Star Trek (1966–1969): Season 2, Episode 3 - The Changeling - full transcript

A powerful artificially intelligent Earth probe, with a murderously twisted imperative, comes aboard the Enterprise and confuses Capt. Kirk as his creator.

- Any response from the Malurians?
- Nothing since their distress call.

What about the Federation
science team working there?

- Nothing. l'm scanning all frequencies.
- They have to answer.


They will not answer. The sensor
sweep of this system reveals no life.

That can't be. The last census
reported an inhabitation of four billion.

l register no life readings at all, sir.

That's impossible.
What could have happened?

We would know in advance
of any system-wide catastrophe.

ln the event of an interplanetary war,
there would be radioactive residue.

Our instruments show normal
background radiation.

- Any other possibilities?
- Unknown, sir.

Sensors would reveal the presence
of disease organisms. They do not.

We received the routine report
from this system only a week ago.

Even the Symbalene blood burn
does not act that swiftly.

Shields just snapped on. Something
heading in at multiwarp speeds.

- Evasive manoeuvres, Mr Sulu.
- A powerful bolt of energy, Captain.

Full power to the shields, Mr Scott.

All hands, Red Alert.
Phaser banks stand by.

Condition red.

lt's going to hit.

Space - the final frontier.

These are the voyages
of the starship Enterprise.

lts five-year mission,
to explore strange new worlds,

to seek out new life
and new civilisations,

to boldly go
where no man has gone before.

- Shields still holding, sir.
- Temporarily, Captain.

Our shields absorbed energy
equivalent to 90 photon torpedoes.


The energy used in repulsing this first
attack reduced shielding power 20%.

- First attack, sir?
- l think we can expect others.

We can resist three more attacks.
The fourth will shatter our shields.

Mr Spock, pinpoint the source.
Mr Sulu, evasive manoeuvres.

Lieutenant, contact Starfleet

Tell them that the entire Malurian race
seems to have been destroyed

and we are under attack
by an unidentified force.

- l said evasive manoeuvres.
- We're losing power, sir.


l'm having to divert the warp engine
power into the shields, sir.

- Mr Spock, speed of those bolts.
- Approximately warp 15.

We can't outrun them.
You're doing the right thing.

- Source, Spock?
- Unknown, Captain.

Nothing within sensor range.

Something now, Captain. Very small.
Bearing 123 degrees, mark 18.

Range 90,000 kilometres.

That's our target. Prepare torpedo.

Shields still holding, but the drain
on the engines is reaching critical.

- We just lost warp power.
- Photon torpedoes armed, sir.

- Has the target changed location?
- Holding steady.

- Ready photon torpedo number 2.
- Ready, sir.


Torpedo away.

- Direct hit.
- No effect.

Target absorbed full energy
of our torpedo.

Absorbed it? There must be damage
to your instruments, Spock.

They are in good working order,

But what could have absorbed
that much energy and survived?

- Lieutenant, try to make contact.
- Sir, they've fired another.

- Can we take it, Mr Scott?
- That's problematical.

Shields are down.
We cannot survive another hit.

- Anything, Lieutenant?
- Trying, sir.

Translator computer.
All hailing frequencies open.

Aye, sir.
All hailing frequencies open.

Unidentified vessel, this is Captain
James Kirk of the USS Enterprise.

We are on a peaceful mission.

We mean no harm to you
or any life-forms.

Please communicate with us.

- Any further readings, Mr Spock?
- Computing now, Captain.

Weight, 500 kilograms.
Shape, roughly cylindrical.


- A fraction over one metre.
- 500 kilos and only one metre long?

What kind of intelligent creatures
could exist in a thing that small?

lntelligence does not necessarily
require bulk, Mr Scott.

Captain, a signal from the spacecraft.

- Put it on audio, Lieutenant.
- Yes, sir.

lt's impossible to get it any clearer.

Have analysis sector
study and decode it.

Analysis sector, channel one,
main computer. Decode.

this message is a sort of binary.

Extremely sophisticated, compressed,

carrying several channels at once.

- Can you decode it?
- No clue as yet, Captain.

A moment. Transmission speed
has stepped down.

Much slower.
Seems to be a single binary.

lt's mathematical. Yes, one symbol.
The symbol "repeat".

That isn't in the Starfleet code.
lt's an old-style code.

- Fascinating.
- Repeat what?

- The message l sent?
- lt would seem so, Captain.

This is Captain James Kirk
of the USS Enterprise.

