“Space Seed” is the twenty-second episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
In the episode, the Enterprise crew encounter a sleeper ship holding selectively bred superpeople from Earth’s past. Their leader, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), attempts to take control of the Enterprise.
“Space Seed” has been named one of the best episodes of the series by Cinefantastique and IGN. The 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan serves as a sequel to this episode. References to “Space Seed” appear in episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness.
The Federation starship Enterprise finds the derelict SS Botany Bay adrift in space. A landing party consisting of Captain Kirk, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue) beams over to the freighter. The landing party finds a cargo of 84 humans, 72 of whom are alive in suspended animation after nearly 200 years. McGivers identifies the group’s leader, who begins to revive and is taken back to the Enterprise for a medical examination.
Kirk has Botany Bay taken in tow by a tractor beam, and Enterprise sets course for Starbase 12. In sickbay, the group’s leader awakens and attacks McCoy but, impressed by McCoy’s bravery, releases the doctor and introduces himself as “Khan” (Ricardo Montalbán). McGivers marvels over Khan, a living relic from the 20th century, her field of interest. First Officer Spock discovers that their guest is Khan Noonien Singh, who, along with his people, are products of 20th-century selective breeding designed to create perfect humans. The genetic superhumans instead became warlords and conquered more than a third of the planet during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990’s.
Khan is placed under guard in quarters. McGivers is sent to brief him on current events. Taking advantage of McGivers’ attraction towards him, Khan tells her he means to rule mankind again and needs her help to take over Enterprise. Reluctantly, she agrees, beaming Khan to Botany Bay, where he revives the rest of his people. They return to Enterprise and take control of the ship. Khan throws Kirk into a decompression chamber, and threatens to slowly suffocate him unless Kirk’s command crew agree to follow Khan. Having a change of heart, McGivers frees Kirk from the chamber. Kirk and Spock vent anaesthetic gas throughout the entire ship to disable Khan and his people. Khan escapes the gas and goes to Engineering, where he attempts to destroy Enterprise, but Kirk confronts him; they fight and Kirk knocks Khan unconscious.
Kirk holds a hearing to decide the fate of Khan and his people. Kirk exiles them to Ceti Alpha V, a harsh world that he believes would be a perfect place for Khan to “tame”. Khan accepts, citing Milton’s Paradise Lost. Instead of a court-martial for McGivers, Kirk allows her to go into exile with Khan. Spock notes that it would be interesting to see what Khan makes of Ceti Alpha V in 100 years
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Marc Daniels.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 16 February 1967.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.