II  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

[70mm prints called it simply Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, without the II.]

(release date: June 4, 1982)

Story: Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards     Screenplay: Jack B. Sowards [and Nicholas Meyer, uncredited]
Director: Nicholas Meyer

Dr. Carol Marcus: Bibi Besch
Captain Terrell: Paul Winfield
Khan: Ricardo Montalban
Peter Preston: Ike Eisenmann

Dr. David Marcus: Merrick Butrick
Saavik: Kirstie Alley
Joachim (uncredited): Judson Scott
Commander Kyle: John Winston

Stardate: 8130.3

Captain's Log: The U.S.S. Reliant is surveying planets, looking for a lifeless world in order for a group of scientists on the station Regula I to use for Project Genesis: a radical terraforming experiment that could create a new habitable world in a matter of days. Captain Terrell and Commander Chekov of the Reliant beam down to Ceti Alpha VI to investigate a slight trace of life, but they instead find Khan Noonien Singh ("Space Seed") and what remains of his group of genetically engineered superhumans. This planet is in fact Ceti Alpha V; six months after Kirk left Khan and his people on Ceti Alpha V, Ceti Alpha VI exploded, knocking Ceti Alpha V out of its orbit and destroying virtually all life on the planet. Starfleet never checked up on Khan and his followers, and so Khan now blames Kirk for everything that's subsequently happened. Using an eel-like creature that makes the victim susceptible to suggestion, Khan takes over the Reliant and heads to Regula I to capture Genesis. Meanwhile, Admiral Kirk is overseeing a group of cadets on a training voyage aboard the Enterprise when he receives a message from Regula I regarding Genesis. The Enterprise heads to Regula I, but on the way they're ambushed by Reliant, causing heavy damage to the Enterprise - although the Enterprise is able to inflict damage on Reliant as well. The Enterprise limps to Regula I, where they discover that Khan has killed virtually everyone on the station, leaving behind Terrell and Chekov. Kirk and company beam to the center of the planetoid Regula, where they find the remaining personnel, including Dr. Carol Marcus and her son, David - who is also Kirk's son. Terrell and Chekov are still under Khan's influence, allowing Khan to beam up the Genesis materials, but they're unwilling to then kill Kirk; Terrell kills himself, while the eel controlling Chekov leaves his head. Kirk and company beam aboard the wounded Enterprise; they're no match for Reliant as is, so they head into the nearby Mutara Nebula to even the odds. The Enterprise successfully disables the Reliant, so Khan activates the Genesis device with his dying breath. The Enterprise is too damaged to escape in time, so Spock heads to Engineering and repairs the damaged engines, allowing the Enterprise to escape but at the cost of Spock's life. Spock is thus laid to rest on the surface of the new planet, Genesis, formed out of the Mutara Nebula.

Whoops!: How the hell did the Reliant confuse Ceti Alpha V for Ceti Alpha VI? Did no one scan the system on the way in and notice that the number of planets didn't match their records? Did they just head to the outermost planet and assume it was Ceti Alpha VI, even though it wasn't in the expected orbit for Ceti Alpha VI (or Ceti Alpha V, even, assuming it was knocked closer to the sun - hence a desert instead of a tundra)? And how close was Ceti Alpha VI to Ceti Alpha V, such that its exploding catastrophically affected V's orbit (since, remember, space is a vacuum and so there's no medium for shock waves to travel through)? Mind you, the Reliant mistook a handful of people and a surviving indigenous lifeform for a minor energy fluctuation on a single scanner, so it doesn't seem like they have the best sensors in the first place.
     And that's a point. How hard can it be to find a planet without life? There should be tons of lifeless rocks ready to be terraformed, but Reliant is really struggling with this for some reason. [They may be looking for a lifeless planet in the Goldilocks zone of a star system, which could be harder to find.]
     The interior of the Botany Bay looks nothing like it did in "Space Seed", even allowing for the passage of time. And yes, Khan recognizes Chekov even though he wasn't in the episode or even on the show at the time. [But of course just because we didn't see him doesn't mean that Chekov wasn't stationed aboard the Enterprise at the time, so this isn't necessarily a goof.]
     If the prefix code is simply a numeric combination, as seen here, what stops an enemy computer from performing brute force attacks on your computer? Do you get locked out after a certain number of attempts? Do you have to perform the 23rd-century equivalent of checking one of those "I am not a robot" boxes first?
     Director Nicholas Meyer likes his movies to look dynamic and exciting, which is presumably why there's a shot of grilles being removed from a torpedo path while torpedoes are slowly moved along said path to the torpedo tube. But is it really likely that a starship, which might be called on to defend itself at any moment, would have a torpedo-loading system like this? By the time they loaded one up it'd be too late, even assuming they could remove the grilles while the ship is under fire.
     Other weird moments: once Chekov realizes they're in the Botany Bay, why do they have to head outside? Can't they just beam out from where they are? Why does Scotty carry Peter Preston to the bridge instead of straight to sickbay? What's the point of making a bosun's whistle electronic? Why not just use a regular whistle? Why is there a rat running around aboard a space station? [Maybe it was one of the scientists' pet.] And given everything we know about how the transporter works, shouldn't it be impossible to have a conversation mid-beaming?

