Underrated Trek:The Changeling (TOS)
Welcome back to Underrated Trek,where I take a special look at Star Trek episode that I loveâ€¦which may not bethe most popular or even liked by most. Today we have a real treat. What would you get if you took Star Trek:The Motion Picture, got rid of the abundantly boring special effects and made its running time an hour? You’d have one of my favorite episodes of the original series:
The Changeling was the third episode of Season Two but is not considered one of the greatest episodes of that season. It even escaped my radar at first. I first read about it in the Star Trek Compendium but it wasnâ€™t until the episode popped up on a VHS collection my mother had been getting that I even watched it. But I watched it, and loved it! I think it maybe one of the most watched episodes for me, I have seen it a million times!Yeah itâ€™s a simple bottle/Kirk beats the computer episode. But I still enjoy the heck out of it. Why?
The Enterprise is investigating the apparent destruction of an entire solar system when suddenly they find themselves under attack. Theship is lucky to survive, but the attack is broken off after Captain Kirk sends out a message to the unknown assailant. Suddenly the assailant, calling itself Nomad, contacts the Enterprise and requests to come aboard.
Nomad is beamed aboard and is a small but smart machine only a few meters tall. It explains that it stopped its attack because the creatoris on board, Captain Kirk. Spock discovers that Nomad has confused James Kirkwith his real creator, Jackson Roykirk, who has been dead for years. Nomad is a probe launched in 2002, which was presumed lost after a meteor collision. After Nomad arrives on the Bridge and mind wipes Uhura and nearly kills Scotty, Spock discovers that it had been badly damaged and was drifting in deep space. An alien probe merged with it and the new Nomad took on a new directive-sterilize and destroy all biological life forms the unit deems is imperfect.
When Kirk accidentally reveals that he himself is an imperfect life form, the probe takes over the ship and sets it on a course for its launchpoint. Earth. Nomad then shuts down the life support on the vessel and stopslistening to Kirkâ€™s orders. Kirk finally confronts Nomad and manages to dump cold hard logic on the unit. By convincing Nomad that he is not perfect (as evidence by the mistake of thinking Kirk was his creator added to never realizing his error), Nomad exercises his prime function and begins to sterilize himself. Kirk and Spock barely beam Nomad off the ship before it explodes.
The only real guest star was the amazing Vic Perrin as the voice of Nomad. Best known as the Control Voice from Outer Limits. He was also the voice of Sinestro in the old Superfriends show. Â If you are a fan of the classic Trek seriesyou should be familiar with his voice. He was Metron in â€œArenaâ€ and also appeared in the flesh in the classic â€œMirror, Mirrorâ€. But give him credit, he manages to convince us the piece of plastic could actually be a major threat by delivering the lines in such a manner that you have to take it seriously.
Episode Pro’s :
There are some great scenes in thisepisode. One where Spock mind melds with Nomad. Gotta love Leonard Nimoyâ€™s acting. But the best scene is the final one, probably one of my favorite Kirkmoments ever. He just throws cold logic at Nomad, and Nomad just doesnâ€™t know what to do with this information. Itâ€™s handled brilliantly, and Kirk does such a good job that even Spock has to commend him for his dazzling display of logic. You also have to laugh at a gag with Scotty. Nomad kills Scotty, and then brings him back to life. When Scotty asks what Nomad did to him, Kirk says McCoy will explain. The look on Spockâ€™s face is priceless.
Episode Con’s :
The only complaint I guess is that this is a bottle show. I actually love bottle shows, but a lot of people donâ€™t. This is also a great red shirt episode, we see Scotty get blasted by Nomad and is hurled across the Bridge. But when four red shirt security guards are blasted they are killed instantly.
“Fast Forward” Moment:
There is one scene I never liked.Nomad heard Uhura singing and in order to understand why she is doing that, he wipes all knowledge from her mind. She has no brain damage and can be reeducated.And so we get a cute scene of her being reeducated by Nurse Chapel. I donâ€™t know, maybe itâ€™s because I was such a fan of the character but I never cared for that scene. But as I say, that could just be me.
Since this is a bottle shows there wasnâ€™t much. The only change was in the battle at the beginning and making Nomadâ€™s explosion in the end a little better. I think they also made Nomad’s blast a little cooler.
There isnâ€™t much else I can say.Season Two of this show was so great that even a mediocre episode comes out real strong. Every character gets something to do (except Chekov), the action scenes are good and there are even some laughs to be found. Plus the way the problem is resolved just works great unlike other Kirk vs the computer episodes where the final speech sounds hammy and, to be fair, a little stupid. Finally, the other thing that helps this episode is the music which really does a fantastic job of keeping the suspense going.
Hmm, itâ€™s hard to call this â€œoverratedâ€Trek if I end up talking about an episode which is generally liked. So next time, a different episode I like which I promise puts me in a very large minority.