Why did Kirk decide to be an idiot and not raise shields when they first encountered the Reliant? Khan and Joachim even made a point of being amazed that he didn't raise shields. Presumably, this is what Saavik was going to tell Kirk to do before Spock interrupted her, especially considering Kirk later told her "you can go right on quoting regulations". So... what was Kirk thinking?
Joachim is amazed. Khan isn't surprised at all, since they are, after all, a vessel from the same Federation. Also note the regulation is never quoted and may not have been shields-up, but possibly just a yellow alert, more cautious posture, etc.
Yellow Alert raises the shields but does not charge the phaser banks like red alert.
But in the film, you can see Sulu (I believe) activating the phasers at the activation of the yellow alert. It would seem like an policy odd to acknowledge that there was enough of a threat to charge the weapons, but not enough to activate shields.
I think it was supposed to be an example of Kirk's humanity (i.e. his arrogance/hubris), and his over confidence that go them in a bad situation.
It's a shame, too - it's not as if he has anything to gain by NOT raising the shields, why take the risk?
Reliant and Enterprise are both Federation ships. Yes, Reliant is behaving strangely, but what kind of trouble will Kirk & crew be in if Reliant was just having comm troubles and Enterprise reacted like it was a hostile? Kirk had no reason to believe Reliant had been hijacked, and he had a ship full of rookies.
I would say that whatever the state of the Reliant, the fact remains that the Reliant did raise her shields. This basically means one of three things: 1. The Reliant intends to attack. 2. The Reliant is responding to some threat the Enterprise is not aware of, possibly one that could threaten both ships. 3. It was a malfunction, which means you are dealing a well-armed Federation starship that is, at the very least, not in full control of its systems if not outright compromised by a computer virus/saboteur/etc. In any of these cases, raising the shields is fully justified as a precautionary measure.
The Reliant only raised shields just before attacking, and Kirk did give the order to raise the shields as soon as Spock reported the Reliant was doing so - it was just too late.
Actually, it was even worse than that. Kirk didn't order shields up until Reliant had actually locked its weapons on Enterprise.
Because he made, by his own admission a few minutes later, a catastrophic moronic total newbie mistake. Maybe he'd been off the bridge and driving a desk too long and lost his old instincts for when a situation has gone bad, maybe he was just having an off day. The most professional people make mistakes from time to time, and in certain professions (soldier, heart surgeon, airline pilot, etc) those mistakes can lead to a lot of people getting killed needlessly.
In the game Star Trek: Starfleet Academy there is a simulation of the "Battle of the Mutara Nebula", that Captain Kirk notes ruefully is used to reinforce the need to take the proper defensive precautions when encountering a non-communicative ship he neglected in the actual incident.
The actual reg is "General Order 12: On the approach of any vessel, when communications have not been established...". Saavik was interrupted before completing the quotation of the order but it is implied that the ship is supposed to go to yellow alert when faced with a non-communicative ship.
The novel "Rules of Engagement" confirms this, and also states that a Starfleet vessel is not to fire upon a potential hostile unless fired upon first.
On that note, what was Khan thinking? It's repeatedly pointed out that the Reliant is a glorified science vessel, a light cruiser, while the Enterprise is a ship of the line which could smash it without breaking sweat if Kirk had raised shields. So what was Khan's plan? Call up and hope Kirk doesn't notice his old crewman acting like a robot? Open fire and make like a bug on a windscreen? Sit there and let Kirk get suspicious? C'mon, Khan, you're meant to be a super-genius!
His plan was to take Kirk by surprise, disable the Enterprise, then call him and gloat before destroying him. Which nearly worked, except for Kirk's quick thinking and Khan's eagerness to get the Genesis Device.
Khan didn't know Starfleet ships could log into other ship's computers and screw with their system; if he had known that (or thought to ask one of his brainwashed slaves) he would have won the day easily. Besides, even ignoring that I think you're overstating the case— the Reliant seems more than able to hold its own, even when both she and Enterprise are equally damaged and under-manned.
Khan expected he would have total surprise on Kirk. It's not like Kirk was expecting him to suddenly turn up.
Khan couldn't have done the former of those — Chekov and Terrell were imprisoned on Regula One by that point.
Also, remember that, as Spock puts it, Khan is using "two-dimensional thinking," i.e., navigating his ship as if on an ocean instead of in a weightless vacuum. From this we can infer that Khan, whatever his strengths, is no tactician. Khan is also blinded by his desire for revenge, in keeping with the Moby-Dick theme of the movie, which would have further dulled his instincts.
Khan's a tactician, his problem is that all his tactical experience is in terrestrial warfare. He's navigating like he's on an ocean because he probably has experience in aquatic combat. Take a great tactician whose specialty is, say, tanks in the desert, and then put him in charge of an aircraft carrier group, he'd probably flounder a fair bit too.
According to Memory Alpha specifications of the USS Reliant, it has six dual phaser banks and twin forward and aft torpedo launchers. Not exactly under-equipped when it comes to weaponry. Khan probably assumed he could match wits tactically with Kirk, or give him a good run for his money at least. Besides, he was out for REVENGE - that hardly puts you in the most objective state of mind. He wanted to hurt Kirk - and he succeeded.
The Reliant is a Miranda class starship. The Memory Alpha article understates the actual abilities and role of the class. Various sources and games clearly show the class rated as a medium cruiser. In a straight fight the Enterprise has the advantage, but Khan could reasonably assume that the element of surprise would make the odds at least even.
If you think about it, the real question is why this mini-tank of a starship is running around scanning lifeless planets? It seems like a job better suited for a dedicated science vessel like USS Grissom.
That's likely why they developed the Oberth-class in the first place. They could simply have had none available at the time.
The USS Reliant seemed to be attached to Regula One, where Genesis was being tested, and due to the nature of the project Starfleet wanted a ship that wouldn't draw attention (like the Constitution class) but could actually defend the project—and based on what we saw in Star Trek III, the Oberth class had no chance of doing that.
The real reason we didn't see an Oberth class is the fact that the model hadn't been built yet. Didn't help that ILM allegedly hated the idea of doing a Connie-on-Connie battle because the TMP Enterprise was hard to use—not to mention Nicholas Meyer decided that it would be hard to tell the ships apart.
In fairness, the primary mission of Starfleet has always been scientific exploration. That's why in Star Trek VI, the battleship Excelsior has been busy cataloguing gaseous spacial anomalies for an extended period of time, and the battlecruiser Enterprise has been seen handling so many minor science missions throughout TOS, rather than defending Federation territory.
Starfleet seems to seek a balance between scientific endeavors and exploration, and deterrence. So they built Jack of All Stats ships that can do the peaceful scholar routine, and quickly retask to dealing with uppity Klingon and Romulan interlopers. As was later lampshaded in Deep Space Nine, the Federation is Beware the Nice Ones made manifest as an interstellar society. Their dealings with alien races similarly is heavily laden with carrot-and-stick politics, where they offer peace and enlightenment, from the bridges of their heavily armed starships, allowing them to negotiate from a strong position.
Also of note is that while Starfleet ships seem to pack far more weapons than, say, Klingon battlecruisers or Romulan warbirds, both of those races tend to pack their weapons in the front for attacking, while the Starfleet ships have numerous weapons laid out to cover their flanks, allowing them to be much more defensive in tactics (and to fire cool broadsides as if they were in a Horatio HornblowerIN SPACE movie, which was entirely what they had in mind making this movie.
Why exactly does Kirk go ballistic (KHAAAANNNNN!!!) when Khan leaves him and the others stranded? He already had an escape plan in place and he knew he just had to wait. I can understand faking a little so Khan wouldn't suspect, but come on!
