In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the big question is whether James Kirk takes control of the Enterprise out of a sense of duty or a personal desire to resume his life as an explorer. There are solid arguments on both sides.
On one hand, there's nobody we'd rather have defending Earth from an alien space cloud than Captain James Tiberius Kirk. On the other, the sheer volume of macho posturing displayed by Kirk makes us think otherwise.
Either way, Kirk is by no means the only character struggling with a sense of duty in Star Trek, and this dynamic plays an important role in the film.
Questions About Duty
In your opinion, why does Kirk retake control of the Enterprise? Explain your answer.
Does Spock neglect his duty as a Vulcan? Explain.
Is Decker a good leader? Why or why not?
In what ways do Spock and Bones' motivations for rejoining the crew differ? What does this say about their characters?
Chew on This
As proven by his macho posturing towards Decker, Kirk only retakes control of the Enterprise because he misses his ship.
Although Kirk surely prefers to be in charge of the Enterprise than otherwise, he primarily retakes control out of a sense of duty.