Classic Lines: "How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?"
     Scott: "I had me a wee bout, sir, but Dr. McCoy pulled me through." Kirk: "A wee bout of what?" McCoy: "Shore leave, Admiral."
     "As a physician you of all people should appreciate the danger of reopening old wounds."
     "Who's been holding up the damn elevator?"
     Spock: "Jim, be careful." McCoy: "We will."
     "Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us 'Revenge is a dish that is best served cold'? It is very cold... in space."
     Kirk: "You were going to kill me, Khan. You're going to have to come down here! You're going to have to come down here!" Khan: "I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on... hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me. As you left her. Marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. Buried alive... Buried alive..." Kirk: "KHAN!"
     Spock: "Ship. Out of danger?" Kirk: "Yes." Spock: "Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many... outweigh..." Kirk: "...the needs of the few." Spock: "Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test... until now. What do you think... of my solution?" Kirk: "Spock!" Kirk: "I have been... and always shall be... your friend. Live long... and prosper." Kirk: "No..."
     "He's really not dead, as long as we remember him."
     And many more, in one of the most quotable installments in all of Star Trek.

Technobabble: The atmosphere of Ceti Alpha V is full of craylon gas.

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Well, Khan tortured and killed most of the Regula I scientists (but at least most of them were away on leave). A number of people died after Khan attacked the Enterprise, including Midshipman Peter Preston. Captain Terrell vaporized a Regula I scientist, Jedda, with a phaser, and then he vaporized himself rather than kill Admiral Kirk. Most of Khan's people are killed in the final battle with the Enterprise, and the rest, including Khan himself, are killed when Khan detonates the Genesis device. And Spock sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise from the Genesis wave.

Alien Love: A number of years ago, Kirk had a romantic relationship with Dr. Carol Marcus, which led to a son, David.

