STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by Gaith, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Apologies if this has been discussed to death, but I ran a few searches and couldn't find a thread on this particular subject, so here goes. :cool:


    Was anyone else seriously put off by the ethics of Starfleet's treatment of Kahn (i.e., re-freezing him)?

    I think we can all/most of us agree that, regardless of how we may feel about capital punishment in today's world, in which child starvation still exists, the future Starfleet/UFP does not execute prisoners, ever. If STID had ended with Khan biting it via prison yard phaser rifle firing squad, I'm sure the fan outcry would even have exceeded that of Man of Steel's.

    So here's the question: how is freezing a prisoner (and presumably in so doing halting brain functions) and locking him up in a storage facility any more humane than execution? Kirk promised Khan he would stand trial. Did he? I can't imagine him consenting to be frozen again - why would he, as opposed to being locked up but allowed to read and write, a la Arik Soong? I could imagine him requesting execution rather than spending the rest of his life locked up, but that doesn't mean the Starfleet/UFP authorities would grant it.

    And here's the real kicker: in a movie with several dubious TWOK callbacks, TPTB ignored a perfectly good and appropriate callback ending solution: grant Khan his cherished dream of waking up all his friends, but dump them all on an uninhabited M-class planet - albeit with regular satellite surveillance this time, per a word to the wise from Spock Prime. To be honest, simply locking Khan him up like Arik Soong makes the most sense to me, but I'd also have been entirely happy with them ripping off/paying homage to "Space Seed" in the above manner. As for the ending we got, in seems to me like nothing more than another Raiders shout-out, at the expense of all notion of ethics and judicial propriety.

    What says the BBS Fleet? :)
     
  2. Franklin

    Franklin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In a fit of anger, Khan did tell Admiral Marcus that he should've let him sleep. I imagine he was put on trial, and Starfleet probably doesn't have the death penalty. It could be that the humane thing was to actually let him go back to sleep rather than essentially rot in a cell for the rest of his life.

    The real ethical question is what should be done with the other 72 people. Why are they still being kept frozen?
     
  3. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do you honestly think 72 supermen that are likely to be just as ruthless and dangerous as Khan should just be let go?:wtf:
     
  4. Franklin

    Franklin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd think you'd have to at least identify and check the background of all of them. If all of them were indeed fleeing criminal punishment, then if they already had due process, I suppose you can keep them frozen in lieu of whatever their sentence was. However, if they've yet to even face trial for any crimes, then I think keeping them frozen is problematic.
     
  5. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe, but I don't think there'd be as much complaining about it after the whole "demolishing part of San Francisco" thing.

    It's more humane because you're not killing them and you're not hurting them. And I don't think that Starfleet would give a damn about the consent of a man who killed thousands in San Francisco, the head of Starfleet, and blew up one of their black ops R&D facilities.

    :rofl:

    You think a man with intimate knowledge of Starfleet's black ops division and one of the most powerful ships we've seen to date in the Abramsverse is going to be allowed anywhere but cryo or death? Especially a superhuman with 73 companions with similar abilities? Khan's lucky that Starfleet isn't ruthless and pragmatic enough to lobotomize him and use his blood for medical research until they can synthesize it and just dump him and his people into a star or gas giant.
     
  6. Cinema Geekly

    Cinema Geekly Commander Red Shirt

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    I always thought the whole banishing them to a deserted planet was pretty much just a cruel as killing them, like stranding someone of a deserted island.

    Either way, based on Khan's action and inside info of Starfleet in this universe I think they went with the best option. They wouldn't execute him, and given the events of STID they would likely see prison as too big a risk for escape.

    As for the 72, I always thought it was clear that they were his followers so-to-speak and that they were all fleeing together and their plan would be what ever Khan's plan was.
     
  7. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    This is, of course, what happened to Khan and crew in the Mirror Universe. :lol:
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    John Harrison was supposed to stand trial. Khan Noonien Singh had already stood trial and had been convicted for war crimes and the mass murder of millions of people in the Eugenics Wars. He was, essentially, an escaped fugitive; the fact that he managed to out-live his original judge doesn't automatically negate his sentence, especially if the legal system that convicted him is still at least partially recognized by the Federation.

    OTOH, the Federation has a different view of punishment than we do. Americans just stick heinous criminals into prison cells and let them slowly age to death; less seriously criminals sit in a jail cell and spend a few years trying to avoid getting raped in the shower. Federation prisoners are sent to some kind of make-work camp where they're supposedly retrained and psychoanalyzed to remove or at least reduce their innate criminal tendencies; those who cannot be rehabilitated are "incurably criminally insane" and they have very special facilities for people like that.