We are on a peaceful mission
in this part of the galaxy.

We have no hostile intentions.
We request identity.

- lt's another signal now.
- lt's a formula, Captain.

They're sending us
a mathematical message

and requesting language equivalence.
They're trying to communicate.

Tie in the ship's translator
to the communication channel.

Aye, Captain.

Cut power, Lieutenant.

- Overloaded and burned out.
- They take it faster than we give it.

Captain, the message is coming in

USS Enterprise, this is Nomad.

My mission is non-hostile.

They got what they needed
before the computers burned out.


Require communication.
Can you leave your ship?

lt is impossible to come aboard your
ship because of the size differential.

Non sequitur.
Your facts are uncoordinated.

We are prepared to beam you
aboard our ship.

That will be satisfactory.

Do you require any special conditions,
any particular environment?

- Negative. l will come aboard.
- Good.

Hold your position.
We'll beam you aboard.

- You're bringing that thing in here?
- Do we have any choice?

Once it's aboard, it won't shoot at us.

Lieutenant, get Dr McCoy
down to the transporter room.

- Spock, come with me. Scotty, too.
- Dr McCoy to the transporter room.

- They got the co-ordinates, Jim.
- Energise.


- Sensor readings, Mr Spock.
- Negative, Captain.

lt has a protective screen.
l cannot get through.

What do we do, go up and knock?

Relate your point of origin.

We are from
the United Federation of Planets.

lnsufficient response.
All things have a point of origin.

l will scan your star charts.

lf we show it our system,

if it has no point of reference,
it won't learn anything.

A reasonable course.

lf you leave your ship,
we'll provide the life-support systems.

Non sequitur.
Your facts are uncoordinated.

- l don't think anybody's in there.
- l contain no parasitical beings.

- l am Nomad.
- ln my opinion, that's a machine.

lt is reacting much like
a highly sophisticated computer.

l am Nomad. What is opinion?

An opinion is a belief,
a view, a judgment.

- lnsufficient response.
- What's your source of power?

lt has changed since the point of

There was much taken from the other.

l am perpetual now. l am Nomad.

Wasn't there a probe called Nomad
launched in the early 2000s?

Yes. lt was reported destroyed.
There were no more in the series.

But if this is that probe...

l will scan your star charts.

l will bring them.

l have the capability of movement
within your ship.

This way.

Scotty, get our warp power
up to full capacity.

Aye, sir.

Spock, Bones, come

- Chart 14A, sir?
- 14A.

- Nomad, can you scan that?
- Yes.

This is our point of origin,
the star we know as Sol.

- You are from the third planet?
- Yes.

A planet with one large natural


The planet is called Earth?


You are the creator, the Kirk.

The sterilisation procedure
against your ship was unnecessary.

What sterilisation procedure?

You are the Kirk, the creator.
You programmed my function.

l'm not the Kirk.
Tell me your function.

- This is one of your units, creator?
- Yes, he is.

lt functions irrationally.

but tell him your function nevertheless.

My function is to probe
for biological infestations,

to destroy that which is not perfect.
l am Nomad.

Biological infestation.

There was never any probe
sent out for that.

The history computer can answer
that. l'll get the read-out.

Did you destroy the Malurian system?

Not the system, creator Kirk. Only
the unstable biological infestation.

- lt is my function.
- Unstable infestation?

The population of four planets?


- Why do you call me the creator?
- ls the usage incorrect?

- Well, l...
- The usage is correct.

The creator was simply testing
your memory banks.

There was much damage
in the accident.

Mr Singh.

Come here a moment.
This unit will see to your needs.

l'll be back in a moment.
Gentlemen, come with me.

You're on to something.

l've correlated information
on the Nomad probe.

This object is indeed that probe.

Earth science couldn't build anything
with those capabilities then.

- Nomad was destroyed.
- Presumed destroyed by a meteor.

l submit that it was badly damaged
and repaired itself.

l heard some lectures at the Academy
on the Nomad probe.

lts mission was peaceful.

Did l disturb you?

Did you wish anything?

Bridge to auxiliary control room.
Check in, please.

Singh here. All systems are normal
except warp power indicators.

Mr Scott's engineers are working
on them now. Report to him.

- Anything else?
- One moment, Lieutenant.


This is the creator of Nomad,

perhaps the most brilliant
though erratic scientist of his time.

His dream was to build
a thinking machine,

capable of independent logic.

