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25 May 2012 @ 12:15 am
Apologies + Bonus vintage Chapel essay!!  
So sorry I haven't been around for months to post anything, but life gets in the way of Spock/Chapel sometimes (unbelievable, I know). Anyway, I think most of us here like Chapel as an individual character so here is an old essay by Teresa Morris from 1985 that appeared in The Best of Trek 9, which was kind of like a fanzine digest. It touches on some Spock/Chapel but the point that the author is trying to get across is "Chapel is awesome". I scanned the pages and then used a image to text app so if there are mistakes I apologize, ignore them; they aren't the author's fault.


All About Chapel
By T. A. Morris

Nurse Christine Chapel may not have as many fans as 
some of the more prominent Star Trek characters, but there 
are more Chapel fans than you might think. And they are 
intensely devoted and quite vociferous in their support. If you 
aren't particularly enamored of Chapel, you might wonder 
why she would arouse such loyalty among her fans. Australian fan Teresa Morris's article should show you why, and
 who knows? You just might find yourself becoming a Chapel
 fan as well.

I have long had a liking for the Chapel character. Rather than 
being the typical blonde of fiction, she had the good grace not
 to gush, sigh in syrupy tones, or sprain her ankle at conve
nient moments so as to provide an extra problem for the hero
 to overcome. Or perhaps that's her problem. In "What Are
 Little Girls Made Of?" she and Kirk walk by a pit and the 
edge of it crumbles and falls toward bottomlessness, but 
instead of clinging to Kirk and flutteringly admiring his muscles, she puts a hand on a nearby rock and steadies herself. It 
is a sensible, if not very Hollywood, thing to do. Perhaps that 
is why Kirk, who is used to women who do cling, doesn't
 seem to know quite how to relate to her.

Of course, there is more to Chapel than not being a stereotype and her ability to keep her hands off Kirk while searching for her fiance. The fact of her being there at the edge of
 that pit has a story behind it that tells us something about her. 
Chapel is actually a doctor in bioresearch and she has joined 
the crew of the Enterprise in order to search for her fiancé. 
He is the great Dr. Roger Korby, the Pasteur of archaeological medicine; the man who said that freedom of choice produced the human spirit, but who, nevertheless, is going to 
force a Utopia on the galaxy by turning people into androids.
 He is a scientist, one of the greatest, and he combined this, 
when Chapel knew and loved him, with a reverence for
 life—just like someone else she falls in love with. Five years 
have passed since Korby went missing, but she has waited for 
him. Two previous expeditions have failed to find him; Chapel
 has been told that he is dead. She doesn't believe it. She 
believes so strongly that he is alive that she changes careers 
and comes looking for him. The curious thing is that she is

So, thinking more of her love life than anything else.
 Chapel seems to have stepped almost casually into a career
 aboard a starship. Kirk, on the other hand, sometimes makes 
allusions to his academy days, to how he was "a stack of
books on legs" and "positively grim"; in short, how hard he
had to work for his career. Chapel easily gained a position on 
a starship, and not just any starship, but the one going out on 
the five-year mission, the one going just her way. True, she
 seems to have had to accept a demotion to nurse in order to 
do it, but she has been given the rank of lieutenant. There is
 no telling what she might have become had she been more
 ambitious. No wonder she doesn't seem to be one of Kirk's
 favorite people.

It is quite understandable that Chapel should accept the 
position of nurse if that was all that was available to her, but 
how did she come by those nursing skills? They have to be 
learned: they don't come automatically even to someone who
 has studied enough to be a doctor of biology. Perhaps it is
 that she started out as a nurse and, finding the studies interesting, drifted further and further into them until at last she was 
being taught by Roger Korby and was inspired to become a
 doctor herself. Otherwise, she might just as easily have become a vet as a nurse. We are not given the details. The 
matter is left to speculation.

But when Chapel stands at the edge of the pit under the
 surface of Exo III, we know why she joined the Enterprise 
and, if we put the fragments together, we also know about her 
courage, and her loyalty, especially to love, and her brain-
power (which should not go unobserved). What we don't
 know much about is why, having found and lost Roger, she
 chooses to stay on the scene of her loss and failure, still as a
 nurse. Her decision is made offstage, her story left largely untold, and we can only suppose that, for all her quiet and 
sensible attitude, there is something in the adventure of the 
mission that she really enjoys.

I love the bit in "Amok Time" where she ducks the flying
 soup. She comes running out of Spock's quarters and steps to 
one side and so, with great economy of movement and energy, is missed by the bowl of soup that goes sailing past her 
to splatter all over the opposite wall. It is such a simple thing
 to do, and so obvious, really, and she seems to do it instinctively in spite of her fright.

