//\\ 15-Minute Federation //\\ presents . . . Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan — Chapter 6: Changing the Conditions of the Test (Or: Joachim Possessed the True Superior Intellect)


01:15:01 – 01:30:00

The 15-Minute Federation sent a landing party to the only M-class planet in the Big Box System, a world known as Walmartus IV. The landing party consisted of Captain James C. Firewater, Commander Spork, and Lt. O’Hara.

Captain Firewater planned to negotiate a trade agreement for the 100-count box of dilithium crystals. The captain favors the doughnut shop brand of dilithium. He showed one of the blue-uniformed Walmartus ambassadors the full-color communique from Starfleet, which advertised many items in addition to the crystals, and the ambassador directed the landing party to another planet: SamsClub XIV.

The captain said that was a members-only planet, so they didn’t go. He said we’d just order our dilithium on Amazon Prime, a planet in the Bezos system.

We are now in the penultimate chapter of

The Wrath of Khan Edition of the 15-Minute Federation.

We’re still in Act 2, by the way, but getting close to the end. When we last saw our heroes, the USS Enterprise was dead in the water after her battle with the USS Reliant, commanded by Khan Noonien Singh. The ship was apparently days away from repair, according to Spock‘s message to Kirk.

As we ended Chapter 5, James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard McCoy were stranded inside the Regula planetoid, along with Lt. Saavik, Pavel Chekov, and the mother-and-son doctor team, Carol and David Marcus. Captain Terrell, of the Reliant, was with them briefly, but he killed himself rather than following Khan’s command to kill Admiral James T. Kirk.

You see, he and Chekov were being mind-controlled by Ceti eels. It was a whole thing. The upshot of it was that Terrell died but Chekov lived because he was a member of the classic Enterprise lineup.

Carol Marcus was about to show Kirk the Genesis cave as the chapter ended. I have to add that Kirk’s toupee looks particularly fluffy in this scene.

Meanwhile, Khan’s second-in-command announces that impulse power has been restored to the Reliant. Khan says, “Excellent!” I wanted him to do a Mr. Burns impression and tap his fingertips together as he said it, but he doesn’t. As far as he knows, the Enterprise is still a sitting duck, so he plans to finish destroying the vessel to put the final nail in Kirk’s metaphorical coffin.

The Doctors Marcus show off the Genesis cave to Kirk, McCoy, and Saavik. A smaller Genesis device created a stable ecosystem deep within the Regula planetoid in just one day. Just imagine what the larger Genesis device would be capable of. Life from lifelessness, indeed. Carol Marcus is like God.

Since it seems like they have nothing but time to fill, Saavik decides to ask Kirk about his Kobayashi Maru test. McCoy chimes in that Kirk is the only one to ever beat the no-win scenario. Kirk admits that he reprogrammed the simulation so that it was possible to rescue the ship. Dr. David Marcus—Kirk’s son, as you may recall—gives a derisive chuckle and says, “He cheated!” This, of course, fits David’s preconceived notions of his spacefaring father.

Kirk says, “I changed the conditions of the test. I got a commendation for original thinking. I don’t like to lose.”

We sometimes wrote notes on our wrists or on the soles of our tennis shoes when I was in high school. We thought we were changing the conditions of the test, too. The teachers insisted it was cheating. There were no commendations for original thinking handed out.

Saavik suggests that Kirk has never truly faced death. Kirk retorts that he doesn’t believe in a no-win scenario, which suggests that he may just be delusional.

However, the current situation turns out not to be a no-win scenario after all. Spock beams them back on board the Enterprise. Saavik is confused because Spock had previously communicated that it would be two days before repairs were made to the ship. Kirk reminds her of Regulation 46A, which she can, of course, help him quote: “If transmissions are being monitored during battle, no uncoded messages on an open channel.” Which, now that we look more closely at it, is grammatically incomplete.

Saavik turns to Spock, her mentor, and says, “You lied.”

I exaggerated,” Spock replies. And now that our temporary detour to see the Genesis cave is completed, we makes the transition into Act Three of our story.

Even with partial main power restored, the Enterprise crew has determined that the Reliant can still out-run and out-gun them. Spock points out that the Mutara Nebula is nearby. Kirk asks his Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott whether or not they can make it inside the nebula.

Scotty, although we here at the 15-Minute Federation will always consider him to be the bravest man in Starfleet, is, as always, an eternal pessimist.

He says, “The energizer’s bypassed like a Christmas tree. . . so don’t give me too many bumps.”

Which leads us to the question: Have we ever seen a Christmas tree on any Trek series? Hmm . . . [editor’s note: yes and no: in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Death Wish,” the USS Voyager was briefly disguised as a Christmas tree ornament by Quinn (another member of the Q Continuum); and, Captain Jean-Luc Picard experienced an illusory Christmas along with an equally-illusory family, complete with a Christmas tree, while trapped in the Nexus in Star Trek Generations.]

Also: Does “bypassed like a Christmas tree” even make sense as a description? Are Christmas trees notorious for being bypassed? “Lit up like a Christmas tree” makes some sense, we suppose. It does seem that Christmas trees are usually bypassed in Trek, however. Those secular humanists!

Saavik, in her current role as Chief Exposition Officer, points out that the trouble with the nebula is that the static discharge and gas disrupts their tactical display, which means visual won’t function and shields will be useless. To which Kirk replies, “Sauce for the goose, Mister Saavik. The odds will be even.”

The convention of referring to female Trek officers as “sir” has been addressed in various series. Captain Janeway even mentioned it once, telling Ensign Harry Kim that, despite Starfleet protocol, she disliked being called “sir,” although she preferred “Captain” over “ma’am,” as well. The fact that Kirk calling Saavik “mister” still bothers us means that we are all probably relics of a different age. She is so obviously not a mister.

When Khan sees the Enterprise fleeing under her own power, he seems delighted to have been deceived. “So much the better,” he says, as they pursue.

Kirk has Uhura, in her ubiquitous role as switchboard operator, patch him through to Khan’s ship. He wants to goad Khan into pursuing him into the Mutara.

We tried it once your way, Khan,” he says. “Are you game for a rematch? Khan! I’m laughing at the ‘superior intellect.’”

Khan’s Number-One, Joachim, tries to talk Khan out of following Kirk into the nebula. Their shields will be useless. They already have the Genesis device. It makes absolutely no sense for them to lose whatever tactical advantage they already possess. Joachim’s intellect may indeed have been superior to Khan’s. But, Khan has a hard-on for Admiral Kirk. Figuratively speaking, of course (we hope). He is blinded by his obsessive need for revenge against his most formidable foe.

As we reach the end of this chapter, Khan has ordered his ship into the Mutara Nebula after the Enterprise, and he is arming the Genesis device itself.

Exciting stuff. The final sequence of what has already been an exciting story has been expertly set up. The Mutara Nebula gives us the opportunity for a classic submarine warfare sequence that harkens back to the classic TOS episode “Balance of Terror,” which starred Mark Lenard in his pre-Sarek role as the Romulan Commander (often referred to as “Keras,” which is “Sarek” spelled backward, even though the character never had a canonical name). The final chapter also includes a scene that cements this movie’s reputation as our favorite Trek movie (at least so far). So there are good things ahead.

Until next time . . . We Have the Cure for Pon Farr at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.



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