- You recall his name.
- Of course. Jackson Roykirk.

Jackson Roykirk.

- Captain James Kirk.
- Yes. Similar.

Captain, l believe that Nomad
thinks you are Roykirk.

That may well be
why the attack was broken off.

lt responded to your name as well as
its damaged memory banks permitted.

What do we have on Nomad itself,

- lt's not the same.
- Essentially, it is.

l believe that more happened to it
than damage in the meteor collision.

lt mentioned "the other".

The unanswered question is,
the other what?

Nomad was a thinking machine.
lt was a prototype.

lts purpose was altered. lts directive,
to destroy biological infestations,

could not have been programmed
into it.

lt wasn't. lt was supposed to be the
first probe to seek out new life-forms.

Precisely. And somehow
that programming has been changed.

lt would seem that Nomad is now
seeking out perfect life-forms,

perfection being measured
by its own relentless logic.

lf what you say is true,
then we've taken aboard our vessel

a device which sooner or later
must destroy us.

- Security.
- Carlisle here.

This is the captain. The mechanism
is in the auxiliary control room.

Have a security team meet me there
in five minutes.

Mr Singh reports that Nomad is
no longer in the auxiliary control room.

Security, cancel that order. lmplement
a full search for the mechanism.

- Bridge to Captain.
- Captain here.

- That mechanical beastie is up here.
- On my way, Scotty.

- What is the meaning?
- What?

What form of communication?

l don't know what it...

Oh, my singing. l was singing.

- For what purpose is singing?
- l don't know.

l like to sing.

- l felt like music.
- What is music?

Think about music.

- Lieutenant! Keep away from that...
- Scotty!


He's dead, Jim.

- Why did you kill him?
- The unit touched my screens.

That...unit was my chief engineer.


Lieutenant, are you all right?


- What did you do to her?
- That unit is defective.

lts thinking is chaotic.
Absorbing it unsettled me.

- That a woman.
- A mass of conflicting impulses.

Get Scott down below.

Will the creator effect repairs
on the unit Scott?

- He's dead.
- lnsufficient response.

His biological functions have ceased.

Does the creator wish me
to repair the unit?

There's nothing l can do.

lf there's a chance,
it'll have to be soon.

- All right, Nomad. Repair the unit.
- l require tapes on the structure.

He'll need tapes on general anatomy,
the central nervous system,

one on the physiological structure
of the brain,

and all the neurological studies we

as well as tracings of Scotty's

Nomad, l have arranged the tapes
for flash feed

at the top speed of the computer.

Please do not draw the information
faster than the machine's capacity.


Creator, the unit Scott
is a primitive structure.

lnsufficient safeguards built in.

Breakdown can occur
from many causes.

Self-maintenance systems
of low reliability.

lt serves me as it is, Nomad.
Repair it.

Where is the unit Scott now?

- The body is in sickbay.
- Show me sickbay.

Dr McCoy will show you.

Security. l want a 24-hour, armed
surveillance on Nomad in sickbay.

- No reaction, Doctor.
- l could have told you that.

What are the lot of you
staring at me for?

- lt's unbelievable.
- Fascinating.

- How did l get here?
- lt's all right.

- That thing did something to Uhura!
- She's being taken care of.

Take it easy, Scotty.
We just want to check you out.

The unit Scott is repaired.

lt will function correctly
if your information to me was correct.

l'd like to check it out, if you don't

A man is not just a biological unit
that you can patch together.

- What did it do to me?
- Dr McCoy will explain it to you.

Well, Doctor?

Nurse, l want him prepared
for a full physical examination.

Nomad, come here.

Repair that unit.

Not possible.

You restored Scott.
He had more extensive damage.

The unit Scott required
simple structural repair.

The knowledge banks of this unit
have been wiped clean.

lf that is correct,
if there's been no brain damage,

she could be re-educated.

- Bones?
- Yes, l'll get on it right away.

And in spite of the way you repaired
Scotty, you metal ticking...

Does the creator
wish Nomad to wait elsewhere?

Yes. Nomad, go with these units.
They will take you to a waiting area.

Take it to the top security cell.


l interrupted you because Nomad
would not understand your anger.

lt has great technical skill, but its
reaction to emotion is unpredictable.

lt almost qualifies as a life-form.

That's a laugh.

The study of it would be of great use,

lt's a killer.
l intend to render it harmless.

Run a full analysis on the mechanism.
l want to know what makes it tick.

Yes, sir.

