Why Let Khan Live?

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

  1. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think Kirk and company would really worry about planet-bound, pre-spaceflight civilizations they found stumbling onto Khan and his gang. Certainly they'd not be concerned about the god-like aliens they encountered falling victim to him.

    As for space-faring civilizations at technological levels similar to the Feds, they really didn't encounter very many of them. Even so, I have a hard time believing Khan and his colony would represent any greater danger to, say, the First Federation than the dangers they would just naturally face by exploring space in the first place.

    I never make assumptions about the Original Series' intentions based on what the spinoffs cobbled together after the fact. ;)
     
  2. ralfy

    ralfy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    As I said, I don't disagree with you. I just remembered what happened in the movie.
     
  3. Kirby

    Kirby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Technically Kirk would have to kill (or order to kill) all of Khan's people as well since they were all genetically enhanced superhumans and they all posed a risk. Killing just Khan, especially if they called it self defense, is one thing. Killing them all is mass murder.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Compare this to the fact that Khan apparently killed nobody!

    ...Well, yes, technically he presumed he had killed Kirk with the pressure chamber thing. But he didn't really bother to feign surprise when finding Kirk alive and well.

    The episode started out with Kirk and his crew idolizing Khan. It really did not end differently. As far as bad guys go, Khan was downright gentlemanly, a man very much to Kirk's liking.

    Considering him a "criminal" based on what he did in the past would be pretty thick. He was a head of state, after all - immune to prosecution if anything! What he did after being waken up did not seem to bother Kirk too much, either.

    Neither, I'd think. The planet did not pose any mortal threat to settlers, as far as we were told, and the Earth or Federation colonies we saw in TOS were all of this type anyway: a tiny bunch of people who have severed all ties with their former home and settled down with basic tools and little else. OTOH, dropping Khan off on an alien world is just defusing a bomb, as the endeavor supposedly would consume Khan's ambition and turn his powers to good.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because Trek hadn't become just "kill the badguy, save the day" yet. Morality, ethics and other things that make you think are what make for a good episode.
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because it's the 60s and good guys don't execute people.
     
  7. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think it made sense to exile Khan and the rest of his followers. For one thing, there would be no chance that they could escape, since Ceti Alpha V had no technological base. And if Kirk and the rest of Starfleet had been more diligent about putting warning beacons in orbit and all that, there would have been no chance of somebody else accidentally stumbling across Khan. So if that plan had worked, Khan and the Augments would have been permanently isolated, with a colony consisting only OF Augments, and no chance of innocent people getting hurt or killed.

    Khan was not a legitimate government. He was a dictator who seized power by force. He didn't earn it. He wasn't recognized as a head of state according to normal diplomatic channels. Thus he doesn't deserve any protection afforded to same.
     
  8. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    This is one of the points brought up in IDW's good comic, Khan: Reigning In Hell which bridges the gap between "Space Seed" and TWOK. Khan was a tyrant in many respects, yet Kirk and Scotty acknowledge that he had a sense of honor other respects. He committed no massacres during his rule and didn't attack anyone offensively, unless he was directly attacked.

    Khan's enhanced memory made it easier for him and his followers to nearly succeed in controlling the Enterprise, and Kirk reasons in RIH that the same could potentially happen to another vessel or a starbase. That advantage plus the eugenics' somewhat ruthless nature ensured that they would make such attempts.

    Khan, as per RIH, had a measure of respect for Kirk for genuinely defeating him (not easily done) and offering him a measure of honor in giving them another chance on Ceti Alpha V, even if it was barely charted and a challenging environment according to some other sources. He assumed that Kirk would indeed have some way of monitoring him if only for Starfleet's security, given the events on board the Enterprise, and that they might even be given aid solely because it was an ethical thing to do. That they would be ignored and left to survive on whatever was left did much to wear away any sort of respect or trust Khan might have had in the years building up to TWOK. Some of his people questioned his apparent faith in Kirk and led a revolt which ultimately cost their lives alone with Marla's, and Khan saw that as Kirk's blame too.
     
  9. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Khan was guilty of attempted murder and attempted hijacking of a Federation starship. But in the Federation's eyes, those wouldn't be grounds for execution. About the only crime that was threatened with death was visiting Talos IV. ;)

    Should Kirk have confined Khan and his followers to the brig and ferried them to a starbase for trial? Perhaps... But OTOH, it may have not been expedient to do so. A class M planet not claimed by anyone? Seemed a little peculiar to me, but given what little resources were given to Khan and his followers, one could consider it a kind of penal colony. Cut off from the rest of humanity, with no means of escape. And I'd have expected a probe would be left in the vicinity to monitor things like keeping away visitors.
     
  10. G2309

    G2309 Captain Captain

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    Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. Thankfully the adjacent island did't blow up causing a change in the climate.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    [qujote]Khan was not a legitimate government. He was a dictator who seized power by force.[/quote]

    So was George Washington. Doesn't mean zip for his legitimacy or lack thereof.

    There's no basis for such a claim.

    So you don't think there are any warning beacon chasers in Trek? ;)

    ...But happens rather frequently in all the shows. It's probably just that in the billions of years that various civilizations have reigned over the galaxy, about 100% of suitable rock planets have been terraformed (which in turn has promoted the growth of younger cultures that are compatible with terraforming, including mankind). When cultures die or ascend to higher planes of boredom, planets are left to fallow and, depending on the quality of terraforming, may remain Earthlike for billions of years. Or then degrade into hellholes that nevertheless retain an otherwise unlikely oxygen atmosphere...

