Warning: SPOILER for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 1 – “Strange New Worlds”
Spock (Leonard Nimoy) never married T’Pring (Arlene Martel) in Star Trek: The Original Series and the foundations as to why are laid in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Set about a year after the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Strange New Worlds sees Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck) rejoin the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). To pursue his Starfleet career, Spock leaves behind his betrothed, T’Pring (Gia Sandhu), on Vulcan.
The fact that Spock had an arranged marriage waiting for him on Vulcan was a shock in the Star Trek: TOS season 2 episode, “Amok Time.” In what was the deepest delve into Spock’s life and Vulcan culture up to that point, the Enterprise’s Vulcan Science Officer underwent pon-farr, which is the uncontrollable Vulcan mating desire that strikes every seven years. Spock needed to return to Vulcan to marry T’Pring, who he had been bethrothed to since childhood. However, T’Pring had other plans and, instead of going through with the wedding, she handpicked Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) as her champion to fight Spock in kal-if-fee – a fight to the death. Spock won the fight and believed he killed Kirk, who merely faked his death thanks to Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Meanwhile, T’Pring’s logic for breaking her marriage arrangement with Spock was because she had chosen another mate, Stonn (Lawrence Montaigne), but she needed the kal-if-fee ritual to break her bond with Spock.
However, the premiere episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is set nearly a decade before “Amok Time” and it introduces the younger Spock and T’Pring in happier days. Spock and his intended bride are clearly devoted to each other and as romantic as their Vulcan culture and rituals allow them to be. It’s a stark contrast to the coldness between Spock and T’Pring at the end of their marriage. But in Strange New Worlds‘ premiere, Spock and T’Pring fully intend to marry each other as promised. Yet when Captain Pike contacts Spock to tell him to report back to the Enterprise, the Vulcan Science Officer unquestioningly puts his Starfleet duty above his betrothal to T’Pring, making the end of their relationship an inevitability.
As Spock explained to Kirk in Star Trek: TOS, his union with T’Pring was “less than a marriage but more than a bethrothal.” Indeed, Spock was meant to finally undergo the koon-ut-kal-if-fee marriage ritual with T’Pring in “Amok Time” before she invoked her right to have Spock fight to the death for her. In Strange New Worlds, Spock’s Starfleet duties delayed their wedding but given how roughly seven years pass between Strange New Worlds‘ premiere and “Amok Time,” it becomes clear how long T’Pring waited for Spock and why she sought the love of another Vulcan who lived on their homeworld.
The younger T’Pring in Strange New Worlds is willing to be patient, little knowing how Spock’s true devotion is to Starfleet and not to her. Indeed, T’Pring is friendly and familiar with Captain Pike, whom she calls “Chris,” and she understands what Starfleet means to Spock. Since Spock’s first Captain knows about T’Pring while Captain Kirk had no inkling about Spock’s life on Vulcan before “Amok Time,” it also adds another interesting layer to Spock and Pike’s relationship. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds intriguingly establishes that Spock and T’Pring were in genuinely romantic toward each other but Spock ultimately chose Starfleet over his bethrothed. And, since Trekkers also know how their marriage ends up, it adds an extra layer of tragedy and sadness to how Spock and T’Pring’s relationship ended in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams Thursdays on Paramount+.