Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 22

Space Seed

Aired Unknown Feb 16, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

out of 10
218 votes
  • The Enterprise discovers a ship full of genetically engineered criminals.

    As a prequel to Star Trek's most beloved movie, "Space Seed" has a lot to live up to. Originally just another of the original 79 episodes (and a cost saving bottle show at that), it was rarely considered a "top ten" episode for its first fifteen years. Even today, caught in The Wrath of Khan's shadow, the episode is considered an average offering with an incredible guest star. And that's a bit of a shame, because the script itself is actually rather good.

    Layering the plot with a science fiction story set in the 1990s (or the near future, as it was in the 1960s), Coon's teleplay (which includes a Roddenberry polish) is cleverly structured to tell its multi-century story without overwhelming the viewer. The ambitious backstory itself is, as a certain Vulcan would say, fascinating, combining genetic enhancement, World War III, and cryogenics. Director Marc Daniels doesn't rush a moment, letting the story unfold organically. (Fans of The Wrath of Khan can be frustrated by the slow establishment of a character they already know, but for an ignoramus, it works beautifully).

    Of course, none of it works if there's no believable guest star to fill the leader's role. And that's where the show hits a grand slam, with Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban playing Khan with such strength, intelligence, charisma, and leadership, it's as if the part was written for him.

    Star Trek, of course, is blessed to have three actors of movie star caliber at its core. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley could have all been valuable contract players in the film industry had that system not collapsed following World War II. (In fact, Kelley did get a contract in the system's waning days... for Paramount, the studio that decades later would invite Kelley to reprise McCoy in the Star Trek movies). Or, had the industry had time to reinvent itself in time, they could have skipped television altogether and jumped to the big screen much sooner than they did. But in the late 60s, with the film business still in flux, the "big three" were happy to do television, and Star Trek is all the richer for it. When it comes to the guest stars, however, the series often had to settle for lesser talent. There are some great character actors: Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd, William Campbell as Trelane, and Mark Leonard as Sarek come to mind. But only Montalban could bring enough presence to Khan to make him a believable character, and only he could hold stage with Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley, making the three even better than usual. (Kelley, in particular, shines, working with Montalbn for one of McCoy's most memorable scenes of the series).

    Unfortunately, the writers make Kirk look like an idiot by having the captain share all the Enterprise's technical information with Khan. In a way, it's a necessary evil; a plot contrivance required to tell the story. But it sure doesn't seem like Coon and Wilber are making much of an effort to hide it. They have Kirk basically say, "Our technical journals are available for everyone, and Khan probably just wants to catch up on his engineering But nobody's buying it. (At least the journals are on a computer, a bit of forward thinking in the 1960s that's easy to overlook What's interesting is that the true substance of the story lies in the relationship between Khan and crewman McGivers (played by Madlyn Rhue, who had already played Montalban's wife in an episode of Bonanza). Having a confused McGivers give Khan the information rather than Kirk would enhance the main storyline and be much more believable. As is, Montalban and Rhue give quite a demonstration of an abusive relationship, which is all the more interesting for being more psychological than physical.

    It all leads to a James Bond-like climax, with circumstances boiling the episode down to a fight between Kirk and Khan. (It proves to be a unique encounter, with Khan and Kirk never actually meeting in person in their feature film followup).

    As a bottle show, "Space Seed" is never going to be mistaken for a multi million dollar movie where Khan and Kirk can chase each other across the galaxy through space stations and nebulas; but as a small screen story it covers a lot of ground and features some compelling performances. Of course, back in 1967 nobody could have thought the Star Trek franchise would be alive and well in the 1990s (its most prolific decade), and the series has struggled with reconciling a piece of Earth history that didn't come to be. (For The Wrath of Khan, the writers are intentionally more vague about Khan's origins, and in The Next Generation, the wrtiers move World War III to the 21st Century). But having no hoverboards in 2015 makes Back to the Future no less fun, and viewed as a piece of 1960s science fiction, "Space Seed" is quite good.

