Well, maybe not. Sometimes the ship (notoriously called "she") was herself the object of penetration, as in this episode. You may think that is unusual, but no, in fact it was a common plot device on Star Trek. It often happened that outsiders came aboard. Sometimes they were friendly, sometimes they were a big pain in the butt, but they were always interesting, and (at least to Captain Kirk) worth the risk.
Of course, Captain Kirk has an uncommonly high tolerance for risk and all that comes with it. He is (as I have explained in the past) a very (Gay? Masochistic?) unusual guy.
Ah, Ch-ch-ch-changeling! A sterling example of what is a fairly typical episode. As in the pilot, Kirk shows zero interest in any female, but does demonstrate extreme interest in Spock. This is ALSO just one more of the many episodes (including the pilot) where Kirk tempts fate and seems to invite pain, by tempting, toying with, and/or antagonizing a vastly superior opponent - as I shall explain.
The Enterprise investigates a distress call from the Malurian system (population 4 billion plus). Spock reports that sensors detect no life forms.
The Enterprise's shields are raised and Kirk declares Red Alert when the Enterprise comes suddenly under attack. Energy bolts traveling at warp 15, having the strength of 90 photon torpedoes, hammer the ship.
Kirk torpedoes the object, but the energy is simply absorbed by the target.
Kirk then transmits a message to their attacker, who amazingly stops firing when it hears his voice.
The attacker turns out to be a 1 meter long cylinder. Mr. Scott scoffs.
"Intelligence does not require bulk." Spock reminds him.
[NOTE: neither does a bad-ass arsenal, backed by a bad-ass attitude problem, it seems.]
[NOTE: it's not how big you are, but how you use what you've got, that matters!]
The attacker identifies itself as Nomad, and it claims to be non-hostile.
[NOTE: Sure has a funny way of showing it.]
Kirk, incredibly, decides to bring this unquestionably deadly dangerous thing aboard, obviously in another of his wildly over-optimistic attempts to make a new friend. It's not like they have much choice. Kirk reasons aloud that if it's aboard the ship, that it won't be attacking them anymore, which would be good, considering they can't take another shot and survive.
[NOTE: although I don't quite see his logic in that assumption.]
So they beam the thing aboard.
"If you care to leave your ship, we can provide the necessary life support systems." Kirk nicely offers. Obviously, Kirk thinks at this point that the metal object is a tiny ship with tiny people aboard.
[NOTE: Maybe he's thinking that he can squash them like bugs by stomping on them once they come out.]
"Non-sequitor", it blandly replies. "Your facts are uncoordinated."
"Jim, I don't think that anybody's in there." McCoy opines, sotto voce.
Nobody is. It's an uninhabited machine, as it explains in its own special way:
"I contain no parasitical beings" Nomad sniffs.
Jim vaguely remembers that a space probe, named Nomad, had been launched long ago. Spock says it had been reported to be destroyed.
Nomad demands to see some star charts, and Kirk offers to bring them. Nomad floats out into the center of the room, simultaneously demonstrating and declaiming that it is capable of moving around within the ship. This shocks our guys.
[NOTE: They have already seen that the thing has extraordinary powers, why would one more surprise them? Who knows? Anyway, on with the show.]
After studying some charts of our solar system, the probe oddly begins to call Jim "The Kirk, the creator". Nomad explains that its function is to destroy that which is not perfect.
Nomad admits that it is responsible for the destruction of the Malurian system. Just as Kirk is about to explain that he's not THE CREATOR, Spock stops him.
Kirk leaves a guy named Lt. Singh in charge of Nomad, and steps aside with Spock and McCoy to discuss the situation.
[NOTE: Hey! Any relation to Khan!?]
Spock explains that Nomad has Jim Kirk confused with Jackson Roykirk, the original creator of Nomad. He thinks that is why Nomad halted its attack.
Meanwhile, Nomad hangs out with Singh. Singh opens a channel to Uhura and leaves it open. When Nomad hears Uhura singing over the intercom, it slips away to seek her out.
When Nomad finds Uhura on the bridge it asks her what form of communication she was practicing. When she replies "Singing. I was singing. I felt like music.", it tells her to "think about music", and begins downloading everything in Uhura's brain. When Scotty tries to help her, Nomad kills him with a bolt of energy.
Kirk doesn't like this, of course. Realizing that Kirk is displeased, Nomad offers to "repair" the unit Scott, claiming that it was only acting in self-defense. Nomad floats next to Scotty's body in sickbay, and magically revives him. Whew! That was a close one.
Kirk then orders Nomad to repair Uhura, but it can't, because technically Uhura isn't damaged - her mind is only wiped clean. Spock suggests that the thing to do is to re-educate Lt. Uhura. McCoy agrees and says he'll begin at once.
