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In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he lists one important habit as: Begin with the end in mind. In other words, before you start a project, determine the end goal for it, in order to wisely plan how you work toward that goal.
People do this all the time for large projects. When planning a wedding or a big vacation, people often decide what they want to happen when they reach that date on the calendar. Then they work backwards from that date, setting small goals to achieve each month in order to achieve the desired end result. Just like a farmer planting seeds in springtime and caring for them throughout the summer, they’re carefully planting small seeds along the way that will grow into the final product.
In the Star Trek episode, “Space Seed”, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise discover the USS Botany Bay, an abandoned spaceship from the late 20th century [specifically, 1996 – remember, these episodes were produced in the late 1960’s]. Aboard the ship, they find nearly eighty men and women frozen in suspended animation. An expert in late 20th century Earth history, Lt. Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue), identifies the probable leader. After reviving him, they bring the leader aboard the Enterprise for medical treatment.
When he recovers, he introduces himself only as “Khan”. Although somewhat suspicious of Khan’s reticence, Kirk gives him access to his ship’s computers, to learn more about 23rd century technology. But Spock’s research leads him to suspect that Khan might be one of the many genetically-enhanced tyrants that nearly dominated Earth 200 years prior. What started as an experiment in selective breeding to create an army of super-soldiers, resulted in an army of overlords that nearly destroyed Earth.
Meanwhile, Lt. McGivers visits Khan, becoming more attracted to his commanding persona with each passing moment. It doesn’t take long for her to confess her deep attraction to him, though she recognizes that her romantic impulses hinder her ability to perform her duties aboard the Enterprise. Similarly, it doesn’t take Khan long to make it clear he shares her attraction, but wants her complete surrender to his will. Including his intention to seize command of the Enterprise.
It’s easy to be tempted by a quick solution to our problems. Our rush to finish a project might cause us to cut corners, without considering the repercussions. Like the scientists who engineered Khan’s race of super-beings, without considering what such powerful beings might soon demand of their “makers”.
Our loneliness could lead us into a less-than-perfect relationship. We can choose to suffer under a relationship that is verbally, emotionally, or even physically abusive. Because a little voice in our heads tells us that nothing better will ever come our way.
But the small compromises we make can grow into major problems.
Khan soon succeeds in taking over the ship, and tries to force the crew to submit to his rule. However, they refuse. Even in the face of their deaths and the deaths of their comrades, not one of the bridge crew agrees to follow Khan. Because they realize that a small compromise like that will only help Khan to spread his influence throughout the universe, causing entire worlds to suffer. Instead, they choose to contain his poisonous influence aboard their ship. They refuse to let his deadly power grow any further.
This leads even Lt. McGivers to reconsider. She steals away from Khan and helps Kirk to escape and free the others.
To me, this episode always had the feel of a classic vampire story. Khan, like Dracula, is a charismatic foreigner with a mysterious past. He enters civilized society and blends in easily, captivating the hearts of everyone around him with his intellect and charm.
But gradually, everyone discovers that they’re harboring a savage murderer, more powerful than anyone can contain. (I always found it interesting that Kirk even uses a “stake” to defeat Khan in the end, by hitting him repeatedly with some sort of pipe which serves no clear purpose.)
Khan, like a vampire, is very attractive and appealing. But a more careful look would reveal what the surface only hints at: beneath that charming façade lies a cold-hearted murderer.
Having finally captured Khan’s army and reclaimed their ship, Kirk sentences Khan and his people to a desolate planet, Ceti Alpha V, with no chance for escape to other worlds. Lt. McGivers agrees to join him there rather than face courtmartial.
This is where, as we know, Kirk makes a deadly mistake.
Khan accepts his banishment, likening it to the fictionalized description of Satan being cast out of Heaven in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Kirk picks up Khan’s hinted reference of Satan saying it’s “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Actually, it would have been better for Khan to lose a little of his overpowering ego.
“It would be interesting, Captain,” Spock notes, “to return to that world in a hundred years, and learn what crop had sprung from the seed you planted today.”
“Yes, Mr. Spock,” Kirk agrees. “It would indeed.”
Little did Kirk or Khan know then that they would engage in even deadlier battle, a mere fifteen years later (in the film “Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan”). Had they known, they might have reconsidered their words and actions that day. The final result of what they planted was the complete destruction of Khan and his entire army, solely due to Khan’s relentless thirst for conquest and, ultimately, revenge against Kirk. The result for Kirk was the loss of a young cadet and his lifelong friend, Spock. And Lt. Marla McGivers receives a passing reference, in which Khan reveals that she died there on the planet, killed by one of its savage creatures.
Whatever you plant, it will grow. How we treat others, how we raise our children, the laws we lobby for – they all have an end result.
Be careful what you plant today. It will spring up tomorrow.
STAR TREK TRIVIA:
> This is the only Star Trek episode with a film as a sequel. Like the original episode, which references Paradise Lost, “Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan” references two other literary classics which represent the driving values that are in conflict. Chekov finds a copy of Moby Dick in Khan’s library when he discovers their ship. Khan quotes from it at the end of the film, his dying words as he makes a final effort to kill Kirk: “From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” Khan represents death, his entire life consumed by a selfish quest for revenge against Kirk, just as Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab wasted his life in pursuit of killing the white whale that wounded him.
Kirk and his crew, along with the cadets who are in training to replace them, represent life. Spock gives Kirk a birthday present of A Tale of Two Cities, and Kirk quotes from it after Spock sacrifices himself to save the crew: “It’s a far, far better thing I do. A far better resting place I go to, than I have ever known.” Khan’s death, meant for murder, produces nothing. Spock’s death results in new life for everyone that knew him.
Lieutenant Marla McGivers has a scene with Yeoman Baker in which Baker informs her that Lieutenant Hanson wants to go to a ship’s dance with her. McGivers tells her to tell Hanson to get lost, that she is waiting for a man who will “knock down my door and carry me to where he wants me.”
> The following is from memory-alpha.org, about a deleted scene that might explain why Lt. McGivers gives in to Khan so easily:
There are scenes in the Second Revised Final Draft, dated 13 December 1966, that were either unfilmed, or not aired:
Click here to read that deleted scene.
> My Favorite Quote about this episode:
“Boy! 200 years old and he still doesn’t have any manners!”
- my mom, Rose Marie Dunn, when I assumed she wasn’t paying attention to this episode, and Khan forced Lt. McGivers to her knees.
Watch for another Monthly Feature STAR TREK entry in a few days!
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