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Star Trek: Discovery May Be Explaining Spock's Original Series Mutiny

Star Trek Discovery Michelle Yeoh Sonequa Martin-Green

The Difference Between Spock and Michael Burnham's Mutinies

It's ironic that both of Sarek's children are mutineers but, in typical Spock fashion, the Vulcan not only learned from his foster sister's mutiny, he actually managed to improve on it. In "The Menagerie", Spock may have stolen the Enterprise, lied to Captain Kirk and his crew, and he even attacked and disabled Starfleet technicians on a Starbase in order to beam Pike aboard his ship, but he suffered no ramifications for it. No one died during Spock's mutiny and once the entire gambit was revealed as an act of mercy, Starfleet and Kirk instantly forgave Spock for conspiring with the Talosians - who were known enemies of the Federation - and allowed Pike to live out the remainder of his life on Talos IV. What's more, once it was stricken from the record books, Spock got away scot-free and his mutiny was never mentioned again.

Afterwards, Kirk never raised the subject of Spock betraying Starfleet or even teased his emotionless best friend about "that one time you stole the Enterprise"; in fact, Spock would commit similar acts later in The Original Series, such as in "Amok Time" when he hijacked the Enterprise again to deliver him to Vulcan while he was gripped in the temporary madness of Pon Farr. All's well that ends well for Spock when he mutinies and, as time went on, disobeying orders to save the Earth even becomes something of a calling card for Kirk's entire Enterprise crew.

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By contrast, Michael Burnham suffered personally and professionally from the ramifications of her mutiny. As in the case of Spock trying to save Pike, Burnham betrayed Georgiou because she truly believed she was trying to save the Alpha Quadrant from the Klingons. Instead, she instigated the war that led to mass destruction and thousands of deaths. The entire arc of Star Trek: Discovery season 1 revolved around Michael's attempt to redeem herself and, even though she does save the Federation and has her rank restored, her status as Starfleet's first mutineer will always hang like a black cloud over her head.

Unlike Spock, Michael is permanently scarred and defined by her mutiny. Despite all being forgiven, in "Brother", the season 2 premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, Burnham is visibly rankled when Pike pointedly mentions the Klingon War that she started. Burnham was raised on Vulcan and tries to replicate Spock's cool Vulcan reserve, but she always carries the deep sorrow over the harm she caused and it permeates her being. Michael may never get past the infamy of being Starfleet's first mutineer no matter how hard she tries while, unfairly, Spock is never judged by his similar actions.

What This Means For Spock In Star Trek: Discovery Season 2

As a prequel series, Star Trek: Discovery season 2 looks primed to take advantage of its opportunity to provide a great deal of context to Spock. This is an era of his life that fans have only seen fleeting glimpses of; at this time period, Spock is younger, rawer, and the Vulcan will be coming to grips with the emotions of his human side. The Spock portrayed by Leonard Nimoy that fans know best is the cool, unflappable, fully-formed Vulcan; the Spock as portrayed by Ethan Peck on Star Trek: Discovery is still learning and is wrestling with his private demons (nightmares perhaps caused by the red signals tied to the entity called the Red Angel which have plagued Spock since he was a child).

Along with adding depth to Spock's loyalty to Captain Pike, Star Trek: Discovery will also explore Spock's problematic relationship to Michael. Seeing Spock in this era should provide fascinating insight into the building blocks that turned the Vulcan into the remarkable character who will one day sacrifice his own life to save Captain Kirk from the wrath of Khan in Star Trek II and, in turn, inspire such loyalty from his Enterprise crewmates that they all committed mutiny in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to bring their favorite Vulcan back when he's reborn on the Genesis planet.

Ironically, many of Kirk's Enterprise's most famous missions involve disregarding Starfleet's orders and taking matters into their own hands to save the galaxy. These are lessons Spock himself logically must have learned from his foster sister on Star Trek: Discovery, along with the wisdom not to repeat the mistakes Michael Burnham made.

Next: Star Trek: Discovery Makes Fun Of A Decades-Old Enterprise Problem

Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.

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