KIRK AND SPOCK:
THE STRAIGHT STORY
An Essay by Gamin Davis
Many years ago, when fan-fiction was confined to fanzines and Star Trek
fans kept in touch by snail-mail, a pen-pal of mine asked me to write an
article for her club newsletter abut why Kirk and Spock's friendship could
not possibly (in my view) be homosexual in nature, despite an entire sub-genre
of fan-fiction being obsessed with--er, based on the idea (known as K/S,
with a slash mark, to differentiate it from K&S, which simply refers
to their friendship relationship). In response to certain more recent
requests, I've decided to rewrite and update that article for presentation
on the Internet. This article is based solely on opinion and my interpretation
of canonical evidence; if you happen to be a fan of K/S, also known as "slash",
your mileage will definitely vary.
Back in the days when I originally wrote the original version of this article,
sometime in the late 70s, I was new to organized Star Trek fandom and just
getting into fanzines. It had, quite frankly, never even crossed my
mind that Kirk and Spock's relationship could be seen as homosexual
until I became aware, through my membership in the now-long-defunct Leonard
Nimoy Association of Fans, that other people were not only writing Star Trek
stories that were collected into things called "zines", but some of these
zines were devoted to the characters' sex lives--including, of all things,
Kirk and Spock having sex with each other. Granted, I was at an impressionable
age at the time, but it's over twenty years later, now, and I still don't
Wanting to be able to form an educated opinion on the subject, I ordered
an adult zine as soon as I turned eighteen, just to see what some of this
adult fan-fiction was like. I still remember the name of the zine, the
K/S story and the author, but no other details about the story, other than
I wasn't able to take it seriously and found it very offensive. I never
read another K/S story until joining the online newsgroup alt.startrek.creative,
where I could do so without having to pay for the privilege, as well as acquaint
myself with the views of a variety of K/S fans, and to this day, I still can't
read a K/S story all the way through without either skipping parts or just
not finishing them. As I said, I still don't get it; it's as if slash
fans watched some alternate-universe version of Star Trek that I never saw.
Maybe in part, it's because I identify so strongly with Spock that I find
the idea of him being in a homosexual relationship with Kirk so implausible,
or maybe it's just that that exploring the characters' sex lives is just further
than I ever wanted to go in any fan-fiction I read (or wrote), but either
way, I've never seen anything in canon to make me believe it could be possible
for Kirk and Spock to be sexually involved with each other.
As a matter of fact, the Kirk-Spock friendship was one of the first things
that attracted me to Star Trek; I was in awe of the depth of it, especially
between two people who were so different from each other. I still am--in
fact, my regard and appreciation for that relationship have only increased
over the years, to the point that the idea of attaching a sexual aspect to
that relationship seems downright sacrilegious. For whatever reason,
I don't see the basis for it that slash fans do.
Let's start with Kirk--Kirk, the quintessential ladies' man, who gets involved
with some woman almost every episode (although I do not, as some seem to,
believe that he has sex with every female he so much as smiles at).
I can't imagine him even being capable of having sex with a man, even his
best friend. Spock is another matter--no great success with women, like
Kirk, but physically a Vulcan. We don't have a lot of canonical information
on Vulcan sexuality, and in original Star Trek, only "Amok Time" even hints
at it. I can't help thinking, though, that contemporary Vulcan society
would take steps to insure against homosexuality (whatever that might mean),
since it would be considered illogical and useless for perpetuating the species.
I do not, therefore, think there is any such thing as a homosexual Vulcan
(although things might have been different before the Reforms).
Canonical evidence: K/S fans have an ability I liken almost to alchemy--that
of turning innocuous bits of canon into hints of secret sexual activity going
on between Kirk and Spock--most of the same bits I plan to cite here, so this
isn't going to convert any already-committed slash fans. But it might
give those sitting on the fence on this issue something to think about.
As some on the other side have done, I will do an episode-by-episode analysis
(extending it through the first six movies and leaving out ST:TAS [the animated
series] only to save space--there are a few K&S moments there, too) of
the evolution of Kirk and Spock's friendship, including explanations--where
necessary--of why there shouldn't be any sexual subtexts involved.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before":
"I felt for him, too."
"I believe there may be some hope for you after all, Mr. Spock."
--Spock and Kirk, at the end of the episode
As early as this episode, Spock is already close enough to Kirk to occasionally
call him "Jim". This indicates to me that they must have known each
other for a while for Spock to feel comfortable enough around Kirk to be able
to be that informal with him, even occasionally. This is why I theorize
that they met at Starfleet Academy, which would explain why Spock seems close
enough to Kirk so soon after he assumes command of the Enterprise to be this
familiar with him.
At the moment, though, it's Gary Mitchell who's Kirk's best friend, and
when he's suddenly given supernatural powers, Spock has to be the one to
make Kirk see the threat that Mitchell poses. He has to convince Kirk
to maroon him on an isolated planet, putting him at odds with Kirk for much
of the episode. It also features the first canonical Kirk-Spock chess
game. Much is made of this early Spock still smiling and being emotional,
but I note that he only smiles when he and Kirk are alone.
"The Enemy Within":
I think this incident hits close enough to home for Spock to empathize with
Kirk even more than the hints he gives indicate. Kirk is split into
two halves, a condition Spock deals with every day, and in a sense, he, too,
views one half as Good (his Vulcan half) and the other as Evil--or at least
embarrassing and inconvenient. He displays a remarkable amount of insight
into Kirk's predicament and is very protective of his Captain while Kirk is
still separated into two halves. By the end of the episode, it seems
clear that the incident has brought them closer together.
I can't really think of anything a slash fan might latch onto here, unless
it would be Spock's wry, offhanded comment to Janice Rand that "the imposter
had some interesting qualities". But I just see this as one of a smattering
of atypical first-season examples of Spock trying to bait someone--something
he seemed to give up on soon after that. Yeoman Rand clearly was having
none of it, and Kirk just as clearly didn't even hear what was said, since
he seemed to be occupied on the other side of the Bridge.
"The Naked Time":
"Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I'm ashamed."
--Spock to Kirk
Thanks to a water-borne virus accidentally beamed aboard from Psi 2000,
Spock's normal internal barriers are destroyed and he reveals to Kirk, in
the midst of an emotional breakdown, both his feelings of friendship and
the shame those feelings cause him. It's unfortunate that this happens
in the middle of a crisis for the Enterprise and Kirk has no time to respond
normally, because otherwise, I'm certain he would have set Spock down somewhere
and tried to talk it out with him; as it is, he has to try to snap Spock
out of it because he needs Spock's help--more specifically, he has to slap
the Vulcan. Several times. Hardly the most sensitive response
to Spock's difficulties, but under the circumstances, the only choice he
After a couple of shots across his bow, Spock's instincts kick in and he
strikes back, literally knocking Kirk across the room--freeing himself of
the virus as he passes it on to Kirk. Spock, unfortunately, is not as
apt at helping Kirk overcome the collapse of his own internal barriers, and
Kirk is left to deal with it himself after sending Spock off with Scott to
restart the engines and save the ship. This is such a big revelation
for Spock that I can easily envision them sitting down after all this is over
with and having the heart-to-heart talk (as much of one as Spock would allow,
anyway) that they didn't have time for when the Enterprise was in danger
of burning up in the atmosphere. I'm sure Kirk is aware of the significance
of it at the time and files it away for future discussion.
I gather K/S fans read more into this scene, too, than we see, and based
on what, I don't know. Some seem to think that Scott walked in on something
that would have otherwise turned into a big sex scene. Why? Because
Spock, under the virus' influence, blurted out his feelings for Kirk?
I don't recall him mentioning any feelings but friendship--not desire, not
need, not anything even remotely sexual. It's clear by the end of this
episode that Spock already has more than he can handle with basic, normal
emotions of friendship; that he would even feel or recognize serious sexual
interest in Kirk--much less act on it--is, for me, not within the realm of
"Balance of Terror":
"I assume you're complimenting Mr. Spock on his ability to decode."
"I'm not sure, sir."
"Well, here's one thing you can be sure of, Mister: keep any bigotry in
your quarters--there's no room for it on the Bridge."
