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Inside the Spock's love triangle at the heart of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Spock is caught between two women.

star trek snw: t'pring and spock
Image credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

One of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' overarching narratives involves the love life of Spock. In the series premiere 'Strange New Worlds,' he becomes engaged to the Vulcan T'Pring. Throughout the series, their relationship hits rough patches due to Spock's commitments to his job at Starfleet, which keeps them away from each other for long stretches.

At the same time, Spock grows close to Christine Chapel, the human civilian nurse serving under Chief medical officer Joseph M'Benga onboard the Enterprise. Though they have managed to keep things platonic so far, tension develops between them due to their complicated feelings for each other.

In the most recent episode, the love triangle between Spock, T'Pring, and Chapel has a stunning development.

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 5 'Charades.'

A freak accident causes Spock to lose his Vulcan half and become entirely human. In this state, he is overwhelmed by emotions and acts similar to a teenage boy going through adolescence. The timing couldn't be worse because he is to attend a traditional Vulcan engagement dinner with T'Pring and her family, who are strict followers of their culture. Spock's inability to keep his feelings in check makes him question whether T'Pring is the woman he should marry.

Origins of Spock's relationships with T'Pring and Nurse Chapel in Star Trek

star trek tos -- t'pring and nurse chapel
Image credit: StarTrek.com

Spock's love interests have their roots in Star Trek The Original Series (TOS). We meet T'Pring in season 2 episode 1 'Amok Time.' She was bonded to Spock as children in an arranged marriage. When he returns to Vulcan for the wedding in the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony, T'Pring expresses her objection to her potential husband by invoking her right of kal-if-fee, where two males fight for her hand in marriage. She shrewdly pits Spock against Captain Kirk hoping that either victor would not want her, and she would be free to marry her true love.

Nurse Chapel is a recurring character in TOS who has an unhealthy obsession with Spock. Throughout the series, she has many moments of affection towards him. During her first appearance in season 1 episode 4 'The Naked Time,' she professes her love to the Vulcan while under the intoxicating effects of alcohol like polywater. In the previously mentioned 'Amok Time,' she prepares him a special soup. While Spock is unconscious from a gunshot wound in season 2 episode 19 'A Private Little War,' Chapel tenderly holds his hand. Unfortunately, in each case, Spock doesn't reciprocate. The pair do share a kiss in season 3 episode 10 'Plato's Stepchildren,' but it is under duress by captors. She feels humiliated due to the situation because it is not genuine.

Spock's shoulder to lean on

star trek snw -- nurse chapel and spock 1.7
Image credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Spock and T'Pring's relationship is tricky to navigate. The long distance is taking a toll, and T'Pring blames Starfleet for their separation. She questions how committed Spock is to her because any free time they have together is usually interrupted by his duties on the Enterprise. Spock is also self-conscious about his mixed heritage. He feels like an outsider to Vulcans because he is half-human and doesn't feel worthy enough for T'Pring.

Whenever Spock needs to vent or receive relationship advice, he turns to Nurse Chapel. In season 1 episode 5 'Spock Amok,' Nurse Chapel suggests her friend prioritize T'Pring and take time to understand his fiancé. At the beginning of season 1 episode 7 'The Serene Squall,' Spock needs someone to listen when he opens up about how T'Pring is more interested in his human half than he is and how that makes him feel.

The beginning of the Spock/T'Pring/Nurse Chapel love triangle

star trek snw -- t'pring and nurse chapel
Image credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Spock and Nurse Chapel's friendship becomes awkward in 'The Serene Squall.' Pirates hijack the Enterprise and take Spock hostage. They plan to use him in a prisoner exchange with a Vulcan criminal rehabilitation center, where T'Pring is an administrator and treatment specialist. She must make the hard choice of releasing a convict and the subsequent consequences or losing the love of her life.

During negotiations for the prisoner swap, Spock tries to make T'Pring's decision easier by faking an affair with Nurse Chapel. To sell the romance, Spock kisses Nurse Chapel in front of his wife-to-be. After the pirate dilemma is resolved, T'Pring understands the necessity of the ruse, but it must be difficult to see your partner kiss another woman.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 developments

star trek: snw -- nurse chapel and spock 1.5
Image credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Things between Spock and Nurse Chapel are never the same following that kiss. He purposely tries to avoid speaking with his friend leading to uncomfortable situations. That doesn't mean he no longer has feelings for her. In season 2 episode 1 'Broken Circle,' Spock frantically performs CPR on Nurse Chapel after rescuing her and Dr. M'Benga from outer space. He sheds a tear that she wipes away when she regains consciousness. Later, he confesses he doesn't know how to describe how he feels for her.

In the most recent episode 'Charades,' the scales tip away from T'Pring towards Nurse Chapel. A freak starship accident with Nurse Chapel causes Spock to become 100% human. Unfortunately, this is right before his engagement dinner with T'Pring's family, who are very traditional. He, and his mother, decide to mislead their guests and carry on as if he were still a Vulcan. They almost get away with it until T'Pring's mother insults his human side and Spock comes clean.

T'Pring is as surprised by the deception as her family. She is also hurt that all Spock's friends knew of his condition, but he didn't bother to tell her. She interprets this as a massive lack of trust and questions their relationship. Especially after she spent an entire evening defending him from her mother. In the end, she decides they need a break.

Spock's single status doesn't last long when he meets up with Nurse Chapel after reverting to his regular self. He tells her his break-up with T'Pring is necessary because he has feelings for someone else. The episode ends with the two embracing and sharing a passionate kiss.


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Gary Catig avatar

Gary Catig

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