One of my favourite episodes when it comes to K/S is “And the Children shall lead”, S3E4. The episode is pretty famous because of the turbolift scene above, which is something we really need to talk about.
KIRK: I’m losing command. I’m losing the Enterprise. The ship is sailing on and on. I’m alone. Alone. Alone. I’m losing command. SPOCK: Captain. KIRK: I’ve lost command. I’ve lost the Enterprise. SPOCK: Jim. KIRK: I’ve got command. I’ve got command. I’ve got command. SPOCK: Correct, Captain.
The most heartbreaking thing here is probably that Jim believes he’d be alone in the universe as soon as he loses his command, which tells us a lot about his character development throughout the series. When people flirt with him he usually shuts them down with the knockout argument that the Enterprise is his only mistress. And it’s true that he lacks a social life because of his demanding post.
But it’s quite telling that he thinks no one will stand by his side as soon as he loses his title or his ship.
Spock who recognized Jim’s rapidly approaching panic-attack and pulled him into the privacy of the turbolift in the first place.
Spock, who tries again and again to pull Jim back, to calm him down. He calls him captain over and over to remind Jim that the panic-attack is unfounded, that the aliens on the ship induce them in everyone except Spock himself (the lucky Vulcan). But Jim continues to panic, Spock seems unable to reach him in this state.
And than Spock calls him “Jim”, something he usually only does when he is emotionally compromised or feels especially affectionate towards Jim. And it works like a charm.
Being reminded that Spock is more than his first officer, that Spock is his friend is what pulls Jim finally out of his state of panic. Because, as it is evident in Star Trek III later, Jim loves his ship and his command, but more than that he values Spock in whatever capacity one chooses to interpret their relationship. And he knows he is not alone as long as Spock stands by his side. For all his ship and his job can give him they can do nothing to take away his greatest fear: dying alone.
But Spock is there with him and he can.
And there’s even more in this episode worthy of addressing. Because after they left the turbolift and tried to fix engineering there is this little scene that wouldn’t be remarkable (apart from Spock voluntarily touching Jim to reassure him) if it weren’t for the lighting. Directing a TV-show is a very delicate affair, especially when the budget is as limited as it was in TOS. So to get great effect one has to use whatever is at hand. In this case: the lighting of the scene. I absolutely refuse to believe that the shadows of Jim and Spock move the way they do by happenstance.
There is a connection between our two heroes that is in it’s very essence something hidden, something subtle. Something one needs to take a closer look at to see. Shadows have ever since been used as tools to show hidden agendas, desires (there are quite a few disney moves that come to mind, just as an example) and, yes, also feelings.
This episode is in the third season, Jim and Spock already survived Spock’s pon farr, they traveled back in time together, they were both accused of mutiny and treason, they risked their lives countless times for each other up to the point of endangering the entire crew for each other and they made it this far.
Bones already spoke with Jim about his “affection for Spock” (Operation Annihilate) and the good doctor witnessed Spock basically admitting a “genuine, warm, decent feeling” (Bread and Circuses) for their captain. And now THIS^ happens and I’m supposed to believe that it’s an accident? I don’t think so.