Spock, the first half-human, half-Vulcan to join Starfleet, went against his father’s wishes to go to the Vulcan Science Academy. Because he joined Starfleet, he became a celebrity on Vulcan, which made his child bride, T’Pring, rethink their betrothal, among other consequences. In light of all this, why did Spock join Starfleet?
Spock joined Starfleet as he felt that the VSA wouldn’t accept him because of his human half, despite his father opposing his entrance. While Spock was not the first Vulcan to join Starfleet, he was the first Vulcan of mixed heritage. He had a long and respected Starfleet career.
Despite Sarek’s opposition to Spock joining Starfleet, Spock joined and had an illustrious career that made a difference for all who encountered him. Keep reading for more about Spock’s Starfleet career!
Spock Is Not the First Vulcan in Starfleet
According to the official Star Trek site, Spock was the first Vulcan in Starfleet. However, according to the new series, Discovery, Admiral Patar was a Vulcan serving in the mid-23rd century. She was a logic extremist and sought to turn Starfleet’s decision making authority over to an artificial intelligence named Control.
Admiral Patar died at Section 31 headquarters soon after the war that fought to keep “Control” from taking over Starfleet. Because she died before Captain Kirk and the Enterprise, nothing was said about her in the future series, giving the impression that Spock was the first Vulcan in Starfleet.
Another Vulcan that served aboard the Enterprise under Captain Archer was T’Pol, a Vulcan who served as a science officer. Starfleet was just getting started at this point, and there was no Federation. T’Pol was a member of the Vulcan High Command, so she was ordered to serve on the ship.
While she wasn’t in Starfleet, she was the first to serve on a starship under a Starfleet captain.
Sarek Opposed Spock’s Entrance Into Starfleet
Sarek believed that peace should not depend on force, and thought that Starfleet advocated using force to bring peace. He wanted Spock to have nothing to do with Starfleet teachings and instead follow Sarek’s teachings, as Sarek followed his father’s teachings.
Later, in an episode of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael Burnham, a foster child of Sarek and Amanda, found out that the Vulcan Science Academy council would only accept one of Sarek’s non-Vulcan children. Sarek chose to send Spock to the VSA instead of Michael. When Spock chose to join Starfleet instead, it drove a rift between Sarek and Spock that lasted over 18 years.
Though Sarek did not approve, he often showed glimpses of pride in his son. One example is in TOS (The Original Series) episode, “Journey to Babel,” where Sarek chides Amanda in private for telling McCoy about Spock’s pet sehlat—a live teddy bear with claws. Amanda claimed that Sarek was proud of Spock, but Sarek denied it and said that because Spock is a Starfleet officer, he should be treated with respect so he can command respect from the lower officers.
Spock’s entrance into Starfleet caused an 18-year rift between him and his father, where they didn’t talk to each other. Over time, however, Spock and Sarek repaired their relationship. At the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Sarek stated, “As I recall, I opposed your entrance into Starfleet. It seems my judgment was in error. Your associates are of good character.”
With that statement, Sarek repaired whatever was left between them about Spock’s choice.
Spock Thought the Vulcan Science Academy Wouldn’t Accept Him
Spock was often bullied as a child because of his human side. His mother told him that when he would come home from school, stiff-lipped, she wanted to cry by how much he was bullied. But it wasn’t only the children who bullied Spock. Adults were not too fond that Sarek married a human and had a child with her.
It was for this reason that Spock refused to enter the Vulcan Science Academy (VSA). He was afraid that they would reject him based on his human half. He also had Dyslexia, which he inherited from his mother.
Spock Felt Accepted in Starfleet
According to Spock’s mother on “Journey to Babel,” Spock was neither Human nor Vulcan and at home nowhere except for Starfleet. Because of how he was teased on Vulcan, he didn’t feel at home on his home planet.
One question begs to be asked: Why would Spock not be accepted on Earth with humans? After “First Contact” when the Vulcans first visited Earth, they took an active role in Earth’s developing space program. Over time, the Vulcans became disliked and distrusted in the 100 or so years that it took to build the first starship with warp drive for deep space travel.
When the first Enterprise under Jonathan Archer was launched, Vulcans were not liked very well. While this may have changed between Archer and Kirk, Spock might have felt that Earth was not the place for him either because of the past. He also didn’t understand human emotion, even though he was half-human.
But in Starfleet, he had a home, and he was more accepted there than anywhere else in the galaxy.
Spock Abandoned the Kolinahr to Go Back to Starfleet
After the five- year mission was complete, Spock retired from Starfleet to embark on a quest to purge all remaining emotions. The process was known as the “Kolinahr” and could last anywhere from two to six years, depending on how quickly a person would move through the process. Spock wanted to complete his training to be completely Vulcan.
However, when he was about to receive his award for completing the process, he stopped T’Pau from putting the necklace on him and looked up to the sky. He felt the energy in space that needed closure. He also had a need he didn’t understand, but would later realize his need for friendship and love–emotions that were withheld throughout his life.
Spock found a long-term home with Starfleet, and he never left it until he retired from Starfleet sometime in the 24th century to become a Federation Ambassador.
Spock Had a Long and Respected Career in Starfleet
Spock served many years in Starfleet under various captains and later became a captain himself. He served the longest with Captain Kirk, with whom he formed a deep friendship. Kirk was also instrumental in saving him when they defeated Khan. His quick and logical thinking saved the day many times, and was well-respected throughout his long career.
After he retired from Starfleet, he was a Federation Ambassador who put out many proverbial fires throughout the galaxy. He worked with Captain Picard on several missions as well. Had Spock not joined Starfleet, many more people would have been killed, including Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, while trying to get away from Khan and the Genesis device.
For many years, Spock tried to purge his remaining emotions, as he felt that he was mentally compromised from the many emotionally-draining creatures he encountered during the Enterprise’s five-year mission. That’s why he tried going through the Kolinahr for a few years.
But when he went back to Starfleet, he found his purpose and realized that his human half and his Vulcan half could work together to help him create peace in many cultures and with many peoples. Spock joining Starfleet helped him finally come to terms with his past, and he created a future that he fit into.