The beginning of the essay refutes mostly the assumption that Kirk and Spock were lovers during the series. Because most of us who seriously ship K/S accept the fanon theory that the two were not (at least monogamous) lovers before TMP, I won’t comment too extensively on this part as a whole. To reiterate/sum up, it is the general, fanon belief that Kirk and Spock were probably not involved with one another during TOS. We, as fans, assume this because of the actors’ and respective directors’ choice of chemistry between the two characters (jealousy, unspoken feelings, flirtation, etc, all which many of us already know about). For this reason, the two of them having ‘flings’ and romances on the side do not remotely disprove the “canonical” state of the pairing. If anything, the responses of the other to any one of the flings gives even more backing to my argument (i.e. jealously).
I did, however, want to comment specifically on a few parts of the essay.
(This is in reference to TOS, specifically, The City on The Edge of Forever)
This attitude on Spock’s side is to be seen during the whole of their relationship: he rarely calls Kirk by his first name, in most cases only when he is overly worried about him, or when the situation requires it, as in this episode, where both must be careful not to betray themselves for who they really are. If they were lovers, should one not assume that Spock would address Kirk’s with his first name? Even if he is a discreet and secretive person and, supposing they are lovers, he would possibly not want everyone to know, it ought to be natural for him to call a lover with a more intimate address when they are alone. Kirk is, first and foremost, Spock’s captain, his superior officer; whatever feelings he has for him come beyond that.
What one must take into consideration about this subject is the matter of professionalism. Whether ‘spouses’, ‘lovers’, or otherwise, it is no doubt expected of the Starfleet officers to refer to all of their colleagues (their superiors in particular) by their professional name. This does seem to vary with Spock from time-to-time, but on the whole, he typically always calls Jim ‘Captain’ when in a professional setting. ‘Jim’ is usually reserved for their to-the-side, head-to-heads on the bridge, when they’re alone, on a mission, or in the middle of a trying situation (basically, specific situations and rarely in front of the crew, if ever. But just the fact that he calls Kirk by his first name at all speaks volumes, given he doesn’t do this with literally anyone else). But, again, because most of us agree Spock and Kirk were not involved at the time the writer is commenting on, I will leave this topic as it is.
I do want to argue a somewhat related point having to do with the importance of guarding identities in this particular episode. It doesn’t seem –to me, anyway- that it is particularly vital of them to completely hide their identities. Obviously, Spock has to keep his ears under wraps, but I think on the whole it wouldn’t really matter if anyone were to hear that they’re ‘spacemen’. Who’d really believe that anyhow? I think they both shy away from mentioning it specifically to Edith because she either wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t believe them (probably the latter). It’s not so much a necessity to keep from saying they’re from the future, it’s a convenience. As we saw in the Star Trek IV- The Journey Home, all of the fronts they put up about their time period and identities is for the sake of not looking crazy, not because it’s a huge secret they have to keep under wraps.
In the end he says, “For the first time in my life, I was happy”, which amply expresses that he had not known happiness before. Are these the words of a man who has known a fulfilled love life? Assuredly not. Moreover, we can clearly recognize that even without the effect of the spores, Leila still loves him and he still feels affection for her.
In Nimoy’s novel ‘I Am Not Spock’, he writes a conversation he has with Spock about this very subject. The conversation, in short, is not very conclusive. Nimoy asks Spock about the line directly and Spock replies, “Your typically human assumption is that I had lived a deprived life, and have now at least had an insight into a blissful state.” Nimoy presses the issue further, and Spock explains his usage of the line was the same as a human saying I said, "I was happy for the first time in my life," in the same sense that a visitor to America might say, "I had a hamburger for the first time in my life." Of course, most Americans would like to hear him add ". . . and I loved it." Spock is essentially trying to say that his declaration of happiness was a simple statement of fact.
But since it is pretty apparent in the series that Spock is capable of emotion and was probably (for a lack of a better verb) “bullshitting” Nimoy, then we can probably agree that he was happy for the first time and enjoyed being so on some level. Does this disprove K/S? No, because the general assumption is that Kirk and Spock were not together at this time. Does this mean that Spock was not happy before this when he generally spent time with Kirk (playing chess, joking around, going on missions, etc)? No, because even if he was happy during those occasions it is unlikely he would recognize those feelings for what they were (specifically, at this time in his life, before he had become more accepting of his emotions). Even if he did recognize those feelings it is even more unlikely that he’d readily admit this to anyone, much less out loud to the whole bridge crew. He can’t very well deny this specific occasion with the spores, however. Lastly, let us try not to assume that Spock thinks of happiness the same way we do (as full contentment with one’s situation, generally enjoying one’s existence, etc). Is it at all possible that Spock associates happiness with acting impulsively, doing whatever one wants, and putting recreation before duty? There is no direct evidence that this is the case, but it certainly is possible. Perhaps if Nimoy had asked Spock if he was generally content with his life and his relationships up until this time, Spock would have relented with a ‘yes’. Happy implies an undue amount of unrestrained emotion, so it seems logical to assume that Spock wouldn’t think of his general contentment as such.