- What's the problem?
- An almost human stubbornness.

l am unable to convince Nomad
to lower its screens.

Without its co-operation,
l can do nothing.


you will allow Mr Spock to probe
your memory banks and structure.

Mr Spock is also one
of your biological units, creator?


This unit is different.
lt is well-ordered.

- Follow your instructions, Nomad.
- My screens are down.

- Thank you.
- You may proceed.

- "See the dog."
- That's right.

"See the dog..."

Now sound it out.

- "Run"!
- That's it, Uhura. That's very good.

Now try the next one.

"The dog has a..."

"The dog..."

Not Swahili, Uhura. ln English.

"The dog has a ball." See?

Buh... ah... all.

Ball. Now you go ahead.

- "The dog has a ball."
- That's right!

That's right, Uhura.

Oh. Here. You try another one.
l'll be right back.

All right, Christine.

How's she doing?

She's on the first grade reader.
She's learning.

Seems to have an aptitude
for mathematics.

Do you think we can re-educate her,

She checks out with no brain damage.

We've got all the educational tapes.
Now it's up to us.

"The ball is..."



lt is not sufficient, Captain.

l get certain references
to the accident, the other,

but nothing clear.
There are areas l cannot scan.

We've got to know what makes it
operate, its compulsion for perfection.

- l suggest the Vulcan mind-probe.
- Direct mental contact with that thing?

- lt seems the only way.
- You saw what it did to Uhura.

There is a risk, but l have formed
a partial hypothesis.

l must check it out.

Nomad, the unit Spock will touch you.

lt is not an attack.
lt is a form of communication.

- You will permit it.
- l will permit it, creator.

l am

Deep emptiness.

lt approaches.

Collision. Damage.

Blackness. other.

l am...Tan Ru.

Tan Ru...Nomad.








Much power.



The creator instructs.

Search out.


Sterilise imperfections.



We...are complete.

We are instructed.

Our purpose is clear.

Sterilise imperfections.

Sterilise imperfections.

Nomad. Sterilise. Sterilise.

- Nomad sterilise...
- Spock! Spock!

Nomad! You're in contact
with the unit Spock. Stop!

- Stop!
- Acknowledged.

- Spock. Spock?
- Fascinating, Captain.

The knowledge, the depth.

What does it mean, "We are Nomad"?

lt was um...

lt was damaged in deep space.
Undoubtedly, the meteor collision.

lts memory banks were destroyed,
or most of them.

lt wandered without purpose
and then it met the other,

an alien probe of great power.

Somehow they merged,
repaired each other, became one.

- Then it isn't Nomad?
- Not the Nomad we lost from Earth.

lt took from the other a new directive
to replace its own.

The other was programmed
to secure and sterilise

soil samples from other planets,

probably as a prelude to colonisation.

- A changeling.
- l beg your pardon?

An ancient Earth legend, Mr Spock.

A changeling was a fairy child
that was left in place of a human baby.

The changeling assumed the identity
of the human child.

So it is to sterilise.

And for "sterilise" read "kill".

And it has the power
and the sophistication to do it.

lt's powerful, it's sophisticated,
but it's not infallible.

lt's space-happy.
lt thinks l'm its mother.

And that is the only thing
that has saved us until now.


Notify the captain.

What are you doing here?

Watch your panels, everyone.

Watch that polymass.
Roger, help with the interfactor.

Leave that alone.

This primitive matter-antimatter
propulsion system is the main drive?


lnefficiency exists
in the antimatter input valve.

l will effect repair.

How are you doing that?

The energy release controls
are also most inefficient.

l shall effect repair.

- Warp 8 and increasing.
- Throw dampers.

- Warp 9.
- Cut your circuits, all of them.

Warp 10, Mr Scott.

- lmpossible. lt can't go that fast.
- lt just won't stop. Warp 11 !

Nomad, stop what you're doing.


Is there a problem, creator? I have
increased engine efficiency 57%.

You will destroy my ship.
lts structure cannot stand the stress.

- Turn off your repair operation.
- Acknowledged.

lt is reversed as ordered, creator.

- Give Sulu warp 2. Keep her there.
- Aye, sir.

Captain, l've examined the brig.

The force field door is damaged
and the guards have vanished.

l must assume they are dead.

- You killed two of my...
- Your biological units are inefficient.

lt's time l told you what you are!

l'm a biological unit and l created you.

Non sequitur. Biological units
are inherently inferior.

This is an inconsistency.

