Paramount+’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is halfway through its second season. So far, the series has been giving Trek fans, like me, the perfect Trek experience. As stated on The ‘Verse! Podcast many times, it is quickly becoming my favorite Star Trek property for many reasons. The writing, the design, and of course the acting/character work.
In the latest episode (205 “Charades”), SNW gives us a much-needed comedic break from the last three episodes’ more serious tones. In “Charades”, a space shuttle accident accidentally turns Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck) into a fully human being instead of his half-human/half-Vulcan state of existence. This could not come at a worse time as Spock’s soon-to-be in-laws are visiting for a Vulcan engagement ritual. And they are already not too happy with Spock’s mixed heritage. In order to pull off the ritual successfully, Spock and the crew of Enterprise, need to put on a charade where, of course, hijinx ensue.
Awards Radar spoke with Ethan Peck about his work on this episode and what it was like for him to portray an emotional version of a character that is famously not emotional. You can listen to the full interview with Ethan below.
Ethan said “It was nuts. It felt totally insane to be doing. But the episode was so wonderfully written and so incredibly directed. Jordan Canning (Director) was just such an amazing collaborator. I felt safe with her. Because there are some big risks that I take with Spock, right? I mean, he’s not his normal self. So yeah, every scene was kind of like, how does this tie back to who I am as Spock? And I really leaned into these wonderful qualities of Spock, that he’s full of wonder. He’s deeply curious. He’s an adventurer, and here’s this adventure occurring within him. And, to interact with this world that he’s so familiar with, is this new self? is just so much fun for him, I think. And scary, too, right? I mean, it’s, it’s the human experience. It’s, we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s like, we’re full of emotions. We’re not rational. It’s, you know, we’re trying to do it right. And we get it wrong. It’s, it’s just so human.”
Toward the end of the episode, the Crew is able to figure out a way to get Spock back to his normal self. Just in time for the final, and most Vulcan part of the ritual; a Vulcan mind meld with Spock’s own mother. After the successful completion of the ritual, Spock reveals that he was actually human for two-thirds of the ritual. This causes a rift between Spock and his betrothed, T’Pring (Gia Sandhu). But this development leaves room for a relationship with fellow crew member Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush).
I asked Ethan if this would mean that we were going to see Spock explore his human side more and he had this to say: “I guess he’s constantly trying to understand his humaneness. And I think Michael Burnham has sent him on this journey of discovering his humaneness and how important it is to become who he will be, which is the Spock of Leonard Nimoy and the original series. You might say that Nimoy Spock is more Vulcan. But this is a point in time in his life when understanding his humaneness is really important to his journey of self-realization. I remember, like really feeling sad at the end of that episode. And I was joking with other classmates like you’re gonna miss human Spock because I think he brought a lot of joy to other people and his struggle to do things right and understand himself and, and just be a person.”
Exploring a legacy character is often difficult and with the passing of Leonard Nimoy in 2015, I asked Ethan if he was able to reach out to Zachary Quinto who played Spock in the J.J. Abrams movies.
Ethan informed me, “I didn’t get to speak to Zachary about it. Although we tried. But we haven’t really spoken about it, and at this point, I would like to say I’ve discovered who Spock is to me. He feels alive in me and I don’t want to mess with it too much. But, you know, who I spoke with about it is James Frain who plays Sarek from Discovery. He offered some wonderful insights into his process with the character. He referenced samurai and the samurai way of life and culture and discipline. There’s a lot of discipline in Vulcan culture and self-regulation So he really was the one, my touch point for Vulcanism.”
Ethan’s portrayal of Spock is just one of many reasons to watch Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. You can currently stream from the beginning of the series up to episode 205 “Charades” on Paramount+. Also, you can get more episode breakdowns over at The ‘Verse! Podcast which can be found where ever you listen to your favorite podcasts.