Love is in the air, or at least that's what the greeting card and chocolate manufacturers are telling me.
This week marks Valentine's Day, derived from the 3rd century legend of St. Valentinus. He was a Roman imprisoned for performing illegal wedding ceremonies among soldiers and among Christians. He was said to have healed the daughter of his jailer and, before his execution on February 14th, wrote her a note signed “from your Valentine.”
It's a story that's spanned time and, while the specifics of it are never mentioned in the 23rd or 24th centuries, the connotations of true love we now associate with Valentine's Day certainly are. For a show ostensibly about photon torpedoes and warp drive, there's an awful lot of swooning and smooching on Star Trek.
As we ready for this year's Valentine's Day, instead of being smart and making reservations, I've decided to list the ten best Star Trek romances. More so than with most lists, I'll reiterate that this is MY opinion. Nothing riles people up like affairs of the heart, so when your pick is invariably in the wrong spot (or off the list entirely – sorry Trip Tucker and T'Pol) remember that you can shoot your Cupid-free arrows in the comments below.
10 – B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris
It took me a while to fall in love with these two falling in love. But when they were floating in the inky blackness of space with only the tiniest bit of oxygen at the end of season four's “Day of Honor,” one couldn't reject their affections any longer. The tough as brass B'Elanna and the former outlaw Paris inspired a (dare-I-say) sweetness in one another that made for one of the more charming, long-lasting relationships in all of Trek-dom.
9 – Chief O'Brien and Keiko
For true, realistic interstellar domesticity, look to the O'Briens. While never reaching the point of a mumbled “yes, dear,” the familiarity between the Chief and Keiko was a brilliant move for adding late 20th century normalcy into the far-out sci-fi of some of DS9's arcs. The parents of Molly and Kirayoshi lent a nice touch of, “gee, how would I react?” to the complex struggles of the Dominion War. Of course, Keiko is no mere housefrau. While she certainly got less screen time, her work as an educator and botanist were also crucial to adding depth to the vast social structure of the station.
8- Spock and Leila Kalomi
One might argue that this isn't a true romance, as Spock would have never opened his heart were he not shot in the face with Berthold ray-enriched spores from Ceti Omicron III. To that I say. . . yes, that's just what Spock wants you to think! Like a teen who uses one sip of light beer as an excuse to act destructive, Spock's emotions were unleashed and fell into the arms of the lovely Leila Kalomi. It is a heartwarming time but, of course, it could not last. It does provide Star Trek fans with one of the strangest moments in the entire franchise, the simultaneously devastating and hilarious moment when Spock tells her that, yes, he has another name, but she couldn't pronounce it.
7 – Captain Kirk and Edith Keeler
It's the most famous romance in Star Trek and you are horrified that it only ranks at number 7. But before you set your phasers to kill, let me make this case. It isn't so much the romance itself that sticks with us, it is the way Captain Kirk gave it up that resonates. As I have written about numerous times in other “One Trek Mind” columns, the moment that Kirk prevents McCoy from saving Keeler (and Spock's dirge-like refrain “He knows, Doctor. He knows,”) is, without question, the emotional high point of the series. For me, it resonates because it is a moment a shared among our three characters, it isn't actually so much about Keeler. Nevertheless, Kirk and Keeler look cute in their rust pea coat and crocheted cap on their evening date – even if it is doomed.
6 – Captain Picard and Vash
Stentorian. Cerebral. Sexy? Yes, friends, Jean-Luc Picard may appear to be all business, but his heart beats like any other man's. In a stroke of true genius, our most classical and by-the-book Captain was paired up with a feisty rogue in the Han Solo mold. While Vash only appeared in two TNG episodes (and one DS9) she left an indelible mark on our perception of the Enterprise-D's captain, opening a window onto his lust for adventure.
5 – Quark and Latinum
If your mushy romance doesn't come with a price tag, the proprietor of Deep Space Nine's bar, restaurant, casino and hot sheet holosuites has little use for it. While the emphasis placed on profit in Ferengi culture is often played for a joke, a man with real lobes is laughing all the way to the Divine Treasury. Quark's dedication to latinum (particularly gold-pressed latinum) expresses a fealty to a culture that may seem different from our own, but, if IDIC is to be believed, is no less valid than our own. Now, what would you like to trade for some high-grade vats of yamok sauce.
4 – Jadzia Dax and Worf
Is there a mate worthy of the mighty Son of Mogh? Surely it would take a few generations of experience to understand his unique upbringing, that of a Sto-vo-kor destined warrior weaned on prune juice. The Dax symbiote placed in the shapely frame of Jadzia is Trill enough to thrill our bold Klingon – scientifically minded, yet fierce and powerful. Their courtship and marriage didn't just leave broken hearts elsewhere in the quadrant, but broken ribs following their more intimate moments.
3 – Captain Picard and Nella Daren
Captain Picard gets two mentions on the list? Yes he does, dammit, because he's given us so much! After breaking it off with Vash and having his very heart ground into stardust following the events of “The Inner Light,” romance warped into the Captain's life in the episode “Lessons.” The new Stellar Sciences department head shared a passion for music and the two duet-ed on more than just the flute and keyboard. The challenges of running a starship and maintaining a relationship with an underling proved too difficult, and both parties' loyalty to Starfleet left audience members asking their replicators for a box of Kleenex.
2 – Will Riker and Deanna Troi
One word: “Imzadi.” The love of Riker and Troi's is another that has the ring of truth to it. It took a long, long time for them to get married, though they remained the best of friends as they watched (and even advised) one another try out other romantic entanglements. When we first met the two, they were former lovers trying to remain professional on assignment, but we knew, just as matter and antimatter shouldn't mix, that they'd eventually wind up together. Along the way they ate chocolate and played the trombone, soldering their relationship into one that can withstand intense phaser fire. Will and Deanna, your bonds will last through this Multiverse and the next.
1 – Kirk and The Enterprise
The common perception of James T. Kirk is him flying around space with a green-skinned lover in every port. While he certainly had his dalliances (and his heart broken – see above) we'll let his remark to Dr. McCoy from TOS's first season episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” have the final word on the matter.
“I've already got a female to worry about. Her name's the Enterprise.”
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.