As I said in my review of “The Way to Eden”, DC Fontana was one of Star Trek‘s best writers. So many great stories came from her, including this one. It’s also one of two episodes starring Mark Leonard.
This episode was a glimpse into Spock’s character and introduces his parents, Sarek (played by Mark Leonard) and Amanda. Sarek would later go on to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in fact he was one of three characters from TOS to do so. (the others being McCoy and Scotty)
We also get some great world-building in this story, particularly in the introduction of the Andorians. While the Andorians did not appear in any more episodes of TOS, they did appear in the prequel series Enterprise. There is tension between the Andorian ambassador Thelev and the Tellarite ambassador Gav, leading him to assassinate Gav.
Sarek seems cold towards Spock, as if he rejects his joining Starfleet. Amanda, however is more compassionate towards her son. This dynamic is a great glimpse into Spock’s character, especially when Sarek goes into cardiac arrest and Spock is asked to donate his blood. He refuses because Kirk was attacked when he confronted Thelev.
Spock’s estrangement from his parents is the central focus in the story. I always liked the episodes that showed how multi-faceted Spock was. It’s something that’s easily forgotten. Yes, Spock was a cold, logical person, but he also had to contend with his emotions. I enjoy these episodes because they show both sides of his personality.
This episode really is Star Trek at its best, and it shows the legacy DC Fontana left on the franchise. She started out at a very young age as a script editor, but through Roddenberry’s encouragement, began submitting scripts, often using a pseudonym due to the attitude towards women at the time.
Next, we return to the worst episodes, and “The Savage Curtain”, in which the Enterprise and the Klingons encounter some of the most unlikeliest guest characters.