<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/spock1-800×533.jpg" alt = "Ethan Peck took on the legendary role of Spock for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery"/>
Enlarge /. Ethan Peck took on the legendary role of Spock for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery
CBS All Access
Star Trek: Discovery is leisurely about storytelling, especially in S1, but frankly that's part of its appeal. It's a character show that takes the time to explore complex emotions and relationships. As we wrote in our year-end summary: "When Discovery lights up, it's like a supernova against the night sky – and much of this light comes from the star image." One of these light sources is the actor Ethan Peck, who plays in the Spock series. Peck recently sat down with Ars Technica to talk about the challenge of putting on fairly large shoes to represent the canonical character.
(Some spoilers for the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery below.)
Discovery is a sequel to the original Star Trek, which takes place about 10 years before Captain James T. Kirk and his intrepid crew took over the USS Enterprise and bravely goes where no man had been before. It shows Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, an orphaned person who was raised on the planet Vulcan by none other than Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner) –aka, Spock's parents she to Spock’s adoptive sister. (Certain purists might object that this violates the Star Trek canon. Ars’s own Kate Cox prefers to call it “sanctioned fanfic. There was undefined space on the edges that they had to fill in, so they did.” )
In S1, Michael has a promising career as USS Shenzhou's first officer under Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) – until a desperate act to prevent a war with a united Klingon race leads them to defy orders and essentially mutiny commit. There were many victims. The season's broad narrative arc is partly her story of salvation when she joins the USS Discovery crew at the behest of Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs). The rest is fighting the Klingons and traveling to a mirror universe, with some pretty big ramifications. The last shot showed how Discovery met the USS Enterprise and undoubtedly sparked excited "Squees"! by die-hard fans.
In season two, Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) temporarily replaced Lorca as Captain of the Discovery while the Enterprise is being repaired. Rather, there was a return to the classic standalone episode structure with a seasonal arc that includes mysterious appearances of a "red angel" and a villainous Starfleet AI called "Control" that tries to wipe out all sentient life in the universe. This is where Spock comes in: He has had visions of the Red Angel since childhood and works with his estranged sister Michael and the rest of the Discovery crew to thwart Control's shameful plan.
/. First officer Saru (Doug Jones), Spock (Ethan Peck), science specialist Michael (Sonequa Martin Green) and captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) on the USS Discovery (NCC-1031).
CBS All Access
Peck readily admits that he's terrified of taking on such an iconic role, following not only in the footsteps of the original Spock, the legendary Leonard Nimoy, but also by Zachary Quinto, who described the Vulcan in J.J. Abram's newly launched film franchise. "I kind of denied it at first because you never expected that kind of role to appear," Peck told Ars.
Once he grabbed the role, "I had to overcome a lot of self-doubt," he said. "I wasn't sure if I was ready to take on so much responsibility. I knew it could change my life dramatically. On the one hand, I had dreamed of something like that. On the other hand, if you get your dreams, it's the real thing Work begins and you need to find out what you're made of. "
Fortunately, the actor lives by tackling difficult challenges and has adapted to the occasion. He found inspiration in earlier Spock portrayals and in the 1984 film Starman, in which Jeff Bridges, as an alien, struggled with his new human body and the chaotic world of human emotions. And when he got used to the figure, a bit of Spock began to rub against him, especially when it came to wasting mental energy for self-doubt.
"I realized that Spock would never think that way," he said. "With Spock, I learned how important it is to improve your own programming. There were a number of thoughts that were bad for my preparation for the role. It really came from the thought of always thinking: & # 39; What would Spock do? & # 39; As an actor, you have to wiggle yourself into thoughts that are not your own. "
"What makes Spock so convincing is the constant conflict in it."
Part of this challenge is to convey emotions and Spock's essential human side if the character is known to be logical, precise, and suspicious of emotions. Nimoy was a master of expressively raised eyebrows. While Peck says that he also has "articulated eyebrows", he was hampered in taking advantage of this feature by the fact that his make-up required "eyebrow blockers": a prosthesis that was placed over his actual eyebrows instead of in the Shave classic Vulcan. "I had to make sure that I raised my eyebrows high enough every time I had to do that," he said.
Instead, he focused on the eyes and vocal cadences to emphasize the character's thoughtfulness and introspection. "What makes Spock so convincing is the constant conflict in it," said Peck. "The conflict between logic and emotion, between Vulcan and man. I always saw in Nimoy's eyes a deep understanding of the emotions around him and an empathy with those around him. That was not always communicated verbally. But you see it in time that he needs to look at moments or situations. I think that expresses his humanity very well. "
The gradual humanization of Spock probably began in the 1980s with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) after (Spoiler Alert!) Spock's death and resurrection, which became increasingly apparent in the Abrams franchise. Discovery's Spock incarnation is probably the most humanized to date, best characterized by his difficult relationship with his estranged adoptive sister Michael – an important thematic arc for the season. We only meet Spock in S2 when Michael finds him on Vulcan, psychologically tormented by the return of his childhood visions from the Red Angel.
Enlarge /. The relationship between Spock and his adoptive sister Michael is an important means to explore his humanity.
CBS All Access
"As I understood it, Spock had spent so much time dividing his humanity that it was harming him now," said Peck. "I think Michael really teaches Spock something about his humanity. Her childhood, leaving him forces him to end his feelings, and he grew up on a planet that doesn't accept emotions. So when they reconnect, there is it's a bit of a reeducation that emotion and instinct give us something that is beyond logic. "In other words, Michael helps him become the best version of his dual self.
Unfortunately, Spock appears unlikely to play a role in Star Trek: Discovery's upcoming third season, as the spacecraft in the S2 final was forced to travel over 900 years to defeat Control. Spock was unable to accompany Michael and the rest of the crew on this trip, for no other reason than to maintain the canonical timeline. The good news is that a spin-off series with Pike, number one (Rebecca Romijin) and Spock together on board the USS Enterprise is already under development – probably also a sequel to TOS, considering what we think about Pikes know last fate.
Although there is no guarantee that such a series will eventually take place and the current pandemic has slowed everything in Hollywood for the time being, Peck would like to repeat the role and take the opportunity to explore the character's inner world further. "I would like to continue playing this character and be part of this world," he said. "Sure, I am now biased because I am part of it and drank the Kool-Aid, but Star Trek is almost religious. Its ideology offers hope that people can hold onto. Community that was created. It celebrates what illuminates us as human beings, what makes us great. "
Maybe we need Star Trek now more than ever. Get your trek this weekend with a Star Trek: Discovery marathon. It is still streaming on CBS All Access, along with Picard and past seasons.