Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, December 7, 2015

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Part I)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Part I)
Original Theatrical Release Date: June 4, 1982
Rating: PG
Stardate: 8130.3, but "real" date debatable

Hey, what's up with that stardate? Don't you have a real one, Lady Archon?
Maybe? It really depends on who you ask, especially with canon being added all the time.
So for purposes of plot and real time, Khan states that there's been a fifteen-year time difference between when he meets Kirk in "Space Seed" and when he meets Kirk in this film. In terms of "real time" it's actually fourteen years, but that's close enough. In Enterprise, Kirk's exact birthdate is given as March 22, 2233. (Odd, I'd actually pegged him as a Leo.) You can then sort of guess based on that, and given that his birthday occurs during this film. Some people have placed this during Kirk's 49th year, others his 52nd. So the closest we can really come to it is "March, sometime in the 2280's," which is not very accurate, but again, close enough. Plugging the stardate given into the translator, it comes up with a date in the 24th century, which does not work with the timeline at all.
The nice thing is, Gene Rod started the stardate thing to throw people off as to how far in the future Star Trek takes place. He didn't want to be presumptuous about technology and the state of things to come in the immediate future, so he went with the vague stardate thing, saying that it could take place anywhere between the 21st and 31st centuries. But by this point, fans really wanted to know, and they kind of needed to start locking down some dates for consistency, so the film starts out by telling us that it takes place "in the 23rd century."


Our opening sequence shows us moving through space, past the stars. Know how they got this shot? They went to a planetarium, set the camera so that it was pointing up, and pressed "record." That's fucking genius, friends. And it's a good budget move. Why film what someone else has already done?

Unrelated note: not my favorite font. Looks better when filled in, but still: your franchise already has a super-iconic font. Why not use it?

Captain's Log 8130.3: "Enterprise is on a training mission to Gamma Hydra, near the Neutral Zone. Everything going smoothly."

This log is made by someone other than Kirk, and our opening shot pans around the bridge. Uhura, Spock, and Bones are seen, and Sulu is at the helm. But this chick is the one they're calling Captain, and she's sitting in The Big Chair, making the log entry.

Uhura reports that she's getting a message in from a nearby ship, and the girl with the ears asks her to put it on speaker. They get a swift, garbled description of distress from the SS Kobayashi Maru. They're in the Neutral Zone, nearly 400 people aboard, and losing life support.
"Damn," she mutters, and the audience goes "whuuuuu...?" because Vulcans should not be reacting that way.
She has Sulu plot an intercept course, and he starts to tell her that they're not supposed to be in the neutral Zone, but she cuts him off. They head in, and she calls the transporter room to alert them to beam over survivors.
Oops, no. Klingons are here.
They've entered the Neutral Zone via recycled footage from ST:TMP.

She tries to get Uhura to tell the Klingons that they're on a rescue mission, to no avail. The Klingons start firing, and while she tries evasive maneuvers, it's not working. They fire again, and people start dying. Uhura, Sulu. Bones goes to check on them and also dies. Spock dies. People are running around the bridge like headless chickens.

Scotty calls to say they're fucked, and Ear Girl makes the all-call to abandon ship.

Then some kind of bay door opens, and Close Encounters of the Kirk Kind enters.
"What should I have done differently, Admiral?"
"Pray, Mr Saavik. The Klingons don't take prisoners."

Gonna pause and address this real quick: Leonard Nimoy, having not had a great time working on TMP, was loathe to do another movie, so another male Vulcan named Saavik was written in to take his place. Saavik eventually morphed into a female, which explains why her name starts with an S rather than T'(whatever) like most Vulcan females. (This naming tradition would sort of go out the window later, as more Vulcans came onto the scene with names that did not fit this algorithm. Most notably - for me, anyway - are Tuvok from Voyager, and Dr Selar from TNG.) While it isn't discussed in the films, it's sort of canon that Saavik is Vulcan-Romulan (Zod only knows how that was accomplished), which is why she is sometimes emotional. But fans have argued about the fact that she is repeatedly referred to as "mister," insisting that the script was not changed over after Saavik became female. In truth, the writers decided against Gene Rod's wishes to keep Starfleet less "militarized," and gave the uniforms, verbiage, and overall feel of Starfleet a more Navy wash. In short, all crew members onboard a ship are referred to as "mister" regardless of gender. Why not just call Saavik by rank? Because, as we are about to find out, Saavik is a cadet. No rank yet.

