Finding the good in a bad episode of Star Trek: Spock’s Brain

Spock’s Brain, an episode from the original Star Trek series, has never been a fan favorite.

Many devoted Star Trek: The Original Series fans find the first episode of season three, “Spock’s Brain” laughable. The very idea of Spock’s brain being stolen is inconceivable. Partner that with a race across the galaxy to locate his brain, and you have a recipe for a truly groan-inducing episode. But even the most ridiculous of episodes in this classic series often had an underlying point. Beyond the absurdity, there is always a nugget of wisdom that Gene Roddenberry intended for us to find.

Granted, it was a bit tougher to find in this episode, especially since it’s too easy to focus on the the unbelievable aspects. Beyond the loss of Spock’s brain, there is an underground society of women who are led by a brain that’s without a body. These women can’t seem to function without help from this brain. But, backing up, to almost the beginning of the episode, we see there are a couple of aspects that solidify this story.

This episode was about friendship

Even though Spock was a necessary member of the team of the Enterprise, it wasn’t his impressive career that led Captain Kirk to drop everything and focus solely on saving the Vulcan. It was friendship. The same friendship that brought Kirk (and Dr. McCoy) to Vulcan to witness his friend’s wedding. And that had both men desperate to find a cure for the pain Spock suffered during Operation: Annihilate.

Dr. McCoy’s friendship with Spock has been debatable, but he willingly took a risk with his own mind to save Spock. Because they were friends. And friendship can often lead us to do incredibly rash and questionable things, often without hesitation. Kirk was just as willing to walk a bizarre path because he needed his friend, and his friend needed him.

And determination

If there is another thing this episode showed it was determination. Never giving up. And, in spite of overwhelming odds (Kirk and Bones only had twenty-four hours to find Spock’s brain), neither Kirk nor Bones gave up. Even after Bones started to lose the knowledge he needed to reconnect Spock’s brain, he kept going. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t sure of his next step, he couldn’t give up because Spock needed him.

Yes, Spock’s Brain requires a suspension of belief, but isn’t that what most science fiction requires? Love it or hate it, Spock’s Brain shared a message with the viewers. We should all be so lucky as to have a friendship like that of Kirk, Spock, and Bones.

Next: Flashback Friday: Star Trek TOS Review: Spock's Brain