Now with 25% more kvetching.
Ladies of the Hour: T'Pring, T'Pau (What? Power is only sexy on men? Personally, I love the accent.)
--Just to be thorough, no one is under any illusions that Kirk was actually fighting for possession of T'Pring, right? Right.
--Or hitting on T'Pau? Okay? Good.
--Besides that, there's also something that could be considered a blow to the skirt-chaser assumption of Kirk. T'Pring tells Spock:
T'PRING: You have become much known among our people, Spock. Almost a legend.
Now, I know I might be off-base here since this is Vulcan and all, but I would think that since so much of what Spock does is in association with Kirk, and vice versa, that if one becomes "much known," so does the other. That T'Pring would at least have heard about Kirk's so-called reputation is not unreasonable. Why is this important? Well:
T'PRING: If your captain were victor, he would not want me, and so I would have Stonn.
T'Pring is stone-cold certain that Kirk would not want anything to do with her, that he would release her immediately. Granted, even if Kirk were such a horndog, I doubt he would want anything to do with T'Pring if he won her because SHE MADE HIM KILL HIS BEST FRIEND, but I don't know if T'Pring would be thinking in those terms, what with the shunning of emotion.
I know, not one of my strongest arguments--especially since T'Pring (I think it's safe to say) is kind of twisted, so who can figure her reasoning--but something to consider.
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
Lady of the Hour: Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas
--Yet another episode in which we can study Kirk's treatment of the Lady of the Hour with that of another crewmember's. Scotty is into Palamas. I mean, really. And he is very sweet to her, but he allows his personal feelings for her to interfere with his own duties (he can't keep his mind off of her long enough to do much of anything else), and he doesn't seem to have faith in Carolyn's ability to guard herself from Apollo (which she doesn't, actually...until Kirk makes her).
On the other hand, we have Kirk, who is completely professional around Palamas at all times--despite McCoy's comment that she is "all woman"--and who naturally assumes that she will be able to perform her duties as well as anyone:
KIRK: Mister Scott, I understand your concern over her, but she volunteered to go with him, hopefully to find out more about him. She's doing her job. I think it's about time you started doing yours.
He even tells Scotty that he should do his job like Palamas is doing hers. Kirk trusts that Palamas can handle herself with Apollo, up until the point she provides direct evidence that she, too, has allowed her feelings to compromise her.
--So, this needs to be addressed, because I've always hated this kind of reasoning:
MCCOY: On the other hand, she's a woman. All woman. One day she'll find the right man, and off she'll go, out of the service.
KIRK: I like to think of it not so much losing an officer as gaining... Actually, I'm losing an officer.
This is one of those clear-cut instances of contemporary 1960s thinking making its way into the dialogue, which is frustrating to me, since it doesn't actually happen all that often, making those instances where it does stand out like a Da Vinci in a modern art gallery. It is McCoy that makes the introductory remark, which is not altogether unsurprising, as McCoy often evidences rather old-fashioned attitudes regarding women. To Kirk's credit, he responds back in a humorous manner, as if adding to a joke--notice that he seems not to make reference to women in general, just Palamas in the specific.
Still, this is an exchange that just doesn't belong in the 23rd century. However, I'm a little more willing to let this one go as humoring McCoy's opinion with an anachronistic comeback, one, because it'll happen again later in almost exactly the same way ("Is There No Truth in Beauty?" I believe, if you want to study ahead), and two, because of later events in the episode.
--Speaking of later events... Palamas's behavior with Apollo does seems to justify Scotty and McCoy's feelings about her, as she allows herself to get caught up in Apollo's charms and power, Marla McGivers-like. Once Kirk realizes this, he knows he's got to win Palamas back over to his side. He doesn't do it through some fight-fire-with-fire-seduce-her-back scheme, and neither does he talk down to her or appeal to "feminine" emotion. He instead asks her to remember her duty, her loyalty:
KIRK: Lieutenant. All our lives, here and on the ship, depend on you.
PALAMAS: No, not on me.
KIRK: On you, Lieutenant! Reject him, and we have a chance to save ourselves. Accept him, and you condemn all of us to slavery, nothing less than slavery. We might never get help this far out. Or perhaps the thought of spending an eternity bending knee and tending sheep appeals to you.
PALAMAS: Oh, but you don't understand. He's kind, and he wants the best for us. And he's so lonely. What you ask would break his heart. How can I?
KIRK: Give me your hand. Your hand. Now feel that. Human flesh against human flesh. We're the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We're tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference. We're human. We couldn't escape from each other even if we wanted to. That's how you do it, Lieutenant. By remembering who and what you are. A bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. The only thing that's truly yours is the rest of humanity. That's where our duty lies. Do you understand me?
PALMAS: Yes. Yes, I understand. He's calling me.
KIRK: Lieutenant. You have your orders and your duty.
PALAMAS: Yes, sir. My orders and my duty.
Probably the most important line in all of that as far as Kirk's attitude towards women is, "Man or woman, it makes no difference. We're human." As far as Kirk is concerned, loyalty and duty know no gender. He expects everyone to perform up to the same level.
We also have new confirmation of Kirk's hatred of slavery, of being forced to cater to the whims of another--whether it's he or others being forced. Again, it will come up later--this season, in fact.