So Kirk calls for lights, and it turns out to be a simulator. He calls Spock "captain" and the Vulcan gets up and tells his cadet trainees to go to the debriefing room. On the floor, Bones asks if he was convincing, because De Kelley is adorable.

Saavik has stayed on the bridge set and now tells Kirk that she doesn't think the test was a fair measure of her abilities. She's pretty straight-forward and not whiny about it, but she's clearly pissed off in that Vulcan way. He tells her that the Kobayashi Maru test is a no-win situation, and that's why it's given. She admits to having had the thought that she could not wend her way out of anything, and he replies that how one thinks of death is just as important as how one thinks of life. Pretty sure she'd like to punch someone. More kolinahr for you, Saavik.

On his way off the simulator deck, Kirk is stopped when Bones asks why they don't just put an experienced crew on the E. Kirk replies on his way out the door that "gallivanting around the stars is a young man's game." Our OG crew members are baffled, because that doesn't sound like Kirk.

Kirk leaves the simulator area and encounters Spock.
"You wanna know how your cadets did, huh?"
"Pretty much."
"They destroyed the ship, and you died."
"So what? You took the test three times before coming out the other end," says Spock.
"Meh. I did something no one else had," Kirk replies.
And it kind of annoys me to no end that Kirk found a way to win the no-win situation.
He thanks Spock for the hard-cover of "Tale of Two Cities" that the Vulcan has given him. He reads the first sentence aloud, about it being the best and worst of times, and asks if that's supposed to mean anything. Spock just replies that birthdays should be the best of times, and that he got the book for Kirk knowing the latter's affinity for antiques.
Spock is paged to the shuttle bay. He has to do one more walk-through before Admiral Kirk's inspection. Kirk goes home.

Kirk has a pretty nice apartment, although I guess that's par for the course when you're a Starfleet admiral. Bones comes by with birthday gifts, and Kirk unwraps a bottle of Romulan ale, super-illegal. Apparently in the Trek universe, Romulan ale is treated much like Cuban cigars were during the embargo: illegal to buy and trade, but people in high places could get them and thumb their noses at the law.

Oh, Bones. You're so charmingly full of shit.

You know, I don't mind the rest of his outfit, but those pants on Bones... no, thank you. Are those like... space chaps?
He opens Bones' other gift while the good doctor pours some shitty beer: reading glasses. We get a little more, "I know you like antiques," but those are practical as well. Kirk has to hold Spock's gift out at arms' length to read it. Apparently, he is allergic to whatever treatment they offer to people who have vision problems.
They toast and this is the face you make when swallowing Romulan ale:

Bones wants to know what's up. He thinks Kirk is restless now that he's an admiral and doesn't get to be in command in The Big Chair. He suggests that Kirk figure out how to get back out there before he becomes part of his antiques collection.
You know what? I really like this Kirk, who has been promoted out of active-active duty, and has a new-found love of antiques. It's a metaphor for a guy who can't let go of the past, and it works here. He's older, wiser, still a bit cocky, but now more unsure of himself. He's the Bojack Horseman of Star Trek, and it's made him a better character. He's more complicated now, and less Mary Sue.

Chekov's Log 8103.4: "First Officer here. The Reliant is going to Ceti Alpha VI in connection with Project Genesis. Gonna check out this planet to see if it's suitable for testing. We need something completely lifeless for it to work."

Chekov is on the bridge of the Reliant with his captain, Terrell. The guy who plays Terrell, Paul Winfield, looks familiar. In addition to a whole bunch of other stuff, as well as voice work, he plays Dathon in the TNG episode "Darmok," which is easily one of my top five all-time favorite episodes.

