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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

In director Nicholas Meyer's superior sequel to the first installment (Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)) - the sci-fi, dramatic action film has been regarded as one of the best, most-critically acclaimed entries in the entire series; however, it received no Academy Award nominations. At the time, with a production budget of $11-12 million, and box-office gross receipts of $79 million (domestic) and $97 million (worldwide), it set the record at the box-office for the highest opening weekend. This second film, plus the third and fourth films (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)) comprised a loose trilogy.

The film was set in the 23rd century, when aging ex USS Enterprise commander Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) - on one of his final missions, was forced to face-off against his old exiled nemesis - the genetically-engineered Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) from the late 20th century Earth. The vengeful tyrant Khan had escaped after 15 years in exile and was causing problems by taking over a Federation spaceship (the USS Reliant), raiding a Space Station (Regula I) and stealing its top secret, powerful terraforming device named Project Genesis.

This sequel Star Trek release barely beat TRON (1982) to take the unofficial honor of being the first feature film to use computer-generated images (CGI) to a very large extent. The so-called "Genesis Effect" - a one-minute animated sequence, was cinema's first entirely (or all digital) computer-generated (CG) sequence of images. See below for a description of the sequence.

  • the film opened in the year 2285 during a training session at Starfleet Academy of cadets; a simulation was being conducted of a real-life rescue mission; the scenario called Kobayashi Maru - was a no-win situation to test a potential commander's character and abilities in a life-death situation; the specific objective of the test was to rescue a damaged fuel ship (the Kobayashi Maru) after an attack by Klingon cruisers
  • one of pointy-eared USS Enterprise Vulcan Captain Spock's (Leonard Nimoy) protege trainees - eager female cadet half-Vulcan Lieutenant Saavik (Kirstie Alley), was being tested to be the commander of the starship USS Enterprise; in the simulation, the USS Enterprise was on a rescue mission in the Neutral Zone where a neutronic fuel carrier had struck a gravitic mine and suffered casualties; the starship was attacked by three alien Klingon cruisers with torpedoes; the assault left every crew member dead on the bridge, including Spock (a foreshadowing!), with the sole survivor being Lt. Saavik
  • [Note: It took former USS Enterprise commander, recently-promoted Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) three tries to beat the simulation, after reprogramming it to allow him to win with a "unique" solution. Much later in the film, he admitted to Lt. Saavik that he didn't care for "no-win" scenarios, and that he had cheated in order to win.]
  • after the simulation concluded, aging Kirk was planning on assuming his duties in his new position as an Admiral - a post that didn't require hopping around space and exploring; he received a birthday gift from his old friend Spock - an "antique" copy of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities
  • meanwhile, Russian-accented First Officer and commander Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) was on a mission on another Federation starship the USS Reliant, captained by Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield); their journey was to check out Ceti Alpha VI in connection with the Federation's top-secret Project Genesis; they were conducting a search for a lifeless planet to use as a test site for the Genesis Experiment and its Genesis Device, to rehabilitate dead and lifeless worlds; Chekov reported that there was a minor "energy flux" on Ceti Alpha VI's surface that might cancel its viability
  • on the Space Station laboratory Regula I, blonde scientist Dr. Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) was heading up Project Genesis; later in the film, in a one-minute segment, the computerized simulation was seen in a video proposal or demonstration presented by Kirk's ex-lover Dr. Marcus with their grown son Dr. David Marcus (Merritt Butrick), Kirk's progeny from a previous relationship; the computer-simulated endeavor sought to transform uninhabitable worlds into lush paradises ("life from lifelessness"); the once-dead planet was struck by a "torpedo"-like Genesis Device that reorganized molecules at the subatomic level to create worlds for colonization - a weapon that could do both harm or good ("could be perverted into a dreadful weapon"); the device could both regenerate life, and also destroy life; the camera raced quickly across the reddish and then greening surface of the barren planet, before becoming a reborn or revived globe
Project Genesis Computer Simulation
  • Dr. Marcus narrated the video and animation, in person and in voice-over: "It is a process whereby molecular structure is reorganized at the subatomic level into life-generating matter of equal mass...It is our intention to introduce the Genesis Device into a preselected area of a lifeless space body - a moon or other dead form. The device is delivered, instantaneously causing what we call the Genesis effect. Matter is reorganized with life-generating results. Instead of a dead moon, a living breathing planet capable of sustaining whatever life-forms we see fit to deposit on it...The reformed moon simulated here represents the merest fraction of the Genesis potential should the Federation wish to fund these experiments to their logical conclusion."
