Star Trek – Space Seed

★★★★★ February 27, 1967 Season 1 Episode 22

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Gene L. Coon, Carey Wilber, and Gene Roddenberry

This is a huge episode, a very important one. It would later have a very famous part II movie in the 1980s. 

The villainous character of Khan Noonien Singh, played perfectly by Ricardo Montalbán in the 1982 motion picture “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan“, was first introduced in this landmark episode. The Enterprise has discovered some remnants of the late 20th century…an old fossil of a ship and its crew, who are in suspended animation.

As it happens, they and their leader Khan were genetically engineered “supermen” and “superwomen” whose need to dominate and control had led to war in the 1990s. The re-awakened Khan is soon back to his old tricks, and the crew have to fight to regain control of the Enterprise.

Star Trek Space Seed

There is a reason they picked this one for the movie. It’s a wonderful episode. The only issue I have with this episode is the portrayal of Marla McGivers. To see her character, a well-educated, empowered female officer, turn into a person that swoons over him and turns into an emotional slave for Khan is aggravating to watch. Yes, she loved the 20th century but I don’t see her doing what she did. 

The fight scene between Kirk and Khan may be my favorite fight scene for the series. Kirk put on some nice moves to avoid getting bashed by Khan’s far superior strength. With HD you can see its stunt men but other than that it was great. 

The star of this episode is no other than Ricardo Montalbán. The way they shot the episode he seems huge and has a great presence. I don’t want to say much…but in the end, Kirk does something that will come back and bite him in 15 years. 

It’s a very good episode. It’s fun watching this episode and then watching the movie right after. 

From IMDB: 

Gene Roddenberry questioned Carey Wilber’s notion of wasting a high-tech spaceship and expensive resources on criminals – just like Kirk and Spock came up with the same question in the story itself – and came up with the concept of “a bunch of Napoleons” self-exiling in space.

Being a first-season episode, Chekov (Walter Koenig) does not appear. Nevertheless, Chekov does appear in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), in which Khan not only meets but instantly recognizes him. Many fan theories subsequently tried to explain where Chekov could have been off-screen during that episode that would cause Khan to remember him. Walter Koenig himself came up with a story, which he likes to recite at conventions, that Khan, during the events of Space Seed, desperately needed to go to the bathroom, but the only toilet he could find was occupied, and when it was opened, Chekov walked out and Khan resolved never to forget Chekov’s face. The Wrath of Khan novelization by Vonda N. McIntyre does officially explain that Chekov was working in Engineering when Khan began his rebellion there (and most of that happened off-camera), and it was because of Chekov’s valiance in resisting that he was promoted to the Bridge for the series’ second season. See also trivia for Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

Carey Wilber used the 18th century British custom of ‘transportation’ (shipping out convicts to the colonies, especially Australia) as a parallel for his concept of “seed ships”, used to take unwanted criminals out to space from the overpopulated Earth (hence the name Botany Bay). In his original treatment, the Botany Bay left Earth in 2096, with 100 criminals (both men and women) and a team of several volunteering lawmen aboard.

The main cast were enthusiastic about working with Ricardo Montalban. DeForest Kelley later said “I enjoyed working with Ricardo the best. I was privileged. He is a marvellous actor.”

Following positive feedback from the producers and the network regarding James Doohan, this was the first episode to feature a more prominent role for Scotty.

Ricardo Montalban called his role as Khan “wonderful”, saying that “it was well-written, it had an interesting concept and I was delighted it was offered to me”.

The first day’s filming coincided with the airing of Star Trek: Balance of Terror (1966), and Marc Daniels allowed the cast and crew to go home early to watch it. The other five days ran to schedule, to the extent that there was an early finish on the final day of filming, allowing cast and crew time to return home to watch a repeat of Star Trek: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1966) which had replaced Star Trek: Arena (1967) on that evening’s schedule.

