I have previously reviewed this episode as part of ShatnerKahn I. But I think it is desirable to provide a standard treatment for all the Star Trek episodes so I will follow the usual procedure here.
The Enterprise encounters a derelict space ship drifting slowly through space and identifies it as an old Earth vessel from the 1990s. Upon scanning it they find signs of life and board it. They discover the crew to be in suspended animation. Upon rescuing the leader from his sleep they discover that the crew are eugenically produced supermen who were forced to flee Earth after their dictatorships were overthrown.
Their Leader Khan Noonien Singh, played by the inimitable Ricardo Montalban, dissembles his intentions and seduces crewmember Lt. Marla Mcgivers into assisting him in capturing the Enterprise in order to aid his people in finding and conquering an Earth colony for their new home. The supermen quickly overwhelm the crew and Khan puts Kirk in a vacuum chamber and threatens to suffocate him if one of the crew does not assist him in his plan. We get a view of Kirk gasping like an out of water goldfish which will earn this episode a very healthy Shatner mockery score. But McGivers repents of her mutiny and saves Kirk from the death trap. With the assistance of Mr. Spock Kirk is able to use knockout gas to subdue the mutineers. But Khan escapes to the engine room and is causing an engine overload that would destroy the whole ship when Kirk arrives for their showdown. Khan starts by prying Kirk’s phaser out of his hand and then bending it into a curve with his bare hands. And here Khan makes his famous taunt. He says, “Captain, I have five times your strength!” in his unique Ricardo Montalban enunciation. Khan proceeds to toss Kirk around the engine room like a rag doll while Kirk attempts some pretty rudimentary martial arts moves. I’m not 100% sure but I believe there was a stunt double for Shatner in some of the acrobatics. But naturally Kirk fights dirty. He grabs a metal rod and starts hammering Khan in the head and back until he passes out.
In the final scene Kirk convenes a court and dismisses all charges against the supermen if they will agree to exile on a deserted and inhospitable planet. When asked if he accepts the offer Khan asks Kirk if he knows his Milton. Kirk nods in understanding. Then Kirk gives Mcgivers a choice; go into exile with Khan or stand trial for mutiny. She eagerly accepts exile.
Scotty pleads shameful ignorance as a Scot for not knowing the Milton reference and Kirk explains that in Paradise Lost, Lucifer declares that he would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. The show ends up with Spock and Kirk wondering what they would find if they were able to come back in a hundred years and see what fruit had grown “from the seed” they were now sowing.
This is one of the quintessential Star Trek episodes. Kirk is out macho-ed by Khan. Spock gets to act appalled by the humans’ clear admiration for Khan’s obviously authoritarian methods, to which charge Kirk admits and explains humans have a primitive streak that allows them to admire an enemy for his strength. In these days of #metoo Khan would never be allowed to rough up McGivers as he does to dominate her into helping him. Of course, he also plays with her hair quite a bit so he is a romantic too. One of the ludicrous things about the episode is Kirk giving Khan access to the ship technical manuals. These allow Khan to capture the ship. I mean come on! What part of superman is hard to understand? Couldn’t he have just given him a game of free-cell to keep him from getting bored?
Kirk’s fight with Khan is also classic. His shirt manages not to get shredded but he has several awkward and lame looking judo holds that helps qualify this episode for a decent Shatner mockery score. And above all there is Montalban. He struts and brags and mocks Kirk for being inferior in all ways. It’s quite entertaining.
Let’s give this a 9 for the episode and a 7 for Shatner mockery. 9 // 7. Well done Ricardo.