So Ceti Alpha VI is almost completely lifeless, but the scanner is picking up some tiny thing. It's clear that Chekov is super over this shit, so he suggests that they beam down to check it out, because it could be nothing. Or if it is something, they could move it off-world. Terrell decides to call Dr Carol Marcus, the lady heading the Genesis project. He gives the order and -
You guys, it's Kyle! Remember Kyle, the British dude who ended up in all three colors on the Enterprise, and who became the transporter guy in TAS, only they gave him a comical handlebar mustache, and he was voiced by Jimmy Doohan? That Kyle! First Rand in the last movie, and Kyle in this one. Imagine them calling people up: "Hey, remember that recurring part you had on Star Trek a thousand years ago? You want a bit part doing the same in a movie?"

So they call Dr Marcus at her space station Regula I, and we get some more recycling. The Regula I space station is actually the space station from TMP, but flipped upside down, with the station reattached at the top. This not only keeps filming costs down, but has the added benefit of making these stations all look like they were produced by the same people.

Wrath of Khan - Regula I Space Station

The Motion Picture

Carol Marcus is doubtful that whatever Chekov and Terrell have found on Ceti Alpha VI can be moved, but she gives them the go-ahead to check it out, reminding them that if there's actually life there, they'll have to keep looking for another planet. The Reliant signs out.
Carol Marcus has a walk and talk with her son, David (also Dr Marcus, so I'll just call them Carol and David from here on out). David doesn't like that they're working with Starfleet, because he feels like they're too militaristic. He's concerned that Starfleet will take a cool, benevolent project like Genesis, and somehow make it into a weapon. He calls Kirk an "overgrown Boy Scout," and Carol, belying that she knows Kirk outside of work, laughingly tells David that Kirk was many things, but never a Boy Scout.

Costume Aside: I really like the Project Genesis uniforms. They're partially recycled from those expensive-ass uniforms from TMP that everyone hated, only here they're been refitted to look like futuristic lab coats. (Admit it: David looks a bit like Dr Horrible here.) I'm also really digging the little feminine twist on Carol's sleeve.

Okay, back to the story: Terrell and Chekov beam down to Ceti Alpha VI, and it's this shitty backwoods desert planet with windstorms. We get a fabulous Chekov moment here:
Terrell: "Chekov, are you sure these are the right coordinates?"
Chekov: "Captain, this is the garden spot of Ceti Alpha VI."
Pav, can I just say how excited I am that you got a better part in this movie than the last?

After wandering around for a bit scanning stuff, they come across an intergalactic trailer park some dilapidated cargo carriers. This shot is really nicely framed by rocks, Terrell, Chekov... and their quilted booties.

They go into the cargo carriers and have a look around. Empty food tins... a game of checkers set up for another match... some kind of plastic container that houses a thing that's moving under a layer of sand. Terrell is confused as to where the rest of the ship might be, if someone crash-landed here. Chekov goes to a shelf and checks out the books there.
It's a whole shelf of foreshadowing, friends.

He reads the buckle on that seatbelt and it takes him a second, but he suddenly grabs Terrell.
"Fuck! We have to leave, like right fucking now! Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!"
They put their helmets back on and fly out the door... into the arms of Jawas.

Dramatic music! Everyone is fucked!
Naw, just screwing with you. Those aren't Jawas. Everyone is fucked, though.
Just to build the anticipation, we cut back to the Reliant in orbit, where Kyle is trying to raise Terrell and can't.
Back in the carrier, Chekov and Terrell are being held by refugees of a Pat Benetar video while the guy in front of them strips off all his protective gear. You know they're drawing out the feeling of unease that Chekov must have going, but the guy's name is in the title of this film, so you know who's under all those layers of clothing.