Library Computer: It's the 23rd century. [Thus at long last confirming which century the original series is set in.] It's later than 2283. [That's the date on the bottle of Romulan ale McCoy gives Kirk, along with the comment that it takes it a while to ferment - which suggests that this is actually some time after 2283. But...] It's also been [at least] fifteen years since the events of "Space Seed". [Here's where it gets a bit sticky; starting with the more-or-less-official Star Trek Chronology, the convention has been to date Original Series episodes to the year of broadcast plus 300 years - and this gets essentially confirmed in the Voyager episode "Q2", with the end of the five-year mission given as 2270. But that means "Space Seed" was set in 2267, and 2267 + 15 = 2282 - which can't be right, because of the Romulan ale. Normally we'd just say that Khan got the "fifteen years" figure wrong, but this is Khan we're talking about; with his superior intellect, he's not likely to get something like that wrong. (Well, except he explicitly says they came from 1996, "two hundred years before you were born", so maybe his timing isn't as accurate as we might otherwise think.) But regardless, we need to account for the discrepancy. Possibility 1: he's rounding or being vague for whatever reason (and fifteen is the sort of number one would choose if one wanted to be somewhat vague). Possibility 2: years on Ceti Alpha V are a bit longer than they are on Earth, and Khan is using Ceti Alphan years instead of Terran ones. In either case (and acknowledging that Kirk is rounding when he says "fifteen years" later), it needs to be after 2283, but not so late that the "fifteen years" comment can no longer be reasonably treated as rounding. The Star Trek Chronology goes with 2285, which just about works with the Romulan ale being sufficiently fermented.]
     Admiral Kirk is, as of stardate 8130.3, in charge of guiding a group of Starfleet cadets through a training mission. He doesn't particularly like inspections, and he's somewhat nervous about the idea of trainees running the Enterprise, even if it's only a training voyage. The general impression is that he hasn't been doing this for long, and that he doesn't particularly enjoy it - both Spock and McCoy tell him that they believe he is better suited commanding a starship than dealing with the bureaucracy that comes with being an admiral. [This is slightly odd; Kirk was already an admiral in The Motion Picture, and the dating in that compared to this suggests there's been something like ten-plus years between the two movies. So what's Kirk been doing in the meantime that he's only now becoming unhappy with being an admiral? There's lots of fan speculation, but the only on-screen hint we get comes in Star Trek Generations, where Kirk reveals that he'd left Starfleet for a time and then later rejoined it "nine years ago"; based on the dates in that movie, that would make his decision to rejoin occur in 2284, which lines up with the 2285 date for this movie and helps explain why everyone's acting like this is a new position for him.] Kirk's birthday occurs during the events of this movie, and at some point he's acquired a taste for antiques, including weapons, books, and some sailing ship models. He also wears a wristwatch. As Kirk has aged his eyesight has started to fail [the way he holds the book at arms' length at the end suggests he might have developed presbyopia, where the lens hardens, consequently focusing light behind the retina instead of on it]. Normally the treatment for this is Retinax 5, but Kirk is allergic to it; McCoy therefore gives Kirk a pair of glasses for his birthday. (In the Director's Cut, McCoy notes that the glasses are 400 years old and that you don't find many with the lenses intact.) Spock gives him a copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. According to Carol Marcus, Kirk was never a Boy Scout.
     Dr. Carol Marcus is a short, slender Caucasian woman with wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was in charge of a research project - Project Genesis - aboard the space station Regula I and thus was the head of a small group of scientists - including her son David. Carol is independent and strong-willed, but not unpleasantly so. A number of years ago, she had had a serious relationship with Kirk, but they ended up parting after it was clear their professional lives wouldn't intersect. David was also Kirk's son, but Carol made it clear that she wanted David to be a scientist like her, instead of an explorer like his father; Kirk respected Carol's wishes, staying away - to the point where David is unaware that Kirk is his father. [Look at the conversation with his mother where Kirk first comes up.] However, it doesn't appear that Carol bears any ill will toward Kirk.
     David Marcus is a tall, thin Caucasian male with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. He's the son of Carol Marcus and James Kirk, although he doesn't seem to know that Kirk is his father until the events shown here. He's one of the scientists who helped develop Project Genesis. He's rather hot-headed and impetuous, and he doesn't trust Starfleet. That said, by the end of things here he says he's proud to be Kirk's son.
     Lieutenant Saavik is a Starfleet cadet and a student of Spock's. She is a Vulcan with dark hair, and she has a fondness for quoting regulations. Unlike other Vulcans that we've seen, she does not have upswept eyebrows. [At least, not here; they become upswept in the next two movies, when Robin Curtis takes over the role.] Although she is typically Vulcan-like in her emotional expression, she sheds tears at Spock's funeral. [Saavik was initially intended to be half-Romulan, but those lines, although filmed, were cut from the final release(s).] She is surprised at Kirk's human qualities.