We see later that Uhura is a cheerful and able student who is making rapid progress.
[NOTE: She's already talking in both English and Swahili. LOL!]
Moments later, after dismissing Nomad, Spock says that the machine is so sophisticated that it almost qualifies as a lifeform.
Kirk then tells Nomad to accompany two security guards to a "waiting area" (actually a cell in the brig). There, Spock attempts to study Nomad, but it only lowers its shields when "creator" Kirk orders it to. However, Spock is not able to learn full details from his scan. Since Kirk seems extra-special anxious for more facts, Spock offers very generously to :::gulp::: mind-meld with the tinny little terrorist.
[NOTE: Folly or not, this takes big brass balls.]
[NOTE: Exactly how one melds minds with a mindless machine is never satisfactorily explained.]
As usual, Spock is deeply absorbed by the experience, and can't snap out of it easily, even when he releases Nomad and backs away.
Kirk freaks out. He rushes to Spock's side, frantically embraces Spock, holding tightly around his manly body with his strong arms, and attempts to squeeze some sense into him. Squeezes the guy a couple of times. Normally this would get the guy's attention, but this time, no luck.
[NOTE: Notice he's using gentler, cuddlier methods this time than he did in Naked Time, when he attempted to slap some sense into Spock. I guess he's in no mood to get knocked on his ass at the moment. Quelle surprise!]
Finally, Jim Kirk thinks to ask Nomad to stop communicating, which works. Spock slumps into Jim's embrace, apparently only half-conscious.
Deeply concerned, Kirk swings his partner 180 degrees around and guides him out of the room, still holding on tight with both arms.
One of the guards, happily oblivious, sees nothing unusual as Kirk and Spock exit. However, the other guard stares hard at the pair as they exit, arms around each other. He keeps staring, watching until Kirk throws Spock's ass up against the wall. At that point he snaps out of his trance, apparently deciding at last that it's probably a personal matter, and therefore none of his affair.
Kirk holds Spock up against the wall, and anxiously queries him. Spock is shaken by his experience, but seems otherwise all right. He's holding himself up, he's fully conscious, he's answering questions reasonably, but Kirk is still holding on.
And Spock's letting him.
So, OK, so Kirk just needs to be reassured that Spock is really 100% all right before he lets go. He tries to make eye contact, but Spock evades his gaze. So, Kirk keeps holding on.
And Spock keeps letting him.
So, OK, it's been nearly a minute since Kirk first grabbed Spock, and hugged him, and squeezed him (a couple of times), and carried him out of the room, and pressed him against the wall and just held him there, and Kirk's still holding on. And Spock is still 100% OK about ALL of it.
[NOTE: Now look: 15 seconds, heck even five seconds is a long time in a TV show. You have 15 second and 30 second commercials, in which advertisers pay big bucks to give you their message. A one minute commercial is the War and Peace of commercialdom. For most advertisers, 30 seconds is more than enough to get their message across. Now we have just seen Kirk get very physical with Spock, in a clearly emotional and not-strictly-speaking-militarily-justified way, for 15, 30, 45 seconds! Forty-five plus seconds of uninterrupted male/male huggin'-and-holdin'. If it were a commercial (or two), what do you suppose it would be a commercial FOR?]
Well, lest anyone miss the painfully obvious message, Spock and Kirk next make it pretty dog-gone explicit.
"What does it mean, 'We Are Nomad'?" Kirk wonders aloud, hands still allll over Spock.
While Spock enjoys Kirk's extremely flattering if not 100% logical manhandling, he patiently explains - in simple language that even a child could understand - that the space probe from Earth met a really nice alien space probe, and the two became one.
[NOTE: And this new improved two-in-one probe is what has become Kirk's extremely dangerous baby.]
Spock tells Kirk that Nomad collided with an alien probe named Tan-Ru, (designed to obtain and sterilize soil samples from other planets, possibly as a prelude to colonization), and that both probes were severely rocked by their historic encounter. Mysteriously, magically, they somehow repaired each other, merging into one in the process.
Realizing at last that Spock is really all right, Jim slowly, sensuously relaxes his hold and lets his hands slide allllll the way down Spock's arms as he finally, reluctantly, tears himself away.
[NOTE: But he doesn't go far.]
Out of the blue, Kirk says, "A Changeling".
Role-reversal time. Kirk now presses his own ass against the wall, and Spock leans in close as they continue their cozy little chat.
What is a changeling? Thank you for asking. Spock stands just a little too close to Kirk of his own free will as Kirk explains that a changeling is ~a fairy's child~.
