The Wrath of Khan: The Warmth of Khan

So, I was all sorts of prepared to watch a movie with Khan being all super angry about the first time he met up with Kirk and about which I barely posted anything besides a sonnet. What that means is I was unprepared for the subtle way in which Marla McGivers was everything to Khan:

  • Before she meets Khan, she doesn’t think any man alive is man enough (not even Kirk).
  • When she eventually goes with Khan into exile, he calls her a superior woman.
  • Seeing Khan in the film, he has an old Starfleet medallion around his neck. These were not part of the original uniform, but if you look you’ll see it’s worn and tarnished.
  • Khan refers again and again in the film to his beloved wife whose death he blames on Kirk. He never explicitly states that Marla is his wife, but I looked it up and that was the original intention of everyone behind the production.
  • Khan quotes Moby Dick more than anyone needs to quote Moby Dick, ever. Obviously, this is to point out that Khan has been driven to madness by believing Kirk took his wife Marla away from him, just as Ahab was driven to madness by the whale taking something vital to his agency (consider the use of the word “dick” in the book’s title).
  • The starship Khan takes over just happens to be called Reliant, a terrible name for a vessel (objectively speaking). Reliance can mean either that you are in a state of relying on something or that you are something that is relied upon. Being reliant just means that you are relying on something, you need something, as in Khan needing Marla to make sense of his existence. Let us remember that as an Augment, Khan is genetically enhanced physically and mentally. It would be illogical to think that his enhanced brain would not then experience enhanced emotions.

So, today’s sonnet is written from the perspective of Khan speaking about his beloved wife in the most superior of terms.

Her beauty was the fire of awe,
her eye cast men below her heel,
her words fell with the force of law,
and she was wrought to outspend steel.
Above the rest was she upheld
as — with a grace unparalleled —
she eased me of all earthly strife
and taught me to take heart in life.
Her kindness was my rock and star;
she sowed the seed humility
with all its fallibility,
a course for which some are not par.
On her my hope, my trust relied;
now, this wild hell spreads far and wide.