Kirk was probably just really mad at Khan for all of the horrible things he did to him and those close to him. After seeing all of the people Khan tortured and killed, having to hear him gloat probably just made Kirk snap.
Kirk wanted Khan to think he had won. And what better way to bait Khan into thinking that then by convincing him that he had caused the nerves-of-steel Captain Kirk to completely lose his shit?. Acting all cool like he had a plan would be the worst thing Kirk could have done short of just telling Khan that the Enterprise would be back to pick him up in a few hours.
The important thing to remember is that Kirk was acting at that point. He knew that his away team would be rescued, because Spock had already sent him the awkwardly-worded coded message. He needed Khan to think that he had dealt Kirk a finishing blow, and Shatner-level overacting was the key to that.
Of course you have to ask yourself what Saavik, McCoy, Chekov, David and Carol were thinking at this point. Kirk deliberately kept his plan a secret (for some reason) and as such they had all just watched their seasoned battle hardened Admiral completely buckle under the pressure; couldn't have been good for their morale. Although McCoy and Chekov admittedly could have realized what was happening being both experienced officers and close comrades.
A few moments later, Kirk is totally cool-headed and giving out orders. Probably clued everybody else in to the fact that things were not as bad as they appeared. Kirk's long-time comrades also know that any time Jim Kirk starts acting totally out of his head, it's because he's running a longer game than the immediate moment and acting like he's lost it is his way of throwing people off the scent.
Or he's had his mind switched with a former girlfriend. Or replaced by an android duplicate. Or split into two by the transporter...
It's still possible that he really was angry and frustrated that Khan would just keep on going killing and most likely intended to go on to finish off the Enterprise. So if anything, he is at least letting out his aggression.
Does anyone else think that Kirk committed yet another tactical error during the nebula battle, by holding course after giving away his position, not making any evasive maneuvers, and risking a counter-attack (which actually happened) or even collision?
I'd also point out that the evasive maneuver he does order is a banking turn to starboard, maximizing the area of Enterprise'shull exposed to the Reliant's weapons. Kirk virtually guaranteed that even without targeting sensors, Khan would score a hit.
How come, only Spock gets the glorious funeral? Didn't a whole lot of other crewman, including Scotty's nephew, die in the fighting against Khan? If they would have shot all those people onto the Genesis planet, they all would have been resurrected like Spock, and Scotty could have brought his nephew home alive. All in all, the Genesis device (like the transporter) is yet another Trek gizmo that can only bring certain people back to life, and then its resurrection powers are swept under the table, rather than shown for the society altering device that it really is. Think about it: Fire the Genesis device over a graveyard.....
Why would you want to do that? The resurrected Spock was mindless.
I don't think they knew the Genesis Planet would resurrect Spock.
Again, nothing says there weren't. However, it would have rather dissipated the emotion of Spock's death to have a montage of standard regulation services before or after it...in other words, Rule of Drama. And, in the novelisation, it's mentioned that the torpedo-coffin was redirected to land softly instead of burning up (presumably like the others), by Saavik.
This. Spock's funeral was the only one that was relevant to the plot.
They probably brought the humans' bodies home to Earth for burial. Being shot into space was presumably Spock's own stated funeral preference, kept on file along with his will, as he was the son of two worlds and space was really more "home" to him than Vulcan. Aiming the coffin/torpedo at the nascent Genesis planet was a romantic touch that Kirk felt was appropriate, given Spock's role in creating the place.
Officers always get fancier funerals. Look at the news a few years back. A dead butterbar gets mentioned on national news, but an enlisted is lucky if he gets mentioned in the local paper.
Spock wasn't just an officer, he was the cadets' long time instructor and The Captain of that ship, one who stepped aside for Kirk, admittedly, but if ANYONE of that crew deserved a full honors funeral, it would be him.
And, really, of the dozens of Red Shirts we've seen die, not a one got a funeral.
Because Spock's the character the audience most cared about and was emotionally invested in. In-universe, they probably did get their own send-offs and emotional farewells from their friends and loved ones. But the filmmakers didn't show us them because they reasoned, not entirely unreasonably or irrationally, that the audience wouldn't really give too much of a shit about seeing Red Shirt #2214985's heartrending send-off, while they would care about Spock's.
Spock’s Resting Place
Okay, I know the "real" reason (to set up the plot of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), but why exactly did they leave Spock's body on the Genesis planet in the first place? I know Kirk's spiel about "giving his life" to save the new world was supposed to be an explanation, but that really doesn't make any sense, either (especially since said "world" didn't really exist at the time Spock sacrificed himself). And while he didn't know about the katra and thus couldn't have known Spock could be saved, didn't Kirk think that MAYBE Sarek and Amanda would have appreciated the chance to bury and properly mourn their only child back on his home planet? As for Spock's wishes, somehow I doubt "just dump me on the nearest rock and move on" was part of his final resting plans. Rule of Drama or not, this has always bugged the hell out of me.
The other structural reason is to provide the closure for Spock's death without having to vault forward in time long enough to have a funeral on Vulcan. Narratively, I would agree that it doesn't make a lot of sense.
I have to disagree. From a character perspective, it makes sense that Spock would want to be "dumped on the nearest rock". First, funeral rites are highly illogical, and I doubt Vulcans are overly concerned about such things. Speculation aside, though, Spock's relationship with his father is strained, to say the least, because Spock struggled to control his emotions his entire life (and Sarek, being a high-ranking Vulcan, didn't need or want a problem child). His relationship with Amanda is better, but is also strained, because of his emotional restraint (and I'd guess there's a healthy dose of shame involved for him, because he loves her). Even if you set that aside, Spock's first devotion was to duty. It would be extremely inconvenient to force Enterprise back to Vulcan to deliver his body, and disrupting the mission in death is the last thing he'd want. YMMV.
Whether funeral rites are illogical are not, the Vulcans do care about them. We know this from the next movie. Vulcan society is highly ceremonial and ritualistic.
I believe this is already addressed further up the page. No, I'm sure "Dump me on the nearest rock" wasn't the exact final wish Spock had on file, but I see no reason not to believe that "In the event of my death in the line of duty, I wish to be buried in space" was on file. His coffin landing on the Genesis planet was probably due to someone adding their own bit of all-too-human sentimentality to the proceedings. (Also keep in mind that originally, this was not done with setting up Star Trek III in mind; the original intention was that Spock would die for real, since Leonard Nimoy didn't want to continue with the role due to some disagreements with Paramount.)
Makes one wonder if Spock's file registered the desire have his body disposed of the Starfleet way rather than the Vulcan way. In other words, "continue to stick it to Sarek even though I'm dead"!
The coffin surviving its landing was explained by David in the next movie. "The gravitational fields were in flux, it must have soft landed." Translation: with the planet still in its formative stage, there was enough instability to its gravity and atmosphere to allow the coffin to make it through without burning up and land without appreciable damage from the impact.
The novelization of Search for Spock (and partially started in the Wrath of Khan novelization) offers the following explanation: Spock had it in his will that were he to die in the line of duty, he was to be committed to space. When Sarek shows up chastising Kirk, that's what Kirk tells him. However, they figure out that Spock knew that if he did see death coming and had enough time for the katra transfer, that part of the transfer process was basically instructions overriding his will. What he didn't count on was McCoy having an adverse reaction and not properly receiving the message. As for the coffin landing, that is explained by Saavik disobeying Kirk's order. Kirk ordered a trajectory that would have the coffin burn up upon entry in to the atmosphere. Saavik decided Spock would rather his body be part of the new world, so altered the course so the wave would rearrange his molecules. The wave was still active, but instead regenerated the body instead of integrating it.
