As voted for on Twitter by followers, I will be analysing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan scene by scene in this multi-part exploration of Nicholas Meyer’s 1982 sequel…
Across the entirety of The Wrath of Khan, we are reminded that James T. Kirk is facing his own mortality, coming to terms with his own youthful, exuberant past as a ‘galaxy-hopping’ Starfleet Captain, but this is never more apparent than when he is in a room with Carol and David Marcus.
Star Trek Generations might attempt to convince us that the unseen Antonia was the one who got away for Kirk, once he is reliving happy memories in the Nexus, and we know there is a quadrant full of old flames who have different levels of meaning for Kirk—few would doubt that he did fall in love with Edith Keeler in City on the Edge of Forever for example—but as far as we know, Kirk only ever had one child, and that was with Carol. Star Trek Into Darkness, flawed as it might be, revives Carol for a new generation and understands the resonance of Bibi Besch’s character who, it must be pointed out, is no throwback to the 1960’s. She was a Meyer creation and one of numerous, brave steps the writer-director took in exploring Kirk’s middle age. Of course he would have fathered a child at some point, given the amount of conquests he had! Indeed it’s probable that David wasn’t the only one, with Kirk maybe unaware of others.
With the challenge of age, the loss of youth, comes also the challenge of continued masculine virility, and this is made clear as Kirk’s first, violent encounter on the Regula moon is with a defensive David, not realising at first who he is. “Of course he didn’t!” is Carol’s immediate remark when David suggests Kirk was responsible for all of the murdered scientists on Regula 1. She may not have seen the Admiral for years but she knows Jim Kirk. She is the wife he never married. They are the family Kirk avoided.
They now represent the life he sundered to *be* James T. Kirk and if regaining his youth forces him to examine his own past, Carol and David represent a key marker on that journey of rebirth.