--Stiles and Kirk, after seeing
This one is significant to the development of the Kirk-Spock friendship
because of what happens to Spock. During the Enterprise's first encounter
with a Romulan, they are revealed to be so identical in appearance to Vulcans
that Spock immediately falls under suspicion of being a Romulan spy, mainly
due to the attitude of Lieutenant Stiles, a man who has lost several relatives
in an earlier Romulan war and who carries a chip the size of a major U.S.
city on his shoulder. (And it doesn't help when Spock later makes an
ill-timed faux pas that reveals their presence to the Romulans.)
Much to Spock's surprise, or at least curiosity, this officer's repeated
suspicions, insults, and insinuations land him in an unexpected amount of
hot water with Kirk, who is clearly not about to stand for such unprofessional
behavior while on duty--especially when it seems to be aimed at Spock.
Spock has clearly earned Kirk's trust and respect by this time, and he is
apparently as protective of his new First Officer as Spock has already been
seen to be of Kirk, even if it's not clear that the rest of the Enterprise
crew know Spock well enough by this time to continue to trust him (without
relying on Kirk's opinion of him) during this incident. It's entirely
possible that Stiles may be sowing the seeds of distrust of Spock with the
crew, since he doesn't seem to be at all satisfied with expressing his prejudices
on the Bridge; Kirk has to reprimand him several times, with varying levels
of emphasis--once during a briefing room discussion of the Romulans involving
Scott and McCoy (who really doesn't trust Spock much at this stage, as it
is), as well as the Bridge crew.
"What Are Little Girls Made of?":
"Mind your own business, Mr. Spock--I'm sick of your half-breed interference!"
--the android Kirk
In the midst of what it technically Christine Chapel's episode, Kirk, while
being duplicated as an android by Roger Korby (also an android, although they
don't find that out until later), cleverly manages to "program" into the
android's memory a phrase guaranteed to alert Spock, once the duplicate Kirk
has been sent to the Enterprise, that he is not who or what he seems.
Apparently, Kirk knows Spock well enough by this time to know that the term
"half-breed" bothers him--Spock describes it later as "unsophisticated", probably
disguising the fact that it's an unpleasant reminder of past taunts and mistreatment
by other peers, not too different, perhaps, from the kinds of things he endured
Presumably, Kirk has not, as of this time, ever used it in reference to
Spock in his presence, out of consideration and respect for his friend.
I'll wager that Kirk has also never before accused Spock of "interfering"
or told him to "mind his own business", since he usually actively seeks out
Spock's counsel and help. Naturally, it works, and Spock beams down
to the rescue after the first time the duplicate uses the phrase.
"The Galileo Seven":
With Spock in command of his first away mission and missing while investigating
a quasar, Kirk defies Commissioner Ferris and fights malfunctioning equipment
to stay in the area long enough to find Spock and bring him back. After
putting Ferris off until the last possible minute of the latter's imposed
twenty-four hour deadline, Kirk still manages an end run around Ferris' orders
to break off the search of Taurus II by departing for Makus III under impulse
power with all sensors focused aft.
Spock, by this time having gotten what remained of his crew back in the
shuttlecraft and into a rapidly-decaying orbit, displays unusually Human-like
blind faith in what he must have known would be Kirk's refusal to give up
and leave him for dead by jettisoning their remaining fuel and essentially
sending up a flare. Despite his denials, a part of him must have known
that Kirk would still be looking for him and his crew. Later, he even
allows Kirk to tease him about his "act of desperation" in front of McCoy
and the Bridge crew--clearly indicating that he is growing comfortable enough
around Kirk now to trade jibes with him (although this is the last time he'll
try it in front of the Bridge crew for quite some time).
"Human beings have characteristics, just as inanimate objects do.
It is impossible for Captain Kirk to have acted out of malice. It is
not his nature."
"Mechanically, the computer is flawless. Therefore, logically, its
report of the Captain's guilt is infallible. I could not accept that,
This episode pits Spock against the ship's computer when a visual recording
appears to show Kirk guilty of culpable negligence by prematurely ejecting
a life pod with a crewman in it. Despite damning evidence to the contrary,
Spock believes in Kirk enough to take his word over that of the computer.
His belief, however, is not enough to convince a court-martial board, and
he devotes most of the episode to putting the ship's computer through various
checks and tests, until he discovers--by playing chess with it and winning--that
someone has altered the memory banks to make Kirk look guilty.
Spock is used to trusting computers rather than challenging them, and the
fact that he does so here with such dogged determination has to be a testimony
not only to his trust in Kirk and in Kirk's innocence, but also to his knowledge
of his Captain's character--the integrity and honesty that they both share.
"You're aware of the orders regarding any contact with Talos IV. You've
not only finished yourself, you've finished your Captain, as well!"
"The Commodore must be aware that Captain Kirk knew nothing of this!"
"Even if orders were explicit, you could've come to me and explained."
"And asked you to face the death penalty, too? One of us was enough."
--Kirk and Spock,
after the trial
This is probably the first major test of Kirk and Spock's friendship, at
least on-screen. Kirk clearly thinks Spock has lost his mind when he
atypically and without explanation lies to get the Enterprise to Starbase
11, abducts former Enterprise Captain-cum-invalid Christopher Pike, then uses
the ship's computers to wrest away control of the ship and take it to Talos
IV. Kirk, ironically, is the first one of the Enterprise crew to suspect
Spock, noting reluctantly that he's one of the few with the computer expertise
to do it. Kirk struggles to understand Spock's motives as he goes from
realization to outrage to hurt betrayal, but it seems like a clear-cut case
of mutiny until the Talosians reveal the reason at the end of the incident.
I can only imagine Spock's thought processes during this time, weighing
Kirk's command (and probable sense of betrayal) against Pike's need for some
kind of quality of life --and apparently favoring Pike. Even though
Kirk appears to understand after it's all over with, he has to be wondering--for
a while--if Spock could do it again, for less altruistic reasons. This
probably colors his attitude toward Spock for some time afterwards, though
Spock appears to have regained his full trust by the next mission.
This one needs to be mentioned mainly for two scenes that seem to get slash
fans all excited. First is a bit from the episode's first scene: Kirk,
sitting in his chair on the Bridge, gets a sharp pain in his back, which Yeoman
Barrows moves to alleviate. Kirk gives her directions on where and
how hard to rub, but we clearly hear him start to call her "Mr. Spock"
--not realizing until Spock (who had been standing behind him) walks past
him that it's Barrows rubbing his back. So apparently, Spock sometimes
gives Kirk back massages (though probably not on the Bridge).
Well, so what? I have a friend who gets migraine headaches whom I
give neck massages to because it stops the pain for her. Doesn't mean
I ever plan to have sex with her. In Spock's case, he, too, probably
allows himself to do this for Kirk--something I can't see him doing for anyone
else--out of an honest desire to alleviate his friend's pain. And it
may be that Kirk sometimes does the same for him, for the same reason.
But that's it. I don't see any sexual undertones in this.
The other scene is later on, down on the planet, after Spock has beamed
down and all the crew's thoughts are being brought to life. While being
chased by a tiger and a strafing plane, Kirk and Spock pull and push each
other along, each alternately protecting the other with his body. This,
too, seems to get slash fans jumping up and down, although to me, it simply
reflects their instincts to protect each other from any kind of harm.
"This Side of Paradise":
"It's a true Eden, Jim. There is belonging…and love.
--Spock, after "joining" the colonists
Another test of Kirk and Spock's friendship comes as Spock once again mutinies,
only this time, he has the whole crew (except Kirk) for company. Spock
is, in fact, the first crewmember to be exposed to the Omicron Ceti III spores,
thanks to Leila Kalomi, and to "join" the colonists in their spore-induced
paradise. Spock, significantly, is the only one of the crew to speak
of the sense of "belonging" that the spores impart--perhaps because he is
able to appreciate it more than the others. When Kirk, apparently through
sheer luck, avoids being sprayed by the spore plants long enough to be the
last unaffected crewmember, Spock pleads with his Captain to join them.
But Kirk resists, succumbing only when he's accidentally exposed to a previously-unseen
plant sitting in front of the helm console; even then, he discovers that anger
counteracts the spores' effects. Realizing he has to have Spock back
to normal to help him reproduce this effect and free the others, Kirk finds
himself in the unpleasant position of having to free Spock from his state
of belonging by insulting him enough to make him angry.
