9/9/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: MovieII
Release Date: June 4, 1982
Written by: Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer

Premise
After a planetary shift causes the death of his wife, the great Khan Noonien Singh seeks revenge on Admiral James T. Kirk.

Review
The movie starts off with the famous Kobayashi Maru test being taken by Lt. Saavik. The test is probably the most annoying video game ever. You're called in to help the Kobayashi Maru, who is badly damaged inside the Neutral Zone, and then get attacked by three Klingon ships. There is no way win. You either cross into the Neutral Zone and die, or stay out of the Neutral Zone and let the Kobayashi Maru die. Bonus points if you do it while eating an apple. Kirk is the only one who ever beat the test by destroying the Klingons and saving the Kobayashi Maru. So you can imagine Saavik's embarrassment when Kirk walks in after she loses and gives an assessment.

After putting Saavik in her place (no doubt plunging her into a bought of depressed ice cream eating) Kirk "celebrates" his birthday and complains about how old he's getting and how much he wants to be back in command of a starship instead of being an Admiral. He longs for the days when he would explore the galaxy and out wit aliens, computers and Augments. If only one of those things would come back to revitalize him...
What you did there, Bones... I see it.
Meanwhile, on a starship far, far away, Chekov is checking out a planet that is to be used for big new science experiment called Genesis. He beams down with his new captain, Captain Terrell, to what he believes to be Ceti Alpha VI, a vast wasteland of a planet that's ripe for teraforming. After looking around for a while, who does he find but Khan Noonien Singh. When last we left Khan, he was banished to Ceti Alpha V after the events of "Space Seed." As a matter of fact, the events of "Space Seed" did not include Ensign Chekov. So, how does Khan recognize this man after so many years? I imagine it went a little like this...

Chekov, newly assigned to the Enterprise, but not yet promoted to the bridge, is in the bathroom minding his own business, probably taking one whopper of a crap, when Khan rushes to the door and knocks furiously. "Let me in, swine, or feel my wrath!" he says. Chekov stands [sits] his ground. There's no way he can stop in the middle of this particular job. He sits in stunned silence. "LET ME IN, DO YOU HEAR ME?" Khan continues. The abject fear produced in Chekov actually helps speed things along. He gets up, washes, flushes and cautiously steps out to see the burning red face of the Augment King. Khan grabs him by the uniform and lifts him into the air. "You are lucky I am in a state of emergency, or I would torture you... slowly..." he sets him down, "NOW GO! And do not dare to show your face until next season!" [This scene is based on Walter Koenig's own joke about Chekov meeting Khan.]
Even Augments poop.
So, anyway, Khan explains that Ceti Alpha VI blew up and shifted Ceti Alpha V's orbit to produce the wasteland he now lives in and then he introduces Chekov and Terrell to a native creature of Ceti Alpha V, the only one left living after the shift, Ceti eels. They crawl up into Chekov's and Terrell's ears and cause a lot of pain and leave them susceptible to suggestion. The suggestion the make: acquire the Genesis project. When the scientists in charge of the Genesis project find out about this, they call Admiral Kirk, Kirk comes along with the Enterprise and falls right into Khan's trap.

Khan meets the Enterprise half-way to the science station with the Reliant and catches Kirk with his britches down. Luckily, Khan is too arrogant and stops for a moment to hail the Enterprise and gloat that it was he who was about to destroy Kirk. Kirk takes the opportunity to find the Reliant's command codes and remotely takes down her shields. Exposed, Khan orders the Reliant to leave as fast as possible and that gives the Enterprise some time to get fixed up a bit, but mostly to hurry up to the science station.
Gramma??
Once at the science station, the crew finds most of the scientists dead and hanging from the ceiling. Khan had no doubt already been there. But a small contingency made it to the planet below with the Genesis beta test. After sending a coded message to Spock who's back on the Enterprise, Kirk and his team, including Saavik, Chekov and Terrell, beam down to find and old flame of his, Carol, along with his estranged son, David, both of whom are part of the Genesis project. Well, then Terrell, having found Genesis, begins to take over at the behest of the Ceti eel in his ear. After killing a scientist, he's commanded by Khan to turn his phaser on Kirk, but Terrell has a difficult time with that. Instead, he turns the phaser on himself and *poof!* no more Terrell. The Ceti eel in Chekov starts going crazy and Chekov doubles over in pain. The eel crawls out of his ear and Kirk shoots it. And then he picks up the communicator and gloats back at Khan.

Outraged, Khan beams the Genesis device onto his ship and leaves Kirk stranded. Little does he know that the Enterprise is fast on its way back. In the meantime, Kirk catches up with Carol and a bit with David and explains to Saavik that he doesn't believe in the no-win scenario; that when he took the Kobayashi Maru test, he cheated, changing the conditions of the test. In the meantime, Carol shows off what she had been able to do in a large, lifeless cave with the Genesis device.
"Can I cook, or can't I?"
Well, the Enterprise comes back, everyone beams up, and Spock reports that they've been able to repair most systems, but they still don't have shields or warp power, so Kirk points them to the direction of a nebula. The effects of the nebula take away shields and warp, so when Khan follows them in, the playing field is even. At the protest of his right-hand-man, Khan follows the Enterprise into the nebula and they fight for a while, and then Spock recognizes that Khan is thinking two-dimensionally. Kirk uses that to his advantage, lowers the Enterprise, comes up behind the Reliant and makes short work of it.

Burned profusely on half of his face, Khan musters up just enough strength to activate the Genesis device while quoting a line from Moby Dick. Kirk's immediate reaction is to shut it down, but David explains that can't be done. Their only hope is for the warp drive to be finished before Genesis explodes. And the only way they can do that is for someone to go into a highly irradiated room and repair the main reactor. Spock volunteers, but not before transferring his files into Bones's hard drive for backup.
"Remember"
The day is saved, the Enterprise warps out of the nebula, the Genesis device blows and Spock, having received a lethal dose of radiation, is fast on his way to Sha Ka Ree. After realizing what he'd done, Kirk rushes down to see Spock. And Spock says goodbye to his old friend for what he believes to be the last time. He brings up the Kobayashi Maru saying he'd never taken the test until now and rhetorically asks Kirk what he thinks of his solution. A funeral is held shortly after in which Kirk says that of all the souls he'd met, Spock's was the most... human.

The result of the Genesis device blowing up in the middle of the nebula was that it took all the materials from the nebula and sucked it up into the epicenter of the explosion. The device rearranged all the molecules to create a new planet orbiting a nearby sun. It's onto this planet, named the Genesis planet, that the Enterprise shoots Spock's body onto in a hollowed out torpedo tube. The movie ends as we look through the jungle fauna of the Genesis planet and see the torpedo tube safely intact. And then, for the first time, Leonard Nimoy gives the "Space, the final frontier..." speech.

Overall Thoughts
This is and always shall be one of the best movies of all time. It touches on the themes of age, death, vengeance and the no-win scenario, and it does so perfectly; tying them all together with the towering personality of Khan Noonien Singh, who would be nothing without the performance of Ricardo Montalban. When considering the whole of Trekdom, however, what's interesting to note is that this is the beginning of what would be a continuous story arc through the movies in a franchise that had, up until now, been strictly episodic. You can see a huge shift away from the events and toward the characters, which would be a huge boon to Star Trek in all the years and seasons and spin-offs to come. When starting to read the Bible, it is almost always suggested to start in the Gospels, the beginning of the New Testament. In the same way, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is a great way to introduce newcomers to Star Trek. It's the quickest way to fall in love with the characters get a feel for the epicness of Space, the final frontier...