In the world of Star Trek, death is often impermanent.
Data got his head blown off in The Next Generation episode “Time’s Arrow,” and he was totally vaporized in Nemesis; neither setback prevented him from returning in Picard Season 1. In Discovery Season 1, Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou was killed, only to be replaced by her double from an alternate universe. Even Captain Kirk has died and come back, twice; in Generations as William Shatner, and as Chris Pine during the finale of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Now, the most famous Star Trek death of them all — Mr. Spock himself — might have a new wrinkle. Here’s how a super deep cut from the latest Lower Decks complicates Spock’s quasi-immorality. Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 2, “Kayshon, His Eyes Open.”
Spock’s been dead before
In the hit 1982 film The Wrath of Khan, Spock died saving the Enterprise from certain destruction. But thanks to some Vulcan mysticism and a daring rescue mission by Kirk, Spock’s body was recharged and his soul (trapped in Bones’ mind) was rebooted in The Search for Spock. The original Spock you see in The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, The Next Generation, and the reboot films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness is a guy who has come back from the dead once before.
In a sense, OG Spock also came back from being presumed dead again. The premise of Trek ‘09 finds Spock traveling into a black hole in his timeline, only to end up in the past of an alternate dimension. Spock then dies again (off-screen) during the events of Star Trek Beyond, presumably of old age — but oddly while living in the past alongside this youthful alternate self, played by Zachary Quinto. (You could also argue there’s an alternate dimension in The Animated Series episode “Yesteryear,” where Spock died in the past as a young child, but we’ll talk about The Animated Series in a second.)
Basically, as of now, Spock (as played by Leonard Nimoy) has died at least twice in the regular Star Trek canon. But now, it looks like he’s perished once more.
Spock Two’s skeleton?
The plot of the Lower Decks episode “Kayshon, His Eyes Open” is all about the crew of the Cerritos dealing with a Collector’s ship. (A reference to the TNG episode “The Most Toys.”) This means there are plenty of artifacts and Trekkie Easter eggs shoved into the episode — including but not limited to a paper-mâché version of Captain Picard’s head (from “The Pegasus”), an addictive video game (from “The Game”), and even Marty McFly’s shoes from Back to the Future.
But the weirdest Easter egg in this episode is easily the giant humanoid skeleton wearing an old-school blue Starfleet uniform. What’s the deal with this? There weren’t any giants in Starfleet, right?
Well, in The Animated Series episode “The Infinite Vulcan,” Spock was cloned and turned into a giant Spock. By the end of the episode, it was established that this giant of Spock was, for all intents and purposes, exactly like Spock — except for the notable fact that he was a full-on giant. By the end of that episode, this other Spock — named “Spock Two” by a kooky geneticist (and fellow clone) Keniclius 5 — was left on the planet Phylos, to help the planet-based aliens living there flourish in new ways. Lower Decks made a reference to “a giant Spock on Phylos” in the Season 1 episode “Veritas,” making this possibly the second time the show has referenced Spock Two.
To be clear, in the dialogue of “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” the Lower Deckers don’t actually explicitly say this skeleton is the remains of Spock Two, but that much seems pretty clear. There’s only one giant who would have worn a science-blue Starfleet uniform, at least that we’re aware of.
The only mystery left is simple: If these bones are the remains of Spock Two, how did he die? In the era of Lower Decks Season 2 (roughly 2381), regular Spock is still alive and operating on Romulus in service of a secret peace mission. Did Spock feel the death of Spock Two? How long has this collector had Spock Two’s skeleton?
If we’re lucky, the answers will almost certainly be found in a totally unexpected and hilarious Easter egg, buried deep in a future installment of Lower Decks. Creator Mike McMahan has called this series the “Rosetta Stone” of Star Trek. But that doesn’t mean we have all the answers, at least not yet.
Star Trek: Lower Decks drops new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.