Captain Kirk’s Kisses – Part One
by Joseph Avery-North
“Kirk had quite the reputation as a ladies man.”
– Captain Sisko
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S5E06 Trials and Tribble-ations
Captain James T. Kirk is an iconic sci-fi character from the pop culture phenomena, Star Trek, but somewhere along the way the lines between character and caricature became blurred. Most non-fans, and even some actual fans, have an inaccurate impression of the character. The misconception has even been played for laughs in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the above quoted DS9 episode.
A variety of websites dedicated to film and television in general, or Star Trek in particular, perpetuate the myth, sometimes satirically, sometimes with an earnest ignorance. MeTV even compiled a video of the women Kirk kissed in TOS (although their choice of title and subtitle lead me to believe their staff were having a laugh).
Some call Kirk a womanizer, some call him a ladies man. Let’s see what we can see… And since Kirk kissed so many women we’re going to break this article into three parts, one for each season.
Captain Kirk’s Kisses in Season One
Star Trek S1E07 – What Are Little Girls Made Of?
One of the things Captain Kirk is famous for is getting computers to destroy themselves with an overload of illogical emotion and that’s on display here. Andrea is an android. In this episode, the Enterprise finds the missing expedition of Nurse Chapel’s ex-fiance, Dr. Korby. Kirk and Chapel are taken hostage and two redshirts are killed because, well, Korby is now an android and wants everyone else to be an android too.
Korby, while demonstrating the android empire he wants to create, orders Andrea to kiss Kirk. Then slap him. BDSM sex robots in space is Korby’s thing. Kirk later overloads Andrea’s programming with more kissing in an effort to escape. There’s no romance, no passion. It’s purely a tactic to save the day.
Star Trek S1E09 – Dagger of the Mind
The Enterprise is delivering supplies to penal colony for the criminally insane and it turns out the director of the facility is experimenting on the inmates with a mind control device. And his purpose isn’t for therapy. When Kirk goes down to investigate, he takes Helen Noel, a Starfleet psychiatrist.
When Kirk and Noel test the device, she puts the suggestion into Kirk’s mind that the two of them had a thing going on and Kirk wants her. There’s no romance or passion here, the ship’s shrink messed with Kirk’s mind brain! If anything, our hero is a victim and Helen should be facing a court martial for serious ethics violations. Oh and the bad guy caught Noel putting unprofessional thoughts in Kirk’s mind and took it one further, telling Kirk he couldn’t live without her. Kirk was victimised twice here.
Star Trek S1E13 – The Conscience of the King
Kirk is contacted by an old friend and we learn some of Kirk’s backstory – as a boy he lived on a colony world where half of the population was butchered by the colony’s governor, who came to be known as Kodos the Executioner. Kodos disappeared and a Shakespearean actor named Karadian appeared and everywhere his troupe goes, witnesses die.
Karidian, who is indeed Kodos, having faked his own death, has a daughter named Lenore. Lenore somehow learned of her daddy’s dark past and has been killing the witnesses. Once again, there’s no romance or passion. The kissing is a tactic in Kirk’s attempt to uncover the truth in the search for justice.
Star Trek S1E20 – Court Martial
Kirk is on trial for negligence causing the death of a crew member. The crew member in question held a grudge against Kirk from years ago, faked his own death and altered the ship’s computer records. Starfleet’s prosecuting attorney just happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Kirk’s, Areel Shaw. She must hold a grudge against our captain too because she doesn’t recuse herself and she recommends an eccentric, incompetent defense attorney who mounts no defense at all. Spock saves our captain because, well… he’s Spock.
When the day has been saved and our captain’s good name cleared Areel tells Kirk she wants to kiss him. And front of his crew at that. It’s more of a “Damn, another loss on my record even though I set you up with the worst defense lawyer I could find but I’m glad your ok and I want to make it look like I’m not holding a grudge – damn Vulcans!” kind of kiss than anything.
Star Trek S1E28 – The City on the Edge of Forever
This episode is widely heralded as the best Star Trek episodes across the entire franchise. Some time wave turbulence in space makes McCoy accidentally inject himself with the risky drug, cordrazine. In high doses it causes psychosis. Bones escapes the ship, goes through a time portal on the planet below and alters Earth’s past. The Nazis win WWII so Kirk and Spock have to go back and set things right.
Back in the 1930s, Kirk falls hopelessly, head over heels, legitimately in love with Edith Keeler, a pacifist and humanitarian whose advocacy delayed America’s entry into the war. To set things right, Kirk has to let the woman he loves die in the automobile accident that McCoy saved her from. While Kirk truly loved the woman there was so little kissing action that it’s not even in the Netflix version (they just have a face to face head tilt) and I’m not about to dig through my closet for my DVD copy. I found a clip online that shows Edith giving Kirk a quick peck. But there’s no save the day seduction tactic here, no lust, no womanizing… It’s pure, chaste, poignant love.
The Season One Tally – Five kisses, one while truly in love, two were tactical moves to save the day and two stemmed from what’s essentially sexual harassment in space from female colleagues with Kirk the victim. Clearly Starfleet’s HR Department needs to update their workplace Policies and Procedures Manuals. 40% of Kirk’s kisses so far have been initiated by colleagues of subordinate rank.
Keep those hailing frequencies open! Part Two is coming tomorrow…