Amanda Grayson appears in ten episodes across three series: Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and Star Trek: Discovery, as well as three films across two timelines: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek (2009). She has been played by five actresses: Jane Wyatt (the original series and The Voyage Home), Majel Barrett (the animated series), Cynthia Blaise (The Final Frontier), Winona Ryder (the first Kelvin film), and Mia Kirshner (Discovery). Across all her appearances Amanda is portrayed as highly fashionable and she wears at least eighteen different looks.
The Modern Era
In her first appearance, Amanda was introduced as “she who is my wife”. In the films, she is first and foremost Spock’s mother, and like Mary, important because of who he is, not who she is. She participates in the story as motivation and motivator. In Discovery, she’s still a supporting and supportive character, but we spend more time with her, and start to pull the curtain back on who Amanda is.
Her first appearance in Discovery is season one’s “Lethe” and like The Final Frontier, she’s not really there. Through mindfulness and magic we join Amanda’s adoptive daughter Michael in Sarek’s memory. Unlike in The Final Frontier, I trust this scene happened how it is presented. It’s a moment Sarek regrets. He made a choice based in emotion and it was the wrong choice. He hurt both his children because he treated them like pawns in the game of his life.
And that is very Vulcan of him. This image of the Vulcan Science Academy is straight out of Through the Looking Glass, a chessboard in place of a kingdom. Everyone in this picture looks, literally, like a game piece waiting to be moved around the board. And it is definitely on purpose:
Because this is the moment when Amanda gives Michael her copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Michael matches all the other little pawns in the courtyard; Amanda is the White Queen.
The White Queen famously teaches Alice to believe in impossible things. It’s the opposite of Vulcan logic. The Queen does it with ease, “Why, sometimes I’ve believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This is a perfect role for Amanda. She is delightfully, defiantly human despite decades living among Vulcans, having a Vulcan husband, raising their children as Vulcans. In the final episode of Discovery‘s second season, Sarek and Amanda visit Michael before she embarks on a mission that will take her impossibly far from them. In the course of their final conversation, Sarek apologizes for not being an ideal father or husband, and Amanda calls him “Impossible.”
Amanda believes in herself, in her husband, in their marriage, in her hybrid son, in her faux hybrid daughter, in their family. That’s six impossible things she believes in before breakfast every single day.
Amanda wears white one other time, in Michael’s flashbacks in season two, notably reading Alice. This gown resembles the one in Winona’s deleted film scene, as does the relaxed hair. There is a crazy amount of candles in this image! I hope they are candles of the future that are better for the environment and scientifically treated to not burn your house down. Candles are important to Vulcan meditation, however. We’ve seen Spock, Sarek, Tuvok, T’Pol, and Vorrik utilize them.
This is the same or a similar white gown under the red robe. Like the orange and pink ensemble she wore in “Journey to Babel”, Amanda’s loungewear is soft, romantic, and expensive. I believe she made a deliberate choice to wear this for Michael’s arrival. It’s informal, an indication that Michael is a member of the family. And she looks human, not Vulcan and not human-but-enacting-Vulcan, like Spock or Michael.
Amanda wears red three times in Discovery. We get the best look at the above housedress, but there is a dreamlike quality to the entire sequence because it is Michael’s memory.
These are the last shot of Amanda in season one and the first shot of Amanda in season two. It gives her an etherealness, and reminds us that Michael is the focus. But Discovery season two finally allows the audience to get to know Amanda. I love the editing choice to bring her into focus in that S2 opening scene.
The third red look is in her final appearance in season two, after Michael’s departure. The scene is with Spock, another goodbye. There is no dialogue, just narration, and we barely see Amanda’s dress.
It’s a shame, I really want to see this dress in full.
It’s interesting that in both seasons Amanda’s first appearance finds her wearing white in a memory and her last appearance she’s in red, supporting her child, and we don’t really see her. Alice’s Red Queen introduces Alice to the conceit of the chessboard kingdom: “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” This sounds like an incredibly apt description of Spock’s and Michael’s childhood on Vulcan.