Then there is, of course, Spock. Vulcans love their women
 strangely, or so we've been told, but in "The Naked Time" 
Chapel is willing to take a chance with Mr. Spock. She says
 she knows he would not hurt her, and of course she says she 
loves him, and forever after she is thought of as the woman 
vainly loving the Vulcan and having little else to do. Loving 
someone who does not believe in emotions and who will
 never love her in return may seem unproductive and not too
 bright, but then, it is just possible that Chapel is one of those
 generous people who loves where she sees love is needed and 
not because it is "sensible" or profitable for her to do so.
 The words she chooses on this occasion are interesting, too.
 When she is moved by the Psi 2000 virus to murmur words of 
love and seduction, it is Spock's secret that she speaks of, her
 perceptiveness that is revealed, for she says she loves both his 
Human and Vulcan halves. Although the inner conflict Spock 
suffers is something that Star Trek audiences can all see and
 understand, within the Star Trek universe it is something he 
reveals only to a very few friends on a few, very rare occasions. It is Chapel's tragedy that she is never regarded as one 
of those friends. Yet, curiously, she knows. While others are 
struggling to understand the Vulcan, she knows and under
stands the conflict within him, and it casts a shadow over her,
 making her love something far more than the rather pathetic
 infatuation she is generally accused of.

In "The Naked Time" there is little doubt about what she
 wants from Spock, and yet in two other episodes we see her 
rejecting him while seeking his happiness. In "Amok Time"
 she knows that Spock must take a mate or die, but we don't
 see her taking some champagne to his cabin and trying her 
chances. Instead we see her smile when she hears that the
 ship is diverting to take him to Vulcan, where he must go,
and she takes the news to him straight away. Standing over 
him as he lies on his bed, she will not wake him but turns 
way after all. Then he rises and calls her back, for it seems to 
him that she was trying to tell him something, but he never 
does quite hear her. It is not such a strange dream for a 
Vulcan to have, for they are telepathic, and perhaps it was an 
interpretation of an emotional projection he couldn't quite 
block out, a message from Chapel, who is only human and so
 could not have meant to send it. He tells her that it would be 
illogical of them to deny their natures, but she cuts his 
advance off by telling him that he is being taken to Vulcan 
after all. She does not let him continue on with something 
there is no longer any need for.

In "Plato's Stepchildren" the aliens take her from the 
Enterprise and put her in Spock's arms and (and this must
 have been flattering for him) she tells him she'd rather crawl
 away and die. Chapel seems to want Spock on certain terms, 
through a freedom of choice that could only be produced by 
the spirit in his human half. She just doesn't seem to have 
that driving selfishness that could get her what she wants. Or 
perhaps she knows the adage "If you love something, set it 

We see Chapel always at work on something in the background, studying something. Perhaps she has technical manuals, too, although they are probably not on engineering. In
 "Return to Tomorrow" we see her helping the aliens who 
have transferred their minds into Enterprise officers' bodies, 
and in "The Deadly Years" helping to find the antidote to the
 ageing virus. Often we see her helping with operations, even w
hen the surgery involves Spock's life. She remains professional, and if in "Operation Annihilate" she would have 
preferred to remove all the threads from Spock's spine, she
 can hardly be blamed for that. After Dr. McCoy's reprimand,
 she remains to do what she can.

Dr. McCoy often snaps at her for telling him what he
 already knows, although it must be her duty to give him a 
running report on what the diagnostic charts are saying while 
he concentrates on the actual surgery. That she manages t o
put up with Dr. McCoy is greatly to her credit, and, indeed,
 she seems quite fond of him; trying to help him in "For the 
World Is Hollow" by telling him a lot can happen in a year,
and also in "Turnabout Intruder," where it seems that she
 would disobey an order from the captain rather than one from 
Dr. McCoy. The captain wants to keep Janice Lester's body 
sedated, and Chapel and McCoy know this is wrong. The
 captain and McCoy argue about it, and although the captain wins, it seems that Chapel could not quite bring herself to 
comply unless Dr. McCoy ordered her to.

We see some of her warmth in that episode, and in others 
such as "And the Children Shall Lead" (although in that 
episode we don't know where she went while the children 
were trying to take over the ship—perhaps they locked her up
 in a cupboard). In "The Changeling" she helps Uhura relearn 
her lost knowledge, and in "Obsession" we see her concern 
for a young crewman troubled by a guilt the captain has 
imposed on him. She persuaded him to eat by using psychology.

What we don't know, and are never told, is what she does
for relaxation. For all we know her hobby could be barroom

There is another story that seems to happen for her off-
stage, too. In "Amok Time," having already forgiven, or 
simply forgotten, the flying-soup incident, there is the part
 where she finds out that Spock actually has a wife on Vulcan 
whom he is returning to, and this is shortly after the scene 
where he makes some advances to her. The next time we see 
her is when Spock has beamed back to the ship and it is all
over. What she thought of him between those appearances,
 how much it mattered to her and whether her idea of him had
 to change, we never know. We only see her happy for his
 sake, as if all is forgotten and the only really important thing 
is Spock himself: a man whose life she doesn't really have a
 right to try to share in. We see her smile when the men want 
her to leave. She dutifully does, leaving them to their male
 confabulation which they seem to have a need for—although 
there is little that they are going to talk of which she, as a
 nurse and a doctor of biology, doesn't know about.