Khan admits that he doesn't know Terrell, but says he never forgets a face, and that he never thought he'd see Chekov's again, which is hilarious, because I don't think Ricardo Montalban and Walter Koenig ever met before working on this film together.
Let's pause the movie here for a sec and talk about this controversy.
"Space Seed", the Star Trek episode that first features Khan, aired in season one, while Chekov did not join the Enterprise crew until season two. 
Writer Nicholas Meyer was aware that this was a continuity problem, but decided to ignore it, citing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle putting continuity issues into Sherlock Holmes stories, and brushing them off, saying that continuity matters less than engaging your audience. Yeah, no. I'm calling cop-out on both of your asses. Firstly Meyer, Conan Doyle was writing a series of loosely-interconnected stories that could almost be slotted interchangeably into the timeline. Star Trek has a specific timeline that one is working toward. It is all connected, and you can't just ignore that for the sake of making a story better. And frankly Arthur, you can have continuity and reader engagement at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive, and you don't have to sacrifice either to get a better story.
Meyer admits that he could have put Uhura on the Reliant instead of Chekov, and that that would have been a way to keep the continuity, but he liked the idea of Chekov and Terrell better.
The thing is, Walter Koenig solved this continuity problem while joking with fans at conventions. He told them that while Chekov was not a bridge officer that first year, he was a lowly, "off-camera" Security Red, and had invoked the wrath of Khan by holding up the line for the guys' bathroom.
Yes, it's funny. But that shit works. Walter solved your problem, Meyer, and while you didn't need to include the bathroom part, you could have explained this gaffe by having Chekov tell Terrell that he was working "below decks" at the time of Space Seed. Especially considering that Terrell specifically asks Chekov right then and there who this guy is.

Chekov tells Terrell that Khan is a criminal, produced by 20th century genetic engineering.
Khan monologues about how Kirk marooned him and his crew fifteen years earlier, and the fifteen or so that are left are all that remain out of the seventy that Kirk sent to the planet. He asks if Chekov ever told Terrell his story "for amusement," and again, this would also be a good place for Chekov to interject how he met Khan, but it doesn't happen. Khan gives a bit of exposition on his backstory for the audience members who have never watched that particular episode, and Terrell admits that he has never met Admiral Kirk. Khan repeats the word "admiral" a few times, as though tasting it. He accuses the admiral of marooning them there to die, and Chekov loses his shit, yelling that there was life on Ceti Alpha V, and they could have done well there. This is where Khan also loses his shit, screaming that they are currently on Ceti Alpha V.

He then exposits that CA6 exploded shortly after they arrived on CA5, shifting the orbit of CA5 and completely destroying everything else. He modestly admits that his giant brain kept them from dying, but no one knows any of this because Kirk never bothered to check up on them. Then he grows all nostalgic and talks about the good ol' days on Earth when he was the Indian Hitler.
"You're a dick," spats Chekov.
It then occurs to Khan that his existence there was not expected, because Chekov and Terrell thought they were exploring CA6. He wants to know why they've come. When neither will say, he goes to that container with the sand, and tells them that he is going to introduce them to CA5's final remaining native, and then he uses a small-ish cattle prod thing to pull this shit out:

He says it killed twenty of his crew... along with his wife. If you were looking for Marla McGivers among the Pat Benetar rejects, you can stop looking. Girlfriend is dead.
Using some long-handled tweezers, he pulls these little worm-things from between those armored plates on the creature's back. Those are it's young, and guess what? They crawl in your ears, wrap around your cerebral cortex, and make you "susceptible to suggestion." Living truth serum. Got it. Oh wait, there's more? Oh, it seems that eventually you go mad and die. Yay. He drops one in each man's helmet, and the helmets are then secured back on their heads. We get some close-ups of the worm-things as they sliver in Chekov's ear while he and Terrell scream.
What lovely family fun this film is!

We switch back to Kirk, who is using his new-old reading glasses to read his new-old copy of Dickens while riding a shuttle up to the Enterprise. We get another series of loveletter shots of the E in dock (many of which were snagged from TMP), and Sulu, who is piloting the shuttle, says he's pleased anytime he gets to go aboard the E. 
While it didn't make the cut in the final film, what Sulu is referring to is the fact that he is about to be promoted to captain and will be getting his own ship soon. I really like that they allowed our crew to progress over the years. It would really suck if Commander Uhura was still stuck at lieutenant level for more than a decade. Allowing the cast to age gracefully and move up in ranks just proves that they were top of their game earlier, and they're still top of their game now. At an early stage of this film, The Shat tried to convince the producers that he could still play young Kirk through make-up tricks and movie magic. I'm so glad they told him no and decided to embrace his age instead. It would have cheapened the film, in my opinion.

Kirk tells Sulu that he's glad to have him at the helm for the next three weeks, and little by little, things are falling into place: rather than put an experienced crew on the E, Spock is training up cadets to run this ship specifically. His friends are helping him out, which they can do because they're the crew of the muthafuckin' OG Enterprise, and no one tells them no. Here, they are going to be doing a three-week training mission to get things running smoothly. Then the whole crew will probably graduate Starfleet and set off on a five-year mission.

