New Post-Apocalyptic Star Trek Show Strands Kirk’s Nemesis In The Wasteland

  • Science Fiction
Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Paramount Studios

Just over a month ago, writer and director Nicholas Meyer, most recently a writer and consulting producer on Star Trek: Discovery, told TrekMovie he had another Star Trek show in the works. Now Geek Exchange claims it’s the perfect Meyer project: a Wrath of Khan prequel.

Citing two unnamed sources, Geek Exchange claims Meyer is developing a prequel miniseries set on Ceti Alpha V in the years between Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Space Seed” and The Wrath of the Khan.

In “Space Seed,” the Enterprise crew find a 1990s-era space vessel, the Botany Bay, drifting in space. Aboard they find and awaken Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) and 72 others from their long cryogenic hibernation, unaware that the Botany Bay is a prison ship carrying genetically-engineered dictators, deposed in the 1992-1996 Eugenics Wars. Khan himself ruled a vast territory spanning from Asia to the Middle East and is considered by both himself and historically savvy members of the Enterprise crew to be one of Earth’s most ruthless, efficient and powerful autocrats. After thwarting his successful hijacking of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk exiles Khan to the remote planet Ceti Alpha V, in the hopes that Khan can build a functioning society.

18 years later, in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, a planetary survey lands on what they believe to be a different planet in the system, Ceti Alpha VI, only to run into Khan and his surviving subordinates, barely eking out an existence on a devastated planet. Just six months after their exile, Ceti Alpha VI exploded, completely devastating the surface ecology of Khan’s planet, now a sand-blown wasteland populated only by Ceti eels, which embed themselves in people’s minds and drive them mad. Khan escapes the planet’s surface but is defeated in combat maneuvers against Captain Kirk, ultimately detonating his own ship rather than surrendering.

So a new Star Trek show, set on a lifeless world, in Khan Noonien Singh’s dictatorship of dictators. Yes, this is Star Trek doing the post-apocalypse thing. It also tracks well with repeated efforts to strip Star Trek of its utopian values in a search for more money, most obnoxiously demonstrated by the repeated attempts to make Star Trek: Zero Dark Thirty (because nothing says peace-loving, socialist utopia quite like shipping Starfleet hit squads around the galaxy for Call of Duty missions).

A miniseries (or limited series or whatever... probably best to think of it like The X-Files reboot: if it makes money it keeps going) set in a wasteland populated by dictators sounds more Road Warrior than Star Trek, but Nicholas Meyer’s involvement should pique anyone’s interest. Meyer had a hand in the three best Star Trek movies. He was director and co-writer of both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, plus co-writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Plus, he’s politically coherent — an important factor with a show about a nascent society. At Star Trek Mission New York in 2016, Meyer spoke at length about his attitude toward writing for Star Trek: Discovery. He believes Star Trek can only be its best self if it tackles hard questions head-on. “Whether we’re talking about ISIS or whether we’re talking about Donald Trump, these are things in the air. New demagogues arise. And what do you do with an enemy who is implacable, who is not interested in negotiations?” Meyer said. “These are tough questions. And our series will do a disservice if it doesn’t honestly address these things.”

Meyer also has no qualms making viewers uncomfortable or attempting to challenge them with his stories. “My job is not to find out what you want and give it to you. My job is to make you want what I want. And I would never tell you a joke that I didn’t think was funny because I thought you might laugh. That’s bullshit,” Meyer said. “They told me, ‘you can’t kill Spock,’ and I said, ‘it’s not a question of whether you kill him, it’s a question of whether you kill him well.”

Compare that to Star Trek: Discovery producers intentionally cutting out “the more heavily allegorical and complex story line” written for them by original showrunner Bryan Fuller (Hannibal).

Meyer believes Star Trek should be honest in scrutinizing its utopia, subjecting its tenets of future prosperity to endless challenge. He described his ideal Trek as “hope, in context.” It seems like the right perspective for a Khan show, which would necessarily be a dark mirror held up to Star Trek and an inverse depiction of its anti-authoritarian, democratized, socialist values.

As long as Meyer can dodge the same studio interference and dumbing-down to which Discovery was subjected, his Khan show could be an interesting new perspective on how the Star Trek galaxy works outside the light of the Federation of Planets. Oh, and how about casting an Indian actor as the Sikh tyrant Khan Noonien Singh this time, huh? We’ve had enough constipated Englishmen in the role.

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