Star Trek: The Original Series

"Space Seed"

3.5 stars

Air date: 2/16/1967
Teleplay by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber
Story by Carey Wilber
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A good thriller requires a good villain, and "Space Seed" has Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban), a 20th-century tyrannical leader from the era of the Eugenics War—a conflict fought over the dispute of genetically engineering human beings. Khan and his crew have been in suspended animation on the S.S. Botany Bay since 1996. Now awakened, Khan intends to reinitiate his old ways, beginning with taking over the Enterprise and (as they say) moving on to the rest of the universe.

Khan's quite a presence; his skill in manipulating historical officer Lt. Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue) demonstrates his great ability for balancing attractive charisma and frightening psychological terrorism—and Montalban is exceptional in the role. Khan's tactic in trying to force support from crew members (subjection to suffocation) is particularly treacherous.

The ending fight scene was a little typical in its way of "Kirk versus an adversary," but it was executed well. Oh, and there was great use of Bones' attitude in the early scenes ("Well, either choke me or cut my throat—make up your mind!"). But like much of classic Trek, the polemics linger: the argument and implications of "improving man"; the reflection upon a savage reign of tyranny; the savageness inherent in humanity. All interesting stuff.

Previous episode: The Return of the Archons
Next episode: A Taste of Armageddon

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70 comments on this post

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 1:54am (UTC -5)
I loved that scene with Bones, too. And young Ricardo Montalban was HAWT. But I was pretty irritated with the whole McGiver-can't-resist-the-man-from-a-different-time plotline. I have no patience for fluctuating loyalties, and women often serve that function in TOS.
Sat, Sep 8, 2012, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
The best line of all Star Trek and one I have used in many scenarios, "Stay or go, but do it because it is what you wish to do."
Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 8:15am (UTC -5)
The fight scene was well executed? Not even by 60's standards. Mrs. Prickley's doubles got full-on face shots--very amateurish.
Fri, Apr 26, 2013, 7:15am (UTC -5)
The fight scene if pretty funny. As in other episodes they use stunt doubles who only look vaguely like the actors. In the fight scene in Mirror, Mirror Spock's double has curly hair.
And it stupid that Khan gets taken down by Kirk with a piece of plastic pipe.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Oh my god how I hate that episode.

All that swooning over a "superior" man - and it's not just the females!

And then there is kind of woman that is characterized as "To Stupid To live" in fiction. "Swept off her feet" because deep down, women want a "real man" who is an arrogant domineering asshole. Yuck, yuck and YUCK on that whole concept.

Kirk made two really bad decisions in this episode. First, giving Khan access to all of the ship's library including the technical manuals (WTF?), then letting the bastard live.

And Khan hot?? Ok, we all have different ideas on what's hot.

Grr, why are women often portrayed so DUMB on Star Trek??

Zero stars.
Thu, Nov 7, 2013, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Having been a longtime fan of TWOK, it was interesting to see the TOS ep that preceded it, as well as to go back and look at the character of Khan again after seeing Into Darkness. After watching SS, it makes me wonder to what lengths Marcus went to in order to ensure that Khan didn't commandeer HIS ship and revive his crew after reviving him in the alternate timeline. He obviously was smart enough to ensure that Khan couldn't easily figure how to take control though, of course, Marcus eventually lost control of him thus leading into the plot of Into Darkness. I was dumbfounded by the seeming stupidity of Kirk giving Khan access to technical manuals of the ship. I would think that that sort of information would be considered highly classified but above and beyond that they knew almost nothing about him before giving him such unwarranted access to the information. As for their decision to allow him and his people to go into exile, I think that they probably had no real choice of what to do with him other than to exile him to a remote planet. Unlike the Jack Pack augments, Khan and his people were physically and mentally fit and would be a threat/menace to the Federation and couldn't simply be maintained in an institution. Short of killing him and the rest of his augments, there was almost nothing else they could do with a whole group of super-people stranded out of time. Of course, they probably should've kept tabs on what was going on in the Ceti Alpha system before accidentally stumbling them but then we wouldn't have gotten the excellent TWOK movie, would we?
Wed, Jan 1, 2014, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
"The Eugenics Wars of the 1990s were "your last World War"? Oops...
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Just watched Space Seed for the first time. Thoughts:

-Ricardo Montalban definitely made this episode watchable. I think if someone else had played Khan, this episode would have been completely forgettable. This was a case where the actor was way better than the material he had to work with.

-Now that I've seen it, I'm surprised they decided to return to this topic for Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Don't get me long, I agree that TWOK was among the best of the ST movies. But, after watching Space Seed, I would not think this was a story that could be successfully returned to, because frankly it just wasn't that great of an episode to begin with. I guess they must have just decided that they needed a great villain, and Ricardo Montalban definitely delivers.

-That fight scene was laugh-out-loud funny. Multiple shots where you get full frontal shots of Shatner's stunt double's face. Maybe it was harder to tell them apart on the grainy 480i tiny tv screens of the 60's. But in glorious HD via Netflix, it is comical: The viewer is like: wait, who the hell is THAT, and why are we watching a fight between two completely different people?

What's more: why did they even use stunt double's for this in the first place? Interspersed in the fight are shots of Shatner doing seemingly equally strenuous things (holding onto a grid with his hands while trying to choke Khan with his legs). And in other episodes Shatner gets into the fighting a lot more than this one. *shrug*
Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Notice khan had "5 times" the strength of kirk yet couldnt take him.

Still one of the best. Imho TWOK saved the ST movie franchise.
John TY
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Entertaining in parts but some serious issues as others have mentioned.

Something else: As an Australian I find Kirk's comment about the British landing at Botany Bay - "Those men went on to tame a continent" - as dated at best. Such a western world mentality believing that a continent inhabited by a 40,000 year old culture needs taming. And then setting Kahn and his people on a world that hasn't asked for him tells us that colonialism is good; the locals are just savages that need to be taught how to live proper like.
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
I have an interesting experience in that I saw Into Darkness, The Wrath of Kahn, and read the tie-in Kahn comics before I saw Space Seed. So I basically got all the follow up Kahn stuff before I watched his first appearance.

Having seen it, I can totally see why he got so much attention in the series. Kahn is just a very interesting character and he's great in this episode. They gave a pretty deep history to Kahn in this episode for what was possibly one-shot character.

I kind of wish Montalban would have said his name more dramatically when he says his name is Kahn. He also seems oddly contented at the end with being stranded.

My preferred ending to this episode would have been Kahn defeating the enterprise crew and disappearing into space with his people. I'd like to see the guy with 5 times the strength of a man and vast intelligent outwit Kirk for a change.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
Too bad Chris Pine's Kirk didn't have a PVC pipe handy or Into Darkness would have been over in thirty seconds ;)

Good episode, Montalban was definitely the one thing that elevated this episode into the classic range. Plus it set the stage for TWOK, my favorite Trek movie of all time, which in turn ultimately (albeit indirectly) made TNG possible. TNG, in turn set the stage for DS9, VOY and ENT to add their contributions to the Trek canvas.

Interesting idea to ponder - every future incarnation of Trek, to a certain degree, probably owes its existence to this one episode. Fascinating.
Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Strangely, i had never seen this episode of TOS before although I have seen TWOK many times including years ago with my father at the cinema with I'm sure TMP first. Did they really do things like that? Show one movie then another? Or is my mind playing tricks? Anyway I'd heard about the episode and read about it here.