On a somewhat related note, I, personally, saw little evidence to any genuine, romantic affection for Leila on Spock’s behalf. It has been said in the show before that Spock can allow himself to be affected by ‘a pretty face’ if he wants to, and even does with Droxine in ‘The Cloud Minders’. However, Spock explicitly chooses not to with Leila for whatever reason, just as he has denied both Chapel and Uhura. His tenderness towards the end did not exactly suggest romance, but rather sympathy and/or empathy for Leila’s pain. The happiness he may have felt, however that is defined for him, was not necessarily specific to her. From his line of “I can love you” to his speech to her about being unable to deny their own natures would moreover suggest that the spores allowed him to take solace in emotion. Leila was more an outlet for those emotions than a specific object of his desire. We are also clued in rather early to the fact that Leila knows seldom little about Spock; she does not know if it’s true that he can’t love, and she assumes that the nature of his relationship with Kirk is one of indifferent professionalism and that she knows him better. What can’t be argued is that this is plainly untrue.
It would seem very much out of Spock’s character to have true affection for someone who forced him into a relationship through deception and has no grasp on who he is at all.
These are not the words of a man who believes in love, or in happiness in general for that matter.
On this point, I somewhat agree with the author. At this time in Spock’s life, I agree that he fancies himself incapable of affection for anyone and does not believe he will ever experience it (or, at least, express it). This is, of course, at this specific point. Spock’s outlook on this changes drastically during the course of TMP (I’m thinking of one scene progression, in particular). But what cannot be argued is that Spock visibly feels something strong for Kirk, as is blatantly exhibited in ‘The Empath’ when she feels his emotions while he watches his Captain sleep. Obviously, Spock at least subconsciously believes in some kind of love, though not absolutely ‘romance’ (though I would, of course, argue that he does). This is even more explicitly demonstrated in ‘Requiem For Methuselah’ when McCoy delivers to Spock the very knowing and rousing speech of his incapability to love (when the audience knows full-well that McCoy isn’t speaking of an inability, he’s talking about reluctance) romantically and then cleverly spurs him on to helping Jim forget about his recent, failed romance.
Just to touch on this ‘Empath’ scene a bit more, notice how Gem (the Empath) feels the love between McCoy and his friends and the love between Kirk and Spock at two separate occasions. I, personally, find it interesting the director/writers/Roddenberry felt it imperative to point out that the affection between McCoy and his friends is notably different than the affection between just those two friends; not less or more, just different. One must ask oneself why this would be seen as an important thing to include.
In “Amok Time” Spock unexpectedly snaps out of his blood fever when he must believe he has killed Kirk. But are friendship and loyalty not enough to explain the depth of his shock?
Certainly, it is. With Kirk and Spock, the lines of friendship and romantic love are sometimes blurred, but so is the case with many couples (on a personal note, so is the case with myself and my husband: a part time lover and a full time friend, as so eloquently put by The Moldy Peaches). However, I don’t think there are many K/Sers who will argue the idea that Spock snapping out of his bloodfever was essentially a romantic or sexual thing in and of itself (there exists some argument about how Spock’s lust for his Captain in that episode was immediately depleted when he thought he killed him. Though I do believe Spock was hungering for Kirk during his Pon Farr, I’m not sure the snap was directly related to that). At the very least, I won’t. However, it still speaks volumes about Spock’s legitimate affection for the Captain, as prior to this Spock never seems to show any kind of memorial for death (as is elaborated in ‘The Galileo Seven’). Of course, the difference here is that Spock is directly responsible for said death and since we haven’t seen him accidentally kill someone before, we can’t exactly compare the two reactions to know for sure. Still, considering the amount of significance Spock places on Kirk’s safety and wellbeing, I think it would be safe to assume that his ‘snap’ is caused by grief for his friend, not a sense of guilt. So, yes, I essentially agree with this point.
There never is any hint of jealousy in this long lasting friendship, neither from Spock at Kirk’s frequent affairs, and Kirk does not even react so when Spock is about to get married.
On this point, I strongly disagree, though I will grant the author that the ‘jealousy’ aspect is somewhat interpretive. The reactions I saw in ‘This Side of Paradise’, ‘The City On The Edge of Forever’, ‘Elaan Of Troyius’, ‘The Conscience of The King’ and others, spoke to me of nothing but jealousy, mostly from Spock. His quite emotional reactions to Kirk’s flings are sometimes given ‘logical’ explanations (from him, specifically), but none really satisfyingly and completely explain why he acts the way he does when Kirk becomes ‘entangled’. One could argue that Spock is just generally disapproving of public displays of affection like that, but his mild, brief display of judgment in ‘Friday’s Child’ when he catches McCoy being flirted with by the pregnant woman or his annoyance/amusement at the reaction the men have to ‘Mudd’s Women’ is nothing compared to the dramatic display he puts on every time Kirk has a fling he’s aware of.
Concerning the other side of the equation, if Kirk is not jealous during ‘This Side of Paradise’, why then does he glare at Leila and Spock only after learning that they have a history? If he was just suspicious of Leila in general, he wouldn’t have greeted her as cordially as he did when she entered the room, he would have been glaring at her the whole time (just to emphasize, this glare from Kirk is given no other justification. He doesn’t do it until he finds out that this woman has a history with Spock and he is given literally no other reason). Why is Kirk surprisingly not affected when the spores first come in contact with him (the answer to which the episode literally never gave us)? Notice, also, how in this particular scene the director made a point of having Shatner walk all the way over and get stung, whereas he could have just had Shatner walk a bit slower and not get there in time to be spored, thereby not leaving the audience wondering. Someone with a say in the matter felt like the audience needed to ponder this strange occurrence. Why oh why wasn’t Kirk affected in that one scene? The world may never truly know (unless the world chooses to accept a theory that, for some, is hard to swallow).