     Spock is now a captain; he is here in charge of a specific group of Starfleet trainees. He still considers Kirk to be his friend. In addition to his uniform, he's seen here in a black Vulcan robe [the same one we saw in The Motion Picture], and his quarters have a large tapestry-like hanging of the IDIC symbol ("Is There In Truth No Beauty?"), made up of small metallic discs. Spock states that logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; as a consequence of this position, he sacrifices his own life by fixing the warp engines of the Enterprise in order to save the rest of the crew. Before this, he initiates a mind meld with McCoy, telling him, "Remember." [This will be relevant in the next movie.] Spock's body is placed in a Mark VI torpedo tube and sent out to rest on the newly-formed planet Genesis.
     Commander Scott appears to be in charge of the engineering trainees aboard the Enterprise. He knows how to play the bagpipes, and can play "Amazing Grace" on them.
     Sulu is now a commander. He's part of Kirk's crew overseeing the training mission. He's happy to have a chance to be aboard the Enterprise again.
     Uhura has also been promoted to commander. She's also part of the senior crew overseeing the training mission.
     Chekov has also been promoted to commander. He's currently the first officer of the U.S.S. Reliant, assigned to aid the scientists aboard Regula I in finding a completely lifeless planet to use as the test site for stage 3 of Project Genesis.
     Captain Terrell [first name Clark, according to the script] was the commander of the Reliant. He was a black man, a bit older, with reasonably short dark hair and brown eyes. Terrell beamed down to Ceti Alpha V with Chekov to investigate a life reading on a supposedly lifeless planet, where the two of them encountered Khan and his people. Terrell fell under Khan's influence as a result of the Ceti Alpha eel, helping Khan steal the Genesis device and accompanying computer. However, rather than kill Kirk he chose to vaporize himself with a phaser. Prior to the events of this movie he had never met Kirk.
     As of stardate 8130.4, Commander Kyle ("Tomorrow is Yesterday" et seq.) was stationed about the Reliant. He's grown a goatee since we last saw him.
     Midshipman First Class Peter Preston was a young trainee with brown hair and brown eyes. He was an engineer's mate. He was killed after the Reliant's initial attack on the Enterprise; he stayed at his post while the other trainees ran. (Preston has a scene in the Director's Cut where he claims that the Enterprise engine room is the finest in Starfleet. It's also revealed that he's Scotty's nephew, being his sister's youngest child, and that he's "crazy to get to space".)
     Khan ("Space Seed") is still alive on Ceti Alpha V, where Kirk left him. His hair has gone white and his face is more lined, but he still maintains the proud bearing and the excellent physique from the last time we saw him. However, he is far angrier than before; six months after the Enterprise left Khan, his followers, and the cargo containers of Khan's ship, the Botany Bay, on Ceti Alpha V, the neighboring planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded, shifting the orbit of Ceti Alpha V such that, instead of being a temperate, reasonably hospitable place (Kirk compared it to Australia in "Space Seed"), it became a barren desert with a limited atmosphere dominated by craylon gas, wiping out virtually all life. Khan and his followers were able to survive, thanks to Khan's "superior intellect", but twenty of his people were killed by the only surviving indigenous lifeform, the Ceti Alpha eel. One of the victims was Khan's wife [Lt. Marla McGivers, most likely, but this isn't explicitly confirmed]. Khan uses the young eels to control Chekov and Terrell, thus allowing him to take control of the U.S.S. Reliant; Khan and his followers escape Ceti Alpha V, marooning the Reliant crew there instead. Khan blames Kirk not only for the death of his wife, but also for essentially abandoning Khan and his people, with the Federation never checking up on their progress in the intervening years. Consequently, Khan's thoughts are directed toward revenge on Kirk, choosing to take that revenge even over the possibility of just moving on with the Reliant. He's very familiar with Moby-Dick (in fact, we see a copy in the Botany Bay, along with Dante's Inferno, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by Milton, King Lear, and a copy of the Bible). As with Captain Ahab, Khan's quest for vengeance ultimately leads to his death, as he kills himself by activating the Genesis device aboard the Reliant, intending to take the Enterprise with him when the device detonates. This was after a series of battles between the Enterprise and the Reliant, where Spock determined that, while Khan was intelligent, he was inexperienced and thus thought of starship battles in two-dimensional terms; this allowed the Enterprise to gain an advantage over Khan.
     Joachim was one of Khan's followers. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and he seemed more youthful in appearance than Khan. Joachim would have preferred to simply leave Ceti Alpha V for somewhere new instead of chasing after Kirk, but he nevertheless obeyed Khan's orders.