They dock with the E and enter through the shuttle airlock, where they meet Spock, Saavik, and all of the cadets, lined up on either side of the torpedo bay, which is a feature never seen before, and is actually a re-dress of the bridge of the Klingon ship. Kirk is going to inspect the crew and ship, and as he walks past Uhura, he hands her his book. There's an almost imperceptible look on her face like, "Bitch, I am not your maid!" but it was impossible to catch in screencapture.
Kirk may be an admiral, but as Ship Goddess, she outranks his ass.

He talks briefly with Scotty, who says he had "a wee bout" but "Dr McCoy helped me through."
"Shore leave," says Bones.
It's a goofy joke, but they were actually referring to Jimmy Doohan's heart attack, which occurred shortly before filming.
They agree to meet in the engine room to start the inspection.
"You'll find everything in perfect order," Scotty declares.
"That'll be a welcome surprise, Mr Scott."
Interpersonal relationships: check!
Everyone scatters (Uhura reading the book as she goes), and Saavik steps up to Spock to gossip about Kirk in Vulcan. This is another scene that was shot with human dialogue and then re-dubbed in Vulcan.

Down in engineering, Kirk pulls out a whiter handkerchief and runs it over a console. Scotty gives him the best look ever. "Really, asshole? Really?"

Kirk asks if Scotty's training crew is ready, and Scotty says to give him the word. 
"The word is given, Mr Scott."
He climbs into the lift and when Bones asks if he's going to continue the inspection, Kirk makes a slash gesture with his hand and mouths "Later."
Clearly, he's enjoying the perks of being admiral.

The lights go on all over the outside of the ship, and we get more loveletter shots of the ship. Kirk and Bones enter the bridge, and Spock tells Saavik that he'd like her to take the ship out of dock. Kirk and Bones exchange looks. Bones asks Kirk if he'd like a tranquilizer. But the ship moves smoothly out into open space, and when Sulu requests a heading, Spock replies that he should indulge himself. Sulu grins like he intends to take the E and all of its cadets to Risa.

Back on Regula I, the Marcuses have gotten a call from Chekov. He tells them the CA6 checks out, and that they'll be at the space station in three days to collect the Genesis device and all of their work. The Marcuses lose their shit and demand to know who gave that order. Chekov's unwavering smile falters for a moment, and there's an awkward pause before he answers, "Admiral Kirk."
Then we swing back and see that Chekov has become kind of brainless and Khan has pretty much told him what to say. Apparently, that brain worm thing is doing its job.

Next, we get to share an awkward turbolift ride with Kirk and Saavik. He comments on how her hair is different. She says it is still regulation. She stops the lift and he guesses she is still troubled by the Kobayashi Maru test. She asks how he handled it, and he brushes her off with a joke. She says that humor is a difficult concept, and that it is not logical.
Seriously? Who wrote this shit? I get irrationally angry at people who declare Vulcans to be humorless. VULCANS ARE NOT HUMORLESS. Vulcans have a dry sense of humor that tends toward sarcasm. And the people who understand this are the ones that play the best Vulcans. I'd like to punch a bitch.
Okay. let's pretend she didn't spout that crap. Let's pretend she answered back with sarcasm.

He restarts the lift, and when the doors open a moment later, there's Bones, bitching about how "someone is holding up the damn elevator." Saavik ducks out. Bones climbs in. They briefly discuss Saavik's hair. Then Uhura pages Kirk to tell him that he's getting a call from Dr Carol Marcus.
He opts to take it in his quarters.
"Oh, damn," laughs Bones. "A call from your ex is never good."
Kirk serves up a fabulous burn here:
"As a physician, you of all people should recognize the dangers of opening old wounds."
He leaves the lift goes to his quarters, where the viewscreen reception is terrible.
Carol is trying to ask Kirk why he gave the order to take Genesis away from her, but she's only getting part audio, and does not understand his confusion. Kirk calls Uhura, but she tells him that the signal for the call is being jammed on Carol's end. He asks her to patch him through to Starfleet command.