If it takes a “violent” emotion, like “anger”, then what could have made Kirk passionately angry in the time before he was first ‘stung’? It certainly wasn’t confusion towards Spock’s behavior (a common argument), as confusion and bewilderment are not violent emotions and they certainly don’t outweigh Kirk’s fear of loneliness- what he was enduring at the time of his ‘successful sporing’. I also don’t think it was frustration with Spock for being difficult, as Kirk seems far more confused in that scene than angry or irritated (and definitely not enough of the latter to negate the powers of the spores). Could it have had something to do with Spock and Leila holding hands and having fun together? (Interestingly enough, the original version of this episode was going to have Kirk walk in on Spock and Leila as they kissed passionately by a stream. He was then going to be spored and be not affected. Fascinating stuff, that.)
What is also interesting is the juxtaposition between Kirk and Spock’s reactions to relationships they have and relationships McCoy gets involved with. Notice how casual and joking Kirk is about his friend McCoy having a fling in ‘The Man Trap’ and ‘For the World Is Hollow’. Notice, also, the general apathy Spock has for McCoy’s relationships. If both Kirk and Spock can feel so casual about their other close friend having romances, why can’t they feel that way about each other, assuming they only feel platonically for each other? The only really plausible reason is because there are unspoken, romantic feelings. There is, quite literally, no other completely logical explanation for these reactions (and if there are, they are never nearly as probable as this).
On the last point, the author is quite right. Kirk does not act jealous when Spock gets married, but it is made quite clear that Spock’s wedding is not something he is enthusiastic about. It is also made clear that Spock did not so much as choose his own bride, and is more than reluctant about going to complete the very necessary deal with her. One can see more than enough justification for Kirk to not be jealous. If he is crushing on Spock, then T’Pring is hardly a threat. Furthermore, Spock has also made it clear that once he gets married and consummates it, he will return to the ship. In light of all of this, for what reason does Kirk need to worry?
To be perfectly honest though, these displays I’m addressing are entirely up to the viewer’s interpretation. I say this because we’re never given concrete proof of what it is exactly that the “jealous” one is trying to convey (like the character coming right out and saying “I’m jealous because I love you!”), though this emotion always comes out as the most logical of the probable justifications, at least in the opinion of K/Sers.
Is this the talk of lovers? It doesn’t sound at all like it. Spock more than once saves Kirk’s life, but we know well that he sees it as his duty. Any personal affection from him is certainly important, but not decisive for his protectiveness.
I, personally, think it’s dangerous to presume what “the talk of lovers” is meant to sound like. Couples, like the people who occupy them, vary wildly from one to the other and it cannot be expected that two will show affection in the exact same way as another would. To again quote my own relationship, my husband and I do not often use terms of endearment for one another in public, nor do we openly display a lot of affection in a similar setting. We’re private people (as is Spock, and Kirk when he must be in a professional capacity), whereas another couple might do the exact opposite. But again, this point is moot because the ‘lovers’ aspect of their relationship had most likely not yet taken shape anytime during TOS.
For this next part about Spock, the author may very well be right. Spock often struggles with duty and his personal feelings and it is sometimes hard to tell what is done for either cause. Though let’s not totally cut him short, as there have been plenty of times (The Tholian Web is one specific instance which I’ll address more later) when both logic and Spock’s duty dictated he leave the Captain to die, yet he disregards both to save him. With Kirk, on the other hand, there can be no question. Kirk repeatedly risks losing his crew, ship, commission and even his life to save Spock’s. This is done many times in the show before The Search for Spock. This, of course, is not irrefutable or even direct proof towards a romantic love, but it certainly indicates the power of the affection between these two men and that neither one of them puts ‘duty’ before the other.
Another very important factor to be considered is the memorable triumvirate formed by Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy: supposing that there is some special, closer undercurrent between Kirk and Spock would mean disrupting their union.
This, I don’t agree with, though I suppose it’s another one of those things that’s up for interpretation. While Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are a triumvirate of friends (that cannot be denied), McCoy is still his own entity with his own issues and his own life apart from their friendship. Furthermore, whether romantic or not, there is clearly a different affection between Kirk and Spock than either of them have with McCoy, and yet their friendship reminds unharmed. I must reinforce the argument I’ve been alluding to throughout this essay; assuming Kirk and Spock harbored romantic feelings for one another during the show and were lovers/spouses during the movies, their relationship is blurred between friendship and romantic love. For this reason, their relationship with McCoy remains as it is. Their romantic love for one another is not remotely a main component of their affection, and it doesn’t make either of them care more about the other than McCoy. I also do not think that McCoy would express anything less than utmost respect for the romantic angle of his friends’ relationship, and I do not believe that Kirk or Spock would allow such a component to ruin the collective friendship by turning McCoy into a third wheel.
Roddenberry himself stated that he had created the Spock character as a being ascetic and asexual, and this matches the fact that he is Kirk’s opposite, seeing that his captain is a bit of a bon vivant.
