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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Flips A Switch On Kirk's Heartbreaking Backstory

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Flips A Switch On Kirk's Heartbreaking Backstory

Kirk doesn’t call the off-screen Carol by her full name, but it’s safe to assume it’s Dr. Carol Marcus. 

The dialogue in “Star Trek II” between Kirk and Dr. Marcus is full of quiet animosity, but an attempted understanding. Both characters are wholly devoted to their careers, and although they had a child together, they agreed — at some point in the past — to stay apart. David grew up resenting Kirk, seeing him as a violent military man that he wanted nothing to do with. The sudden introduction of an estranged son and abandoned lover reflected poorly on Kirk, but also lent important thematic underpinnings to “Star Trek II.” The film is largely about getting older and facing the consequences of one’s actions. Kirk is middle-aged and no longer has the luxury of galavanting away from his problems under the auspices of his career. Having a son indicates that he finally needs to take responsibility for things. “Star Trek II” implies that Kirk, as a younger man, was reckless and blasé. 

At best, Kirk was someone who had to leave behind a pregnant girlfriend under a mutual understanding. At worst, he knowledgeably ignored Dr. Marcus and absquatulated with his career intact. 

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” is set just a few years before the events of the original “Star Trek” series, and, given David’s age in “Star Trek II,” it syncs up that Kirk would be fathering his son at about this time. “Subspace Rhapsody” seems to reclaim Kirk’s caddish reputation, staging him as a man who would happily stay with Dr. Marcus and raise their child, but also that his relationships can be fraught and complicated. He is not a wild sexual cowboy as his popular reputation might suggest.

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