How does Abramverse fit into this, anyway?
Or, why Abramverse is awesome and full of possibilities despite Spock/Uhura, Alternative Universes, and eyes that changed colors.
I know most of us K/S fans don't find latest Star Trek movie good, not for canon, and especially not for our most beloved pairing. It's flashy, dynamic, has oh so goddamn many lens flares, Vulcan blows up (or in, actually) and Spock/Uhura was as random as drunk person's aim in the game of Darts! But I liked ST XI, actually, and I'd like to tell you why, and maybe change your mind about it, at least a little.
I know some of you feel that the influx of new fans, dragged here by the show “Heroes” and general Blockbuster-ness of ST XI is unbearable to some, but don't dismiss the movie only because it has a tail of silly people. And for the love of god, don't dismiss every new person that pops in. You might find that some are here to stay and will prove to be a big asset to the fandom.
I first watched The Original Series when I was 9 years old, shipped Kirk/Spock from the ripe age of 10 and never had any doubts about how their relationship progressed from friendship to love, in TOS, to full-blown togetherness, from The Motion Picture onwards. They had some good and bad times, with alien pollen, time traveling, androids, evil overlords from 20th century, Tribbles, Klingons, Romulans, shagging aliens and so on. Kirk and Spock were well established, full characters, Kirk being this ingenious Captain, full of life, with his mad problem solving skills, love for history and classic literature and camping (as amusing as camping might sound), and Spock was calm, collected, most of all logical, super-intelligent well... geek actually. We knew some things about their past, but they were never really shown, we never really found out how they got to where they were when we first saw them.
ST XI tried to fix it somewhat. Show us some tiny episodes from Kirk and Spock's lives before Starfleet, show us how they got to be friends, what drove them and so on. And it would all be fine... if not for Nero. He screwed up the timeline.
First thing he did was kill Kirk's dad. That changed everything about little Jim and then, grown up James. He wasn't that chess-playing, book-reading Captain anymore, it gave him edginess, pulled out the rebel that TOS Jim only shown us rarely. He became a cocky daredevil. It also robbed the Kirk we know from one defining experience, namely Tarsus IV. But remember that the James T. Kirk from TOS is ten years older than Jim Kirk we see in this movie, and ten years is a long time for someone to mellow out a little, claim control of their brashness and cockiness and actually become the Captain we know and love.
The destruction of Vulcan, also at the hands of Nero, really took at toll on young Jim. He did seem harsh, asking Spock “The surface of WHAT?”, but in my opinion, it was not malicious in any way, more scared and disbelieving. Also, the remorse and compassion you can clearly see in his face just after Vulcan was devoured by the Singularity make me think this is the moment Jim started to become Kirk.
But the process was sped up even more by Spock himself. The mind meld Spock Prime performed on Jim (I don't want to say he forced it because it would imply rape, and judging by Jim's reaction, he did not feel violated), suggest, at least to me, that events leading to the point when Jim and Spock Prime met on Delta Vega (mark II) was not the only thing Spock transferred to Jim through the meld. Jim's attitude changed instantly after coming out from it and trust he put in Spock Prime only intensify this opinion of mine. This is when he truly grew up enough to embrace the Kirkness in him and be the Captain this old, tired Vulcan had shown him. This is when he really became the James T. Kirk we know from TOS. Yes, there were some things still to work on, the rough edges still needed to be polished, but James T. Kirk was a grown up, capable captain we all admire so much already.
I believe that Nero's destruction of Vulcan, combined with killing Kirk's dad and Spock's not entirely consensual, if necessary mind meld, might've caused similar emotional trauma to that caused by Tarsus IV, but also gave Jim and young Spock one more thing to share.
Which brings us to Spock
Spock's life didn't stray much from what we know from TOS until Nero decided to put science in his planet and blow it up (or in, actually). I personally hoped to see his pet, I-Chaya, but no such luck. Instead we get to see Spock beat up a bully (I hope that little snot cried very emotionally), considering Kolinahr and telling Vulcan Science Academy Council to “Live long and fuck you!”. Young Spock was shown to be so much more angry badass than the quite relaxed Vulcan we see in TOS and in the later movies. Constantly pissed off, Spock had some major issues in this movie and, being of the ripe age of 26, could hardly deal with them the Vulcan way, he left scorched earth in his wake. Considering it was ten years to TOS, Spock would have good amount of time to become more at peace with himself and loosen up up a little, in a Vulcan way.
But then Nero came along and imploded Vulcan.
Spock became very emotionally unstable during the time after Vulcans destruction. Unable to cope with how he felt, he tried to hide behind his usual stoic demeanor, but the event probably eschewed his judgment when deciding to maroon Jim on Delta Vega (mark II). Instead of just imprisoning him, he had him launched onto a hostile and dangerous planet, a good distance from a scarcely populated Starfleet outpost. In his anguish Spock also pushed away one of the few remaining people close to him, Uhura.
Further, Spock allowed himself to succumb to the returned Jim's baiting, something he hadn't done since he was a child, and nearly killed him in a fit of rage. It wasn't until his father told him that it was okay to be human, and that he, who was a member of the Vulcan Council, also felt emotion. Love, and loss from that love having departed. It is then that Spock comes to grip with who he is, and realizes that Jim Kirk is taking the right course of action. He stated that Earth was his only remaining home, and that he wanted to protect it. This further deepens when Spock offers himself up as a sacrifice to cripple Nero's ship. He also allows himself to actually open up to Uhura before his departure, something I don't think Spock would normally do.
