How can you tell if someone is "madly in love" with a person? What are the signs that, specifically, Captain Kirk is "madly in love" with a person?
We can produce a very specific answer to this question, that is solidly canon-based. Remember this scene from Dagger Of The Mind?
In the scene above, Kirk is helpless in the thrall of a mindbending device and his tormentor, Dr. Adams, is planting a false suggestion in Kirk's unwilling mind. Dr. Helen Noel is being held against her will by Adams' goon in the background.
Dr. Adams (to Kirk): "You're madly in love with Helen, Captain. You'd lie, cheat, steal for her... sacrifice your career, your reputation. For years you've loved her, Captain."
Kirk (hypnotized): "For years, I've loved you."
Adams: "You must continue to remember that, Captain."
In Dagger Of The Mind, Kirk is hypnotized into believing that he is madly in love with Helen Noel. Dr. Noel (it is shown) actually would like for Kirk to be truly in love with her, since she pretty clearly has the hots for him, but she is horrified at the mind-altered Kirk's mechanically-induced ardor, and she firmly reminds Kirk more than once as the story progresses that his desire for her is phony.
The truth about their relationship is that Kirk maybe likes her a little bit, but that's as far as it goes, and it's also as far as it probably ever would go. We are shown that Noel cherishes erotic fantasies about Kirk, but the feelings are definitely not mutual, and, early in the episode, Kirk makes that completely clear.
We never see Helen Noel, nor hear of her, again. Like all of Kirk's other female "love interests", she proves to be a trivial character, and is completely disposable.
No matter how much Kirk "loves" any woman, she's always completely out of the picture at episode's end. No matter how many times Kirk "desires" a woman character, the connection is always fleeting and superficial. Most of the time, when Kirk "loves" a woman, the love is obviously perfectly false. Either the woman herself is false (not really a woman:android, alien-in-human-form, phantasm) or Kirk's feelings for her are quite explicitly false (he's obviously pretending - either willfully, or because he is forced - or he has amnesia, is drugged/mechanically mind-altered), and usually, it's both. For example, in The Paradise Syndrome, Kirk "loved" his wife Priestess Miramanee, BUT he had amnesia, AND he was required to marry her by tribal law. Not only didn't he really have a choice, but he wouldn't have had the wits to choose wisely even if he had been given a choice. Plus, like any of Kirk's minor lady-loves, she was disposed of (in her case, dead) by episode's end.
The one notable exception is Edith Keeler (City On The Edge Of Forever). Kirk's infatuation for her is not forced in any way, and seems sincere. She actually is a real woman, too. However, Kirk most emphatically never lied, cheated, stole, nor sacrificed his reputation and career for her. No. The only thing he sacrificed was her. He admitted to Mr. Spock (interestingly, NOT to her) that he was "in love" with her, but how did he prove his love? He didn't prove his love for her. He failed to prove his love for her. In that episode, all he proved with his actions is that her life, and his "love" for her, were not the most important things to him. Something/someone else was more important, as usual.
Something/someone else is ALWAYS more important to Kirk. Let's see if we can figure out what/who that is.
Well, let's see... has Kirk ever actually lied, cheated, stolen for anybody? Has Kirk ever risked his reputation and his career for anybody? Has Kirk ever proven that he is madly in love with anybody, judging by the criteria that Dr. Adams outlined?
Boy, THAT really narrows it down, doesn't it!? Well, let's see... hmm. I can't think of any woman that Kirk did all these things for, can you? If you can, please name the woman, the episode/movie where she appeared, and detail the specifics of the case.
Can't think of one? Well, neither can I.
Well, gee, does Kirk ever do all those things for any thing/person? Yes, of course he does. We have been shown, quite dramatically, in a big way, more than once, that Kirk can/does love to that extent.
When? Well, in Amok Time, and in Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock.
1) Amok Time - To save Spock's life, Kirk keeps a big fat secret from his superiors (lies), takes the ship in a direction that he is forbidden to take it (steals), and explicitly risks his reputation, career ~and his life~ for Spock's sake.
BTW, this is the episode where Spock returns home to mate, but instead he dumps his would be bride, and returns to the ship. When he sees Kirk there, alive and well, he greets Kirk ecstatically (and Kirk eats it up), acts more wildly emotional over Kirk than he did over T'Pring (which McCoy comments on) - then Spock and Kirk run off together at the end.
