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One of the frustrating aspects of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the vague and submissive conduct of Spock throughout, even taking into account the fact that Sybok is his half-brother. It really does seem borderline whether Spock should still be working on a starship at all.

I was wondering whether there was an out-of-universe explanation to this, such as Leonard Nimoy's attitude to the part at the time, or decisions made by the directors.

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    When Shatner’s director and co-writer, sh— gets weird. Wikipedia does note that both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly objected to some of the writing choices regarding Spock and Bones. – Paul D. Waite Mar 16 '15 at 9:27
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    I think part of it was by design - i.e. Shatner wrote Spock that way purposely - and part was probably passive protesting on the part of Nimoy. It's ST legend that Shatner and Nimoy did NOT get along behind the scenes. I don't have any sources, though. – Omegacron Mar 16 '15 at 15:33
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    Let us not speak of ST V again... – Lexible Mar 16 '15 at 16:30
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    Half tempted to vote to close merely for all the horrible memories about the existence of this movie the question brings up. ;) – BBlake Mar 16 '15 at 19:16
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    @Lexible "Excuse me. I'd...just like to ask a question. What does God need with an editor?" – 1252748 Mar 18 '15 at 5:54
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Spock is written as ineffective when confronted with his charismatic, rule-breaking half-brother, Sybok

Spock is humiliated twice in confrontations with Sybok, making him look naive, vacillating, and ineffective.

                                       SPOCK
                         You are under arrest for violating 
                         seventeen counts of Neutral Zone 
                         treaty.

               Sybok is incredulous. There must be a hundred guns 
               pointed at Spock's heart. Sybok can't help it. He 
               chucles. The chuckle becomes a full rich laugh. The 
               soldiers join in and soon their laughter is ringing 
               through Paradise.

He can't even handle Sybok when armed:

               Spock raises the weapon as Sybok advances.

                                       KIRK
                                 (desperate)
                         Spock -- shoot him!

               But Spock can't shoot. The emotional price is too great. 
               He lowers the weapon in shame and defeat. Sybok takes 
               it from him with a smile.

We are made to think that it is unclear where Spock's loyalties lie:

               KIRK: Spock! My only concern is getting the ship back.
               When that's done and Sybok is in here, you can debate
               Sha Ka Ree until you're green in the face. ...Until then,
               you're either with me or you're not.
               SPOCK: I am here, Captain.
               KIRK: That's a little vague, Spock. 

This may have been related to the early idea behind the script that everyone would turn against Kirk (via Memory Alpha):

William Shatner's first outline for this film was entitled "An Act of Love" and, according to William Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories, would have been a much darker tale and would have seen the first true falling out between Kirk and Spock and McCoy. Also, Spock and McCoy would also have joined with Sybok, leaving Kirk alone. This was changed when Nimoy absolutely refused to play that, stating that there was no chance whatsoever that Spock would ever turn on Kirk, especially after what Kirk risked and sacrificed for Spock in Star Trek III. Director Shatner talked to Nimoy, attempting to change his mind, but Nimoy was firm in believing that pain or no pain, brother or no brother, Spock would not betray Captain Kirk. Shatner eventually conceded and had the script adjusted.

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    "The emotional price"... FOR SPOCK?! <head desk> I don't have emotions, and that makes me angry! – Schwern Mar 19 '15 at 21:52
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    But Spock was half human, he had emotions but chose to suppress them in nearly every situation. – Jeremy French Apr 1 '15 at 15:10

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