I have yet to see the exact quote of his that proves this, but the author went on to mention the very interesting occurrence of ‘Droxine’ in ‘The Cloud Minders’ (as have I, previously). If Spock was so asexual, would he have approached Droxine with romantic intent (granted, it is suggested that he may have approached her to find out if living a privileged life had tainted her, but he was still visibly attracted to her)? Remember, also, that Spock was not under the influence of anything during the episode. It was in that episode, also, that Spock disproved the common misconception that Vulcans can only and want only to mate during Pon Farr (an example in and of itself that Vulcans are not asexual beings by default). I think that Roddenberry meant to convey that Spock fancies himself an asexual or aspires to be so, at least during most of TOS. One must remember, also, that the character of Spock underwent many different changes during the course of the series and it is entirely probable that this ‘asexual’ comment was made in the earlier days of the character’s forming (or Roddenberry was just alluding to that creation time specifically, as he apparently says the character was created that way, not that he always was).
Roddenberry is also known for saying that Spock and Kirk complete one another, so if there is an argument here that the two are simply ‘unsuited’ due to their differences, then that belief of Roddenberry’s should be enough to negate it.
And if I simply wanted to be cynical, I might argue that Spock worries about Kirk because if something happened to him, Spock as the first officer would be in charge of the Enterprise, and we know that he is unwilling for a duty that would leave him so little space for his scientific interests.
And yet Spock goes on to willingly become Captain of The Enterprise in Wrath of Khan. I also do not think that a romantic angle to their relationship would be necessary for Spock to care about Kirk and want to save his life for selfless reasons. Lastly, it does not seem very ‘logical’ and ‘Spock-like’ for him to accept the position as First Officer if he was that concerned about being in charge and having it interfere with his interests. Spock even said in the episode ‘The Galileo Seven’ that he neither fears nor desires authority and responsibility, it simply exists. While a lot of the facts Spock makes up for himself I don’t agree with, this one I do. Spock is not afraid of his duties and nowhere is it suggested or remotely implied that he does.
On a very final note about this, there is plenty of evidence within the series to make us believe that Spock cares about Jim selflessly and he often willingly allows his logic to wane when it comes to keeping Jim safe. In ‘The Devil in The Dark’, Spock spends the first part of the episode discouraging any and everyone from killing the Horta, yet the minute he feels Kirk’s life is danger, he can’t see the creature die soon enough (I’ll ask the reader to not forget how important peace and life are to the Vulcans and how much this goes against the teachings of Surak). It was in this same episode that Spock used logic and math in his favor to persuade Jim to let him stay by his side instead of getting out of harm’s way. This would clearly indicate that Spock’s interests are focused on being with his Captain through thick and thin, not his own safety.
In ‘The Tholian Web’, Spock requests to remain with Kirk on the vanishing ship instead of asking him to beam back up in his place (what he would have offered, were his concern only with having to accept an authority he didn’t want and not with the Captain in general. Or, better yet, he would have accepted the beam-up without complaint). Later in the episode, Spock is faced with the very difficult decision of either remaining in the part of space where they are to await the next interphase and save the Captain and possibly be killed by an aggressive, opposing ship, or steer the Enterprise clear and declare the Captain dead. Even McCoy in this scene urges Spock to let Jim go and save the ship. Instead of taking the obviously logical route, Spock decides instead to remain and fight. Spock would not risk the life of the ship and its crew just to insure the Captain -who they weren’t even sure was still alive- got back just so he could go back to his scientific interests. It’s not even remotely on par with his character.
This isn’t about avoiding responsibility and duty, an almost ridiculous concept, when trying to relate it to Spock. This is about Spock’s love for his Captain (again, love in general, not romance specifically) and his desire to protect him.
Their closeness is based upon a deep tolerance and understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. These are very important and beautiful pillars of their friendship, but no proof for romantic love.
This I do agree with. Their closeness is definitely not direct evidence of a romantic affection, and that in particular is not what convinced myself and many others of the romantic component specifically. I would also never begin to suggest that closeness and friendship and love between two people automatically concludes something sexual. But I will go more into detail about that later.
However, I would say that it’s not so much a “deep tolerance and understanding” of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as it is a love/admiration of them. Notice how when Spock is being Spock and generally annoying everyone around him with logic, Kirk is the only one in the room smiling and laughing to himself (not always the only one, but usually). Clearly, Kirk doesn’t simply tolerate Spock’s “negative” attributes, he loves them. Kirk will even go so far as to incite Spock to express those attributes because he simply loves Spock for who he is.
This is not irrefutable proof a romance, but it is of a genuine, deep, and unique love of some kind.
Wouldn’t it be just a little unprofessional, generally speaking, for a captain or first officer to start an affair with a crewmember, and, in Spock’s case, with a superior officer?
