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Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old November 20 2011, 03:15 AM   #1
Admiral_Sisko
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"A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

The subject of this thread is, of course, a reference to Spock's observation that Kirk was ill-suited for any position that didn't involve his commanding a starship. And as we've clearly seen in during the course of the films, Kirk is always most comfortable in the captain's chair. Nothing else provides him the same level of enjoyment, fullfillment, or satisfaction.

But the question that has never been clearly answer is why Kirk agreed to a promotion in the first place, something he did not once, but twice (he was technically still an Admiral in TMP, but agreed to give up his position as Chief of Stafleet Operations in order to command the Enterprise). Was he suffering from burn-out? Was he forced into the promotion because Starfleet believed he could be controlled more easily from behind a desk than he could were he on the other side of Federation space? Was it more a case of "the grass is always greener on the other side," and that Kirk didn't realize how much having a command of his own meant to him until he didn't have it anymore?

Kirk's need to command the Enterprise clearly influences his later advice to Picard, and is also alluded to during a conversation between Dax and Sisko, in which Dax comments that she could never imagine her friend being in a position where he wouldn't directly influence a situation.

Thoughts?
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Old November 20 2011, 06:23 AM   #2
Mr Silver
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
But the question that has never been clearly answer is why Kirk agreed to a promotion in the first place, something he did not once, but twice (he was technically still an Admiral in TMP, but agreed to give up his position as Chief of Stafleet Operations in order to command the Enterprise).
The first time round it was probably because he was still relatively young and thinking about career progression. He had just come off from one of the most successful five-year exploration missions in the history of Starfleet and maybe he felt that he couldn't accomplish anymore as a starship captain.

Was he suffering from burn-out? Was he forced into the promotion because Starfleet believed he could be controlled more easily from behind a desk than he could were he on the other side of Federation space? Was it more a case of "the grass is always greener on the other side," and that Kirk didn't realize how much having a command of his own meant to him until he didn't have it anymore?
The second time round is pretty much answered in GEN but first we have to look at what Kirk did between TMP and TWOK. I think the general consensus is that Kirk took the Enteprise on a second five-year mission following the events of TMP but still remained as an Admiral, albeit an inactive one. Following the end of this second mission he took a sabbatical from Starfleet and returned home where he had a romance with a woman named Antonia.

In GEN it's revealed that Kirk couldn't let go of Starfleet and decided to end this relationship in order to return to Starfleet where we have to assume he was given the position of commandant of Starfleet Academy and oversaw the training of new cadets and officers until the events of TWOK. Kirk was unhappy with his desk job, but was going through something of a mid-life crisis and thought that he was too old to return to starship command ("galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young, Doctor"). It's only following his conversations with Spock and McCoy and the events of TWOK that he realises that he's still got what it takes to command a starship.
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Old November 20 2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

there's a novel "the Lost Years," where it's explained as sort of a bait-and-switch, where they offer an admiral job that's NOT driving a desk, but rather more of an active "troubleshooter" sort of position that would let him see some action.

I think the best explanations is the one above, that it was a career move, and he was still young. Plus, with Spock and McCoy basically leaving he didn't have the same incentive to stay.
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Old November 20 2011, 09:45 PM   #4
The Mighty Monkey of Mim
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
(he was technically still an Admiral in TMP, but agreed to give up his position as Chief of Stafleet Operations in order to command the Enterprise)
I know it seems odd, and I don't recall what the behind-the-scenes rationale was for this, but Kirk actually was (temporarily?) reduced in grade to the rank of captain in TMP, just as Decker was reduced to commander. Kirk's sleeve stripes actually change to reflect this, so it wasn't just a case of "we call him Captain because he's in command." If it was just a matter of position, the sleeve stripes wouldn't change.

Admiral M wrote: View Post
I think the general consensus is that Kirk took the Enteprise on a second five-year mission following the events of TMP but still remained as an Admiral, albeit an inactive one.
While I like the idea of Kirk commanding a second five-year mission following TMP, especially since it began as the pilot for a new TV series (though in the original concept of the series Kirk would merely have a recurring role, IIRC) it should be noted there is zero canonical evidence of this.
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Last edited by The Mighty Monkey of Mim; November 20 2011 at 09:56 PM.
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Old November 20 2011, 11:27 PM   #5
A Little Otter
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

