Vulcans.

The reason Spock is not outwardly demonstrable is because he is a touch telepath. In fact, he has enough trouble isolating himself from the bleed through of human minds broadcasting, that touch is difficult.

Sorry, for some reason my post didn't go through properly. How annoying! I don't know if this edit is any good either, but I am going to post it and run.

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This mind meld is spawning stories all over the place. Young Spock doesn't even know it happened.

Yeah, I had noticed that. On my second viewing, I noticed how after Spock Prime ended the mind meld, Kirk staggered back looking stunned and about ready to burst into tears. After he gets a hold of himself, he says to Spock Prime "You DO feel!" and Spock Prime simply says, "Yes".

After that point, Kirk's attitude towards Spock is totally different. He provokes Spock into exploding, but he doesn't get any pleasure out of it and I don't think he likes himself for having done it, even though it was necessary.

But yes, it gives him a unique perspective on Spock that Uhura doesn't have, and probably not even Spock himself. Definitely fascinating fic fodder. :)
The reason Spock is not outwardly demonstrable is because he is a touch telepath. In fact, he has enough trouble isolating himself from the bleed through of human minds broadcasting, that touch is difficult.

Oh wait...are you saying that the telepathic connection is involuntary and automatic when he's in physical contact with someone? That would definitely make touch a painful / uncomfortable experience most of the time. It would also make the first Spock / Uhura scene in the lift have a completely new dimension that I wasn't aware of.

But I thought Spock had voluntary control over when and how he connected telepathically, at least under normal circumstances.
No I don't think they are automatic. They shield themselves. I am certain they avoid physical touching to lessen the requirement to harden it.

I believe somewhere, in some episode he complains about humans broadcasting their emotions all over the place, but I'll have to find out what it is.

Yes many good fic plot bunnies in Star Trek!

ps I am a bit out of it so forgive me any vagaries and non sequential comments. I go tangential when i'm out of it.

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It's a fractured conversation, thanks to the internets. No worries.

I could easily picture Spock complaining about humans broadcasting their emotions all over the place, but I wonder if he was referring to telepathic broadcasting or simply the human tendency to make their emotions so much more apparent through their words and actions. Even that level of constant awareness of others' emotion is probably a bit exhausting for him, prompting him to retreat so he can have time to achieve peace of mind. Classic introvert behavior. He's basically the ultimate INTJ.
The reason Spock is not outwardly demonstrable is because he is a touch telepath. In fact, he has enough trouble isolating himself from the bleed through of human minds broadcasting, that touch is difficult.

I was under the impression that Spock can really only get access to someone's thoughts if he's in physical contact with them. The death-screams of 400 Vulcans is probably something qualitatively different, but just being on the bridge with a bunch of humans isn't costing him a lot of effort. If it were that easy for him to pick up on thoughts, he wouldn't be that obtuse in his relationships, and he'd act a lot more like a Betazoid. I don't think he's always being obtuse on purpose, although I'm willing to believe he chooses to feign ignorance on many occasions.
I'll definitely grab the remasters at some point. One of my friends has been encouraging me to try them out. :)
JulesRaven, the artist on Flickr, is the same JulesRaven on LJ. At least I thought she was JR here... I'll have to check.

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