Star Trek: Strange New Worlds just reintroduced a character not seen in Trek canon for over thirty years. A character that made only one appearance before, in the often-maligned Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This is Sybok, Spock’s half-brother, originally portrayed in 1989 by Laurence Luckinbill. But many of you are probably unaware that Spock even had a canonical sibling, as he only appeared once. But here’s the lowdown on Spock’s wayward brother, and just how Strange New Worlds is reintroducing him.
Who is Xaverius?
In SNW episode 7, “The Serene Squall,” we learn that Spock’s betrothed, T’Pring, is stationed at a Vulcan Rehabilitation Center. A pirate captain named Angel highjacked the Enterprise in hopes that she could use Spock’s connection to T’Pring to get her to release a certain prisoner. That prisoner was Xaverius, a Vulcan mental patient at the facility, and possibly Angel’s husband. Or at least someone she was very close to.
Angel’s gambit fails, and Xaverius remains imprisoned. But at the end of the episode, Spock revealed that he believed the name Xaverius to be an alias. He believed that name was a pseudonym for his half-brother, Sybok. Just as in Star Trek V, he revealed that Sybok was the first son of Sarek, born out of wedlock. He was born as a full Vulcan, but chose to allow himself freedom to feel emotion. A forbidden state of being on Vulcan, Sybok then went into exile. In “The Serene Squall,” we only see Sybok from behind, so who will play him is unknown. But it seems we will see Sybok sooner rather than later on SNW.
The Galactic Army of Light
In Star Trek V, Sybok appeared as a cult leader, using his innate Vulcan telepathic abilities to reach into the minds of people and force them to relive and confront painful experiences from their past. Once they overcame and were free of their pain, they saw Sybok as a sort of messiah figure. Grateful, they almost all pledged their lives to him, and became a part of his “Army of Galactic Peace.” (Although not stated in the film, it’s implied is that Sybock used telepathic coercion as well). In The Final Frontier, Sybok saw Spock decades after their last encounter, and highjacked the Enterprise in order to find Sha Ka Ree, the mythological galactic Eden. And in Sybok’s belief, the world where God supposedly dwells.
Vulcan Family Drama
In the film, neither Captain Kirk nor Dr. McCoy were aware of the existence of Sybok. Kirk even yells at Spock, saying Sybok can’t be his brother, to which Spock, ever logical, agrees. Sybok is in fact his half-brother, born to his father Ambassador Sarek and a Vulcan princess. This is the first time we learn that Vulcan even has royalty of any kind. Or that Sarek was with anyone prior to Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson. The Final Frontier suggests that this Vulcan princess was Sarek’s original bride. But SNW says he was born out of wedlock. This holds with the TNG episode “Sarek,” which refers to Spock’s mother Amanda as Sarek’s first wife.
The reason Sybok steals the Enterprise was that he believed it was powerful enough to breach the Galactic Barrier. There is where Sybok believes the planet Sha Ka Ree is, and therefore, God himself. But the alien being they encounter on Sha Ka Ree is a duplicitous entity. It tried to take the Enterprise, which forced Kirk to ask “why does God need a starship?” And when Sybok realized that this false God had duped him, he sacrificed his life to save Spock and his crewmates. That is the last time that we heard the name Sybok in Star Trek canon, until now.
Of course, if Spock and Sybok were raised as brothers, as Spock said in Final Frontier, it conflicts with SNW’s Spock saying they instructed him to keep his distance. We also saw flashbacks to Spock’s childhood on Discovery. And Sybok was definitely not present during his childhood with Michael Burnham. Of course, as Spock’s elder by six years, he might have been living away from home by the time Michael arrived.
The Star Trek: Enterprise Connection
The episode also dropped a big reference to Star Trek: Enterprise. Nurse Chapel asks Spock if his brother was part of the V’tosh ka’tur. A theory Spock confirms. We first learned of the V’tosh ka’tur on Enterprise, a series set roughly 90 years before SNW. There, we learned they were a group of Vulcans who embraced emotion instead of suppressing it. They still adhere to logic, but not at the cost of feeling. For this, they have outcast status on Vulcan. Apparently, this movement is still thriving nearly a century later, and Sybok is part of it. It’s a cool way of connecting to disparate strands of Trek lore in a way that makes sense.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is almost universally thought of as one of the least-liked Trek films. But the concept of Spock having a fully Vulcan brother seeking to experience emotion, while suppressing his own human ones, is a fascinating one. And fertile storytelling ground. Perhaps we will see flashbacks to Spock’s youth with Sybok. It would be an ideal way to bring back James Frain as Sarek as well. Season two of Discovery actually came up with a reason why Spock never revealed that he had a sister to Kirk and McCoy. We shall see if SNW comes up with a similar reason as to why Spock spent decades never trusting Kirk with such vital personal information. We imagine SNW will find fascinating ways to redeem this often dismissed aspect of Spock’s life.