Strange New Worlds Retcons A Star Trek Vulcan Tradition

Does Star Trek: Strange New Worlds retcon an old Vulcan ritual with Spock and, more importantly, does it matter? Star Trek‘s Vulcans are a mysterious species with many a tradition, ritual, and biological quirk. Among those is the concept of transferring a katra – a Vulcan’s soul or essence. Officially introduced in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a means of bringing Leonard Nimoy’s character back to life, a Vulcan’s katra contains everything “not of the body” and can be transferred to a non-Vulcan host – in Spock’s case, Dr. McCoy.,Previously in Star Trek, katra transference has been used as a heavy duty solution to problems of the mortal and metaphysical kind. Bringing a beloved Starfleet officer back from the dead in Star Trek III, resurrecting Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery, or preserving oneself after death in Star Trek: Enterprise, etc. Katra is arguably used (albeit not by name) between Nurse Chapel and Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series but, once again, the measure is demanded by a matter of life and death. Star Trek gives the impression that katra transference is a weighty matter not to be used under trivial circumstances… Trivial circumstances like having a tiff with your fiancée, for example.,Related: Kirk’s Weird Green Uniform Finally Explained By Strange New Worlds,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ “Spock Amok” episode sees Spock and T’Pring’s relationship floundering due to the science officer’s Starfleet dedication (they’ll figure things out eventually, right…?) As a means of better understanding each other, Spock prepares a ritual T’Pring initially calls “Vulcan soul-searching.” The description sounds very much like a temporary katra transference, with Spock and T’Pring exchanging innermost thoughts, but the “temporary” part doesn’t quite stick. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds then confirms Spock did intend a katric transference, as he admits to Captain Pike, “We have undertaken a ritual to share our katras.”,Given how Star Trek has always presented katra transference as a Vulcan “nuclear” option – a last-ditch effort to save oneself or others from mortal harm – Spock employing it because T’Pring doesn’t like his Starfleet pals feels like a break from continuity. Surely, this kind of misunderstanding is exactly what the Vulcan mind meld was designed for, reaching into the brain and coming out having gained a better understanding of another person’s perspective. Sharing katras over candles and a bottle of wine also undermines the dire circumstances in which this technique has been employed before, such as the deaths of Spock and Michael Burnham. It’s comparable to firing a photon torpedo at a troublesome tribble.,On the other hand, broadening the limits of katric transference might be considered an acceptable stretching of canon for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. There’s no hard and fast rule saying Vulcan’s can’t try sharing katras to solve romantic woes; it’s just that Vulcans from Star Trek‘s past (and Spock from the future) had the good sense not to try. In fact, the hijinks of “Spock Amok” might explain why Vulcans don’t typically use katra transfer to solve everyday misunderstandings when a mind meld would likely prove sufficient. Spock and T’Pring’s body-swap might highlight the danger of the process, and wholeheartedly prove why it shouldn’t be used unless your lifeless body is moments from being jettisoned toward a genesis planet.,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds perhaps gets a pass for comedic reasons too. Star Trek already mined the dramatic value of katra transference, but largely ignored the obvious comedic “Freaky Friday” element. Make no mistake, “Spock Amok” is an outright comedic piece of Star Trek, and although it’s certainly odd to find Spock making rookie errors during Vulcan rituals, there’s no ignoring how the comedic tone allows Ethan Peck to explore a new side of his Strange New Worlds character.,More: Strange New Worlds Massively Retcons Spock & Chapel’s Friendship,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues Thursday on Paramount+.