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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Sam Kirk Creates A Kelvin Timeline Parallel

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds draws an unexpected parallel between Samuel Kirk and his counterpart in the Kelvin timeline. It’s Kirk, but not as we know it in Star Trek. While audiences were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk, Strange New Worlds sneaked Dean Jeannotte’s Samuel Kirk into its series premiere. Older brother to James, Sam Kirk made but a single canon appearance in Star Trek: The Original Series… and was already dead. Played by a very still William Shatner wearing a fake mistake, Sam Kirk is largely an enigma within Star Trek lore, but serving as a lieutenant and life sciences officer aboard Captain Pike’s Enterprise is peeling back those layers.

Sam Kirk makes a very brief appearance in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 6 – “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach.” As Cadet Uhura enjoys a few moments of peace from La’an Noonien Singh’s security training, Sam Kirk approaches her mess hall table and offers a few sympathetic words, uttering, “Tell her from me you deserve a full hour.” When La’an creeps out from the shadows and suggests Sam tell her himself, Lieutenant Kirk admits, “I would but I’m… er, conflict-averse.” Though the comment is spoken with a smile, it cements how Strange New Worlds has portrayed Lieutenant Kirk thus far – a reserved and mild-mannered scientist who typically avoids confrontation. Sam is, without question, the polar opposite to his more famous brother.

Because Sam Kirk’s single previous canon appearance came posthumously, Star Trek never established his persona or characterization before Strange New Worlds… but Dean Jeannotte’s character isn’t entirely without precedent. The idea of him habitually avoiding interpersonal conflict pulls directly from the Kelvin timeline. J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot featured flashbacks to James T. Kirk in his youth, and initially planned to feature Sam (played by Spencer Daniels) alongside the fresh-faced future hero. Both Kirk kids would’ve been raised by their abusive Uncle Frank, but Sam runs away from home, leaving an angry Jim all alone. This sub-plot was ultimately excised from Star Trek’s final cut, but continued in the Kelvin timeline comic tie-in, Star Trek: Ongoing. In a retelling of Sam Kirk’s death from The Original Series, the two brothers made amends as adults.

Samuel Kirk Strange New Worlds
Even though Sam Kirk’s role didn’t make the finished movie, and despite having no other canon to draw from, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds describing Sam Kirk as “conflict-averse” continues the Kelvin timeline’s depiction of a quieter older brother who ran from conflict and struggle when Jim would inevitably tackle confrontation head-on, probably grinning from ear-to-ear. Because the timeline remains unaltered in Strange New Worlds, George Kirk (the boys’ father) was never killed by a time-traveling Nero, so sibling strife under Uncle Frank’s roof never happened in Prime continuity. Perhaps this is why Sam Kirk can joke about his habit of avoiding conflict with Uhura and La’an, whereas the Kelvin timeline version likely would’ve felt guilty and frustrated at himself for not helping young Jim.

Star Trek viewers will be curious to see if Paul Wesley’s James T. Kirk meets Dean Jeannotte’s Samuel Kirk in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Prime timeline continuity established that Sam waved his brother goodbye when the Enterprise began its five-year mission under Captain Kirk, so Strange New Worlds has an open invitation to show these brothers meaningfully (i.e. while both are alive) interact for the very first time. Should the super Kirk bros come together in live-action, their stark difference in personalities will inevitably become even more obvious. After all, there’s only one way Jim would ever respond to a mess hall challenge from a Noonien Singh: “LAAAAAAA’AN.”

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