--K/S (-ish?) Sidenote: When Palamas rejects Apollo, she says:
PALAMAS: I'm a scientist. My particular specialty is ancient civilizations, relics, and myths. Surely you know I've only been studying you.
APOLLO: I don't believe it. You love me.
PALAMAS: Love you? Be logical.
In putting off Apollo, Palamas invokes Spock: Be logical. The K/S shipper in me can't help feeling like this might be a signal--the one who espouses logic is secretly in love with someone and is trying to cover it up for the sake of duty and/or loyalty to one's own kind.
Or maybe I'm just desperate for slash in this episode, considering Kirk and Spock spend the majority of the episode apart
Lady of the Hour: none
--Kirk has virtually no interaction with any woman in this episode; however, there is one interesting moment:
KIRK: Yes, it's powerful, it's sophisticated, but it's not infallible. It's space-happy. It thinks I'm its mother.
There is absolutely no reason that Kirk could not have said "father" instead of "mother" here. In fact, it would have been more accurate, considering that Nomad's creator was Jackson Roykirk, a man.
It wasn't just a one off either. At the end of the episode, Kirk once again refers to himself as Nomad's "mother":
KIRK: Besides, what are you feeling so badly about? It's not easy to lose a bright and promising son.
KIRK: Well, it thought I was its mother, didn't it? Do you think I'm completely without feelings, Mister Spock? You saw what it did for Scotty. What a doctor it would've made. My son, the doctor. Kind of gets you right there, doesn't it?
Now, setting aside what this kind of comment might say about Kirk's self-image (heh), I seriously doubt that if Kirk saw women as anything less than as his equals, he would refer to himself as a "mother," especially since in the first instance, there was nothing joking about the comment. Rather, it's pretty darn flattering that in Kirk's mind, the automatic assumption is "person who created something powerful and sophisticated = woman."
"Mirror, Mirror" (or, "The Episode I Almost Can't Handle Due to an Abundance of Uhura!Stomach and Kirk!PirateBoots")
Ladies of the Hour: Lieutenant Uhura (finally, and may I say "Day-um!"), Lieutenant Marlena Moreau
--Everyone, look at the above picture on the left. Kirk never once hit on all of that. The defense rests. I could just end this essay right here...
--...but I won't.
--Kirk does touch Uhura in this episode (
Kirk is a very tactile person, particularly when it comes to trying to convince someone of a point he's making. To me, it's the Kirk version of Spock's mind-meld in "Spectre of the Gun"--it's like he's hoping that he can transfer his trust/support/affection/anger/conviction/d
--Once Uhura gets to the bridge, she and Sulu have this exchange:
MIRROR!SULU: Still no interest, Uhura? Hmm? I could change your mind.
UHURA: You are away from your post, Mister.
MIRROR!SULU: Is the captain here? Is Spock here? When the cat's away--
So in the Mirrorverse, everyone is evil, assassination and, apparently, rape are condoned and practiced often, sadism is the order of the day, and debilitating pain is the punishment for the most minor of offenses. Mirror!Kirk himself has killed to get to where he is. And even taking into consideration all of this, Mirror!Kirk has enough respect for women (and his crew in general) that he would frown on Mirror!Sulu trying to make it with Uhura against her will, at least on the bridge--since Mirror!Sulu feels that he can come over and harass Uhura because the captain (and Spock) is not on the bridge. If Mirror!Kirk has that kind of principle, knowing what we do about him, what does that say for our Kirk?
--Let's take a brief look at Mirror!Kirk's relationship with Mirror!Moreau. First thing we notice is that Mirror!Kirk's woman is not some empty-headed bimbo that he keeps locked in his quarters, ready to serve him at a moment's notice. On the contrary, Mirror!Moreau is an active member of the crew, a chemist apparently, and certainly comes off as plenty bright enough, would have to be, to be a chemist on the Enterprise. Mirror!Moreau does not make a single move to start waiting on Kirk, so obviously, it's not expected of her. It seems that Kirk's dislike of being hovered over applies to Mirror!Kirk as well.
Something else interesting in their relationship:
MIRROR!MOREAU: Oiling my traps, darling. I'm afraid I'm a little out of practice. Maybe that's what happened to us? It's very hard for a working officer to shine as a woman every minute, and you demand perfection.
Based on this bit of dialogue, it seems that Mirror!Kirk and Mirror!Moreau's relationship has cooled, that they're not boinking like bunnies at every opportunity, especially since she adds, after Kirk kisses her the second time, "It's been a long time since you've kissed me like that." Granted, it's possible that Mirror!Kirk is getting his elsewhere, but given that Mirror!Moreau makes no mention of this, I doubt it. Besides, if he were sleeping around, I don't think Moreau would really need to wonder "what happened to us?"
So what do we know? We know that Mirror!Kirk likes 'em smart and spunky, doesn't ask that they only live to serve, doesn't make them dress all sexy and "shine as a woman," but seems to prefer the working officers, and prefers a monogamous relationship (because there's no reason not to show us a harem, if Mirror!Kirk had one, as it would have in fact aided the whole "evil universe is evil" concept). And why is this important? Because again, if Mirror!Kirk is so mad, bad, and dangerous to know and this is what even he holds dear, what does this say about our Kirk?
