The Enterprise is responding to a signal from the Malurian system. But upon scanning the solar system they find that all of the four billion people there are dead. They are attacked by an incredibly potent enemy that drains the ship’s deflector shield in a few blasts. Kirk attempts to reason with the unseen enemy. He names himself James Kirk in his address and the enemy seems to break off the attack at this mention. We find out that a small three-foot-long robotic device that calls itself Nomad is the attacker. It agrees to break off the attack and come aboard the ship. We learn that Nomad was an Earth probe from the 21st century. Nomad has mistaken James Kirk for its creator, Dr. Jackson Roykirk. We eventually learn that the original Nomad was a probe designed and programmed to seek out interstellar life. It was damaged and somehow merged with an alien probe called Tan Ru that was also damaged. Tan Ru was enormously powerful and had as its mission to sterilize soil samples for planetary colony evaluation. Once the two probes were integrated, their new mission was to seek out biological life and if it was imperfect, which it always was, to sterilize it. This explained what had happened to the Malurian system.
Nomad starts exploring the Enterprise with unsurprisingly dire results. He hears Lt Uhura singing and he analyzes her mind and finds it irrational so he erases her memory. When Scotty attempts to come to her aid Nomad strikes him with an energy bolt that kills the engineer. When Kirk complains that Nomad has destroyed on of the creator’s “units” Nomad agrees to repair the dead human. And he does, much to the amazement of Dr. McCoy. Kirk attempts to immobilize Nomad in a containment cell but Nomad leaves and when his two guards attempt to stop him, he disintegrates them. Nomad repeats this action once again in another scene.
Kirk becomes exasperated with Nomad’s casual destruction of biological units and tells Nomad that Kirk himself is a biological unit. This is a big mistake. Nomad decides that he should sterilize the Enterprise and then head back to the point of origin, Earth, to decide how to eliminate imperfection there too. Kirk hits on a plan and tells his men to stand by with anti-grav units to transport Nomad when Kirk gives his command.
Kirk tells Nomad that he is not the creator. That he has mistaken James Kirk for Jackson Roykirk. And since that is an error, Nomad is himself imperfect. And since all imperfection must be sterilized Nomad must sterilize himself. As Nomad’s processor attempts to reconcile this fact. Kirk has his crew use the anti-grav units to carry Nomad to the transporter and right before he gives to signal to beam Nomad off the ship, he says to Nomad, sterilize the imperfection. Kirk watches through a view screen as an intense flash signals that Nomad has sterilized himself right out of existence.
While Mr. Spock bemoans the loss of such an amazing creation Kirk observes that the machine thought Kirk was its mother. He adds, “You saw what it did for Scott. What a doctor it would have made. My son, the doctor. Kind of gets you right here, doesn’t it?”
I really like this episode. The plot is a well thought up science fiction story that provides the Enterprise crew with something different from the usual human dramas that typically develop. The plot device of Kirk outsmarting a machine is one that is repeated several times in the series but in this episode, it is used to good effect and the humorous ending is especially well done. There is no Shatner mockery points to be found in this episode so I’ll give this a 9 // 0.