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Episode 81 – “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan”

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We’re here! We’re finally here! We’re finally at my favourite era of Original Trek: all the movies after The Motion Picture!

In this first good Trek movie, one of Kirk’s most powerful nemeses is back for revenge: Khan Noonien Singh, played by the incomparable Ricardo Montalban, has seized the Federation starship U.S.S. Reliant and a whole space station full of civilian scientists, and he’s holding them hostage until Kirk comes to join the party.

Ricardo Montalban as Khan, looking AMAZING
Montalbaaaaaaaan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it’s even worse than that: the scientists, including Kirk’s old flame, Dr. Carol Marcus, were working on something potentially terrible: the Genesis Device, a revolutionary terraforming system that in the wrong hands, could unleash unthinkable destruction upon the galaxy.

Sit back and relax, nerds, as we take you into an era of Trek where actors have, at least substantially and to a degree where it interferes much less with what’s on screen, gotten over themselves; where nearly the whole main cast gets something to do; where the design and effects are there to serve the story. And where, perhaps most importantly, we have on-screen explicit confirmation that our first favourite family of obnoxiously-socialist space nerds have been friends for years and actually like each other.

The Wrath of Khan Starfleet cast, wearing the late-23rd-century red jacket uniforms
And in this fresh new look! Check out George Takei: always having a better time than anyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, if everything that came before Wrath of Khan was the fractious, getting-to-know-you period of a madcap 50s romance, the TOS movies from this moment on are like the comfortably-married years. Yes, the movies themselves may vary in quality, but the messaging is on point, and the ensemble has solidified and only continues to grow stronger until the grand handover to the literal next generation. IMHO, from Wrath of Khan all the way to Undiscovered Country, these films, even the bad ones, still leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart. These are people who’ve been through hell together and would defend one another to the death… and even beyond.

Kirk outside the radiation chamber, where Spock is dying. Their hands are pressed against opposite sides of the glass. Kirk's face is anguished and tear-streaked.
And hey, what’s that? I’m still incandescently furious over J. J. Abrams wholesale stealing and then ruining this scene in his steaming garbage second reboot movie? Nah, must have been the wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s worth a lot. Even sitting through Final Frontier.

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