Bizarrely it turns up on some tv channel here in the UK yesterday, pretty strange!. Fascinating to watch.

One bit that I had to pause and watch again is when the gas gets released and Scotty sort of runs out the room but quickly turns round and floors one of Khans 'men' before running out. Rather bizarre but I thought pretty funny. I guess it was the same bloke that dropped Scotty earlier. Interesting that there's no Chekov in the Episode which kinda messes up TWOK a little though I guess that's already been mentioned.

Fabulous stuff that's got me watching quite a bit of TOS (loved the epsiode when they go back to the 1960's with the air force pilot!) even though 'my trek ' has and will always be TNG.
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Unless it ever outright states that Chekov joins the Enterprise after this he could have encountered Khan off screen.

And you are thinking of a double feature. They don't do that much anymore.
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
I nver bought the "Chekov" complaint... Khan had access to the ship's database...
Thu, Nov 13, 2014, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this for the first time today and it's very interesting to see where the story of TWOK came from. I've known about the plot for ages since reading the Chronology back in 1993 but it's a whole over thing to see it play out.

It's a really interesting story and Khan is a pretty great character and villain. Ricardo Montalban really sells the part for the most and I love the whole background with them finding out bits and pieces of the Eugenics Wars. It's easy to make fun of that stuff now having passed those dates and noting the technology divide of their imagined future and our past but as a kid I would have loved that, same way I loved the future's of Back to the Future or Terminator or Days of Future Past.

But there are a few parts that really stick out and stop it from making it a great episode in my mind. There's things that you can excuse as products of the time, like the stunt guys getting too much exposure in the fight scenes, I don't think they were meant to stand-up to much scrutiny because the maybe the viewers were less discerning and they also didn't have replay function to confirm things at the time. But things like Kirk makes some really stupid decisions, like giving Khan access to the ship's database despite clearly recognising that Khan is hiding something. It stands out to me but civilians seem to get away with a bunch of stuff on these starships, David Marcus just wanders onto the bridge in middle of a battle in TWOK and another 1990s guy blunders into the Romulan encounter in TNG's The Neutral Zone.
There's something disturbing about the Khan/McGivers relationship, like some kind of spousal abuse going on. He basically threatens to break her arm and uses her confused attraction to him to get her to betray the crew, like some messed up space stockholm syndrome. And then at the end no one realises any of this and Kirk gives her a choice of court martial or going with Khan. It's like the lesser of two evils, but we'resupposed to think it's actual love that's won out? This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, maybe she grew to love him, maybe she already did, but from TWOK I got the impression it was this real love coming from a real connection between the two and I guess it just disappoints me.
Thu, Dec 4, 2014, 1:32am (UTC -5)
Ahh, Space Seed, the episode that launched a movie plot that saved a franchise...and Ricardo Montalban and his hot charisma that I wish had been played as Mexican, which he was, rather than "Sikh" (because they're such great warriors - uhhh okaay?). And yes, I AM on Team Montalban, and Team Montalban's Chest. :p

I would swoon a-la-McGivers at this episode, but there's far too many laughable and dumb things about this episode that left me giggling, facepalming, and sometimes cringing.

Much of these dumb things have been mentioned already. Kirk must have had quite the brain-fart to just let Khan access all the ship's technical manuals. DURRR. And the way that McGivers just collapses into a submissive, controlled woman who "loves" Khan - that's a real cringer there. But thankfully, the giggles and facepalms far outweigh the cringes in this episode. From the laugh-out-loud obvious stunt doubles (in an otherwise ridiculous fight, that Kirk wins via "heavy" plastic thingamajig) to the very start of the episode where they just turn on the ship and try to revive Khan right then and there, instead of towing the ship to the Starbase first - but then we wouldn't have this episode. We'd have Khan trying to conquer a Starbase - AND THEN, THE UNIVERSE! And possibly succeeding in such an endeavour. And, of course, we wouldn't have the stage properly set for The Wrath of Khan, my favourite Star Trek film. :)

I'll give the episode credit for the terror and abuse that Uhura and the crew go through at the hands of the Ubermenschen (which was well played by all), plus the Death-By-Decompression that nearly killed Kirk. And of course, Montalban as Khan pretty well steals the show with his charm and calculated cruelty.

Oh, and the biggest cringer of all: How this whole episode is basically an unconscious love letter to Colonialism. The whole idea that the British criminals on the original Botany Bay "tamed a continent".... yeahhh, no. Plus all the side-praise for conquering figures of the past like Alexander and Napoleon. And why the admiration for Khan? Oh sure, the episode says that we can admire a person while also despising them. But conveniently for the episode, no one in the 24th Century remembers Stalin or Mao in such a light.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 3:19am (UTC -5)
So I'm wondering if there's any significance to the similarity between Khan's name (Khan Noonien Singh) and the name of Data's creator (Dr. Noonien Soong), or if that was just supposed to be a tribute to the episode/character. I get it: Eugenics and building super--or even perfect--humans; what I want to know is if they're actually related within the mythology of the show.

Otherwise, I'm not a fan of the episode. The rampant misogyny, stupidity, and bad acting turned me off almost completely. Bones's sanguine quips to Khan while having a knife pressed to his throat were about the only bright spots.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 9:52am (UTC -5)
@Pam re: Noonien

There may be no in-universe connection (although ENT's "The Augments" teases one), but the real-world explanation is that it was a shout-out by Roddenberry. As the story goes, Gene used the name as a signal to his wartime friend, Kim Noonien Singh, with whom he had lost contact.
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 7:07am (UTC -5)
Thanks Grumpy. I never heard that before.
Frances Yozawitz
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
I Love Star Trek.
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 2:34am (UTC -5)
Totally agree with Pam, the overacting is laughable and the gender stereotyping is beyond insulting for a "progressive" TV series. But then I'm probably totally spoiled now with Benedict Cumberbatch's take on the Khan Noonien Singh character in the latest movie. Madlyn Rue was such a feisty person in real life I'm amazed she didn't scream and kick in protest at how she was directed to play McGiver (spelling?). She asserts herself with Kirk but is lik mome overcooked playdough in Khan's hands, literally.
Tue, Mar 1, 2016, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Beth "But conveniently for the episode, no one in the 24th Century remembers Stalin or Mao in such a light. "

I really don't understand what that has to do with anything? They specifically say that Khan was a benevolent dictator, better than such figures.
Fri, May 27, 2016, 5:23pm (UTC -5)

"So I'm wondering if there's any significance to the similarity between Khan's name (Khan Noonien Singh) and the name of Data's creator (Dr. Noonien Soong)"

