'Star Trek: Discovery': Ethan Peck Breaks Down the Finale & What's Next for Spock

Ileane Rudolph
Spoiler Alert John Medland/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2."]

Star Trek: Discovery seems to have been a very good bet for CBS All Access. It’s led to at least two more live action spinoffs in development and brought in a batch of new subscribers.

Making at least some naysayers happy, Season 2 defined the characters, gave the Klingons back their hair, pushed the limits (while not egregiously disrupting canon), and finally brought us Spock, played increasingly convincingly by Ethan Peck.

TV Insider talked to Peck after watching April 18’s gripping, emotional season finale.

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That was a fine season finale leading to what could be called a reboot. Many fans got it right: Discovery had to go to the future. Where and when, we’ll find out in Season 3, but that doesn’t seem to leave room for Spock’s involvement in the Discovery world as the many wrenching goodbyes attest to. Does it?

Ethan Peck: I can’t say, unfortunately.

Would you be available to be part of the Section 31 spinoff? 

That’s possible. I actually have no idea yet.

So you want to stay in the Trek universe?

Yes. It appeals to me. Definitely.

Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou; Ethan Peck as Spock (John Medland/CBS)

Did you know that Spock would be the one to codify the Starfleet Prime Directive, the principle prohibiting its members from interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations? And how does that make you feel?

I had no idea... until I did. It’s an incredible honor. I feel extraordinarily lucky. Just to be Spock was, I think, enough to put me in the history of Trek and so, I’m still wrapping my head around the reality of it all. It’s very exciting and very surreal to me.

Will it be difficult to leave Spock, if you do? Has he gotten under your skin?

Absolutely. When I was preparing for the role, I was reading Leonard Nimoy’s I am Not Spock. People who didn’t read the book dismiss it because they took the title to mean that he was disowning the character when, in fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a last cry of help to celebrate Nimoy before Spock was completely integrated because they'd become so much a part of one another.

To say that Spock did get under my skin has a negative connotation. I think I’m forever changed and much for the better. I’m thrilled that that happened. As an actor, you don’t get that many opportunities to do that, to be affected so beautifully by a character that you play. For this character to have been Mr. Spock, one of the most beloved TV characters, is sort of beyond comprehension for me.

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How does he make you better?

In playing the role, there was a lot of synergy between me, Ethan Peck, and Mr. Spock, as they are both in these crucial developmental phases. I feel I have to become more to be Spock as Spock is doing for himself. To become something greater than he was, and I feel that was happening with me, Ethan, as an artist and as a person. Spock is so patient and so observant and so loving. That’s expressed in his curiosity, not just about himself, but about the world around him. He is so admirable in that way and the way he uses his hyper intelligence and his ability to analyze, to see what’s better, right, and that’s a noble and amazing thing

What did you do to locate this character? Make it your own while respecting his long-set identity?

I spent a lot of time with the original series, with Leonard Nimoy in that way. I tried to observe what he did with Spock as an actor and paid attention to Spock’s mannerisms. When I started preparing my lines, I stopped watching because I didn’t want to mimic Nimoy but rather internalize the spirit of Spock that he created.

(Michael Gibson/CBS)

In my opinion, as Spock became more comfortable with himself, I felt you were with Spock as well.

Thanks! I think that was the intention of the season and of the writing and of the performance. If we gave you Spock as we know him from [The Original Series] in the beginning, what’s the point of that? This is sort of his genesis. How incredibly lucky to be able to do that, to experience that for me. I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

In the season finale, Spock thanks Michael for helping him reconcile both his human and Vulcan sides.  He still seems to favor the human part of him at this point. Is that deliberate?

It’s still 10 years before we meet him in the original series, right? I don’t think he’s going to be as balanced as Nimoy’s Spock. And I might argue that Nimoy’s Spock may be tilted more towards the logical than the human. I’m sure throughout Spock’s life, he sort of dances  between the two — sometimes more human, sometimes more Vulcan. But also, at the end of the series, this tremendous, emotional event has just occurred. It would make sense to me that [my Spock] came off as more human in the end.

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What scene or moment was most difficult for you?

To be honest, the whole thing was extremely difficult. Every scene was a challenge, every line a delicate balance. I’m not sure I was always successful, but I always did my best. Probably the goodbye to Michael was the culmination of  Spock's emotional journey, his emotional development. For so long, before we see him in Episode 207, he’s been compartmentalizing his human side from his own understanding and analysis. It’s there, but I don’t think he has ownership of it. So to deliver those lines as a half Vulcan with deeply human emotions was probably the most challenging.

What kind of fan reactions have you received? Has it changed as the season has gone on?

I do my best to not look at anything online because some people are going to respond to it, some people aren’t. It’s out of my hands. Obviously, I hope to be liked and hope that people saw that I gave the role my heart and my soul and all of my attention because it did mean that for me. It did feel like this incredible challenge that I needed to rise to. That’s all I could do.

Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell; Ethan Peck as Spock (Michael Gibson/CBS)

What do you think of the writers leaving plenty of room for more spinoffs in the Enterprise world, while sending Discovery off into another time dimension?

I thought it was a highly intelligent move and I’m really excited to see what they do. They will literally go where probably no show has gone before — as they all do! I really have no idea what they’re going to be doing, and I’m very excited to see.

Any last words about the role or being part of Star Trek?

Just that it’s been the journey of a lifetime lived thus far!