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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 37: The Changeling » User review

Another episode of technology gone wild

  • Aug 5, 2004
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The Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of all life in the Malurian system when it suddenly comes under attack. The attacker is very powerful, and the Enterprise shields are battered with energy bursts until they fail. Suddenly, after Captain Kirk attempts to communicate with the attacker, the attack ends. It is a small mechanical device that calls itself Nomad. After investigation, Spock learns that a probe called Nomad was launched from Earth many years ago and that a man named Jackson Roy Kirk was the designer. However, this device is significantly different from the original, which had a mission to simply make contact with new life. When asked, Nomad tells them about the "other." After melding with it, Spock surmises that Nomad collided with another probe whose mission was to sterilize planets as a prelude to colonization. Somehow, the combination of the two probes was able to repair itself and then proceed on a new mission to destroy life (biological imperfections) on planets.
As Nomad learns more about the Enterprise, it announces that it is going to return to Earth. Kirk and crew grow more desperate in their attempts to control Nomad, as it kills some security men and Scotty. Fortunately, Nomad is able to repair Scotty but tells Kirk that his biological units are flawed. Kirk then errs when he tells Nomad that he is flawed and created Nomad. This starts a cycle where Nomad starts questioning Kirk, but finally Kirk uses logic to stress the circuits of Nomad. Since its' mission is to seek out and destroy imperfections and Nomad is imperfect for having made the error of thinking Kirk is the creator, Kirk argues that Nomad must commit suicide to remove the imperfection. It is beamed off the Enterprise right before it self-destructs.
This is one more of the episodes based on technology gone wild and the premise was used again in the creation of Vy'ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While there is reason to wonder if aliens may encounter our spacecraft and use the information against humans, the idea that a probe would somehow fuse with an alien craft and get off mission is a bit farfetched. Nevertheless, it is a very intense episode, well acted, especially by the main three characters. However, the performance of Nichelle Nichols as a brain-wiped Uhura was weak and the "revelation" that she could be reeducated overplayed. In terms of quality, I rank it in the middle of the episodes in the original series.
While I enjoyed the episode, the one point that puzzled me is why Spock never asked Nomad to download the contents of its' memory tapes. As science officer, Spock should have been highly interested in all the data Nomad had accumulated, which would have been of great scientific value. It also would have added an element of realism that was sorely needed.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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After destroying 4 billion people in the Malurian star system, a 21st- century NASA probe calledNomad--carrying friendly greetings to whatever unknown, extraterrestrial race might find it--has a violent encounter with theEnterprise, nearly blowing the starship out of space. Hoping to sidestep another attack, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) invite the diminutive, computer-driven, impossibly powerful spacecraft aboard to learn how its peaceful mission was supplanted by a program to destroy life. Written by John Meredyth Lucas, who was intrigued by the idea of a sentient, almost godlike machine that turns against its creator, "The Changeling" transcends, fortunately,Star Trek's cash-strapped special effects department to become a compelling drama. (Let's just say thatNomadlooks like a cross between the Tin Woodman and a 1960s beach radio.) Particularly memorable is Spock's mind-melding scene withNomad, in which the Vulcan is shaken by the probe's chaotic memories of being captured by a machine planet and given destructive impulses. FrequentTrekdirector Marc Daniels was particularly proud of the way his crew madeNomadappear capable of independent movement: There was one model for hanging from a wire, a second for standing on a floor, and a third for riding on a dolly (to get a sinister, point-of-view traveling shot). If "The Changeling" sounds vaguely familiar, it should: The script was rewritten as the basis forStar Trek: The Motion Picture.--Tom ...
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Studio: CBS Paramount International Television

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