There would be no “Star Trek” as we know it without its most iconic character, Spock, and the great actor who portrayed him for nearly five decades.
As a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who passed away Friday at age 83, it seems only logical to revisit his best big-screen moments as the beloved Vulcan.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
For a character bound to logic and rational thought, Spock was usually at the center of some of the series’ most emotional moments – like this scene from “The Motion Picture,” which reveals Spock to be a “single tear-only” kind of guy.
After making contact with the seemingly hostile entity known as V’ger, Spock couldn’t help but sympathize with the space cloud’s plight, resulting in a very human response from the Enterprise’s resident alien.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Separated by safety glass, Admiral Kirk arrives just in time to share in the last moments of his friend’s life – one he sacrificed to save his ship and crew. Shatner and Nimoy are at their understated best here, each giving this tragic scene the exact amount of whatever it needs, thus ensuring its place as the franchise’s most iconic movie moment.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Nimoy’s first feature film as director, “The Search for Spock” remains the best odd-numbered “Trek,” 31 years after its release. While the actor doesn’t appear until the final moments, what limited screen time he does have is memorable.
After his shipmates risked their lives, and the Enterprise, to save him, a resurrected Spock greets them as a shell of his former self. But he is able to remember one thing, his best friend’s first name, just in time for the music to swell and tug on our heartstrings.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Nimoy’s second “Trek” behind the camera was his most successful, both critically and commercially. “The Voyage Home” pulls off the delicate balance between humor and sci-fi with several laugh-out-loud results, including this scene where Spock, after mind-melding with a humpback whale (because reasons), struggles with “colorful metaphors.”
Runner-up: Spock and Kirk engage in some “Who’s on first?”-esque banter regarding whether they like Italian food. (That’s what happens when you do a little too much “LDS,” kids.)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
The most maligned of the classic “Trek” films, “The Final Frontier” misses more than it hits with its problematic story that finds Kirk and Company warping around the galaxy in search of God. Along the way, Spock continues to explore his more human side by engaging in some occasional witty banter with pals Kirk and McCoy around a campfire.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
On the eve of peace, the Klingon Empire and the Federation find themselves inching toward the brink of war. It’s up to Kirk and the Enterprise to stop it, but not before Spock plays detective to determine the identities of key conspirators who will stop at nothing to ensure that both sides remain at each other’s throats.
Spock’s investigation uncovers that his protégé, Valeris, plays a prominent role in the vast conspiracy. To secure her confession, Spock uses the Vulcan mind meld to chilling effect, and Nimoy gets to show both a more volatile and vulnerable side to Spock.
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