  • during the USS Reliant's search for a lifeless planet to conduct experiments with the Genesis Device, Chekov and Terrell were beamed down to the inhospitable, dry and sandy surface of Ceti Alpha VI to check for signs of life (they didn't know they had actually landed on Ceti Alpha V); they were surprised to discover that the planet's barren surface showed evidence of an abandoned, derelict starship SS Botany Bay from 15 years earlier (more later)
  • they were confronted and captured by the film's main villain - genetically-engineered, bare-chested superhuman Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) of the late 20th century, who revealed himself after unwrapping his head gear
USS Reliant Officers Chekov and Terrell Captured by Villain Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban)
  • [Note: Khan once was a powerful tyrannical ruler over SE Asia on Earth during the Earth's Eugenic Wars that threatened the USS Enterprise, but he and his followers were defeated and were cryogenically frozen aboard the SS Botany Bay - it was found adrift in space 15 years earlier (in the year 2267) by Captain Kirk. At that time, Khan was revived and threatened to hijack Captain Kirk's starship. To punish him for his villainy, Kirk exiled Khan to the planet of Ceti Alpha V, where the vengeful Khan became the leader of the marooned crew of survivors of the SS Botany Bay, who had survived within the derelict vessel; six months after Khan's exile there, the planet was transformed into a wasteland by an explosion on nearby Ceti Alpha VI that caused massive climate changes; the massive blast shifted its neighboring planet's orbit and its ecosystem - "everything was laid waste" and Ceti Alpha V became a "barren sand heap"; Khan blamed Kirk for the death of his beloved wife due to a parasitic, insanity-causing Ceti eel that was native to the planet.]
  • in an excruciating-to-watch sequence, Khan extracted two young, parasitic, insanity-causing, crawling Ceti eels from the back of a scaly creature (the barren planet Ceti Alpha V's "only remaining indigenous life-form"); he eerily explained to his cringing victims that the two horrifying, brain-munching earwigs or Ceti eels would be placed into each of their helmets to crawl into their ears, and cause a slow and maddening death. They also would inflict mind-control so that he could gain control of their spaceship: "You see, they're young, enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow follows madness and death"
  • Khan made the two hapless victims kneel and added: "These are pets, of course, not quite domesticated"; he observed as the two eels, one placed into each helmet, crawled across the faces of Chekov and Terrell, and with unerring instincts headed for their ears, and caused atrocious pain; Khan then demanded to know the nature of their mission and the whereabouts of James Kirk: ("That's better. Now tell me, why are you here and tell me where I may find James Kirk"); soon, his torture tactics successfully allowed him to take-over the USS Reliant
  • after the simulation training, the USS Enterprise - commanded by Dr. Spock, was piloted by commander-in-training Lieut. Saavik and crew on a three-week routine voyage; other officers on the journey included Kirk, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), helm officer Hikaru Sulu (George Takai), chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan) and female communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols)
  • at the same time, Khan (now in command of the USS Reliant with the aid of the mind-controlled Chekhov) communicated with Dr. Marcus on the Space Station Regula I and forcefully demanded the Project Genesis materials from her; Dr. Marcus contacted Kirk with a distress call to confirm his approval of the transfer of the Project Genesis device; she also made plans with her Genesis Project personnel to vacate Regula I before the USS Reliant arrived; Spock asked to transfer his power to Admiral Kirk to allow him to command the Enterprise
Mind-Controlled Chekov Demanding the Project Genesis Device from Dr. Marcus and Her Son David Marcus on the Space Station Regula I

On the USS Reliant, Chekov Under the Mind-Control Direction of Khan

Dr. Marcus Reporting Chekov's Strange Request to Kirk
  • as the USS Enterprise set course to investigate without deploying its defense shields, it was ambushed and fired upon (causing the deaths and injuries of some young cadets) by the USS Reliant, and the starship was crippled (its main energizer and warp core were disabled); with delay tactics, Kirk was able to remotely lower the shields of the Reliant and counter-attack, and Khan's commandeered ship retreated and withdrew; however, both ships were damaged in the stalemated conflict
  • Admiral Kirk steered the limping Enterprise toward the unresponsive space station Regula I; Kirk, "Bones," and Lt. Saavik beamed aboard and found that most of Dr. Marcus' crewmembers were dead after being tortured by Khan, although Terrell and Chekov were semi-conscious and hiding in a bridge storage compartment; the two revealed that the original crew of the USS Reliant was marooned on Ceti Alpha V
  • without enough energy from the USS Enterprise to beam them back, Kirk ordered the space station to proceed onward to seek repairs or find shelter; the three stranded crew members and Terrell and Chekov, via transport beam, traveled from the space station to the nearby Class D rocky planetoid of Regula below, where they found Dr. Marcus and a very-resistant son David hiding underground in a bunker; when ordered to kill Kirk by Khan, Terrell turned his phaser gun on himself, while the eel controlling the resistant Chekov exited from his ear and was destroyed
  • after learning that his old enemy Kirk was alive on the sparse planet of Regula, Khan was able to successfully teleport the Genesis torpedo device from Regula back onboard his kidnapped starship - the USS Reliant - as Kirk powerlessly watched; on the intercom, Kirk then challenged Khan to come and get him: "Khan! Khan, you have Genesis, but you don't have me! You were going to kill me, Khan. You're going to have to come down here!"

