[NOTE: This character is the only FEMALE Star Fleet officer that we ever saw in a formal "full-dress" uniform. Her version of it is not consistent with the male version, and some fans feel no effort went into making sure she looked correct.]
Kirk greets her very warmly when he first sees her, in Court Martial. They are apparently already acquainted, but it's been more than four and a half years since they last saw each other. Shaw's been counting the days since they last saw each other. Uh oh.
She begins to lecture Kirk about the pending court martial. Kirk tries to change the subject...
Kirk: "Look, let's not talk shop."
Shaw: "Jim, this could ruin you. Will you take some advice?"
Kirk (smiling): "I never could talk you into anything."
[NOTE: I guess that means they never were lovers, yes?]
Kirk (seriously): "All right. Fire away."
Shaw: "[Inside information about the prosecutor's case, etc.] ... your attorney has got to be a good one!"
Kirk (smiling): "You, perhaps?"
[NOTE: Is Kirk smiling because the very idea is a joke? Maybe!]
Shaw: "No. I'm busy."
Oh, she's busy all right. She's the PROSECUTING ATTORNEY IN THE CASE. So why is she having a drink with Jim, giving him inside information about the prosecution's case, and even recommending an attorney for him? Shouldn't she recuse herself, on the grounds that she is obviously BIASED, compromising her own position by tipping her hand, and so on? Can Kirk trust her recommendation for a defending attorney? Who knows!?
It's hard to get a fix on Areel Shaw. On one hand, she's been counting the days since she last saw Kirk, on the other hand, he never could talk her into anything. Maybe she's been nursing a grudge all these years, like Ben Finney obviously had been. Maybe she had been keeping her desire for revenge nice and cold, like Khan had been doing all those years.
Was she trying to help him by being a weak prosecutor? It sure doesn't look like it. Was she trying to make it easier for herself to ruin Kirk by recommending the most lame-ass atty. she knew of for his defender? Maybe!
In any case, she was prosecutor in Captain Kirk's court martial, and it was not the atty. that she recommended that actually saved Kirk's hash. SPOCK was the one who saved Kirk's hash, by proving that the computer made a mistake and/or had been tampered with, and therefore its records couldn't be trusted.
Once Kirk is exonerated and the charges are dropped, Kirk forgives Areel Shaw. I don't. I don't care how you slice it, she was NOT firmly on Jim's side in this episode. She was his opponent. She dismissed him as "My dear old love" before going to work on prosecuting him, which shows that she had already judged him to be guilty in her own mind. She was a shitty, biased, double-dealing attorney, and a shitty two-faced, disloyal ex-friend - who tried to send Kirk up the river. That's why I class her as a villain.
At the end, at her request, Kirk gives her a dry little kiss goodbye. How long from that moment until they meet again? Hopefully, forever!
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