A connection between the two men is canonically retconned by the character of Arik Soong on "Enterprise." He knew who Khan was and his world kinda sorta intersected with Khan's. Perhaps noting the similarity between "Singh" and "Soong" and as a tribute, he decided to name one of his children Noonien Soong and the name was passed down the family line. We don't know that Data's creator was the *first* Noonien Soong; he could have been Noonien Soong IV. (Nit: When did Arik Soong father children if he'd been sent up the river for life? Maybe he had the kids before he went to prison.)
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Middle of the road TOS episode that gets inflated ratings b/c of the movie.
Baron Samedi
Sun, Aug 7, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
I've been rewatching a lot of TOS lately (instead of painful S5 Andromeda), I actually find this episode a lot better than I remembered. Khan is incredibly well-written to show how his effectiveness as a ruthless leader - I loved the quick cuts showing him picking up on Kirk's strategy of letting Spock ask him tough questions and looking for weakness during the dinner scene, as well as Khan's tactic of offering to spare Kirk (and then Spock) from suffocation for the loyalty of a bridge crew member. I get the complaints about Lt. McGivers, given the context of TOS often portraying female characters poorly, but in this particular story I actually found the seduction sequences very interesting. McGivers hadn't been exposed to the type of power exhibited by Khan in the tame, progressive Federation, and I don't think an individual case of a storyline like that needs to be inflated to a broad regressive statement about gender relations. Khan could tell that her claims of mere intellectual curiosity were a facade (a lie she was telling even herself) and dug under her skin, and she had no experience dealing with what Khan represented. Also, the final conversation where Spock discusses wanting to revisit the planet where they leave Khan and his crew is some bone-chilling foreshadowing unintended at the time. Spock's optimism that Khan's group wouldn't immediately die out (versus how we find out things actually went in TWOK and the bitterness against Kirk the planet's conditions fostered) is a great example of how the Federation has moved past the ideology of Khan to such an extent that they genuinely don't understand him or the danger he poses - which is why the Enterprise crew naively allowed Khan to access to the ship's database in the first place.

The fistfight at the end is still very silly - we see full images of the faces of the stunt doubles, causing me to laugh nearly as much as the lizard fight made me in "Arena" (another episode I liked more on repeat, for reasons that were less intended), but the episode is compelling enough that I honestly don't mind Kirk turning the tide with a flimsy piece of plastic.

This episode and The Wrath of Khan are good examples of how clunky execution (the fistfight in "Space Seed") and gaping plot holes (Khan recognizing Chekov in TWOK) really don't matter when the characters and story are compelling, whereas I find myself dwelling on those elements in "Into Darkness", which wasted a great cast on a horrible script and unimaginative directing.
Peter G.
Sun, Aug 7, 2016, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
"the Federation has moved past the ideology of Khan to such an extent that they genuinely don't understand him or the danger he poses - which is why the Enterprise crew naively allowed Khan to access to the ship's database in the first place. "

Great point. A kind of spoof version of this situation happens in Demolition Man, where a more peaceful and moderate society finds itself unable to grasp a man of pure ruthlessness. In Demolition Man the solution is to devolve back and regain the great chaos of the past, whereas Space Seed is great because the ship is saved due to the crew refusing to lower themselves to Khan's level.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 12:44am (UTC -5)
Christ how the hell did Mcgivers ever become a star fleet officer? I mean damn a giant Latino from a century ago shows up and a few hours later your literally willing to get on your knee's betray the ship and worship him!

Kirk beating Khan with that obvious plastic pipe was fucking hilarious. It's almost as funny as his fight with the Gorn.

2 Stars just for the funny fight scene choreography now enhanced with modern technology to let us see their stunt doubles.
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
I'm of two minds on this one. First, let's get the two obvious problems out of the way. The McGivers plot was very cringe-inducing, as showing a professional, competent woman falling in love with a man - to the point of betraying her entire society - who manhandles her like that is simply far too much to swallow. The sad thing is, they actually set it up fairly well, showing her obsession with powerful men from the past. They could have made it believable that she'd fall for one of her idols when actually coming face to face with one of them. But having Khan throw her around and practically beat her into submission and have her liking it? Uncomfortable...

And then Khan, who is supposedly a super genius far beyond the mental prowess of mere mortals, comes up with the worst plan ever to try to take over the ship. I mean, he incapacitates the crew quickly enough, but believing a professional crew will immediately betray their society after watching the captain get tortured? Did he really not expect everyone to stand firm? Were armies in the fictional 1990s really that weak in terms of discipline? Or did the ease of turning McGivers give him a false sense of confidence?

Meanwhile, well, full disclosure: I first saw Wrath of Khan before seeing this episode. And I mentioned I found Montalban's portrayal of Khan practically mesmerizing. And, to be honest, I just don't feel it as much in this episode. In the movie, he was larger than life. Here, in most scenes, he was simply another villain. A better acted villain than most of TOS' crew, but simply another character nonetheless. Perhaps it was the writing. Perhaps it was the necessarily smaller scale of the conflict. I don't know, but I wasn't overly impressed with his character. Perhaps it isn't fair to compare it to WOK, but like I said, I saw the latter one first. And it's hard to keep that out of my mind.

But with that said... there were still a few moments where he seemed like the Khan I knew. The arrogance still leaked out of him at every opportunity. The fact that he was so utterly sure that he would come out on top, regardless of what the actual situation was. His little speeches to Kirk about his superiority. Those parts I liked, those parts were worth watching. Unfortunately, they weren't coming as often as I had hoped.

And some of the themes coming through, about the charisma of these tyrants, worked. Again, this is especially true when Khan is showing some of that charisma. And I think that theme works here, at least at the end. Khan talks about how great of a ruler he is, and how all should bow to him. McGivers does, pretty easily. Kirk and Scotty talk about how one might fall for the charms of a dictator. And yet, in the end, the crew did follow a leader despite hardships involved; they followed Kirk. Khan lamented that mankind did not seem to improve in the centuries since he left Earth. And yet the loyalty Khan was hoping for, the loyalty that he had instilled in his men, was present in the Starfleet crew as well. It just wasn't loyalty to him.

And the ending, with Kirk deciding to maroon Khan rather than bring him to justice, was interesting enough. Is that decision because the statute of limitations had run out on Khan's original wars, and Kirk was far enough removed from that time period to not care about it? Was it because, as he said earlier, he had a certain fascination with such a tyrant? Was it, as Spock suggested, simply an experiment to see what would happen? Interesting that such an open-ended resolution was used; it helped to give the experience of Khan and his crew a bit more weight. And, of course, we're lucky it happened to leave itself open for a sequel.

In the end, I think it's a pretty good episode. But I'm not going to praise it as much as most do, as it strikes me as fairly weak compared to its more well known successor.
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Skeptical

I think I understand exactly why everyone in our modern feminist culture is up in arms about the McGivers story. A tyrannical man overpowers a woman, she falls for it like a true victim, likes it, and the male oppression over the woman is glamorized as the loves story in the episode. Except that's not what's happening at all. This episode is far smarter than people are willing to accept. They want to look back on it as a dated artifact of a more sexist time, and so judge is with a sense of retrospective superiority. This may well be justifiable in some instances in TOS, such as how Yeoman Rand was used some of the time, but not in this episode. Space Seed knows exactly what it's doing and it already has feminism in mind when it shows an advanced woman who knows better still falling for a despot.

The whole point of that subplot, in fact, is precisely that no matter how advanced mankind gets culturally and intellectually, some core instincts will remain, one of which is the admiration of power. The reason McGivers is special isn't because she's too primitive to reject Khan; it's because she's too advanced to fool herself into thinking she wants to. She's an historian, and her specialty is essentially inspecting those darker parts of humanity that the utopian society would like to pretend have been washed away by 'progress.' She *knows* some part of her is called to powerful men, and I believe the case the episode is making is that she isn't the only one - that it may even be species-wide - and that one runs the danger of ceasing to know oneself if one pretends to be so superior that one is perfect. This is a far more nuanced view of the future of mankind than is presented in early TNG, at any rate, although we must grant the chronological difference between the series as well.

