Star Trek – The Changeling

★★★★1/2 September 29, 1967 Season 2 Episode 3

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Gene Roddenberry and John Meredyth Lucas

The Enterprise investigates why a star system, where billions of lives once inhabited, is no longer showing life signs, with the ship encountering a lifeform with immense power, using a type of beam that exhausts the shields with only a few bursts, leaving them vulnerable until Kirk is able to communicate with it. Through mathematical communication, the Enterprise establishes contact.

After that, they beam the machine aboard. It believes Capt. Kirk is its creator. Apparently, it has mistaken Kirk for the long-dead Dr. Jackson Roykirk. They find out the name of the machine…Nomad. Nomad was an interstellar space probe designed by Jackson Roykirk and launched from Earth in the year 2002 with a mission of seeking out new life. It was a prototype and the only one of its type built. There is a problem though with Nomad. It was damaged by a meteoroid in 2005 and thought lost. It combined with an alien probe to be deadly. 

Star Trek Episode 32: The Changeling - Midnite Reviews

Kirk plays along with Nomad’s belief that he is its creator. Nomad’s original program was to search out new life forms but now has changed; it is now searching for perfect life forms and is ‘sterilizing’ anything it finds imperfect. As it learns more it states its intention to return to its launch point, Earth, and sterilize any imperfections there… Kirk will have to use a logical approach if he is to destroy Nomad before it kills everybody aboard his ship.

I really liked this episode…this machine is capable of anything and it takes some fast thinking by Kirk and Spock to save the crew. 

From IMDB:

In conventions, Nichelle Nichols frequently tells a story of getting into a dispute with director Marc Daniels over the filming of this episode. As it had already been established that Uhura’s first language was Swahili, Nichols believed that, after her mind was erased, Uhura would revert to her first language. However, as Nichols herself did not speak Swahili, Daniels wanted Uhura to just speak English. Nichols refused to, telling Daniels, “Nichelle Nichols doesn’t speak Swahili, but Uhura does!” Gene Roddenberry was eventually brought in to settle the dispute, and he sided with Nichols. A linguist specializing in Swahili was then brought in to write the few lines of Swahili that are spoken in the episode.

The biographical photo of scientist Jackson Roykirk is of the director Marc Daniels wearing Scotty’s dress uniform.

Although never credited, this episode – which depicted an Earth-launched space probe that acquires almost unimaginable powers in the course of the search for its “Creator” – became the inspiration behind Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). (It also inspired The Questor Tapes (1974), a rejected series pilot written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon which also featured a robot with a damaged memory who searched for its creator.) For this reason, some fans have appended to the 1979 movie the punning subtitle “Where Nomad Has Gone Before.”

Nomad was launched from Earth in 2002.

Lt. Leslie has two unusual aspects in this episode; he is at the helm and he is wearing a gold uniform as opposed to the red uniform that he is normally seen in.

The song Uhura sings is the same song she sings to entertain Lt. Riley in Star Trek: The Conscience of the King (1966), after he is transferred back to lonely duty in Engineering. The lyrics were written by Gene Roddenberry himself.

First time Scotty uses the famous “giving them all we got” phrase.

Spock mentions that Nomad’s first attack on the Enterprise was the equivalent of ninety photon torpedoes. Surprisingly, this attack only reduced the shields by 20%. This seems even stranger a few moments later, when Nomad absorbs the energy of a single photon torpedo and Kirk wonders how anything could “absorb so much energy and survive”. However, the implication is that “absorbing” the energy from a photon torpedo is different than merely “shielding” against it (or against ninety).

The alien probe that Nomad collided with was called Tan Ru.

First appearance of the new, redesigned engineering section.

Bill Blackburn appears in three different uniform colors in this episode: his usual gold (as Hadley), a blue uniform in a corridor scene, and in a red technician’s jumpsuit in main engineering.

Bears a striking resemblance to The Outer Limits: The Probe (1965), aired just two years earlier.

Per Irish mythology, a “changeling” is a demon child substituted by the spirits for a human child they have stolen. That is the context used here. However, the word can also mean a shape-shifter, as in several other contexts within the Trek Universe. The most famous shape-shifter changeling in Trek was the regular character Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).

Actor Joe Paz who portrays one of the security guards killed by Nomad (the guard on the left outside Nomad’s cell) would appear again in Star Trek: Patterns of Force (1968) as an SA Brigadier. (He can be seen among those saying “Hail To The Fuhrer!”)

Footage of Nomad exiting the turbolift is recycled to show him leaving sickbay.

Vic Perrin, who provided the voice of Nomad, had previously performed the Control Voice that narrated the opening and closing segments of the “Outer Limits”. His delivery of Nomad’s dialogue, with just enough inflection to remain automated without being monotonous, greatly enhances the show.

Lemli’s first name, Roger, is given in this episode. His last name wasn’t revealed until the following season, in Star Trek: The Lights of Zetar (1969).


The Enterprise encounters a powerful energy force that has apparently killed all human life in a solar system with over one billion inhabitants. They identify the culprit as a small space probe that had its origins on Earth. Called Nomad, it merged with another and, as a result, took on a new mission to destroy all biological beings as being imperfect. It believes Captain Kirk to be its creator and, as such, has spared the Enterprise and its crew, at least temporarily.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Majel Barrett … Nurse Christine Chapel
Makee K. Blaisdell … Singh (as Blaisdel Makee)
Barbara Gates … Crewwoman
Meade Martin … Crewman
Arnold Lessing … Security Guard
Vic Perrin … Nomad (voice)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Lt. Brent / Security Guard (uncredited)
Marc Daniels … Prof. Jackson Roykirk (uncredited)
Roger Holloway … Lt. Lemli (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Star Trek – The Changeling”

    1. And the 4th movie about the humpback whales…I think they got from The Doomsday Machine….some… I think… I’m glad they stuck with the original things to bring continuity into it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well the machine looked a bit cheesy but once again Roddenberry & cohorts got a pretty good guess of future, with us sending unmanned probes into space looking for life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. seems vaguely like Elon Musk saw this series as a kid and made it his personal central goal in life to emulate without seeing the hidden warnings in the subtext of the plots if you will!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ahead of it’s time with the AI concept for sure. The episode is reminiscent of Doctor Who, though that’s coming from a retrospective viewpoint as I never saw Dr Who until the 1980’s.


    1. She was smart on that one…I remember her saying in another episode that she spoke Swahili…I am glad she spoke up and held her ground.

      Liked by 1 person

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