Commander Montgomery Scott
Taking the Scenic Route to Sickbay
Why in the name of everything that's holy did Scotty take his dying nephew to the bridge and not directly to Sick Bay?
In the novelization, Kirk and Spock leave the bridge to check the damage in Engineering, and run into Scotty with his dying nephew part of the way there. Presumably, this was thought to take too much screen time, so Scotty showing up on the bridge was used instead (even if it makes no sense). Alternately, Scotty has got to be pretty distraught at the time, to the point where maybe he pushed the wrong button in the elevator...?
The ship was heavily damaged. Scotty may have had to take the turbolift to the bridge before he could go back down to sickbay.
That's how the Novelization explains Scotty's arrival on the bridge: he wasn't able to reach sickbay from engineering.
SF Debris speculated that this might have been the original scene where Spock died, and when it was changed they changed which character did what to attempt to keep the emotional impact.
He also jokingly suggested a far less likely, but infinitely more amusing explanation: Scotty was shit-faced.
Scotty: He's badly hurt, so I brought him up here to Sick Bay! Kirk: This... This is the Bridge, Scotty. Scotty: And then I'm headin' back down to finish drinkin'the engines! ...I-I mean, repairing the scotch! Er...crap..
Probably not: eardrums heal, and it's unlikely to be something 22nd-century medicine can't just replace anyway.
Just chewing through the eardrum wouldn't be enough for the eel to reach his cranial cavity, however. It must've gnawed its way through the temporal bone from the middle ear cavity, too, which probably would destroy Chekhov's hearing and sense of balance on that side.
Why the hell is Chekov even alive? Even in the 22nd Century, it's kinda hard not to die when a worm the size of a mouse eats out your brain.
The Ceti eel doesn't eat the brain; its larvae cluster around the brain's surface (cerebral cortex). That would place it in the subarachnoid space, feeding off the host's cerebrospinal fluid and/or blood. Its presence would apply pressure to the brain's surface as it grew, causing cortical degeneration and eventual death by compression of the medulla oblongata into the foramen magnum, but it wasn't inside Chekhov's skull for more than a few days and didn't have time to get much bigger.
Kirk and Dr. Marcus have a frank discussion about David, revealing (to the audience) that David is Kirk's son. Throughout it all, Chekov, who has been stated to be "coming to" and is holding a cloth to his ear. So is Chekov listening to the whole conversation and probably thinking how very awkward that is?
Either that or he's too concentrated on thinking "don't throw up...don't throw up...don't throw up..." to realize Kirk is having a heart-to-heart with an old flame. He did just have a mind-controlling bug crawl out of his ear after all.
Chekov just had a giant bug untangle itself from his cerebral cortex (according to Kahn) and crawl out his ear. It's astounding that he's alive at all—I don't think eavesdropping and memory-retention were realistic goals for him at the time.
Speaking of which, why did the ceti eel crawl out of his ear at that time? Could Chekov resist Kahn because the eel had never attached itself to his brain properly? Surly it didn't leave just because Chekov wouldn't kill Kirk. . .did it?
SF Debris in his review gives an explanation which sounds fairly plausible: The other ceti eel tried to force the other Starfleet guy to act against his morals, and he ended up shooting himself with a phaser, killing both. The eel in Chekov could sense this and learned from it, and when it reached a similar situation with him resisting, it decided to leave rather than risk the same fate.
How Do You Loose a Planet?
Wait, so the entire reason this all happened is because Chekov thought he was beaming down to Ceti Alpha VI but got a faceful of KHAN instead and wasn't on guard for it. But... if Ceti Alpha V's ecosystem was messed up by CA VI exploding, why did the entire crew of the Reliant think that the planet was the sixth? Shouldn't that only mess up the count from the "seventh" planet on? Couldn't anyone count the planets from the star and notice one was missing and one was not as it should be according to the very star charts Kirk filed? Plot Hole! But They Just Didn't Care. And this movie is so good, neither should you.
The Ceti Alpha system appears to have only had six planets to begin with; it's the only plausible explanation for the Reliant crew missing the freaking obvious. Still, it's not so much Fridge Logic as it is the Idiot Ball from hell...
Well still a goof of grandest Idiot Ball proportions, if the system only had 6 planets to start with, it IS possible they just parked at the one furthest from the sun and assumed it was the sixth one.
They spend paragraphs trying to explain this away in the EU novel "To Rule In Hell". The Ceti Alpha system was way out in the sticks and nobody had been there since Kirk, Reliant approached from the outside of the system and assumed the outermost planet was Ceti Alpha VI, Kirk's logs weren't shared with the Genesis Project crew, and Chekov had forgotten about Khan in the intervening years until they found the Botany Bay.
I always just assumed that Ceti Alpha V was where they were expecting Ceti Alpha VI would be and as a result never bothered to check the rest of the system. Pure laziness as a result of trust in their star charts.
I always assumed that there were more than six planets. Could be seven, eight or ten. Six blows up, so that leaves one less planet. Six, seven or nine. And Khan said that the orbit was messed up (explaining why the planet looked different than when Khan was dropped off in "Space Seed") and one can infer that this means the orbit is no longer what it was. Perhaps the explosion knocked the planet in such a way that Ceti Alpha V was now on the other side of Ceti Alpha VII. And so, it would appear to be Ceti Alpha VI, as Ceti Alpha VII would appear to be Ceti Alpha V.
If the orbit got elliptical VI and VII might switch places in "distance from sun" in part of their respective orbits. While Pluto still was a planet it did so with Neptune.
Maybe Ceti Alpha isn't a single system, but a cluster of stars numbered from I to VII, and the Reliant was in wrong star system. Although you'd expect someone would have noticed a star was missing...
It's also possible that after months of "Standard Orbit...scan the planet...there's something there...ok, next planet..." the routine got really boring and somebody fell asleep at the starcharts.
For what it's worth, the novelization says that the Ceti Alpha system had 20 planets.
Solar systems are big. From Earth orbit, all the other planets are little dots indistinguishable from stars. If you went to where Mars was supposed to be and found a planet that fit the description, would you travel millions of miles through space just to make sure it's really the fourth planet? Even if you did do that, you could still come up one planet short just because the planets aren't usually in a straight line and one of them could be on the other side of the sun.
Just Lie to Him
Chekhov's reluctance to tell Khan why he and Terrell were on Ceti Alpha led to Khan using the Ceti eel to make them talk. So when asked as to what Chekhov and Terrell they were doing there, why didn't they feed Khan some story or half-truth like "we're here on a routine survey" or "we have orders to explore this system"?
Saavik, you can quote the entire Starfleet reg book from memory, and you throw a fit because Spock used a content-sensitive code in a situation where regulations demanded he encode his message?
I'd hardly call, "You lied." to be throwing a fit, even by Vulcan standards. Recall the witty retorts between Spock and Valaris in ST:VI as they accuse the other of lying to stall for time. I'd assume it's a game Vulcans play with each other since honesty is exceptionally important in their culture (logic only works if the data you're given is true) yet they understand that it's necessary to lie if duty demands it.
In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, however, we learn that a Vulcan throws a fit, they do it so subtly that even other Vulcans might not notice. Pay attention to the scene in Spock's quarters, one of the characters is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
I thought that the line "You lied" simply meant that she was impressed that Spock managed to lie so convincingly. Lying must be pretty hard for Vulcans.
Khan Noonien Singh
Why was Khan inferred to be unable to account for the third dimension in the Enterprise/Reliant battle? It is not as if there wasn't fighting involving three dimensions in 20th-century naval warfare, especially if you take into account submarines and air strikes.