--Moving on to our Kirk's interaction with Mirror!Moreau, Kirk (and McCoy and Uhura and Scotty) is trying to maintain the illusion that he belongs in this universe. He has to act as Mirror!Kirk would, or at least as close to that as he can take, which includes watching Chekov writhe in pain in the Agony Booth, though he orders him released out of earshot of Mirror!Spock. Kirk has to keep up appearances with Mirror!Moreau.
That being said, Kirk does not use the "keeping up appearances" excuse to get some consequence-free nookie from a very willing and beautiful woman. He initiates no physical contact with her, responds to hers only. When Moreau kisses him, he remains impassive, up until the point he can no longer do so and still maintain his cover.
When Kirk says:
KIRK: I've never seen perfection, but no woman could come closer to it.
he is still maintaining cover, though this sort of hyperbolic flattery does set an interesting president for Kirk's interaction with Dr. Miranda Jones in "Is There No Truth in Beauty?" and several Kirk-seduction scenarios. Also, does anyone else find it interesting that Kirk says no woman could come closer to perfection? It would have been just as easy to say "no one," so the specific use here seems a little pointed. (K/S Sidenote? Maybe.)
Finally, Moreau pretty much straight up asks Kirk to go to bed with her, after she comes out dressed all sexy:
KIRK: I've never seen perfection, but no woman could come closer to it.
MIRROR!MOREAU: I remember when you used to talk that way.
KIRK: I still do.
MIRROR!MOREAU: Prove it.
Does Kirk jump into bed with the scantily clad woman? Because like in "The City on the Edge of Forever," there's no real reason he couldn't have a quickie (granted, super-fast because of the time crunch involved) so long as he didn't let on where he was from. But no, Kirk says:
KIRK: I've got to go.
MIRROR!MOREAU: Ship's business? An important task on the crew deck?
(And doesn't Mirror!Moreau sound like someone who's heard that excuse before?)
When Mirror!Moreau starts making noises about working her way through every officer in the fleet, Kirk objects, telling her she can "be anything [she] want[s] to be," another indication of Kirk's dislike of women being subservient to men, or of anyone being subjugated to another's whim. Kirk's declaration that Mirror!Moreau is still the captain's woman "until he says [she's] not," because he specifically says "the captain's" and not "my," draws pointed attention again to his personal stance against servitude to him (see Rand, "The Corbomite Maneuver"), but also indicates that he's not willing to burn this bridge in Mirror!Kirk's universe when he knows so little about their situation.
--Short note (because we all need a breather now, right?): Uhura takes a turn at seduction in order to get Mirror!Sulu's attention off his panel. No one believes that she really wants to get with EvilPotentialRapistMirror!Sulu (and if you do, why are you reading this essay when you should be seeking mental help?). So why do people persist in believing that when Kirk seduces a woman--for just as explicitly stated reasons--he really does actually want in her pants?
And dear God, Uhura kicks so much ass in this episode.
--At the end of the episode, Kirk rises from his chair to walk over to Moreau after this conversation:
MOREAU: Captain Kirk.
KIRK: Lieutenant, er... Lieutenant?
MOREAU: Marlena Moreau. I was just assigned last week.
KIRK: All right, Lieutenant. Carry on.
SPOCK: You've met her before, Captain?
KIRK: Uh, why do you ask?
SPOCK: Your reaction, one of recognition.
KIRK: Oh, no. No, no. We haven't met before, exactly. She just seemed a nice, likable girl. I think we could become friends. It's possible.
While I think Kirk was mostly just pulling Spock's leg here, I suppose this could be seen as Kirk getting up to go put the moves on Moreau. After all, the episode cuts out just as he approaches her and before anything can be said. However, based on Kirk's stance of not fooling around with crew, this seems highly unlikely. More probable is that Kirk is curious about her, curious about what made his alternate self choose to make her his woman. And yes, there's got to be some contemplation about whether he might want to have a relationship with her (were they not commander/subordinate), but Kirk's a pretty perceptive guy--he has to have picked up on the fact that Mirror!Kirk and Mirror!Moreau's relationship was pretty lukewarm. Even though the Mirroruniverse is so different, there are enough similarities that Kirk has to realize that if Mirror!Kirk and Mirror!Moreau didn't work out, there's not a great chance for Moreau and him.
Holy crap, that took forever. Let's celebrate the completion of this long-ass chapter with a picture of Kirk's pirate get-up:
Don't you wish those boots were regulation in our universe?
Lady of the Hour: Yeoman Martha Landon
--So, here we are on a beautiful, utopian paradise, Captain James "T for Tomcat" Kirk and a beautiful young female yeoman, and there's romance in the air. The man in the gold command shirt flirts shamelessly with Landon, puts his arm around her, tells her he's wanted "to get [her] in a place like this for a long time." And Kirk--no, wait, that's not Kirk! That's Chekov! Well, whaddaya know?
And where is Kirk in this little scenario? Our captain is the sarcastic rain on the parade:
KIRK: Mister Chekov, Yeoman Landon. I know you find each other fascinating, but we're not here to conduct a field experiment in human biology.