The Genesis Torpedo Device Was Transported by Khan to His Kidnapped Ship the USS Reliant

Khan Learned That His Old Nemesis Kirk Was Alive on the Planet of Regula, and Gloated About Marooning Kirk There

Kirk Shouted at Khan with Blind Rage: "KHAAANNNN! KHAAANNNN!"
  • a gloating and vengeful Khan relished the fact that Kirk would suffer the same fate he had 15 years earlier - marooned on a desolate planet: "I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her -- marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. Buried alive. Buried alive"; Kirk shouted back with blind rage: "KHAAANNNN! KHAAANNNN!", as Khan flew off
  • on the sparse planet of Regula while awaiting their fate, Dr. Marcus and Kirk spoke about their past relationship, and her raising of David as a single mother; she revealed to him a small, lush, biosystems paradise and underground Genesis cave - evidence of the Genesis Effect from earlier experiments
  • it was then revealed that Khan had been fooled into believing that Kirk would be irretrievably stranded on the barren planet of Regula; within a few hours on the planet, Adm. Kirk contacted Spock and learned about revised estimates about the strength of the transporter beam on the severely-weakened USS Enterprise (the earlier two-day estimate about repairs was to deliberately deceive Khan); the stranded crew on Regula was beamed back, but still under the threat of Khan
  • Spock and Adm. Kirk decided that the only way for the crippled USS Enterprise (without proper defense capabilities and the lack of warp power) to face off fairly with Khan's captured USS Reliant was to move their major battle to the Mutara Nebula; there, both ships would be similarly disabled and neutralized by electrical power in the nebula; the USS Enterprise was struck and badly incapacitated (it lost its main power and its warp drive chamber leaked radiation), while torpedo fire from the USS Enterprise killed Khan's right-hand man Joachim (Judson Scott), and then shortly later, a second torpedo blast from Chekov maimed and mortally-wounded Khan
  • before dying, the venomous Khan set the Genesis device to reorganize all matter in the area and detonate within four minutes - he had decided to blow up his own stolen USS Reliant spaceship with the Genesis machine and thereby also destroy the nearby USS Enterprise; his last words before dying were quotes from Moby Dick's Captain Ahab: ("To the last, I will grapple with thee...For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee")
  • to save the doomed Enterprise from the deadly explosion (and provide it with warp speed to escape), Vulcan Captain Spock decided to sacrifice himself by sneaking away and entering the starship's highly-irradiated engine chamber to repair the Enterprise's main reactor; when he was resisted by Dr. McCoy, Spock used a Vulcan nerve pinch to stop him and to transfer his katra -- his memories and experience -- to McCoy with the word "Remember"; then, within the warp chamber, Spock heroically and self-sacrificially exposed himself to radiation poisoning while repairing the reactor to bring the warp drives back on-line

Spock Used a Nerve Pinch to Neutralize Dr. McCoy

Spock's Transference of His Katra to Dr. McCoy: "Remember"
  • after repairs, the USS Enterprise went into warp speed and escaped the blast when the Genesis torpedo exploded (destroying the Reliant and Khan); the explosion caused the birth of a new planetoid from the Genesis explosion in the nebula

The Explosive Blast Power of the Genesis Torpedo as the USS Enterprise Escaped via Its Repaired Warp Speed

The Birth of a New Planetoid After the Genesis Torpedo Exploded in the Nebula
  • Kirk was abruptly summoned to the engine room chamber where he was restrained and told by Scotty and McCoy: "Sir! He's dead already. It's too late, Jim"
  • before Spock fully expired (on the other side of a transparent glass partition), he asked with a hoarse voice: ("Ship out of danger?"); he was assured "Yes" by Kirk; Spock then spoke his final words to Admiral Kirk as he died, urging him not to mourn: ("Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh (the needs of the few). Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test, until now. What do you think of my solution? (Spock knelt down) I have been, and always shall be, your friend. (Spock placed his hand on the chamber glass) Live long, and prosper"); Kirk placed his hand opposite Spock's hand as his friend slowly collapsed, slumped down and expired next to him; overcome with emotion, Kirk quietly and simply muttered: "No" as Spock died

"Ship out of danger?"

"Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical..."

"Live long, and prosper."

Spock Slumped Down and Died
  • at Spock's funeral on the torpedo deck, Kirk delivered a heartfelt eulogy for his intimate friend: ("We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honoured dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel that sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human"); Spock's burial-casket was launched from the torpedo desk as Scotty played "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes
Kirk's Eulogy for Spock Before His Burial Casket Was Ejected
  • Spock's burial-casket (in a torpedo casing) was ejected, to orbit around the newly-formed planet and eventually land in the lush jungle
  • subsequently in his quarters while reading Spock's birthday-gift book, a somber Kirk was reconciled with his son Dr. David Marcus, who apologized and gave him a big warm hug: ("I was wrong about you and I'm sorry...And also that I'm proud. Very proud to be your son")
  • later on the bridge with Dr. McCoy and Dr. Marcus, Kirk dictated the objective of the next mission - to rescue the remainder of the original marooned Reliant crew on Ceti Alpha V: (voice-over) "Captain's log, Stardate 8141.6. Starship Enterprise departing for Ceti Alpha V to pick up the crew of USS Reliant. All is well. And yet I can't help wondering about the friend I leave behind. 'There are always possibilities,' Spock said. And if Genesis is indeed life from death, I must return to this place again." Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy added: "He's really not dead as long as we remember him"
  • then, Kirk responded, noting his re-discovery of peace and purpose for his life, words taken from the conclusion of A Tale of Two Cities (1935): ("'It's a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before.' A far better resting place I go to than I have ever known...Something Spock was trying to tell me on my birthday")
  • Kirk replied to his friend Dr. McCoy's question about how he felt: "You okay, Jim? How do you feel?" with Kirk's answer that he felt revitalized and renewed: "Young. I feel young!"

The Continuation of the Voyage of the Starship Enterprise

McCoy about Spock: "He's really not dead, as long as we remember him"

Kirk: "It's a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before"
  • the film ended with a pan over the surface of Genesis to locate Spock's casket amongst jungle growth
  • it concluded with Spock's tearjerking voice-over rendition of a variation of the famous Star Trek TV show's (1966-1969) opening credits quotation, over a view of a star-studded black sky: ("Space, the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.")

Lieutenant Saavik (Kirstie Alley) Leading a Training Simulation

Spock Wishing Adm. Kirk a Happy Birthday

Dr. Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) Hearing a Report From the USS Reliant About the Viability of Ceti Alpha VI

Dr. Marcus with Her Son Dr. David Marcus (Merritt Butrick), Kirk's Progeny

First Officer Chekov and Captain Terrell Beamed Onto the Surface of Ceti Alpha VI (It was actually Ceti Alpha V)

Khan Extracting Two Ceti Eels From the Back of a Scaly Creature

Two Captive Reliant Crew Members, Terrell and Chekov Tortured by Khan

An Eel Put Into Each of Their Helmets to Enter Their Ear Canals

The Crew of the USS Enterprise's Three Week Training Voyage

The USS Enterprise on Its Training Mission

Kirk Takes Command of the USS Enterprise to Investigate Strange Happenings on the USS Reliant

The USS Reliant Found to be Commandeered by Khan

"Bones," Kirk, and Lt. Saavik Beamed Onto Space Station Regula I

Chekov and Terrell Found Hiding on the Space Station, Amongst Bodies of Dr. Marcus' Dead Crew

The Enterprise Crew Beamed Onto the Rocky Surface of Planet of Regula

Kirk and his Ex-Partner Dr. Marcus Discussed Their Past

Dr. Marcus Revealed to Kirk a Lush Genesis Underground Cave on Regula

The Starship Crew on the Planet of Regula Beamed Back Onto the USS Enterprise

A Graphic Showing the Enterprise vs. Reliant Circling the Planet of Regula

The Maimed and Mortally-Wounded Khan

Khan's Death Speech

Spock's Torpedo-Casket Ejected From Enterprise Into Orbit Around the Newly-Formed Planet

After Spock's Ejection, Kirk Was Reconciled With His Son Dr. David Marcus (Merritt Butrick)

The USS Enterprise Journeyed Onward

Musings About Spock's Death and Life Itself

Spock's Torpedo-Encased Burial Casket in the Jungle of the New Planet


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