This doesn't take long, because by this point in their friendship, Kirk
knows just what buttons to push to set Spock off--and he hits all of them
with an efficiency that must be as difficult for him to do as it is for Spock
to endure. Kirk must find no joy in taking away Spock's sense of belonging,
clearly a new or unfamiliar emotion for Spock--especially when he learns that
Spock was "happy" while under the spores' influence. I can't help thinking
that he and Spock perhaps have a talk afterwards--about this and about Kirk
being forced to take it away.
Apparently, some K/S fans have drawn conclusions from this episode that
I can only call imaginative--for instance, that Kirk's anger during this
episode is due to being "jealous" of Spock's attentions to Leila. This
ignores evidence presented throughout that Kirk's frustration (later, anger)
is due to the fact that his whole crew, including Spock, of course, is deserting
him to join the colonists, and he sees no way to get them back. Yes,
it's especially hard for him to see Spock being the first to abandon him--but
that's because he's always known Spock to be unswervingly loyal, as First
Officer and his best friend. If Kirk had had any concerns about Leila
"stealing Spock away from him", he wouldn't have resisted the spores as long
as he did, especially after Spock invited him to join them; he would've gotten
himself sprayed as soon as possible, so he could more easily regain Spock's
"Devil in the Dark":
"Kill it, Captain! Quickly!"
"It's not making any threatening moves."
"You can't afford to take the chance. Kill it!"
"I thought you were the one who wanted it kept alive--captured, if possible."
"Jim, your life is in danger. I remind you it is a proven killer."
--Spock and Kirk, as Kirk
holds the Horta at bay
This episode is worth mentioning because of one segment. After protesting
to Kirk against killing the Horta because it might be the last of its species,
then going so far as to re-interpret Kirk's later orders to his Security men
from "shoot to kill" to "surround and try to capture", Spock subsequently
reverses himself the minute the Horta appears to be threatening Kirk--Kirk
himself points out the inconsistency of this.
He comes barrelling into the chamber where Kirk holds the Horta at bay,
his phaser drawn, clearly prepared to kill it until Kirk tells him not to.
The message is clear: in Spock's mind, Kirk's well-being supercedes everything,
even Vulcan philosophy and respect for life. Kirk has become this personally
important to Spock--that he would set aside Vulcan beliefs he normally considers
inviolable for Kirk's sake shows how far their friendship has come, and how
deeply Spock must feel it (despite his denials).
"Errand of Mercy":
"Take the Vulcan to the examination room. You, come with me."
"What about Spock?"
"You are concerned."
"He's my friend."
"You have a poor choice of friends."
--Kor and Kirk, as Spock
is being taken to the mind-sifter
When Kirk and Spock find themselves trapped on Organia in the midst of Klingon
occupation and are forced to disguise themselves, Kirk nearly blows his cover
by starting to attack Klingon Commander Kor when the latter starts to take
Spock prisoner and expose him to the mind-sifter. Kor sees Kirk as something
of a kindred spirit and seems to think Spock, as a peace-loving Vulcan, unworthy
of Kirk's friendship; he enjoys holding Spock's possible fate over Kirk's
head, threatening later to have the Vulcan dissected when the mind-sifter
appears to have no effect on him.
I'm not sure what the writers were trying to suggest here, but I wish Kor
could have been a continuing villain and nemesis for Kirk and Spock.
For one thing, he was the only Klingon who struck me as a truly even match
for Kirk, and I liked watching them match wits; for another, we could have
found out for sure if Kor's hinted-at "jealousy" of Spock was as innocuous
as it appeared--it is possible for jealousy to be based on friendship, or
wanting it--or if it was based on something else. One thing's certain:
if anybody's sexual orientation was called into question by this episode,
it wasn't Kirk's or Spock's.
"City on the Edge of Forever":
"Where would you estimate we belong, Miss Keeler?"
"You? At his side--as if you'd always been there and always would
--Spock and Edith,
as Kirk watches and listens
Spock bears the responsibility of breaking up Kirk's star-crossed romance
with Edith Keeler, making him see that she has to die in order to restore
the timeline. It's clearly a heavy burden, because Spock can see that
Kirk is genuinely in love for the first time. But he does what he has
to do, and Kirk seems resentful, at first (with some of that resentment probably
directed inward). Presumably, once he recovers from losing Edith, he
understands that neither of them had any choice.
Slash fans make much of the sleeping arrangements in this episode--Kirk
and Spock sharing a room that appears to have only one bed--but on closer
examination, it becomes obvious that there are two beds. One appears
to be holding part of Spock's makeshift computer; the headboard of the other,
at one point, is visible just beyond it on the right side of the screen.
And I doubt Spock ever used the other one to sleep on, since he was working
against a deadline and could have easily gone without sleep for the time
they were there.
There are, of course, practical reasons for them to be sharing a room--chiefly,
that both their paychecks are eaten up by the cost of food and the supplies
for Spock's computer; one room seems to be all they can afford. Then,
too, considering the trouble Spock seems to have trying not to attract attention
with his non-Human features, Kirk probably thinks it's better not to leave
Spock on his own any longer than necessary.
Spock is attacked by a neural parasite that drives its victims insane with
pain. Eventually, he's able to control it with Vulcan mental techniques,
but at first, Kirk clearly witnesses his suffering--as Spock witnesses his
earlier, when Kirk finds his brother Sam dead. Spock even tries to express
his sympathy, although Kirk finds it more convenient to bury himself in the
current emergency and ignore his own grief; presumably, Spock is given a
better chance to offer comfort after the episode. Though the parasites
threaten all the people of Deneva, Kirk worries about Spock and his nephew--by
then, the last living member of his brother's family--more (and probably in
Things get worse when an experimental light treatment kills the parasite
but leaves Spock blind, and Kirk finds out later that it wasn't necessary;
he blames McCoy for the error, but probably also himself, since the final
decision on testing it on Spock was his. Symbolically, Kirk's biological brother
dies, while his brother in every other sense--Spock--not only lives but also
regains his sight.
"I can't let Spock die, can I? He will if we go to Altair. I
owe him my life a dozen times over. Isn't that worth a career?
He's my friend!"
--Kirk to McCoy, after
Komack refuses permission to divert to Vulcan
"I will do what I must, T'Pau--but not with him. His blood does not
burn. He is my friend!"
--Spock to T'Pau, in the middle of plak tow
This episode, my favorite, almost needs its own separate article.
It is both the definitive Kirk-Spock friendship episode and the episode that
has probably launched more slash fan-fiction than any other. When Spock
faces what appears to be his first pon farr--which requires that he return
to Vulcan and mate or die--Kirk defies direct orders from Starfleet Command
to get Spock to Vulcan within the eight days McCoy says he has left.
Previously, he managed to persuade Spock, much against the latter's better
judgement, to discuss the pon farr with his Captain by promising to keep the
information between the two of them.
Spock makes it clear that this is something Vulcans don't discuss and uninitiated
Humans would never understand…but he realizes he can trust Kirk with
the secret of the one time when Vulcans always lose their rationality and
control, something he would never share with anyone else. Then he invites
Kirk (and McCoy, whom he subsequently ignores or forgets about) to join him
at his intended wedding ceremony because "by tradition, the male is attended
by his closest friends".
Later, thanks to T'Pring's scheming and T'Pau's deception by omission, Kirk
is forced to fight Spock to the death--even though Spock breaks through what
should be a catatonic state, the plak tow, at the last minute to plead with
T'Pau to release Kirk from the challenge and spare Spock from having to fight
and possibly kill him. McCoy avoids this by giving Kirk a neural paralyzer
and faking his death, but as far as Spock knows when he snaps out of the plak
tow, he has just killed his best friend--and his devastation is obvious.
From his words to T'Pau after she gives him the final "Live long and prosper"--"I
shall do neither; I have killed my Captain--and my friend"--it's apparent
that he plans to pay for what he sees as Kirk's murder with his own life.