I love the story with McGivers, because it explicitly shows her comprehending how illogical it is to be attracted to Khan, and yet also being honest enough to admit it when Khan tells her how she feels. He also gives her a free choice, and it was no trick. He wouldn't have wanted to be with someone who he merely dominated. He wanted to be followed willingly, and indeed at the end of the episode when she chooses him over Starfleet he praises her; and this is quite the statement since she's an ordinary human. The fact that the willingness had to be in the form of basically worshipping him may seem 'unfair' or something, but that's what he had to offer and he only offered it to her because she wanted it. For another interesting story about how worship may be of more value than reason, see or read the play Equus.

That he wanted willing followers is also the explanation behind why his trying to turn the crew by torturing Kirk wasn't stupid at all. Granted, maybe torturing Kirk as such wasn't the best option compared to humiliating him in some other way, but basically Khan didn't merely want to win; he wanted those whom he defeated to recognize they lost *because* he was superior. Once they understood that, he assumed they might join him willingly, rather than under duress. He had no need for slaves; he wanted loyal followers who valued strength and greatness. He probably knew most of them wouldn't even be suitable for that life no matter what he did to them, but those few who might be susceptible would be worth his effort. This is very close, conceptually, to Dukat's speech to Weyoun in DS9 about crushing your enemies being the wrong way to go about victory. One must keep them alive, and force them to recognize the error of ever having opposed you in the first place. That's what's happening here, and with someone possibly on even footing with Dukat for having delusions of grandeur.
Fri, Oct 7, 2016, 7:36am (UTC -5)
Considering the mighty Khan's penchant for hairdressing, I suspect that LT McGivers will find life in her brave new world less than fulfilling. This episode is practically a catalogue of all that was wrong with 1960s American television, from the comically inept fight scenes, the cheesy dialogue and the woeful depiction of female characters, to the attitude that since Montalban had made a career of playing American Indians he would do to play an East Indian character. Entertaining in a so-bad-it's-good way. My three favourite moments: Uhura, who only has the one job on the bridge, isn't even allowed to proceed with translating the Morse code; the doctor's 'Either choke me or cut my throat - make up your mind'; and Kirk's snarky attitude towards McGivers when he observes that she finds another man more attractive than him.
Sat, Oct 15, 2016, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
I can see what you're saying Peter, but don't really agree with it. Well, I do partially agree. Yes, the episode does have as one of its themes the seduction of raw power, and that is the primary reason McGivers is drawn to Khan. But I still don't think it's a good representation of it.

Kirk and Bones and Scotty were drawn to Khan too, at first, but in a very distant manner. Kirk can see the potential there, but knows he is dangerous and knows that, without any ethics to tie him down, he is not someone who should be admired. Yes, they didn't have the added sexual attraction, but they were able to keep their distance from Khan quite easily. They were able to use their rational brains to reject the instinct to follow the strong man. Why wasn't McGivers?

So she doesn't reject Khan, but 5 minutes later (of screen time, at least), she does. You say she's too advanced to fool herself, but how did she not see what Khan taking over the ship meant? If she was smart enough to understand what she was getting into when admitting her love for Khan, why was she not smart enough to realize that would mean betraying the ship and possibly watching her coworkers die? Being advanced isn't just being honest with yourself, it's about making rational decisions and understanding the consequences of those decisions. McGivers should have realized that, despite her attraction to Khan, that she had a greater devotion to the rule of law, or fellow humanity, or her ethics, or whatever.

I think it's fine that she chose exile with Khan, since at that point her life was ruined anyway, and in exile there would be no one for Khan to suppress and lord over. So she didn't have to swallow her ethics and betray other people to be with him once she's down there. Perhaps, if she had refused to help Khan take over the ship, but then willingly joined him in exile, it might have shown what you are saying. But given that she did NOT realize what choosing to stay with Khan meant, even after he pushed her around, made it clear that she was being portrayed as someone ruled by emotions and incapable of thinking things through. At least that's what came through to me.
Peter G.
Sat, Oct 15, 2016, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
@ Skeptical,

I hear what you're saying about McGivers. The case I would make about her isn't that she was right, or even being rational, but that she knowingly gave herself over to passion rather than intellect. Being an historian of things *great* rather than things noble, I would expect her worldview may have been that humanity had lost something in all of its advances, and that she personally valued some of the old things more. As a theme for the episode this very point is made directly in exchanges between Kirk and Spock, where they recognize Khan's greatness, in a sense, even while they decline to admire it, as you mentioned. Great does not have to mean good, and the admiration of greatness does seem hard wired into human beings despite everything to the contrary we'd like to believe. We are impressed with impressive things, like it or not. It take an act of will to suppress that and have reason win over. Trek itself believes that is the correct course, but not everyone might agree with that sensibility. Indeed, by choosing to go into exile McGivers is all but admitting that she does not fundamentally agree with the Federation's chosen ethos, and that she values more highly things that are at that point considered to be obsolete and antiquated. Her career may have been ruined anyhow, true, but I don't think we're meant to take away that she went with them because she had nothing better to do. I think it's clear she went with them because she wanted to; because she believed in them. Kahn, we may note, doesn't say of her that she made the reasonable choice. Her allegiance to him had nothing to do with reason, and that's exactly why he called her a superior woman: because she was finally rejecting the ethos of the weak intellect of those who use their advanced minds merely to find ways to passively do what they're told.

All in all I see the episode as a pointed observation that while the Federation is factually superior to what came before, it became so at a cost to human greatness and passion. We may well compare the Romulan outlook to the Vulcan in considering this message; can we rightly say the Vulcan culture is 'superior' in every way to the Romulan? It avoids the pitfalls, but at what cost? The message seems to me that this cost must be acknowledged while still recognizing that things are better the way the Federation does it. Even if individual greatness has been lost, after all, might we not speak of the greatness of the species? That, I think, is the point lost on Khan, who can only see the worth of individuals, and not of societies.
Other Chris
Mon, Oct 17, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Important piece of canon, horrible episode.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Really enjoyed this episode - especially the 1st half hour. Very intriguing how the crew discovers the sleeper ship, tries to figure out what happened, sketchy details re. Khan (not Kahn, the German footballer)
Regarding McGivers - hard to imagine her behaving this way in real life toward a 200+ year old tyrant brought back from the past. A central part of the story is Montalban's charisma over her, though she's not portrayed in a good light.
The fight seen with the stunt doubles was poor - wish they could have done a better job there. Also a bit hard to believe Kirk overcomes Khan (maybe because of his arrogance) after being in a decompression chamber. Speedy recovery!
But the theme of the reaction to a tyrant - admiration, disgust etc. is well examined. Montalban's acting is great - Khan has become a truly iconic villain and WOK is clearly the best Star Trek film ever made.
Interesting decision by Kirk to ship Khan & Co. to a barren planet. McGivers has no choice but to go with Khan.
I'm sure there must be other Star Trek TOS episodes where a movie could serve as sequel.
For me, 3.5/4 stars - a very interesting premise, interesting themes of dictators/conquerors, not judging portrayal of McGivers. A classic.
Sat, Mar 11, 2017, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
This is an entertaining episode, but it does have a couple of problems.