Maybe because the chess board he was left with on Ceti Alpha V wasn't a 3D chess set?
Look more closely - it's a Checkers set. Genius-level intellects and they play Checkers instead of Chess?
I find that image rather endearing... even genetically-engineered supermen might play a game that's unchallenging fun once in a while.
Seriously though, most people who haven't directly experienced combat where the third dimension comes into play have trouble with the concept as it's not intuitive to humans, who spend most of their lives moving in two dimensions. Chances are that most of the battles Khan participated in on Earth were ground-based. As Spock says, he's intelligent, but inexperienced.
Why did Khan Want Genesis?
* So what did Khan want with Genesis anyway?
Nothing, really. He just saw an opportunity to escape into space, and draw Kirk into a battle, so he went with it.
But he tried to get information about it from Kirk (The stalling to "get" the information was the only thing which saved the Enterprise from being blasted to high-hell after Khan was finished gloating), he even takes time out of trying to kill Kirk in order to go to Regula 1 and steal it from them. So he obviously went out of his way to obtain it.
He wanted a one-hit planet-killing torpedo. The Genesis device was supposed to create life, but, as McCoy realized, it has to wipe out all existing life on a planet to do it. Khan was probably going to have his followers build a whole arsenal of them to pave the way for a new empire.
If you're a deposed dictator who wants to get back into the business of conquering and subjugating foreign nations, wouldn't you be intrigued by the existence of something that could very easily be used as a superweapon?
It's also remotely possible that Khan just wanted to use Genesis to create a new homeworld for he and his people. Either way, the man's just a touch emotionally compromised and isn't going about any of it the best way. It does seem that he first became interested in Genesis because Admiral Kirk was in charge of the project.
Mutually Assured Destruction doesn't hurt, either. Khan had one starship with which to evade Starfleet forever. A doomsday device wouldn't go amiss in getting them to leave you alone.
In the Original Klingon
How does Khan know about Klingon proverbs? The Botany Bay was launched in the 1990's, long before first contact with the Klingons.
Odder still, "Revenge is a dish best served cold" is a regular human proverb, dating back at least to the 1840s in French. Why would Khan, of all people, misattribute it to Klingons? Beats me.
Maybe those Starfleet cargo carriers were packed with the Federation version of Encyclopedia Britannica.
In the Original Series episode "Space Seed", Khan is given access to the Enterprise's library files and reads a multitude of information. Presumably, this includes information on Klingon culture.
I wonder if this is some sort of obscure joke on Khan's part — one that might make sense only to him.
More like an obscure joke on Nicholas Meyer's part. He did it constantly in The Undiscovered Country. Vulcan proverb, only Nixon could go to China. Shakespeare in the original Klingon. And even though Chekov had a habit of claiming everything as Russian, including him referencing Cinderella as a Russian fairy tale would count, too.
The Russian version of Cinderella (Vasilisa the Beautiful) is much cooler than the Western version. It involves the Baba Yaga and a flaming skull.
Khan Didn’t Memorize the ‘‘Whole’’ Book
When the Reliant approaches, Kirk and the crew are alerted to the fact that they're about to be fired upon when the Reliant locks phasers on the Enterprise. However, during Kirk's distraction scene, Sulu locks phasers onto the Reliant, and Khan doesn't notice until it's too late. Was Joachim or whoever not watching the console for something like this?
It can probably be chalked up to Khan and his crew's lack of experience in starship operations. Kirk even downright admits that the only reason they survived that first firefight was because he knew more about Starfleet ships than Khan did. Neither Khan or Joachim knew where to find Reliant's manual override, and they didn't think to change the access codes, so clearly they didn't have more than a very basic understanding of starship-to-starship combat. It's not unreasonable to assume that they didn't know enough to watch for a weapons lock.
Joachim Had a Point
Khan and his followers had a warp-capable, battle-ready starship at their disposal and had gotten away from the Ceti Alpha system. Why did they not just go on their way? Joachim had a point; they were free from their exile and had thwarted Captain Kirk. Did they really need to get back at Kirk and company? And don't say "because we wouldn't have a story"!
They didn't need to, no, and as we see from Joachim, many of the followers have other plans but are still loyal to their megalomaniacal, revenge-crazed leader. The whole point of that scene is that Khan is acting irrationally, and it ultimately gets him and everyone else killed.
Because he tasks him. He tasks him and he will have him! In other words, Khan, like Ahab was so utterly blinded by revenge that he couldn't look at things rationally, or even accept the rational when it's pointed out to him.
Ceti Alpha V: Fountain of Youth?
This is a small and silly one, but if Khan & Co. had been marooned on Ceti Alpha V for fifteen years, why did all his crew look like they were in their late 20's at most? You could argue that their superhuman genes were behind it, but since Khan himself aged normally, that doesn't really work. Conversely, they were too old to have been born to the original crew in the intervening fifteen years.
The expanded universe fluff mentions that the original survivors started pairing off and having children soon after they were marooned, and over the course of fifteen years most of them died from in-fighting, accidents, disease, or the Ceti Eel. As for the new ones, Khan apparently mentioned in a diary that they aged at an accelerated rate (He noted that at age 10, Joachim looked as though he were 15). It's all on the Memory Alpha wiki.
Khan doesn't look that different from "Space Seed" except that he's wearing rugged clothing and some other cosmetic details, and that his hair is white. Might be the pressures of leadership: Look at the effect of the US Presidency on its officeholders' hair color, and none of them has ever had to guide a civilization through anything like the rigors of Ceti Alpha V.
An easy explanation would be that they were genetically engineered to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. In the Star Trek universe, genetic engineering can do anything, even keeping you looking twenty-fife for most of your life (see: ‘’TNG: Unnatural Selection’’).
Khan the Trendsetter
Where did Khan get the contemporary Starfleet belt buckle he was wearing as a necklace? I'm pretty sure he was wearing it before his encounter with the Reliant crew.
The cargo container had a crate full of belt buckles?
Except that Starfleet Uniforms didn't have belts when Kahn was marooned. It can only really be explained by "wardrobe goof".
I think the IDEA was that it belonged to his wife. Probably more of a "Did Not Do Research" moment.
Perhaps a Starfleet landing party had gone down, gotten stranded, and died sometime between this and the last movie, and Khan found their bodies and took one of the belts.
Khan's Plan to Find Kirk
Why would Khan think that Kirk specifically would be on the case?
Related to this, what was Khan's plan B if the first ship on the scene was Kirk-less?
I can think of a couple of scenarios that don't seem particularly likely, but are at least plausible: In the first, Chekov knew about Kirk's history with Carol Marcus—possibly even knowing that David is Kirk's son—and gave that information to Khan under the influence of the Ceti eel. Khan, knowing the kind of man Kirk is, was hoping that when Carol and David disappeared Kirk would come looking for them. In the second, stealing the Genesis device was only step 1 of his plan. Realizing that he had no practical way of killing Kirk directly, he might have been planning to extract revenge by proxy; using Genesis on a populated Federation world. Kirk being aboard closest ship to the Mutara Sector was just a happy coincidence for Khan. As to what he would have done if another starship had responded first, maybe he would have ambushed that vessel like he did Enterprise, or just conceal Reliant in the Mutara Nebula and and watch as that ship is conducting its investigation.
Why would Khan & company accept at face value that they can—without effort—eavesdrop on Enterprise Spock talking to buried alive Kirk?
