Something from Earths past comes back and this time, it’s not friendly. Originally broadcast on September 29, 1967 this is The Changeling.
Captain’s Log Stardate 3541.9
After discovering all life in an entire star system has been eradicated, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise encounter an old Earth probe identifying itself as Nomad. Believing Kirk to be it’s creator, Nomad is stopped from killing the crew but begins investigating the ship to learn more. During it’s investigation it erases Uhura’s memory after scanning her for information and ends up ‘killing’ Scotty. Scotty is revived by Nomad at Kirks command and they soon learn that the space probe was ‘updated’ by an alien probe centuries earlier giving it a dangerous directive in the process. It now believes it’s job is to eradicate all ‘imperfect’ life in the universe. Spock mind melds with the probe and, it learns that, although it believes Kirk is it’s creator, Kirk is imperfect as well and may need to be destroyed.
It soon escapes again and attempts to kill the crew by turning off the ships life support. Kirk, knowing Nomad will eventually reach Earth and could wipe out humanity, begins to question the probe concerning it’s true mission, using the Prime directive and the fact that Nomad mistook Kirk for it’s creator Jackson Roykirk. Nomad realizes that it itself is not perfect and falls into a logic loop. Spock and Scotty are soon able to destroy the prop while it is distracted, freeing the ship from danger.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode is really an absolute classic. While the concept is revisited again at a later date in the form of Star Trek the Motion Picture, this is the first instance of Enterprise encountering an intelligent probe that had found itself ‘corrupted’ by alien influence.
What is most interesting about this episode is that Nomad seems to have a vast intelligence all it’s own and, while it is only defeated by it’s own mechanical nature, it could have been considered a lifeform in and of itself. While this is not something that is fully explored, you have to wonder if the union of Nomad and Tan Ru created something truly special only to be ‘killed’ by the Enterprise crew.
This brings up an interesting thought as, the origin of the Tan Ru remains unknown in the episode, this could indeed have been an early version of V’ger or even connected to other similar species such as the Binars. While the Tan Ru’s original mission was to sterilize soil samples, their union created a fascinating entity that found itself on a mission that went against it’s own original programing. We never learn the origin of the Tan Ru or it’s creators, but I would love some sort of followup exploring just that. Lowerdecks? Maybe this is something you can cover?
Overall, this is a perfectly solid episode that is well worth watching. Nothing overly thought provoking or offensive, just good old fashioned scifi. Interestingly, Unlike most of the other threats Enterprise has encountered so far, this is one of the few to have come from Earth’s own past. Seeing that they have already encountered a people from the past, maybe ships should have a complete record of what was ‘sent out’ from Earth just in case they happen across something else.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- While Uhura’s mind was erased, it is mentioned that she made a full recovery by the end of the episode. Apparently Nomad just gave her temporary amnesia. Interestingly, Uhura reverts back to her native language of Swahili as established earlier in the series.
- Scotty dies in this episode only to be revived again.
- Nomad somehow improves Enterprise’s warp engine efficiency while on board allowing for the ship to exceed warp 11, but it doesnt last long.
- Spock mind melds with a machine for the first time indicating that Nomad does, indeed, have a higher intelligence.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Apple
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Late To The Game 2/23/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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