And he admits to her--twice--that Kirk is his friend, despite knowing that
she is anything but receptive to the idea, and despite his normal reluctance
to admit his emotions to anyone. That alone indicates to me the depth
and sincerity of his feelings for Kirk. (Slash fans, take note: the
term Kirk and Spock use throughout this episode is "friend"--not "bond-mate"
or any other term that might actually be interpreted as an indicator of a
sexual component to their relationship.)
At the end of the episode, in case it wasn't made clear enough previously,
Spock totally gives himself away when Kirk walks in on his I-intend-to-resign
speech, grabbing Kirk by the shoulders, swinging him around, shouting his
name, and giving Kirk his only genuinely voluntary smile of the series.
Slash fans attach all kinds of subtexts to this, but to me, it's just the
one moment in all of aired Trek when Spock really, knowingly (despite later
denials) affirms the existence of their friendship, acknowledging without
shame and before Kirk his own part in it. Hopefully, Kirk is paying
attention, because Spock isn't going to be this emotionally open with him
again until the first movie.
What really sets slash fans off, though, is the fact that, by Spock's own
admission, all the pon farr's effects are negated by thinking he has killed
Kirk, thus (supposedly) raising questions about his sexual orientation.
However, my understanding is that the combat served the same purpose as normal
consummation of the pon farr--release of the violent emotions that had been
building up within him (Spock himself said "it must have been the combat");
presumably, the combat is a necessary substitute wen the chosen female refuses
him (thus no normal consummation is possible). That, plus the mental/emotional
shock that Spock suggests of thinking he's killed his best friend, would quite
effectively, in my view, negate the pon farr--without any implied subtexts
about Spock's sexual orientation.
"The Doomsday Machine":
Another demonstration of Spock's personal and professional loyalty comes
as the revenge-obsessed Commodore Decker usurps command of the Enterprise
from Spock in Kirk's absence, making a useless attempt to destroy the planet-killer
with phasers. Kirk, still trapped on Decker's ship, gets communications
restored in time to see the planet-killer apparently bearing down on the Enterprise
and contacts the latter, ordering Spock to overrule Decker "on his personal
authority as Captain of the Enterprise".
This is all Spock has to hear--he orders Decker off the Bridge and resumes
command. Later, after Decker steals a shuttlecraft and takes it on a
suicide mission to destroy the planet-killer from the inside, Kirk figures
out he can finish the job with the Constellation, exploding it when it enters
the mouth of the planet-killer. Spock is concerned enough about the
possibility of Kirk being killed for it to show in his voice (on the Bridge,
in public) as he responds. Fortunately, for Spock, as well as for the
rest of the crew and all the rest of us, the Enterprise's transporters are
repaired in time to beam Kirk out before that happens.
This episode must be mentioned mainly for the scene in which Spock mind-melds
with Nomad as Kirk watches. For reasons that aren't quite clear, Spock
has trouble breaking off contact; the implication is that Nomad, for whatever
reason, doesn't want to release him. Kirk manages not only to persuade
Nomad to release Spock, but grabs onto Spock and supports him in his arms
when Spock then collapses. He takes Spock out in the corridor, still
supporting him, waiting for the Vulcan to regain full consciousness on his
It's difficult to imagine him allowing that much physical contact with anyone
but Kirk (even in this state) and though slash fans seem to interpret any
amount of touching between them as indicative of a sexual relationship, to
me, it just shows the level of implicit trust between them by then--to the
point that Spock, who normally avoids physical contact, now tolerates it well
enough from Kirk not to pull away, even in this vulnerable a state.
It's a big jump from learning to tolerate and accept physical contact to capacity
for a sexual relationship …not that this bothers slash fans, who regularly,
in my view, make bigger jumps than that to conclusions.
Spock demonstrates what I believe to be his subconscious death wish by pushing
Kirk out of the way of a flower shooting poisonous darts and taking them himself--Kirk
points out after Spock unexpectedly survives that he "could have just yelled",
and I don't buy "clumsiness" as an excuse. Kirk has been more important
to him than his life for a long time, by this point. Later, when Kirk
is wallowing in guilt over two red-shirts having been killed, it's Spock
who reassures him (at McCoy's suggestion--he knows Kirk will listen to Spock)
that he's done nothing he shouldn't have and isn't to blame for their deaths.
Slash fans should note the scene in which Kirk and the others are speculating
on the Vaalians' lack of sexual knowledge--what they would do if a "replacement"
were suddenly needed--and look at Spock's obvious discomfort with discussing
the subject. If Spock were as sexually active as most K/S-ers seem to
think, if he were involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with Kirk, it
seems to me he would have been more at ease with the subject--enough to discuss
it without hemming and hawing. (Side note: on the subject of Spock's
possible death wish, he seems unusually "clumsy" in this episode--shot by
poisonous darts, running into a force-field and getting zapped by lightning.
I'm never sure whether to feel sorry for him or laugh at him.)
As often as I've watched this episode and taken note of what we see or get
hints of about their characters, I still can't decide what I think Mirror
Spock's relationship with Mirror Kirk is like. I find it difficult to
imagine that it would really resemble "our" Kirk and Spock's friendship in
any way. I do note, though, the oddly quick rapport between Mirror Spock
and our Kirk--a private talk between them as they walk the corridors (albeit
with bodyguards), then Spock actually warns him when that universe's Starfleet
Command orders him to kill Kirk and finish the mission against the Halkans,
something I'm not sure he'd do for his own Kirk.
Possibly he'd been alerted that our Kirk wasn't who or what he appeared
to be by the latter's tolerant reaction to Mirror Spock's threat to report
his inaction against the Halkans to Starfleet Command--I think Mirror Kirk
wold have accused him of insubordination and made some threats of his own.
It seems to really throw Spock when our Kirk later authorizes McCoy to treat
him and save his life--the implication being that Mirror Kirk would have just
let him die. I can't imagine anything like the K&S friendship we're
used to with Mirror Kirk showing such contempt for Mirror Spock's life.
But even if the rapport is only one-sided--a respect that becomes mutual
between Mirror Spock and our Kirk--that still means each of them, despite
radically opposing philosophies, saw something in the other positive enough
to respond to. We know that Kirk sees enough of his own First Officer
in Mirror Spock to be drawn to that part of him; Mirror Spock responds, perhaps,
to the unexpected combination of strength and compassion he sees in our Kirk.
That still means that their friendship crosses universal boundaries--and that's
a profound thought, sobering in its magnitude. I doubt that would be
possible if Kirk and Spock just used each other as sex toys, as many slash
fans seem to think.
"The Deadly Years":
"As second-in-command", it's your duty to perform an extraordinary competency
"I…resist that suggestion, Commodore."
"Oh, it's not a matter of choice. When a Captain is unfit, physically
or mentally, a competency hearing is mandatory. Please don't make me
quote a regulation you know as well as I do."
--Stocker and Spock
"You traitorous, disloyal--you stab me in the back the first chance you
get?! Spock…get out. I never want to have to look at you
--Kirk to Spock, after the hearing
When all the senior officers are afflicted with a rapid-aging disease after
beaming down to Gamma Hydra IV, Commodore Stocker--being transported to a
new post at Starbase 10--insists that Spock hold a competency hearing on Kirk's
ability to command, despite Spock's objections and reminder that he, too,
would be unfit for command. Spock clearly doesn't want to do this, but
Stocker makes it an order and he has no choice. And Spock takes full
responsibility from then on.
In his deteriorating mental state, feeling frustrated, vulnerable and persecuted,
Kirk takes this as an attempted mutiny and is so furious with Spock after
the hearing goes against him that he basically tells Spock to stay away from
him from then on. Spock's reaction--guilt, shame, inability to meet Kirk's
eyes--makes it a very powerful scene. Their friendship is being rocked,
and there may still be some fence-mending to do after the episode is over,
but eventually, once things are back to normal, Kirk seems to understand that
Spock had no choice.
"Bread and Circuses":
I mention the 20th-century Roman Empire episode for a scene in the middle
that involves Spock and McCoy (and their concern for Kirk). Spock has
just saved McCoy's life in a televised gladiatorial fight and they're stuck
in a jail cell, worrying about Kirk, who is being held (so to speak) elsewhere--still
in danger, for all they know. Spock, as usual, internalizes his concern--except
for his telltale repeated "testing the strength of the bars" of their cell--efficiently
dismissing McCoy's attempted expression of gratitude in his usual way.