     The Ceti Alpha eel was a lifeform with large pincer-like jaws and a thick carapace. Adults appeared to grow to a few inches in length. It burrowed in the sand. It held its young inside the plates of its carapace; these young looked like small brown slugs. These young would enter an animal through the ear canal and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex; as a side effect this made the victim highly susceptible to suggestion. Eventually madness and death would follow. Despite this, Chekov was able to survive the effects of the eel.
     Project Genesis was an ambitious attempt to rapidly terraform a planet. Matter was rearranged at the molecular level to create life-generating matter instead of barren matter. This way, lifeless planets and moons could be converted into places capable of supporting life. However, if Genesis were introduced into a place that wasn't lifeless, it would obliterate that life in favor of its own matrix; both Drs. McCoy and David Marcus were concerned about this possibility. Project Genesis was headed by Dr. Carol Marcus, with the team stationed on Space Station Regula I, a scientific research laboratory orbiting Regula, a lifeless class D planetoid consisting of "various unremarkable ores". The station consisted of a set of long columns combined to form a central cylinder, with a large mushroom-like "head" at the top of the station and a series of discs jutting out from the cylinder at the midway point. [It's essentially the same model as the orbital office complex in The Motion Picture, flipped upside down.] Regula I included modules devoted to geoplastics, gravitronics, and thermonics. Stage 1 of Project Genesis was conducted in the laboratory, while stage 2 took place (some time after stardate 7130.4, which was about a year ago) in a cave deep inside Regula; it took the Starfleet Corps of Engineers ten months (in space suits) to hollow out a sufficient space for the Genesis team, but the Genesis effect created a basic life-generating matrix in a day, with the lifeforms following at an accelerated rate, leading to a lush cavern with enough food to last a lifetime. Stage 3 was intended to happen on a planetary scale, which was why the Reliant was looking for a lifeless planet. Once the build-up of the Genesis wave began, it took four minutes before it detonated; this build-up couldn't be halted. The Genesis device was triggered by Khan aboard the Reliant; instead of transforming a planet, it used up the matter of the Mutara Nebula (and Reliant) to create a brand-new planet, which became filled with lush plant life. [The fallout of these events will picked up in the next movie.] The Genesis team designed and built a dedicated computer console as part of the project, completely filling the memory banks with data. There was no data about Genesis in the Regula I computers when Khan came looking.
     The Mutara Nebula was a blue and purple nebula located near Regula. The nebula was full of gas clouds and static discharges; this had the effect of negating shields and sensors, with visual displays almost useless with static. The matter of the Mutara Nebula was converted into a planet when the Genesis device detonated inside the nebula.
     The U.S.S. Reliant was a Federation starship, registry number NCC-1864. This is a new (to us) starship design, consisting of a large saucer section with a squared-off rear section, two warp nacelles descending from the rear of the main saucer (one on each side), and a bar running above the rear of the saucer, with a larger pod in the center of the bar. [This is sometimes unofficially called the "roll bar".] There are phaser arrays located at each end of this bar. Two shuttlebays can be seen on the rear of the main saucer, one on each side of the back (thus partially accounting for the squared-off portion). The bridge of the Reliant looked similar to that of the Enterprise, although some of the stations are in different locations. (For instance, communications seems to be on the right-hand side of the bridge.) There's also only one turbolift, at the rear of the bridge. [The art department of The Next Generation would come to refer to this class of starship as Miranda-class, for non-obvious reasons.]
     The Enterprise is largely the same as the last time we saw it. The primary differences include moving the science station on the bridge from behind the captain's chair to the right-hand side, and the elimination of the partition between the transporter pads and the transporter console. There's also a large room that photon torpedoes pass through, although their path is covered by grating when not in use. [This simply transports them from storage to being on-hand for use, rather than being the way they have to actually load the torpedoes.] Engineering also has a chamber with a squat pedestal inside; this chamber is walled off due to radiation. Removing the top of the pedestal reveals an intense white light; fiddling with something inside the opened pedestal can bring the warp engines back online, but it's also highly radioactive. [It's not quite clear what this is meant to be; something to do with the dilithium crystals, perhaps?]
     Starships have what's known as a prefix code: a combination code unique to a particular vessel in order for it to verify that the commands the computer is receiving come from that vessel rather than an enemy ship. However, if the prefix code is known, then the vessel will happily accept computer commands from a different computer. The Reliant's prefix code is 16309.
