Spock’s first command in Star Trek canon has been changed

Anson Mount as Capt. Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock appearing in episode 201 “The Broken Circle” of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+
Anson Mount as Capt. Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock appearing in episode 201 “The Broken Circle” of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

Spock’s first command is apparently no longer “The Galileo Seven.”

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds returned to Paramount Plus on June 15. And true to co-creator and co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman’s word, the series, in its sophomore season, will be “screwing with [canon] a little bit.” In “The Broken Circle,” the second season premiere episode, we see Lieutenant Spock (Ethan Peck) taking temporary command of the Enterprise and leading a landing party on Cajitar—despite the fact that, if we take statements about Spock’s service from Star Trek: The Original Series at face value, Spock’s first command shouldn’t have happened for another few years.

In the classic series’ first season episode “The Galileo Seven,” Spock commands a shuttle expedition into the quasar-like formation Murasaki 312. The mission goes desperately wrong when the quasar’s strange energies cause the Galileo to crash on the inhospitable world of Taurus II, where gigantic, spear-throwing aliens kill two crewmembers. (Alas, as we know around this website, redshirts always die.)

Despite these deaths, unusually hostile demeanor from the remaining crew members, and barely having enough power and fuel to escape, Spock successfully manages to return the rest of the expedition safely to the Enterprise. In what Captain Kirk later contends as a “purely human emotional act,” Spock jettisons and ignites the Galileo’s final fuel reserves as an improvised signal flare. Spock insists such “desperation” was the only “logical decision, logically arrived at.”

One way to reconcile conflicting accounts of Spock’s first command

At several points, “The Galileo Seven” calls the Murasaki 312 expedition Spock’s first command. Early on, Dr. McCoy takes this dig at him: “I can’t say much for the circumstances, but at least it’s your big chance [at command] . . . .You’ve never voiced it, but you’ve always thought that logic was the best basis on which to build command.”

Later, as it seems the shuttle will perish, McCoy unhelpfully comments, “So ends your first command.” Spock replies, “Yes, my first command.”

Yet “The Broken Circle” depicts Spock’s, several years earlier, in command of Enterprise as Captain Pike (Ethan Mount) is away, seeking a lawyer for Number One (Rebecca Romijn). While there are some tense moments in the last act as Spock faces down angry Klingon Captain D’Chok (Andrew Jackson), the mission is an overall success.

It all begins with stealing the Enterprise (Spock practicing for “The Menagerie”?) and ends with Admiral April (Adrian Holmes) calling Spock on the carpet, but, as April even privately admits later, Spock is “one of [Starfleet’s] best” and “kept [Starfleet] from potentially having to defend two fronts at the same time” in its apparently impending conflict with the Gorn. Spock even gets to drink a barrel of bloodwine with the Klingons. Not bad for Spock’s first command!

Granted, “The Broken Circle” never explicitly calls the mission to Cajitar Spock’s first command. At the same time, Ortegas (Melissa Navia) certainly acts as though it is, asking Spock if he’s got a catchphrase for sitting in the center seat and calling him “Captain.” And showing Spock in command of the ship and a landing party at any point before “The Galileo Seven” calls into question exactly what Dr. McCoy and Spock by calling the Murasaki mission Spock’s first command.

Are there ways out of this canonical conundrum? We might argue merely taking the conn in the captain’s absence doesn’t constitute a command. Indeed, in the original series, we see Spock in the Enterprise center seat while Kirk is on a landing party as early as the first episode aired, “The Man Trap”—an episode, per the Memory Alpha wiki, both filmed (June 22-30, 1966) and broadcast (September 8, 1966) before “The Galileo Seven” (which filmed September 22-30, 1966 and aired January 5, 1967).

But in “The Broken Circle,” Spock doesn’t merely have the conn. He is acting captain of the Enterprise. He gives orders, and the crew executes them. And the experience, as it unfolds, seems to impress itself upon Spock as a first command. Ortegas says the captain’s catchphrase tradition is all about answering the question, “What kind of commander are you?” Over the course of this command, Spock decides he is a commander who does what’s right and follows his gut.

I don’t see how both “The Broken Circle” and “The Galileo Seven” can objectively be Spock’s first command. But here’s my new head canon: Perhaps the Murasaki expedition is Spock’s first command during Dr. McCoy’s tenure as the Enterprise’s CMO. It’s Spock’s first command only as far as McCoy knows, and Spock doesn’t choose to let this highly illogical human doctor in on the events of “The Broken Circle.”

But when, near the end of “The Galileo Seven,” McCoy makes his crack about how Spock’s first command is ending, Spock murmurs agreement while thinking back to “The Broken Circle,” his true “first command.” Remembering how that mission’s success depended upon his playing a hunch and following his gut, he does the same again by igniting the Galileo’s fuel—and achieves a similarly successful result.

As Spock tells Scotty in “The Galileo Seven,” “There are always alternatives.” We’ll see what other alternatives to established canon the rest of Strange New Worlds season two sends long-time Star Trek fans scrambling for as the next nine episodes play out!

Next. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hints at a major war with a non-Klingon race. dark