Nomad, there are two men outside.
You will not harm them.

They will escort you
back to the waiting area.

You will stay there.
You will do nothing.

l am programmed to investigate.

l have given you new programming
and you will implement it.

There is much to be considered
before l return to launch point.

l must re-evaluate.

- Re-evaluate?
- lt is about to re-evaluate its creator.

lt may have been unwise
to admit that you're a biological unit.

ln Nomad's eyes,
you must now appear imperfect.

- lt was a foolish mistake.
- Worse.

Nomad just now made a reference
to its launch point, Earth.

Do you think it got a fix on Earth
when it tapped the computers?

l do not believe there is much
beyond Nomad's capabilities.

And we've shown it the way home.
And when it gets there...

lt will find the Earth infested
with imperfect biological units.

And it will carry out its prime directive.


Captain's log, stardate 3541.9.

The presence of Nomad
has become nightmarish.

Now it apparently means
to return to Earth.

Once there,
it would automatically destroy all life.


Nomad, stop.

Nomad, this way.

Captain Kirk to sickbay.

Manual controls.

No response.

Nomad. Nomad?

Stop. Nomad, stop!


- ls she all right?
- l think so.

- Looks like some kind of shock.
- What happened?

Nomad examined the personnel files.
She tried to stop him.

- Whose history?
- Yours.

Since it examined your history,
it has completed its re-evaluation.

And found that its creator is as
imperfect as all other biological units.

Bridge to Captain. Life-support
systems are out all over the ship.

Manual override blocked.
Source: engineering.

- Nomad.
- Jim, we'll only have enough air for...

Get Scotty, some antigravs
and meet me in engineering.


Stop what you're doing and effect
repairs on the life-support systems.


You're programmed to obey
the orders of your creator.

l am programmed to destroy
life-forms which are imperfect.

These alterations will do so
without destroying the vessel.

lt, too, is imperfect,
but can be adjusted.


l admit that biological units
are imperfect,

but a biological unit created you.

- l am perfect. l am Nomad.
- No, you're not Nomad.

You're an alien machine. Your
programming tapes have been altered.

You are in error. You are
a biological unit. You are imperfect.

- But l am your creator.
- You are the creator.

- l created you?
- You are the creator.

But l admit l'm imperfect. How could l
create such a perfect thing as you?

Answer unknown. l shall analyse.

Analysis complete.
lnsufficient data to resolve problem,

but my programming is whole.

l am Nomad. l am perfect.

That which is imperfect
must be sterilised.

Then you will continue to destroy

that which thinks and lives
and is imperfect?

l shall continue. l shall return to launch
point Earth. l shall sterilise.

You must sterilise in case of error?

Error is inconsistent with my
functions. Sterilisation is correction.

Everything that is in error
must be sterilised.

There are no exceptions.


l made an error in creating you.

The creation of perfection is no error.

l did not create perfection.
l created error.

Your data is faulty.
l am Nomad. l am perfect.

- l am the Kirk, the creator?
- You are the creator.

You are wrong!

Jackson Roykirk, your creator, is

You have mistaken me for him.
You are in error.

You did not discover your mistake.
You have made two errors.

You are flawed and imperfect

and have not sterilised.
You have made three errors.

Error. Error. Error. Examine.

You are flawed and imperfect!
Execute your prime function!

l shall analyse error.


- Now. Get those antigravs on it.
- Examine...error.

- Error.
- We've got to get rid of it.

Your logic was impeccable.
We are in grave danger.

- Scotty, transporter room.
- Analyse error...

Scotty, set the controls
for deep space. 210, mark 1.

Aye, sir.

- Faulty! Faulty!
- Ready, sir.

Nomad, you are imperfect!

Error. Error.

- Exercise your prime function.
- Faulty! Faulty.



- Now.
- Energising.

My congratulations, Captain.
A dazzling display of logic.

- You didn't think l had it in me?
- No, sir.

l thought you'd like to know
Uhura is at college level.

- She'll be on the job within a week.
- Good, Bones. Good.

Remarkable. The destruction of
Nomad was a great waste, Captain.

lt was a remarkable instrument.

Which might well have destroyed
more billions of lives.

What are you feeling so badly about?

- lt's not easy to lose a promising son.
- Sir...

Well, it thought l was its mother,
didn't it?

You think l'm completely
without feelings?

You saw what it did for Scotty.
What a doctor it would have made.

My son, the doctor.

Kind of gets you right there,
doesn't it?