FAN THEORY: How Would Picard Have Handled Khan?

Khan and Picard

CBS Khan and Picard

Captains Jean-Luc Picard and James T. Kirk were both legends in their own times. Kirk was a swashbuckling cowboy who flew by the seat of his pants and made up his own rules. Picard was a more thoughtful leader who often tried to use words instead of firing all phasers. In their only encounter, Kirk (William Shatner) sacrificed himself to beat Dr. Tolian Soran, save Picard (Patrick Stewart), and the ‘universe.’

Since nearly 100 years separated the time of Kirk and Picard, it took the mysterious Nexus phenomenon to bring them together. By this time, Kirk had defeated Khan not once but twice. 

Khan Noonien Singh proved to be such a fierce enemy that he hunted Kirk in two universes, the Prime and the ‘Kelvin.’ And even though Khan was just genetically a little better than the average human, he outranked a god (Q) as the greatest villain in Trek history.

Space Seed

Star Trek – Space Seed dinner scene2019-03-30T20:05:44Z

But recently, a “Star Trek” fan wondered, with a post on Facebook, what would happen if Picard had been the one to welcome Khan back to the world of the living? What if Khan’s ship, the S.S. Botany Bay, silently drifted past Kirk’s Enterprise, and the episode “Space Seed” never happened? What if the Botany Bay was found instead by the Enterprise-D?

The story of what happened during the episode “Space Seed” is well known. Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and the Enterprise crew found the S.S. Botany Bay floating in space. Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly) resuscitated Khan (Ricardo Montalban), who schemed to take over the Enterprise. 

Kirk eventually realized who Khan was — a genetically engineered ‘superman’ who caused a world war on Earth in the late 20th Century. Khan and his followers were launched into space on the Botany Bay after they were defeated on Earth. 

The Enterprise crew had to battle to maintain control over the ship when Khan’s followers were revived, and they launched their attack. After defeating Khan, Kirk placed the prisoners on the planet Ceti Alpha V. Kirk went on his way and left Khan and the rest to conquer this new planet in peace. As Ceti Alpha VI exploded, that did not happen, knocking Ceti Alpha V out of its orbit. The events that followed were chronicled in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Some fans wagered that if Khan did meet Picard, Riker, Data, and the rest of the team from the Enterprise-D, things would have ended much differently. Here’s the question which started the debate and discussion:

The question that started it:


While others imagine that Khan’s lack of understanding of 24th Century technology would be his undoing:


One fan speculated that having a counselor on board with empathic powers would have warned Picard to Khan’s treachery:


Still, another fan imagined a spectacular three-part series where Worf (Michael Dorn) would have to face Khan in hand-to-hand combat:


Finally, the fans confused the character (Picard) with the actor (Patrick Stewart) several times, as they detailed how Khan would defeat the captain:


Picard Did Reference Khan

Picard speech: comparing Khan to HitlerFrom the episode A Matter of Time: Picard has an extensive conversation about time travel and philosophy, asking the rhetorical question what if you go back in time to save a child's life and they grow up to be the "next Adolf Hitler or Khan Singh."2015-11-11T15:38:15Z

In the episode “A Matter of Time,” Picard matched wits with the time-traveling Professor Berlinghoff Rasmussen (Matt Frewer), he threw the name out.

“Yes, professor, I know,” Picard said. “What if one of those lives I saved down there is a child and grows up to be the next Adolph Hitler or Khan Singh.”

The legend of Khan clearly made an impact on Picard and probably the rest of his crew. The ban on genetic engineering was widely known in the Federation, and explored in the “Deep Space Nine” episode “Doctor Bashir, I Presume.”

Picard and Khan

While Stewart may have never worked with the original Khan (Montalban), he has met the new Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Some even say that Cumberbatch could have been a good Picard had J.J. Abrams ever rebooted the Next Gen cast as well. 

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