Lt. George Samuel Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) quits the USS Enterprise before his brother, James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley), becomes Captain of the Enterprise, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ season 1 finale hints as to why. In an alternate future where Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) was never horribly disfigured and remained Captain of the Enterprise, a very different Captain Kirk helped Pike take on a cloaked Romulan Bird-of-Prey. Before the skirmish, Pike turned to Jim’s brother Sam to learn about the Kirk who was Captain of the USS Farragut.
In Star Trek: The Original Series, Sam Kirk no longer serves on the Starship Enterprise when Jim Kirk (William Shatner) is Captain. Sam makes one appearance in the TOS episode, “Operation – Annihilate!,” where the elder, mustachioed Kirk is also played by William Shatner. Unfortunately, Sam was killed by flying alien parasites, and he is already dead when Jim finds his big brother. Strange New Worlds reintroducing Sam Kirk as xenobiologist serving on Pike’s Enterprise was a surprise curveball, but it also hinted at the fact that James T. Kirk was on his way in Strange New Worlds‘ season 1 finale, and in season 2.
Strange New Worlds’ Finale Hints Why Sam Kirk Quits The Enterprise Before TOS
When Captain Pike calls in Lt. Sam Kirk to brief him about Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Farragut in Strange New Worlds‘ finale, Sam throws his little brother under the bus. While the elder Kirk spoke of Jim‘s virtues and called him “smart,” “highly skilled,” and “as fine a Captain as Starfleet has,” Sam also called Jim, “a pain in the ass…”, “a whole deck” of wildcards, and “not above relying on charm, or even luck.” Noting that his little brother “doesn’t like to take the path everyone else does,” and “he doesn’t like to lose,” it’s far from a flattering portrait of Jim Kirk. It didn’t deter Pike, but it does explain why Sam leaves the Enterprise when Kirk takes command.
Sam Kirk’s withering description of Jim in Strange New Worlds‘ season 1 finale may have happened in a now-deleted alternate future, but the elder Kirk’s feelings toward his little brother likely apply to Strange New Worlds‘ present day as well. It’s safe to conjecture that there are lifelong issues between Sam and Jim that have yet to be dramatized by Star Trek. Now that it’s canon that Sam Kirk served on Pike’s Enterprise, it starts to make more sense why he left the ship and Starfleet overall once Jim was promoted to Captain of the flagship of the United Federation of Planets.
Strange New Worlds Can Finally Show Jim & Sam Kirk Teaming Up
Star Trek has never canonically depicted James and Sam Kirk teaming up, but this is something Strange New Worlds season 2 can deliver. Pike took a great interest in Captain Kirk in Strange New Worlds‘ finale, and he might bring the present day’s younger Lt. James T. Kirk to the Enterprise, potentially to groom him toward his destiny as Pike’s replacement as Captain. This might ultimately become a bridge too far for Sam.
Given how Sam apparently feels about Jim, both Kirk brothers together in Strange New Worlds season 2 could result in fireworks. After all, Sam is comfortable on the Enterprise, and Jim is set up as a maverick and a disruptor to the status quo. Serving alongside Jim in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 may give Sam Kirk even more cause to quit when James T. Kirk becomes Captain of the Enterprise.
More: Strange New Worlds’ Finale Explains An Emotional Pike & Spock TOS Moment
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.