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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Brings Back One of Spock’s Weirdest TOS Storylines


The lute that Doctor M’Benga gives Spock in the Strange New Worlds season 2 premiere has a long history in The Original Series.

Ethan Peck as Spock in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2
Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.

In the season two premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Dr. M’Benga tries a little human medicine with his patient Spock. After letting his emotions flow to battle the Gorn at the end of season one, Spock finds himself experiencing feelings he thought he had suppressed, resulting in a condition that M’Benga correctly diagnoses as “stress.” His treatment? Handing Spock a lute and recommending that he channel his emotions into music.

The lute doesn’t get much play in the episode, save for a later scene in which Uhura takes notice (more on that in a minute). But for fans of The Original Series, the Vulcan lute (identified as a ka’athyra in the supplemental material) is a Spock accessory that’s been a long time coming. Throughout TOS, we saw Spock play the lute as a form of off-duty relaxation, whether it be dealing with his pon-farr-related frustrations in “Amok Time” or bonding with space hippies in “The Way to Eden.” The lute revealed another depth to the oft-inscrutable half-Vulcan, showing an artistic side not always apparent from his furrowed brow.

The Vulcan lute has made a few appearances outside of Spock’s hands, including with Mr. Vulcan himself, Tuvok, who played the instrument in Voyager, and even Uhura gave it a go in the TOS episode “The Conscience of the King.” Uhura was also party to the most infamous scene involving the Vulcan lute, from the season one episode “Charlie X.”

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