We get a brief scene here on Regula I, where everyone is arguing about what's going on. David is anti-Starfleet and claims that scientists are the pawns of the military (which is often true, sadly), but Carol has more faith than that. She doesn't think Starfleet is up to anything nefarious. The other scientists are chiming in, but there only seem to be a dozen or so altogether. It seems like they're running on a skeleton crew while a bunch of their colleagues are on shore leave.

Kirk hassles Spock in his quarters. Dude was trying to meditate, and Kirk is all "Call from my ex! Super drama!"
Spock is probably annoyed as hell, because maybe he had almost achieved kolinahr, but he takes it in stride. Kirk says Regula I is in trouble, and we get a bit of Ship Disabling here, because of course they're the only ship in the quadrant, and of course, the ship is being run by green cadets.
"Okay," says Spock. "I'm giving you command."
Kirk tries to brush it off. For once, he's kind of being humble about it AND HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH MORE I LIKE THIS NEW KIRK?
"Bitch, don't be illogical," says Spock. "You're the CO here. Take the Big Chair and quit complaining."
He also tells Kirk what Bones told him in that earlier scene, which is that he should not have taken that promotion to admiral.
"I would not presume to debate you," says Kirk.
"That is wise," replies Spock.
"Logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," he continues.
"Or the one," Kirk finishes.
"You are my superior officer," Spock says. "You are also my friend. I am, and always shall be, yours."

I really like the composition of this shot, with Kirk framed in the infinity mirror
behind Spock, and that crazy spangly IDIC wall hanging on the left.

Kirk goes to the bridge to announce that he is taking over, because they have some shit to do. He calls Scotty and tells him to prepare for warp. Scotty sounds almost relieved. He apologizes to the trainee bridge crew for cutting their training short, and they warp away.

On the bridge of the Reliant, Khan and his followers have stolen several Starfleet uniform coats and have taken over. Their little brainless slaves - Chekov and Terrell - stand by the side at the ready. Khan's second-in-command, Joachim, gets up and suggests to Khan that they are free now, they have a ship, and can go wherever they damn well please, and wouldn't it be better for pretty much everyone involved if they didn't go after Kirk? Because really, dumb revenge plans rarely result in profits of any kind. Khan responds by quoting Moby Dick. You probably know it. "Perdition's flames" and all that.

Back on the E, Uhura is trying to do her job, to no avail. No one on Regula I is picking up the comm.It's no longer jammed like before, there's just no one picking up. Poor Uhura. How often do we see this happening to her, where all she's trying to do is make contact, but there's interference or someone ignoring her calls or the translator is broken?
Spock suggests to Kirk that Regula I is either unwilling or unable to respond. Kirk mutters about Project Genesis, and when Spock asks for more information, Kirk has Bones sent to his quarters and gives Saavik the conn before giving Spock this smile that says he'd like to invite his friend to join him in his quarters for some Netflix and chill.

Once in his quarters, Kirk has his retina scanned, because I guess this is either the new level of security in Starfleet in general, or because the Project Genesis stuff is hella classified. What he unlocks is the project proposal video by Carol Marcus.
Carol explains that she's developing a device that will restructure matter so that they can grow life where there was none before. They did some stuff in the lab, and (at the time of the recording) are going to do some stuff underground. The last stage is finding some kind of lifeless planet on which to unleash Genesis, and make it into a place to cultivate life. Basically, it's a terraforming device. She hopes it will solve some problems like overcrowding and food shortages.

Spock and Bones start an argument about the moral implications of such a device. Bones is pretty sure that it's not cool to create life in six minutes. But Saavik interrupts over the comm system to tell Kirk that the Reliant is on an intercept course and coming up fast. Our boys return to the bridge. Khan, on the Reliant, tells Joachim to slow the ship down so they can "be friends." 
Saavik, on the E, tries to quote General Order 12 at Kirk, about what to do when communications have not been established. Spock interrupts her with his own version of "Are you serious? That's James fucking Kirk you're quoting at. STFU, Saavik." They attempt to communicate, but the Reliant isn't answering.

