Vulcan’s are compelled to suppress their emotions – they are masters of control. Commander Spock, Captain Kirk’s first officer on Star Trek, not only struggles with the burden of controlling and understanding his emotions, but he also expresses emotions in a unique and powerful way.
There are three different components to Spock’s emotions: his ability to master his emotions, his struggle with emotion, and his unique expression of emotion.
The component that Spock conveys most strongly is demonstrated in his ability to master his emotions. No matter how dire the situation is that Captain Kirk and his loyal crew find themselves in, Spock is always there to guide them on the path of logic, even when logic is the hardest path to follow. He is, in a way, a moral compass for Kirk and Dr. McCoy – the patient guardian who is always there to watch over them and deliver them from peril. His ability to master his emotions is his greatest strength as well as his greatest burden. He draws strength from his ability to look at things from a purely logical perspective instead of an emotional one, but he also struggles to understand why emotion is so vitally important to life.
The component that Spock has the most trouble with is demonstrated in his struggle to understand and control his emotions. The strongest example of this is Spock’s inability to face the emotional trauma of death. When he lost his mother and his home after Captain Nero destroys them in Star Trek, he tries to stay strong and honor his Vulcan heritage by not surrendering to his emotions, but a confrontation with Kirk instantly shatters his control and his emotions overpower his control. When Spock is rescued by Jim in Star Trek: Into Darkness, he fails to understand why Jim violated the Prime Director in order to save him.
The component that makes Spock truly unique as a Vulcan is demonstrated in his allowing himself to convey deep emotions to the people that he is most intimately connected to. The people that Spock shares his emotions with the most are Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. In both instances, Kirk and Uhura express their feelings to Spock first. Instead of dismissing their emotions as illogical, it is the intimate emotional attachment to both Uhura and Kirk that allow Spock to convey his feelings.
When Spock and Uhura are saying goodbye on the transporter pad in Star Trek, Spock is on his way to battle Captain Nero with Jim and there is a very real possibility that this is the last time they will ever be together. As he holds her, Spock promises Uhura that he will return to her and Uhura tells him that she will be watching over him from the ship. This tender vow exchange is strengthened by Spock choosing to use Uhura’s first name, Nyota, as he says goodbye to her.
When Spock and Uhura are in the ship with Captain Kirk on their way to capture Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Uhura assumes that Spock’s lack of emotion toward his own demise was a reflection on his feelings for her. In a rare moment of vulnerability, Spock reveals to Uhura that he truly does care for her…his decision to remain aloof regarding his demise was to spare himself from having to feel the excruciating pain that he felt when he lost his mother, his home, and Captain Pike. His declaration of his true feelings for Uhura is only made stronger by Spock’s choice to address Uhura by her first name instead of her formal title.
The connection shared between Spock and Jim Kirk is equally as strong, only in a different way. In a very real sense, these two are brothers…there are times when they don’t always agree, but their loyalty to each other never waivers. A significant illustration of the bond between Kirk and Spock is found in the death scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness. When Jim is dying in the Engine Room of the Enterprise after stabilizing the warp core, his life is hanging by a fragile thread and he pleads for Spock to help him not be scared. This scene between Spock and Jim is significant. Not only is it an emotionally powerful moment for both characters, but it also allows Spock to truly understand the reason that Jim rescued him from the arms of Death. The same emotion compels Spock to save Jim from death: each saved the other because of the bond of friendship that so strongly connects them.