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Calyx of the Heavens

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Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! [Aug. 22nd, 2006|09:41 am]
Calyx of the Heavens
So, over the weekend, we watched a couple of Star Trek eps. One was "A Taste of Armageddon," the silly one about war waged by computer and whole chunks of the population being taken out by willingly walking, one-by-one, into a dozen or so disintegrators in the main complex. It was ridiculous cultural imperialism at work, but we could hoot at the goofy costumes.

Then we watched "Space Seed." You know, that one with Ricardo Montalban showing us his chest? Playing an Indian from India, as opposed to his usual Indian/Native American-in-spaghetti-western early career.

You know what I didn't notice the first (and only other) time I saw this?

Khan is an abusive fuck, and Kirk needs to be slapped silly. Sending Marla McGiver with Khan? She's a STARFLEET OFFICER AND CANNOT SIMPLY "WANDER AWAY" TO HANG OUT WITH HOT LATINO NORTHERN INDIAN EUGENICS BOY. She betrayed her ship, and MUST sit court martial -- Kirk's captain's stripes do NOT allow him to overrule this fundamental military truism or miraculously retire her commission without a court martial. Besides, what kind of evil bastard sends a woman off with an evil abusive fuck like Khan? She betrayed Khan -- she's dead meat. You think he wouldn't kill her like a bug once they got somewhere safe? Not a chance. She's genetically "inferior," personally insipid, and ill-equipped for a rough-and-tumble pioneer life with a bunch of genetically "superior" people with Napoleon/Hitler complexes.

The only really interesting thing about the episode was that of all the people cast as Khan's followers, all the men were, supposedly, Latino, Asian, or some other sort of non-white/ethnic person (although, noticeably, there were no people at all of African descent -- as Akycha pointed out, this may suggest the late-60s "genetic inferiority" thing about people of African descent), while the women were all pretty much white. There were no blonds in the bunch: brown skin, dark hair, that sort of thing.

Last night, because we had the context, I showed Akycha (for the first time), The Wrath of Khan.

Things noticed:
1) All Khan's surviving followers were white and blond and buff and interestingly young, considering that they were all supposed to have been born around the same time as Khan, and so should be showing their age just like Khan, and possibly, possibly, there might be a few teenagers (none older than 15!) or children. Of which there were none, suggesting that Khan and his surprisingly young, blond people had all been rendered sterile by the radiation of Ceti Alpha VI's explosion.

2) Khan refers to his wife a few times but never ever names her. We're supposed to imply that he refers to Marla McGivers. But since he never names his wife, why would we think that? I suspect that they landed, waved goodbye to the Enterprise, and Khan promptly strangled Marla. Then he hooked up with one of his genetic peers.

3) Joachim, who was clearly Khan's fuckbuddy since the demise of Khan's "beloved wife," has become suprisingly blond and non-Hispanic since his speaking role in "Space Seed."

4) Kirk/Spock moments. "I am, and always have been, yours." Well, yes, I know Spock was following a statement about "You are my friend," and therefore the "friend" at the end of his own statement was implied. But still.

5) Techtechtechtechtechtech.

6) The actress that played Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) was terrifying and horrifying to look at. Washboard abs is one thing; washboard ribcage visible above her plunging neckline? Something else entirely.

7) David Marcus mumbled all his lines through the first half of the movie, and was horrifically cliched for everything we could actually hear.

8) I knew that Peter Prescott was Scotty's nephew, apparently because I read the book adaptation back when I was a rabid Trekkie. This information was omitted from the movie, which made Scotty's trauma about Peter's death far less understandable.

9) Khan never met Chekov in "Space Seed" because Chekov hadn't been introduced to the cast, so how could he recognize Chekov in their initial encounter on Ceti Alpha V?

10) Having seen Walter Koenig play Bester, I now enjoy his acting even more as Chekov.

11) I noted to Akycha that Wrath of Khan was the most successful attempt of the franchise to make a serious Star Trek-plotted movie. The other successful movies of the classic Trek franchise (The Voyage Home particularly) were gratuitous Trekkie fan service, with character development and witty banter. And continuity, such as it was, which was a new innovation for Trek, and predated Babylon 5's introduction of continuity to the genre.

