[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 5 “Spock Amok.”]
What better way to get to know the one you’re going to marry than to swap bodies? That’s what happens to Spock (Ethan Peck) and T’Pring (Gia Sandhu) in the latest Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode, giving new meaning to “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
“It was wild. To be faced with that sort of challenge this early on in this series was really terrifying for me as an actor because I’m still trying to get my footing in the role of Spock, which I think is something that I will be doing sort of eternally, because I’m presented with incredible challenges, every episode as an actor, things that we haven’t seen Spock do before,” Peck tells TV Insider. “There were so many layers: It was me playing Spock playing T’Pring playing Spock, and that was kind of a lot to juggle in my mind.”
To prepare to play each other’s roles, Peck and Sandhu studied each other’s mannerisms and had the other read the lines. “Of course I worked on his famous eyebrow raise, which was not as straightforward as it seems because Ethan usually raises his right eyebrow, whereas my face wants to naturally lift my left eyebrow,” Sandhu laughs. “But I was pretty hellbent on getting the right one up, so there was some face yoga involved… It was do or die for me.”
This all stems from them figuring out how to balance their relationship with their responsibilities. Both are “high-achieving” individuals, Sandhu says, and we see how important T’Pring’s job rehabilitating Vulcans is through Spock’s eyes. By the end of the episode, they both declare they want to be together and their relationship isn’t just another duty to him.
“I think they go into the episode with the most sincere and honorable intentions, which are to better understand the other, to be more sympathetic to each other,” Sandhu says. After the swap, “they find themselves in a place where they are able to start what probably feels like a new chapter, knowing each other a bit better than they did. I think that there is a nice conclusion at the end with the two of them appearing to be content with where they are at that point.”
We’ll continue to see the two trying to navigate their relationship going forward, just as T’Pring must deal with what being with a half-human (“mostly looked down upon on Vulcan,” Sandhu notes) means for her. “She wants this relationship to work. She wants to be true to her Vulcan roots, but also wants to be accepting of who he is,” Sandhu details. “I think she’s actually very mature in her approach to the relationship. She’s pragmatic, like all Vulcans. She tries to be as understanding as she’s capable of being. Her intentions are full of love and care. Sometimes she can come across as being a bit stern and a bit obtuse — we see that when she kind of gets on him for the decor in his room. But I think overall, there’s actually a lot of love and a lot of affection between them.”
At first, Spock and T’Pring do try to hide the swap from Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), a scene Sandhu loved, pointing to the “quick chemistry between Pike, Spock, and T’Pring. Ethan and Anson are just both such wonderful actors and always willing to jump in and really play, and it was really, really nice to work with the two of them on that one.”
Something that has stood out so far is the familiarity between T’Pring and Pike. She’s one of the few people to call him “Chris,” and as Peck has said, “Spock looks to Pike almost as though he were like an uncle figure, a father figure.” That bond is something that T’Pring feels with the captain because of her relationship with Spock. “You can tell that there’s a shorthand between the two of them. I’m not sure at this point what their history is, but there’s certainly a level of comfort that that is there and I hope we get to see more of that,” shares Sandhu.
There have been hints at possibly something developing between Spock and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), especially on her side, and in “Spock Amok,” he does turn to her for help — while in T’Pring’s body. As a result, “I had to be aware that I was carrying the story of their relationship forward which definitely went against my own instincts,” Sandhu says. “Ethan and Jess and I all had a great conversation before shooting about where exactly I’m picking up from them and for them and where we’re trying to get to so that their dynamic can continue past this episode. Spock and Chapel have to continue their chemistry, so all of a sudden, that work was between myself and Jess.”
But does Chapel, who’s making it a point to keep things casual when it comes to relationships in her life, have any idea how she feels about Spock at this point? “I don’t think she really does,” according to Bush, who adds that while Chapel connects with others by flirting, “it’s not necessarily always in a sexual way.”
Chapel is someone who loves meeting new species, and initially, “she’s enamored with Spock from the get-go genetically as a subject,” Bush continues. “Also, she thinks he’s a bit of a piece, a snack, but I don’t think she really thinks beyond that.” However, as the season progresses, “this really beautiful friendship develops. I think Chapel has an issue with really trusting people with her innermost self. She’s not really ready to get vulnerable and that’s why she keeps people at a distance. But I think Spock’s Vulcan candor really disarms her and she feels safe with him because she always knows where she stands.” She’s also the right person to help him explore his half-human side, given “she’s very human.”
So at the end of Episode 5, as Chapel and Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) discuss relationships and the nurse ponders the right guy, “I think she’s kind of surprised by how she feels and maybe a little bit afraid of it,” Bush admits.
Elsewhere in the episode, the crew takes shore leave, while Number One, Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), and the Chief of Security, La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), stay on the ship and learn about Enterprise Bingo, a game they decide to play to better understand the crew. It’s one of the few times we see Una’s fun side come out.
“Because La’an’s her protege and La’an has had such a terrible childhood, I think she wants to try and show La’an that there can be lightness in the world and she wants to try and get La’an to embrace fun,” Romijn says.
We also saw that part of Una in the Short Treks episode, “Q&A,” in which she and Spock got stuck in a turbo lift on his first day on the Enterprise. “It was funny when we were doing that Short Trek and I sing that song and then I want him to sing the song with me and the conversation we had was, does Spock even know how to sing? Has Spock ever sung before? And he said, ‘I think Spock knows what singing is, but he’s never tried it,’” Romijn recalls. “And so it was fun to play that out with him.”
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Thursdays, Paramount+