Spock and Bones- A True Friendship
Whilst Star Trek fans will readily admit that part of what makes Star Trek, well, Star Trek, is the triumvirate of Jim Kirk, Spock and Leonard “Bones” McCoy. It’s well known that there’s always some tension between Kirk’s trusted sidekicks. Spock provides a logical perspective to Kirk’s challenges, a detached, alien and unemotional point of view. On the other hand, we have Bones- Kirk’s conscience, driven by morality and naturally defies the scientific rationality presented by Spock. In other words, he is not afraid to be illogical. But, whilst Kirk is the link between the two, let’s look at why the relationship between Spock and Bones is the more interesting friendship, and this might become more apparent in possible sequels.
Let’s start with the origins of Spock and Bones in the original Gene Rodenberry series. It is well know that the half human half Vulcan is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius creation, Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, in the Star Trek movie of 2009, Spock directly quotes Holmes:
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.
Indeed, if we look back at Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Leonard Nimoy says this phrase and this is attributed to an ancestor (there have been rumours, that Rodenberry was implying that Spock was a descendant of Conan Doyle on his human mother’s side- but this is only speculation).
When one thinks of Sherlock Holmes, undoubtedly, we think of his trusted companion, Dr. Watson. Similar to Bones in many ways, Watson does not apply logic in the same way Holmes does, yet, they complement each other perfectly. We can observe the pairing of Spock and Bones in the same way, with Bones being skeptical of technology, in the original movies, it’s the transporter, in Karl Urban’s excellent portrayals in the newer films, it’s a fear of flying. Spock, like Holmes, acts as a reassuring device in Star Trek, when face with death, or savageness, or even the unknown, much like there was unknown in Victorian London, Spock keeps us calm through his emotional detachment, compared to when Bones panics, which reflects the more human emotions the audience feels.
As this article has obviously stated, Spock and Bones are opposites, with the alien, logical approach to life vs. the emotional, moral view taken by the doctor. However different these views are, they are both driven by the desire to do what is right, usually by the one person they have in common, Captain Kirk. The desire to do the right thing is why Spock sacrifices himself in the Wrath of Khan, and transfers his katra (a sort of spirit) to Bones, who then becomes exhibiting Vulcan-like behavior and characteristics, taking on the role of both the logical and the illogical advisor to Kirk.
The experiences that Spock and Bones go through in the name of their best friend, and what is right, is what brings them closest together. Spock guides Kirk through the logical, scary decisions, with Bones there to look at it from our human view, somewhat reassuring and skeptical, but knowing what is right. In Star Trek Into Darkness, we see Kirk (temporarily) die, and both exhibit the exact same human emotions, with identical feelings of anger and sadness over the passing of their friend. And it is for this; we see that they are ying and yang. Neither falls apart nor argues over the passing of their friend, they both use their differing expertise to bring him back- perhaps allowing Spock to live up to Kirk’s euology of him from Wrath of Khan:
“Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”
And upon Spock’s death, his refusal to speak the famous line “he’s dead, Jim” is quite possibly the truest testament to Spock and Bones’ friendship that there is.