I then attempted to explain the plot of the next movie to Akycha.

HC: Okay, so first off, Spock downloaded himself into McCoy's head.

Akycha: WHAT?

HC: He downloaded himself into McCoy's brain. Remember that little, "Remember," bit just before he went in to kill himself?

Akycha: There isn't enough room in the human brain for Spock AND McCoy.

HC: Right, so McCoy is going kinda crazy because he's got Spock's brain too...


HC: Yes, so they take McCoy off to Vulcan, where the Vulcans are all like, "So, right, this is our ancient ritual. Where's the body?" And Kirk's all like, "Um, body? We, like, shot it into space." And the Vulcans are all like, "So, go get it, 'cause we can't get Spock out of your friend here until we've got it."

Akycha: But they CAN'T go get it! THEY SHOT IT INTO SPACE! That means it's IMPOSSIBLE to find!

HC: Yeah, but they can go back to the neighborhood and just sorta look around...


HC: Yeah, they did. So, the thing is, when they shot Spock's coffin onto the Genesis planet, the Genesis effect hadn't finished up.

Akycha: It looked pretty finished. I mean, those were some pretty terminal lifeforms there.

HC: *handwaving* It's Trek. So now you've got this young Vulcan running around...

Akycha: Romping naked among the trees?

HC: Something like that. Except in Spock's robe...


HC: No, no, it regenerated Spock's body, so there was no rotting. So, young Vulcan, running around without a brain.


HC: Yep. So, the Vulcans tell Kirk to fuck off and find Spock's body, so Kirk goes home and asks Starfleet if he can go back to the Genesis planet to look for Spock's body. Starfleet is all WTF, dude, no, that's classified and besides, we're turning your old ship into a museum.


HC: Yep. So Kirk and crew steal the Enterprise...

Akycha: *facepalm*

HC: And Uhura gets some good lines, and then they fly the Enterprise off, just Kirk, McCoy/Spock, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu.

Akycha: Wait, just them? No other crew?

HC: Nope. They're stealing the ship, after all.

Akycha: Couldn't they find some Starfleet frat boys to help out?

HC: Apparently not. So off they go. Meanwhile, Saavik, who isn't Saavik but some horrible replacement Saavik, and David Marcus are on Genesis Planet checking out the scenery.

Akycha: Including the naked romping Vulcan without SPOCK'S BRAIN.

HC: Yes...


HC: ... but they're having some issues because the Genesis Effect hasn't stopped and the whole place is coming apart. Meanwhile, some Klingons arrive, going, "Kewl new weapon!"

Akycha: So the planet's coming apart around them?

HC: Yep. And then they find Spock's bod, which is aging at an alarming rate like the planet. The only problem is that now he's an adolescent and hitting his first pon farr...


HC: Yeah, so he's all shaking and unhappy, and David's like, "WTF?" And Saavik, the horrible replacement Saavik, says, "It's pon farr and only I can save him!"

Akycha: THEY DIDN'T!

HC: They did. In a cave, leaving David outside wondering WTF.

Akycha: How remarkably... tasteless.

HC: Yeah, well, figure that he ends up aging to his normal age, so there's like, 5 or 6 pon farrs in there. And Saavik has to help him through them all.


HC: Meanwhile, the Enterprise has arrived. There's some sort of hoo-ha between the Klingons and the Enterprise, and because the Enterprise is totally outgunned and shit because there's only like five people running it, there's something about transporting to the planet while the Klingons board and then the Enterprise goes boom.

Akycha: Enterprise goes boom.

HC: Yeah, self-destruct. So, there they are on the planet, and there's some more transporting and oh, David gets killed.

Akycha: Who was David again?

HC: Kirk's son?

Akycha: Oh, right. He was ugly. And stupid.

HC: And dead. So then there's the showdown on the breaking-up Genesis planet between Kirk and the Klingon commander and he kills the Klingon and escapes.

