Star Trek, the show pitched as ‘Wagon Train to the Stars’ was, more than anything, a commentary on the condition of humanity. On it’s virtues and its flaws, on its trials and tribulations, on where it had been, where it was, and where it could go. What made that possible, more than anything, was the presence of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock.
The half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock was a blend of an outsider’s and an insider’s view of humanity. One of us enough to be emotionally connected, to have a stake in our game, and distant enough to be able to offer criticism without bias. Spock was, in his embracing of his Vulcan half, someone who did not want to be one of us, the opposite of Pinnochio’s (or Data’s) desire to be a ‘real boy.’ And that was both confounding and necessary. We’re awesome, who wouldn’t want to be us? Spock was always there to show us, and why.
Without Spock, with so much of that central theme of Star Trek removed, the series would have died in 1969, like Spock himself in The Wrath of Khan, only with no Search for Star Trek to follow. I think Kirk was supposed to be the ultimate male hero; strong, attractive, intelligent, a born leader, which would have made for a very boring character. Spock was there to essentially point out ‘you’re kind of a dumbass Captain. Why are you such a dumbass? Can we please do this this non-dumbass way Captain?’
Humanity is essentially one giant dumbass and while Roddenberry envisioned a utopian society with virtually no ills, the presence of Spock ensured that his conflict-less (plot-less) vision was never realized. So many Star Trek episodes consisted of Kirk’s human impulses versus Spock’s reverence for logic that it’s impossible to name just one. (So many probably also consisted of Shatner’s human impulses versus Nimoy’s calm as well.)
Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was a constant reminder to humanity that there is a better way, there is a better future. I think that Nimoy’s enduring legacy will be that in life, as a person, he’s shown us that too.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015