Until McCoy says something that hits unexpectedly close to home:
"Do you know why you're not afraid to die, Spock? You're more afraid
of living. Each day you stay alive is just one more day you might slip
and let your Human half peek through. That's it, isn't it? Insecurity.
Why, you wouldn't know what to do with a genuine warm, decent emotion."
He--and we--see Spock react then, and again when McCoy acknowledges their
mutual concern for Kirk, who has just watched them forced to fight Roman gladiators.
Spock's concern for Kirk leaps out from this scene, as Kirk's for him (them)
does from the previous scene.
"Journey to Babel":
"Spock is my best officer--and my friend."
"I'm glad he has such a friend. It hasn't been easy for Spock--neither
Vulcan nor Human, at home nowhere…except Starfleet."
--Kirk and Amanda
This episode needs at least passing mention because of its clear indication
that Spock's loyalty to Kirk extends well beyond the requirements of Starfleet
duty (despite Spock's somewhat-too-easy reliance on it as an excuse here).
When Kirk is stabbed by a surgically-disguised Orion spy, Spock immediately
abandons plans to act as a blood donor for Sarek's heart operation and focuses
on Kirk--taking over command for him, imprisoning and interrogating his attacker,
probably surreptitiously keeping tabs on Kirk's condition. So determined
is Spock to fulfill what he sees as his duty to Kirk that he rebuffs his mother's
efforts to persuade him to help his father and actually has to be tricked
by Kirk and McCoy into returning to Sickbay to donate blood for Sarek's operation.
Not until Spock sees Kirk back on the Bridge and apparently recovered does
he allow the operation to go forward--in an unusual attack of gullibility,
it seems to me, or eagerness to accept Kirk's recovery, since Spock would
usually be able to see through such a pretense in him. (Side note: how
could Kirk not have known that Sarek and Amanda were Spock's parents?
Even if Spock had never mentioned it to him--which I find doubtful--wouldn't
Kirk have seen them listed as Spock's parents in Spock's Personnel files?
Or in Sarek's, since Kirk would have presumably looked at them in order to
refresh his knowledge of the Ambassadors coming aboard his ship by looking
up their Personnel files? I find this unbelievable in the extreme--there
are just too many ways Kirk could have found out.)
"A Private Little War":
In a small scene at the beginning of this episode, Spock is shot by a flintlock
rifle on a planet supposedly not advanced enough to have such weapons.
Kirk is ready to blow the Prime Directive to pieces in order to defend Spock
with his phaser until Spock convinces him that he can make it back to the
beam-down point, and Kirk then half-carries him back to it--yet another instance
of one of them being willing to break whatever rules he has to for the other's
sake. (And once back on the ship, Kirk asks McCoy about Spock at least
three times--over a very short period--before they beam back down, despite
McCoy's insistence that Spock's condition hasn't changed.)
"The Immunity Syndrome":
When the Enterprise becomes entrapped in a giant ameba and it seems to require
closer investigation, Kirk has to choose between sending Spock or McCoy out
into the ameba in a shuttlecraft. The problem: the closer one gets to
the ameba, the weaker one gets, since it lives on energy drained from anything
around it, living being or machine--so there's every chance that whoever
Kirk sends won't come back alive.
After much agonizing, Kirk reluctantly decides that Spock is better qualified
to go. When their communication with him dwindles down to nothing and
he appears to be dead, Kirk later risks the ship to put a tractor beam on
Spock's shuttlecraft and pull him along when they make their escape.
The highlights of this episode are Kirk's and Spock's separate "final testimonials"
to each other and their shipmates:
"Personal Log: Commander Spock, U.S.S. Enterprise. I have noted the
passage of the Enterprise on its way to whatever awaits it. If this
record should survive me, I wish it known that I bequeath my highest commendation
and testimonial to the Captain, officers and crew of the Enterprise--the finest
ship in the Fleet."
Kirk: "We have arrived at the chromosome body in the nucleus of the organism.
If we should fail in our attempt to free ourselves, I wish to record my recommendations
for the following personnel, that they receive special citations: Lieutenant
Commander Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, officers Chekov,
Cowell, Uhura…and my highest commendation for Commander Spock, Science
Officer, who gave his life in the performance of his duty."
Fortunately for all of us, both survive.
"A Piece of the Action":
This episode is notable for Kirk's and Spock's attempt to blend in with
the 20s-style gangster culture of Sigma Iotia, the quick way Kirk adapts
to the speech pattern (20s slang)--and the equally quick way he draws Spock
into adapting to it. I find this to be the funniest of the comedy episodes.
Kirk making up a card game and trying to get Spock to go along with the charade,
Spock's reaction to Kirk's attempts to drive, the efforts of both to exchange
gangster-ese with Oxmyx and the others (Kirk's calling him "Spocko" and Spock's
trouble matching responses to Kirk's "right" and "check" spring to mind),
etc.--all are priceless bits of humor derived from the ease of Kirk's and
Spock's rapport with each other. These are by now friends comfortable
with their friendship after years of overcoming crises together and building
trust in each other.
"Return to Tomorrow":
"Spock…my friend, Spock…if only there'd been another way."
"I could not allow the sacrifice of one so close to you."
--Kirk and Sargon, after Spock's body is
In this episode, Kirk is actually forced to "kill" Spock when the mental
energy being Henoch, temporarily residing in Spock's body, becomes determined
to keep it. Unbeknownst to Henoch, Spock's consciousness is safely transferred
to Christine Chapel's mind before Kirk and McCoy come to the Bridge with
the intent of driving Henoch from Spock's body by--as far as they know--killing
it with a lethal injection.
For a few seconds, Spock appears to Kirk and the others to be dead.
Kirk kneels beside him in grief and regret--but at that moment, Sargon, having
transferred his mental presence into the ship itself, reveals that he's aware
of Kirk's friendship with Spock and never intended to really require Spock
to die. So even an alien as far removed from Kirk's and Spock's experience
as Sargon perceives and respects the depth of their friendship.
"Patterns of Force":
The Kirk-and-Spock-on-the-Nazi-planet episode sets K/S fans all a-twitter
because of the scenes in which Kirk and Spock are captured by Nazis, stripped
to the waist, flogged and left in a jail cell. While I take a back seat
to no one in my appreciation of the only episode in which we get to see Spock
shirtless, I think the slash fans are living in a dream world if they think
Kirk and Spock enjoy the flogging, which would be the only grounds for reading
anything kinky into those scenes.
Kirk is obviously in pain from the wounds, and even Spock flinches as he
is flogged (though not as much as when the Nazi major hits Kirk in the stomach,
another indication of their mental bond, perhaps, since Spock seems to physically
feel Kirk's pain)--Kirk repeatedly urges Spock to hurry up and get off his
back when Spock is forced to stand on him to reach the light in the cell.
Hardly the actions of men who are into sadomasochism.
"The Ultimate Computer":
"Captain…a starship also runs on loyalty…to one man.
And nothing can replace it--or him."
--Spock, after the M-5's first successful
When the Enterprise is chosen to test the new M-5 computer and it performs
(at first) so efficiently and correctly that Kirk is made to feel useless,
Spock unexpectedly backs him rather than the M-5 when Kirk is ready to conclude
that his First Officer prefers the ship being controlled by computer.
It's a clear indication of personal as well as professional loyalty, expressed
just when Kirk's morale is most in need of a boost--the instincts of a friend,
though Spock would not have admitted it. And as time goes by and the
M-5 begins to behave more and more erratically, Kirk never again has to worry
about Spock's true preferences in the matter.
"The Omega Glory":
"See his servant--his eyes, his ears!"
"Look at your faces! Can you tell from them which is Good and which
--Tracy and Kirk, on Spock
On Omega IV, the planet of the Yangs and the Kohms, Kirk and Spock find
themselves (and McCoy) imprisoned by the Kohms and renegade Captain Ron Tracy.
When Kirk is hit in the stomach during their capture and collapses, Spock
visibly rebels, trying to break free of his captors, although to no avail.
When they later make their escape, Spock is wounded and they're recaptured
after Kirk gets into a public fight with Tracy, this time by the Yangs.