The friendship and trust between Spock and Jim starts to grow on when the two are transported directly into a combat situation, and forced to rely on each other to survive. Spock further reveals his human side to Kirk as the two part ways on the Jellyfish, asking him to deliver a message to Uhura. He is able to trust his Captain enough to not give him the message, having faith in Jim's plan and in his chances for survival. In his usual logical fashion, Spock prepared to sacrifice himself, the one, to save the many of Earth before being safely beamed aboard the Enterprise mere moments before the Jellyfish collided with Narada, detonating the red matter and sealing Nero's fate. The friendship budding between young Spock and Kirk shows itself again as the two stand side by side and face down a ranting Nero. Kirk offers rescue to Nero and his crew, which a more human Spock would rather not offer. Though it isn't stated, Spock wanted revenge for his home planet and his mother, and ultimately got it, looking with grim satisfaction as Nero and his ship slowly broke into pieces under fire from the Enterprise, and sank into the black hole. In one final scene, Spock is shown preparing to assist in the rebuilding of his race, when he is faced with himself, a hundred and fifty three years older. Here we see the final step in Spock allowing himself to be human, where Spock Prime's convinces his younger self to stay aboard the Enterprise, and seek bonds of friendship with Jim. We then see Spock calmly returning to the deck of the Enterprise, presenting himself in a dry voice for candidacy as first mate. He even ends this with a wry joke "Should you desire, I can provide character references." And this begins what we all know to be a long, fruitful stay aboard the Enterprise, at Kirk's side.
I find it fascinating, that this movie ended with establishing both Kirk and Spock's characters the way they were around ST IV: The Voyage Home, and that's 28 years from the end of ST XI.
Especially Spock was forced into this stage, having experienced the horror of his home planet's destruction and on more personal level, the death of his mother. In ST IV it was Amanda who finally knocked the fact that it's alright to feel through Spock's dense skull. In ST XI, it was his Vulcan father who did so by admitting he loved his wife and was proud of Spock and the fact that he was half human. This reversal helped Spock accept his human side so much faster than in the original timeline. He also managed to pull a Kobayashi Maru, just like in Wrath of Khan, sacrificing himself for greater good. Luckily, he did not die in this attempt. I therefore believe this movie ended with him developing to the point we see him in ST IV.
Kirk also got to grow up pretty fast, no small thank you for this goes to the old Spock, but not to the same extent. But he did manage to do some things old Kirk did in the previous movies, Saving the Earth is obvious, but I'm actually thinking about commandeering a starship. Only Spock and Sulu knew he was made first officer by Captain Pike, so when he tossed yo momma jokes at Spock, provoking him to go apeshit, the entire bridge crew believed he was, in fact, trying to engage in piracy. Just like he did in The Search For Spock. And that, ladies and occasional gentlemen, is character development extending beyond TOS.
Rest of the crew is somewhat left out. Of them Chekov and Sulu are pretty much untouched, Scotty kind of had his theory handed to him, and Uhura is a sassy lass who is banging Spock.
I'd love to say that I wouldn't worry about Uhura much, as I believe she actually serves as T'Pring's stand-in, because T'Pring is you know. Dead. But I can't. First of all, the stand-in theory is so phony it hurts. Second, like it or not, and I know a lot of you hate it, Spock and Uhura are a serious couple. The evidence is presented clearly within the movie itself. For the moment, that is canon. That might change, but the look Uhura and Spock shot each other at the end of the movie clearly establishes that they still consider themselves together at the end of it. It is very clear cut, and well established within the confines.
Now that we know what happened with our two BAMFs, in ST XI, let's talk possibilities.
We basically have Kirk and Spock all ready to go, their characters established as the ones we know and love so much. Only, 10 years earlier. In regards of their relationship it means it can happen so much faster, and so much sooner, as their psychical development already reached the point when, in original timeline, they were together.
I think the problem most of us face is that we've seen Spock and Kirk together for so long that we literally can not see them any other way. It will and has made the lot of us try to desperately find any little way we can to link Kirk and Spock together, and that particular level is not in this movie. Again, they may embrace it later, but for now it is simply not there. It isn't good for us. But and I think this is very important, this is also just the beginning, which would be well before either of them even kind of considered a same sex relationship. I don't think it says "It'll never happen!" so much as it says "Not right now. Later."
Why not take it for what it is? Just the beginning.
I'll spare you the scene-by-scene commentary on ST XI. I'm not going to point out every look and gesture Kirk and Spock do. I'm not going to squee at the fact that by the end, they move in perfect unison or how awesome team they make because those things are obvious and plain to see. The potential definitely is there, but it did not yet reached the levels of TOS, that's all. Instead of getting angry about Uhura and how bloody random it is (because it is very random), focus on how this beautiful relationship is starting. You didn't expect them to go straight for the kill and jump on the lovers wagon within the first five minutes of the movie, did you? Remember how long it took them before? What they had to go through to even admit to each other they are in love?
Guys, write your hearts out over this. This is the goddamn start of everything we know, even if it is alternate reality, even if eyes are in different color, even if there's a sexy lady in the picture. And to be fair, there usually was a sexy lady in the picture, just not for Spock, most of the time. You can do anything you want with this universe. Anything!
Now go, give me more How They Got Together stories.
Jaylee has written an essay expanding on the issue of TOS vs Abramverse a bit more, and I believe she's spot on. If you enjoyed this, you definitely should read what she has to say on the subject. You can find it HERE.