In which I open a new scotch (Amrut Fusion), we get some preliminary numbers of the arms and armament of the Enterprise, and I try unsuccessfully to convince you that the Borg are involved.
The Enterprise is looking for a society of 4 billion Melurians and a Federation
science team, and apparently they’re all dead. It is a mystery. The Enterprise is also capable of automatically turning on the shields while under attack. It’s an incredibly powerful attack – almost a fraction as powerful as the prototype Romulan weapon back in “Balance of Terror” judging by the fact that it doesn’t instantly vaporize the ship. The energy was about as powerful as 90 photon torpedoes and only took the shields down to about 20%, which is our first quantitative look at the actual numbers. My math says it would take at least 113 of the Enterprise’s own torpedoes to break through its shields, if they were all fired at once and the shields were not allowed to recuperate. It would certainly seem like the balance between offense and defense is decidedly in favor of offense at the Federation’s current technology level – then again, the bloodiest battles in history were fought when it was easier to defend than to attack. World War I comes to mind. It makes sense, though. The Enterprise needs her shields to see her through not just attack, but passive buffeting by all the anomalies she might have to chart. Add to that the rather enlightened attitude of future humanity, and I can easily see them spending much more research time on shields than weapons. Still, what does that say about the enemies of the Federation who are generally taken out by a relatively small salvo?
A few more green bolts come in, and Kirk orders an attack on the source of the attacks, and is surprised when that doesn’t work. At this point, Kirk is being stupid. He fired a single torpedo at a weapons platform capable of dealing out almost a hundred times that power and is surprised when the torpedo does no damage. He literally says “what could have absorbed that much energy and survived.” Your shields, Kirk. What the hell is wrong with your brain? It’s only now that Kirk opens communications. There’s some tension while they establish communications in a first-contact situation. Eventually, it identifies as Nomad and requests to be taken aboard. It’s a space probe.
Apparently, in the early 2000s, a probe was launched form Earth called NOMAD, and this probe says it’s been upgraded since it’s “point of origin.” It certainly appears as though the metal computerized chickens have come home to roost. It seems to think Kirk created it. Looks like someone named Kirk, or as it turns out “Jackson Roykirk” worked on the development and programming of NOMAD. And it’s function is to purge all non-perfect biological infestation. NOMAD suffered an accident and was upgraded by something or someone, and it seems like that someone fucked it up fairly badly. Some machine-race, one obsessed with perfection, perhaps?
NOMAD is drawn to the bridge by Uhura singing, mind-scans her to find out what music is, and then lasers Scotty to death when he tries to stop it. So now Scotty is dead, which is likely to be problematic, unless NOMAD can resurrect him, which it can, despite how poor the efficiency of the human body. So whatever repaired NOMAD has expertise with biological bodies, enough to be cognizant of redundancies and optimal performance, at least. So, some machine-race that also uses biological technology, and clearly one that has a penchant for omnicidal mania. And given the way it assimilated… I mean ‘wiped’ Uhura’s memory banks, one that really likes absorbing all knowledge.
Good god, people, do I have to spell it out?
So, the ‘changeling’ in the episode title appears to refer not to the shape-
shifting Gamma quadrant natives, but the legends that the Fair Folk of ancient Gaelic myth would steal children away to Fairyland and leave monsters in their place, or turn the children into monsters. During Spock’s mind meld with NOMAD, it appears that the other being was called Tan-ru. Okay, so maybe not the Borg, but then again it does refer to itself as ‘we.’
The other probe, Tan-Ru, was in fact programmed to secure and sterilize soil samples. NOMAD was programmed to seek out new life. Together, they will seek out new life and sterilize it. How you say, womp womp. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to have learned from Spock that Kirk isn’t Roykirk, and it decides to repair the Enterprise. This is very probably where Scotty gets his miraculous engineering knowledge and intuition – watching NOMAD upgrade the Enterprise.
Not counting Scotty and Uhura, it’s killed four people now. Those poor redshirts, whose only crime is to try to shoot NOMAD despite photon torpedoes not even scraping it. Did they think their hand weapons were more powerful than photon torpedoes? If weapons can’t kill NOMAD and stop it from sterilizing Earth, what can?
Kirk talking it to death. That’s what.
Kirk Talks a Computer to Death count: 2, I think? Landru and NOMAD. That sounds right.