(Interesting that Kirk would use the term "fascinating" and reference "human biology," which seems a direct reference to "Vulcan biology" from "Amok Time." Hmm, Bitter Kirk is bitter?)
Kirk is seriously pissed off, and he has every right to be--one of his men is dead, they all have jobs to do to prevent further death, and Chekov's making time with his girlfriend? As I've said surely countless times by now, Kirk has little tolerance for people who shirk duty due to romantic distraction.
--Later, everyone is gathered in their hut, waiting for Scotty to try his gambit to pull the Enterprise out of orbit, and with nothing else to do in the meantime, Kirk turns to teasing Spock through Landon:
KIRK: Yeoman, speculate. What would happen if someone on this planet died?
LANDON: But they can't. You said that Vaal takes care of them.
KIRK: Accidents happen.
LANDON: Yes, I suppose if someone were to fall off a cliff or something, that might upset the balance of the population. Then they would need a replacement.
KIRK: They'd need a replacement. Opinion, Mister Spock?
SPOCK: I see no alternative.
LANDON: But these people, I mean, if they don't know anything about... What I mean is, they don't seem to have any natural, uh... I mean, how is it...done?
KIRK: Mister Spock? You're the science officer. Why don't you explain it to the young lady.
SPOCK: Well, I believe it's safe-- (cough) --safe to assume that they would receive the necessary...instructions.
Kirk starts off trying to distract Landon, who is up and pacing, anxious about the fate of the Enterprise. Kirk invites her to sit down not to start macking on her, but to keep her from working herself up any more. (Besides, she is clearly Chekov's girlfriend, and as we know from "Shore Leave" and "Who Mourns for Adonais?" Kirk does not poach.) Kirk then mostly turns his teasing attention to Spock (because McCoy would have been the logical target if Kirk really wanted information about alien biology, right?), prodding him to talk about sex--which is funny, in a K/S Sidenote way, considering how earlier Kirk mentioned "human biology" and was all "I know you find each other fascinating."
"The Doomsday Machine"
Lady of the Hour: none
Continued professional interaction with Not-Uhura. And moving on...
Lady of the Hour: Sylvia
--Although Sylvia's entrance is backed by the typical "oh, look, a female--HAWT!" music, Kirk is clearly less than happy to see her--as well he should be. She is one of the people keeping his crew, both on the planet and on the ship, hostage, endangering their lives, zombiefying Scotty and Sulu. Kirk's not going to treat her as anything but an enemy. He stands at her appearance out of common politeness and also out of defense--he can't be sure she won't attack in some way, and it's better to be on his feet if she does.
And just taking this a little further, does anyone really think that Kirk would ever desire a woman who killed a member of his crew and endangered the rest--with intent to kill--ripped his men's minds from them and made them slaves, and almost destroyed the Enterprise? If your answer is yes...why are you even watching this show if you believe the hero of the series to be that twisted? This is not Dexter, people.
--When Kirk is brought before Sylvia, after she's zombified McCoy, at first Kirk is pretty much entirely hostile:
KIRK: What now? You wave your magic wand and destroy my mind, too?
SYLVIA: There's no real damage to the mind, Captain, simply a drain of knowledge and will.
KIRK: You don't call that damage?
SYLVIA: Why should I?
KIRK: You'd know if you had compassion. A woman should have compassion, but I forget you're not a woman.
By this point, we all know Kirk's stance on compassion and how he uses that to win people over--and see how Kirk uses that tack first to try to get to Sylvia? But anyway, Kirk is pissed, and he's having none of this. However, it is Sylvia who starts to lay down the beginnings of a seduction:
SYLVIA: But you're mistaken, Captain. I am a woman now. I come from a world without sensation as you and I now know it. It excites me. I want more.
KIRK: You seem to need us. Why?
SYLVIA: Because you have knowledge which I lack. But were our abilities put together... Tell me about power, Captain. How does it feel?
Sure, Sylvia's all new to a human body and everything, but she's showing obvious interest in, ah...inspecting Kirk's undercarriage. And Kirk is like a shark smelling chum in the water--Sylvia has exposed a weakness, and Kirk is going to use it. It is only after Sylvia has opened herself up to attack that Kirk opens up his can of sexy:
(Kirk lays a hand on Sylvia's shoulder and caresses her face and neck.)
KIRK: What about Korob?
SYLVIA: He is a fool. I'll do without him. But you? Why do I find you different? Why would it be so difficult to dispose of you?
KIRK: Why don't you simply probe my mind and get what you want?
SYLVIA: No, not that, not for you. What I want is a joining. My mind to yours willingly. Think of the secrets you could learn. Think of the power that would be yours. Anything you can imagine, I can give you.
KIRK: You're very persuasive. What happens if I go along?
SYLVIA: Then everything would be ours together. I've never conceived of the idea of togetherness before. It excites me. You excite me. Why?
KIRK: For the same reasons you excite me. You're a very beautiful woman.
(Kirk kisses Sylvia.)
SYLVIA: You find me beautiful? But I can be many women. (changes shape) You like what you see? (changes shape again) Or do you prefer me as I was?
KIRK: You have a knack for giving me difficult choices. (Kirk kisses her again.) You have nothing like that where you come from?