If by ‘unprofessional’ the author means not in accordance with Starfleet regulation, then I have to point out that is entirely false. There are plenty of Star Trek fans who claim that a relationship between two officers (particularly of differing rank) is canonically forbidden, and yet, we see plenty of examples of in-crew romance during TOS and the movies. In ‘Balance Of Terror’, a superior officer prepares to legally marry his inferior officer. In TMP, Decker (the current captain of The Enterprise) has a relationship with Ilia, a Lieutenant Navigator and at no point does anyone say it’s ‘forbidden’. Ilia is only required to take an oath of celibacy because of her Deltan heritage, not because of her relationship. Furthermore, Scotty and Uhura are visibly and openly involved with each other in The Final Frontier. In conclusion, nowhere in TOS canon does it say, explicitly, that a romantic relationship within the crew is against regulation and I’m a little baffled as to where this misconception may have originated from. To the probable argument that these rules are only in place for the Captain, I ask one to consider the plausibility of that. If the Captain were not allowed to engage in some manner of relationship with one of his crewmen (or First Officer), then wouldn’t that be him setting a standard and example that all of the crew were expected to follow? That seems the likely answer to me, yet we still see plenty examples of in-crew romance (interestingly enough, in Mirror Verse, Kirk discovers a yeomen at the end of the episode who is the “good” counterpart of his love interest in the other universe and openly alludes to the possibility of having a relationship or fling with her). Is it irrefutable proof of a K/S romance? Certainly not, but it is also not a valid argument against it.
On the whole, though, I think this is one of those ‘shakier’ pieces of canon that doesn’t really have a good answer to it, though the vast majority of evidence seems to suggest that in-crew romance is not as verboten as some fans would like for everyone to believe. I do, however, think that crewmembers in a relationship have a responsibility to not practice nepotism or let feelings get in the way of their duty (but then again, Kirk and Spock were doing the latter of these two long before they were in a relationship).
In the novel “The Lost Years” by J.M. Dillard we get to know that Spock left Earth for Vulcan disappointed by Kirk, who took the Admiral rank instead of starting a new five-year mission together with his comrades, as he had promised them. McCoy angrily takes his leave from Starfleet after this incident; some time later, he goes to visit Spock on Vulcan - Kirk never does. Would a loving couple hurt one another so much or allow such a long separation? I don’t think so.
Assuming that this is entirely canon (which I don’t think even licensed novels are), I personally find that none of it directly disproves K/S. To begin with, and to restate an already repeated point, if Kirk and Spock were not romantically involved during TOS (again, the K/S fan consensus) then Kirk would have had no obligation to stay anywhere. Perhaps he had grown tired of his chase for Spock, thinking the feeling wasn’t mutual, and began to realize that he couldn’t pursue a friendship with him if he couldn’t have him as his lover, as it would be too emotionally trying. Perhaps the Admiral position was his way of escaping that. Spock, angry with Kirk for not keeping his promise and abandoning him, leaves for Vulcan. It would make sense, then, that Kirk would not visit Spock. It would hurt too much, for both of them.
It’s truly another one of those things that could be anyone’s guess, but if one looks at it from the point-of-view of most K/S fans, it makes sense and doesn’t remotely disprove the theory. Kirk and Spock were not yet together and were obviously not communicating as openly as they maybe should have about their underlying feelings.
This also does not seem to directly explain why Spock felt compelled to go through kohlinar (or, perhaps it does. To be honest, I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never read this novel). It could have been simply because he felt lied to by Kirk and that was an inconvenience, but doesn’t it make infinitely more sense that Spock would have left Starfleet to pursue kohlinar because he felt heartbroken? Doesn’t a response like that seem warranted only if there was much more at stake than whether or not Kirk kept his word? It does not sound plausible to me that Spock would consider a basic lie from a platonic friend justification to pursue kohlinar. Anger, deep resentment, or something similar perhaps, but Spock felt like this betrayal required him to purge all of his emotion. Consider also that there have been times where Spock was under the misconception that Kirk was lying to him about something, or being far too reticent with information, etc, and none of those times did Spock immediately run back to Vulcan to rid himself of emotion.
In my opinion, there is more to this scenario that we’re not hearing about. Furthermore, I take this novel with a grain of salt because it doesn’t appear to be directly or even remotely written by Roddenberry and I am of the belief that if he wanted there to be a defined, inarguable answer for why Spock left Starfleet to pursue kohlinar (rather than letting us wonder and make up our own stories) he would have given us one of his own, probably in one of the films. I don’t doubt that he may have accepted this novel as a probable scenario, however.
In “The Wrath of Khan” Kirk repeatedly offers Spock to remain Captain of the Enterprise, until he is reminded, “I am a Vulcan. I have no ego to bruise.” There is still room for such awkward situations between them. How can they have been in an intimate relationship, let alone for years or even decades?
I was of the impression that Spock’s mention of this reminder was done ironically, a statement of a fact Jim was already aware of (or a statement of something Spock fancies about himself) hence, the reminder aspect of the line (also notice that both Jim and Spock seem reasonably amused here, smiling knowingly at each other). It is not literally an informing sentence, at least not to my mind. Also, if we look at it from a practical stand point, we may see that the line exists only for audience-information purposes, like for those who either haven’t seen Star Trek before or have forgotten facets of Spock’s character. For the two characters, however, it is simply a playful tease; Spock does have an ego, as both the informed audience and Kirk knows, but Spock is trying to assure him that ego doesn’t span to authoritative positions. Jim may already know this but is skeptical, or, as I am about to suggest in the next paragraph, he’s not concerned with Spock’s ego so much as he is whether or not he should let himself take command. The latter of these seems the most logical to me. This would thereby render Spock’s line an attempt to, like I mentioned, tease Jim.
In this scene, Jim knows that a part of himself is itching to take authority of the ship, but he questions the wisdom in wanting to do so. What he is searching for with Spock is what I often search for in my husband during conversations like these- encouragement and approval. Jim wants to hear his wise Vulcan say, ‘Yes, this is where you belong’. I do not think the worry actually stems from whether or not Spock will want to give up his position as Captain to Jim. This is simply a veil for the actual issue at hand.