The Reliant was originally meant to look just like the Enterprise, but it was felt
 that if they were too similar, the audience might get confused as to which ship
was which. So the Reliant's warp nacelles were lowered so that they appeared
be sled blades. Thus were different classes of ships born. The Reliant is a
Miranda-class ship. 

So now we get this weird game of chicken that's actually fairly well done. Each ship approaches the other, one trying to establish communications, and the other ignoring the attempt. Both are watching their viewscreens as a group, Khan's rag-tag bunch of trailer park geniuses and Kirk's "ready-at-their-stations" cadets. Kirk is apprehensive. Khan is ecstatic.

The shields on the E have not gone up. Khan has one one of his lackeys send an audio message to the Enterprise saying that some kind of something-or-other is keeping their ship from using their comms to respond. A quick scan reveals this to be untrue. The Reliant raises their shields, locks phasers on target and fires. The E tries to raise shields, but too late. The Reliant's phasers punch holes in the hull of the ship. Engineering cadets go flying.

A bay door lowers, blocking off a damaged part of the ship. Cadets scramble for breathing equipment while some attempt to evacuate. The ship rocks. Kirk calls the chaos that is engineering and tells Scotty he needs auxiliary power. Spock shows Kirk the damage on a chart, and tells him that the Reliant knew exactly where to fire to take them out. they also cannot do anything on auxiliary power. The Reliant appears to be flying away, but as Kirk is ordering Sulu to try putting the shields up again, the Reliant fires a torpedo, and the E bridge crew braces for impact. An explosion on the bridge. More flying cadets.

The Reliant circles back around. Kirk calls Scotty, who says they're on battery power. Uhura reports that the "commander of the Reliant" wishes to discuss terms of the E's surrender. Stunned, everyone turns to the viewscreen.
And then this smiley motherfucker appears.

I kind of like the fact that he's wearing a broken Starfleet belt buckle as a pendant.
But it would have been more effective if the prop department had waited until
after he had taken the Reliant to start wearing that, rather than giving it to him
before he had encountered any Starfleet officers.

Kirk is surprised. This is a dude that he marooned fifteen years ago, and then forgot about. It wasn't even "sometimes I wonder what he's up to in the Ceti Alpha system." He just totally forgot that guy existed. And now here he comes, in a fucking Starfleet ship, punching holes in engineering. And he looks like he's about to sell Kirk some cheap QVC jewelry.
"Khan! WTF?"
"I plan to kill you, I just wanted you to know that it was me first," smiles Khan.
"If you want me, I'll beam over to your ship," Kirk offers. "Spare my crew."
"Cool," says Khan. "But I also want all the info you have on Project Genesis."
Kirk tries to play dumb, but quickly gives in. "Gimme a few minutes to pull it up in the computer."
Khan and Joachim turn their backs to the viewscreen to talk, and Kirk and Spock do the same.
Kirk quietly asks Saavik to pull up the code for the Reliant.

So Khan starts hassling him after a minute or so, and Kirk is trying to stall for time. Saavik pulls up the code on her screen, and Kirk does this comical "is anyone watching?" gesture before putting on his old man glasses.

Saavik is confused. Kirk and Spock begin punching in numbers and Spock explains quietly to her that every ship in Starfleet has this prefix code that other ships can use in a pinch to take over the controls of another ship. It's a defense mechanism to be used in situations like this, where Kirk can tell the Reliant to lower its shields from the Enterprise console.
"How do I know you'll keep your word?" he asks Khan.
"Who said I gave you my word?" counters Khan. "You just have no choice. You have to go along with what I say."
Instead of yelling something rashly, Kirk just smiles and replies, "I see your point."
This Kirk, you guys. This Kirk is awesome. He's smiling and humble and friendly to Khan, even though he knows that he's about to fuck shit up.
He quietly tells Sulu to lock phasers on the Reliant, and when Khan asks for the info on Project Genesis, he says "It's coming... now."
Spock dials in the code, and the Reliants shields drop
"The hell?" yells Joachim. "I can't raise the shields."

In that split second, Sulu has fired phasers at the warp drive, the photon controls, and the dome on the bridge. Parts of the ceiling collapse. Khan shakes Joachim like a rag doll. The Reliant is dead in the water.