Ricardo Montalban plays a character who is familiar with the first chapter of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. (“Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”) Oddly enough, that same literary passage contains the word Montalban. This name, which is old-fashioned Spanish for White Mountain, appears in the poem in context where an angels-versus-demons war is compared to a list of great military actions in Earth history. Montalban was a battle site during the Franco-Moorish Wars of the Early Middle Ages.

The creation of the Botany Bay miniature caused the episode to go over budget by more than $12,000. The episode actually cost a total of $197,262 against a budget of $180,000. By this point, the series was nearly $80,000 over budget in total.

This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of the series in the 2008 reference book “Star Trek 101” by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

Ricardo Montalban was always the first choice for Khan. He had been suggested by casting director Joseph D’Agosta, who was not looking to cast an actor of a particular ethnic background due to Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the series; Roddenberry wanted to show his perceived 23rd century values by not requiring any specific ethnicities when casting actors in guest roles.

The Eugenics Wars, and the notion of genetically augmented Humans, has also served as background Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Infinite Vulcan (1973) as well as Star Trek: Enterprise: Borderland (2004), Star Trek: Enterprise: Cold Station 12 (2004), and Star Trek: Enterprise: The Augments (2004).


While on patrol in deep space, the Enterprise comes across an ancient Earth spaceship from the 1990s, the SS Botany Bay. Aboard, they find a group of Earthlings in suspended animation as was used when space voyages might take decades. They revive the group’s leader, a magnetic individual named Khan, and the Enterprise historian Lt. Marla McGivers is obviously attracted to him. Using the Enterprise computers, Kirk and Spock learn that Khan is actually Khan Noonien Singh, once absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth and the product of genetic engineering. But they are too late, Khan and McGivers have gone back to his ship, revived Khan’s crew, and returned to seize control of the Enterprise.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Ricardo Montalban … Khan Noonian Singh
Madlyn Rhue … Lt. Marla McGivers
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Makee K. Blaisdell … Spinelli (as Blaisdell Makee)
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Mark Tobin … Joaquin
Kathy Ahart … Crew Woman
John Winston … Lieutenant Kyle
John Arndt … Ingenieur Fields (uncredited)
Bobby Bass … Guard (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Dick Cangey … Otto (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Lt. Brent (uncredited)
Joan Johnson … Female Guard (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Jan Reddin … Crewwoman (uncredited)
Frieda Rentie … Enterprise Lieutenant (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Harrison (uncredited)
Joan Webster … Nurse (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “Star Trek – Space Seed”

  1. One of the most memorable Star Trek episodes ever. I understand your aggravation at how Khan drew the educated woman in. Charisma and charm come from the same root. I see him as very alluring for not only those two things but his looks and volume of information about the past that Lt. McGivers, the anthropologist? archeologist? would love to know more about. I’m sure if he would have looked and acted like a nerd she still would have been interested, but that type of guy doesn’t fit the profile (at least back then) of a “Superman.” Nowadays computer geeks are the gods 😉 Good info on this and honestly I can’t think of anyone besides Montalban to play that role. Funny stories/fanfic about how Khan knew Chekov (I think I misspelled his name before.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…she did love the 20th century so I guess that was plausible…it was hard to watch though in a way.
      He was the only one to me that is or could be Khan.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too was aggravated (as well as embarrassed) by Marla McGivers portrayal as, ” a well-educated, empowered female officer” who swoons over Khan. I don’t think was realistic without some background explanation. After my first marriage ended, I fell into a very unhealthy relationship with someone a little like Khan. Fortunately it only lasted a year, and I would never have moved in with him and certainly would never have left the Enterprise for him. Poor Marla must have had some hidden psychological vulnerability. I’m glad Star Trek has gotten better over the years in portraying women.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you…I’m glad you felt it also…I knew she loved the 20th Century but no…just no. Sadly I’ve known guys like him…the worse they treat someone…the more the other likes them. It can go either way also.
      But yes…I agree..something deep was wrong. with her. I could not believe she left.


      1. It’s one of those episodes I’d like to rewrite: She had a romantic fling, but then came to her senses in the last minute, right before “energize” and stepped off the transporter pad to remain on the Enterprise.

        Liked by 1 person

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