I always assumed that after vanquishing V'ger, Kirk returned to his duties as an admiral without a further "promotion." I know there's a lot of talk about a second five-year mission, but there's nothing in the film canon to establish that regardless of what some books may propose.
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Old November 21 2011, 01:27 AM   #6
J.T.B.
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
But the question that has never been clearly answer is why Kirk agreed to a promotion in the first place, something he did not once, but twice (he was technically still an Admiral in TMP, but agreed to give up his position as Chief of Stafleet Operations in order to command the Enterprise). Was he suffering from burn-out? Was he forced into the promotion because Starfleet believed he could be controlled more easily from behind a desk than he could were he on the other side of Federation space? Was it more a case of "the grass is always greener on the other side," and that Kirk didn't realize how much having a command of his own meant to him until he didn't have it anymore?
The real question would be why Kirk wouldn't accept promotion. Explanations other than the real one, the need to keep the same cast/character relationships in the production, aren't particularly good for the character. Kirk not wanting to be promoted is contrary to what we know of his personality. Does James T. Kirk not want further challenges? Does he not want more Starfleet personnel to have the benefit of his experience and judgment? Does he not want to justify the trust his superiors have in him when they select him for a higher command? Does he not want to ascend to the highest pinnacles of his chosen profession?

And the idea that a promotion would mean permanent "desk duty" doesn't really hold water, we've seen many instances of Starfleet flag officers commanding from aboard ship. Even if it did mean some period of "ground" duty, it makes Kirk look selfish that he would only take duty he likes. Not every job can be glamorous, but that doesn't mean they aren't important, and Kirk would seem like a prima donna if he couldn't take the bad with the good.

We're left with the impression that in Starfleet, ship captains are what's important. But their bosses, who cares? Would it have been better for Britain if Nelson had remained captain of Agamemnon forever and not continued on to command fleets?



Justin
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Old November 21 2011, 05:42 AM   #7
Mr Silver
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

The Mighty Monkey of Mim wrote: View Post
it should be noted there is zero canonical evidence of this.
A Little Otter wrote: View Post
there's nothing in the film canon to establish that regardless of what some books may propose.
You are both correct, there isn't, but when canon fails we have to look elsewhere.

Even before the novels speculated about the events between TMP and TWOK, the fanbase were speculating that Kirk commanded another mission based on the amount of time that passed (somewhere in the region of 11 years). As a result, the popular consensus has always been that Kirk returned to command the Enterprise.
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Old November 21 2011, 07:53 PM   #8
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

Also something happens with Spock to make him want to take command of the Enterprise, even if it is only a training ship. However, there is ample time to give him his own five-year mission after Kirk's second. Maybe Sulu is his first officer, which makes his own leap to captain less abrupt?

I like to think it's a something of a quiet time for Starfleet. Things seem pretty relaxed with the Klingons, presumably after the Organians' intervention. There's a permanent Klingon ambassador on Earth, and Kruge talks about their "emissaries negotiating for peace". We don't really know what the Romulans are up to, but they are probably keeping themselves to themselves. By the time of TUC there is a Romulans ambassador who is plotting with Starfleet and Klingon generals, and seems to be privy to secret military plans known only to Starfleet's top brass and the Federation President. This is the time the three governments are working together on Nimbus III, so it doesn't seem like war is imminent by any means.

We also know Kirk quit Starfleet at some point, only to return just before the events of TWOK. Perhaps he felt out of step with the new political direction the Federation was talking, with the marginalisation of Starfleet, and the lack of enemies to fight. There may have been a big curb on the exploration missions too, so as not to threaten the Klingons and Romulans. In this context, someone like Kirk looks like a dinosaur, so it's not surprising he might have sought a different challenge.

When he found things outside Starfleet to be no better, he returned to a desk job at the Academy, where his old friend was in charge of the officer training, and the rest is as we saw on screen. It's not too long before the Klingons start sabre-rattling again, perhaps because the more aggressive elements in the High Council gain control (provoked, doubtless, by the Federation's new secret superweapon), and a new Cold War develops. Between TFF (which takes place within months of TWOK remember) and TUC, relations seem to have reached an all-time low.
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Last edited by Tomalak; November 21 2011 at 08:07 PM.
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Old November 23 2011, 12:09 AM   #9
KeepOnTrekking
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

While I like the idea of Kirk commanding a second five-year mission following TMP, especially since it began as the pilot for a new TV series (though in the original concept of the series Kirk would merely have a recurring role, IIRC) it should be noted there is zero canonical evidence of this.
In ST: GENERATIONS, one of the journalists asks Kirk, "So, Captain, this is the first Starship Enterprise in 30 years without James T. Kirk in command. How do you feel about that?"

I'll fudge a little and presume that Spock's brief time as a training instructor at the Academy and Decker's time before STTMP refitting the Enterprise doesn't count towards the 30 years??

