Star Trek 1.22 (Space Seed)
First Aired: February 16, 1967
John Winston (Lt. Kyle)
Ricardo Montalban (Khan Noonien Singh)
Madlyn Rhue (Marla McGivers)
Blaisdell Makee (Lt. Spinelli)
Mark Tobin (Joaquin)
Kathy Ahart (Crew Woman)
Writer: Marc Daniels
Of course, this episode has taken on a greater significance since the eighties when the second movie The Wrath of Khan revisited the character. In 1996 apparently World War III was all about eugenics, and the survivors escaped in a space vessel, the SS Botany Bay. Of course, I will ignore the fact that this little piece of history never came true – perhaps it was something that happened that certain people knew about. Perhaps certain terrorist outrages that happened before 1996 were actually down to the so called “super men”. I am rationalising it too much: in Star Trek history this actually happened.
So, what was bad about this episode. Well, for a start, Marla McGivers (the crew historian that boards the Botany Bay with Kirk and company) falls for Khan when he is asleep, before she has even spoken to him. I know if you are interested in history then the chance to interact with it would be very exciting, but to interact horizontally (which is clearly her intent from before he even awakes) is just not going to tell you much about the past.
In fact, this character is the weak link in the episode. She just falls into Khan’s spell far too easily, he almost has to do nothing. I cannot believe that anybody serving in StarFleet would be that easy to influence. Then, later, she has a change of heart and saves Kirk. Puh-lease!
Oh, and the two stuntment playing both Kirk and Khan are obviously neither actor. It is just rubbish.
The standoff between Kirk and Khan on the other hand is superb – both intellectual and physical, they both rise to the occasion and deliver some solidly and believable characters. Yes, even Shatner!
Montalban’s performance is utterly compelling – you can see why the producer of the second film chose to revisit this character. He plays the part wonderfully – he has a kind of delivery that apparently the actor developed for the character, and he also used the original episode to try and work the character out fifteen or so years later, and he did a wonderful job. The character is portrayed the same way in both episodes, and you can only congratulate Montalban for that.
At the end, they dump Khan, his followers and McGivers on the planet Ceti Alpha Five. And we all know what happens next!
McGivers doesn’t die in this episode, so I cannot include her as a crew death, even though she is dead by the time everyone meets again in the film.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25