Engineering and Starship Operations
Scotty had to take the Enterprise's main power source offline because of radiation. However, Kirk tells to Scotty to reenable the warp drive to escape a pending detonation of the genesis device. Spock goes down to engineering to fix the power source, but Dr. McCoy and Scotty will not let him proceed because of the deadly radiation in the room with the power source. However, the ship is about to be destroyed with all hands unless they get the warp drive working, so logically it is one of those tough times when a commanding officer needs to order a crewmember to his death to fix the power source. Furthermore, if Spock feels he should do it and can take the rads better, why is the engineering staff impeding him instead of suiting him up in a radiation suit as fast as they can to allow him an outside chance to survive the repair job?
Scotty was unconscious when Spock arrived, and McCoy doesn't know that the ship is doomed. The information that the Enterprise won't be far enough away when Genesis initiates is conveyed by a silent headshake on the bridge. McCoy isn't being irrational, he just doesn't know the danger, and Spock doesn't have time to explain, as he says when he nerve-pinches the good doctor to get past him.
In point of fact, Spock had no chance of surviving. Spock's greater radiation tolerance was barely enough to let him live long enough to actually finish the repairs before dropping dead. Of course, if Spock is the only crewmember physically capable of doing the repairs, then you have to send him in, so your objection still applies.
Because they don't want Spock to die. That simple. People don't always act rationally or think things through, especially in the middle of a life-or-death crisis.
It does seem odd that on a nuclear powered SPACE-ship with 23rd century technology they have no a) radiation suits or b) robots that could do the repairs by remote control. Don't the environment suits have radiation protection?
In the novelization of the movie, Scotty states that the suits and robots they had available would "freeze up" due to the excessive radiation (presumably ionizing) affecting their motor circuits.
So... their radiation suits are so vulnerable to radiation that they will be paralyzed by radiation that a human(oid) can (temporarily) withstand? That's actually quite poor engineering.
More like Truth in Television. Electronics is really sensitive to radiation, which is why all electronics in satellites and such has to be specially hardened and lags for decades behind current microprocesor desings. And it got worse over time. On the other hand humans (and other animals) can take a quite large dose of radiation and still carry on for some minutes (or longer). If that's all that's needed...
I always assumed that there was no time to suit him up. Considering that in Star Trek, the clock will always stop at one, then he was correct in assuming that the time required in suiting up was not an option. Don't ask why no-one else suited up. Rule of Drama.
Hey, flame-retardant firefighting gear isn't designed to actually let you survive inside a roaring fire, its just intended to help you get closer to one. Same logic could apply to Starfleet radiation suits.
One sudden bit of Fridge Logic is "with dozens of engineering grunts down there, why don't they keep one guy in a rad suit 24/7, just in case something goes wrong?"
If you watch the Director's Cut version of Kirk's inspection, you do see one suited-up crewmember inside the chamber. Doesn't mean it's normally a permanent station, however.
Possibly that one guy (or several guys) who was suited up was killed, ran away, or was otherwise occupied trying to keep Engineering from falling apart/being consumed by flames/releasing a Negative Space Wedgie due to a containment failure. Or maybe it was just Cadet Preston's turn to be in the suit that day, and nobody thought to pick somebody else after he died.
The novelization strongly implies that the coolant pipes are so heavily reinforced that Starfleet Engineering had calculated that anything that hit the engine room hard enough to break one would already have destroyed the rest of the engine room, so no point in worrying about it. Turns out they got their math wrong.
The dialogue strongly suggests that Spock would have sent Scotty (who was suited) in, if Scotty hadn't been almost unconscious at the time
McCoy: You're not going in there!
Spock: Perhaps you're right. What is Mr. Scott's condition?
McCoy: Well, I don't think that he— (gets nerve-pinched)
Spock: Sorry, Doctor, I have no time to discuss this logically (Begins pulling Scotty's gloves off).
I dunno; to me, that looked like Spock deliberately misdirecting McCoy so he'd be in perfect position to nerve-pinch.
I was surprised thought that those hot, uncomfortable looking protective garments that the engineers wore during the movie-era apparently don't provide some measure of protection from radiation.
They do. They let you live long enough to finish the job and save the ship. Some radiation can only be stopped by extreme measures (lead, concrete, etc.) and a radiation suit just won't be able to stop everything.
Why Not Use the Transporters?
Kirk suggests that they beam aboard Reliant to turn off the Genesis Device and David says that they can't. Well, okay, but what's to stop them from beaming Genesis onto the Enterprise and then beaming it into deep space, like they did with Nomad in "The Changeling"?
Because that won't stop the device from activating, and it won't make it any easier for the ship to get out of range when it does.
Yeah, but they were desperate. They didn't stand much of a chance flying away at impulse power either, so beaming the device away would have given them at least slightly better odds, wouldn't it?
Maximum range of the Genesis device: the entire width of the nebula. Maximum range of the transporter: enormously less. Without the Enterprise's warp drive, beaming it would have been the equivalent of your house being 200 feet away from a detonating nuclear bomb instead of 100 feet, IOW, not really being any safer at all.
Beam it into the transporter pattern buffer, keep it there for a few days while they repair the warp drive, beam it back out, and warp off before it explodes. Or stick it in the buffer and deliberately degrade the pattern until its dangerous components turn to mush.
I'm sorry, did you say "days?" When the timer was set for 4 minutes? Have fun with that.
Or just beam it out on "Scatter Mode". They've done that before too. Or here's an idea: OPEN UP WITH ALL WEAPONS. Or, failing that, beam over an antimatter bomb right next to the stupid thing.
Toy just pointed out a major problem with transporter tech. Doing things like that could fix problems in a lot of episodes and movies but no one ever thinks of it. The plot always demands they do not.
^That actually happened in the Voyager novel "Echoes", which involved a planet being transported(but not Transported) one universe over every X hours and Y minutes. This worked fairly well until they reached a universe where the planet had been destroyed. The Voyager in that universe eventually hit upon the solution of holding as many people as possible in their pattern buffer. They got the entire sentient population of the planet, but it'd only work once.
They did it in a Voyager episode, too. They were smuggling telepaths through psi-unfriendly space, and the transporters were conveniently in "test cycles" during every inspection.
And let's not forget that Scotty managed to stay in a pattern buffer for, what - 70 years? So, it seems very clear that it's possible to keep things in there for a while... but as stated above, it's TOO useful.
Ah, but Scotty stayed in the pattern buffer for seventy years based on a technique he had developed, which the Enterprise-D crew were shocked had worked. Keeping something in the transporter buffer wasn't a viable option at the time of TWOK. An in-universe Science Marches On.
Except that it was done with several Klingons in "Day of the Dove" (TOS) 16 years before TWOK.
Let's not forget that Scotty put himself AND another crewman into the "Transporter Suspended Animation Thing," but said other crewman was not so lucky.
"Not so lucky" would have been perfectly acceptable in this case. The signal degraded too much for the Device to be rematerialized? Problem solved.
It's quite possible that the energy wave produced by the device during its build-up would interfere with a transporter.
Seems likely— generally speaking transporters are pretty delicate, think about how many planets and weather conditions they don't work in, or how many times they could work but the targeting scanner can't get a lock on the item.
Actually, I wonder if energy was the reason this Enterprise couldn't do this. My knowledge of the physics involved is shaky at best, but it seems that a device like Genesis— a device that could affect an entire star system—would have a massive amount of stored energy. From what we've learned about Starfleet transporters, they work by converting matter to energy, briefly storing that energy, directing that energy towards a target, and finally converting that energy back to matter. This would require an unfathomably huge amount of (among other things) computer memory to pull off. Since Genesis' stored energy would not simply disappear during transport, it seems possible that the heavily damaged Enterprise simply didn't have the available resources it would need to transport the Genisis Device.