     Starfleet's uniforms have undergone a drastic redesign since we last saw them. They're now all the same basic color, with a few limited exceptions: a deep maroon red double-breasted jacket, albeit one that fastens at the right shoulder (instead of down the center like a modern jacket), where a colored band on the shoulder indicates rank and department. There's a similar colored band around the jacket's left arm, near the cuff; this band has a set of round pips and vertical bars, while the rank insignia is located slightly further up the sleeve, above the band. [The pips and bars - "squeaks", according to costume designer Robert Fletcher - are meant to represent years of service and commendations, respectively. The differing arrangements between officers is apparently meant to be down to personal taste, rather than having a particular meaning.] The jacket "flap" is trimmed with black, and the inner lining of the jacket is white. Kirk, as an admiral, has additional gold piping along the black trim. There's also a built-in black belt on the jacket, with a Starfleet insignia as the buckle. The jacket has no collar; instead, an undershirt with a thick ribbed collar is worn, with the color of the shirt (and the shoulder band) indicating the department the officer belongs to. White is command, light green is medical, mustard yellow is helm and engineering operations, grey is communications operations, and red indicates a cadet. The rank insignia have changed a bit: ensign is a stylized triangle [though this rank isn't really obvious until Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country]; lieutenant junior grade consists of a bar with an inverted triangle at either end of the bar, broken in the middle; lieutenant is the same as lieutenant j.g., only without the break in the middle; lieutenant commander is a hollow rectangle with the ends pointing inward, with one bar in the center of the rectangle; commander is the same as lieutenant commander, only with two bars; captain consists of a hollow rectangle with the ends pointing outward, with arrowheads overlaid on the ends pointing inward, and with three bars inside the rectangle; and admiral consists of four of these arrowhead shapes pointing inward, forming a clover-like shape. [Based on Robert Fletcher's designs, Kirk is actually a rear admiral; the designs for higher ranks, such as vice admiral or fleet admiral, involve variations on the basic rear admiral design, but they don't show up in this movie.]
     The Starfleet insignia is now a metal pin: it's still the arrowhead-with-starburst-in-a-circle design from the previous movie, but now it's sometimes resting on a white horizontal bar with metallic lines running the length of the bar. [This appears to be for officers; other crewmen get the insignia without the bar.] The pants are still black, but there's now a stripe running down the outside leg, with the color matching the department - albeit with a maroon stripe instead of white for command.
     The limited exceptions to the standard uniform mentioned above include a white engineering jumpsuit (the same as we saw in The Motion Picture); a white doctor's coat with a more standard collar and a caduceus instead of a Starfleet emblem, worn with the standard undershirt; white medical tunics, also with a caduceus; a form of suit with an off-white suit with a small pack on the back, worn by a maintenance person in Starfleet Training Command; and a more utilitarian red jumpsuit with a tan shoulder panel. In addition, the Enterprise landing party wears a long maroon jacket with a massive ribbed collar, several pockets, and a departmental band with rank insignia around the left shoulder. [Compare to the jacket seen in The Motion Picture.] We also see an environmental suit, worn by Terrell and by Chekov. They're completely enclosed suits, made of some thick material, with a rectangular plastic "shell" that draped over the shoulders, complete with a handle on the front, and a dome-like helmet. The underlying suits are a dull reddish-brown color, with either white (Chekov's) or orange (Terrell's) shells and accents on the suits.
     Civilian outfits include various vests and jackets, worn over solid-colored shirts and pants. There's nothing too futuristic, although McCoy's ensemble in Kirk's apartment is heading that direction. The lab uniforms on Regula I (also worn by civilians) tend to be two-tone outfits of white and another color, such as tan or olive green, in either long-sleeve or short-sleeve versions. The Regula I personnel are all wearing some form of weird device on their right breast.
     They've gone back to using handheld flip communicators, instead of the wrist communicators they were using in The Motion Picture. (That said, the wrist communicators aren't completely gone; Terrell is using a black one when talking to Khan, and Chekov is also wearing one.) These communicators are a lot more boxy than the Original Series ones; they look like aluminum boxes with lights at the bottom, with an aluminum flip-top.