    I don't really see this sort of a scheme working. If somebody is interested in taking empty-looking Class M worlds, he will take them, probe or no probe... If not, he won't bother coming close enough to make a difference.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "In the real world" has no place in this discussion. It's Star Trek. It's fiction. Reality doesn't count.
     
  13. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thematically, Khan was discovered having been banished from earth in the Botany Bay (or voluntarily escaped, depending on your narrative). Their punishment was to complete the voyage of the Botany Bay, by reaching "landfall" where they could be given free reign without risking established society. From a story perspective, it's a suitable resolution.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, in-universe we're left with some pretty big questions.

    - Who defeated Khan?
    - What did Khan really intend to achieve with his flight?
    - Did Khan get what he wanted when Kirk marooned him?
    - With the whole "incomplete records" thing, how many of the "facts" of Khan were accurate, and how many were distorted?

    The episode plays out nicely prima facie, but the truth about Khan could easily be more complex. On awakening, his first and only question is "How long?". In which circumstances would this really be relevant? A journey intended to achieve a destination would rather call for the question "Where?", not "When?"...

    If Khan in fact had no destination in mind, but merely hoped to wait out the opposition to him, then "How long?" would be a highly relevant question. If Kirk says "More than three lifetimes", then Khan is safe, because he has been forgotten. If he says "Oh, I estimate three months", then Khan is screwed, because those who want his head on a platter are still alive and sending out Wiesenthals.

    Perhaps Khan just wanted to loop back to Earth after the dust had settled? Or perhaps he bet that his ship would eventually be discovered and he could do exactly what he did in the episode. Evidence for him wanting to settle a distant planet is lacking: we never hear of people in the 1990s knowing where or even whether there would be habitable worlds, and we never see colonizing gear or even a means of landing when we study Khan's ship! Indeed, when Khan does colonize, his equipment is stamped with UFP symbology...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I do. It is a totally different situation.

    Kruge had just murdered Kirk's son after torturing him for information hours after obliterating the entire crew of the USS Grissom and attacking the Enterprise. Still, after all that, when Kruge was in danger of falling, Kirk offered his hand. Kruge's response was to pull Kirk down into the lava with him. To save himself and Spock, Kirk did the only thing he could: he kicked his adversary over the side. At that point, Kruge had done one thing after another and another, so Kirk's exasperation added the "I have had enough of you" to it.

    Self defense / justifiable homicide / justice. Executing Khan and his followers after having them in custody would be brutal, heartless murder. Sorry, not in support of that.
     
  16. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    99.9% of the time, I would agree with you. But people like Hitler, Napoleon, Stalin, Khan, etc.... I say, release the hounds. (oh and people who dress up their dogs in people's clothes...take them out too!). :rommie:
     
  17. BennieGamali

    BennieGamali Commander Red Shirt

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    I disagree completely. He probably knows something has gone wrong since humans have awoken him. For all we know, he might also be able to feel that he has been "sleeping" for much longer than intended. Whether he asks "when" or "where" doesn't make him more or less realistic. When I've been sleeping for too long the first thing I do is look at the clock.
    If I for some reason don't remember where I went to sleep, of course I wonder where I am when I wake up. If I am traveling on a boat and have slept I wonder both what time it is AND where I am. I most often ask what time it is because I know what time I will arrive at my destination.

    Anyway, I would probably ask "how long" if I had been on a spaceship and feeling as if I was halfdead and the people bending over me had thingamajigs looking a lot more advanced than what I was used to.
     
  18. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The crew of Regula One would have been happy to hear that, if Khan hadn't SLAUGHTERED them all in cold blood.
     
  19. Alpha Romeo

    Alpha Romeo Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :wtf: wut...

    Are you comparing Khan to Eisenhower??
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably in Khan's favor, even.

    Many of you seem to proceed from the assumption that Khan was a so-called bad guy. But the dialogue does not support this at all.

    Let's not forget what was said about Khan in the episode itself:

    So Khan is compared to Napoleon, a leader of good repute who is widely admired in the 21st century still. He is compared to Alexander, a leader of mythical proportions. Both killed an awful lot of people - but any modern leader has the capacity to do much worse, and most have indeed done so. Trying to nail down Napoleon or Alexander as a "butcher" just puts you in the loonie bin, by modern sentiments.

    Moving on:

    Like Kirk points out, Khan uses the language of tyrants. But so did Winston Churchill and a long string of US presidents in times of national crisis. Kirk is playing games here; he's not really interested in passing judgement, but merely in tripping Khan into exposing himself.

    Further:

    Our heroes are really pulling Spock's leg here with their "defense" of Khan's virtues, obviously. Scotty gets it started with a mischievous look on his face. But what they say is apparently factually true. Remember that Kirk loathes the 20th century in general (see his previous comment about 20th century men), even if he romanticizes the 19th century United States to a degree. Khan rises above Kirk's standards for that century, and while that's not much in absolute terms, it still paints Khan as a saint of his times.

    Khan's attitude towards "freedom" is unclear. Are we talking about McCarthyism here? Or Berianism? Good old-fashioned monarchism with freedom of thought but no freedom of press?

    Later Trek shows that Earth wasn't exactly heading for the better after Khan left. "The" tyrants were overthrown, but democracy didn't win, and things got worse before WWIII put an end to everything and Vulcans then apparently sorted it out.

    Is Khan a Rommel to Kirk - a good guy fated to exist as part of an evil movement (in terms of myth, with the facts of the matter irrelevant)? Or is he something better or worse? Well, he's Napoleon and Alexander... If he were Hitler, surely Kirk would bring up the matter.

    Timo Saloniemi