Tracy, captured along with them, convinces Yang leader Cloud William that
Kirk's "servant" Spock is the "Evil One" of their legends.
Kirk is the first one to jump to Spock's defense when it's clear he resembles
a Satanic figure in their version of the Bible, but Cloud William holds a
knife at Spock's throat in an attempt to force Kirk to speak more of their
"worship words", a garbled version of the U.S. Constitution. Unable
this time to immediately identify them as such, Kirk eventually comes up with
an alternate way to avoid Spock's death--a "fight between Good and Evil" that
pits him against Tracy in hand-to-hand combat. Then, finally, Spock
manages to hypnotize a Yang woman into bringing him an activated communicator;
he contacts the ship and the fight is ended with Kirk sparing Tracy's life.
It's a good episode for demonstrating the mutual concern Kirk and Spock have
for each other.
"The Paradise Syndrome":
"My diagnosis is exhaustion, brought on by overwork and guilt. You're
blaming yourself for crippling the ship, just as we did. Well, we were
wrong, and so are you. You made a command decision; Jim would've done
--McCoy to Spock, after two months of him not eating or sleeping
This is the first time that Kirk is missing for most of the episode.
Spock has no time to conduct a lengthy search when Kirk accidentally falls
into a room beneath an obelisk and apparently, from Spock's point of view,
disappears; he is forced to leave Kirk behind somewhere on the planet so that
he can take the Enterprise to intercept an asteroid before it collides with
the planet, killing all the natives--and Kirk.
Kirk, mercifully, has been hit by a memory beam and has no idea he's been
left behind, no idea of the planet's impending doom--no idea, even, of his
own identity. But Spock knows all too well. His sense of guilt
over having to leave Kirk behind without finding him is compounded by burning
out the ship's warp engines in a futile effort to get to and deflect the asteroid--alienating
both Scott and McCoy with his actions. As the ship limps back to the
planet on impulse, Spock guilt deepens, and he refuses to eat or sleep for
most of the two-month trip, disguising his withdrawal as his attempts to
decode characters inscribed on the obelisk.
Since at no time during this period does he ever declare Spock dead, I'm
inclined to believe Spock either considered it possible but refused to let
himself believe or accept the possibility, or else he had some psychic awareness
of Kirk's mental presence that let him know Kirk was not dead. Since
we know Kirk was alive for the duration of this episode, I lean toward the
latter possibility. At any rate, it certainly makes clear how important
Kirk now is to him.
"And the Children Shall Lead":
"I've lost command…the ship is sailing on…I'm alone…!"
"I've got command…"
--Kirk and Spock,
overcoming Kirk's fear in the turbolift
Here's another episode that has to be mentioned for one scene, this one
of Kirk and Spock in the turbolift. Children controlled by an evil
being called the Gorgan take control of the Enterprise by using secret fears
of the crew against them. Eventually, they get to Kirk through his
secret fear--that of losing command. Spock overcomes his own fear (whatever
it is--the episode is rather vague on that) in time to realize Kirk's vulnerability
and get him off the Bridge before the children can do any more damage to him.
He grabs Kirk by the arm and pulls him into the turbolift, initiating a scene
during which Spock manages to talk Kirk out of his fear and make him understand
that he still has command. To me, it shows the degree of trust that
exists between them, strong enough to reach Kirk, even through an irrational
However, because this process entails considerable physical contact, some
slash fans think there's more to this scene than is shown on screen.
To which I respond: in the turbolift, between decks? In the middle of
a major crisis? Give me a break. Even if I believed that Kirk
and Spock had sex with each other, I would never believe they would do it
in that time and place, with the ship in danger and all Hell breaking loose
around them. Spock is responding to Kirk's need for reassurance, and
Kirk clearly needs the physical contact for Spock to accomplish that--but
that's really all there is to it.
"Is There in Truth No Beauty?":
"No doubt you expect me to wake your sleeping beauty with a kiss."
"Couldn't hurt to try."
"He's a Vulcan!"
"He's also half-Human--considerably more Human than you, apparently."
--Miranda and Kirk, as Spock lies unconscious in Sickbay
In one climactic scene, after it appears that the jealousy-obsessed Miranda
Jones has caused Spock to forget his visor when trying to break his mind-link
with Kollos (and he sees the Medusan and goes insane), Kirk--now dependent
on her telepathic skills to save Spock's life and sanity--forces her to face
her own jealousy and hatred, clearly trying to protect Spock from any further
damage she might do to him. After Kirk leaves, Spock and Miranda have
what looks to me like a mind-meld fight--which couldn't possibly do much in
the way of healing him--and Spock comes staggering into McCoy's office, looking
far from recovered. It seems to me--and this is supported by the Blish
novelization of the episode--that Spock is looking for Kirk, knowing he is
there with McCoy, waiting. So it's Kirk's turn to be protective of
The definitive K-S-Mc friendship episode puts Kirk in the unpleasant position
of having to select either Spock or McCoy for the Vians to use in their "experiments"--with
the likely result to be death for McCoy and permanent insanity for Spock.
Not unexpectedly, Kirk finds the decision impossible and succumbs to physical
and emotional stress (helped along by McCoy's sedative). Spock immediately
takes command, intending to go with the Vians himself and spare Kirk having
to make the decision (though he, too, is eventually "convinced" by McCoy,
who then goes with them himself).
For me, one of the most telling moments of the whole episode comes as Spock
is sitting beside the sleeping Kirk, ostensibly working on converting one
of the Vians' hand-held transportation devices for their use, but still clearly
worrying about him, and Gem reaches out to touch his shoulder--empathically
feeling Spock's inner emotions for Kirk. From the expression that immediately
comes over her face, I think we can safely assume the nature and depth of
the emotions she finds there--mainly concern and affection of the type that
only comes into being after years of growing friendship and trust. If
there had been a sexual component to these emotions, I can't help thinking
that Gem's reaction might have been slightly different.
"The Tholian Web":
"Spock, I…I'm sorry. It does hurt, doesn't it?"
"What would you have me say, Doctor?
--McCoy and Spock, after viewing
Kirk's last orders
Another instance of Kirk being missing from the ship, and the only one in
which Spock actually declares him dead, despite growing indications that Kirk
is simply trapped in interspace. It also appears, ironically, that
Spock himself never accepts Kirk's "death"; he tries to evade having to view
Kirk's last orders, despite McCoy's readiness to do so, and when the still-interspatially-trapped
Kirk appears to him and McCoy on the Bridge, Spock reaches out to him, seeming
to assume he can touch Kirk. He also seems uncomfortable with the crew
calling him "Captain". Either he knows all along that Kirk is really
alive, or he just can't accept the alternative--actual death for his best
"The Day of the Dove":
A powerful moment in this episode comes in the middle, when Kirk, Spock
and Scott, under the influence of an alien that feeds on hate, are, as Kirk
puts it, "at each other's throats". Scott reacts first, at one point
calling Spock a "freak", and Kirk tries to stop Spock's ensuing attack.
In the process, Kirk barely stops himself from insulting Spock, and the shock
of it seems to snap both of them out of it as they realize they're under the
alien's control (while it takes Scott a little longer).
When Kirk and Spock are put through various forms of mental and psychokinetic
torture by Parmen in his efforts to convince McCoy to stay on as the Platonians'
doctor, Kirk and Spock are each, as usual, more concerned with the other's
humiliation and physical harm. Kirk manages to fight through Parmen's
mental control and call out to Spock, clearly trying to lend him strength,
when Parmen uses his mental powers to force extreme emotional reactions out
of Spock and Kirk sees his friend crying uncontrollably.
Later, while both are trying to recover from the abuse, Spock reveals that
it's his own concern for Kirk, rather than his own humiliation--the fact that
being forced into a flamenco dance within inches of Kirk's head could have
caused him to kill Kirk without being able to stop himself--that has him
(by his own admission) so angry with Parmen.
(In an early version of the script used for the Blish novelization, Spock
actually regains control of his emotions by grabbing onto Kirk's arm and holding
onto it for a few minutes--something that seems to me more appropriate for
the scene than releasing his anger by breaking a vase.) Kirk's well-being
is more important to Spock even than the preservation of his own Vulcan dignity--and
Kirk recognizes that that dignity is part of what makes Spock who he is,
so Kirk likewise values it more than his own dignity or safety.
