The Lost Years: The Post-TOS K/S Gap
by Laura Goodwin
When Star Trek went off the air, the story of Kirk's adventures didn't end. He apparently continued to gallivant around the galaxy until the entire five-year mission contract was fulfilled. It may be assumed that Spock stayed at his side the whole time. We have no canon reason to think that he didn't.
The next time we see Jim, it's in Star Trek, The Motion Picture, and he is no longer a starship captain, he is a starfleet admiral.
Spock is no longer at his side. Jim and Spock have, for reasons unspecified, gone their separate ways for a while.
The next time we see Spock, it's in TMP: he's slaving away in the Vulcan desert after some elusive Vulcan achievement, and, just as he's about to be rewarded for all his hard work, he throws a fit. It seems a voice from outer space is calling to him, and he can't tune it out. The Vulcan High Priestess - who melds with him to discover this fact -advises him to follow the beat of his different drummer, since Vulcan's stately beat doesn't seem after all to be the right tempo for him.
Spock takes his Priestess's advice, and decides to return to Jim's side, but he does it in a most remarkable way. He surprises Jim, by showing up uninvited and unannounced.
Spock storms through the halls right up to the bridge - dressed in his civvies, not his uniform.
Uhura sees Spock, and gasps with pure amazement.
Mr. Sulu looks to see what Uhura is gasping about, and he too is surprised.
"Why, it's Mr...." Sulu starts to say.
"SPOCK!" Jim exclaims, leaping up out of his chair. He lunges toward Spock, runs up against a barrier and leans on it heavily, obviously still wishing to get closer to Spock.
Everybody is astonished to see Spock, ESPECIALLY JIM. Not just pleasantly surprised, mind you, THUNDERSTRUCK, as if it's a stroke of God.
Everybody is thrilled to see him, especially Jim OF COURSE, and they all welcome Spock warmly, with obvious enthusiasm, ESPECIALLY JIM, who gazes and gazes at Spock as if drinking in every precious square centimeter of the guy as he stands there.
Spock and Jim stare deeply and feelingly into one another's eyes for a long moment, and nobody dares say anything.
Spock's reaction to this outpouring of love from his old comrades all around him is very strange. He is utterly stiff and unresponsive, and neglects even the basic small-talk courtesies with everybody, especially with Jim. He speaks first, not to Jim, but to Commander Decker -although Jim is his "friend" *and* the ranking officer present.
Unemotional and logical, my Aunt Fanny.
Jim Kirk's reaction to Spock and his bad attitude is quite remarkable. He doesn't chide him for his bad manners, he doesn't question his actions or attitude, he just stares at the guy adoringly with pure love in his eyes, and although obviously puzzled, he also obviously immediately forgives everything completely.
"Friends", my Aunt Fanny.
Nobody says a WORD in the whole movie about why Kirk and Spock ever went their separate ways. It just goes without saying that they had some kind of really good reason. It also goes without saying that Jim (and the others) never expected to ever see Spock again. It also goes without saying that, when Jim and Spock hold hands later in sickbay like they will never let go again, that something wonderful has occurred. Something which is even more wonderful and amazing than Spock coming back.
I don't happen to agree that all of that should just all flow by without anybody saying anything about it, so I'm going to say something about it. What follows is pure speculation, but so what?
Jim and Spock obviously had some kind of falling out, and *everybody* thought it was over for good between them. We are given no direct clues about why Spock felt the need to put a huge amount of distance between himself and Jim _and_ to try to purge himself of all emotion completely, but I think it's obvious that it was a personal matter, since nobody thinks it's OK to speak about it openly. If it was a professional issue, somebody would say something. There would be a conversation like:
Somebody Anybody: "Hey Spock! How nice that you are finished with your Vulcan Mystery Achievement, and can now join us again on our adventures!"
Spock: "As a matter of fact, I accelerated my progress precisely so I could join you on your adventures!"
Well, that's not what happened.
Spock was compelled to come back by a consciousness that called to him like the siren's song from outer space. It was just as strong a compulsion as his compulsion to return to Vulcan, in Amok Time, was. Spock couldn't succeed at purging himself of his emotions completely because of this voice from outer space that called to him. It interfered with his ability to be utterly logical, therefore it was an anti-logical thing. It called, and he felt the anti-logical need to answer.
What is the most anti-logical thing that there is? Emotions. And who, historically speaking, is the one person most likely to coax emotions out of Spock, whether he wants them coaxed out or not? Jim.
Jim Kirk's voice is the voice that is calling Spock from outer space. We are given symbolic reason to believe this. When Spock returns to the ship, the first person to actually speak his name out loud is Jim.
Chekov greets Spock as "Sir". Uhura just gasps. Sulu starts to say it, but he is interrupted by Jim, whose one big line when he first beholds the man in black is:
Then everybody falls silent, as Kirk and Spock gaze deeply into one another's eyes for a long, emotional, anti-logical moment.
Then Spock is basically rude to everybody, especially Jim, until near the end of the film when he and Jim go through a crisis together. Spock goes off (alone) without permission to confront and meld with V'Ger, and Kirk impulsively dons a space-suit and rushes out (alone) to retrieve him. Kirk embraces Spock out in space, and brings him back to the ship, and slaps his ass down in bed.
Chapel and McCoy bear witness but don't dare say one word as Kirk and Spock hold hands and just squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze! Spock now admits that emotions are important and logic isn't everything. Kirk and Spock are now back together again: not just geographically, but emotionally.
It's wonderful, and we are all expected to be happy about it - but what exactly has happened here?
What it looks like to me is that Kirk and Spock broke up after TOS, for personal reasons, and in TMP we see them reconciling and resuming their relationship. That's the theme of the whole movie. It's about reunification, about coming home, about incomplete parts coming together to form the complete whole.
That's what Star Trek in general is all about. It's about unity, it's about love, it's about.... how the feeling that Kirk and Spock share as they hold hands (while Spock is in bed) is, you know... really important. No, really, it is. And they shouldn't let silly things (like whatever it was that drove them apart) keep them apart, n stuff.