    Khan would likely fall into the latter category, except that his inherent megalomania is a feature and not a bug. There's no real way to rehabilitate him, so freezing him is the next best solution other than killing him.


    And no, marooning him on an M-class planet to rule for his own is NOT a viable solution. For one, they already tried that in Space Seed and history records it didn't work out too well. And secondly, it stands to reason that whatever society Khan and his followers would eventually build would have the exact same basic motivations as Khan himself: one psychotic augment is already bad news, so what do you plan to do when a whole race of them suddenly shows up with warp drives and starships they designed all by themselves?
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Bob Orci did say in his interview with the Mission Log guys that Khan was supposed to be frozen, but awaiting trial, at the end of the movie.
     
  10. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The nu-cast doesn't know that, and it did work just fine until some incompetent Starfleeters mistook one freaking planet for another. As I said, surveillance would be needed to ensure the gang wasn't rescued, either deliberately or accidentally, but it's definitely doable.



    Given that Marcus also tried to murder everyone on the Enterprise, one would hope not too many tears would be spilled on his behalf. And again, call me a wussy liberal if you like, but I just don't see much of a difference between killing and indefinitely freezing a guy. And I certainly think the latter qualifies as "hurting". One could argue there's an ethical difference between freezing a guy and not waking up other frozen people, so one could argue for putting Khan on some small tropical island with constant electronic surveillance or something, but freezing him just ain't right, no matter who he is.
     
  11. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    From one wussy liberal to another, I totally agree. Again, though, I should point out that Orci says the intent was that Khan was frozen awaiting trial in that scene -- although that isn't conveyed on screen, which is too bad.
     
  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As a wussy liberal, I see the difference as being that he's NOT.DEAD.

    Heck, for all we know they're only in stasis until a planet can be found to "settle" them on.

    Feel free to apply your own interpretations to the word "settle" in this particular case. :p
     
  13. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, one of the flaws of the film was that it seemed that JJ ran out of time, patience, and money and really didn't want to write an epilogue at all. From the time Khan is knocked out by Spock to the end of the film is so rushed that my head is spinning. Paramount should have givin him money to film an ending. I'm like, "Oh, the film is over. Ok...."
     
  14. Franklin

    Franklin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm not sure if that makes sense, Mr. Orci. Frozen to await trial as opposed to being incarcerated? Odd.

    It would've made more sense to say he was tried and convicted, and under the circumstances (what Marcus forced him into after finding him), he was given a choice of punishments. The normal punishment would be to spend the rest of his life at a maximum security penal colony, but he was also given the relatively more humane choice of being refrozen.

    One thing is certain, the 73 of them are probably public knowledge by the end of the movie, and I'd think the Federation has to do something with them other than keep them frozen forever.
     
  15. rafterman1701

    rafterman1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Movies aren't shot in order. An ending may feel rushed, but it's not like they were there on the last day and just rushed the conclusion of the story. Who knows when those scenes were filmed. If the end feels rushed, it's more probable that in editing, they cut that section down for time rather than the big action parts.
     
  16. WarpFactorZ

    WarpFactorZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I took the ending as a pseudo-nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark: he was being studied by top men. That is, Khan was placed on trial, sentenced to whatever (life on some penal colony somewhere), but was secretly whisked away by Section 31 for further "study." The out-of-universe bonus being that he is still alive, and primed for a "Return of Khan" sequel...
     
  17. Kabraxal

    Kabraxal Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    This... I took more from it that he got the public trial, public as in Kirk and gang were appeased, then S31 took over and did what they had been doing in secret.

    And there is no way they were going to kill off the character when there is so much there to work with if they can find a means to bring him back. You don't just waste that oppotunity.
     
  18. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ceti Alpha V had no technological base. There would be nothing which Khan and his gang could possibly use to build a starship. Placing Khan's people there would be effectively shutting them away for good. Which was the intention, in the original episode...it's both safe (for the Federation) and humane (to Khan). It's win-win, really.

    The only thing that threw that plan off was the explosion of Ceti Alpha VI.
     
  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, it's possible Khan and his people would have eventually achieved space travel, they'd just be starting from scratch technologically. But at least they (or at least Khan himself) had some of the knowledge of how to do it, it would just be a matter of getting the resources together.

    Though it certainly seems Ceti Alpha VI exploding put the kibosh on anything other than basic survival.
     
  20. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In a universe where it's too much to ask for narrative coherency or organizational believability from Starfleet, asking for ethical or judicial consistency is sure to be a bridge too far.