"Requiem For Methuselah":
Noteworthy for Spock's protectiveness of Kirk throughout the episode after
Kirk falls for the android Rayna Kopec and proceeds to prove that love is
not only blind but also sometimes deaf and stupid. Spock has all the
insights here, apparently deducing Rayna's (and Flint's) nature early on and
trying to keep the knowledge from Kirk, also apparently having learned enough
about love--romantic and otherwise--to warn Kirk of the danger to her of
his fighting over her with Flint, and later explain her death in the beautifully
moving "joys of love" speech.
At the end, with Rayna dead and Kirk in grief-wracked sleep, comes the classic
scene wherein Spock takes it upon himself to use the mind-meld to remove Kirk's
memory of her. Listening to the way he gently speaks the word "Forget",
I find it impossible to take this as anything but an act of compassion, lack
of any formal permission notwithstanding. If any one episode disproves
the idea of Kirk and Spock being sexually involved with each other, this has
to be it. There is no way Spock would have treated Kirk so gently or
gone to such lengths to protect him from being hurt by the discovery of Rayna's
true nature if his only motivation had been to keep Kirk as his own lover.
"You are closer to the Captain than anyone in the universe. You know
his thoughts. What does your telepathic mind tell you now?"
[After the mind-meld] "I believe you."
--Kirk-in-Janice and Spock
This one has Kirk trapped by the mentally unstable Janice Lester (an old
girl-friend) in her body, as part of a plot to take over the Enterprise and
the command she feels robbed of. The most dramatic and interesting part
of the episode begins when Kirk-in-Janice convinces Spock to mind-meld with
her and he makes contact with Kirk's mind. Although initially startled,
Spock backs him from then on, through Janice-in-Kirk's court-martial of the
Vulcan for mutiny, incarceration in the Brig and eventual reversal of the
Kirk/Janice transference. A small portion of the Brig scene taking
place as the transference is wearing off even shows Spock supporting/massaging
Kirk-in-Janice's neck as Kirk briefly flits back and forth between Janice's
body and his own.
This is another episode that showcases Spock's personal as well as professional
loyalty to Kirk--in the mind-meld scene, the court-martial scenes, and the
Brig scene especially--and it is actually a pretty good episode to end the
series on, in that respect (despite the offensive characterization of Janice
Lester as being unable to cope with her own gender identity).
Star Trek: the Motion Picture
"Jim…this…simple feeling…is beyond V'ger's comprehension.
No meaning, no hope…Jim…no answers."
--Spock to Kirk, after the mind-meld with V'ger
So much happens to Kirk and Spock and their relationship in this under-rated
movie that it's hard to know where to begin. Maybe with Spock, who seems
to be changed the most during the movie. Spock returns to Kirk and
the Enterprise fresh from a potentially soul-shattering failure to purge his
emotions (and his Human half) through Kolinahr, still convinced that his
"answer" lies in accomplishing the same thing through another source--V'ger--and
remains intentionally, determinedly detached from Kirk and the others.
Kirk almost has to force him to relax enough, later in the Officers' Lounge,
to sit down with his Captain and McCoy.
Kirk, on the other hand, has been promoted to the Admiralty after the Enterprise's
first five-year mission and appears to have spent most of the intervening
years figuring out how to get his command back (reference the movie novelization
and my interpretation of same), obsessed enough with the idea to convince
Admiral Nogura to take the ship away from current Captain Willard Decker when
the V'ger crisis comes up and give it to him. Many of his first actions
and words after assuming command show that this obsession remains--McCoy comments
on it, himself.
When Spock, having stuck stubbornly (and atypically) to his own agenda,
finally sneaks off in a thruster suit to make personal contact with V'ger
and mind-melds with it, realization of V'ger's true nature makes him realize
his own: V'ger is a machine-being of "pure logic" searching for its own emotional
identity, in just the "barren" and "cold" state Spock would have found himself
in if he'd succeeded in permanently rejecting his emotional identity.
When he awakens later in Sickbay, it's as if all the ramifications of this
come home to him at once.
He realizes he can't live on logic alone, that emotions have their place
in his life--including those he feels for Kirk. When he reaches out
to take Kirk's hand and Kirk covers it with his own, it's a recognition of
Spock's new willingness to accept this and Kirk's welcoming his new acceptance,
moving their friendship to a new level. (The novelization by Gene
Roddenberry even indicates that Kirk's mind touched Spock's on Vulcan at the
same time V'ger did, making their mental bond--long postulated by fans--now
arguably canon.) After this, both seem to regain their equilibrium and
realize that this is where they belong. This is reflected later in
the moving restored scene wherein Spock weeps for V'ger.
Slash fans, of course, read more into the Sickbay scene because of the unusual
physical contact, perhaps seeing them as reconciled and "outted" lovers, but
there's nothing I see in the touch or looks Kirk and Spock exchange to indicate
anything more than a new understanding and an affirmation of their friendship.
Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
"You are my superior officer; you are also my friend. I have been
and always shall be yours."
--Spock to Kirk
"Jim, be careful."
--Spock to Kirk, upon the latter's beam-down with McCoy to Regula I,
and McCoy's response
Ironically and tragically, Spock finally seems to have achieved true inner
peace between both halves of himself only to die while saving Kirk and the
rest of his shipmates from the explosion of the Genesis device. He seems
more comfortable with himself as he is, more comfortable with Kirk when they're
together, and generally seems to have his life more in order than ever before.
Then he dies in the reactor chamber from radiation exposure. The scene,
a classic Trek moment, speaks for itself. Spock has resigned himself
to his fate by the time Kirk arrives, but Kirk is grief-stricken and Spock
knows it. He even tries to touch Kirk through the glass wall, placing
his hand on it in the Vulcan salute. When Kirk eulogizes Spock later
as "the most Human" of "all the souls he has encountered", it's a desperate
attempt to express some two decades of brotherly affection and friendship
in one sentence--and I sense somehow that Spock would have accepted it as
Kirk's honest attempt to honor him.
Star Trek III: the Search For Spock
"If there's even a chance that Spock has an immortal soul, it's my responsibility."
"Just as surely as if it were my own."
--Kirk and Morrow, on
Kirk's request for permission to return to Genesis
"Kirk, I thank you. What you have done is--"
"What I've done, I had to do."
"But at what cost? Your ship…your son…"
"If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul."
--Sarek and Kirk, after the fal-tor-pan
One of my favorite Trek movies. The opening scenes of the Enterprise's
return to Headquarters show the crew to be in a subdued and quiet mood--especially
Kirk, who speaks of Spock's death being "an open wound" and of having sacrificed
"our dearest blood", seeming to refer more to his own feelings than anyone
else's. Spock only appears as more than a shell of himself at the end,
but his presence permeates this story of friendship and sacrifice. It
spells out very clearly what Kirk is willing to risk for Spock--the rest of
the crew helps, but Kirk is clearly the instigator.
His son dies, the Enterprise is destroyed, and Kirk knows he and his crew
are in trouble with Starfleet--but after the fal-tor-pan ceremony, when he
and Spock face each other and Kirk realizes his friend is alive and recognizes
him, we can see that it's worth the cost to him.
Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home
The best thing about this movie for me is the interaction between Kirk and
Spock when they're back on Earth in 1980s San Francisco and the crew splits
up with various assignments, leaving them alone together. Spock is clearly
not himself here, and he needs all the help Kirk can give him to jog his
non-Vulcan memories of things like calling Kirk "Jim", understanding Human
emotions and humor, etc. Kirk shows an amazing amount of patience with
Spock throughout, regardless of how "ditzy" he acts, whether it's mind-melding
in a whale tank or largely ineffective attempts to fit in with contemporary
Earth society by cussing.
Then there's the ending--the Bird-of-Prey's crash in the bay with Kirk's
and Spock's horseplay in the water, followed by the trial and Spock's leaving
the stands to join Kirk and the others in facing judgement by the Federation
Council. And afterwards--when everyone else has left, Spock says goodbye
to Sarek, while Kirk, hanging back some distance, waits for him. Then
Sarek leaves, Spock goes back to join Kirk, and they leave together.
