Saavik and Kirk take a trip in the turbolift
As Saavik, Kirstie Alley was nothing if not tenacious.
When she finds herself sharing a turbolift with Admiral Kirk, she makes a point of asking him how he dealt with the Kobayashi Maru scenario—a question to which Kirk will not give her a direct answer until much later in the film, in the Genesis Cave.
Kirstie Alley and William Shatner make this scene a beautiful bit of give-and-take. Shatner plays Kirk as clearly uncomfortable in the presence of this talented, ambitious, and, yes, beautiful young officer asking him for advice. Her questions about his experience as a young man are making him feel his age even more keenly. His attempts at joviality fall flat, and he knows it.
For her part, Alley plays Saavik as respectful of Kirk, but not to the point of considering him any kind of living legend. As she told Spock soon after Kirk boarded, Kirk is never what she expects—he is “so human.” And she is not reluctant to let that puzzlement show. Her confusion about not only the concept of humor (presaging Data’s wrestling with the same subject in Star Trek: The Next Generation) but also Kirk himself are clear.
The video above is an alternate version of the scene, first included in ABC’s television broadcasts of Star Trek II. Some viewers suggest Kirstie Alley plays this scene more flirtatiously here than in the theatrical version.
I remember some writer in one of the old Best of Trek books describing Saavik’s looks at Kirk here as “come hither.” I don’t agree with that interpretation. I think the writer was perhaps wishing Kirstie Alley was casting “come hither” looks at them!
Kirstie Alley gives no indication Saavik is romantically attracted to Kirk. But she is attracted to him as an enigmatic representative of humanity—and Alley communicates something of Saavik’s own enigmatic qualities in both versions of the turbolift scene.
Kirstie Alley had a long and remarkable career. As Star Trek fans we are fortunate that it began, in earnest, with her sole but shining appearance in our favorite franchise.
What about Kirstie Alley as Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan do you remember most? Let us know in the comments!