    Remastered: Just as the script is kind to the casting department, needing only one good superman to speak his dozens of followers, the script is also kind to the special effects people, giving them some memorable work to do early before the episode becomes character-based with no effects needed. As such, the original work is actually quite good, with a gorgeous ship for Khan and his people and some nice shots of it interacting with the Enterprise before it's cut loose. (The episode even throws in a shot of the bridge's viewscreen from far enough back to see most of the crew, a more difficult compositing trick than than the standard viewscreen shot where it fills most of the

    For CBS Digital, the episode presents the ideal scenario: a chance to recreate a great looking spacecraft for a memorable episode with only a few shots to do and nothing else to eat up the budget. Pouring themselves into the task, they recreate the original physical model as a digital model, adding "1990s" details such a docking hatch designed to be compatible with international space station and tiles identical to those on space shuttles. Employing some new dynamic camera angles, they bring the new ship to life in a way that honors the original but looks closer to the quality of the effects in The Wrath of Khan.

  • Enterprise discovers a ship adrift through space for two centuries containing a group of genetically engineered tyrants.

    "Space Seed" is a well known episode primarily because of the popular movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn" as any "Star Trek" fan would know. That aside, this is actually a very good episode. It does have it's flaws but it's quite entertaining and the late Ricardo Montelban gives a very good performance (As he did in the aforementioned . He is the main reason why Khan is such an iconic character in the Star Trek universe. As mentioned in other reviews posted here, the climactic fight between Kirk and Kahn in engineering is a liability. Kahn was easily overpowered despite being ten times stronger than Kirk. I did not care much for the character of Marla McGyvers. She seemed more like eye candy than a character. Still I believe it is easy to see why this episode is so popular. Despite some glitches it is actually quite entertaining.
  • McCoy offers up his ear to a man who does not exactly appreciate Vincent Van Gogh’s work

    Now I'm guessing the only reason this episode got rated this high is because Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan" was such a hit. I'm not knocking the episode. But I find it highly questionable it is in the same category as "Mirror, Mirror" or "Balance of Terror". Ricardo Montelban's performance was wonderful, I must say. If only I could get a woman to unconditionally devote herself to me like that. Wasn't too thrilled with the end fight Khan and Kirk had. After all, Khan had "10 times Kirk's strength"
  • A good but not great episode....

    "Space Seed" is an enjoyable episode but it has its problems (including a lame storyline regarding the ship's curvy Historian and a ridiculous idea of a 1990s Eugenics War) and just plain doesn't match up to other Star Trek episode heavyweights (way out of league with the likes of The City On The Edge Of Forever, Mirror Mirror, and The Trouble With Tribbles). Richardo Montalban is perfect in the unforgettable role of Khan. The character of Khan is the episode's real highlight but I am confused as to why the character is considered one of the Cpt. Kirk's ultimate enemies since the two hardly share any screen time together. In fact the best scene of the episode involves a showdown not between Khan & Kirk but between Khan & Dr. McCoy. "Space Seed" is not as good an episode of Star Trek as everyone seems to think it is - obviously hyped up because of the popularity of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.
  • The Enterprise comes across a freighter that has been drifting in space for 200 years, and houses a frozen race of 'super humans'. But their leader, dictator Khan, plans to create a new empire. A quite good episode, although I'd say not a complete classic

    This review contains minor spoilers.

    This is one of Original 'Star Trek's most well-known episodes, much due to its big screen sequel 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan' (1982), which is often regarded as the best of the big-screen outings; certainly for the original crew at least.

    The story is a reasonable one, and undoubtedly the best thing about the episode is Richard Montalban as Khan. He gives a mesmerising performance, and ranks as one of Original 'Trek's best guest performers.

    If the episode has any flaws, it is that the middle section is rather dragged out and over-talky. The opening scenes when Khan and his people are discovered are good, and the ending (which I'll get on to in a moment) certainly picks up, but the middle section falls between the two.

    The later sections of the episode, as Khan and his people take over the Enterprise, prove to be the best moments of the episode. We have seen aliens and various other super-beings take over the ship, but with the human (albeit genetically enhanced) Khan it is something different, and feels more like a genuine threat.

