I always wondered about this line.
Because it sounds almost bitter and bitterness is something I was never able to associate with Spock. Sure, he can be angered and he can be pretty stubborn, but he is so gentle and bound to logic that turning bitter just doesn’t seem to be compatible with his nature.
So I was asking myself where did that come from?
Spock is really not broken up about losing T’Pring to another man. He isn’t even mad about her almost getting him killed, because he understand her reasoning. He knows that in order to marry someone she wants and keep her social status she had to divorce him according to the old traditions. So that’s definitely not it.
Could it be that only a short time before he witnessed how it would be like to get something greatly desired…
…and having to live with all the consequences?
I think “City on the Edge of Forever” is the episode Spock realizes what nature his feelings to Jim Kirk are. Maybe it was the close proximity, (I mean they always lived in each other’s pockets an the Enterprise, but here they were even closer…) or maybe it was the fact that Jim let himself fall in love with Edith Keeler. Because it’s when we see something we can not have that we realize how much we want it, isn’t it?
I never understood Jim falling for Edith, not because I don’t like the woman, far be it! She is amazing, a bright and gentle spirit far ahead of her time, although a bit naive… But for Jim to fall in love on a mission, while being trapped in the past and thus coming very near to breaking the Prime Directive on a massive scale is just plain unprofessional.
(Shout-out to plaidshirtjimkirk at this point for writing a beautiful piece of work that got this to MAKE SENSE! The thought of Jim Kirk who, away from his ship and command, would let himself fall for someone who couldn’t exploit him or would want him for prestige and influence is by far the best explanation I read for his behavior here. Because he had nothing and Edith still wanted him.)
Furthermore, Spock’s demeanor throughout the episode is worth noting. I mean what were Nimoy’s instructions for this scene? Did Joseph Pevney go ahead and say: “Hey you know what? Just look as heartbroken as you possibly can, that’ll work!”
Because he does.
Spock is so resigned, almost sad for most of the episode. Just imagine: he had to watch his best friend fall in love knowing how it would end, knowing that although Edith loved Jim back, she would still break his heart. Jim is the one person Spock trusts and he can do absolutely nothing for him. He can’t save him the heartbreak. (An interesting observation here is that later, muuuuch later, into the 5-year-mission when Jim mourns Reyna’s death, Spock DOES intervene. But by that time they have already established a mental rapport so Spock is not afraid of disregarding Jim’s privacy to help him.)
I think after this mission Spock had to acknowledge that Jim Kirk was far more important to him than he previously thought. But he also saw what really letting himself fall for someone did to Jim. Considering all the pain Spock witnessed maybe “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.”, is the lesson he learned from watching what love could do to someone.
It could be the reason he never acted on any eventual feelings. Why possibly ruin a sufficient working relationship and a dearly cherished friendship for a “What if”? Longing for something from afar is a lot safer than actually risking something in order to get it.
After all, where is the logic in heartbreak?