In the below picture, Spock is seen smiling - very illogical and too emotional. I am aware of the out-of-universe explanation that this was footage from before Spock was made a logical being, but in-universe is this ever accounted for? If not, is there some other reason suggested by 'official' sources (I am afraid of the problems this phrase may establish, but someone like Roddenberry?)

This site provides a semi-explanation as him being very young, but one shown to be inappropriate with other sources like other, younger Vulcans being too logical to smile at something as trivial as this - for goodness' sake - even Pike doesn't smile at this!

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  • Can't remember where (it's been at least a decade), but I read somewhere that Spock was experimenting with emotion in that phase of his life since he was surrounded by emotional humans. It was probably one of the ST novels. Aug 29, 2017 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


The in-universe reason (from the original teleplay) is that he was "grinning with relief" at having discovered that the source of the strange noise was nothing more than an exotic plant.


Revealing little or nothing but the ravine floor where we see a sudden eddy of dust as if the surface here is being blasted by an invisible force. Then, Winter and his landing party materialize, CAMERA IS EMPHASIZING Winter, allowing us to share his reaction at this first look at a strange new world. We HOLD an instant while Winter and the landing party look, registering some surprise, then:


Revealing the weird violet sky, twin suns, around them is multi-hued jagged rocks, here and there orangish vegetation not too dissimilar from Earth desert plants. Suddenly, a MUSICAL FLUTE-LIKE SOUND. The landing party reacts, then Mister Spock moves forward, grins in relief as he points out the source — a plant with paper-thin rigid leaves which vibrate in the breeze. He blows on it, produces new MUSICAL NOTES. (These wind-plant SOUNDS will identify and set mood for all our scenes on the surface of Talos IV).

We learn (in subsequent episodes of Trek) that Vulcans gain additional emotional control as they age. It creates a nice counterpoint to show a discernible difference in attitude between the younger/less experienced Spock, aged 24 years and pretty fresh from the Academy and the older Spock, aged 37 who's seen more than his fair share of death and destruction.

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    Grinning with relief could well be a physiological reaction, like a chimp exposing its teeth to indicate submission. It can work without being an emotional reaction. Dec 6, 2014 at 10:56
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    @JamesSheridan - In the actual episode, he seems genuinely pleased.
    – Valorum
    Dec 6, 2014 at 11:04
  • Yes he does, but I'm covering for the emotional sap. A grin of relief can be ret-conned as a Vulcan physiological mechanism, like how angry and horny they get around pon farr. Dec 6, 2014 at 12:40
  • @JamesSheridan - I felt that it actually fit quite nicely with the narrative we see in later episodes of trek, especially VOY: Gravity (youtube.com/watch?v=3K1Y7gDR_xQ) and (* spits *) the Star Trek reboot. Young Vulcans learn emotional control as they age.
    – Valorum
    Mar 30, 2018 at 15:13

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