We can only make guesses about why the Platonians in 
"Plato's Stepchildren" chose her for Spock, whose mind
they took her from, and what Spock means when he confesses
his distress at being unable to stop the Platonian games.
 The significance of his choice of words at that moment. "I
have failed you," is something to ponder.

Equally interesting is his choice of mind to hide in when he
 is escaping Henoch's schemes in "Return to Tomorrow." 
How this plan was concocted and Chapel agreed to it happens
 offstage (or else the story would lose its suspense). Perhaps 
other people were too involved with events to go unnoticed
by Henoch, and others not involved enough to be risked in
 this way. Chapel, in spite of the flattery Henoch gives her,
 does manage to be overlooked by him. He doesn't search her
 mind; perhaps he can't. She has been hypnotized by him, but
 her mind is strong enough to leave her still vaguely aware that
 something is wrong. She doesn't know what it is that is 
wrong, but she does almost break through. Since Spock may 
also be controlling her mind to keep her quiet, we don't hear
 what it is she would have said to Dr. McCoy about her

So, finally, it should not come as a great surprise that in
 "The Lorelei Signal" she should hear Spock when he calls to 
her telepathically. The signs that she just might be able to do
 so have been there for a long time; really, from the time all 
those years ago when she was told Roger Korby was dead and 
did not believe it.

If I had to say in one word why it is that I like Chapel, I
 would say "courage." The fact that she stays on the Enterprise, the scene of her grief, is one example of that courage; 
the fact that she stays onboard when the heroes are too tired 
to hang on there anymore (Spock meditating on Vulcan, Dr. 
McCoy living in Georgia, Kirk behind a desk) is an extension
 of the same thing. She has frailties—which I call her "goofy" 
moments—as in "Return to Tomorrow" when she tells Spock, 
who, scoolboy-like, does not wish to discuss the sharing of 
their minds, "It was beautiful." Her courage is best summed
 up in those moments when Spock is brought into sickbay, and
 there is no time for her emotions, so she gets on with the 
work of caring for him. It is the courage of humanity that 
doesn't have to be perfectly brave or perfectly strong, but has
 to consider the best thing to do and then go ahead and do it.
 And if she takes a break for a softer moment sometimes, she
 can't be blamed for that.

Christine Chapel is a character whose time has come; I 
would guess that her popularity is increasing. People are 
recognizing her positive qualities, and no longer just thinking
 of her as a woman who is silent and dutiful, her world bound
 up in Spock, nor do they any longer dismiss her altogether as not worth thinking about. Perhaps her intelligence
 and loyalty gives people something to think about, and per
haps her courage is something they can identify with. It is to
 be hoped that she will return in future Star Trek productions.
 While her character is often relegated to the background, her
 humanity helps fill in and make real the Star Trek world. 
So, cheers to the Star Trek universe and the people who fill 
it and prop it up, and to Nurse Chapel who shows that love 
does not have to be selfish, nor courage only for heroes.
Sandrine: Star Treksandrine on May 25th, 2012 08:39 am (UTC)
I've been a Chapel fan ever since I first watched Star Trek as a teenager, and this was a great read! Wonderful essay. :)
ruza_moja: единствоruza_moja on May 25th, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
Such awesome essay. I'm a big Chapel's fan and I was so glad to see it.
It's interesting: her popularity increased in 80s? What could be reasons of it?
In "What Are
 Little Girls Made Of?" she and Kirk walk by a pit and the 
edge of it crumbles and falls toward bottomlessness, but 
instead of clinging to Kirk and flutteringly admiring his muscles, she puts a hand on a nearby rock and steadies herself
Wow, it's true. What a shame I did't notice it before. But I noticed she was rather independent woman and didn't seem to be very emotional, especially by sixties standarts. So this scene really shows her personality well.
So, finally, it should not come as a great surprise that in
 "The Lorelei Signal" she should hear Spock when he calls to 
her telepathically. The signs that she just might be able to do
 so have been there for a long time; really, from the time all 
those years ago when she was told Roger Korby was dead and 
did not believe it.
A hint about telepathical abilities? Very interesting if strange observation.
So, awesome essay (I repite but I so like Christine it even isn't funny). There are things I thought about before, there are things I didn't (these two quotes above and the lines about her staying on Enterprise after five-year mission). I agree with most of it though I like the end of Return to Tomorrow. :D
The Girl Formerly Known As chunkylover53_: het slashnewest_gloss on May 25th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
It's interesting: her popularity increased in 80s? What could be reasons of it?

If I had to guess, it was probably because TOS went into syndication and/or The Next Generation got people interested and gave a larger audience to the Original Series. Then people only familiar with the films would have found out their was another female character in the crew besides Uhura. Plus, several fan writers at the time looked to give Chapel more significance beyond her love for Spock, so that might have changed people's attitudes towards her as well.

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate that you're reading the posts so I know that my effort is not in vain.

Edited at 2012-05-25 10:05 pm (UTC)