     The Kobayashi Maru test was a simulator test given to command-track Starfleet cadets. The test was designed to confront cadets with a no-win scenario, in order to see how they would handle such an outcome; consequently, it's a test of character. The version we see takes place in a simulation of the Enterprise bridge, in a Mark IV Simulator, Enterprise Class, located on the 2nd level of Starfleet Training Command. [Enterprise-class was the original designation for the redesigned movie Enterprise by designer Andrew Probert. While Constitution-class had been floating around since the original series, Probert felt the redesign was different enough to warrant a new class. However, things will change back to Constitution-class by Star Trek VI.] The simulator room includes a "No Smoking At Anytime[sic] On Bridge" sign. [Given that the simulator room is about to be destroyed, this is meant to be a "joke".] While captaining a starship, the cadet being tested receives a distress call from a small ship, the Kobayashi Maru, which is located inside the Klingon Neutral Zone. If the cadet chooses to attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru, the ship is surrounded by Klingon battlecruisers and destroyed. As of stardate 8130.3, James Kirk was the only person to ever beat the Kobayashi Maru - an outcome he achieved on his third attempt, after he reprogrammed the simulator to allow a successful rescue of the ship. This earned him a commendation for original thinking. [On the one hand, yes, it means Kirk ultimately cheated. On the other hand, it was his third attempt, meaning he had already confronted the no-win scenario twice before - and since the purpose isn't to "win", it had fulfilled its purpose for Kirk, at least (presumably) in the eyes of his instructors.] Saavik's attempt at the Kobayashi Maru test involved trying to rescue the titular ship and being destroyed by Klingons as a result. Spock never took the test. [As he was initially sciences rather than command, this makes sense.] Wrecking the simulator isn't an uncommon result of the test.
     According to the simulator test, the Kobayashi Maru was a class III neutronic fuel carrier registered in Amber in Tau Ceti IV. The ship's master was Kojiro Vance, and it carried 81 crewmembers and 300 passengers. The Kobayashi Maru weighed 147,943 metric tons, with a cargo capacity of 97,000 metric tons. It was 237 meters long, 111 meters wide, and 70 meters high, and its maximum cruising speed was warp 3, although it could make warp 6 in an emergency. The test claimed that the Kobayashi Maru was nineteen periods out of Altair VI when it struck a gravitic mine and lost power. This mine was located in Gamma Hydra, section ten, which was inside the Klingon Neutral Zone. [Gamma Hydra IV showed up in "The Deadly Years", where it was shown to be near the Romulan Neutral Zone. So either Gamma Hydra is where the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Federation all meet, or the borders have changed in the intervening years. Or whoever programmed the simulator wasn't beholden to the real situation.]
     According to Carol Marcus, Starfleet has kept the peace for a hundred years. [This suggests that the Romulan War ("Balance of Terror") was the last major conflict, or possibly the wars with the Kzinti ("The Slaver Weapon") - see the latter entry for more on our speculations about when those were. Note that this does not square with the events depicted in Star Trek: Discovery - see those entries for more on that.]
     Starfleet has a retinal scan in place in order to gain access to certain classified materials, such as the Demonstration Presentation of Project Genesis.
     Starships have a log buoy that can be sent out in the case of a ship's impending destruction.
     The bridge of the Enterprise is located on A Deck, while the transporter is on D Deck.
     Kirk claims that Klingons don't take prisoners.
     Romulan ale is a clear, blue alcoholic beverage. It's illegal in the Federation, but Dr. McCoy knows someone who occasionally brings him a case from across the Neutral Zone. According to McCoy, it takes a while for it to ferment.
     Starfleet General Order 12 begins with "On the approach of any vessel, when communications have not been established". The implication is that defensive action should be taken. Saavik claims that General Order 15 states that "No flag officer shall beam into a hazardous area without armed escort", but Kirk counters that there's no such order. [The implication is that Saavik is lying in order to go with the landing party - except as a Vulcan, Saavik shouldn't be comfortable with lying. So either she's misremembered the order, Kirk is lying (but his reaction suggests he's not), or this was meant to be evidence of her Romulan side.] Starfleet Regulation 46A states that "if transmissions are being monitored during battle, no uncoded messages on an open channel."
     Khan is familiar with the Klingon proverb "Revenge is a dish that is best served cold". [He likely encountered it during the events of "Space Seed" while reading through the Enterprise library computer. The proverb itself dates back to at least 19th-century France and the novel Mathilde by Eugène Sue, albeit not in this exact phrasing.]
     Starfleet has a fancy-looking electronic bosun's whistle, used here to welcome Kirk aboard the Enterprise.
     Tiberian bats are blind, according to the Director's Edition.

Final Analysis: "I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up." After the slow pace of the previous film, The Wrath of Khan provides a far faster, more action-packed experience, anchored in no small part by the absolutely magnetic performance of Ricardo Montalban. Meanwhile, Shatner, aided by Meyer's direction, gives a more vulnerable performance as Kirk, which thus provides an excellent contrast between Kirk and Khan, while the starship battles are thrilling and the plot is compelling - and so the energy bursts off the screen. Then add on top of that a satisfying theme about aging and the consequences of the actions of one's past, both good (David) and bad (Khan), and what it truly means to face death, and it's not difficult to see why this is held in such high regard. The Wrath of Khan is Star Trek at its best.

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Page originally created: December 24, 2019
Page last updated: January 27, 2020

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