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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies XI+

Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

View Poll Results: Which villain planned the attack against the Starfleet meeting?
Khan alone, surprising Marcus and forcing his hand 14 82.35%
Marcus, asking Khan to do the dirty work 3 17.65%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 15 2014, 10:20 PM   #1
Timo
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Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Due to missing out on the past half a year here, I don't know if this has been discussed to death already, and I'm too lazy to find out by myself, so please bear with me, or point me towards the relevant thread...

Khan lashes out against Starfleet twice, for no discernible reason: a man of his character should be above irrational attacks, and we get little personal or tactical motivation for either the S31 lab strike or the Godfather III style penthouse massacre. These do plausibly establish "John Harrison" as a dangerous madman, though, and thus splendidly support the efforts of Admiral Marcus to get a war with the Klingons going. After all, he needs

a) an excuse to send somebody stupid to fire weapons at Klingons
b) everybody non-stupid eliminated from the picture

and the penthouse massacre achieves exactly that.

Yet which of the two villains planned the strikes? Khan alone should have little reason to do Marcus' bidding in a plan where his own death at the Ground Zero of a drone strike is a major element. Except he needs to have those drones deployed because that's his clever plan of smuggling out his imprisoned crewsicles. But bombing the S31 lab seems to endanger that very thing, as the drones were being assembled right there.

Marcus alone should have no reason to ask Khan to blow up the S31 lab, though. It's a rather excessive way to justify "John Harrison" later so cleverly striking at the penthouse kowtow, as Marcus needs the S31 goodies for his war (there's even a cut scene where he's shown to be surprised by that earlier strike).

Did Khan decide to blow up S31 essentially for fun first, and then contact Marcus to convince him to organize the penthouse meeting where Khan could kill everybody but Marcus and the young idiot he needed for the Klingon-angering mission? Or did Khan perform the latter strike all on his own, too, calculating (rather riskily!) that Marcus' response would be to deploy the drones?

The chain of events that ends with Kirk delivering Khan's crew to the superman requires concerted action from Khan and Marcus. Since it best serves Khan's interests, Khan appears to be leading Marcus on a leash. But Marcus can't be agreeing to a plan that delivers his precious prisoners to Khan; his idea of the plan must be somewhat different. Does it include the massacre of Starfleet skippers, a seemingly vital element in getting Kirk launched towards Klingon space - or is that purely Khan's doing?

Timo Saloniemi
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Old March 15 2014, 10:30 PM   #2
BigJake
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

With the caveat that trying to figure out the motivations of Into Darkness' villains is basically a recipe for madness: I think what they're going for is that Khan is being forced to play the "renegade" at the outset by Marcus, who has his people hostage on account of his decision to try smuggling them in torpedoes for... because of reasons... but then turns the game around on Marcus when he makes contact with Kirk and reveals what's really going on. So Marcus would be responsible for the strikes.

(As to why he chooses the S31 lab? No idea. For that matter why does the bomber even go through with the strike after Khan gives up his leverage? No idea.)
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Old March 15 2014, 10:34 PM   #3
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

The comics obviously aren't canon, however, they do provide a pretty good explanation for what you're asking:



I haven't actually read that, so if I've made any mistakes in that - which I have gathered only second-hand from internet conversations - then hopefully someone who has read it will correct. But I think I have it right.
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Old March 15 2014, 11:12 PM   #4
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

What the hell was Kirk shooting in that sequence, a BB gun? Aren't Starfleet's handheld weapons better than that?
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Old March 15 2014, 11:27 PM   #5
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Maybe I filled in the blanks, but I thought that Kirk put together that Khan's attack on the S31 building required a meeting of officers (Admirals, Captains, XOs?). That put them all together in one place where Khan could easily attack and kill them all.

In my mind it was only Kirk's realization of what was about to happen that gave the only warning of what was about to happen and saved several of the officers.

But again, maybe I just filled in the blanks.
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Old March 15 2014, 11:29 PM   #6
Harvey
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Timo wrote: View Post
Yet which of the two villains planned the strikes? Khan alone should have little reason to do Marcus' bidding in a plan where his own death at the Ground Zero of a drone strike is a major element. Except he needs to have those drones deployed because that's his clever plan of smuggling out his imprisoned crewsicles. But bombing the S31 lab seems to endanger that very thing, as the drones were being assembled right there.
It's established in dialogue that Khan's plan to smuggle his crew out in the torpedoes was discovered, and he had every reason to believe his crew were dead. He bombed London so that Starfleet would assemble their senior officers (including Marcus) in one place where Khan could kill them all at once. There's little evidence on screen that Marcus orchestrates either attack or exerts any control over Khan to initiate them.

Seemed pretty straightforward and spelled out in the movie I saw.
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Old March 15 2014, 11:30 PM   #7
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Set Harth wrote: View Post
What the hell was Kirk shooting in that sequence, a BB gun? Aren't Starfleet's handheld weapons better than that?
Didn't Kirk damage Khan's "hovercopter" ship enough that Khan had to bail out, or transport to wherever?
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Old March 15 2014, 11:32 PM   #8
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

^ He does that with the old "fire-hose in the engine" trick.
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Old March 15 2014, 11:37 PM   #9
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

BigJake wrote: View Post
^ He does that with the old "fire-hose in the engine" trick.
Ah, yes. There you go. Thanks.

Now that I think about it, the problem with that scene is that after a terror attack they should not have convened the senior officers in one place. They should have held a teleconference. Much like when there is a joint session of Congress (i.e. State of the Union Address), at least one in the chain of command is in an undisclosed location in case of an attack.
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Old March 16 2014, 04:06 AM   #10
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

It would not surprise me to find that other senior officers and staff were teleconferencing in from elsewhere in Sol Sector, and other provisions such as you describe would also have been employed.

