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New Star Trek Villain: An Examination and Reveal! (Maybe)

New Star Trek Villain: An Examination and Reveal! (Maybe)
Nik Heimach
“You think your world is safe. It is an illusion. A comforting lie to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned. To have. My. Vengeance.”


I am a nerd: to begin with.  If you haven’t suspected from some of my articles, there is no doubt about that.  If there’s one thing you will take from going forward, it is that inescapable truth.  Now, a nerd wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) claim this fact, for true nerds need no social verification.  We are born of an individual and insatiable passion which we may or may not choose to share among likeminded enthusiasts.  But if unknown to you, dear reader, it must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come from this speculative story.

Star Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ fantastic reboot of the Star Trek franchise.  Abrams, the man behind Alias, Lost, Fringe, Super 8, Cloverfield and the recent Mission Impossible movies, is currently dominating Hollywood with his trademark style and fan-boy inducing bravado. But as anyone who has dabbled in Lost knows, if there is one thing he loves more than fan service, it’s his mysteries.

Brand New Trailer:

Which brings us to John Harrison, the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness.  Played by the stellar Benedict Cumberbatch, Harrison is, according to the actor, a man with “extraordinary physical powers, but also mental powers.  He can sow an idea, which is as powerful as gunshots or close-hand combat, which he’s masterful in.  He tears into the fabric of both the world and the Enterprise family, and he leaves behind him a trail of devastation.”

There’s just one problem: he is not John Harrison.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Mystery Villain

There is no John Harrison in the Star Trek universe.  Ever since the sequel was announced, Abrams et al. have kept the tightest of lids on the plot and characters, straight out refusing to answer any and all questions surrounding the film’s villain.  After dropping the first trailer, they began an underground campaign all but confirming that Harrison as a faux identity, asking “Who is John Harrison?”

Luckily for you, I am an aforementioned nerd.  As such, one perk of nerdyism is the power to spend ridiculous amounts of time researching, analyzing and synthesizing seemingly insignificant information in order to solve the mysteries of our beloved franchises.  Star Trek, it’s your turn.  After days of sleuthing, I’ve narrowed it down to three potential candidates for the film’s villain.  Read on, and brag to your friends that it was you who knew all along.


What we know:

This movie takes place after the events in Star Trek (2009).  This means it is a continuation of the alternate-universe timeline, a fact best kept in mind when considering the possibilities for familiar characters with different histories/motivations.

The trailers only give us a few key details.  First and foremost, this villain is one vengeful S.O.B.  He is shown leaping and taking out redshirts with extraordinary strength, sitting in the Enterprise’s captain’s chair, wrecking havoc upon Earth and monologue-ing like a superior to his soon-to-be subjects.

“Seriously, just tell us who the villain is.”
Film’s official synopsis: When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Key quotes from the trailers:

Admiral Pike – “You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that.  And you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”

John Harrison, aka mystery villain – “Is there anything you would not do for your family?” “I have returned to have my vengeance.”


Why it’s Khan

If there is one Star Trek villain known to the masses, it is Khan.  Made famous in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan Noonien Singh is a genetically modified superhuman who has plenty of reason to want vengeance on Kirk.

“Ahem, my eyes are up here…”

– Background: Khan and his superhuman friends were discovered by Kirk and co. in suspended animation aboard the SS Botany Bay.  Khan, who used to be a supreme leader of sorts, attempted to take the Enterprise for himself, granting him and his colleagues a one-way-ticket to maroonville on a hostile planet.  Because of Kirk’s decision to leave them to their own demise, Khan had to fend for himself and his people for years, enduring the harsh environment and watching his wife die before his eyes.  Hence the “wrath.”

– Open the pod-bay doors, Khan: In the trailers, we see a shot of what appears to be a funeral, followed by some coffins.  Only upon closer examination, we see they aren’t coffins at all.  They are life-support pods.  10 to 1 Khan is sleeping in one of those.


 Genetically modified: In the trailer, we see our villain exhibiting strength beyond general human constraints.  One could say it is superhuman strength (see: Background).

– The name “Harrison”: is the name of a character in Khan’s only episode, “Space Seed.” Could Benedict Cumberbatch’s “John Harrison” simply be a pawn of Khan?

– Khan lives: A few years ago, J.J. Abrams said Kahn is definitely alive and villainous in this Trek universe.

– The hand shot: As most Trekkie’s were quick to point out, this shot is extremely reminiscent of the final moment between *SPOILER ALERT* Kirk and Spock before Spock’s death in The Wrath of Khan.


– “What would you do for your family…”: As mentioned before, Khan’s wife died while marooned.  She’s kind of a big deal for him.  Could Khan have conceived a child with her in this universe, or better yet, may she still be alive?

– Dr. Carol Marcus: is a confirmed character in Star Trek Into Darkness, who first showed up in The Wrath of Khan.

– DVD Commentary Hint: In the Star Trek DVD commentary, the filmmakers said they considered adding SS Botany Bay, Khan’s ship, as a Marvel-esq after-the-credits-hint for what’s to come.

– Benecio del Toro: was up for the role, along with other prominent Latin-American actors, reminiscent of Khan actor Ricardo Montalban.


