Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How I Would Have Done "Star Trek: Into Darkness" v.2.0 (SPOILERS)

My earlier post on how I would have done Star Trek Into Darknesswas based on a scenario I devised on my alternate-history forum before I even saw the movie. I've seen the movie and I think the basic premise is sound. However, I'd make some adjustments...

Begin the film during the tail end of the Eugenics Wars. Depict Khan Noonien Singh and notable Augments like Joachim making their last stand in occupied Australia. My message-board featured a Eugenics Wars collaborative timeline and I suggested that India, with its much stronger democratic tradition, might've rebelled against Khan while he was visiting occupied Australia, leaving Khan and company stranded far from their homeland. Khan is prepared to drag as many enemies as possible into hell with him, but Joachim (who, based on his characterization in The Wrath of Khan is more rational and can at times get Khan to calm down) points out they've captured a slower-than-light starship prototype, the Botany Bay. They can flee Earth and found their "perfect" Augment society elsewhere. Khan thinks for a moment, and smiles.

This Khan will be Indian and played by Hrithik Roshan, who according to my friend Sanjay Matthew (a Singaporean of Indian background) is a big hulking sort of guy. Ricardo Montalban, the original Khan, was really built (those pecs were real), so having a big dude play him matches up nicely.

Having the incident on the alien planet take place immediately afterward reeks of a "second prologue," but it does introduce the film's conflicts between Kirk and Spock and Spock and Uhura, so keeping it is necessary to have the later stuff. Jurassic Park had raptor attack on Isla Nublar as the prologue and then we meet Donald Gennaro in the Dominican Republic, so a "second prologue" might not be that bad. The film will continue as it does until the scene where Khan reveals himself to Kirk while captive aboard the Enterprise.

Yes, I'm suggesting Benedict Cumberbatch should play Khan in the movie's present day. People will remember the Indian-looking Khan at the beginning of the movie and will think "John Harrison" is someone else entirely. Then when Cumberbatch does his big reveal ("My name is Khan"), have Kirk put two and two together (his name is Khan, he's hundreds of years old, he's got a superior intellect) and gasp, "Khan Noonien Singh." Alternatively, have Lt. Marla McGivers there and have her, the ship's historian, recognize Khan. Kirk, shocked, will stammer something like, "How could this be?" and Spock will helpfully point out that the melanin levels in the Augments' skin adjusted to their environment. If Khan had been in space (with no sunlight) for an extended period, he would have gotten really pale.

(Spock's attitude and people skills--or lack thereof--make for good info-dumping. Alternatively, McGivers could have this line, as the Eugenics Wars could be one of her areas of interest. "Space Seed" depicts her as having this fetish for strong men from the past, so she might have done her dissertation or whatever on Khan.)

One issue some people on my message-board had with the film was that nobody seemed to know who Khan was, until Young Spock called Old Spock. In "Space Seed," once the Enterprise crew deduced who their guest was, they knew that Khan was "the best of tyrants" from the 20th Century Earth. In my scenario, somebody will at least recognize him for who he is much faster.

Then things continue as they did in the canonical film. Having Spock do his "Vulcans cannot lie" routine in the beginning re: Kirk's falsified report foreshadows his tricking Khan to cripple the Vengeance (Khan demands the torpedoes and gets them--with the Augments taken out). However, I would definitely avoid the reversal of Wrath of Khan with Kirk dying instead of Spock. Having Kirk die to save his crew is important because it shows he listened to Christopher Pike's criticism of how he will someday get all his men killed, but it could be done rather differently. And definitely NO Spock screaming, "KHAAAN!" That was pure Narm. With the whole "Khan's healing blood" thing established already (the Starfleet officer Harewood's daughter, the Tribble in the lab), Spock and Uhura can tag-team Khan and use his blood to save Kirk, regardless of just how he's killed. Then Khan and friends can be put on ice wherever it is Starfleet has them.

Alternatively, Spock's trick fails and Khan transports the torpedoes out of the Vengeance before they can explode. Perhaps McGivers contacts him on her own and warns him or he's able to detect the warheads are live. This "pays off" the "Vulcans cannot lie" bit, but shows just how smart and dangerous Khan is (either because he's able to figure out the trick on his own or because he's seduced McGivers in a really short him and made her his spy). He then denounces Spock as a murderer and begins to attack the Enterprise again, only for Spock (or McGivers, if she's still online) to reveal he'd be killing his own. Khan makes his life-support threat again and Kirk and/or Spock points there are other Starfleet units approaching. This is in the Earth system, after all, and after the Narada incident it should have been better defended. Instead, he offers him a deal. Khan will surrender, avoiding risking the lives of his remaining kin, and he'll get a trial for what he's done. With other Starfleet units closing in and with the remaining Augments as hostages, Khan surrenders.

The film will end with Khan (looking a bit more Indian due to the melanin issue referenced before) and McGivers awakening Joachim and the other Augments in a pastoral clearing. The camera pulls back to show them, the 72 other Augments, and the Botany Bay itself on the surface of a virgin world, with the Enterprise in orbit. After one last communication with Khan (or McGivers, given how she's a Starfleet officer after all even if she's a traitor), the Enterprise warps out. Given the military aid Khan has provided to a Federation critically weakened by the Narada incident only a few months to a year before and whatever goods he can give up on Admiral Marcus's remaining conspirators, he might be able to talk his way out of a noose or being put back on ice. Given how Marcus references the Klingons conquering other worlds, the idea might be that Khan's new Augment society could be a buffer against Klingon expansion.

(Assuming they can build up to the point they could defend themselves against the Klingons quickly, which is a highly dubious proposition. A couple Birds of Prey in orbit could bomb them into bits in a few minutes.)

This ending is a bit of a Karma Houdini for Khan, but given his relatively sympathetic portrayal and what happened to him at the end of "Space Seed," it might work. And like the canonical ending of Into Darkness, it leaves us with the option of seeing Khan again.

What do you all think?

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