As others have pointed out, it is troubling that a Starfleet officer would so quickly betray her captain and crewmates for a criminal from the past. Also, it is stated she is a historian. Why does a starship exploring the galaxy even need a historian? Kirk himself mentions this toward the beginning of the episode, saying "give her something to do for a change". (I'm not sure of Kirk's exact words, but it was something like that.) Granted, occasionally they may need to reference past events, but wouldn't the computer databases contain all the historical information they might need?

Also, at the end of the episode Kirk says it would be "a waste" for Khan and his men to go to a rehabilitation center, and instead banishes them. So, basically Kirk saying it's okay to attempt hijacking and murder, as long as you have enhanced abilities?
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 1:40am (UTC -5)
I have a major problem with the ending. Kirk decides to banish Khan and his people to Ceti Alpha V instead of rehabilitation. Why is that Kirk's call? Shouldn't Starfleet Command have a say in what happens to these 'supermen' from Earth's past that almost conquered it in the 1990s?

The chilling part is that the writers in 1967 had no clue that TWOK was going to happen, and this ending was required for that. In fact the ending where Khan mentions 'building an empire' the musical cue turns ominous as if the director of that episode KNEW 'The Wrath of Khan' was happening...
Trek fan
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
Space Seed remains one of the tensest and most richly textured TOS episodes for me. The theme of the sins of the present -- in this case late 20th century fanscination with genetic engineering, fresh from the Nazi era in 1966 but still an ongoing debate today with "designer babies" -- coming back in the future to revisit us is a powerful one. This theme continues into Wrath of Khan, as Kirk's resolution to Khan's presence in the 23rd century proves overly simplistic and ineffective, leading the greates Trek movie of all time that sequels this episode. I give "Seed" 4 stars.

There's some good universe-building in this one, thoughtful reflections on war and humanity, and the first time I saw it -- before I saw Wrath of Khan -- I felt genuinely engaged when Kirk ends up in the medical decompression chamber (seen again in Season 3's Lights of Zetar) and no resolution seems present. It's a perfect no-win scenario that turns on Lt. McGivers' limits on what she will do for Khan. And who knows, perhaps she played along with him the whole time -- when he said he planned to take the ship -- in the hopes of finding the right time to stop him? Her motives and judgment are confused (and really everyone's good judgment is charmed away by Khan with the exception of Spock) by her attraction to Khan. And it's really understandable: Here is a woman so deeply immersed in history that she realizes how much men have changed in 300 years, becoming domesticated and tame in the 23rd century. And she's obsessed with the more dominating personalities of the empire building men of the past, making it a shock to her system when Khan appears and goes right for her. Indeed, there's a strong theme in this episode that the 23rd century men and women have no idea what to do with a 20th century dictator, as the experience is so foreign to them that they have lost a sense of how to deal with it. This is fascinating stuff and the clash of cultures thoughtfully debated is Star Trek at its best.

When I first saw this one as a kid, the stunt doubles were not obvious on a regular color television, but the HD remastering of TOS hurts the viewing experience today. So yes, watching the obvious stunt doubles takes me out of the climactic fight scene when I look at it too closely today, but it's a well-choreographed struggle and a classic Kirk resolution: As he did on the Kobayashi Maru test, Kirk "cheats," this time by grabbing a pipe and beating Khan down with it. For Kirk, there's no such thing as a fair fight when it comes to saving his ship, and Khan already has the advantage in strength. So I personally enjoyed this resolution to the conflict, and the climactic trial scene, because it really fits the characters. Indeed all of the characters here are very sharply drawn, including the undeniably awesome Mexican-American actor Ricardo Montalban as Khan, and the open ending leads into Star Trek II very nicely -- especially Khan's clever reference to Milton. And the way Kirk pardons the somewhat-redeemed McGivers, who chooses to continue her life with the living history that is Khan, also fits his character. We'll see a similar pardon for Kirk himself at the end of Voyage Home.

Altogether, one of the best and most iconic Trek episodes, and one I never tire of rewatching. Go Khan!
Andy G
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
I just watched Space Seed again as I haven’t seen it over 15 years. While it’s still a classic, I never realized some of the flaws. Khan is a well conceived character and for 1967, the sleeper ship is a novel idea. Quite frankly, anything that is followed
by TWOK can’t be bad. But...

The takeover is a little too easy and it takes them far too long to identify Khan. For a woman in the 23rd century and a starfleet officer, McGyvers is weak and her portrayal is a bit sexist. The final fight is just not convincing as Kirk should have been incapacitated or killed by someone 5 times stronger who knew he was coming. Finally, this episode was not meant to be viewed in HD as the final fight is unintentionally hilarious which undermines a deadly serious episode. Probably more a 3 Star than my 4 Star memory, but still up there
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Regarding McGivers, I don't think the flaw here was in the concept so much as the execution. The McGivers plot had her falling for Khan and apparently willing to commit treason within the space of about 90 seconds of screen time. This was woefully inadequate foundation for her betrayal, perhaps necessary due to the confines of the single episode format, but nevertheless inadequate.

That said I didn't find the McGivers character sexist in the slightest - the desire to submit to and be controlled by powerful men isn't some fantasy of the 1960s sexism. It is absolutely real, something that we saw with the Manson family in the late 60s and throughout history with charismatic cult leaders like David Koresh. That McGivers was an educated career woman didn't make her immune to this, just as it didn't for many of the followers of these charismatic monsters. Indeed, her refinement probably made her more vulnerable to his charisma, not less. Anyone from the outside is incredulous that a smart woman could be taken in so easily and say it could never happen to us - just as we do whenever it happens in real life!

So I'll agree that the execution was lacking, but to dismiss the concept offhand or to just blow it off as "sexist" is to make essentially the same mistake McGivers (and Kirk for that matter) made.

And for the record, even as a straight male, all I can say is DAMN - I think I might have fallen for Khan. Montalbalm is positively mesmerizing. The actor just hit it out of the park in this role.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason,

The reason I think the beginning parts of the episode work is precisely because of how fast her allegiance to him sets in. At the start of the episode we're shown a woman with unusual tastes (by Federation standards), and who admires powerful men in history, even painting them. This is shown immediately to go beyond a mere intellectual fascination, and the reason why it was portrayed well is because it was written off by others as being a 'quirk' of hers. And that's what the whole episode is about isn't it, that evolved man would like to think of these impulses as 'quirks', as in, 'oh, how odd, that's a peculiar hobby you have there' without realizing that it's rooted deeply in the human genome and that they're forgotten to an extent what's still present in all people. The difference is that in McGivers the public education and Starfleet training was insufficient to pave over it completely. On the contrary, the safe, friendly environment probably served more to emphasize that something was lacking in her life.

It's true we don't get much exposition about it or development as she progresses towards being Khan's woman, but I think the purpose of the exposition at the start was to show that this is who she is, and that others don't realize what it means. When Khan shows up it's like all her [darkest] dreams come true, and she's too honest to try to pretend it isn't what she wants. It's exactly because she's attracted to power and strength that her allegiance to Khan would be almost immediate. These aren't intellectual properties that can be mulled over and deliberated about. "Is he *really* powerful, do I really find him attractive?" The point is that these properties are self-evident immediately and bypass the intellect completely. She *knew* what he was, knew it was what she wanted, and that's that. It doesn't take a plot arc for her to get there because there's nowhere to get: he is what he is and she knew it.

