Why Let Khan Live?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Praetor Baldric, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    Something that has always bothered me. Ok, so you have awakened about 80 genetically-enhanced, highly-motivated megalomaniacs. They try to kill you and take over your ship with the purpose of taking over the universe. You manage to overcome them. You give their leader a hearing and it is quite obvious that neither he nor his followers are at all contrite about their actions (because they are megalomaniacs). So you decide to send them down to a planet (albeit a savage one by regular folks' standards) to set-up a colony. Hmmm....is it just me or doesn't this plan seem inherently flawed? I know that we all learn later in TWOK that Khan and company ultimately had a rougher time than both Khan and Kirk could have expected, but things could have turned out a lot worse.

    Look at it this way, would you give a group of Hitlers, Stalins, and Napoleons their very own world? Seems to me it'd be safer just to waste them all. I know, I know, the UFP doesn't like to operate that way, but I think in this case they might have made an exception.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2013
  2. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This is the kind of thing that made Star Trek more interesting than a whole lot of commercial entertainment.
     
  3. ralfy

    ralfy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Good point!

    Also, according to Khan in the earlier film, the punishment was almost like a death sentence as several crew members perished.
     
  4. billcosby

    billcosby Commodore Commodore

    Yes, we are repeatedly beat over the head with the mantra, "we can't let go of what makes us human," in Star Trek. Showing mercy on foes clearly stronger than humans and dealing with that morality is at its core.
     
  5. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    True, but they were given a fighting chance. If you came across Hitler, would you give him a fighting chance? Remember, Khan and his followers were responsible for the deaths of millions upon millions!

    Give them their Nuremberg, fine...but their own world to conquer and tame?
     
  6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Well it wasn't so bad before Ceti Alpha VI exploded.
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, so Kirk executes Khan.

    Kirk then becomes one more uninteresting, unexceptional TV cowboy of that era. Who'd remember him or the show now?
     
  8. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    I strongly doubt that the timelessness of the series hinges on one episode. And it needn't be as simple and unpoetic as Kirk simply executing Khan. By your logic, he should have found a kinder gentler solution to the Gary Mitchell problem.
     
  9. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    They were two entirely different situations. I agree that stranding Khan on a primitive world was the best solution for all parties involved.
     
  10. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    The death sentence was outlawed in Starfleet with the exception of General Order 7, so Kirk killing Khan after winning the fist fight would make Kirk a murderer.
     
  11. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Why did Kirk let Khan live?

    Because if he hadn't then we'd have never got Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Kirk was already thinking about the potential for sequels later down the track. ;)
     
  12. starburst

    starburst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It was an error in the writing of the episode in some ways, but not the biggest one - worse story points include Kirk giving unknown persons full access to the ships computer to the point they can work out how to work it, McGuivers helping Khan after he smacked her about and Khan wanting her after she helped Kirk and Spock retake the ship.

    But what did you want him to do, Kirk killed Mitchell as a last resort, he didnt want to do it, and we know he offered to help the Romulans after he crippled their Bird of Prey - Kirk was a man who would kill when he had to but would offer a chance to live when he could.

    The biggest problem is why no one stopped off every so often to see how a potential threat was doing, by WOK Starfleet seemed to forget they were in that system (and hadnt noticed a missing planet), any Starfleet ship surveying that system should have had orders to scan the planet.

    In the real world if we found a group of mass murdering dictators in a bunker in cryo sleep and didnt have the option of keeping them in the freezer are we really saying we wouldnt take them back for trial and instead dump them on an island somewhere?

    Seems a little short sighted.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...But our human heroes all thought he was a pretty cool guy.

    Eisenhower an his followers were responsible for the deaths of millions upon millions, too. Would you execute Eisenhower or give him a second chance? Our heroes are on the same side as Khan - they are Earthlings all. (That Spock objects to Khan is just more incentive for our heroes to defend him!)

    Frederic the Great was responsible for lots of carnage, too. Would you execute Fred or give him a second chance? He was an intelligent and charming fellow who brought civilization to the courts of Prussia and helped shape an enlightened Europe. Our heroes are impressed by Khan's wits and panache, too. And I'm sure he, too, could play a mean flauto traverso.

    Gaius Iulius Caesar was responsible for piles of bones as well. Would you execute ol' laurelhead or give him a second chance? Caesar lived long, long ago, and any real passions about him have long since cooled down. Khan is well in the distant past of our heroes as well, representing a truly bygone era.

    Basically, there's nothing even remotely Hitleresque about Khan, as per the above three aspects of leadership evaluation. We only hear that he was a civilized fellow who did his best in difficult times and was widely admired, but then was defeated and disappeared / had to flee - we don't even hear whether he was defeated by the good guys or the bad ones.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I can't find real fault in these bits. Kirk liked Khan, even if he didn't trust the man; he did cut off Khan's access after finding out who he was dealing with exactly. McGivers in turn perfectly exemplifies one female stereotype, that capable of wrapping powerful men around her little finger even though the idiots think they are in control because they are ah so muscular and violent and commanding. And Khan would certainly find that flattering...

    What threat? Not just Khan but fifty generations of his followers would be dead before this colony had any hope of developing anything as advanced as a means of luring space travelers there to help them escape.

    Clearly, Kirk selected a marooning location well off the beaten path. And that means no visits by starships or lesser vessels, period. Remember how amazed our heroes were to find the Botany Bay in the neighborhood in the first place? Nobody, but nobody, frequents this region of space.

    ST2 reinforces that impression further: not only is Khan's star system considered such a useless wasteland that a project aiming at exploiting the most useless of wastelands has it somewhere far down the list - but Starfleet also believes that the vicinity is an excellent location for a top secret, defenseless research facility!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    More like two different solutions to similar situations. Both stories were about aspects of humanity magnified, like HAL in 2001. The stories become complex when one starts asking where morality lies.
     
  16. ManOnTheWave

    ManOnTheWave Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Leaving Khan and company alone on an undeveloped planet with only the basics, no transmitter and no means of leaving to find civilization? Is that mercy, or fundamentally a death sentence?
     
  17. Cinema Geekly

    Cinema Geekly Commander Red Shirt

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    The whole thing seemed odd to me. Imprisoning them and refreezing seemed like the obvious choice. Why take the chance that a random ship stops by, detects life, and goes down for a visit only for Khan and company to commandeer it for their own purposes.

    I mean that must have been a viable option. If it wasn't because Khan and his crew so much stronger and more intelligent then they would have simply just taken the ship, why agree to be stranded?
     
  18. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That wasn't really a likely possibility in TOS. While the plots of certain episodes did require the Enterprise to sort of "go back home" to ferry ambassadors or whatnot, the basic setting of the show was on the far frontier of explored space. And space was a lot bigger and a lot less crowded in TOS than in the spinoffs. A "remote" planet actually could be remote.
     
  19. Cinema Geekly

    Cinema Geekly Commander Red Shirt

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    Well.....so far as the characters know anyway. I mean every week they were discovering strange new worlds, certainly they would start realizing that the universe IS more crowded than they expected.

    It still seems like too big of a chance to take, but i also have the foresight of retconned augments who appear A LOT more powerful than Khan and crew were in Space Seed or WoK.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Who remembers this scene?