Published Sep 25, 2023
Why Sam Kirk is the Best Kirk
Don't @- me; these are the facts.
By Christine Dinh
While many parts of the web debate which iteration of James T. Kirk is the best Kirk, they all fail to recognize the George Kirks of the universe.
First, there's George Kirk, first officer of the U.S.S. Kelvin, under command of Captain Robau. As noted in "Lost in Translation," he holds the distinction of the youngest Starfleet officer to hold the first officer position. And in the Kelvin Timeline, he's no short of a hero. As Captain Pike reminds a young James, "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother's and yours," before challenging him with, "I dare you to do better."
However, we're here to make the case for George Kirk's first son — George Samuel Kirk.
A Memorable Mustache
Sam Kirk's first and only appearance on the Original Series was in "Operation -- Annihilate!" In that appearance, Kirk discovers his brother and Sam's family perished on a Deneva colony. Portrayed by William Shatner, the only distinction between James and Sam was a magnificent mustache.
Over five decades later, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds gives us a far better glimpse of James' older brother (portrayed by Dan Jeannotte), the first Kirk to serve on the U.S.S. Enterprise, under command of Captain Christopher Pike.
Speaking to StarTrek.com earlier this summer, Henry Alonso Myers, series' co-showrunner and executive producer, revealed, "James’ brother was initially just a one-shot of him being dead with a mustache on [in The Original Series]. We never knew anything more about them except some brief things, in some of the books. We wanted to take a moment, ‘Okay, he’s got a brother. What’s their relationship? Why is their relationship like this? What’s it like to be connected to the two of them?’”
His mustache is distinguished and captivating enough that Captain Pike praises him on it.
Close Friends with Christopher Pike
In the series' premiere, Captain Pike is pulled out of his self-imposed exile to command the U.S.S. Enterprise. His crew is complete with the arrival of Lt. George Samuel Kirk, a friend he elected as part of his crew.
Pike's a man who's a good judge of character. And if Sam's the Kirk he wants aboard the Enterprise, then that's reason enough that he's the Alpha Kirk.
Makes Spock More Human
If there's one surefire way to get Spock in touch with his more human side, it's to place him in the room with Sam Kirk.
One source of annoyance for the Vulcan science officer is bearing witness to Sam's crumbs during a sciences briefing. But can we blame the xenoanthropologist for being more preoccupied with the mission at hand rather than his empty plate?
Sam riles him up so much that his outburst prompts the other officers to hold him back as he attempts to lunge at him while firmly threatening, "Don't test me, Kirk! I will break you."
If you're questioning if Spock could really break Sam, just remember Pike's words to Dr. M'Benga in "All Those Who Wander," Sam is "stronger than he looks."
More than His Family Name
Not everyone is interested in the role of command, or following down a set path.
In addition to not using his father's name and going by "Sam," a fact that his younger brother refuses to believe, Sam dived full force into the sciences. "Old-fashioned ideas" about a successful career and fulfilling life, be damned.
When Jim visits him on the Enterprise, he can't help but mention how everything in the world of xenoanthropology is "new and exciting" while they catch up over drinks.
In fact, Sam thrives the most when he's in his research lab. When Uhura and Jim investigate what could be the source of her and a Farragut's officer's mysterious visions, the first person they needed to speak to was the elder Kirk. Deeming it a fringe theory, Sam is completely in his element while explaining the possible behaviors of other species as they attempt to communicate. So much so, he plans to write a paper on their "deuterium friends."
No Thoughts, Just K-Pop Vibes
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Make Your Blood Scream (Garkog's Version)
After the Enterprise's experiences a subspace anomaly that compels everyone to break out in song, Uhura believes she's found an end to the quantum improbability field. In that moment, they've discovered three K’t’inga-class battlecruisers in the area. Hailing the Klingons, they learn that the anomaly's musical effects have reached others outside of just their starship when the Klingons issue a pop-infused threat.
While others on the bridge are perplexed by the scenario, Sam Kirk is vibing, taking in and enjoying the Klingon pop performance. He's clearly a man of exquisite musical tastes.
Studying the Gorn with a Phaser
After one tragic run-in with the Gorn, it'd be understood if you never want to face the aggressive species again. However, that's not the case for the xenoanthropologist.
In "Hegemony," Sam volunteers for a covert mission on Parnassus Beta following a Gorn attack. As the science officer states, he's ready to tackle his fears by “studying” the Gorn — with a phaser.
Unfortunately, Pike's landing party as well as hundreds of survivors on Parnassus Beta were taken and beamed aboard a Gorn destroyer.
Responsible for One of Star Trek's Most Poignant Friendships
Fans eager to discover James T. Kirk and Spock's first meeting got their wish this summer in "Lost in Translation." What was the common ground that sparked one of the greatest friendships in the galaxy? Their mutual frustration with Sam, of course!
In the Enterprise's mess, as James tries to explain Sam's outburst to an amused Uhura, Spock finishes the future captain's thought by simply stating that he's "frustrating." It's this mutual understanding that prompts James to invite Spock to join them at their table.