That fact that her decision-making - if we can call it that, because it was more of a realization than a decision - was quick is also part of the theme of the episode, rather than a pacing issue. That theme is that when dealing with raw, visceral, and intense feelings like "power" and "strength" and "domination" there is no need to one to find these things; they're already in our DNA to some extent, depending on the person. Just as her 'decision' was already made the moment she met him, so, too, we can observe that creating a superman like Khan has the danger of the same short-circuit right to the primitive domination zone of the brain: we don't need to wonder how long it takes such a man to finally decide, after deliberation, that he's superior and wants to rule others; he already knows it right away, deep down. It doesn't take a progression to get there; he's already there, being what he is. That's why eugenics is so dangerous, and by extention, that's why aiming our admiration at shows of power is dangerous, because the seed of admiring great men is always within us, and it takes a lot of education and civilizing for it to be paved over enough for someone to be a Federation citizen. For McGivers, we can see that the system never really convinced her of its enlightened merits, but she's just an edge case, as for many people if you take away their comforts they'll soon be just like her and flock to the first powerful leader to come along and promise them things. That's exactly why a society that everyone trusts is such an important thing to foster, because deep down we'll devolve to admiring tyrants in short order if we feel like we're not getting what we need.
Joey Lock
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
One thing I always found odd in this episode was Kirks immediate attitude toward McGivers, she must have had a pretty shaky Starfleet career before this because Kirk immediately seems irritated by the mere requirement of her presence "Here's a chance for that historian to do something for a change. What's her name? McIvers?" and Spock almost rolling his eyes says "Lieutenant McGivers" after Kirk's already walked out the room, I would assume Kirks had trouble with her in the past, considering she was in her room painting maybe she's got a very "cushy" job where she doesn't have to do much but they require her just in case which Kirk doesn't like.

That may also explain why she seemed to be swept away by Khan so easily, she seems like a civilian who only got given a Starfleet uniform because she had a PhD in History or something just like Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas who was a "archaeology and anthropology officer" and got swept away by Apollo, it's like these extremely undisciplined civilians getting given Starfleet jobs because they have specialist knowledge. They seemed to have these specialist officers into the TNG era too like Whalen in "The Big Goodbye" who comes with them to the holodeck during the Dixon Hill novel, he was never given a rank so I wonder whether he really was a officer or just a civilian historian travelling onboard, so maybe McGivers and Palamas were given Starfleet uniforms and ranks as sort of "ceremonial" roles sort of like how initially Troi was given a high rank despite simply being a counselor instead of a command or specialist officer. (Sure you can say counselling is a specialist thing but how many times did you hear "Counselor quick, we need your counseling skill or the ship will blow up!"?)
Peter G.
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Very nice theory, Joey. I have to say it makes sense. I'd never given much thought before to why Kirk was irritated at the thought of her.
Pon Farr
Fri, Feb 23, 2018, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
I hate to get political, but the fawning over Khan by so many of the principle characters (nevermind the problematic McGivers) reminds me of the authoritarian path that the United States is on now. The danger of the tyrant takes a back seat to his power and charisma, and as a result, the US is suffering many more casualties than Spock. Yes, WoK shows us the natural and tragic end of warlord worship, but this episode was not created with that end in mind. Attitudes have changed with time, but I'm afraid that too many of us still haven't learned better.
Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
Aside from its "action climax", this is a great episode about the seductiveness of domineering, powerful, charismatic psychopaths. McGivers, who keeps paintings of tyrants in her bedroom, is obviously attracted to a form of power which Kirk's "enlightened" era seems to have moved beyond.

Is Kirk's choice to "spare Khan" emblematic of his "enlightened" stance of criminality? Does he view Khan as a product of a different era and so give him a relatively lenient sentence?
William B
Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
I suspect it's because he sees how McGivers reacts to Khan, and how he himself feels some awe for him, that Kirk allows Khan to set up somewhere. It's less about Khan himself than about his followers: if they want to reject the enlightened philosophy and obey a tyrant, Kirk doesn't really feel he should force them to do otherwise. Either the whole lot would have to be locked up, or they can be left alone. It's not necessarily the best solution -- shouldn't one try to see if it's possible to "deprogram" members of a cult? -- but it makes sense, particularly since in the 23rd century there is room enough to allow experimentation with different models.

OTOH, what occurs to me is the question of the (unborn) children: is it fair to let people be born into a tyranny, even if it is "fair" to let people choose to live in one? But I don't mind this being beyond the scope of the episode.
Peter G.
Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
"Is Kirk's choice to "spare Khan" emblematic of his "enlightened" stance of criminality? Does he view Khan as a product of a different era and so give him a relatively lenient sentence? "

I suspect that it mas a matter of respect in the end, which perhaps is something to do with being enlightened. Nowadays "progress" very often means little more than just following the rules, keeping your head down, and doing what you're told. People are 'civiliized' by virtue of being domesticated. But Kirk is a diffferent sort; he has all of the rebellious energy we often lack but directed solely towards noble goals. My belief is that Kirk would rather give Khan his own stomping ground away from the Federation than have him waste away in a cage to be studied by scientists. It's sort of like letting a great cat into the wild in a nature preserve rather than having it in the zoo.

For better or for worse Khan truly is a great man - in the words of Olivander, "terrible, but great", and there's nothing good about squashing great things, even if they can't co-exist with us in our society. The ideal would be to take all of Khan's aspirations, drive, and capability, and use them to pursue the dream of the Federation. Khan can't be a part of that, but the worst case scenario is that along with Khan's despotic tendencies society as a whole loses his passion and vision along with it and degenerates into a cushy feeding trough.
Tue, May 15, 2018, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Wow, you people are hard on the episode that launched a thousand more episodes. :p

Stunt doubles and fight scene -- the new HD simply makes that apparent, but would not have been so visible when first aired, especially when most TVs back then were in black and white. The plastic pipe is obviously meant to be metal, but again, more apparent now in HD. Sure, it all could have been done better, but no one back then would have believed we'd still be watching this 50 years later, so these critiques simply aren't valid.

As for McGivers fascination with Khan, sure, it can be seen as misogynistic. (I talked to my teen daughter after watching this episode with her about avoid such guys at all costs!) But there are women AND men, drawn to that type of person. Doesn't make it right, but I didn't find McGivers stereotypical, but fleshed out with a particular weakness. Do I cringe in those scenes? Oh, yeah. But not because of blanket stereotypes, but because I hurt for her, and I want to tell her, "Wise up and run away!"

As for the crew being enamored with Khan, I get it, and it's something Star Trek was brave enough to acknowledge. And yes, I do mean "brave." When someone like Hitler rises to power, it's extremely compelling and morbidly fascinating to try to understand the tactics, charisma, and deception they had to pull off to make it happen, even if you hate the person and their results. What's unique to Khan is he's handsome, unlike the troll-like figure of Hitler... making it all the more curious that Hitler pulled off what he did.

The only two critiques I'll agree with are that it was silly to let Khan have so much access, and also the colonialism aspect of dropping him off on an untamed planet. Certainly odd choices plot-wise, regardless of the crew being impressed with his past exploits. However...

