Sunday, June 30, 2013

Star Trek: Space Seed

It is time for another episode of Star Trek. Today, it is:
Yes, Space Seed--a pretty good episode that spawned the even more fabulous Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The Enterprise encounters a sleeper ship, the SS Botany Bay. On board is Khan Noonien Singh and 72 others who have been in suspended animation for some 200 years. Khan is revived and brought aboard the Enterprise where he immediately shows his true nature.
"Well, either choke me or cut my throat. Make up your mind."
For some reason McCoy doesn't report this incident to Kirk.
Perhaps if Kirk had known he might not have given Khan full access to the ship's technical library. Khan knows that knowledge of the ship is not enough to take control of it, so he makes a move on Lt. Marla McGivers, the ship's historian.
She finds Khan to be irresistible and he successfully gets her to later help carry out mutiny, but before that happens there's an official dinner to welcome Khan to the ship.
Beef. Colored squares and dyed celery. It's what's for dinner.
At this point there is still some confusion by Kirk, et al. as to who Khan really is (or was), but shortly after the dinner they figure out that in the early 1990s he was ruler of 1/4 of Earth and part of a eugenics program to build a superior race of man. Once his identity is known, Kirk orders Khan to be kept under guard in his quarters.
As usual, no one in Starfleet knows how to guard someone. He's not guarding Khan from others, he is guarding Khan from escaping. So why does he have his back to Khan's door? Clearly it must be to make it easier for Khan to escape. Which he then does.

McGivers overpowers Lt. Kyle in the transporter room and beams Khan back over to the Botany Bay so that he may revive the rest of his people.
Khan, reacting to her outfit.
They beam back over, take control of Engineering, cut off life support to the rest of the ship and take everyone prisoner. Khan realizes he needs some help running the ship, so he puts Kirk into a decompression chamber and threatens to kill him unless one of the bridge crew offers to help. 
Kirk is in trouble as the pressure is dropping fast! In case you are wondering, 29.92 inches of Mercury (Hg) is standard sea level air pressure on Earth. It looks like the pressure in the chamber has dropped to about 8 inches of Mercury. That's about 27% of normal, a bit lower than the pressure at Mt. Everest.

McGivers decides that she can't let Kirk die and frees him from the chamber just as Spock was being taken in to be the next victim. They escape and flood the decks with anesthesia gas. 
I love how, at first, no one reacts to the presence of the gas except: 1) Khan, who covers his nose/mouth and flees, and 2) the dude in blue who is sitting there looking as if he is wondering why there is a cloud in the room.
Khan escapes to Engineering where there's the Big Fight Scene with Kirk involving stunt doubles, close-ups of the stars, and Kirk's creative use of chicken wire. In the end, Kirk prevails and all returns to order.
The episode ends with a hearing to decide the fate of McGivers, Khan, and his people. In true Star Trek fashion Kirk shows mercy by dropping all charges and ending the episode on a positive note. He pulls a hopeful solution out of what would otherwise be everyone being carted off to jail

The Enterprise will be passing near the Ceti Alpha star system and the fifth planet there is, as described by Spock, "habitable, although a bit savage, somewhat inhospitable." Kirk makes his offer to Khan saying that it is no more inhospitable "than Australia's Botany Bay colony was at the beginning. Those men went on to tame a continent, Mister Khan. Can you tame a world?"

Khan agrees & McGivers will go with him, giving them a "world to win, an empire to build."

It turned out not to be. We've all seen Star Trek II and know what happened, but that does not matter now.
In spite of the recent re-visiting of this story that placed a new actor into the role of Khan, Ricardo Montalban owned the role in a way that few Trek guest stars did. He gave a fine performance here and in the movie that followed. Because of the movies, Space Seed is required watching and they have given the episode more prominence than it otherwise would have had. It is a solid episode, but not top ten Trek. You can watch it online right here.

Next up, my 25th Trek review: This Side of Paradise.

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