Last edited by KeepOnTrekking; November 23 2011 at 12:19 AM.
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Old November 23 2011, 02:07 AM   #10
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

KeepOnTrekking wrote: View Post
While I like the idea of Kirk commanding a second five-year mission following TMP, especially since it began as the pilot for a new TV series (though in the original concept of the series Kirk would merely have a recurring role, IIRC) it should be noted there is zero canonical evidence of this.
In ST: GENERATIONS, one of the journalists asks Kirk, "So, Captain, this is the first Starship Enterprise in 30 years without James T. Kirk in command. How do you feel about that?"

I'll fudge a little and presume that Spock's brief time as a training instructor at the Academy and Decker's time before STTMP refitting the Enterprise doesn't count towards the 30 years??
It'd make more sense to assume that the reporter (ie the scriptwriter) didn't know what they were talking about. That line makes no sense and is at odds with what was seen in the previous TOS Era Movies.
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Old November 24 2011, 10:26 PM   #11
Valin
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

EliyahuQeoni wrote: View Post
It'd make more sense to assume that the reporter (ie the scriptwriter) didn't know what they were talking about. That line makes no sense and is at odds with what was seen in the previous TOS Era Movies.

Since many reporters nowadays seem to have very little knowledge of history, I wouldn't be surprised that the same lack of knowledge exists in the future.
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Old November 25 2011, 01:29 AM   #12
Harvey
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

I just took that line to mean it's the first ship to bear the Enterprise name in 30 years without Kirk spending time in command of it. Of course, ignorance is also as good an explanation as any.
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Old November 25 2011, 09:57 PM   #13
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

KeepOnTrekking wrote: View Post
While I like the idea of Kirk commanding a second five-year mission following TMP, especially since it began as the pilot for a new TV series (though in the original concept of the series Kirk would merely have a recurring role, IIRC) it should be noted there is zero canonical evidence of this.
In ST: GENERATIONS, one of the journalists asks Kirk, "So, Captain, this is the first Starship Enterprise in 30 years without James T. Kirk in command. How do you feel about that?"

I'll fudge a little and presume that Spock's brief time as a training instructor at the Academy and Decker's time before STTMP refitting the Enterprise doesn't count towards the 30 years??
The hack obviously meant "for the first time in 30 years there is a ship called Enterprise that has not been, and will not be, commanded by James T Kirk". You have to be very bloody-minded and literal to think those thirty years must be continuous!
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Old November 27 2011, 12:55 AM   #14
Therin of Andor
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

sonak wrote: View Post
there's a novel "the Lost Years," where it's explained as sort of a bait-and-switch, where they offer an admiral job that's NOT driving a desk, but rather more of an active "troubleshooter" sort of position that would let him see some action.
Which builds upon scenes in Gene Roddenberry's own novelization of TMP, involving Vice Admiral Lori Ciana (the woman who is seen to die with Sonak in the transporter accident).

Tomalak wrote: View Post
The hack obviously meant "for the first time in 30 years there is a ship called Enterprise that has not been, and will not be, commanded by James T Kirk". You have to be very bloody-minded and literal to think those thirty years must be continuous!
Or that a reporter asks mathematically accurate questions when he's in pursuit of a notable sound byte.
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Old November 27 2011, 01:49 AM   #15
Lord Garth
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Re: "A Mistake For You to Accept Promotion"

I'm going to give the nod to the interviewer who said the Enterprise-B was the first Enterprise in 30 years without Kirk in command; and take the leap of guessing Kirk was the only person in command of the Enterprise when it was on active duty. It seemed significant that someone else was commanding the Enterprise. It wasn't the same thing when the original Enterprise was being refitted or was on training duty.

We don't have a lot to work with but Decker had merged with V'Ger and Spock had just returned to Starfleet and I can't imagine Starfleet giving him is own command right off the bat, especially being primarily in the science division. Someone had to be commanding the refitted Enterprise on active duty. There's no evidence that someone else was commanding the Enterprise after TMP -- it's never hinted at in any of the movies either -- so I would say that Kirk was placed in permanent command after TMP and circumstances changed at some point afterwards.

"Don't [retire], don't let them promote you, don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything to take you away from the bridge of [the Enterprise]."

Let's look at the bolded part: don't let them transfer you. It could have to do with Kirk's being made Chief of Operations before TMP, but that came with the promotion, so it could've referred to a transfer after TMP. This transfer, if it happened afterward, wouldn't have agreed with Kirk, he might've even been forced into it, then resigned.

I think Kirk was considered "damaged goods" before TWOK even started.
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