Saturday, May 18, 2013

Help Me Out Here...

The second half of my "Star Trek Into Darkness" review got into spoiler-territory in order to address what I see as some pretty serious flaws, but there's one in particular that I didn't fully discuss - partially because it would've taken too much time and the show ran long as it was, but mainly because I'm not 100% sure that I didn't "miss" some bit of dialogue that would've made this not the ginormous, baffling plot hole that it seems to be.

Obviously, EVERYTHING after the jump is spoiler-territory, including the comments. So read/click through only if you've seen the film and/or really, really want to...


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Okay. The issue I'm having concerns the film's big finale action sequence - which, befitting a Star Trek movie, takes the form of a CGI-assisted parkour foot chase in San Fransisco.

Background: Revealed at midpoint of the film, Benedict Cumberbatch's "John Harrison" owes his superhuman strength, intelligence and healing-factor to the fact that he's actually Khan Noonian Singh, the villain from "Space Seed" and later "The Wrath of Khan;" the leader of a crew of genetically engineered superhumans who got cryogenically frozen and lost in space after starting a big mess called "The Eugenics Wars" 300 years pre-Starfleet. (In the film, though, it's only ever mentioned that he and his crew were superhumans - at one point, Spock pulls "Oh, and they were totally genocidal, too!" out of thin air once Admiral Red Herring has been dispatched and it's time for Khan to be primary antagonist again.) It has also been revealed that Khan's super-blood has the power to cure death, which the crew becomes aware of when Bones injects some into a dead tribble he happens to have around. Anyway...

The setup: Having driven Khan into a rage and causing him to scuttle his warship on Earth by pretending to kill the 72 remaining still-frozen superhumans (they're actually safe aboard the Enterprise,) Spock is informed that the ship was only able to re-start because Kirk elected to climb into the warp-core to repair it manually and is now about to die from radiation poisoning. From there, the climax from "Wrath of Khan" is replayed but in-reverse, with Kirk now dying behind the glass and Spock getting to do the angry "KHAAAAAAN!" yell. Discovering that Khan has survived by beaming into the city, the enraged Spock beams himself down to pursue and kill him. BUT! Bones serendipitously catches sight of his test-tribble coming back to life and realizes that Khan's magical death-curing blood could save the day, meaning that Uhura now has to beam down into the big fight and convince Spock to spare Khan's life. She does, he does, Kirk is fine, Khan is back in his freeze-pod so he can come back in a sequel, the end.

Here's my issue: There are 72 other superhumans, frozen, right there on the ship. Why don't they just use one of them? Why does it need to be Khan? Did they ever specify that having magic death-curing blood is a special thing only for Khan? Because if they did, I missed it. I've heard it suggested that it's possible Khan's crew are not all supermen in this timeline, but A.) That doesn't make sense because this timeline is supposed to have been identical to the original up to the moment Nero came through the wormhole and altered history and B.) Khan specifically says that he and his crew are built for deep-space survival during his big "I'm going to win!" bad guy monologue. Seriously, I cannot figure out how this isn't a massive hole in the story. Anybody?

UPDATE: Someone has pointed out that a throwaway line earlier in the film about not being able to get the bodies out of cryo-sleep without proper codes or somesuch without killing them being an explanation. Good catch, but clearly Bones doesn't have any big issue with their death/injury from improper-thawing (and you CAN get blood from a recently-dead corpse) since he orders the crew to eject a body from a pod so he can use it to keep Kirk's body stable.

And while we're at it... this basically means Starfleet has a cure for death now, right? I mean, they're going to have to either explain-away or readjust and deal with the fact that nobody should be dying of anything in this universe from here on out, since there are now 72 bodies worth of self-replenishing Cure-It-All safely tucked away wherever, yes? Because otherwise aren't we going to be wondering why, if people get killed or mortally wounded in the next movie, they don't just uncork a vial or two of the serum Bones said he made from the blood and get on with life?