After destroying 4 billion people in the Malurian star system, a 21st- century NASA probe called Nomad
--carrying friendly greetings to whatever unknown, extraterrestrial race might find it--has a violent encounter with the Enterprise
, nearly blowing the starship out of space. Hoping to sidestep another attack, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) invite the diminutive, computer-driven, impossibly powerful spacecraft aboard to learn how its peaceful mission was supplanted by a program to destroy life. Written by John Meredyth Lucas, who was intrigued by the idea of a sentient, almost godlike machine that turns against its creator, "The Changeling" transcends, fortunately, Star Trek
's cash-strapped special effects department to become a compelling drama. (Let's just say that Nomad
looks like a cross between the Tin Woodman and a 1960s beach radio.) Particularly memorable is Spock's mind-melding scene with Nomad
, in which the Vulcan is shaken by the probe's chaotic memories of being captured by a machine planet and given destructive impulses. Frequent Trek
director Marc Daniels was particularly proud of the way his crew made Nomad
appear capable of independent movement: There was one model for hanging from a wire, a second for standing on a floor, and a third for riding on a dolly (to get a sinister, point-of-view traveling shot). If "The Changeling" sounds vaguely familiar, it should: The script was rewritten as the basis for Star Trek: The Motion Picture
. --Tom Keogh
From the Back Cover
Nomad, a deadly robotic space probe, is on target for Earth. Can Captain Kirk outsmart the killer computer?
The voice of Nomad was provided by Vic Perrin, who was heard as the voice of the baby-like Balok in "The Corbomite Maneuver". If you look very closely at the diagram of the Enterprise on the engineering set of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you will see a small Nomad on its side on one of the decks in the saucer section!
In this episode, Scotty becomes the third crewman to die and return to life (McCoy dies in "Shore Leave" and Kirk dies in "Amok Time")