In which we learn of the Eugenics war, McCoy’s unwillingness to report being attacked by a patient, and the answer to the age-old question: Khan Noonien Singh? Not a note in the whole episode.
“Space Seed” is where a lot of stuff comes together. The Enterprise detects a
vessel out where no Earth vessels should be, giving off morse code signal. A very old style ship, apparently one of the first of it’s general model. Back in “The Cage” and the other early episodes I pointed out that a lot of the Enterprise‘s job consisted of going out and reestablishing contact with some of the colonies that had gotten lost – this is one of those. It was built in the 1990s. And there are slow heartbeats McCoy is able to detect. They can’t possibly be human, they’re too slow. Knowing more or less what’s coming, I can’t decide whether to keep mocking McCoy for how wrong he is, or be impressed at how right he is.
The ship is called the Botany Bay, launched during the Eugenics Wars, the last of the World Wars. I have such a long way to go until I get to watch “First Contact”. Anyway, those of us who have a passing familiarity with history will recognize Botany Bay as the destination for British criminals sentanced to Transportation to Australia. Not an auspicious name. I freely admit that I learned what Botany Bay was from Star Trek, and have now come full circle.
This is one of the classic episodes. Also, Kirk needs a historian so he selects a historian he clearly doesn’t have much respect for.
The ship is full of sleeping humanoids in wall-mounted stasis pods. Nuclear powered sleeper ship with transistors. How is it that we have microprocessors but not nuclear sleeper ships? We don’t even have hoverboards. Anyway, a rather strapping Sikh-looking gentleman is waking up and Lt. MacGyver is showing those classic 60s signs of being infatuated with him. There’s a problem with the stasis pod so they pull him out of the pod. His first words are “how long?”
The DY-100 chassis was designed to be an intrasystem planet hopper. This means that the Eugenics War happened while Earth was beginning to or had just barely colonized Luna and Mars, and maybe some of the Jovian moons. The chances of a ship like this making it to another star system were rated as ten thousand to one, but Spock finds it illogical that the ship might be a penal ship, because at the time the DY-100 was one of the most advanced ships on Earth, and at the time Earth was just fine with bombing itself back to the stone age.
He hasn’t been named yet, but I don’t care. The first thing Khan does when he wakes up is grab a scalpel and grab McCoy by the neck. McCoy’s ornery streak endears him to Khan, and they have a productive conversation. A tiny little farce plays out – Kirk just left sick bay for the Bridge, and two minutes later, McCoy calls him back because the patient is awake.
Kirk seems to take pleasure in answering Khan’s questions in a way that cannot possibly mean anything to a man who was asleep for two hundred years. Kirk ascedes to Khan’s request to study the Enterprise technical
manual, which again, cannot possibly go wrong in any way whatsoever. Apparently in the 1980s a group of scientists bred a bunch of Übermench who then took over various countries and started fighting each other. 80 or so escaped before the rest were defeated. It is no longer in question that Khan is a contemporary, so there’s nothing for it but to talk politics over a fancy dinner. Kirk manages to goad Khan into a social defeat – admission that he and the rest of the sleepers are these supermen. Also, Khan is Red Pilling something fierce.
Apparently Khan was the best of the dictators – he was tyrannical but never committed genocide or attacked without provocation. Spock is appalled that Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy have a grudging respect for him. Not enough respect, though, to put more than one aging redshirt outside his door. It takes about twenty seconds of screentime for Khan to escape, and securtity doesn’t even notice until he’s revived his whole crew and with MacGyvers’ help locked out the command functions of the ship. All she needed weas some chewing gum and a paperclip.
Be it noted – the Enterprise has an intruder control system that can flood the ship with knockout gas. I bet that’s going to be used exactly never outside of this episode, but it seems like a pretty good idea. By the time of the Enterprise D, this gets replaced with force field emitters every five feet, which is actually incredibly baller, and exactly what you’d expect from a ship with more technological sophistication and requiring an intruder control system that doesn’t endanger civilian families.
The denouement is incredibly loose-ended. Spock makes the statement that it would be cool to come back in a hundred years to the planet they’re going to maroon Khan and his cohort and also Lt. MacGyvers on and see what crops up. Khan seems pretty okay with his decision, but I think we all know he can get a bit wrathful at times.