35 "The Doomsday Machine"

(airdate: October 20, 1967)

Writer: Norman Spinrad
Director: Marc Daniels

Matt Decker: William Windom
Washburn: Richard Compton

Lt. Palmer: Elizabeth Rogers
Lt. Kyle: John Winston

Stardate: Shortly after 4202.1 [The back of the video release says 4202.9, but this is never confirmed in the episode.]

Captain's Log: Responding to a distress call, the Enterprise discovers that all the planets of an entire solar system have been reduced to rubble. Journeying to a neighboring system, they discover a crippled Constellation. Beaming aboard, Kirk, McCoy, and Scott find Commodore Decker, the Constellation's captain, who describes a doomsday machine from another galaxy, wandering the universe and carving up planets; it was this that attacked the Constellation. Decker evacuated the crew to one of the system's planets, which was then destroyed by the machine. Based on its current path, the machine will pass through the most densely populated section of the galaxy. The Constellation is towed while Kirk and Scott attempt to restore power to her systems. The Enterprise encounters the doomsday machine and barely escapes, becoming badly damaged in the process. However, Decker, wracked with guilt over the death of his crew, is determined to destroy the machine at all costs, and so he assumes command of the Enterprise and attacks the doomsday machine. His efforts have no effect though, and the Enterprise only survives through the intervention of the Constellation. Decker is relieved of command, but he steals a shuttlecraft and flies it into the maw of the machine. The shuttlecraft explodes, killing Decker. However, he may have given Kirk the answer: although the hull of the machine cannot be penetrated, perhaps an explosion from the inside will stop the machine. Kirk rigs the impulse engines of the Constellation to overload and then pilots the ship into the maw of the machine. The resulting explosion destroys it, and the galaxy is safe - from this particular doomsday machine.

Classic Lines: Decker: "They say there's no devil, Jim, but there is. Right out of hell, I saw it."
     Spock: "Random chance seems to have operated in our favor." McCoy: "In plain non-Vulcan English, we've been lucky." Spock: "I believe I said that, Doctor."

Technobabble: The doomsday machine has a hull composed of neutronium and uses a pure antiproton beam to carve up planets.

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Commodore Decker knocks out a security guard, Montgomery, before stealing a shuttlecraft.

Library Computer: The USS Constellation is a Federation starship, resembling the Enterprise [(Constitution-class)]. Her registry number is NCC-1017, and her captain was Commodore Matt Decker. The science officer of the Constellation was named Masada. The crew of [around] 400 was lost in System L-374 when the doomsday machine destroyed the planet the crew had evacuated to. The Constellation was destroyed in an effort to stop the doomsday machine.
     The Constellation has its own insignia, consisting of a hollow vertical oval with a stubbier oval, interlocked with the other oval and emerging from the left side. At the bottom of the vertical oval is a solid circle with a stylized star, as seen on the Enterprise's command insignia.
     The doomsday machine is a robot from another galaxy, several miles long, with a conical shape; the wider end consists of a huge glowing maw, large enough to swallow a dozen starships. Its bluish-white hull is composed of solid neutronium, and phaser blasts just bounce off. The machine is propelled by a total conversion drive. It's essentially self-sustaining, acquiring energy by smashing planets to rubble and converting the debris into fuel. The machine uses a pure antiproton beam to carve up a planet, and it has an energy-dampening field that can "deactivate" antimatter and which generates heavy subspace interference. It possesses a program-defensive sphere that attacks any energy source entering that sphere. Kirk theorizes that the machine was a doomsday device used in a war "uncounted years ago."
     The doomsday machine destroyed all seven planets in System L-370, but it left the star intact. It destroyed nearly every planet in the sector; only the two inner-most planets of System L-374 were left intact. The surface temperature of the inner planet is that of molten lead, and the other planet has a poisonous atmosphere.
     Starfleet Order 104, Section B, Paragraph 1-A, gives a Starfleet commodore the ability to take command [of a starship]. Section C states that the commodore can be relieved of command if a medical officer can provide documentation that the commodore is medically or psychologically unfit for command.
     A starship's impulse engine overloading results in a nuclear explosion of 97.835 megatons. This is insufficient force to penetrate neutronium.
     The Rigel system is located in the most populated section of the galaxy.
     Starships keep a duplicate of the Captain's Log.

Final Analysis: "Bones, did you ever hear of a doomsday machine?...It's a weapon built primarily as a bluff. It's never meant to be used. So strong, it could destroy both sides in a war." A tightly written script benefitting from Marc Daniels' solid direction, "The Doomsday Machine" stands as a reasonably straightforward story (Kirk must defeat a killer machine) told very well. The doomsday machine is an allegory for the hydrogen bomb, but thankfully Spinrad doesn't make this the focus of his script, choosing to emphasize the characters instead. William Windom gives a powerful performance as the broken Decker, determined to avenge the deaths of his crew. The whole thing moves along very nicely, and the end result is highly watchable.

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