Doomsday Machine

WRITER NORMAN SPINRAD

DIRECTOR MARC DANIELS

The Doomsday Machine

The Enterprise responds to a distress call and tracks it through a solar system in which all the planets have been pulverized. The signal takes the Enterprise to system L374 in which 5 of the 7 planets have been destroyed in a similar fashion. Once in the system, the Enterprise picks a starship disaster beacon from the Constellation, which has been nearly destroyed.

Kirk, McCoy, Scott and a damage control team beam aboard and find Commodore Matt Decker alone on his ship, in a state of shock. He relates a story of a massive machine eating planets and attacking his ship. He followed the trail of pulverized planets and found the machine breaking up the fourth planet of the system. The machine nearly destroyed his ship, so Decker beamed his crew down to L374-III to take on the doomsday machine alone. But he failed and the machine proceeded to destroy L374-III.

Kirk, Scotty & McCoy lookalike on Decker's ship

Kirk sends him and McCoy back the Enterprise, while the remainder of the boarding party work on restoring power to the Constellation. Once aboard the Enterprise, however, Decker takes command away from Spock and attacks the machine, against Spock's recommendations. Predictably, the Enterprise is unsuccessful and becomes caught in a tractor beam.

Meanwhile, Kirk, Scott and the damage control team restore power to the impulse engines and auxiliary control on the Constellation. With the Constellation viewer back in operation, Kirk sees what Decker is doing. But he is unable to contact the ship due to heavy subspace interference from the machine.

Sulu, Spock and DeckerSpock takes control

Scotty manages to get the impulse engines running and one bank of phasers recharged. Kirk moves the Constellation into firing range and hits the machine with phasers, distracting it long enough for the Enterprise the break free of the tractor beam. Ship-to-ship communications are established and Kirk orders Spock to take command from Decker. Decker reluctantly agrees and Spock orders him to sickbay for examination. Decker overpowers his escort along the way and steals a shuttlecraft. He takes it right into the maw of the planet-eater, which results in a minor reduction of energy output by the machine.

Decker looking finishedThe ship just about to enter...The ship going into the jaws...

This gives Kirk the idea of doing the same maneuver with the Constellation. Scotty rigs a 30 second delay trigger to put the Constellation impulse engines in overload and beams back to the Enterprise. Kirk pilots the crippled starship into the machine and is transported out at the last second.

To me, this episode is classic 'Trek' at it's best - you have an outsider from Starfleet (in this case Commodore Decker, portrayed by the excellent William Windom) ordering the crew about, Kirk risking his life to ensure the safety of his ship, and McCoy and Spock arguing about how to deal with the increasingly unstable Decker. The only element missing is some lovely alien female for Kirk to kiss! I like the idea posed years later by the writer Peter David that the "Doomsday Machine" was designed to be used against the Borg.

Other classic episodes:

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Galileo Seven

Menagerie

City on the Edge of Forever

A Piece of the Action

Assignment Earth

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