2) ST3: Search For Spock - To restore Spock's katra to his body, and thereby save Spock's life (in other words, AGAIN for Spock's sake), Kirk steals the Enterprise, risks his reputation, his career, and his life, etc. etc. He even is willing to sacrifice the ship, for Spock, and we all know that's saying a lot. Kirk even loses his son in the process, which is very painful for Jim, but at the end all the trouble and loss and pain seems worth it, because Spock is successfully restored to full life. Plus, God bless him, he remembers Jim's name. He is not fully himself yet, he doesn't remember much of anything else, but by GOD he remembers Jim's name.
BTW, this is the movie where, in an early voiceover, Kirk says he feels that he left his "more noble half" (in other words, his better half!) on Genesis. This is also the movie where Kirk says to his superior officer that he considers Spock's immortal soul to be his responsibility as much as his own is. This is also the movie where Sarek shows up unexpectedly at Kirk's quarters and seems to just assume that Kirk is the one who must be carrying Spock's katra, apparently because he knows, as well as anyone else seems to know, that Kirk and Spock were TIGHT LIKE THAT.
But that's not all we have. We also have...
Which, face it, is more episodes and more demonstrations than either of them ever gave to any woman. But that ain't all! Heck yes, there's more. Much more.
The whole movie Star trek 3 is about the fact that the only ship Kirk really cares about is his relationship with Spock, but the entire original Star Trek series generally makes that point and demonstrates it again and again. That point is never challenged in any way by any of the original cast movies that followed - in fact they only added fuel to the fire by adding more K/S tidbits, while never once pretending to give either of the guys a serious female love interest.
In the new Star Trek movie, we are shown a rebooted Star Trek universe which is explicitly an alternate timeline universe, and nothing that happens there reflects at all on all of the Trek that went before. They cooked up a red-hot affair between Spock and Uhura, as if to try at this late stage to prove him to be firmly heterosexual - but in the same movie they felt the need to show older Spock warning his younger self to not miss his chance to build a relationship with Kirk - which is what you would expect Spock to do, if it's the same old Spock we know.
In the new Star Trek movie, we are also offered this tantalizing and utterly classic Kirkian moment:
Uhura (to Kirk): "For a moment there I thought you were just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals."
Kirk (puckishly): "Well, not ONLY..."
It's made clear enough that this reboot-Kirk isn't a completely re-visioned Kirk. As usual, he doesn't manage to establish a relationship with any woman, and instead spends the majority of his time bedeviling Spock. And it works. Spock is clearly, unequivocally, totally successfully bedeviled.
Back to Adams' criteria: who in all of the Star Trek universe, did Kirk *actually* love for years? FOR YEARS, through thick and thin? We all know the answer to that one, don't we? We all know who Kirk really would lie, cheat, steal for, and sacrifice his career/reputation for AND whom Kirk actually loved for years, yes? Spock.
Isn't it just too perfect that the feeling is 100% obviously, explicitly mutual? Spock is clearly crazy about Kirk, too.
Kirk and Spock's relationship with each other is the primary love relationship for both of them. It spans decades, endures terrible trials, and defies even death. It's love. MAD LOVE, baby. Kirk and Spock are madly in love with each other, and yes, it's canon.
But didn't Roddenberry deny that any of that was in there? What if he did? But no...
<< We [the interviewers] tell Gene [Roddenberry] something of our recent interview with Bill [Shatner] and Leonard [Nimoy] - touching on the Kirk-Spock relationship, and Nimoy's feeling that Kirk was essential to Spock's life:
"I know you've told us you designed that relationship as 'Two halves which come together to make a whole'. Is that how you still see it?"
[Roddenberry]: "Oh yes. As I've said, I definitely designed it as a love relationship. I think that's what we're all about - love, the effort to reach out to each other. I think that's a lovely thing. Also, dramatically, I designed Kirk and Spock to complete each other - and in fact, the Kirk, Spock McCoy triad to be the dramatic embodiment of the parts of one person: logic, emotion, and the balance between them. You cannot have an internal monologue on the screen, so that is a way of personifying it, getting it out where it can be seen - that internal debate which we all have within. AND I designed Kirk and Spock, as I told you, as dream images of myself, the two halves. But in terms of the characters, yes. That closeness... absolutely.">>
There is also this:
<<"There's a great deal of writing in the Star Trek movement which compares the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion* to the relationship between Kirk and Spock - focusing on the closeness of the friendship, the feeling that they would die for one another..."
[Roddenberry]: "Yes, there's certainly some of that - certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal - we never suggested in the series - physical love between the two. But it's the - we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century.>>
[From: Shatner: Where No Man...: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner (Chapter 7 - Page 145, 147-8)]
... he didn't.
If Roddenberry didn't deny it, we shouldn't, either. Besides, you don't need a confession if you have enough evidence.
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