Khan had to settle for what he could get a targeting solution on under such circumstances.
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Old March 16 2014, 09:34 AM   #11
Timo
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

What the hell was Kirk shooting in that sequence, a BB gun? Aren't Starfleet's handheld weapons better than that?
Well, Khan's little futuro-helicopter was described as a full-fledged spacecraft when the admirals wondered why he stole a vessel that lacked warp drive. Handheld weapons have never brought down spacecraft in Star Trek, presumably because spacecraft are at least moderately shielded.

Maybe I filled in the blanks, but I thought that Kirk put together that Khan's attack on the S31 building required a meeting of officers (Admirals, Captains, XOs?). That put them all together in one place where Khan could easily attack and kill them all.
That's what Kirk figured out, what he was supposed to figure out (it's a no-brainer really - and Khan opens fire just after Kirk figures it out. It's as if Marcus had a channel open to Khan's chopper, cuing him in at the correct dramatic moment!). But that leaves wide open the question of why Khan would want to kill Starfleet admirals in the first place. Note that he does not manage to hurt Marcus, his tormentor, at all - which is extremely poor showing from a supposedly capable man. It appears he is deliberately killing everybody else but Marcus. So the question goes, is that his own idea, or a task given to him by Marcus?

after a terror attack they should not have convened the senior officers in one place
But that would be a show of cowardice when the public wanted a show of confidence.

The public saw a mindlessly brutal strike against a civilian target. Starfleet would need to mount a very public response to that, even when they knew that it had actually been a surgical strike against a military target. The key difference here is that people who terror-bomb libraries aren't plausible candidates for cunningly assassinating Starfleet brass, so there would be no publicly acceptable reason for Starfleet to go on the defensive here.

It's established in dialogue that Khan's plan to smuggle his crew out in the torpedoes was discovered, and he had every reason to believe his crew were dead.
So it is mindless revenge after all? I could buy that otherwise, but it smells to high heaven that every detail in Khan's actions plays right into the hands of Marcus. Why does Khan escape to the Klingon homeworld, of all places? Using a traceable device manufactured by Marcus' minions? How come this all so exactly coincides with plans Marcus must have put in motion years before, plans involving starship construction and modification and weapons manufacture and Khan's consultation?

Also, once on the Klingon planet, Khan does everything consistently with the idea that his crew is still alive and arriving as planned - he no longer attacks Starfleet but instead defends it at every turn!

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Old March 16 2014, 02:36 PM   #12
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

You're doing an impressive set of mental gymnastics when it's all there, on screen.

As others have pointed out, Khan's attack on S31 was only a provocation in order to try and get Marcus in a room with the senior captains of Starfleet. He then did his best to take them all out before air defence arrived. It's simple, blind-rage revenge.

As for why Khan flees to Quo'nos, that is again spelled out in the script. He went to the one place he thought that Starfleet couldn't come and get him. Once Kirk arrives, Khan intervenes against the Klingons because Sulu tells him that the Enterprise has 72 'advanced torpedoes' targeted on Khan's location. Since Khan knows that his people are in the torpedoes (he put them there) it's the only way Khan can attempt to rescue his super-crew.

Now, you can criticize the inability of Khan to kill everyone except Marcus during the Starfleet attack or his choice to teleport to Quo'nos as lazy screenwriting (and I'd agree) but it's hardly some conspiracy with Marcus at the top, pulling the strings. Marcus does a good job of pivoting towards war with the Klingons with the situation he's given.
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Old March 16 2014, 04:22 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Blind revenge doesn't convince when Khan is supposed to be a mastermind. At the very least, he should do revenge that is aimed at those responsible for his woes. But his actions don't hurt Marcus; he doesn't, say, kill the guy, or destroy his precious dreadnought.

"Spelled out in the script" carries little weight when the whole idea is that the characters are lying bastards all. If something is said onscreen, it is untrue, at least for the first half of the movie. And going to the Klingons for safety is ridiculous: Khan has the wits and resources to remain at large indefinitely even in San Francisco - this is the same man who, at a time of heightened alert, flies a vehicle right up to a top Starfleet meeting and opens fire on it, keeping this up for several minutes with total impunity.

but it's hardly some conspiracy with Marcus at the top, pulling the strings
Umm, except that it is this very thing - now that is explicitly spelled out in the movie!

Marcus has gone to a lot of trouble to achieve exactly what transpires here: a provocation against the Klingons, using special hardware prepared long beforehand. And he achieves that thanks to the actions of a man he employs and blackmails. It would be really, really weird if he were not "pulling strings" here!

Further, killing of Starfleet officers is right up his alley, as a key element in his provocation plan is getting the Starfleet officer responsible for the provocation killed, along with his entire crew. It's not as if he could be "reacting to events" when everything he does requires lead time in planning and hardware manufacture...

I'd say there's very little lazy writing in this movie, perhaps the least for any Trek flick, although some lazy watching might be involved.

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Old March 16 2014, 04:42 PM   #14
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

Whatever floats your boat. None of what you're saying is supported by what actually happens in the film, but when has that ever stopped a classic case of internet overthinking?
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Old March 16 2014, 04:59 PM   #15
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Re: Starfleet Penthouse Massacre: Khan's idea, or Marcus'?

BigJake wrote: View Post
(As to why he chooses the S31 lab? No idea. For that matter why does the bomber even go through with the strike after Khan gives up his leverage? No idea.)
The bomber probably realized that if his daughter's miraculous recovery was discovered, he'd be in trouble with Starfleet, so he decided to carry out Khan/Harrison's directive and blow up the building and himself (it's possible Khan had threatened his family with death.)
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