Disagreeing over Kirk's back-story with Dr Helen Noel before the start of Dagger of the Mind, moving it to a new thread so as to not to blow up the other one. Here's where we left off: Oh please. I guess in a completely literal sense, Kirk and Lenore also merely "talked about the stars" in Conscience of the King. Do we have to turn off the part of our brains that reads intent and overtones etc? The dialogue in Conscience is loaded with potential, with implication. It is somewhere between gallantry and seduction – it's flirtation. Lenore is more the aggressor in the interaction, and Kirk is more coy; and they both have ulterior motives, Kirk trying to get information and Lenore setting the stage to get close enough later for the kill. But it's no mere exchange of information about stellar luminosity. So Kirk and Helen "talked about the stars" too, did they? That is extremely suggestive. Dagger of the Mind makes it clear that SOMETHING happened between Kirk and Helen at the Christmas party. The episode also makes it clear that Kirk didn't sweep her off her feet, take her back to his cabin, and have sex with her – that was the false flashback. I'm not confused about that. But when Kirk sits down at the neural neutralizer at 0:34 on Netflix, we have been given tons of innuendo about the science lab Christmas party that Kirk dropped in on. Well, why exactly? Kirk is deft and confident in every normal social gathering we see him in, thruout TOS. He's appropriate, he makes small talk, he essays some gallantries toward the ladies in a way that in the 60s was understood to be social and polite. He's fine. So if *nothing* happened between Kirk & Helen, he has nothing to be uncomfortable about. Yet as you point out he is uncomfortable; clearly and obviously uncomfortable. Therefore something happened. Instead of trying to defend your thesis of Kirk's monk-like inviolability, let's try to look at it from the perspective of a typical viewer from the Mad Men era: McCoy changes gears completely and seems to give a secret smirk to Kirk when Kirk tells him to find a suitable partner for the landing party. (15 mins in on Netflix) Then a significant glance back at Kirk as he leaves the bridge. Kirk is momentarily speechless when he sees Helen in the transporter. Looks like embarrassment. Helen whispers "Don't you remember?" to Kirk. He shushes her. Helen gives us the phrase "Christmas party," also "talked about the stars," and he shushes her some more. Kirk has some words for McCoy before he leaves. When Kirk enters Helen's room that evening at the colony, she's awfully confident that he's there for some other reason than to ask her about the inmates. There is a whole affect between them, a prickly but not unfriendly demeanor, that smacks of screwball comedy. Comfortable and uncomfortable with each other. Kirk's attitude toward her in this sequence, from her quarters to the neutralizer room, is like he's wordlessly saying "I know, you're right, but this isn't the Christmas party, I need you to WORK right now." She finally seems to get it in the neutralizer room; she sobers up and snaps to with the line "I know my profession." All that is before the neutralizer is turned on. How are we expected to interpret those things? "Christmas party" is the biggest hint here. That's when people stereotypically get drunk and the boss nails the secretary. The 60s audience is clearly intended to read it as, there was an indiscretion between these two at the Christmas party: the hints are too broad to be taken any other way. There was something, and Helen thinks he's coming back for more, while Kirk is embarrassed to face her. Kirk's flustered state in the transporter room, and Spock's expression seal it – Nimoy deploys the same near-smirk Spock had for Mudd's Women and when Spock made his terribly inappropriate remark to Janice Rand at the end of Enemy Within. (Do you watch Mad Men? Early in season 4, Don has sex with his secretary after an office Christmas party. Don's subsequent demeanor toward Allison in the office is worth seeing, to compare with Kirk' demeanor toward Helen.) It's really tough to resist this point. It's too obvious, and the script & acting have worked too hard to feed it to us. As to what EXACTLY went down – well there's a huge spectrum between dispassionate explication of stellar nucleosynthesis, and a passionate one-night stand in the captain's quarters. It has always seemed clear to me, and this is just personal interpretation, that Kirk & Helen at least flirted heavily and made out a little. Helen's fake flashback is a rich field for speculation: maybe she regretted not letting Kirk sweep her off her feet. Anyway they did not actually go any farther than that; they kissed seriously, and then perhaps parted at midnight, going their separate ways, back to their quarters alone. That's always been the way I saw it. There is of course one big objection. Kirk hitting on a member of his own crew? That's even more implausible than his actions in Requiem for Methuselah. This is a conflict. The overall series characterization of Kirk is strong evidence that he's far to responsible a commander to initiate a romance with a crew-woman. The dialogue and acting in this episode are strong evidence that he did. How do we resolve this? Is my memory faulty here, or does the James Blish adaptation have more detail to the backstory? Because for decades, from way before I was old enough to have any clear sense of how these things can go in real life, I have had a visualization of the Christmas party; and I don't know where I got it from. In that visualization, the Enterprise is at a Starbase or something when this Christmas party occurs; and the attendees are a mix of crew and base personnel. Kirk hits on a girl who he thinks is base personnel – he thinks Dr Noel is somebody else at the party – and then later is embarrassed to learn that no, the girl he was with is in fact a member of his crew. Or maybe she was transferred on a day or so later; something. Did I completely imagine that, or is there some basis for it in the Blish? There's a lot to like about that scenario. It's consistent with what we see on screen, but it also addresses the objection that Kirk would never be so stupid as to make a pass at a member of his own crew. Because clearly SOMETHING happened between Kirk and Helen at the Christmas party.