13

In Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, David reveals that he used "Protomatter" to build the genesis device in this exchange with Lt. Saavik:

DAVID: I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix.
SAAVIK: Protomatter. An unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable.
DAVID: But it was the only way to solve certain problems.
SAAVIK: So, like your father, you changed the rules.
DAVID: If I hadn't, it might have been years, ...or never!
SAAVIK: How many have paid the price for your impatience? How many have died? How much damage have you done? ...And what is yet to come?

My question concerns the line I've emphasized. If I recall correctly, the answer to the first three questions is an obvious "none." The fact that the planet was made with protomatter doesn't become relevant until it begins to disintegrate, which hasn't happened yet. All the drama and death surrounding the genesis arc doesn't seem to have anything to do with protomatter up to this point.

I understand why Saavik is concerned and critical of his methodology, but why does she jump straight to accusing him of being responsible for death and damage?

I used to interpret this line to mean that the only way David could have acquired or worked with protomatter was something so dangerous that some of his colleagues must have been killed during the process. But now I'm unsatisfied with this interpretation and would like to know if there is a better one.

17

It is not the protomatter itself that Saavik is referring to, it is the rush to complete Project Genesis:

How many have paid the price for your impatience?

The creation of Project Genesis led to the marooning of the USS Reliant crew and the death of, at least, Captain Terrell, the deaths of a significant portion of the Regula I crew, and the loss of the USS Grissom with all hands.

Additionally, there were several casualties aboard the Enterprise, among them, most significantly to Saavik, the deaths of Spock and Peter Preston. It is not surprising, in this context, that Saavik would not see David's urgency in finishing Genesis to justify the ethical lapse it required.

  • 2
    I would add to that, the contention that: if the necessity of using protomatter had been correctly revealed for peer review, the project would not only have been unrushed (ie completed in slower time which would merely have moved the problems on a couple of years), but it might have been simply abandoned as unethical/too dangerous in total. – Simon Bucher-Jones Dec 15 '17 at 9:14
  • 1
    If memory serves correctly: the novelizations address this subject in a lot more detail. – JdeBP Dec 15 '17 at 12:45
  • 2
    You know, it wasn't really David's fault, it was Starfleet's - for not recognizing (or at least not acknowledging) the weapon capability of Genesis, and posting a warship in charge of security. – Chris B. Behrens Dec 15 '17 at 20:34
  • If the Genesis Project had been competed years later, maybe the search for a test planet would have begun years later, and maybe different star systems would have been searched. Maybe Ceti Alpha would never have been visited and khan Khan would never have escaped. – M. A. Golding Dec 16 '17 at 3:28
  • This claim is absurd. David is not responsible for releasing Khan nor for the Klingons coming. But for their own deaths on the dying planet he might be. – Joshua Jul 23 '18 at 15:40
0

I've always taken that as a rebuke of something very dire for David: apathy. If David hadn't been there, he certainly wouldn't have experienced (or possibly cared) about the fates of those he had ensnared. While you can't directly blame him for Khan or the USS Grissom, a lot of people died as an indirect result of his actions. It's only once David himself is ensnared as well that he is able to hear Saavik's chastisement.

There's also a broader implication here: the wasting of resources.

While money might not be a thing in the Federation, there's still finite resources. I'm willing to bet that David and his mother (who had pitched the idea to the Federation council) had to make sure it worked in some fashion for the pitch (i.e. "overcome certain problems"). Maybe they thought they could overcome the problems after they got support. It's the old problem of the ends justifying the means.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.