But I pose the question, would Jim and Spock have to be involved romantically to know about these various idiosyncrasies and be familiar with them? Lovers or not, Kirk and Spock are inarguably, very close. They know things about one another that they don’t even realize about themselves.
Spock always keeps a tendency to be reserved and formal around Kirk; still in “The Final Frontier” he calls him “Captain” until Kirk good-naturedly says “We’re on shore leave. Call me Jim.” During their escape with the antigravity boots, Kirk at first does not even dare to lay his arms around Spock and must be encouraged to do so.
Might I point out that not a long time has passed since the Fal-Tor-Pan. Much of Spock’s memory is still returning to him, and possibly also the full nature of his relationship with his Captain. Kirk does not willingly latch on to Spock in this other scene because, quite obviously, Spock is hovering a good distance off the ground. Kirk’s reluctance has nothing to do with propriety or simply not wanting to touch Spock, it’s about his fear of falling to his death. Later, Kirk more than makes up for reluctantly grabbing hold of Spock in that particular scene by nearly doing something reprehensible to him in front of the Klingons. It may have been just an embrace Kirk was going for, but I’m willing to bet the likelihood of an implied kiss or something of the like, given Spock’s (and Shatner’s) need to not let Kirk fully express his intended action. Either way, it was a gesture of affection that Spock felt was too intimate to be done in a public arena. In this case, Kirk is forced to recoil from Spock. Obviously, he has no problem at all with getting physical with him (as is exhibited countless times before this scene in the movies and series).
Also in this film, we are acquainted with Spock’s brother Sybok, which completely confuses Kirk. It is obvious once more that he did not know his friend’s mind, family and life that well; and yet we gain the impression that he is much more a brother to Spock than Sybok is or ever was.
Again, I think it is unwise to assume what information Spock would release to his lover versus his non-lover, as there is really not enough blatant canon evidence either way. While we, as real humans, would readily tell our lovers and spouses all about our families and friends, just as we would with those we’re just generally close to, Spock follows a different code of logic and ethics. Why would Spock tell Kirk about Sybok if he had never been asked specifically to do so? What does being lovers with someone have to do with an estranged member of your family, according to Vulcan logic? Spock talks only of what is relevant to the situation and it has nothing to do with how strongly he feels towards the other party. The existence of Sybok had literally nothing to do with the relationship Jim and Spock shared (again, romantic or otherwise), and so I find it not surprising at all that he would have never come up in conversation. I’m sure if Kirk had ever asked, Spock would have explained.
One might also argue that if Kirk and Spock were theoretically bonded (something many of us K/S fans also believe), wouldn’t Kirk have known about Sybok through Spock’s thoughts? To that I say, Kirk and Spock would have still been rekindling their bond from his death -when it was presumably broken, something that I think is exhibited rather blatantly throughout the 4th and 5th movie. In those films, there is definitely a sense of an intimate relationship being rebuilt- and may have not fully shared one another’s thoughts when Sybok reappeared. I also think it’s probable that Spock blocks out thoughts of Sybok prior to this time, given that he is no longer a part of the family and has distanced himself. When Sybok reappears, Spock seems shocked and struck to his core, almost as if he hadn’t thought of his brother in many years and is just now having to consider him again. Again, this is my interpretation, but it fits rather cohesively with what transpires in those films.
In “Generations” we find Kirk living in the Nexus, a paradise-like place, where all of your wishes come true. Does Kirk imagine Spock at his side, as one would suppose if he indeed was his beloved? No.
Would Spock necessarily have to be his ‘beloved’ for Kirk to want to imagine him there? I would hope not. I see this argument a lot as a K/S refutation, but to me, it communicates more of an attempt to disprove the general affection between Kirk and Spock rather than something romantic. Notice that McCoy isn’t in this paradise, either, and he is one of Jim’s closest friends. Neither is anyone Kirk really loved, knew, or cared about in life, aside from this random woman we’ve never heard of before. The presence of the arbitrary woman is not too far off from Kirk’s character, granted, but Kirk has a deep affection for those he is close to and it seems inconsistent that a heaven-like paradise for Kirk would only consist of himself, a late family dog, and some non-specific woman that Kirk has never so much as given a passing mention to (considering, also, Kirk’s social nature and his fear of being alone). Really, it’s anyone’s guess, but this argument as refutation of K/S does, indeed, also work to disprove their strong affection in general which is a canonical fact and cannot be argued.
Although this isn’t an argument with a definite canonical basis, it bears consideration; consider that Generations is, essentially, told from Picard’s POV. We first see his vision of an ideal Nexus, and then we’re treated to what is supposed to be Kirk’s. But isn’t it possible that this ‘vision’ of Kirk’s is actually what Picard subconsciously would have imagined he’d have? Is it possible that Picard is seeing Kirk’s Nexus through a filter, based on what (little) knowledge Picard has of him? Is it possible that the Antonia character is seen as a woman by Picard because Kirk’s reputation as a womanizer precedes him, and as such, Picard assumes that there would be some woman in Kirk’s past that Kirk would want to rekindle with? Perhaps, assuming that Spock and Kirk’s romantic relationship was not known to every officer in the Fleet or at least kept secret, it’s also possible that Picard didn’t know about Kirk’s deeper feelings for Spock (nor, really, any of his other close friends and relatives who would seem to warrant a spot in this vision), and therefore couldn’t see that ‘one love’ in Kirk’s nexus as who it should have been.
