So the son and I have been watching the Star Trek films in order (I wisely skipped the original, which is cardboard to classical music), and the other day we took in the second flick, “Wrath of Khan.” Which is amazing in all sorts of ways.
It’s amazing because William Shatner and Ricardo Montalbán are all in and the overacting and dramatic excesses are something to behold (I’m not being snide. It’s fucking brilliant). It’s amazing because DeForest Kelley is beyond outstanding as Bones. It’s amazing because I fell in love all over again with Nichelle Nichols, whose Uhura is sultry cool. It’s amazing because—with some glaring exceptions—the special effects hold up, and it’s amazing because (stop griping) it’s simply better movie making than anything George Lucas brought us.
And yet …
I have one gripe, and it’s a biggie. So early in the film, Khan and his confusing band of Mad Max-inspired merry misfits capture two Star Fleet employees—the requisite 1980s disposable black guy (who will die, because they always die) and Chekov, the Star Trek regular and a character who the audience knows can’t perish because, well, there are future movies to be made.
Anyhow, in a legitimately hard-to-watch scene, Khan takes the two men and inserts these … eh … mutant slug/snails into their brains. He explains that, before long, the men will obey his commands before ultimately losing their minds.
And … he’s right. The men obey his commands before starting to lose their minds. Hell, the requisite 1980s disposable black guy actually kills himself. But Chekov … Chekov survives. His brain has been eaten by the slug, he’s way off his rocker, the world is 1,000 shades of purple—but he does, in fact, survive. Which is wonderful. The world needs Chekov.
But then—like, within 20 minutes—he’s back on the bridge, helping with the mission. And I keep waiting for Captain Kirk to say, “Yo, yo—people! This bruh just had a slug eating out his cranium. Let’s maybe keep him in sick bay.” I keep waiting for Spock, the definition of walking logic, to say, “Jim, perhaps it would be unwise for Chekov to be here before subjecting himself to a CAT scan.” I keep waiting for McCoy—the fucking Enterprise medic—to say, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a slugologist. But that thing probably took away, oh, 70 IQ points. Maybe Chekov can just sit in the corner and make clay ashtrays.”
Chekov is back.
Living the life.