It always strikes me when watching episodes of The Animated Series, how “disco” that the opening theme was. “Yesteryear” was written by the legendary D. C. Fontana, as a sort-of sequel to “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Anyhow, this episode deals with Spock as an adult and a child. Mark Lenard returns to his role as Spock’s father (Sarek). Sigh… I was hoping to see young Michael Burnham in this one too, but no dice. But this episode may have inspired the beginning of Star Trek (2009), as you’ll see.
We join the Enterprise as the ship is in orbit around the planet of the time vortex, which Kirk explains is the “focus of all the timelines of our galaxy.” Hey, if time crystals can work, so can all the timelines streaming toward one planet, right?
The crew is there to help a team of historians as they probe into the Federation’s past by using the Guardian of Forever, which was first seen in “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This “device” allows the user to travel back in time and is of unknown origin. The audience is shown Dr. McCoy, along with a human female and a biped Griffin, all studying the Guardian.
Kirk and a red-shirted crewman (who looked a whole lot like New York Jet’s quarterback Joe Namath) popped out of the Guardian and spoke about their trip to Orion at the dawn of their civilization.
Spock followed soon after, but no one there, except for Kirk, knew who the Vulcan was. Apparently, something was changed in the past, which affected the present. Mr. Scott was also surprised by Spock when they beamed aboard.
Kirk admonished Scotty, saying that the first officer of the Enterprise must be treated with respect. Just then, an Andorian walked in, claiming to be the first officer. The Andorian, who was voiced by James Doohan, was named Thalen, and McCoy recognized him too as the real first officer.
Spock figured that something was off due to a change in the past. Kirk checked Starfleet’s records and learned that there was no one named Spock serving — past or present. They did find out that Sarek (Spock’s father) and Amanda Grayson (Spock’s human mother) got divorced after the death of their child — who was named Spock.
Kirk and Spock went back to the planet’s surface and spoke to the scientist and the griffin, who revealed that while our heroes were on Orion, they were studying Vulcan’s past. Spock was supposed to have gone back in time to save himself, but instead, he was with Kirk on Orion.
It turns out that young Spock died during the Kahs-wan, which was a “survival test, traditional for young males.” Spock then remembered that instead of dying, his memory was that he was saved by a cousin named Selek.
Kirk asked the Guardian if Spock could repair the timeline, and the answer was “yes.” Before he left, Spock asked for some clothes that would fit the time in Vulcan’s past. Thalen wished him well and told Spock to “live long and prosper.”
Spock arrived in Vulcan and witnessed his younger-self getting bullied — just like he did at the start of Star Trek (2009). Thankfully, J.J. Abrams put more clothes on the Vulcan boys who were harassing young Spock in his film. Even the way the boys were teasing Spock was nearly identical to the 2009 movie.
Spock tried to use the neck pinch, but couldn’t, which made the boys make even more fun of him. As Spock watched, Sarek (Mark Lenard) walked up from behind and apologized for his son’s “emotional” behavior. Spock said nothing would be said about it since they are family.
Sarek said that Spock ought to stay with them before finishing his long journey. Spock, I mean, Salek, agreed.
At first, I thought that it might have been cool to hear a little bit of the Vulcan language here, but the actual language had not been created yet. That would come in the early 1980s, thanks to linguist Mark Okrand, who created the language for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Later, Sarek laid into poor young Spock, telling him that he’d better quit using those pesky emotions. Soon he’d have to choose between his human half and his Vulcan half.
Sarek also warned young Spock to prepare for the Kahs-wan. Folks would make fun of him for years if he screwed this up. For emotionless logic-lovers, the Vulcans really can be nasty to each other. Spock was a bit nervous after his father warned him.
He went to his bear-walrus-dog, “I Chaya,” and confided his fears to the pet. Young Spock went out into the desert, but I Chaya followed. Spock (Selek) followed as well, and he found his younger self about to be attacked by a dinosaur-like creature. I Chaya jumped at the animal, and old Spock was able to use a double neck pinch to make the lizard fall unconscious.
NOTE: The lizard-creature (the La Macha) used the same roar as Godzilla. Not kidding!
During the attack, I Chaya suffered a wound, which ought to be fatal due to the attack of the lizard. On the way back, Spock and Spock spoke about the dynamics of “their” family. Spock advised his younger self that Vulcans do have emotions.
Spock said that the pet was too large to carry, but he needed care. Young Spock decided to run and get a healer, while Old Spock put I Chaya to rest. Young Spock brought back a “healer” who was unable to save I Chaya. The healer made Young Spock decide what to do… and Spock allowed I Chaya to die.
When they returned to their home, Young Spock told Sarek that he decided to choose Vulcan over Earth. Sarek didn’t seem to upset over I Chaya’s death — perhaps that was a wise choice. If a human child got their dog killed running away, there would be hell to pay when the kid returned home. And who would pay the vet bill?
Young Spock then ran off to show his schoolmates how the Vulcan neck pinch worked. Old Spock left too, journeying back through the Guardian. Kirk was waiting, and they beamed up. McCoy greeted them, and he remembered Spock.
The doctor complained about recalibrating his equipment to scan a Vulcan. Spock said that if a few things were different, McCoy would be examining an Andorian instead. McCoy didn’t get the joke.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
This was a very enjoyable installment with a great plot and lots of ties to The Original Series. I am pretty sure that it also impacted the J.J. Abrams Star Trek film (as mentioned), and some say that portions of the storyboard were incorporated into Enterprise many years later. Despite Gene Roddenberry’s efforts to discard TAS from the official Trek canon, the love of this little series persists.
I did not enjoy the voice of Young Spock (Billy Simpson), but I also recall that most children on animated shows of this era sounded a lot like Simpson did. Annoying.
RATING: 4 out of 5