Perhaps this is just me trying to reconcile the strange film that is Generations for my own needs, but given the indefinable nature of the Nexus, it is an entirely conceivable theory. What adds to the legitimacy of this theory is the fact that we never see Antonia up close or really get to know her as a character. She stands in the background as more of a motif or a symbol than an actual person. We never even truly get a good look at her face.
What is true, however, is that an audience will not generally consider how much a certain character’s POV and bias can influence the depiction of the story as a whole. They will accept it as the absolute truth, rather than simply what that particular character sees. Again, given that Generations is depicted essentially through Picard’s eyes and the Nexus itself is so indefinite and depends on the bias of whoever wanders in, is it really an entirely reasonable conclusion that the Nexus we see for Kirk is the actual one he has, especially given how unsuited it is to his character? Like I’ve established, I think it’s entirely possible that all or more of this ‘Nexus vision’ for Kirk is seen as how Picard would expect to see the late Cpt. Kirk’s paradise, not necessarily how it actually is.
This may seem, at first, like a rather unsupported argument, but consider also that this isn’t the first time Star Trek has suggested certain ulterior possibilities to their stories that never get confirmed one way or another. This one, in particular, does not sound too far off from the scenarios that would sometimes appear in episodes in TOS.
However, Brittany of The Ship’s Closet show on YouTube and the K/S Analyzation Project on Fanfiction.Net, graciously provided some more concrete arguments against this specific point that I’d like to share with the reader.
Brittany states, first of all, that Generations was written by the writers of TNG, not those from TOS or any of the TOS movies. This is basically the sole reason that Generations feels a little off in certain areas from what we know about TOS, especially with Kirk’s character and the way his Nexus appears. Second of all, Nimoy declined the offer to appear in the film so even if they had originally planned to include Spock in Kirk’s Nexus, they simply couldn’t. For hopefully obvious reasons, they wouldn’t go so far as to have another actor play him instead. Basically, any hopes of Spock appearing in the Nexus were dashed. It wasn’t as if they had Nimoy and still decided not to do it. DeForrest Kelley was also ill at this time, so he couldn’t very well have made an appearance either.
In the end, Generations comes out as a very inconsistent and “shaky” representation of the characters and storylines we knew in TOS because it was a totally new group of writers and they were lacking two vital actors. Yes, this movie is considered canon, but that doesn’t make it an automatically accurate or even reliable representation.
At the end of the film, when Kirk dies in Picard’s presence, he betrays his easy-going nature down to his very lasts words. He has lived for adventure, for making new experiences all of his life. Neither he nor Spock ever find their own universe in someone else’s eyes; and nothing in show or films shows that there is reason to believe this could be what they ultimately want.
If this is true, then it is because Kirk and Spock are their own individuals, romantically involved or not. This is also true of many couples who’ve been together all of their lives; people simply do not gradually fuse into one single entity the longer they stay together, no matter how in love or compatible they are. But on the other hand, there is no direct evidence to the fact that the two do not find “their own universe” in each other’s eyes (which, might I add, is a particularly poetic line and I like it very much =D). They will also have their own personal needs, wants, desires, and aspirations, but this does not mean they are not, in one capacity or another, soul mates.
Roddenberry himself later thought up the Vulcan expression “t’hy’la” to describe Spock’s relationship to Kirk - it is translated “blood-brother”, which points out once more the show’ and character’s Western background. The friendship between Kirk and Spock is so deep and trusting and at times so intense that it lacks only a few components to do what you could call “complete the circle”; so it is not to be marvelled that some fans are tempted to add these by means of their imagination.
Might I also point out that T’hy’la translates specifically to ‘friend/brother/lover’, an important aspect to highlight on when arguing this issue from either side. Furthermore, Kirk does not ever directly refute the lover category -even going so far as to say his best gratification has been with women, implying he’s been intimate with something besides a woman in his lifetime. Again, I want to remind the reader that this was written by Roddenberry himself- and neither does Roddenberry. Perhaps this is where a lot of the ‘romantic’ beliefs about K/S originate from.
And let’s be grateful the k/s basis is not explicit; if it was, it would lay some more limitations that no fanfiction writer can wish for. One of the great, appealing traits of k/s is that the pairing is half-forbidden, shrouded in imagination and speculations and leaving heaps of space for the fan’s fantasy. If it was all too clear, too much in the open, let me say it: it would be plain boring. :-)
This, I also agree with. As much as I think I would like to have seen them explicitly together (not necessarily ‘R’ explicit), I do think that it would have somehow cheapened the mystique that we K/S fans treasure.
All right, now I’m really being honest. I do not believe that k/s was ever supposed to be a love story, not in canon, not by their makers. But, let’s look at it from another point of view. Let me suppose it is indeed a love story. We would have two characters who are quite opposite, yet living and working together in harmony. A soul-deep friendship, understanding, trust, loyalty, affection; decades of two shared lives, of countless adventures, good and bad ones, lived through together, never parted for good, working, living, growing, developing together. Add the mind meld to this, which assumes that they indeed know each other’s mind, can really be one, perhaps even learn to love each other’s minds before they do the same with their bodies. Place the romantic element on top, the sparkle of tenderness that lovers share, the magic of intimate feelings and experiences, unforgettable moments that forge two to a unity, and a happy, fulfilled love life without negative side effects. Hmmm. I am not saying that I consider such a relationship to be absolutely impossible. But if it were, I would have to admit that I don’t believe in it because, on the whole - it simply sounds too good to be true.
