In which I break the fourth wall, Kirk thinks outside the plane, and the Enterprise is only as good as her full crew compliment.
One thing I don’t get is why, when someone has a secret plan, they don’t tell the rest of their party once the mole is no longer in earshot? Kirk is being smug, but there’s no reason at this point for him not to tell everyone else that the Enterprise is a lot closer than they think and will be rescuing them in an hour or two. Actually, in this case there is one reason – so that Kirk and Carol can talk about their son, and how Kirk has always been married to the job, even though he’s now clearly… not exactly repenting, but regretting all the time he didn’t spend with his son. To be fair, he stayed away because Carol didn’t want her son to grow up like him. That can’t exactly feel good, but Kirk is, at least, no deadbeat. She shows him her Genesis Cave as a way of making up to him.
It is honestly a little worrying that the Genesis Cave (test II of the genesis device) contains its own light source. Also that everything alive inside grew in just a few days. Once again, the energy output required to do that… I don’t have the math for it, especially not when I’ve been drinking.
So while they all wait to die of old age, living in the Genesis Cave or possibly populating it with an inbred group of Human-Vulcan hybrids which will eventually be discovered by the Enterpris-L in a curious and ironic rehashing of the Original Series, Saavik makes conversation, as Vulcans are wont to do. It is here we find out that Kirk is the only person ever to beat the Kobiyashi Maru test, by reprogramming it, and getting a commendation for doing so. “I don’t believe in a no-win scenario. Spock, is the Enterprise ready?”
Cue the triumph music. The Enterprise is lirking on the other side of the planetoid, as they were originally worried the Reliant was doing. And there’s a nebula nearby that will pot the Enterprise on even footing with the Reliant as well. Preparations are made ready for battle. Khan spies them and readies for the hunt, chest scar blazing free and medallion flying in the wind. That looks remarkably similar to the one McCoy had when he beamed aboard the ship in The Motion Picture. Do they belong to the same sex-cult?
Khan is understandably reluctant to go into the nebula, where the shields would no longer function. But it doesn’t take much taunting for Kirk to goad him into it. Thus begins one of the classic battle sequences, a sub battle where neither participant can lock onto the other and everything is beautiful, silent tension. Kirk cores the first ambush, but Khan scores the first hit. With shields on neither side, every hit is devastating. Khan’s bridge is totalled, the Enterprise engine room is being flooded with radiation. But at least Chekov is up, functional, and ready to lend his expertise to the weapons. We haven’t seen many space battles, and this is possibly the only time anyone will ever make a point of going off the galactic standard plane. To be fair, the only time that would really help in a universe with targeting scanners is when those are offline. The Enterprise sinks below the Reliant saucer, then comes back up to fire torpedos right up their ass.With his shit wrecked and most of his hand blown off, Khan really only has one move left. He has the Genesis device, and more Moby Dick quotes.
The Enterprise is still dead in the water, so Spock steps up. He goes into the radiation chamber, knocking out McCoy in order to get past him and realign the whatevers. We can only hope Khan lived just long enough to see the Enterprise warp away from the Genesis blast. It’s also important to note that while knocking out McCoy, Spock mind melded with him and said “remember.” It is important to note this because Spock is dying of radiation poisoning. Suuuuuper dying. Apparently, putting your face in a regulated matter/antimatter reaction is bad for you.
The Honored Dead get put in torpedo tubes and fired out of the ship, which is another adapted naval tradition. Kirk actually gets choked up, and talks about how human Spock was. Which is a fitting coda to the character arc, since Spock’s purpose has always been to show us humanity from the perspective of the Other. His body is fired towards the Genesis planet, which appears to have been made out of all the gas in the Mutara nebula. We’re left with some hopeful words about Spock not really being dead as long as he’s remembered.
Nope, just kidding. We’re left with a graceful flyover of the Genesis planet, full of new-grown life, and Spock’s coffin resting on it, pristine and intact.