Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 3

The Changeling

Aired Unknown Sep 29, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
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  • A living probe boards and threatens the Enterprise

    The plot for this one, featuring one of Star Trek's most unique guest stars, would infamously be recycled for the first Star Trek movie. (The film arguably does it better, but the episode gets quite a bit of mileage out of the premise, leaving little on the table for the film to elaborate on). In contradistinction to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, however, this episode is a bottle show.

    The guest star of honor is Nomad the robot, played by a prop (three, actually) and voiced by Vic Perrin, the latter doing such a fine job that his work in the episode is probably more memorable than his appearance in the next episode, "Mirror, Mirror" (as the leader of the Halkan council). But "The Changeling" is a Kirk episode all the way, and William Shatner works hard to prevent the bucket of nuts and bolts from upstaging him, though he gets help from a tight script with a witty ending. (Uhura also gets some nice moments, singing a song and establishing her native language; it's just too bad the episode doesn't feature a new musical piece, instead, lifting one from "Conscience of the King").

    There is an undeniable appeal to the idea of a machine gaining consciousness and seeking its creator, which is probably why the plot device is used again; but perhaps the highlight of the episode is seeing director Marc Daniels in a photo playing the distinguished looking Jackson Roykirk!

    Remastered: With no planets and few visuals needing touchups, there's little for CBS Digital to do here, though they upgrade the visuals of Nomad's attacks from space and the explosion at the end. (Personally, I prefer the original explosion, a practical effect that looks more realistic than its digital replacement). The new CGI beauty passes of the Enterprise are pretty much copies of the original footage.

  • This is more like it …

    Now we’re cooking. The STAR TREK team redeem themselves brilliantly after ther clunker that was “Who Mourns for Adonais?” with this cracking episode. “The Changeling” contains everything you love about STAR TREK. Most brilliant of all is the way Kirk would cause the dodgy, alien-altered Nomad probe to destroy itself by pointing out that it had made a mistake … no, two mistakes … wait, three mistakes! I just love it!

    Of course, it’s STAR TREK legend that Roddenberry reworked the basic idea of this episode to create the story/script for STT(Slow)MP, but honestly – this is the better telling of the tale, with its lightning pace and tight dialogue.
  • The Enterprise encounters an ancient, indestructible space probe called Nomad, intent on sterilising all life, and that mistakes Captain Kirk as its creator. Not a classic episode, but some interesting ingredients...

    This review contains moderate spoilers.

    I certainly wouldn't rank this as one of my all-time favourite 'Star Trek' episodes, but for what is essentially a ship-based 'bottle show', it actually has some interesting elements; and I actually found myself thinking about it a lot after it had finished, which is surely a good sign.

    This is one of a handful of Original 'Trek' episodes set entirely aboard the Enterprise. But unlike later 'Trek' spin-off series, where there were very often (cost cutting) ship-bound stories, and often where nothing much really happened, those in the Original Series often turn out to be very good, as previous examples "Charlie X" and the classic "Balance of Terror" prove.

    Nomad is an interesting design, and rightly not resembling the human form at all. In a way its design reminded me of the Daleks from 'Doctor Who'; if it had resembled a human form, I think it would have taken away much of its mystery.

    No doubt if this episode was produced 30+ years later, Nomad would be CGI, but here, in the era of more conventional special effects, it is moved around manually, often with its top or bottom conveniently out of camera shot (no doubt for something to hold on to it and move it around!).

    As has already been much commented, Nomad is very similar to V'Ger in 'Star Trek: The (Slow) Motion Picture' (1979). Out of the two, this is by far the better story (at least it's not as incredibly dragged out as TMP, arguably the weakest of the big-screen outings).

    One good sequence is as Spock mind-melds with Nomad, only to get 'stuck' in Nomad's thoughts. What could have easily have fallen into an unintentionally amusing moment is actually performed quite well. (I wasn't sure about Spock actually being able to mind-meld with a machine; something that doesn't think for itself and is programmed a certain way, but this was only a very small niggle).

    I wasn't convinced by Uhura's 're-education' after her mind was wiped by Nomad. Are we really expected to believe that she would totally relearn and regain everything she knew before? What about her memories and such? This was the weakest point of the story for me. Personally I like to explain it away as her 're-education' triggering her past memories and such over time. (In fact, it would have been cool if they turned her re-learning into a story arc, but sadly such things didn't exist in the Original Series, where stories were very much 'stand alone' tales).

    In the end, Captain Kirk once again 'out thinks' the computer, causing it to self-destruct. It had already been done in the first season in "The Return of the Archons", and with an android in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and he pulls the trick again here. It is still a good scene though.

    All-in-all, this is a bit of a strange one to sum up. It's not a series classic, and not one of my favourite episodes, but it does have a number of good things going for it.
  • One of the top three "computer run amock" episodes that's interesting and exciting to watch.

    The Enterprise encounters Nomad, a fusion of an Earth and alien probe that has a blended program to destroy all life forms that are imperfect.

    If I was an executive producer in the late 60s, this is one of three "menacing computer" stories worth keeping, along with "Taste of Armageddon" and "The Ultimate Computer". The story here is not complex but frightening, and is hightened by the fact that this warped but all-powerful little probe moves among the crew and judges fitness on sight, almost arbitrarily. There are nice little references in the script, Nomad paying Spock the compliment of being "well-ordered" and Spock doubting Kirk "had it in him" to defeat Nomad during the conclusion. Nomad's increasing suspicion about his "creator" is suspenseful and Kirk's logic in causing Nomad to see its conflicted programming is even, well, almost logical in this episode.

    Some of the flaws are irritating - Nomad could be just as scary without having all manners of mysterious beams and abilities that defy physical science. The ludicrous idea that Uhura could ever return to normal after having her life memory wiped seems to have escaped the writer's notice.

    Overall, a good entry with a nice mix of action and something to think about at the same time.
  • It is shockingly revealed that Uhura doesn't know how to pronounce the word "blue"

    Remind you of "Return of the Archons"? Not only does Kirk out think a computer again, but he gets it to destroy itself. And both computer's voices got all high and nervous right before they "committed suicide". The episode did hold it's own, I suppose. I certainly have no problem watching it vs. watching "Return of the Archons". Interestingly enough we get to see the guy who portrayed Nomad's voice in the next episode aired, "Mirror, mirror". He was the head of the Halkan Council.
  • A rocket ship/robot shaped like a pointy trash can attacks the Enterprise. It's mission is to destroy all that is imperfect, which, of course, includes humans. It stops its' attack when it mistakes Kirk for its' "mommy".

    A pretty good episode and, within the "Star Trek Universe", it makes sense.

    It seems to me Kirk defeats a lot of machines by confusing them with logic. In this episode Nomad (the pointy shaped robot) must wipe out all imperfections. When Kirk convinces it that it has mistaken him for its' creator Nomad must kill itself because having made that error it is no longer perfect.

    Also, the transporter seems a very useful machine to have around. Any time you want to get rid of something quickly toss it on the transporter pad and set it for deep space. I wonder if it would work the the pile of tires I have behind my shed???

    Live long and prosper y'all.