Whatever else Spock still has to re-learn, these scenes make it clear that
Spock does remember his friendship with Kirk. It's still mutual, and
it doesn't seem to have lessened after all that's happened.
Star Trek V: the Final Frontier
"Twelve hundred points of interest in Yosemite and you pick me."
to Spock, while climbing El Capitan
"What you've done is betray every man and woman on the Enterprise."
"I have done far worse--I have betrayed you."
and Spock, after Spock fails to shoot Sybok
The only redeeming quality of this movie, as far as I'm concerned, is the
interaction of Kirk and Spock--the best scenes are when they (or they and
McCoy) are alone together. I'm not sure Spock is back to normal yet,
since he seems unable to get the hang of such Human customs as "camping out",
despite having supposedly researched them (and I refuse to believe he's never
gone on a camp-out before this time).
For me, it's a movie of Kirk and Spock moments: Spock "following" Kirk via
anti-gravity boots while Kirk climbs El Capitan…the flare-up between
them later when Spock refuses to fire on his renegade brother, essentially
betraying Kirk and the others to Sybok (allowing the latter to take over the
Enterprise)…the Brig scene…escaping to fight Sybok, when Spock
again used the anti-gravity boots to take himself, Kirk and McCoy to safety,
taking and holding one of them under each arm, Kirk first…Spock's ultimate
loyalty to Kirk when, after Sybok exposes his "secret pain", he stays with
Kirk…and toward the end, after Sybok has sacrificed himself, when
Kirk makes Spock see that he still has a brother. So Kirk has, by that
time, presumably forgiven Spock for his "betrayal" at the beginning of the
movie, and their friendship survives another potential threat.
Slash fans make much of a scene near the end, where Kirk is rescued by and
taken aboard the Klingon ship and finds Spock there, acting as the "new gunner".
Kirk realizes that Spock is his rescuer and starts to hug him; Spock stops
him by saying, "Captain, please--not in front of the Klingons." I take
this just as a demonstration of Kirk's pleasure and relief that (1) he isn't
being taken prisoner by the Klingons and (2) he really does still have Spock's
friendship and loyalty, when that had been somewhat in doubt before--period.
I see no sexual undertones in it, and I think it's both cute and in character
for Kirk to have momentarily forgotten the presence of the Klingons, under
Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country
"You were right. It was arrogant presumption that got us into this…situation.
You and the Doctor might have been killed."
--Spock to Kirk, after the rescue from Rura Penthe
This is another favorite Trek movie of mine, because Spock seems, for the
first time since Star Trek II, to have fully integrated his Vulcan and Human
halves as the revelations of V'ger would likely have led him to earlier if
he hadn't died. He now accepts that logic is only "the beginning of
wisdom", allows himself to express anger and disappointment at Valeris' betrayal
(not to mention the ironic gullibility, given their general treatment of him
over his lifetime, of placing his "faith" in Valeris, by his own admission,
just because she's Vulcan), is much more comfortable calling Kirk "Jim" than
in the last two movies, and nobody seems to find it unusual when he puts his
hand on Kirk's shoulder on the Bridge to position the veridian patch there.
Yet he is still clearly Vulcan.
Unfortunately, it looks at the beginning like there was some kind of disagreement
between him and Kirk prior to this, since he has atypically gone off on a
diplomatic mission to the Klingons without so much as mentioning it to Kirk.
To make things worse, every move Spock makes until Kirk and McCoy are captured
get him in bigger trouble with Kirk: volunteering Kirk as emissary to the
Klingons behind his back, second-guessing him all through the diplomatic dinner
with Gorkon, dragging him out of bed later, when he is clearly tired and
hung-over (even though it turns out to be justified), etc. Even when
Spock rescues Kirk and McCoy from Rura Penthe, his timing--beaming them up
just as Kirk is about to learn who was responsible for Gorkon's death--is
enough to get Kirk annoyed with him again.
But Spock means well. The novelization indicates that his motivation
for getting Kirk involved in this mission is to help him get over his remaining
anger toward the Klingons for killing David, not telling him in advance presumably
because he knew Kirk would never have knowingly gone along with it.
He remains concerned enough about Kirk's well-being to react visibly during
the trial and sentencing, and to still be visibly upset by it (and Valeris'
part in it) when he and Kirk discuss it later in Spock's quarters. But
Kirk never has cause to doubt his loyalty, as happened in Star Trek V, when
he thought briefly that Spock's sympathies might have lain with Sybok.
I can only believe and hope that their friendship continues with no further
disruptions until Kirk's death--and likely beyond--since we have no canonical
information on where Spock is or why or why he isn't with Kirk when it happens.
Another thing we don't have the full story on in canon is how he deals with
Kirk's death; considering how much a part of his life Kirk had been for how
many years, there would surely have to have been a long adjustment period--assuming
Spock could ever fully "adjust" at all, which I remain skeptical about--during
which Spock likely drowned himself in self-recrimination for not having been
around to prevent Kirk's death.
And there you have it--Kirk and Spock's friendship as it was shown to develop
through the series and the first six movies. It's a very deep and sincere
friendship, involving affection, respect, loyalty, implicit trust and a mental
bond--certainly a more unique and special kind of friendship than most of
us are likely to ever have--and perhaps it's this aspect that makes it unfamiliar
or confusing enough to some people that they assume it must be sexual.
But I'm able to separate the two, and I just see nothing in canon to indicate
a sexual component to their friendship.
I also seriously doubt Gene Roddenberry had any such thing in mind when
he stated, as quoted in Star Trek Lives! (p. 152):
…I definitely designed it as a love relationship. And I hope
that for men…who have been afraid of such relationships…that
they [Spock and Kirk] would encourage them to be able to feel love and affection,
true affection…love, friendship, and deep respect. That was the
relationship I tried to draw. It's quite a lovely thing where two halves
make a whole.
Note those words: love…friendship…respect…affection.
He's not talking about homosexuality; he's talking about the fallacy so prevalent
among men--a fallacy that still exists--that they can't feel or express really
deep friendship for each other without being assumed to be lovers, and how
he meant Kirk and Spock's relationship to show them it didn't have to be that
For the Star Trek: the Motion Picture novel, Roddenberry created the term
"t'hy'la" for Spock to use in reference to Kirk, describing it in a footnote
in which he assumes Kirk's identity (Star Trek: the Motion Picture, pp. 6-7):
…the Human concept of "friend" is most nearly duplicated in Vulcan
thought by the word "t'hy'la", which can also mean "brother" and "lover".
Spock's recollection…is that it was a most difficult moment for him,
since he did indeed consider Kirk to have become his brother. However…because
t'hy'la can be used to mean "lover", and because Kirk and Spock's friendship
was unusually close, this has led to some speculation over whether they had
actually become lovers. At our request, Admiral Kirk supplied the following
comment on this subject:
"I was never aware of this 'lovers' rumor, although I have been told that
Spock encountered it several times. Apparently, he had always dismissed
it with his characteristic lifting of his right eyebrow, which usually connoted
some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance. As for myself…I
have always found my best gratification in that creature woman. Also,
I would not like to be thought of as being so foolish that I would select
a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years."
This tells me a couple of things: (1) Roddenberry was playing with fire
when he attached the "lovers" meaning to t'hy'la, even though his overall
purpose was probably to settle the matter. (2) Spock's reaction--"dismissing"
it with "surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance"--combined with Kirk's (he
prefers women) make it pretty clear to me that the only sexual involvement
between them is in the minds of the rumor-mongers.
As for K/S (slash) fandom vs. K&S (friendship) fandom, I don't think
diehard members of either camp are going to be converted by anything anyone
says or writes, so my purpose here is just to state my position that there
simply isn't any indisputable canonical evidence that Kirk and Spock were
ever lovers. What there is is abundant evidence of their intense feelings
of friendship for each other; in my view, slash fans choose to attach sexual
undertones to every word, look or action between them, however innocuous.
To me, this is just sort of an alternate universe of their own making and
has little relation to Gene Roddenberry's Kirk and Spock…which, for
them, is fine. But as for me, I'll stick with the Kirk and Spock I know--the
real, original, straight Kirk and Spock.
Feedback greatfully received at
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