Star Trek: Strange New Worlds highlights what would happen without Khan Noonien Singh.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds tackled a long-standing thought experiment; if you could go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler as a child, thus preventing the Holocaust, would you? The answer isn’t as easy as you’d think, as there’s a belief that if Hitler didn’t do what he did, someone or something would’ve come along and done much worse. It’s an interesting experiment and one that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds looked into.
In the episode “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”, La’an Noonien Singh ended up back in time, confronting a young Khan Noonien Singh with the opportunity to kill him. La’an is a descendent of the future despot, and resents his legacy, for good reason. Khan was very much like Hitler, as Khan believed in a “better world” full of people just like him. People who were augmented and therefore “better” than the rest.
Khan’s rise in power would lead to the Eugenics War and later the Third World War. These events ended up being the reason that Earth and Vulcan started a partnership, why Starfleet was formed, and how we got to the point where the likes of Christoper Pike, James Kirk, and Jean-Luc Picard became the heroes they were.
Without those wars, the Federation doesn’t come to power and the Alpha Quadrant is kept in a state of chaos, with Vulcan and Romulus engaged in a brutal war. With no Khan, the Federation doesn’t form.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds nails the time travel element with Khan Noonien Singh
Without Khan, the Alpha Quadrant isn’t the bastion of hope that it becomes. But that’s not why La’an opts not to kill her ancestor. She opts to not kill him because, at the time of the episode, he’s just an innocent child, afraid for his life. While she knows Khan’s future, when they meet he’s just an innocent child. And she knows killing him would save millions if not billions, but also doom everything she ever knew.
She was presented with an impossible choice, as either way, lives would end. If Khan died, the Alpha Quadrant falls into chaos, the Vulcans fall to a genocide at the hands of the Romulans, thus erasing them from existence, and of course off-screen, there were the Klingons who would end up probably being a far bigger threat than they already were.
Just like with Hitler, who knows what unintended consequences would come up from his premature death? The United States was in a state of economic collapse that the second world war helped drag them out of. If Hitler never rises to power, does the United States fall in on itself? And if that happens, what other events change?
It’s a tough question to tackle, but the folks at Strange New Worlds tackled it well. Changing the timeline will always lead to unintended, and disastrous consequences. So while it may be hard to do, letting the timeline play out the way it did is the only right answer. Even if it’s a hard answer to choose.