As stated at the end of the last post we settled on Star Trek episode “Space Seed” as our next course. And there it all was! Ricardo Montalban and William Shatner battling to settle the question of who could chew up the scenery faster. Khan proves to be an even more persuasive lady’s man than Kirk. He convinces a lady scientist to turn traitor to the Enterprise and assist Khan in taking over the ship. Of course, the most absurd part of the story is that Kirk provides Khan with the ship’s technical manuals that allow him to figure out how to selectively flood most of the Enterprise with knock out gas. Could there be any logical reason to provide a known megalomaniac with the details of these most sensitive technical secrets of the ship? Of course not. While he was at it, he might as well have given Khan his social security number and his bank account PIN.
There is a great scene near the end where Kirk and Khan are fighting mano a mano. Khan starts out by snatching away Kirk’s phaser and twists it in half with his bare hands. Kirk gets tossed around like a rag doll but at the critical juncture he grabs hold of a solid metal bar and clonks Khan over the head a few times with it and shows that even a super-strong super-genius should go for the quick kill instead of ending up having the tables turned on him like some kind of super villain in a James Bond movie.
Watching the final scene where Khan and his colony agree to be exiled on a world of their own is of course ironic. We know that in the future the Wrath of Khan is awaiting Kirk and the rest of the crew. This was discussed heatedly. What should have been done. Should Khan have been handed over to a re-education camp. Should Kirk have checked to see if Ceti Alpha was a stable star that would permanently support a colony? Should such dangerous genetically superior individuals have been liquidated, for the safety of all humanity? What, precisely, was rich Corinthian leather? The answers to all of these were debated endlessly and then abandoned because we got hungry again.
But certain things were agreed on. Kirk and Khan are both hounds and neither Shatner nor Montalban believed in understated performances. And these two things were linked with the fact that this is one of the most popular episodes of the series. Shatner and Montalban are over the top ham actors. The characters they are playing are out of a comic book. But they are fun. They are motivated by the things that men are interested in; women, adventure, honor. This makes them about a trillion times more fun and interesting than Spock or Picard or any of the other “futuristic” characters. Shatner taking shoulder rolls and bouncing around under pretend Khan pummeling is laughable and sophomoric but it’s still the best thing Star Trek had in this episode.
So this is the revelation. Kirk is the best part of the show because he provides the only example of a normal man doing normal manly things. He doesn’t do them well or convincingly but he’s all there is. So we gave one cheer for James Tiberius Kirk and took some time out to eat some more food.
You may think that there was an inordinate amount of time taken away from the proceedings of ShatnerKhan to eat junk food. You would be correct. The plain truth is that all the delegates there were taking the opportunity to eat types and amounts of food that their wives would normally prevent. In many ways it was almost as if ShatnerKhan was an excuse to pig out. Once again, you would be correct. But we justified this by pointing out that Shatner himself always looked like he could lose about thirty pounds and we perceived something heroic in men of a certain age throwing caution and wifely warnings to the wind and seizing the day and the Dorito (as it were).
In the final post we will look at the concluding viewing content and then our final thoughts on ShatnerKhan 1 and the prospects for later editions.