I forgive those quibbles, because when Nicolas Meyers was given the option to write and direct the 2nd movie, he watched all the episodes. That ending -- asking what it would be like to visit Khan (this Space Seed) years later -- fired his synapses and gave us TWOK, and all subsequent spin-offs.

So yeah, I'm good with 3.5 stars here, if for nothing else than Khan being a very compelling, non-stereotypical villain that is fully fleshed out from the get-go. Truly, it seems to me that some of the critiques here are more because this episodes is so well-known, making many view it under a microscope and pick out flaws no one bothers to mention in other episodes, where such elements are more apparent.

And how can anyone not love that scene when they're trying to draw Khan out? Such great lines of sparring dialogue, which I'll now end with. Seriously, this is great stuff...

Khan: You are an excellent tactician, Captain. You let your second-in-command attack while you sit and watch for weakness.

Kirk: You have a tendency to express ideas in military terms, Mr. Khan. This is a social occasion.

Khan: It has been said that, uh, "social occasions" are only warfare concealed. Many prefer it more honest, more... open.

Kirk: You fled. Why? Were you afraid?

Khan: I've never been afraid.

Kirk: But you left at the very time mankind needed courage.

Khan: We offered the world *order*!

Kirk: [pauses] We?

Khan: [smiles admiringly] Excellent. Excellent.
Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
Stunt doubles: lol, yes, they're obviously not the actors, but you would have had a 21" possibly snowy and black and white picture in 1967, not the 60" Crystal clear HD TV you're watching it with now.

To me this is sometimes visible even in TNG. For example, near the end of Conspiracy, the old grey haired Admiral starts fighting and tossing people around. In the wide shots, it's obviously a much younger guy.

The great thing with these HD releases is hot much more detail you get to see... with the downside being warts and all. I actually tend to find the random hairs out of place on actors' heads more bothersome, including shatners in this very episode.
Sat, Sep 22, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
This episode is a masterpiece.

There are many things "wrong" in this episode that actually add to its genius. The main part being how easily (and weirdly) Khan seduces the ship's historian. She clearly has a wide-on for him and her interest would be considered sexual harassment today. But in the end, he takes advantage of her, and effectively binds her to him.

He's as ruthless with her as he is with Kirk - he is a conqueror, a master, he can get what he wants and he knows it. Their abusive relationship, based on weirdness, ends with her betraying her colleagues. And though that's hard for modern day Trekkies to accept, it works because of Khan's sheer magnificence. The writing, the performance, they're spot on. She tries to break away; he plays with her like a cat with a mouse, knowing she will stay. And yet, we see what may be a break in his armour: does he really think she might go? Does he second-guess himself and use his words to make it impossible for her to get away? Does he need her? Fascinating stuff, a broken relationship viewed in a mirror darkly.

I was spellbound throughout the episode. Some genuinely good writing, genuinely good acting. The only other villain who approached Khan was the underrated Gul Dukat. (Weyoun was pretty badass, but he wasn't a leader and was despised by all.) The stuff that made me wince in this episode also made me enjoy it more.

There was no way Kirk could have won a fight if Khan was smarter and five times stronger. Then again, strength and intelligence don't count for much if you've been whacked over the head with a steel pipe.
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
There's a lot of talk about portrayal by gender and how terrible it is. But, and this may not be popular: There *are* pathetic, silly, stupid, insecure, kowtowing *men* who are led around by their Johnsons, and, as such, there are *also* pathetic, silly, stupid, insecure, kowtowing women who are led around by their hoohahs. There, I said it.

Yeah, the woman is ridiculous. There are also ridiculous men on the show, as in real life. That's not to say the idea wasn't a byproduct of sexist attitudes or bad female stereotypes or doesn't come off very dated. But still. It shouldn't be that hard to accept as a storyline. I've met some utterly absurd, submissive puppy-dog-eyed humans in my life, who would turn on their parents if a lover manipulated them to, and did. Haven't you met people like this, folks? They're out there! Effing things up all over the world! Many are women! Sorry!
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 8:23pm (UTC -5)

"As for McGivers fascination with Khan, sure, it can be seen as misogynistic. (I talked to my teen daughter after watching this episode with her about avoid such guys at all costs!) But there are women AND men, drawn to that type of person. Doesn't make it right, but I didn't find McGivers stereotypical, but fleshed out with a particular weakness. Do I cringe in those scenes? Oh, yeah. But not because of blanket stereotypes, but because I hurt for her, and I want to tell her, "Wise up and run away!""

Oh, thank you. I thought I might be the only one after skimming and commenting.
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Great episode! I love how Kahn's true menace is his arrogance and inflated ego, plus his complete sociopathic ability to manipulate people (written in a realistic way). This is in contrast to the awful Into Darkness movie, where Kahn is portrayed as just a marvel super hero terrorist who jumps around... or something. And he's played by Cumberbatch for no other reason than Cumberbatch was popular at the time.
Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
A good episode. Ricardo is perfect in this and in TWOK. Cumberbatch was an unforgivably ridiculous choice for Khan and can't hold a candle to Montalban.

There do exist women like McGivers, even among professional women and even now in 2019. And she is fairly well fleshed out given the time available. Still, it is tinged by the sexism of the 60s in its presentation. I did appreciate the counterpoint with the decidedly uncharmed and defiant Uhura. Nichelle sure can talk with those smoldering eyes of hers.

I liked the exploration of heart vs head, of being honest with yourself vs denying your feelings, of having feelings vs acting on those feelings. It's only because McGivers is honest with herself, acknowledges her controversial but real feelings, that she's able to act clear headedly when the time comes to save Kirk. Ultimately, she's a sad case, though.

I don't mind Kirk's decision in the end. Isolating that bunch is not a bad idea. I sure hope the Federation knows enough to keep a close eye on them, check on them now and then . . . :)

The talk about admiring tyrants was interesting, but I would have liked to hear more real discussion, than listening to Spock just getting shut down, in the usually condescending way. Though Kirk is not wrong that there can be something to admire in the tyrant's story of his rise and rule, there are lines there. Would have liked a little more talk on that.

I can definitely think of tyrant types I don't admire at all. Zero. I find them wholly despicable.

There's quite a bit going on on this episode, and though there's some contrivance, and some hokey and cringy in the presentation, it's well done.
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
...I always thought Cpt Kirk let them go to their planet out of fear...or caution. I think he did not feel it to be safe to have them anywhere near earth or the federation..
Fri, May 10, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Good episode another great job of casting -Montalban is perfect as kahn.
Mon, Jun 3, 2019, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I rewatched this for the first time in 15 years and it's still an absolute knockout. Montalban performs the perfect mixture of smart, charming, and dangerous. I loved the little references he threw out like "Milton" that Kirk got right away.

The only detracting thing is McGiver, who comes off as little too easily persuadable. It's interesting she's into 20th century (and pre-20th century) figures, but that she seemed to be working her whole life to get caught up by this stranger is little tough to swallow. But I can't be too hard on it; product of its time and all.