As an aside note, this is one of the many reasons why Star Trek-style teleportation is straight-up impossible in the real world (because even a human requires rather a lot of memory, to say the least).
They are in a crippled ship that is in the middle of a nebula that scrambles the sensors so bad they can barely run the viewscreen and are unable to solidly lock weapons. If they can't lock the weapons, then they certainly cannot lock the transporters.
At the end of the battle, Enterprise ordered Reliant to prepare to be boarded, and later Kirk suggests that a team beams over to Reliant and disarm Genesis manually. Both suggest that they could use the transporters in the nebula—although I suppose that it could also mean that Kirk doesn't understand how transporters work.
No, he understands, you've got a gap though. Pad-to-pad beaming is much, much easier than pad-to-point or point-to-point beaming, which is why when a group has to go to another ship, they almost always go down to the transporter room, step onto the pad, and beam to the other ship's pad in their transporter room, rather than just beaming from their bridge to the other ship's bridge or whatever. Aside from protocol, it's much safer and less energy-intensive. So when Kirk's saying they could beam over to the Reliant, he's saying they'd beam from the Enterprise's pad to the Reliant's pad, which might be possible even if all other options aren't. Think of it like networking two computers directly with a cable between them, as opposed to going through a hub or wireless option.
Perhaps transporting or destroying the activated genesis device would cause it to immediately detonate. The genesis wave may have already been created, and the device is just holding it back for a few minutes to perform final adjustments to the genesis wave before releasing it, and/or as a safety measure to give a starship enough time to warp away.
Lack of Options on the Command Console
When Spock takes over the Reliant via the "command console" and lowers her shields, why doesn't he do something more destructive like order Reliant to dump all her fuel into space or blow out all her airlocks?
Considering Khan had just knocked out their main power and weapons, Kirk and Spock needed to do something incredibly simple. Dumping fuel would still leave Reliant with enough power to blast Enterprise, and opening the airlocks would do nothing as ships are built with multiple failsafes to prevent total loss of atmosphere.
I'm wondering why they didn't use the command console in comparable situations later on in Trek. We've seen other instances of one or another crew having to bring in a Starfleet ship that had been hijacked or whose captain had gone renegade or that was taking orders from an admiral attempting a coup. TNG's "The Wounded," Deep Space Nine's "Defiant" and "Paradise Lost," Voyager's "Equinox," to name a few.
Renegade Starfleet officers would be fully aware of the code and would have to be carrying an Idiot Ball the size of a small solar system to not change it. Spock worried that the command console plan might fail on account of Khan changing the code. As for hijackers, well lets just say that they were also aware of the command console codes or something.
They actually did use this tactic in "The Wounded" - it was only partially successful, though.
Khan's line suggests that there was a way to override the remote access, and that the only reason the trick worked at all was that the crew was unfamiliar with the ship and couldn't block it quickly enough.
Kirk also had no idea where Reliant's real crew was. Blowing out their airlocks or ordering an Auto-Destruct or something could have killed the Reliant crew along with Khan and his followers. It's also possible that the command console code can't access vital functions, but only stuff you would need to recover an out-of-control ship, like ordering the shields down so you can beam a recovery crew over.
Applying the Phlebotinum
Having watched only the movies and the TV series, I'm curious: what exactly did Spock do to fix or reconnect the mains? Without technical insight on his actions, all a casual moviegoer (like myself) sees is him put his thickly-gloved hands into a tube and fiddle with something inside while working against a strong blast of (presumably radioactive) vapors. That's not exactly conductive to delicate work, whatever it was.
That's basically like asking how a warp engine works. All we know is that he needed the glove to keep his fingers from melting off as he reconnected/rerouted/fixed whatever was preventing them from going to warp. The precise technical details are really irrelevant to the plot. I imagine the work was not so delicate that it could be done while wearing gloves, and it's just Spock's high pain threshold and ability to work by memory and sense of touch that allowed him to do it.
If you must have an answer, perhaps he was manually re-aligning the dilithium crystals in the articulation frame so that they could once again regulate the matter/antimatter reaction in Enterprise's warp reactor. That's what I always assumed he was doing, and it without further information it would seem to be the most likely explanation... but really, it doesn't matter.
Maybe the Phlebotinum was just cloggged in the tube? He had to reach in there and clear the radioactive phlebotimuck so that the energy could flow.
Loose Lips Prevent Sinking Ships
Every indication is that every Starfleet cadet (or at least, every one on the "command" track) takes the Kobayashi Maru scenario... and everyone takes it under that name. Starfleet must seriously have some tight-lipped cadets, if they expect to run a simulation the point of which is a "twist ending" — the lack of way to win it — and don't feel the need to change its name every now and again. In the Abrams film, this becomes even a bit stranger, since there's this well-attended public hearing dealing with Kirk's having cheated on it. How can they do this, without giving the game away?
It's entirely possible that they run multiple scenarios involving a ship named Kobayashi Maru. Indeed maybe every 'generic ship' in every simulator scenario has that name. When and where the no-win version pops up would be random, or at the discretion of the instructor. Ignoring the Abrams version, you then simply theorize that they don't tell you it's unwinnable, which explains why Kirk took it three times, and that Kirk himself didn't know it until he reprogrammed it. The Enterprise command staff knows it's unbeatable because they're the instructors. Kirk tells Saavik because he's Kirk, and also because Vulcans already have a handle on the no-win scenario idea.
Not to mention that when Kirk asks McCoy to join him on his third attempt, asking if it bugs him that no-one has ever beaten it, McCoy flatly responds that "it's the Kobayashi Maru... NOBODY beats it." Heavily implying it's somewhat common knowledge. However, it's not outside the realm of possibility that cadets/officers who take the test consider it a rite of passage, and don't discuss the true nature of it with those that haven't taken the test yet.
There's also the question of why you would allow multiple attempts at an unwinnable test, anyway. Just to be cruel? Saavik is informed immediately that the test can't be passed; if they did the same with Kirk, it is hard to see why they would let him take it again, 1: because you'll behave differently if you know that it can't be won, so the test becomes unable to measure what it's meant to, and 2: because, as we've seen, it's an invitation to cheat.
The test's a Secret Test of Character already, perhaps letting students take it multiple times just to drive home the idea that a no-win scenario is a real possibility that comes with a life in the command chair—though I wonder how it affects a cadet's score if he or she takes that long to get it. A major theme of both Wrath of Kahn and its sequel Search for Spock were loss. Kirk didn't win the no-win scenario, he just managed to delay his eventual defeat for a few decades; he didn't believe that he could loose until he lost his best friend, his son, his ship, and his career.
It's highly unlikely that every other test they have at the Academy has a 100% success rate. You fail a mission and you go back and review your performance, examine the scenario, think outside the box, etc. to learn from your mistake. You retake the test to apply what you learned and see if your solutions work. With the Kobayashi Maru the trick is that there are no winning solutions. Don't believe them? Try again and see. The lesson is to teach these over-achieving, Type A personality command track cadets that no matter how good you, your crew or your ship are, there are situations where you cannot succeed. It's recognizing the difference between "Nobody has ever beat this mission." (implying no one has yet found the solution and that if you're good enough you might be the one to beat it) and "This mission literally cannot be beaten." It's to teach cadets that the only way to "beat" the no-win scenario is to avoid it in the first place—in this case that means not entering the Neutral Zone to rescue the eponymous ship.
Even then that is a loss. The purpose of the test is to confront a captain with a true no-win scenario: try to rescue the ship, and your entire crew is killed in a surprise attack. Leave the ship behind, and you have consigned roughly 300 people to a slow, agonizing death as they either suffocate or get caught by Klingons. The closest there ever was to a 'real' victory was Mackenzie Calhoun, who blew up the ''Maru'' because he thought it was a trap.
