Saturday, August 23, 2014

Star Trek: The Changeling

It's time for another episode of Star Trek:
The story begins with the crew of the Enterprise discovering that all life in the Malurian system has been killed and, before the opening credits roll, they come under attack.
Spock reports that the weapon that hit them was as powerful as "ninety of our photon torpedoes" and that their shields will hold for another three hits -- a fourth will knock out their shields. That's just plain ridiculous. Even more ridiculous, Kirk orders that they fire a photon torpedo at the attacker and is astonished to hear that it has absorbed the torpedo's energy. Wait, didn't their own shields just do the same thing, but for a weapon 90 times stronger?
They get hit several more times and with his back up against the wall, knowing that his weapons are useless and another hit from the alien will destroy the Enterprise, Kirk finally tries what he should have done right away -- talking to the attacker, a small intelligent alien machine known as Nomad.
Conversation disarms the situation and they beam Nomad aboard, where it promptly asks about their point of origin. Figuring that Nomad would not have any reference points, they agree to show it a diagram of our solar system.
Kirk explains to Nomad that in the 23rd Century Pluto is still a planet.
Nomad figures out that they are from Earth and refers to Kirk as "the creator." We also learn that Nomad's "function is to probe for biological infestations, to destroy that which is not perfect," which explains what happened in the Malurian system.
Kirk and the gang need to figure things out, without Nomad hanging around, so they leave him with an engineering tech (Lieutenant Singh) and have a pow wow. Spock uses the library computer to Google Nomad and we learn a few things. There was a probe called Nomad. It was created by Jackson Roykirk (above),  launched from Earth but it was lost, "presumed destroyed by a meteor collision" and that the Nomad with them now really doesn't look all that much like the original probe (below).
What the heck is a "Coupler Prediction Scanner"?
As they have their meeting Nomad hears Uhura singing over the intercom and goes to the bridge to learn what that's all about. 
Nomad scans and essentially erases Uhura's mind. Oh, and he kills Scotty too. Meanwhile, Kirk, Spock and McCoy seem pretty bored talking about Nomad in the Briefing Room.
They are called to the Bridge where Nomad having killed him now, thankfully, offers to repair the "unit Scott." Nomad can't repair Uhura, but still manages to put in a slam against women (something that happens a lot in TOS), calling them "a mass of conflicting impulses."
Uhrua gets re-educated by Nurse Chapel ("She'll be back on the job within a week.") and Spock mind melds with Nomad. He learns Nomad's back story and its current mission--sterilize imperfections--which proves to be so interesting that Kirk and Spock need to talk about it while Nomad stays under the watchful care of two Red Shirts. What could go wrong?
Oh, yeah. That.

Nomad then tries to improve the efficiency of the Enterprise, pushing their speed past warp 10 (yet, strangely, no one devolves into salamanders) before Kirk calls it off. As he does so, Kirk confesses that he, himself, is a biological unit. Not a good move. Nomad says, "There is much to be considered before I return to launch point. I must re-evaluate." Yeah, Nomad wants to head home where it will find Earth infested with imperfect biological units. That's a problem. Stalling for time, Kirk again tells Nomad to wait with two Red Shirts.
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I'm looking at you James T. Kirk.
Still, Kirk manages to save the day by pointing out that Nomad has made errors, is imperfect and must carry out its prime function. They beam it into space where it explodes and the day is saved (except for the four Red Shirts).

All-in-all, The Changeling is a fun episode as long as one doesn't look too closely. Yes, it is another in the series of Kirk vs. Computer episodes, but the many of the basic plot points were evidently good enough to be lifted for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (but that's another story).

There was no new music written for this episode. So, instead, you should totally check out this song by the band Five Year Mission:

Next up, The Apple.

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