The Enterprise finds the derelict SS Botany Bay, which was launched from Earth in the 1990s. floating in space. A landing party comprising Captain James T. Kirk, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers beams over to the freighter. The landing party finds a cargo of 84 humans, 72 of whom are alive in suspended animation after nearly 200 years. McGivers identifies the group's leader. The occupant begins to revive, but Kirk brings him to Enterprise for a medical examination when his chamber fails.
Kirk has Botany Bay taken in tow by a tractor beam, and Enterprise sets course for Starbase 12. In sickbay, the group's leader awakens and attacks McCoy but, impressed by McCoy's bravery, releases the doctor and introduces himself as "Khan". Lt. McGivers marvels over Khan, a living relic from the 20th-century, her field of interest. First Officer Spock discovers that their guest is Khan Noonien Singh who, along with his people, are products of 20th-century genetic engineering designed to create perfect humans. The genetic superhumans instead became warlords and conquered more than a third of the planet, sparking the Eugenics Wars, Earth's last major global conflict. Between eighty and ninety of the superhumans warriors were unaccounted for at the end of the war; Khan is listed as the most dangerous.
Khan is placed under guard in quarters. McGivers is sent to brief him on current events. Taking advantage of McGivers' attraction towards him, Khan tells her he means to rule mankind again and needs her help to take over Enterprise. Reluctantly, she agrees, beaming Khan to Botany Bay, where he revives the rest of his superpeople. They return to Enterprise and assume control of the ship. Khan throws Kirk into a decompression tank, and threatens to slowly suffocate him unless Kirk's command crew agree to follow Khan. Having a change of heart, McGivers frees Kirk from the chamber. Kirk and Spock vent anesthetic gas throughout the entire ship to disable Khan and his cohorts. Khan escapes the gas and heads to Engineering, where he attempts to destroy Enterprise, but Kirk confronts him and a brawl ensues. Though outmatched by Khan's superior strength, Kirk uses a tool as a club to knock the superman unconscious.
Kirk holds a hearing to decide the fate of Khan and his followers. The captain decides that they should be exiled to Ceti Alpha V, a harsh world that Kirk believes would be a perfect place for Khan to start his kingdom. Khan claims he is up to the challenge of taming the world and accepts Kirk's offer. Instead of a court-martial for Lt. McGivers, Kirk allows her to go into exile with Khan. Spock notes that it would be interesting to see what Khan makes of Ceti Alpha V in 100 years.
Errors and ExplanationsEdit
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit
- Khan apparently being 35 years of age when he disappeared in 1999, suggesting a birth date of pre-1965, before the development of genetic engineering.. Khan could be the result of rapid aging.
- Kirk giving Khan access to technical manuals. Kirk probably wants to help Khan acclimatise himself with the technology that is in use in this era.
- The Eugenics Wars occurring worldwide at the end of the 20th Century, but World War III being described as a 21st Century event. This could be due to the Eugenics Wars being a scientific version of the Cold War – which saw many small scale conflicts.
Continuity and Production ProblemsEdit
- McGivers having a head and helmet sculpture in her quarters identical to the one Dr Adams had in Dagger of the Mind. Maybe it's the same one, and McGivers claimed it after Adams died.
- Alan Hamilton on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 8:16 pm: Although it's perhaps in character for her (and thus not a nit), it wasn't too bright for McGivers to join Kahn on Ceti Alpha V. All through the episode Kahn is manipulating her for his own purposes. There's no evidence he is truly in love with her, he's contemptious of inferior genetic specimens, and she betrayed him by freeing Kirk. Now, what do you think will happen to her after she's left with Kahn? kerriem on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 2:16 pm: True enough. But she's not in love with Khan per se; she's an historian in love with the whole notion of this strong warrior man from out of the past sweeping her into adventure. For a micro-version of this, spend a half-hour or so in any bookstore romance section. In this state of mind, she's not only able to neglect her real-life duty to Kirk and the Enterprise, she'll be capable of following Khan regardless of how he may punish her. (Actually, judging by his reactions in ST:TWOK, he may have - or develop - a considerably higher opinion of her than it might first appear.)
- Daniel Phillips (Danny21) on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 4:08 am: This episode shows how much better Kirk is than Archer, he beats an Augment in hand to hand combat. It's not like Khan could be stronger he was the ruler. It is possible the Augment embryos were earlier models, Khan and his followers seem far more stable than the Enterprise augments. Also shouldn't Kirk have handed them over to civilian authorities, I know Starfleet is sort of like the police as well as the military but still. Keith Alan Morgan (Kmorgan) on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 4:49 am: Why should Kirk hand them over to civilian authorities? 1. Khan & company's crimes were against Starfleet personnel & property, not civilians. 2. Khan & company even seemed to agree with the punishment, perhaps even seeing it as a great challenge.
Internet Movie DatabaseEdit
- As Khan wakes up, he asks Kirk how long he's been asleep. Kirk answers "two centuries." An answer of "three centuries" would have been much closer to accurate. Kirk would have known that Khan left Earth in the late 20th Century. Star Trek was taking place nearly 300 years later. But this was not decided until Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Gene Roddenberry always left the date ambiguous, and the reference here is directly contradicted by Star Trek: The Squire of Gothos, for example. Perhaps Kirk is making an educated guess, based on the apparent age of Khan's ship.
- During Khan and Kirk's one-on-one conversation across a table, the position of Khan's hand changes during cuts. People do move their hands during conversation.
- When Kirk punches out the glass in Khan's stasis chamber, his elbow knocks the phaser out of his holster, which McCoy later discreetly pushes out of the way. This could be a design fault.[N 1]
- ↑ Listed under Equipment Oddities in the Nitpicker's Guide.