KIRK: Your people, when they come here...
SYLVIA: They're like...like feathers in the wind without the transmuter.
SYLVIA: The source. You will learn. I will teach you later. Later.
KIRK: Then it's a device. You do use tools.
SYLVIA: It gives only form. You're teaching me substance.
KIRK: You haven't changed your mind? You won't return home?
SYLVIA: My home is here with you. A billion worlds of sensation to pick and choose.
Mostly Kirk is simply responding to her cues, overwhelming Sylvia with sensation because she says it's new and exciting for her. It's really a pretty cold seduction, considering that Kirk is pumping Sylvia for information the entire time, the distraction of his caresses making her spill the beans more easily. It's probably a stretch even to call this a seduction--it's more like...a terribly pleasant interrogation.
I mean, look at Kirk's face as he's operating. Does this look like a man who's reveling in the charms of a woman he desires?
If there was any doubt, even Sylvia figures out Kirk's game when she finally bothers to probe his thoughts:
SYLVIA: You are using me! You hold me in your arms, and there is no fire in your mind. You're trying to deceive me! It's here, like words on a page. You are using me!
KIRK: And why not? You've been using me and my crew.
See, there's not even a flicker of "ooh, touching on the pretty lady" in Kirk's mind. He's simply using the method he's determined most likely to get him what he wants from Sylvia, and as he says, he has no reason not to. She is the enemy, a danger to his crew and his ship, and he has the right to do whatever he deems necessary to defeat her.
--Sidenote (potential K/S, but more on Kirk's sexuality): So, this could probably turn into an essay all on its own, but I'll try to keep it semi-brief. You don't even really have to squint to see this episode as a metaphorical conflict being played out between hetero- and homosexuality. No, really, let me explain.
Towards the end of the episode, Jim and Spock are in the process of escaping, have obtained the transmuter, and Sylvia reappears to try to get it back:
KIRK: Sylvia, I have the transmuter. It's mine now.
SYLVIA: You're very clever, Captain. More so than I'd imagined. Clever, resourceful...and handsome.
SPOCK: Don't let her touch the wand, Captain.
So, the male Spock interrupts the female Sylvia's renewed attempt at seduction by telling Kirk not to let Sylvia touch the wand. Okay, so alone, it's more of a double entendre created in the dirty mind of a raging fangirl, but there's more here.
Sylvia's response to Spock's interruption is to abscond with the captain so that they can be alone. She does not change tactics, keeps trying to seduce him, merely changes location. What this says to me is that she felt that the seduction might work if only she got rid of Spock. Could it be possible that she sees Spock as a competitor for Kirk's attentions? After all, she has seen into his mind, maybe saw a reason that there was no fire for her in his mind, that maybe he would be incapable of it.
As I said, Sylvia continues on trying to seduce Kirk into giving up the transmuter to her and taking his place at her side and joining the Dark Side and stuff:
SYLVIA: It is not too late, Captain James Kirk. Come with me. I'll teach you. You'll teach me.
KIRK: Why? Because your people have nothing of your own? Is that why you need us?
SYLVIA: We need your dreams, your ambition. With them, I can build. Give me the transmuter.
SYLVIA: You fool. Don't you know what you're giving up? Everything that your species finds desirable. Look at me. I am a woman. I am all women.
In rejecting her, she who can be all women, Sylvia claims that Kirks is giving up everything his species finds desirable, which implies that she maybe saw something in Kirk's mind that makes her think he's actually rejecting all women. Remember, Sylvia is new to being human; she potentially understands male/female reproductive capabilities and desires, but would probably find homosexuality illogical in this most basic sex-for-reproduction light. If she saw homosexual desires in Kirk's mind, it would likely confuse her greatly, which would be in keeping with her reactions throughout the episode and sheds a very interesting light on her choice of words earlier, just after she probed Kirk's mind:
SYLVIA: You will be swept away. You, your men, your ship, your worlds!
Considering that Kirk had just used the term "crew," it makes Sylvia's choice of "your men" seem slightly pointed, like Sylvia was raging at Kirk's inability to want her.
Now, I'm not saying that the showmakers intended us to believe Kirk is gay (I'm pretty sure he's bisexual, actually) or that they intended this episode to be a discourse on homosexuality versus heterosexuality. Hell, there might not really be anything to this interpretation other than my slash goggles being strapped on too tightly, cutting off oxygen to my brain, but it certainly is a fun way to look at this episode, isn't it?
Of course, if we want to go full-on K/S here, it actually clarifies these events immensely. Sylvia sees Spock in Kirk's mind, which causes confusion and upset. She takes Kirk away from Spock specifically to try to seduce him. She sees his attraction to Spock as rejection of women (because I doubt she'd understand bisexuality either). This is just one of those instances where assuming a baseline K/S makes the episode make so much more sense.
Lady of the Hour: Um, the Alices?
--This is another one of those very helpful comparison episodes. So, if Kirk were truly as much of a promiscuous playboy as so many people seem to believe, he would actually be Harry Mudd, making thousands of female androids to cater to his every whim. And there's not even so much as a "damn, shoulda thought of this" gleam in his eye.