Ah, but Saavik is explicitly told that it is a no-win scenario, that it cannot be beaten, and the purpose of the test is disclosed to her plainly. In her case at least, retaking it would be useless for all involved, since it would no longer be testing anything meaningful.
Actually Saavik is the one who complains that it was a no-win scenario, it's not pointed out to her, Kirk merely runs with her implication when he critiques her critique of the test.
Everyone is told it's a no-win scenario once they've failed it. The difference is that Vulcans would take that lesson to heart rather than Kirk's approach of having too big an ego to even consider being in a no-win scenario. You don't have to retake it, but they apparently don't stop you from doing so either.
There are two constants to the Kobayashi Maru test: that it is unwinnable, and that it involves trying to save a ship named the Kobayashi Maru that is in distress; everyone knows these two things. Everything else about the test changes either from year to year or cadet to cadet, in ways that are either subtle or major. (In the most recent movie, note that Spock has been putting the test together for the last several years, thus implying that it changes at least on a yearly basis.) In fact, in the TNG episode where Wesley is shown being put through tests for Starfleet, the overall scenario and message is the exact same as that of the Kobayashi Maru... he's put in an unwinnable situation where he can't save everyone and has to make the best decision out of a lot of very hard ones. This would actually tie in to something from one of the "Shatnerverse" novels, where a modern Starfleet officer refers to Kirk as the first person to pass the Kobayashi Maru. Kirk's a bit surprised that other people have passed it, whereupon she explains that it's no longer a test about how you'll do in a no-win scenario... it's a hacking test, judging your ability to gain access to the system and what you'll do when you do, and pretty much everyone passes it now. Presumably the actual no-win scenario test of character is something else now, like what Wesley went through.
How exactly does Khan recognize Chekov? Space Seed was a first-season episode, and Chekov didn't show up until the second season...
There are episodes of TOS with Chekov in them that have earlier Stardates than Space Seed. The episodes aren't necessarily in chronological order. Thus we know he was on the ship, even if he doesn't appear in the episode itself. From there it's easy to assume the encounter simply happened off-screen.
In the DVD Commentary Nicholas Meyer acknowledges this problem, but takes a 'Meh, screw it' attitude towards it, finding the needs of the plot more important than the continuity gaff. Walter Koenig, however, suggested that Chekov was aboard Enterprise during Space Seed, but didn't have a bridge post yet. He also gave a bit of amusing backstory for how the two met: Khan needed to use the bathroom, but had to wait because Chekov was in there, and he was taking his sweet time. Apparently, Khan was still holding a grudge. It reached This Is Unforgivable levels when Khan realised that Chekov expended all the toilet paper too.
The Genesis Device
The Genesis Planet
Just one thing that I've never settled. When the Genesis Device is activated at the end, how does a single, Miranda-class starship have enough mass to be reworked into an average-size M class planet?
The nebula provided the necessary mass.
Yeah, it kinda looks like it is drawing in matter from the entire sector. Also explains why the Enterprise would need warp power to escape.
Yeah, notice the nebula disappears when the explosion goes off.
It wouldn't even need to be the entire nebula. Nebulae contain a LOT of mass. Like enough mass to form many MANY stars. There would be more than enough gas there to convert into solid matter to form one planet. Now the star that genesis was orbiting had to be the same star that Regulus was orbiting. The genesis device probably couldn't create a star too, although all it takes is gravity to turn nebula gas into a star...
Yeah, the Mutara Nebula was probably the molecular cloud of a star that had already formed.
No matter how you think about it, the creation of the Genesis planet is awfully convenient. After all, turning nebula mass into planetary matter isn't what Genesis was designed to do. It just... happened to work exactly right. And the planet happened to be the correct distance from the star to maintain the right kind of life. All this is just luck?
We don't *know* they didn't design it to work with nebulas. All we know is that they were going to do the original test on a dead planet.
The fact that Marcus's briefing makes no reference to nebulas tells us that it was not designed to have anything to do with them.
The Genesis Device seems to be half guesswork and half accident on the part of its own designers. Even they don't seem to fully comprehend how the damn thing works, they're constantly shocked at their own creation. Considering that it's Star Trek, it's entirely possible some scientist said "Well, I crosswired a bunch of the latest tech together in a configuration that seemed logical to me. But we'll have to turn it on to see what it does."
Well, there was the whole "proto-matter scandal". On one hand, David seemed fully aware of what the problem was, implying he knew this was a possibility. On the other hand, it's so vaguely explained that it could be exactly this.
Dr. Carol Marcus says that the Genesis Device takes a "moon or other dead form" and transforms that "dead moon" into "a living, breathing planet", implying that a planet is differentiated from a moon by the ability to sustain life.
At the time the movie was made, there was no technical definition for "planet". It took a big group of scientists to do that, and it resulted in Pluto getting the boot (and America's hearts!) It's not unreasonable to assume that Federation scientists agreed that a "planet" was a habitable body of a certain size (gas giants are habitable for some Star Trek critters), and by the time of The Next Generation, had somehow changed the meaning.
Frankly, I would be more concerned with the fact that the Genesis Device can apparently make any planet/asteroid/moon/rock/whatever into a habitable biome regardless of distance from its sun, gravitational force, or mineral components. Come on... really? Granted, I usually let this slide because Wrath of Khanis otherwise so awesome.
This is implicitely untrue based solely on the plot of the movie. If all they needed was a lifeless planet to test on, they wouldn't have needed Reliant to go find one. Lifeless planets are everywhere. The frustration the Reliant crew shows at the beginning of the movie when their candidate planet shows possible life signs is another strong indicator that it can't be just any planet. Logically they are looking for a lifeless planet that is inside the 'sweet spot' of a solar system where life can be supported if it were introduced artificially. Finding a lifeless planet within life-supporting distance of a star is going to be much harder in the Star Trek universe where life is found all over the place.
Again, the people who made the Genesis Device are less scientists and more scienticians. I'm sure someone could, or has, come up with a technobabble explanation for it... perhaps the Genesis Device tailors an environment that produces more heat for a planet that would be too far away from its sun, or adds atmospheric gasses that deflect more light and heat if it's too close, or... I don't know, it's Star Trek, hard science has less of a place in it than a McDonalds has in a Buddhist temple. Besides, worked for Firefly.
Pretty simple, really. The commonly used terms of "planet" and "moon" evoke images of life-bearing and barren, respectively. Hell, even among Sci-Fi types, nearly 30 years later, people don't get that the planet that they destroy the second Death Star shield generator was a moon around a lifeless gas giant. The gas giant was Endor, the moon was never actually named.
It was called "the forest moon of Endor" and "the sanctuary moon" in the film itself, which makes it even more annoying when people keep calling the moon itself Endor.
Well, the line "A small rebel force has penetrated the shield and landed on Endor" didn't help matters.
Same for the location of the rebel base in the first movie. The base is often said to be on the planet Yavin when it's really on Yavin IV, the fourth moon of the gas giant Yavin.
If the forest moon is the only remarkable aspect of Endor, it makes perfect sense to just shorten references to the moon to "Endor" in casual conversation. Basically, is the only reason to go there to visit the forest moon? Yes? Then everyone would know that when you say "I'm going to Endor" you mean "I'm going to the forest moon of Endor".
