Sarek, the father of Spock, became one of the most recurring characters in Star Trek, appearing in The Original Series, The Animated Series, several of the TOS moviest, and even as one of the few Vulcans to appear on The Next Generation. Most recently we’ve seen him as father to Spock and Michael Burnham in. Yet, one of the most interesting parts about his life was not covered in any of these appearances. In his two final appearances, in the TNG episodes “Sarek” and “Unification” the audience sees him with his wife, Perrin. While it is implied that his former wife and Spock’s mother, Amanda Greyson, died prior to this, both women share a very interesting trait – they are both human women. Why were both women Sarek married human women? While The Final Frontier did reveal that Sarek had at least one relationship with a Vulcan woman, in film and tv canon, his only wives were human women. Does this call into question Sarek’s own dedication to the pure logic culture of Vulcans, or does it reveal something deeper about him? Does the origin story for Sybok in The Final Frontier answer some of these questions about Sarek? Does it have something to do with Amanda and Perrin’s own personalities?
While Spock was referred to as half Vulcan and half human early on in TOS, and Spock does imply that his mother is human by a quick reference in “The Naked Time,” his exact parentage is not revealed until Sarek and Amanda’s only TOS appearance in the episode “Journey to Babel.” Sarek is revealed as a Vulcan ambassador who is part of the delegation traveling to the neutral planet Babel to discuss whether the planet Coridian should join the Federation. Sarek and Spock are clearly at odds as Sarek immediately refuses Kirk’s offer to let Spock give Amanda and Sarek the tour of the Enterprise. Then Spock does not admit they are his parents until Kirk keeps pressing an offer to let Spock visit his parents on Vulcan.
While conversations between Amanda and Sarek reveal that part of the estrangement comes from Spock joining Starfleet instead of following his paternal grandfather and father into the Vulcan Science Academy, it is implied that part of the estrangement comes from how human Spock is. The role of Spock’s human nature in the estrangement between father and son is further explored in the TAS episode “Yesteryear,” where Spock must go back in time to save himself so that his younger self can choose to undergo the Vulcan coming of age ritual known as kahs-wan which Sarek implies will prove whether or not Spock is truly Vulcan, with the implication that if Spock fails he will disappoint Sarek greatly. Spock, in his guise as cousin Seleck, reassures his younger self about his decisions and interacts with his parents, possibly trying to temper or prevent the estrangement depicted in “Journey to Babel”. Yet it may be Seleck’s words to young Spock that reveal the truth behind Sarek’s marriage to Amanda. Seleck reassures Spock that Vulcans do have emotions, they just do not let their emotions control them.
Sarek and Amanda do not appear again together in any of the TOS movies, but both are still present in the TOS movies, Sarek in particular. Sarek is the one who believes that Spock had placed his katra in Kirk prior to the end of Wrath of Khan, then asks for the Vulcan high priestess T’Lar to perform the fal-tor-pan ritual to return Spock’s katra to his body. Sarek even admits to T’Lar that Spock’s death is compromising his logic when she points out that the fal-tor-pan ritual is more myth than anything else, and it is not very logical to suggest performing it. This exchange does reveal that, for all the times Sarek disparaged Spock for feeling like a human, Sarek himself is not immune to emotions.
However, one of the most intriguing clues about why Sarek only married human women comes from the revelation that Sybok, the Vulcan who is leading his followers to seek a deity in space and fully embraces emotions, is Sarek’s full-Vulcan son via an unnamed Vulcan princess. The contrast between half-brothers Sybok and Spock is stunning – the fully Vulcan Sybok has become part of the V’tosh ka’tur, a movement of Vulcans who believe in emotions coexisting alongside logic for a more balanced life. Sybok is using Vulcan mind melds on people to bring them to his cause, whereas the half human Spock has gone to the extent of nearly completing the kolinahr ritual that purges all emotions from Vulcans. Did Sarek deduce that since his fully Vulcan son cannot follow the Vulcan path, a half-human son would do it out of some form of duty or to prove himself in Sarek’s eyes? “Yesteryear” had several of Spock’s peers teasing him and saying Sarek’s marriage to Amanda brought shame to Vulcan, so possibly these comments motivated Spock to “out-Vulcan the Vulcans” and do a deep dive into Vulcan culture, possibly proven by him transferring his katra into McCoy, as that is not something most Vulcans would know how to do.
Although Amanda and Perrin do not have the large character arcs Spock and Sarek have, both women provide enough clues in their brief appearances to possibly suggest how their relationships with Sarek worked. Amanda becomes very emotional as Sarek and Spock are being stubborn, pushing Spock to provide the needed blood for McCoy to perform a lifesaving operation on Sarek, but several scenes throughout “Journey to Babel” show her as very poised and subtle, such as the soft two finger touch she and Sarek share throughout the episode. Much like her son, Amanda only shows emotion under times of great duress, such as trying to help Spock readjust to life after the fal-tor-pan ritual. Perrin shares a similar nature during her appearances on TNG. For example, when Picard tries to convey to her just how much Sarek cares for her, she replies she always knew even without him saying so.
Sarek married two human women. While on the surface this appears highly illogical for a Vulcan, Sarek’s previous romantic experience with a Vulcan woman, the very different paths his two sons took, as well as the personalities of both Amanda Greyson and Perrin seem the indicate that Sarek did use logic to choose his wives and he still cared for them in his Vulcan way.