--On the androids' planet, Kirk has the most perfect opportunity for consequence-free sex that anyone could ask for. This is a planet full of thousands of willing, obedient women who want to please the humans in any way they require (besides returning them to the Enterprise of course), who would probably jump at the chance to experience something new, whose feelings it would be impossible to hurt, and who have absolutely zero expectations, and Kirk does not run off and bang as many as he can before considering a plan for escape. In fact, Kirk never even hints at any potential interest in these women at all--it is Chekov who asks the Alices whether they are "fully functional." The fact that these women are completely subservient (at least superficially) to their human masters would probably be the biggest turn-off for Kirk, knowing as we do his distaste for slavery of any kind. (After all, in "Requiem for Methuselah," Kirk still espoused interest in Rayna even after it's revealed she's an android. Oh, yeah, uh, SPOILER ALERT. Horses and barn doors, really, at this point.)
--Mudd goes into great detail about how he designed all the female androids, and all Kirk does is compliment the styling (which even the occasional Project Runway viewer knows is a reference to clothing) of the androids and add:
KIRK: Don't you believe in male androids, Harry?
Mudd's in the middle of being sexually suggestive about his female androids, and Kirk wants to know if there are any male androids about. Sometimes Kirk does my work for me.
Again, in all of this, it is Mudd that is behaving in that "Kirk" manner, leering at the lovely women he created, waxing lyrical about their attributes, scoffing at the use of men as sexual objects, and reveling in the subservience of the women around him.
--And finally, another one of those moments that garners attention because every touch gets the utmost scrutiny: Kirk clasps Uhura by the shoulders to impart ecstatic congratulation; there is no sexual intent there.
Lady of the Hour: Commissioner Nancy Hedford, the Companion
--Kirk consistently treats Hedford with the respect due her position, even when Hedford is being unreasonably churlish and difficult. In fact, Kirk remains civil for way longer than I would.
--I can't really get into Kirk's attitude towards the Companion without getting into a whole mountain of "Kirk : Spock :: Cochrane : the Companion" gayness, but suffice to say that Kirk's ready and blasé acceptance of the Companion's love for Cochrane means that anyone will have a hard time saying that Kirk has a problem with any two or more consenting adult beings having a relationship of any kind. And if Kirk is this equal-minded about the Companion, it's safe to say he feels that way about women, too.
"Journey to Babel"
Lady of the Hour: Lady Amanda Grayson (eeee!)
--Yay, I love this episode! Boo, I barely get to talk about it.
--For your viewing pleasure, I submit another picture of shirtless Kirk:
I would say that Shatner, as often as he goes pointlessly shirtless, is giving up just as much eye-candy to the ladies as the Ladies of the Hour do for the men. Hubba.
--Kirk is nothing but endlessly respectful of Amanda. And God, could you imagine how horrified Spock would be if Kirk had made any kind of move on his mother?
--Something to take into consideration when thinking about Kirk's attitude with women: when Kirk breaks up the argument between Sarek and Gav, Kirk breaks out the same kind of charming, almost flirtatious vibe that he does while trying to ingratiate himself with a woman for the purpose of a mission.
It's a diplomatic tool, not a seduction tactic...unless Kirk wants a three-way with Sarek and Gav? Oh, man, now Spock's really horrified.
Lady of the Hour: Ele'en
--When one of the tribe's women comes to offer Kirk food, he makes no assumptions about what she might really be offering. He merely looks bemused (with just a hint of "aw, look at the fluffy kitty").
When Kirk reaches for the fruit the woman holds out, that's all he's reaching for. Even McCoy realizes it, saying, "You touch it..."
--Okay, so if Julie Newmar--freaking Catwoman--can't draw a leering smile from Kirk, who can?
--When Kirk decides to prevent the murder of Ele'en, his motivations don't really go beyond that. There's no way that Kirk could allow any defenseless person--probably especially a pregnant woman--to be killed in front of him and not act to prevent it. Kirk's strong sense of compassion for his fellow sentient beings would make him act, even if it isn't in his best interests diplomatically.
--Later, after Ele'en has escaped with McCoy and Spock and him, Kirk does not once try to hit on her and is more than happy to leave her in the capable hands of McCoy while he and Spock
--Something that strikes me as very strange at the end of the episode is that Ele'en named her baby Leonard James Aka'ar. "Leonard" I understand. After all, Ele'en declared the baby McCoy's earlier. But "James"? A fine name to be certain (I am not biased just because it's a family name amongst my kinfolk. *sideeye*), but Ele'en didn't seem to like Kirk much, if at all, so the choice is really weird. It's one of those instances where I think the writer wanted to end the episode a certain way--with Spock's putdown--which means that it was maybe forced in, no matter that it doesn't really jive with earlier events of the episode. Still, Kirk was the one who originally made the proposition for escape to her, so... Whatever, I guess.
"The Deadly Years"
Lady of the Hour: Doctor Janet Wallace
--During their first interaction in the briefing room, Kirk allows absolutely nothing of his personal feelings about Wallace to show, speaking to her as one professional to another. This lack of allowance for emotional distraction is a nice bit of continuity picked up from "Dagger of the Mind."
