'Star Trek Discovery': Spock's Killer Secret Stands Revealed

'Discovery' provides a lethal new twist on Ethan Peck's version of the classic Leonard Nimoy character.
Michael Gibson/CBS

[This story contains spoilers for season two, episode three of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery, "Point of Light."]

The latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery provided a game-changing wrinkle in this season's search for Spock (Ethan Peck). The iconic half-Vulcan, played in the original television and film series by Leonard Nimoy, stands revealed in Discovery as a wanted murderer and a diagnosed psychopath, having killed several doctors at a starbase psychiatric facility before taking off to parts unknown.

"Point of Light," the third hour of Discovery season two, focuses on Spock's mother Amanda Greyson (Mia Kirshner) pleading with her adopted daughter Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to look into Spock's medical file, stolen from the facility he checked himself into on Starbase 5. The personnel there refuse to answer any questions about his status, even from his next of kin. It's only with some prodding from Spock's captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) that the truth comes out.

"Your guy is wanted for murder," the starbase captain finally tells Pike. "He killed three of his doctors and fled the starbase." 

The revelation links back to a promise co-creator and showrunner Alex Kurtzman made after the season premiere, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter: "It's the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series." Evidently, it seems the pages of this chapter are written in blood, as Discovery's depiction shows a marked departure from the infamous portrayal by Nimoy.

The Spock of the original series had an attitude of "ask questions first, shoot later." His stoic approach to logic had him very rarely setting phasers to kill, opting instead for the more pragmatic approach. The most notable exception comes in the famous episode "Amok Time," where Spock attempts to kill Captain Kirk (William Shatner) on his home planet of Vulcan. But one could argue that the circumstances — a fight to the death for the hand of his mate — and Spock's mental state, deep in the throes of his "plak tow" blood fever, make that an unusual situation. And even then, it's not a trend that followed the character across three seasons and six films.

The Discovery scenario, by comparison, casts Spock under harsher light, as he's accused of killing three individuals. The reveal comes as a shock to both his family and the audience, all of whom would never fancy Spock a fugitive leaving bodies in his wake. In the episode, Michael tries to excuse her adopted brother's behavior, chalking it up to self-defense or mental compromise. Spock's mother, however, knows best, telling Michael: "Extreme empathy deficit is code for psychopathy," a reference to an assessment she finds on Spock's file. 

According to the medical file, Spock appears to be suffering from an emotional dissociation that muddies his intact intellect. These types of disorders can often get tracked back to the childhood, which was far from normal for Spock. Amanda paints the picture for Michael: with Sarek's (James Frain) desire to raise his son Vulcan, she had to withdraw any emotions from her relationship with him. 

"I was not a real mother," she admits. "I wasn't what he needed."

But the source of Spock’s empathetic troubles may actually stem from something outside of the family. The season's largest mystery has been his association with the Red Angel, a mystical winged figure that has appeared in visions to both him and Michael and seems to be responsible for seven cryptic red bursts that have popped up around the universe. Amanda reveals that the connection originated in his youth. She tells the story of Michael running away from home after an attack from logic extremists, and Spock being able to pinpoint her location using apparent communication with the Red Angel. While they were able to find her using his unique locator, the situation permanently changed the young Spock.

"What saved you hurt your brother," Amanda tells Michael. "That vision changed him forever. I watched him withdraw; I saw him lose trust in other people. I watched his openness vanish." 

Amanda's anecdote puts the figure of the Red Angel in an entirely new light. The past two episodes, the crew of Discovery has interpreted that the seven red bursts around the universe — and the Red Angel by proxy — serve as some benevolent higher power. But if Spock's destructive spiraling is indeed linked to his relation to the signals, things could become much more nefarious very quickly.

If there's one thing that can bridge the Spock of Discovery and the Spock of the original series, it may be Michael Burnham. After declaring in the premiere that she caused an estranged relationship with her foster brother, she goes into more detail in "Point of Light." To prevent the logic extremists from using him to get to her, she irreparably hurt him to make him stay away. It caused monumental fault lines in the family, sending Spock further into the arms of the Red Angel. A reconciliation could pull Spock out of his chasm of empathy and violent tendencies.

Whatever the source may be, the news about Spock's murderous penchant shows a monumental shift in his characterization and sets up dangerous stakes for when the Discovery crew finally has their run-in with him. He's motivated, he's logical, and now, he's lethal. 

Follow our Star Trek: Discovery coverage for more about Spock as season two unfolds.