Thursday, November 15, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 22 (Space Seed)

I would submit that Khan Noonien Singh is the first true Villain in Star Trek.  Sure, Trelane and Charles Evans were forces to be reckoned with, but the threat was mostly to the ship.  Anton Karidian may have been Kodos The Executioner, but what he did was in the past.  Even the Talosians were trying to rebuild a society.  Khan was the first really evil character that the crew of the Enterprise had to deal with.  It was the first time that there was a threat that extended beyond the ship and had to be stopped immediately.

Khan was a human from the late 20th century who had been selectively bred to be superior.  He and about 70 of his followers set out on a sleeper ship only to be found by Kirk.  Records of that era were sketchy, but it soon comes to light who Khan is.  Khan is bent on taking over the ship.  Once that’s accomplished, he can take over a planet or two.

The episode seems a little silly to me.  Khan’s movements and words seem exaggerated.  The same exaggerated movements are used by Khan’s people when they come out of stasis.  Khan also manages to manipulate ship’s historian Marla McGivers in short order.  (For someone who is serving on the flagship of Starfleet, she seems way to susceptible to Khan’s charms.)

It still ends up being an above-average episode.  Khan and Kirk seem to play well off of each other, mostly because William Shatner was know for being a little exaggerated as Kirk.  Ricardo Montalban seemed to equal Shatner in that respect.  Both Khan and Kirk are strong, smart and seem to be popular with the ladies.  (And both characters seem to have the most obvious stunt doubles in the entire series.)  If you’re going to use an established character to be the antagonist for the second movie, Khan would be your best bet.  I think Star Trek II: The Wrath of Mudd would have killed the movie franchise.

I had only a few issues with the episode and I’m sure people have brought them up before.  For instance, why would the ship have a historian?  It makes sense for Khan to manipulate her, but what need would the ship have for her?  If Starfleet did have historians, wouldn’t they be posted at headquarters?

Also, how is Khan supposed to build a society with 72 people?  It doesn’t seem like much of a gene pool.  As Spock points out, it would be interesting to see how well the group had done in time.  I’d be interested to know if inbreeding was a problem at all.

The biggest issue for the franchise is the fact that when Star Trek: Voyager visited 1996 in Future’s End, there were no obvious signs of the Eugenics Wars that Khan was supposed to have been a part of.  To be fair, I don’t imagine anyone involved with the show expected Star Trek to last this long.  The fact that it had so many spin-off series is impressive.  Voyager could have gone with the alternate history, or at least found some creative way of acknowledging it, but it could also be excused for not acknowledging it at all.

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