Sulu tries to congratulate Kirk, but Kirk is having none of it, saying he "got caught with my britches down." He tells Saavik to go ahead and quote regulations anytime at him, because that shit sucked and it was kind of all his fault.

He starts to ask about casualties, wants to know what on the ship has been damaged, and then the lift opens.

This, friends. This is the shit that happens when you serve on the Enterprise.
Saavik gasps. Spock closes his eyes. Holy shit.

Sick bay is filled with bloody and wounded engineering cadets. Kirk walks through into a private exam room, where Bones is treating Preston, the kid that Scotty was carrying. Preston reaches out and grabs the white part of Kirk's uniform.
"Is the word given, Admiral?" he rasps.
"The word is given," smiles Kirk gently. "Warp speed."
"Aye," whispers Preston with his last breath.

Scotty can barely keep it together, saying that Preston remained at his post when everyone else ran. Cut from the final film: that kid was Scotty's nephew.

Oh my fuck, Star Trek.

Sometimes I think this franchise hates me.


Facts and stuff, because I can't bring myself to refer to them as "fun" after that last scene:

- Despite fan suspicions, Ricardo Montalban is not wearing a prosthetic chest piece. That is his real chest. Dude is built... really, really built.

- The part of Carol Marcus was originally written for Janet Wallace, Kirk's "old friend" from the episode "The Deadly Years." 

- When the uniforms changed again, so did the colors. An all-red and white uniform now has different colored turtlenecks to indicate divisions. White is command, grey is science, gold is engineering, light green is medical, red for cadets and trainees, and black means enlisted. The rank insignia now goes on the shoulder strap.

- There is a fan theory that I kind of like that says that the "little blonde technician" that Gary Mitchell sets up with Kirk at Starfleet Academy was actually Carol Marcus. ("Where No Man Has Gone Before")

- Why kill off Marla McGivers, Khan's wife? Originally, Madlyn Rhue was meant to reprise her role as Marla in this film, but by 1982 she had developed multiple schlerosis, and used a wheelchair. Though she still worked, it would have been difficult for her to do the part. The writers felt that recasting the part was disrespectful, so they killed off Marla entirely, and made her death part of Khan's driving madness. Interestingly, Rhue would guest star with Ricardo Montalban on Fantasy Island the same year this film was released.

-Both Bill Shatner and Ricardo Montalban had to juggle multiple film schedules, as Montalban was in the middle of filming of filming his show Fantasy Island, and The Shat was working on TJ Hooker.

- In the film, Khan and Kirk never meet face-to-face. All of their contact is done by viewscreen. This was due in part to the fact that Montalban could only film his scenes at night.

- Star Trek once again ran into the Star Wars franchise with this film. After countless title changes, this film was called "The Revenge of Khan," which posed a problem, as the third Star Wars film was then-titled "Revenge of the Jedi." Eventually, both titles would change, and no further problems would occur.

- This is the only TOS episode ever to have a film as its sequel. Executive Producer Harve Bennett had not watched Star Trek before, and watched tapes of the show to familiarize himself with it. He ultimately settled on Khan's fate as being interesting enough to follow with a film.

-While The Motion Picture had done well, it had burst the bank by costing approximately $45 million to make. Not wanting to spend that much again, the production company asked Harve Bennett if he could make a Star Trek movie for that much. "I can make five for that much," he replied. They gave him the job. Wrath of Khan ended up costing only $11 million to make, thanks in part to the recycling of sets, costumes, models, and footage.


I was in Whole Paycheck the other day looking for a morning beverage, and because they don't sell Coke, I grabbed an Honest Tea. I've only had a few of these, and they seemed pretty good, so I selected one that I hadn't seen before: the Peach Oo-la-long. I like that play on words and that it still described what it is, an oolong base with peach added. They use peach puree to get the flavor, and that's great because you get a nice subtle peach flavor rather than a thick syrup. What's more, you can taste the tea, rather than the company using tea as the vehicle to move the added flavor. It's very lightly sweetened with cane sugar and agave, and while it's not as sweet as I usually prefer my tea, it seems like just the right balance of sweet to bitter.
This is a good one. I recommend it.


Curie and Bratty get along like Klingons and tribbles. But she really
wanted to sleep there, and for some reason, he allowed it.

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