Akycha: And they have a party?

HC: Well, first they go back to Vulcan, where Uhura meets them, and the Vulcans are all like, it's about time, and download Spock out of McCoy's brain back into his body.

Akycha: And then they have a party?

HC: Yeah, pretty much. Movie ends. And Spock's been laid! Since he never got laid (in canon) before, this is new!

Akycha: It must feel very different.

HC: Of course, I thought pon farr was a result of their no-emotion philosophy, giving the boys, who clearly can't control themselves, some sort of emotional outlet. But no-brain Spock went through it...

Akycha: If it's metabolic, that would explain it. If not...

HC: Next movie, they ditch Saavik and all go back to Earth, trying to figure out how to tell Starfleet, "We stole your museum and blew it up." But then the giant space probe arrives and they go back to the 1980s to save the whales in the Klingon bird-of-prey.

Akycha: And after they save the whales, they get court martialled?

HC: Naw. Kirk gets busted back down to captain and they pull another Constitution class ship out of mothballs and repaint it and call it "Enterprise" and give it to him for saving Earth.

Akycha: I'm sure Earth will be fine.

HC: Well, it is now it has whales again. And the next movie doesn't have anything to do with anything.

Akycha: What is it about?

HC: Spock's half-brother.

Akycha: WHAT?

HC: Spock's full-Vulcan half-brother, who's looking for god.

Akycha: If he's Vulcan, why would he have any use for a god?

HC: *shrugs* Don't ask me. As far as I know, even Roddenberry said the fifth movie shouldn't be taken for canon.


[User Picture]From: juliansinger
2006-08-22 03:15 pm (UTC)
Have you guys, uh, /seen/ Spock's Brain yet? Or does Akycha have even more bogglement to come?

(I read the Wrath of Khan book, too. I think McIntyre wrote it. It was pretty good, and gave a LOT more context than the movie did. And I didn't realize the woman playing Marcus was that thin, but then again, I think I've only see WoK once, or something. Though I've seen the scene with Spock dying more than that, because, y'know, CLIP SHOWS.)

I tend to resent Uhura not getting to go along with them in STIII. Grr.
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[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2006-08-22 04:11 pm (UTC)
I get the impression that Akycha has been exposed to many recitations of the "Spock's Brain" awfulness. She knows it's the worst Trek episode ever. We have not yet seen it on this trip down memory lane.

I read the book too -- the novelizations weren't bad (are you sure it was McIntyre? I had the impression that Alan Dean Foster wrote all the movie novelizations of the era. :) )

I hadn't seen WoK for at least 12 years, but I saw it multiple times before that. I think it was the first movie I went to see twice in the theater. Because I was a Really Big Trek Fan back then.
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[User Picture]From: wired_lizard
2006-08-22 10:15 pm (UTC)
Though The Apple does have the train-wreck-esque joy of Kirk Attempts Sex Ed...
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[User Picture]From: selkiechick
2006-08-22 03:23 pm (UTC)
I was watching the SPace seed some months ago, and comparing it to the New Galactica. It made me consider what would happen if he had tried the manipulation that worked on poor Marla with say... Starbuck, or better yet- President Rosslyn.

That boys briused behind would be on its way out the nearest airlock.

It gave me hope that perhaps media is (and has) progressed some...
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[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2006-08-22 04:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it has. It's kind of fun to see where the cliches started, though.

Someday, I suppose, I'll have to watch the new BSG. But I just have the worst problem imagining Battlestar Galactica sans the original Adama.
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[User Picture]From: selkiechick
2006-08-22 05:06 pm (UTC)
I think it is good, valuable and entertaining to see where the cliches come from. I have been, of late, going back and rewatching and rereading the science fiction shows and books that got me interested when I was a teenager. It's interesting to see what I still like, and what things I just missed or glossed over. It's been an interesting examination of how I've grown and changed as a person, as much as anything else.

