Sunday, October 20, 2013
USS Enterprise NCC-1701 And SS Botany Bay "Space Seed"
"Space Seed" is a first-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast on February 16, 1967. It is episode #22, production #24, written by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber, based on a story by Carey Wilber, and directed by Marc Daniels. In the plot, the crew of the starship USS Enterprise encounters a sleeper ship holding genetically-engineered supermen and women from Earth's war-torn past. The supermen's leader, Khan Noonien Singh, attempts to take control of Enterprise to begin a new conquest. The episode guest stars Ricardo Montalbán as Khan, and Madlyn Rhue as Lt. Marla McGivers.
The 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan serves as a sequel to this episode. Plot elements of both the episode and The Wrath of Khan are used in the film reboot's 2013 film sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
On stardate 3141.9, the Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, finds a derelict ship floating in space. Its hull identifies it as the SS Botany Bay, although there is no historical record of such a ship. It was launched from Earth in the 1990s, during Earth's great world conflict—the Eugenics Wars. A landing party consisting of Captain Kirk, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Engineer Scott, and historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers, is beamed over to the freighter. Kirk has selected McGivers because she specializes in late 20th-century history and culture.
The landing party finds a cargo of 84 humans, 72 of whom are still alive in suspended animation after nearly 200 years. McGivers finds the stasis tube that contains the body of the one whom she believes may be the group's leader. The male occupant begins to revive, but his stasis cell begins to fail; he is taken back to Enterprise for a medical examination.
Kirk has Botany Bay taken in tow by a tractor beam, and Enterprise sets course for Starbase 12. In sickbay, Lt. McGivers marvels over the man, who is a living relic from an era she has studied all her life. The patient puts a scalpel to McCoy's throat, demanding to know where he is. McCoy responds by suggesting the optimal way to kill him if he wishes to do so. Impressed by McCoy's bravery, the man puts the scalpel down and introduces himself as "Khan".
First Officer Spock discovers that the man is Khan Noonien Singh who, along with his people, are products of 20th century genetic engineering and were bred to be perfect humans. The genetic superhumans instead became warlords, conquered more than one third of the Earth, and were principal combatants in the Eugenics Wars. At end of the Eugenics Wars, between eighty and ninety of them were unaccounted for; Khan is recorded as being the most dangerous of these warriors.
Khan is given quarters, although his door is locked and an armed guard posted outside. McGivers is sent to talk to him and brief him on current events. Taking advantage of McGivers' attraction towards him, Khan tells her he means to rule mankind again and needs her help to take over Enterprise. Reluctantly, she agrees and beams Khan to Botany Bay, where he revives the rest of his supermen. They return to Enterprise and assume control. Khan, who has familiarized himself with the ship's workings while in sickbay, cuts off life support to the bridge, and the command crew passes out. Khan throws Kirk into a decompression tank, and threatens to slowly suffocate him unless Kirk's command crew agree to follow Khan. Having a change of heart, McGivers frees Kirk from the chamber. Kirk helps Spock escape his captors, and the two vent anesthetic gas throughout the entire ship to disable Khan and his cohorts. Khan escapes the gas and heads down to Engineering, where he attempts to destroy the Enterprise, but Kirk confronts him and a brawl ensues. Kirk is outmatched by Khan's genetically superior physical strength, but Kirk uses a tool as a club to knock Khan unconscious.
When Khan and the other superhumans are rounded up, Kirk holds a hearing to decide their fate. Kirk decides that Khan and his followers should be exiled, and picks Ceti Alpha V, a treacherous world that Kirk believes would be a perfect place for Khan to start his kingdom over again. Life on Ceti Alpha V will not be easy, but Khan, impressed with the idea, claims he is up to the challenge and accepts Kirk's offer. Instead of a lengthy court-martial for Lt. McGivers, Kirk allows her to go into exile with Khan. Spock notes that it would be interesting to see what Khan makes of Ceti Alpha V in 100 years.
Writer Carey Wilber first proposed the story of what became "Space Seed" in September 1966, early in Star Trek's history. In the proposal, the villain was Harold Erickson, an ordinary criminal exiled into space in suspended animation. He sought to free his gang from the Botany Bay, seize the Enterprise, and become pirates. Gene L. Coon proposed that Erickson should be a true rival to Kirk, a genetic superman who had once ruled part of Earth. After Ricardo Montalbán was cast, the character was changed from the blond Nordic Erickson to the dark Khan Noonien. ("Noonien" came from Gene Roddenberry, who had an old Chinese friend named Noonien Wang that he had lost touch with. Roddenberry hoped that perhaps Wang would see the episode and contact him.