Why it’s Gary Mitchell

Gary Mitchell was the tragic product of the Enterprise crew’s fallibility.  A member of Starfleet and one of Kirk’s friends, Mitchell represents the consequence of Kirk’s smash-and-grab, “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios” action.

Gary Mitchell taunting Kirk with a “Come at me, bro.”

– Background: An old friend of Kirk’s from the Academy, Gary Mitchell was in Star Trek’s (second) pilot episode, back in 1965.  Because Kirk was still a relative newbie when it came to being captain, he ordered an investigation into a missing starship that had YOU PROBABLY SHOULD STAY AWAY THIS IS A BAD IDEA written all over it.  So much so that when our heroes found the ship, the only survivor activates a self-destruct mechanism in a last ditch effort of SERIOUSLY, BAD IDEA GUYS.  Regardless, further investigation led the Enterprise crew face first into a mysterious magnetic field that killed nine and knocked Gary Mitchell unconcious.

When he awoke, Mitchell discovered he had telekinetic and telepathic powers.  After he displayed his god-like awesomeness, Kirk decided a threat such as this could not be allowed on his ship, so he marooned Gary Mitchell on another planet.  Furious, Mitchell began to wreck all kinds of havoc, forcing Kirk to put him down, Ol’ Yeller style.

-Mental and Physical powers: Mitchell is a force to be reckoned with, and Cumberbatch has stressed in recent interviews that he is a man with immense mental power, tactically or otherwise.

-Gary Mitchell is in Starfleet: The synopsis says that the Enterprise crew “find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization.”  Boom.  Gary Mitchell.

-Karl Urban, who plays Dr. McCoy, said so: During a press tour for Dredd 3D, he said Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic, adding “I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary.”

-Like Khan, Mitchell is confirmed to exist: The difference, however, is that Gary Mithell was already featured in the IDW Countdown to Darkness comic-book series, which follows the film universe.  He died during his run, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come back with mind-bullets a-blazing in the movie.

-Again, the hand shot: If this shot ISN’T between Spock and Kirk, it’s between Spock and someone he cares about.  Unless it’s some long lost Vulcan friend, it’s Gary Mitchell.

-Admiral Pike’s Warning: In the one of the trailers, Pike’s voiceover warns Kirk “You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that.  And you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”  Gary Mitchell is the result of Kirk’s mistake.

-Theme: Of all the possible villains in the Star Trek universe, Gary Mitchell best fits this movie’s potential themes.  Vengence?  Kirk marooned him after indirectly causing him to become a demigod of celestial prowess.  A personal score to settle with someone within their own organization?  Mitchell went to school and was good friends with Kirk.  Mistakes and consequences for your actions? …seriously, you’ve been reading this, right?

-“Unnamed Source” from 2010: Two years ago, before any trailers or hints led us to suspect Mitchell, claimed an unnamed source close to the production told them it wasn’t Khan, adding “It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS (the original series) excited.  Think along the lines of Harry Mudd, or Trelane, or Gary Mitchell, or the Talosians, or the Horta.  Actually, it’s one of those that I named.”  You can read a synopsis of each here, but suffice to say it’s definitely not Mudd, Trelane, Talosians, or the Hota.  It’s GARY FREAKING MITCHELL.


Why it’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Forget that Picard is 72 years younger than Kirk.  Forget that they are from different Star Treks.  Forget everything you know, because the giant-mega-brainbusting secret behind Star Trek Into Darkness is that Picard exists alongside Kirk, and the once beloved captain is now Kirk’s greatest foe.

SPOILER ALERT 2.0: I’m about to Sherlock Holmes everything you thought you knew about Star Trek Into Darkness.

“It’s elementary, my dear reader.”

A red herring is a narrative strategy utilized to be so distracting, it throws an audience completely off track the true twist, yet to be revealed.  It is the equivalent of leading readers/viewers with a delicious slice of fan-boy meat in order to elicit a false conclusion.  Subtle hints that it is Khan?  An actor “accidently” letting slip that it is Gary Mitchell?  Please.  This is a classic Lost mystery.  We are not such sheep, J.J. Abrams.  We are lions, and we we’re on to you!

Listen to this trailer again.  Just listen.  At first, I thought that was the voice of Patrick Stewart, who played Picard.  Then, I realized that IS Patrick Stewart, if Patrick Stewart was young again.  At this point it dawned on me: Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t naturally sound like that at all.  He adapted his voice to the depths of youthful wickedness that is new Picard.

J.J. Abrams and writer David Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek, Prometheus) have created a universe where anything is possible.  They hit the giant red “timeline reset” button in Star Trek with the black hole story, and with it, they can pull any character from the universe and say, “Well, since old Spock followed Nero back in time and changed things, yaddayaddayadda, dues ex machina.”

If there is one argument among Trekkies, it is who was the better captain, Kirk or Picard.  So why not give them an ultimate showdown?  Portraying Picard as a man lost in time, once a hero, now desperately fighting to reclaim his family/crew would make THE MOST RELATABLE VILLAIN OF ALL TIME.

Now, I don’t exactly have much evidence to back me up on this.  All I have is a tweet from writer/producer Damon Lindelof, shown below.

What I do have is rampant nedryism, and with it the power of unnecessary speculation, coupled with the hope that, of these three, one is bound to be right.

One of these three is right.

And that one is Gary Mitchell.


Or Khan.



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