4/10/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Changeling"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S02E03
Air Date: September 29, 1967
Written by: John Meredyth Lucas
Directed by: Marc Daniels

Premise
The Enterprise is sent to investigate the destruction of a star system with four billion inhabitants and, on their way, they meet the probe, Nomad, who mistakes Kirk for his creator.

Review
So Enterprise is on their way to the Malurian star system because they sent out a distress call, but the problem is that on their way, Uhura can't reach them on communications. And then they get close enough to scan the system and... no one's there. The entire population of four billion lifeforms cannot be detected. So now their mission is find out how all the life forms in the entire system have died. Could it have anything to do with the big green blob of laser goo speeding toward them faster than warp speed?

After a couple hits, the weird weapon depletes the Enterprise's shields. Spock warns that they can't take another hit. Their only hope is to try and contact the ship shooting the weapon. The weird part is that once the ship comes into sensor range it looks like it's about as big as small child. They can communicate, though... and when Kirk talks to what seems to be the captain of the other ship, the other guy is very interested in his name. He thinks Kirk is his creator? Because Kirk would make a great god. At first the guy, who introduces himself as Nomad, asks if they can come out of the Enterprise, but when Kirk says he can't fit in his ship, Nomad transports over.
Well, that ship's definitely too small.
Nomad hovers around the ship picking up as much information as possible. And since he believes Kirk to be the creator, he only follows Kirk's orders. Which is convenient since Nomad is extremely dangerous. Kirk orders a couple of redshirts to guard him for a while and then goes off to figure out who he is. He finds out about a Nomad probe that was launched from Earth in the early 2000's, built by one Jackson Roykirk. It was presumed destroyed after a run-in with a meteor. But, obviously, somehow Nomad fixed himself using something he refers to as "the other".

And then Nomad kills his redshirt guards. As if you didn't see that coming. Hearing Uhura sing over the comm, he visits the bridge and tries to figure out how she's "communicating". In order to figure it out, Nomad beams a ray into her face and "accidentally" erases all her memories. Scotty sees what's happening, goes to save Uhura and Nomad... KILLS HIM!? WHAT?!? HOW DO YOU KILL SCOTTY?!?! I MEAN, I KNOW HE'S IN A RED SHIRT, AND ALL...
He's finally earned his stripes as a redshirt.
Well, luckily, Nomad is so awesomely advanced that he actually brought Scotty back to life. This all is disconcerting to Kirk who orders Nomad to submit to study by Spock. Spock does all he can, but Nomad won't let him in until Kirk commands Nomad to lower its screens. After that, Spock studies some more, but there are simply some damaged areas that he cannot reach. So what's the logical thing to do? A biological/technological mind meld. Yes, apparently mind melds work over Bluetooth.

During the mind meld, Spock discovers that originally, Nomad was built by Roykirk for a deep-space extraterrestrial contact mission, but was lost in a meteor shower. During that time, he came into contact with Tan Ru, an alien probe whose mission was to collect and sterilize soil samples, presumably for terraforming missions. The two melded into this new Nomad, combining their technology and missions into one extremely powerful probe bent on sterilizing any imperfect lifeforms he encountered, using his own perceptions of perfection (i.e. himself) as a measuring stick. As such, he destroyed all life in the Malurian star system.
Meanwhile, Uhura goes back to school with Nurse Chapel!
Well, Kirk unintentionally admits that he's an "imperfect" biological life form, which causes Nomad to question his loyalty to his "creator". He runs amok around the ship, messes with the life support systems and finally Kirk catches up to him and asks him some questions. He presents the rogue AI with a logical fallacy (as one should always do in the case of rogue AI): Nomad's mission is to sterilize imperfection. But Nomad has mistaken Kirk for Jackson Roykirk. Nomad is, therefore, imperfect! So Nomad destroys himself and the day is saved!

Afterward, Kirk sits on the bridge and thinks about how great a child Nomad would have been. Did you see how he healed Scotty? What a great doctor he would turn out to be!

Overall Thoughts
Ok, so this episode leaves a little to be desired. Nomad brings a dead Scotty back to life, Uhura is expected to be reeducated after losing all of her memories, Nomad fixed itself??, Spock melded with a machine??? Well... there are a few logical fallacies, but the moral of the story is still pretty great. Imperfection is perfect!