Sooooo....what DOES it mean - "We Are Nomad"? Apparently it means that We Are Family. And in this scenario, Kirk is the Mommy.
[NOTE: He in effect admits as much himself, moments later AND ALSO at the end of the episode. I'm not making this up, you guys. It's in the script!]
Nomad substituted/absorbed some of Tan-Ru's directive, mingling it with its own. This then became "sterilize imperfections" in its crazy, mixed-up robotic mind.
"It's powerful, it's sophisticated...but it's not infallible. It's space-happy!" Kirk exclaims. "It thinks I'm its... mother!"
[NOTE: Spock doesn't argue with Kirk's choice of word. Nope. In fact, he agrees.]
"That is the only thing that has saved us until now" Spock says.
[NOTE: Like Nomad, Spock apparently has no trouble seeing Kirk in that role.]
Well, both Kirk and Spock know what this means. This means that they, and all the other imperfect mortal creatures aboard the Enterprise, are in immediate danger of being sterilized into oblivion by the haywire hitchhiker. Obviously a retroactive abortion is in order for our adopted metallic offspring.
[NOTE: Here we go again. Kirk is now in the heartrending position of having to kill somebody that he once tried to be friendly to, very much like how he had to kill his ex-"friend" Gary Mitchell when the guy became dangerous. Hmm. Come to think of it, Spock was in on that little conspiracy too. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but it sure does seem sometimes like Spock can't stand for Kirk to be too friendly for too long with too many. But I digress...]
Nomad easily escapes the brig, and then casually offs the two security guards when they attempt to stop it with phaser fire.
Nomad then makes his way to the engine room where it improves the "efficiency" of the engines 57% by increasing the matter-antimatter reaction rate - which threatens to cause the ship to shake apart, and gives Scotty a case of the vapors.
Kirk rushes in and orders Nomad to reverse changes to the matter-antimatter reactor, since the Enterprise is not designed to withstand that kind of stress.
[NOTE: which, IMHO, is enough right there to prove that Nomad itself is imperfect. It should know better than to improve the ship so much that it falls apart.]
Kirk next challenges Nomad, telling it that its contempt of biological units is illogical, since its creator is a biological unit.
[NOTE: Oh, well done, Jimmy-boy. Isn't that just so typical of you? It's well-established that this homicidal bucket of bolts is hunting biological units, so what is the stupidest way to convince it to open a one-meter size can o' whup-ass on you? Jeez, Louise!]
Kirk tells the mechanical beastie to return to the "waiting area", and incredibly, it seems to comply. Unfortunately, they now realize that Nomad plans to return to :::gulp::: Earth.
On the way to the "waiting area" it kills the two security guards which escort it, and goes instead to sickbay, where it (attacks Nurse Chapel, and) examines Kirk's medical history.
[NOTE: how it does that without somehow getting wind of the fact that Kirk never built no Nomad and ain't no creator is a mystery.]
Nomad next shuts down life support systems throughout the ship in order to destroy the imperfect units aboard it without destroying the Enterprise.
[NOTE: That too is illogical. If the ship itself is perfect, then why was Nomad trying to improve it before?]
Kirk now steals all of Spock's best lines, but that's OK: whatever's Spock's is his. They are tight like that.
Captain Kirk reasons with Nomad, and engages it in a logic contest. He begins by reminding it that it must sterilize everything which is imperfect. Kirk then explains to Nomad that it *itself* is imperfect. He explains its imperfections: it mistook him for Jackson Roykirk, and it did not discover its own mistake, and it did not exercise its prime function by eliminating itself because it was imperfect, which is a third imperfection!
Nomad freaks out as it tries to analyze this mess. As it is grinding its gears, cogitating, Kirk and Spock slap anti-gravity handles on it, rush it to the transporter, and beam it out into deep space. It finally self-destructs, in effect "sterilizing" its own impure self.
[NOTE: Good thing Kirk didn't call Nomad on trying to "fix" a "perfect" ship: it might have summarily exploded on the spot.]
Once the crisis has been averted, Kirk tries, in his own special way, to lighten the mood on the bridge.
"It's not easy to lose a bright and promising son!" Kirk carps, with mock seriousness.
"Sir?" Spock responds, as if daring Kirk to elaborate.
Kirk bites. "Well, it thought I was its _mother_, didn't it?" Kirk exclaims. "You saw what it did for Scotty! What a doctor it would have made!"
McCoy's all, huh?
Kirk then once again of his own free will visualizes himself in the *maternal* role, and fantasizes out loud.
"My son, the doctor!" Kirk deadpans, to everybody's complete astonishment.
OK, Spock's not surprised. He knows Kirk tooooo well!
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