Every self-respecting Star Trek fan from Trekkies to Trekkers (yes, there’s a difference) knows that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is hands down the best feature film in the dozen or more Star Trek themed films since the 1979 debut of the original.
As a quick recap: “Wrath of Khan” brought back Ricardo Montalban’s character from the original TV series episode entitled “Space Seed.” Khan was a genetically engineered genius and sociopath set on ruling with an iron fist. In the original TV episode, he and his crew were rescued from a deep space sleep by Kirk and the Enterprise. They then proceeded to take over the ship and almost killed the crew. But the Enterprise found a new home for Khan and his people on an Eden-like planet called Ceti Alpha 5.
The events of the movie take place decades later. While on an expedition to find a barren wasteland where the Federation could test its Genesis device (a device that could literally turn a wasteland into a paradise) the expedition crew journeys down to the surface of what they think is Ceti Alpha 6—a “Dune”-like planet complete with mind-altering earthworms. While there, Commander Pavel “Davey Jones Look-alike” Chekov and Paul “Plays Multiple Star Trek Characters” Winnfield beam down and find Kahn’s old ship! They were on the wrong planet. Apparently, Ceti Alpha 6 exploded and Ceti Alpha 5 was laid waste. Khan’s wife and most of his original crew perished. And now he wants revenge.
Trust me, I will be making a point in all of this.
The rest of the film is about Khan and company escaping from Ceti Alpha 5 and chasing after Kirk, a la Captain Ahab chasing after Moby Dick. And here is where we begin to see the parallels to the GOP.
Khan is “Ahab”
Khan is obviously a fan of Herman’s Melville’s literary classic. We even see it on the shelf of his ruined ship. He clearly sees Kirk as his “white whale.” And like the aforementioned antagonist in “Moby Dick,” Khan goes after Kirk with such a blind vengeance, he leaves a wake of death and destruction along the way.
Like Khan, the GOP is leaving a wake of death and destruction along the way to achieve its ultimate goals. Nearly 200,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, and we still have a POTUS that has large indoor gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks. He even asks reporters to remove their masks when they ask him questions, claiming he can’t understand what they’re saying.
The “family values” that the GOP supposedly supports have long been cast aside in favor of supporting pedophiles and a POTUS who literally bragged about grabbing women by their vaginas. Is it any surprise that as of this writing, there are over 20 credible accusations of sexual assault or harassment against Donald Trump? The evangelical right had a political conniption fit when Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the White House. But for Trump, they treat him like the second coming.
It’s no coincidence that Melville named Captain Ahab after one of the evilest kings of Israel from the Bible. And like Ahab, our current president leads this country (and his life), like Ahab lead Israel—devoid of integrity, justice, or mercy, and absolutely devoid of any authentic belief or following of God’s law.
“I spit my last breath at thee…”
But the way in which I believe the GOP most resembles Khan from the film is in one of the final, most dramatic scenes of the movie. (Spoilers abound, so be forewarned.)
Armed with the Genesis device, Khan, nearing his death, sets it to go off. The explosion will be powerful enough to create a planet. The blast radius will be such that the Enterprise, “limping” away after defeating Khan’s ship in an epic battle of wits, won’t be able to escape the explosion. Stuck without warp engines (naturally) they are doomed to suffer the same fate as Khan’s ship.
As Khan sees the Enterprise hobbling away on the viewscreen, he echoes the famous last words that Ahab spoke as he futilely attempted to stab and kill Moby Dick:
…from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
In the wake of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Mitch McConnel and Lindsey Graham are scrambling to rush a Supreme Court nominee into confirmation. We literally are just weeks away from the election—yet back in 2016, with nine MONTHS left before the 2016 election, they swore up and down that Congress should not confirm a new justice until the new POTUS was elected. Using that rationale, they blocked Obama’s choice for a judge, Merrick Garland. Graham even exhorted the American people to use his words against him should a time come when in the final year of a Republican president’s term a Supreme Court seat should open up.
Well, we are in that EXACT situation, and apparently, memories are as fleeting as those of a goldfish when it comes to Graham; or, he’s just a lying S.O.B. who wants a legacy of politicizing Supreme Court nominees and packing the court with as many conservative judges as possible—his manhood, word, and integrity be damned.
I believe with all my heart, the GOP as we know it, is dying. I believe this last-ditch effort to ram another Trump-appointed judge down the American people’s throats, less than seven weeks from the election, is akin to Khan’s Ahab speech. They see the writing on the wall. The fight for social justice; the progressive movement; the rise of representatives like AOC; the nationwide call for racial reconciliation; increased voter turnout; record fundraising numbers by the Democrats; the continued light shone on the egregious lies and hypocrisy of the far-right—all of these point to a Star Trek-sized battle where the GOP has, in its own quest for power, destroyed itself and will soon die (as we know it).
With this confirmation rush, they are spitting their last breath at us. Mark my words—the Supreme Court nomination is their “Genesis device” activation. The worldwide recognition of their utter disregard for the rule of law and their own “rules,” will not be forgotten—by us, or by the world leaders who are watching all of this unfold like some god-awful episode 9 of any season in “Game of Thrones.”
The Supreme Court nomination is their “Genesis device” activation
“The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few…”
This is perhaps the most famous line from the movie. It is uttered by Spock when (I mentioned spoilers, right?) he is dying after getting the warp engines back online, but being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation to do it.
As Kirk rushes down to see his dying friend for the last time, Spock tells him why he made the sacrifice. Because “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—or the one.” He fought against pain and anguish to get those warp engines online and save the ship.
We all saw the rigorous regimen RBG put herself through in her waning years. She pushed against the pain and the anguish of pancreatic cancer and butt-kicking workouts for ANY person (let alone an 87 year-old-woman with cancer). She did it, despite the pain, because she knew the American people needed her spirit. There is no doubt she was attempting to last well beyond the election so that we wouldn’t be in the place we are now.
As frustrating as this all seems, I believe her fight and life will NOT be in vain. Warp engines are online and our ship is hightailing it out of here. Even if “Tricky Mitch” and “Lying Lindsey” get their way and confirm a new justice, RBG’s death has “saved the ship.” Like “Wrath of Khan” where the Enterprise basked in the glow of a new planet created by the Genesis device, a new American generation basks in the light of RGB’s legacy.
I can’t help but recall some of the last bit of dialog in the film, shortly after Spock’s funeral. The crew is on the bridge, looking at the planet created by the Genesis device, and Bones and Kirk have this exchange.
Bones: He’s really not dead, as long as we remember him.
Kirk: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
RBG will be missed. A country mourns her passing. But her memory and legacy will live on. Her heroism over the years will not be forgotten. And there is a far, far better rest that she goes to.
She last left us with work to do. More battles to fight. More places to go where no one has gone before.
In remembering RBG and her legacy, allow me to echo a similar sentiment that Kirk says of Spock during his funeral:
Of all the souls I have come across, her’s was the most…American.
Let’s get busy America! “Engage!”
Previously published on “Equality Includes You”, a Medium publication.
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Screenshot from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” © Paramount Pictures