    The final, inevitable showdown between Kirk and Khan takes place in engineering. Again. How many 'final fights' take place in engineering?! There are loads – including the previous-but-one broadcast episode, "Court Martial'. And again, I did find the obvious stunt-double work to be distracting - they didn't even seem to try and hide their faces on this one.

    I find this to be a mostly good episode, but maybe not a complete classic; and I do agree to an extent with another reviewer that this episode may have got a high rating only due to its connection with its popular big screen sequel. It's good, but certainly not in the same league of some of the other first season classics (in my opinion). But not bad either.
  • Enterprise picks up the crew from a drifing space ship sent into space centuries ago. The crew are refugees from the Eugenics Wars and is lead by the main man, Kahn.

    I know some people find this episode none too great but I loved it. This is the episode that spawned, "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan", some Trek Enterprise episodes and numerous fan fics. Ricardo (Fine corinthian leather and Boss! Boss! The plane, boss!) Montalban gives a great performance as Khan, a genetically created human who has, "five times your strength" and superior intelligence. Fortunately for Kirk and company he has a large ego too. Apparently he's also a charmer because a crew member, Lt. McGivers, a historian who just happens to be a specialist of Kahn's time period, falls for him big time. (By the way I'm just curious but what's a historian doing on a star ship? Does she know the history of every planet in the Federation?) She helps him try to take control of the ship but has a change of heart when Khan tortures Kirk in a pressure chamber because the crew has locked out some controls of the ship and he wants to persuade the crew to give him the controls. She saves Kirk and as a thank you she is allowed to join Khan and his boys and girls in exile on a hostile planet rather than face a court martial. Personally I liked what Khan said to Kirk when he was told life would be very hard on the planet, "Are you familiar with Milton, Capt. Kirk?"
    Kirk nods, "I understand." Scotty asks him about this and Kirk tells him that Khan was referring to Paradise Lost where Satan tells God, "Tis better to rule in hell than serve in Heaven."
    I thought this episode was well worth watching.
  • ccccc

    This is the first episode to mention the Eugenics Wars. This final World War, in the mid-1990\'s, is referred to many times in the Star Trek spinoffs, most recently in Star Trek: Enterprise episodes: \"Borderlands (1)\", \"Cold Station 12 (2)\", and \"The Augments (3).\" Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) starts out as a believer in eugenic science raising a group of Eugenics War era augments from embryos placed in artifical wombs.

  • The first wrath of Khan!

    Kirk first battle with Khan a villain that was born a fearless leader. he alone has a influence over not only his people, but the rest of the enterprise. I like the episode because we got a compelling villain. a villain who would later return in the second Star Trek movie: the Wrath of Khan, which will be my favorite Star Trek movie. this is the episode, one of a few that I like (I gave it a 8.5) which is one of my favorites. A villain who's got the smarts and the appeal to lead, is by far what a villain should be. Khan is both.
  • “Ah Kweerk … my old-eh frenn’ …”

    One of the all-time great STAR TREK episodes. The basic plot: Exiled from Earth after the Eugenics Wars in the mid-1990s, genetically enhanced Khan (Ricardo Montalban at his scenery-chewing best) is discovered floating in stasis with 70 of his followers in deep space. Revived by the cosmic meddlers of the Enterprise, no one recognises the last Napoleon until he’s taken over the Enterprise, with the aid of a pretty but impressionable history expert Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue). But Marla has a change of heart at the last minute and helps Kirk beat the tar out of Khan with a lead pipe and all the genetically superior Khan-ites are dumped on the nearby hostile planet Ceti Alpha V – along with Marla – to make a new start.

    What’s so great about this story isn’t that it’s original – goodness knows, no end of aliens and weirdos have taken over the Enterprise over the years – it’s probably more that Khan is just such a compelling character. As Spock’s research shows, Khan wasn’t a bad guy. Those under his rule prospered and weren’t abused. But they didn’t have freedom. Like all the best STAR TREKs, this one poses a fundamental question about the human condition – in this case, is dictatorship wrong, even when it is benign? – and raises smaller issues like, is it possible to admire a man even if you don’t agree with his intentions?

    Great episode, with loads of food for thought. Highly recommended!
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