I also love how McCoy handled the encounter with Khan. It was a wonderful little moment where the doctor neither submitted to Kahn or tried to piss him off. I would label this the perfect handling of a hostage negotiation. Boy, you gotta respect the gall of Bones.
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 12:43am (UTC -5)
Ricardo Montalban was the perfect casting choice for this character—if they'd have made this character... hm, Mexican? They made him a Sikh; I guess there may be some Latino converts somewhere (I've seen a few blonde/white Sikhs.) Then say all this stuff about them being warriors, like their religious faith is genetic? I guess they meant to say PUNJABI (the cultural group in India most Sikhs come from) but in that case, shouldn't he sound Anglo/Indian—presuming he'd have been send to English language schools as an elite being?

That point is what irritated me so much with the ST reboot and Cumberbatch. This would have been a perfect opportunity to cast some macho, charismatic Bollywood action hero (my vote: Akshay Kumar - Google his name + the film "Singh Is Kingh" to see him in a Turban - very much like the handsome turban painted of Khan that McGivers had made.

Other than that, Montalban was absolutely on fire in this episode. He's the kind of compelling, handsome, powerful figure that makes everyone enthralled in some way or other. When pondering how McGivers could just throw away her whole career and life after "90 seconds" with him... who's to say that "animal magnetism" (or some eugenics-friendly ultra-pheramones) wasn't part of his "superior man" character?

A final Khan note: how interesting of an alternative could it have been if the Botany Bay would have been discovered by the Klingons, not the Federation? Hot-blooded, physically powerful, warrior Klingons!! Would he have killed them or joined them! Hmm...
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 3:32am (UTC -5)
A worthy forerunner to a very good film.
Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Someone may have mentioned this already but you should check out the Khan prequel trilogy from pocket books called “The Eugenics Wars” by Greg Cox, written in 2001. It retcons late 20th century real life history to make the Eugenics Wars totally plausible, including the Bhopal disaster and assassination of Indira Ghandi in 1982, which figures into Khan’s early life, and nuclear testing by India and Pakistan in the late 90s. It even has a line that hints at Osama bin Laden as a fellow superhuman with Khan, although the books were written pre-9/11. Now that would have been interesting, 9/11 and the War on Terror as a part of the Eugenics Wars. Oh, and Gary Seven and Roberta are in the books too. Check them out.
Jay Marks
Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 11:50am (UTC -5)
A super late contribution to this thread.

It's a minor thing but I don't think it was mentioned (and it definitely was not something I consciously remember when I first watched it as a kid). I love how in the teaser right after Kirk orders red alert, they slowly pan up to show all the activity on the bridge as Kirk looks around sternly from his command chair and the music begins playing. Who wouldn't want to be a crew member on that ship under the auspices of that captain?! Respect!
Fri, Jun 5, 2020, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Considering Kirk, Scotty and Bones were infatuated with Khan, it’s very plausible to see MacGivers seduced. She may have become a historian for the very reason she is very, uh, interested in men like this.

Also, Khan expertly put some strong mind screws on her. She’s a historian, not command or security. Likely there isn’t much training in how to handle a sexy genius from centuries before.
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 3:11am (UTC -5)
Wow! When was the last time Star Trek had anyone with anywhere close to the sheer charisma of Khan Noonien Singh? Maybe Shakaar. Maybe the John Doe in Transfigurations. No, not even them. Chakotay only gets half way there.

The dorky brit who played Khan in the latest reboot was a joke (I love him as Sherlock, but he is not exactly a manly man). @Malia, you are so right about a missed opportunity to cast a real man from Bollywood.

But they were casting Khan across from Chris Pine, not William Shatner. They had to pick someone suitably subpar, or he would way, way outshine the regular crew.

@Jammer has lately been on a Mad Men streak, and there is a line at the beginning of season 5, where Megan is planning a surprise 40th birthday for Don: "Everyone's gonna go home from this [party] and they're gonna have sex.”

Well I’m sure lots of people went to bed after “Space Seed” first aired, and had sex. It was just that kind of hour.

@Chrome, so true. “Space Seed” aired in an era where at least educated people might have been expected to have a basic familiarity with the great poets of history.

Red-SKIRT of the week McGyvers is great for the role. Gene must have had a hard on for Ubermensch; the Neitchziens were included in Andromeda as well.

I think I need a cold shower.
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 3:51am (UTC -5)
It is fascinating that in India guys dancing around in garish costumes is considered masculine or as you say something a "real man" does. It is oddly sexual. I guess it is time to buy a bottle of white wine and do a little search on amazon prime.

Look at the masculine Khan

Ready to conquer the galaxy or play a game of canasta with the golden girls. And still he is also oddly sexual.

Phew, now I need a cold shower.
Dave in MN
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 5:18am (UTC -5)
I'm not a fan of pointing out "oddities" in other cultures. All cultures have oddities.

Don't you get tired of this constant baiting, Booming? I know you have intelligent things to say.

Not everything has to be a prickly barb designed to provoke others.
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 5:42am (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN
Sorry, but is your problem with the word odd or that I pointed out different standards for masculinity in different cultures ? Should I have written titillating?
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 6:05am (UTC -5)
Dancing is pretty much one of the sexiest things anyone can do - man or a woman - in any culture.

Man is an animal. Khan had animal magnetism par excellence.

@Booming, baby, dance with me. For science ;)
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 6:45am (UTC -5)
"Khan had animal magnetism par excellence."

"@Booming, baby, dance with me. For science ;)"
Wohoo! For Science!
*dancing* :D
Wed, Feb 17, 2021, 12:38am (UTC -5)
I started seeing someone in the last couple months and I've been threatening to make her watch an episode of Trek. She's a Star Wars girl and said she never had any interest in Trek, but a few weeks ago I managed to sit her down for Space Seed. It's got the quaint, goofy charm that makes TOS one of my favorite series, and it's also got the incredible villain performance from Montelban.

To my surprise, she told me she really liked it. She watched a number of episodes on her own after that. I showed her TNG's "Measure of a Man" because I wanted her to see a non-goofy "serious" ethics problem episode and she liked it, but said "This is just Blade Runner" which I could not deny. She likes TOS better because it makes her laugh more. I think she's a keeper.
Sat, Mar 20, 2021, 4:12am (UTC -5)
Ah, the 1990s Eugenics Wars! I remember that time, when the followers of Microsoft and Apple fought out a bitter battle, to see which was fitter to rule the world. (In 2021, I think we can call it a truce...)

Space Seed is a very uneven episode. The first half contains great promise: the dinner party scene (what’s with the red, orange, and green cubes that appear at EVERY meal?), the dialogue between Kirk, Spock and Bones (the first mention of McCoy’s hatred of the transporter), Khan’s character, the whole premise of the eugenics wars.

But it fell away. Many others have mentioned discomfort with the McGuyvers weak infatuation thing leading to misogynistic portrayal, and I agree — poor even by 60s TV standards. The fight scene was laughable yes, Kirk beating a genetic superman with a plastic pipe. But also, did you notice how easily Khan’s henchmen— also genetically enhanced— were overcome during the rescue scenes?

Someone said it would have been better if Khan had subdued the Enterprise crew and escaped to start a new life, with or without McGuyvers, and I tend to agree. The Enterprise would have given chase as far as the planet, but faced with the opportunity to fire on Khan’s ship and destroy it, would have demonstrated mankind’s 23rd Century superiority and let them go free, with a request to Starfleet to quarantine the planet.

Some great ideas wasted here. 2 stars.

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