Possibly Carol mentions using it on a moon because that's what she hopes Genesis technology will ultimately be used for: to turn the lifeless moons of inhabited planets into additional living space for those planets' populations. We know that Earth is crowded enough that by Picard's time, they'll be considering the construction of a whole new continent to provide room for more people; if Genesis had worked out, Carol might've been able to avert that need by turning our own Luna into a green world. (Granted, there are probably already settlements there in Kirk's time, but those people could be evacuated during the Genesis wave that would obviate their need for pressure domes and so forth.)
How Hard Could it Be to Find a Dead Rock?
The Reliant has been looking for a lifeless space body on which to test the Genesis device. "So far, no success." Is it really that hard to find a planet or moon that's completely lifeless? As of 2010, we've yet to find a single planet other than Earth that has life.
If you go by actual science, the Reliant had to find a lifeless space body that existed in a location that would provide ideal conditions for carbon-based life: the Goldilocks zone. Not too close or too far from its parent star. One could probably use the Genesis device on mercury or pluto, but any life generated there would burn or freeze to death in short order. It's possible in the trek universe that most known planets in Goldilocks zones are already host to life of SOME kind.
Alternatively, the scanners are picking up what may be just 'a speck of pre-animate matter' but which turns out to be Khan and several of his followers and a ship about a quarter the size of the Enterprise. Really, speck?
There are two possibilities. Terrell ask if it's possible the ship's sensors were out of adjustment, and even if they were, it's possible the constant sandstorms were disrupting their sensor readings.
I, the original poster, have since bought the novelization, and its explanation is: It's even more complicated than we thought. The test planet has to be of the right size, orbiting the right kind of star, within the star's biosphere, and in a star system otherwise uninhabited. Ceti Alpha V was the sixteenth planet they surveyed.
If "in a star system otherwise uninhabited" was one of the criteria, then why didn't Chekov remind anyone that there was a community of marooned outlaw Augments living on (so far as he knew) Ceti Alpha VI?
Forgot About Our WMD
As the main characters frequently point out, Genesis is the most powerful weapon in probably the whole galaxy. Why wasn't this technology dug up and weaponized by the Federation for its later wars? There wouldn't have been a Wolf 359 or Dominion War if Federation starships could just do Genesis at their targets.
At the end of the third movie, everyone with the potential knowledge to recreate Genesis is either dead, or has no desire to share its secrets with Starfleet. It's given a brief Shout-Out in Voyager as something deemed too dangerous to exist (remember, if we've got it, it's only a matter of time before they've got it too; see also atomic weapons).
"Genesis was perfectly named— the creation of life, not death." Sarek hit it on the nose in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (although he was incorrect in saying it was the Klingons who first shed blood to possess its secrets). Only bad people would use the Genesis device as a weapon.
Incidentally, I noticed that Klingon line, too, but I actually wondered if that wasn't the official Federation story as to what happened with Genesis. Starfleet Command looked at the facts: a known war criminal who we marooned rather than bringing to justice, and never bothered to check up on, hijacked a heavily-armed Federation starship, which he used to attack a science station and a Constitution-class battlecruiser, and steal what was potentially the most powerful weapon of mass destruction ever built; and decided it was better for everyone if Klingons did it.
Aside from Carol Marcus, everyone involved with Project Genesis is dead and all their data was lost when the Genesis Device destroyed Reliant and Regula 1. Once they knew it wouldn't work as a terraforming tool, there's no way the Federation would give funding to develop it as a weapon of mass destruction. The other problem is that if the Federation had the technology at the Battle of Wolf 359 and defeated the Borg, that would have made them even more determined to assimilate the Federation to get that knowledge.
Because it isn't. Bones is horrified by the device's destructive potential, but what the hell does he know about weapons of mass destruction? A Federation starship even in the 2280s could probably wipe out all life on a planet just using photon torpedoes, or setting off some kind of phlebotinum reaction in the atmosphere. Contrary to popular opinion, there is more to creating a usable weapon that simply the ability to make really big explosions. Alternatively, Starfleet may simply have decided that the technology is too powerful and too unstable to use in starship combat. It's revealed in Star Trek III that the device uses Protomatter, a rediculously unstable energy source, to fuel the Genesis Reaction.
That explanation is basically confirmed in the Genesis Wave series of novels: Starfleet realized that if the Borg ever assimilated Genesis technology and combined it with their transwarp network, it would be Game Over for the galaxy.
TOS established that at the very least the Constitution-class Federation starships of the 2260s could render a planet uninhabitable (and since Starfleet has bothered to make a General Order specifically to order that — one that Scotty quickly recognises from memory — it can be expected it's not just the Connies that can do that). So, indeed, the destructive potential is far from unprecedented.
Federation ships might have to do it in a more calculated way... firing phasers at fault lines, picking specific targets with torpedoes, detonating special warheads high in the atmosphere. Which is pretty different than "Press button, cause genocide." Also, there's the whole matter of "render uninhabitable"... if you use the Genesis Device, not only do you destroy the enemy, but hey look! A nice, habitable planet that retains all of the old one's strategic value! How thoughtful!
Is a device that works on planetary surfaces going to be especially useful in space battles anyway? For all we know it might be impossible to use it against a fleet target because of some interplay of gravitational effects or materials present or something. If so, since the Federation aren't customarily interested in razing inhabited planets (themselves usually covered by orbital defences), it's not actually very useful as a weapon.
The Genesis wave may be incapable of penetrating shields; the Enterprise had no shields in the Mutara Nebula. And it can't catch ships with a warp drive. And as noted above, starships can devastate planets anyway. Combined with the Protomatter and the unknown cost and complexity of setting it up, and it may just not have been effective enough to override the Federation's ethical objections to using it.
Another factor to consider: using a weapon against the Borg lets you kill a few of them (or a few ships) but then they adapt to it. The absolute last thing the Federation needs on its hands is a Borg Collective that is capable of tossing Genesis torpedoes around.
Given that the Federation and the Klingon Empire are getting along pretty well at the start of TNG, and the Klingons were absolutely livid about Genesis's existence in the Kirk-era movies, it's likely that an outright ban on all research into Genesis was one of the stipulations of their improved Picard-era relationship. We know the Federation sticks to such agreements with regards to not equipping their fleet with cloaking devices; Genesis weaponry, like the genetic augmentation of sapients, is probably another thing that's banned by their equivalent of a Geneva Convention.
Kirk needs to go through some procedure to show a Star Fleet Captain and a Veteran Medical Officer some classified information that obviously neither of them knew. Earlier, Chekov and Terrell are sickeningly persuaded to tell Khan what they were doing on the planet. Terrell, an officer with an equal rank of Spock, Star ship captain, and his commanding officer, would presumably know nothing about the Genesis project. They were, after all, at the disposal of the scientists, so if they were curious what it was Starfleet had them working on for the scientists, the scientists easily could have (and in the case of David, probably would have) simply told them that they didn't need to know. If anything, all they would have known was that it created life. This is presumably all that they would have known, since Spock is really only guessing (correctly, as it turns out) what the Genesis Device would do to living people, and since Khan allegedly has a superior intelect, then presumably, he would have made the same unusual leap in logic, presumably. But that still leaves the bizzare nature of how the officers on the Reliant all knew what was going on. For all we know, they were just given very strange orders like "find a completely lifeless planet."
Or it's quite possible that Terrell was fully briefed, since his ship was assigned long-term to the project.
I'd assume that Terrell knew more than Spock did because the project was relevant to Terrell's orders, while Spock was doing something entirely unrelated.
Exactly: Chekov's log entry specifies that they're looking for a Genesis test site.
It's just like classification is handled now, there are two factors determining whether a person can be told classified info; security clearance, and need-to-know. Spock and Terrell could have the exact same clearance level, but Spock simply doesn't have a reason why he should know about Genesis, while Terrell has a very good reason to know about it.