To sum up my thoughts…
Most K/S fans agree that Kirk and Spock were not lovers during TOS. We have good reason to believe this, the most prevalent being Roddenberry’s quote “We did not mean to suggest physical love between the two during the series” (paraphrased). Couple that with what we believe to be evidence of hidden feelings and jealousies and from there comes our common denominator; Kirk and Spock were secretly in love during the show, but hid these feelings as best they could for fear of rejection or fear of the feeling itself,. Their mutual romance did not begin until sometime after or during TMP and definitely before Wrath of Khan (let me reiterate that such is the theoretical view of K/S fans who consider the pairing, in one capacity or another, canonical). We seem to believe this last part because we do not see Kirk or Spock enter into anything even resembling a fling during these movies, whereas before both of them would do so from time-to-time in the show without hesitation.
As for me, let me take this opportunity to say that I am not a particular fan of slash. Nor do I have anything against it, but I had never taken any kind of an interest in a slash or femme-slash pairing until I ran into K/S. I say this because I want to make it clear that I don’t go looking for sexual tension between characters of the same sex simply for my own enjoyment (though I’m not trying to make a judgmental statement about those who do or convey that their opinions are any less valid), just as I don’t with heterosexual couplings, though when I do “invent” couples in various fandoms, I never attempt to argue their canonical state. When I first did research into the K/S pairing, I had much the same feeling as this author; that this would be a silly and fruitless venture because, quite unfortunately, many slash pairings do not have a canonical basis. What I found when I began to watch TOS, however, was that their chemistry and evidence to that chemistry was nigh inescapable. I couldn’t have very well denied them if I had tried.
Furthermore, it wasn’t their general ‘closeness’ that made me believe there was a romantic component. It was, in fact, the more shallow interactions between them that alerted me of this. I saw what I believed to be flirting on numerous occasions, as well as the jealousy, which I have highlighted on already. There were also many “coincidental” parallels made between the two and other, romantic situations, like their rather obvious comparison to Ilia/Decker made in TMP (a time when Roddenberry would have been more aware of the slash fan base than ever). In addition to these things, I also sensed a certain amount of intimacy woven into their everyday interactions that spoke of a romantic love, thanks to the acting and chemistry of Misters Nimoy and Shatner, of course. However, I would never argue that the general K/S affection, closeness and friendship is what proves the romantic component, nor would I ever argue that the romantic element is the most definitive of their relationship.
I, personally, don’t think it’s fair to place traditional relationship standards to the one Kirk and Spock share because, quite frankly, they are not traditional. Their interaction with one another will not be the same as another couple (assuming of course, that they are romantically involved), much like how it is in real life among various couples. For this reason, I don’t think it’s valid to look at their interactions with each other and claim that just because there is less visible tenderness between them than what we expect to see between spouses and lovers, that they could not be involved in such a way. Again, all couples are different and will interact with each other differently.
I will admit that there is a certain amount of interpretation to the K/S relationship. As stated in the prior essay, there is a lot between them that is not definitive. In my personal opinion, this was done intentionally. From the quotes I’ve read of Roddenberry and of what I know of him from my own research, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was –in some capacity, at least- okay with the idea of Kirk and Spock having a romantic component to their relationship and may even have harbored a small affection for the idea (as he did with most controversial subjects). I say this because Roddenberry never denied the concept, and even went so far as to say “we certainly got the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that”. That is most certainly not a denial of the fact.
Now, how far invested Roddenberry was to this idea, or for how long he may have had it in his consciousness is unknown and forever will be. It was because of the intolerance of this sort of relationship (that, sadly, still lingers to this day) that Roddenberry could never be specific about the nature of their relationship, even if he had wanted to be. But again, he never denied it, and gave us fans plenty of room to believe that this was the case, whereas many other franchise creators have made it unwaveringly clear to their fan base that no homosexual romantic component exists between any of their characters. Roddenberry never did this, even when made fully aware of the fan theories. Because that capacity for a romance intentionally exists, I think it is valid to say that a romantic K/S relationship does have a grounding canon. We know that Roddenberry was both supportive of it and a believer, and for a franchise that made most of its work from 1966 to the early 90’s, that’s a pretty solid inclusion for a same-sex pairing.
It is true that the typical demographic of devoted K/S fans share certain characteristics that make the K/S relationship all the more appealing (such as a vast majority of us being female and, according to the original author, having a ‘motherly’ instinct that makes us want to see every character have love and a happy ending). On the other hand, though, there are plenty of general Star Trek fans who agree that a romantic component existed but are not fans of the K/S slash pairing in particular. For this reason, I think I can safely say that a ‘bias’, as the author describes earlier in the essay, is not entirely to blame.
On the whole, I agree that the nature of the K/S relationship is ambiguous and, therefore, interpretive. Everyone will come to their own conclusions about the state of things, but I do not believe that there is necessarily one ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. My intention with this essay was to establish why us K/S fans believe what we do, not to convince someone one way or the other (because as many of us know, this is typically nigh impossible).