The seeming dichotomy between Spock’s Vulcan logic and human emotion unites in his flair for total drama. There are many incidents you can pluck out from Spock’s career to support this point, but perhaps none is more human than Spock’s break-up hair in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Between the events of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Thing You Liked About the Show was All the Ships, Right?, Spock has left Starfleet to pursue kohlinar, a discipline of Vulcan philosophy that ends in a ritual to purge yourself of all emotion. (This is the monastic version of “No Tears Left to Cry.”) Why Spock has done so, we don’t know. I’m not saying it has something to do with Kirk but I’m not not saying that, OK? Maybe he had an emotion so big it freaked him out and he decided to to go take the emotional garbage out as drastically as possible, which, wow, relatable, just @ me next time Spock.
Anyway, to communicate that Spock is a changed Vulcan, the first time we see him in Star Trek: Bigger, Longer, Uncut Shots of Ships Docking, his severe, traditionally Vulcan haircut is gone, replaced with a shag worthy of Prince Valiant. This is our first clue — besides the fact that he’s literally in the process of the final kohlinar ritual — that all is not well. Given how pristine the three elders he’s working with are, I’m not sure that this hairstyle is part of the ritual. This… seems like a choice. A choice like deciding to dye your hair a totally different color after a break-up because “SHE DOESN’T OWN ME!!!”
But much like sulking off to CVS in the dead of night to get two boxes of Color Oops (I HAVE A LOT OF HAIR OK) once you’ve come back to your senses, Spock returns to the Enterprise after realizing his fate lies with V’Ger looking fresh enough to slice your corneas, traditional Vulcan bowl cut, perfectly tailored coat, and all. We are invited to completely forget about this episode, but I think we shouldn’t. Even Spock falls prey to the foibles of break-up hair, just like every other humanoid in the galaxy. None of us are safe.