Friday, 27 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy

"Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most...human."

I was already in the process of writing a piece about the recently departed Maurice Hurley when I learned of the passing of Leonard Nimoy.

What can be said about the actor that brought Spock to the screen that hasn't been said on every social media platform that exists? Not much more I suspect but it is a truly sad day for fans of the franchise, potentially the most significant loss since the death of Gene Roddenberry in 1991 - ironically shortly before the airing of Spock's appearance in The Next Generation. I don't want to dwell on his illness or the news we had recently of his deteriorating health and hospitalisation. Instead, I want to talk about what he gave us - what he gave to the fans.

For many their first experience and first memory of Star Trek will be from The Original Series and the logical Vulcan first officer. It was a part that boldy stood out in the crew, the only non-human, the mysterious alien, the only character that had been saved from The Cage. Nimoy's portrayal of the character was synonymous with the show and non-fans usually link Spock with Star Trek straight away usually followed by a hand salute and the words Live Long and Prosper. There might even be a mention of the Vulcan Death Grip or a raised eyebrow. The internet has literally been flooded with tributes from the newest of fans through to the most knowledgeable of Trekkies with notable contributions from William Shatner, Larry Nemecek and George Takei to name just three (and barely even scratch the surface). #RIPLeonardNimoy has taken over Twitter and sees no side of abating for some time.

You see, Nimoy created such a recognisable character in Mister Spock that it could be said the franchise exists around him and that powerful, unique performance. It is a truly monumental loss to his family, friends and legions of fans across the globe. I may never have met him but even I feel a little moved by his passing.

But I do believe that he would not want us to be sad but look back and appreciate what he gave in his 83 years on this planet. Indeed, it made me think about his greatest moments - the segments of Star Trek that we'll always remember him for. So here they are, Some Kind of Star Trek's tribute to Leonard Nimoy. May you rest in peace and thank you. Star Trek would not have been the same without you.

Amok Time

I had trouble singling out one moment in this episode. It is the ultimate Spock episode, encompassing his culture, the clash with his role as a Starfleet officer vs the demands of his home world as well as one of the most brilliantly shot fight sequences in the show's three seasons. The closing scene where Spock's joy at discovering Kirk is not dead is awesome to see and solidifies the Kirk/Spock relationship. Nimoy was at his best here, even when letting that guarded emotionless front slip for a moment.

"I never took the Kobayashi Maru test...what do you my solution...?"

How many times have I watched this movie and every time this still resonates as much as the first. The movie is 33 years old yet Spock's sacrifice to save the Enterprise is perfectly logical given the needs of the many which echoes through the story. At the time no-one really knew if Nimoy would return or if there would be a Star Trek III but killing off such a high profile character was unprecedented but so effective. It's one of the factors which makes The Wrath of Khan the ultimate Star Trek movie and I think it's Nimoy's ultimate Spock performance.

"And Captain Picard, you have found him..."

The second part of Unification might have the long-awaited Spock and Data chat but Part I left viewers hanging from the pre-titles sequence right to the final moments to see Ambassador Spock outside of a grainy screen image. I know of a couple of Star Trek fan friends who have admitted they fan-boyed out when Nimoy stepped out of the shadows. 

We'd had McCoy in the pilot, Sarek in season three but this was 25 years and the return of Star Trek's most famous character. You could ask for no more and this closing scene delivered a stunning cliffhanger which also interwove elements of The Undiscovered Country

Mirror Spock

Whoever thought that sticking a goatee on Spock would influence generations of writers? The trim beard would become eternally linked to evil versions of characters across countless TV series. Nimoy portrayed this Spock just as logically as his Prime Universe original but with an ever so slight colder edge and very understated. Mirror Spock is perhaps nearly as famous as the non-facial-hair-wearing Enterprise first officer but we only got the chance to see him once. 

"Where is Ambassador Spock?!"

The reboot might have narked off legions of fans but it did have one key and perhaps redeeming feature - Nimoy was able to return to his role once twice more. While his appearance in Into Darkness was fleeting and perhaps unnecessary, his story in the 2009 movie did feel as though Abrams was attempting to join the two universe together while stepping out on a brand new journey. 

Nimoy may have been in his late 70's when he filmed his scenes but he had lost none of of his appeal and was every bit of Spock he had ever been. The tragedy is that we will now be unable to see the suggested onscreen Shatner/Nimoy reunion that was rumoured for Star Trek 3.

That's just five great Spock moments but there are a whole lot more - his use of expletives in Star Trek IV, melding with the Horta in The Devil in the Dark, meeting his parents in Journey to Babel; denying he and McCoy had seen Kirk's final orders in The Tholian Web; it's a big list and one we could spend many a day attempting to exhaust and more than likely couldn't. In fact I have edited this post the morning after writing it and still don't think I've said enough.

His passing leaves a big hole in the franchise especially with the 50th anniversary just a year away. A very sad time and our thoughts are with those he leaves behind.

A great actor, the definitive Vulcan, a true icon of the Star Trek universe without whom it may not have become the phenomenon we have come to adore today.

Leonard Nimoy

March 26 1931
February 27 2015

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