As for BSG, here is my advice: It's best to think of it as a new show, with some oddly familar names and set dressing. It is dark, and brutally violent (there is no glorified war here) and a fine example of much of what I love best about Science fiction, the speculation on the human condition and social commentary.
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From: aerynvale
2006-08-22 03:35 pm (UTC)
Wow it's been a long time since I've seen those movies. What's the pon farr again? I don't remember that bit, but I get the feeling it involves buttsecks. c.c

I almost want to watch these again, but then I come to my senses and realize what a bad idea that would be for my sanity.

I have had an urge to watch the original TMNT movie and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, though. And did you know they're making a new TMNT movie? Cell-shaded style CG animation. It looks gorgeous.
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[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2006-08-22 04:14 pm (UTC)
Pon farr is the Vulcan every-seven-years hot Vulcan het sex thing. The boys are all bestial and uncontrollable, and there's this psychic bond with their intended wife, who is generally cool as a cucumber but all like, "Let's get this shit over with."

I'm looking forward to the "Pon Farr" episode, really. It involves flying bowls of soup and growly Spock.
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[User Picture]From: vampire_kitten
2006-08-25 11:14 am (UTC)
Don't the women go through it too? B'lanna caught it off tuvok in voyager
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[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2006-08-25 02:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, hey, didn't know they'd done pon farr on Voyager. (Of course they would, though. They hadn't had a Vulcan to toy with for a while.)

The portrayal of it in the classic episode, IIRC, is that while Spock is totally crackers, his intended is cool as a cucumber, able to challenge the marriage, etc. I've hit portrayals that are modeled on this in some of the novels (I'm particularly thinking of Dwellers in the Crucible by Margaret Wander Bonnano) (though I know those aren't generally considered to be canon), and generally, the women don't seem to be affected other than via their telepathic link with their hormonally-driven male mates.

I suppose one could argue that since Torres isn't Vulcan, and she's got those wacky Klingon genes going on, she's not really a good example of how Vulcan females might react to pon farr. It's interesting, though!
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[User Picture]From: wired_lizard
2006-08-22 10:14 pm (UTC)

And, yeah, her reactions were about mine as I was watching the thing. XD

I actually have a pet theory that pon farr is originally metabolic and evolved way back when Vulcans were tribes living in the desert and trying to kill each other all the time, which tends to, y'know, lower the survival rate considerably, so forced reproduction every seven years kinda helped things out. And then it didn't die out post-reformation due to the handiness of a periodic release valve for all those pent-up emotions, and the species didn't have massive population explosions because post-reformation Vulcans are smart enough to have family planning, unlike some people I can think of.
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[User Picture]From: heavenscalyx
2006-08-25 02:26 pm (UTC)
I like your pet theory. :)
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[User Picture]From: ellenore
2006-08-25 03:41 pm (UTC)
Wow, I was a Trekkie in middle school, but I never realized how stupid all of that sounds. Hee!


(The novelizations of Wrath of Con/Search for Spock were both pretty good. I missed the McCoy angst in the movie. Angst, McCoy, angst!!)
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[User Picture]From: djibril24
2006-08-27 01:48 am (UTC)
The "downloading Spock's brain" bit may have come from the urban myth that we only use 10% of our brains. If they were working under that assumption, they probably figured that there was plenty of extra room in McCoy's brain.
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[User Picture]From: first_fallen
2008-11-12 12:29 pm (UTC)

Nit-picking :)

Wrt no.8:

During Kirk's inspection of the Enterprise and the new recruits (towards the beginning of the film) Scottie refers to Prescott as "my sister's youngest". It's possible this is in an extended version of the movie, I have one of those collector's edition boxed sets of movies 1-10.

Also, I didn't get the feeling that Saavik and brainless-Spock were "getting it on" in the cave. Unless Vulcans have a whole kind of hand-holding :P.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-09-02 10:18 pm (UTC)

Re: Nit-picking :)

Didn't you see the episode with that romulan lady? (i can't remember her name lol) feeling up each others fingers is like vulcan (or romulan) kissing. It was pretty heavily implied. But my little brother didn't get it, i had to explain :)
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