--As will be her M.O. for the entire episode, Wallace is the one who initiates nonprofessional contact with Kirk. She deliberately hangs back in the conference room when everyone leaves--we know that Kirk is not doing the same thing, one, because he is often the last one out of the briefing room in other episodes, whether it's to remain behind to think or out of simple politeness, and two, because as Kirk is making to leave, he looks surprised to see Wallace still there.
Kirk's behavior with her, initially, is still completely professional; even Wallace says so:
KIRK: Doctor, is there something I can do for you?
WALLACE: Well, be a little less the cool, efficient captain and a little more the old friend.
Even after this, Kirk doesn't warm up to her beyond a couple forced smiles. Seriously, watch this scene--the hurt that Kirk radiates is palpable.
--There is so much to talk about as far as Kirk and Wallace's conversation in the briefing room, so let's break this one down bit by bit:
KIRK: How long has it been?
WALLACE: Six years, four months, and an odd number of days. You mean you don't know?
This is the second instance in which a former love interest has been able to quote down to the "odd number of days" how long it's been (though whether that's since they last spoke or were last together as a couple, we don't know), the first being of course Lieutenant Areel Shaw in "Court Martial." First, it seems unlikely that if Kirk had been some kind of promiscuous playboy during their time together, these two women would recall so accurately and with such seeming fondness the last time they were with Kirk.
That aside, the interesting difference in the interaction in this episode is that Wallace asks, "You mean you don't know?" She seems honestly shocked that Kirk has not been pining away and counting the days since they were together. If it had been Kirk that left her, dropped her when a better, hotter thing came along, what reason would Wallace have to think that Kirk would be longing for her to this degree? In fact, it's more than likely that Wallace was the one to initiate the break-up and that she hurt Kirk greatly in doing so--witness this next bit:
KIRK: Well, it's been a long time. Things wouldn't change if it started all over again, would it? You have your job, I have my ship, and neither one of us will change.
WALLACE: You said it. I didn't. In all those years, I only heard from you once. A stargram when my husband died. You know, you never asked me why I got married after we called it off.
KIRK: Well, I supposed that you met someone you loved.
There's a level of bitterness and hurt in Kirk's response that we don't often see from the captain, and he's not even trying to hide it, can't even make himself meet Wallace's eyes most of the time.
The entire feeling of this conversation is that Kirk is the injured party here--that he had been the one wanting to continue their relationship, but Wallace felt their respective career paths made a relationship impossible, despite her flip "You said it. I didn't." It was Kirk who withdrew after their break-up, who was hurt enough not to keep in contact--she obviously wanted him to communicate, though she makes no indication of ever having made an effort herself to mend fences.
The strongest indication that Kirk was hurt pretty severely by this break-up is in the last couple of lines. Apparently, Wallace got married to another man almost immediately after she and Kirk broke up, which by itself would hurt enough, but Kirk assumes she married her husband because she "met someone [she] loved," heavily implying not only that Wallace, by contrast, didn't love Kirk, but that he had in fact loved her.
WALLACE: I met a man I admired. A great man.
KIRK: And in the same field as you. You didn't have to give up a thing.
WALLACE: No. Just you.
Here's Kirk once again alluding to the fact that a conflict between career interests came between them and that it was in fact Wallace who was unwilling to compromise: "You didn't have to give up a thing." I think it's safe to say that Wallace is pretty much Dr. Carol Marcus 1.0, both relationships ultimately torn apart by career conflict.
I've got to say, considering how clearly Kirk was hurt by their break-up, it's pretty needlessly cruel for Wallace to keep bringing up their past association and hinting that she might like to hook back up, considering that Kirk is right: at this point in their lives, they cannot make a relationship between them work. Wallace can't exactly stay on the Enterprise forever, being a civilian scientist, and Kirk certainly has no intention of resigning his command to run off with her. The only one of those two possibilities that is even theoretically possible is the latter, and Wallace knows that, which means that she's implying that she'd like Kirk to drop everything just to shack up with her.
(It's not obvious that I
Kirk has no intention of getting back together with Wallace, is not even entertaining the possibility of a brief fling. If his language did not make that clear enough, he interposes significant physical distance between them (see above still).
--It is again Wallace who initiates a second (relatively) private encounter with Kirk, after those affected by the aging virus have broken their huddle to set up their play. What is truly maddening about Wallace's actions here, that she delays important research into possible cures for the virus in order to wait for Kirk to exit sickbay--when she has no idea how long he will linger there--is that Spock has just made it clear that every minute is precious due to the fast-acting nature of the virus:
SPOCK: I estimate that physically we each have less than a week to live. Also, since our mental faculties are aging faster than our bodies, we will be little better than mental vegetables in considerably lesser time.
KIRK: Total senility?
SPOCK: Yes, Captain. In a very short time.
Wallace was willing to allow Kirk and the others to age the equivalent of months just so that she can get a little alone time with the captain--she's just lucky that Kirk exited sickbay almost immediately after her.
Back to the actual point of this essay, Kirk is, again, surprised to see Wallace waiting for him (as well he should, considering he just ordered all personnel to begin 'round-the-clock research. I'm trying to let this go, really.) He makes no advance upon her, no attempt to rehash their romantic history (but does make mention of how Wallace sounds like Spock when speaking of logic. Because it's totally normal to ramble about your first officer when the pretty lady who's totally into you is trying to ingratiate herself with you.)
It is Wallace who brings the conversation back around to the possibility of their rekindling a romantic relationship, but it's quite clear from the get-go that Kirk's just not having it:
WALLACE: When I married Theodore Wallace, I thought I was over you. I was wrong.
KIRK: When did you realize that? Today?
KIRK: How much older was your husband than you?
WALLACE: What difference does that make?
KIRK: Answer me.
WALLACE: Twenty-six years.
KIRK: That's quite a difference.
WALLACE: Jim, he was a brilliant man. We were stationed on a lonely outpost. We were working together. I don't want to talk about him. I want to talk about us.
KIRK: Look at me. Look at me. What do you see?
WALLACE: I see Captain James Kirk, a man of morality, decency, handsome and strong.
KIRK: And old. And rapidly growing older.
WALLACE: Jim, please.
KIRK: What are you offering me, Jan? Love, or a going away present?
He recognizes that there's a good chance that Wallace has stepped up her campaign to get him back because she has a thing for older men. Kirk wants to be loved for who he is, dammit, not because of his age. The Kirk that is known in pop culture would have no problem being desired by a woman for any reason, and definitely would have jumped at the chance for a "going away present." But what does Kirk do in reality? Oh, that's right--he walks away after a very assertive dismissal of Wallace's advances.
--Briefly, can anyone explain to me what the devil Wallace is doing in the briefing room during the hearing? Everyone else is there for a specific purpose, to testify as to Kirk's unfitness for command. McCoy is forced to take a break from his research on the virus in order to give his medical opinion of Kirk's condition; however, there is no reason that Wallace could not be using this time to continue with her own research--after all, she doesn't even say one word for the entire scene.
One might say that she's there for moral support for Kirk, but based on their interactions so far, it seems to me that Kirk would want to get as far away from her as possible, so that's right out. Maybe she thinks she's there for moral support; however, my feelings? Whether unconsciously or not, she's there looking for a weakness, for an opportunity to catch Kirk when his defenses are down so that she can sneak in and latch on to him. You might say I'm going too far, but,
she follows Spock to Kirk's room, again for no reason. She just hangs back, observing what should have been a private conversation between Kirk and Spock, not even making her presence known to Kirk, bloody stalker that she is.
After Kirk has run Spock off and been subsequently surprised once again by Wallace's appearance, he turns to her as a person of long acquaintance, because he wants confirmation from someone who his addled mind doesn't perceive as having just betrayed him if he really is getting old. Again, Kirk makes no attempt at any kind of romantic interaction and again interposes physical distance between the two of them.
--K/S Sidenote: What does make me feel better about this scene in Kirk's quarters is how Wallace behaves after witnessing Kirk and Spock's heartbreaking conversation.
First, let's assume I'm right that Wallace is looking for a chance to sneak under Kirk's defenses and that's why she followed Spock to Kirk's quarters (stroking my own ego? What?). Well then, hasn't she just been presented with an absolutely fabulous opportunity? Kirk's feeling abandoned and betrayed by those people closest to him--this is a perfect chance to be "the old friend," to get Kirk to depend on her and start to crave her presence as a stabilizing influence. But instead of pressing this advantage, Wallace cannot wait to get the hell out of Dodge. Kirk's really only just become aware of her presence, but seems willing to open up more than previously in the episode, and what does Wallace say?
WALLACE: Oh, Jim, will you forgive me? I have work to do.
Hmm, well that's pretty darn interesting, don't you think? Is it possible that she just saw something in the last few minutes that made her think that there was absolutely no way she was ever going to get anywhere with Kirk, and that's why she's trying to hare off? Hm. Wonder what that something could be.
Okay, yeah, maybe she's finally had an attack of conscience after seeing Kirk blow up at Spock and evidence signs of senility that makes her feel the need (finally) to get back to her research, but considering her behavior throughout the episode, I hope you'll understand that I'm not particularly predisposed to think anything nice about this woman.
--At the end of the episode, Kirk turns over the conn to Sulu, ostensibly to go talk to Wallace, who's just come on the bridge. Considering their interaction over the course of the episode, I think we can all agree that Kirk's not planning to take her back to his quarters to help him with his "captain's log."
More likely, given how much Kirk frowns on allowing oneself to become emotionally compromised and allowing it to interfere with duty, Kirk recognizes that there is quite a bit he needs to clear up with Wallace, lingering emotional hurt he might not have even realized was still present, things he needs to get straight in his head so that they do not have even the capability to affect him in the future. Seeing how Wallace behaved in regard to him--a textbook case of allowing personal feeling to interfere with duty--would only intensify his desire to put his own emotions to rest.
Speaking of emotional compromise, that's another reason that Kirk would not consider hooking back up with Wallace. As often as he chastises his own crew, and himself, for allowing emotions to interfere with duty, that kind of behavior would likely be a huge turn-off in a potential partner.
--I'm actually really glad this episode is over. Don't get me wrong, I still love the ep, but this woman riles me unto no end. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I think this woman, at least for me, is the least likable non-villain female of the series. And I'm including Nancy Hedford. And Helen Noel. Yeah.