Rob: It's Subspace Radio time.
It is me, Rob, and joining me is...
Rob: It is time for another delve into
the world of Star Trek, animated, as
we go into the most recent episode
Star Trek Lower Decks, season 4,
episode 7, A Few Badgeys More.
And that's one of the more easier episodes
to pronounce in in this season, Kevin.
And yet another cross genre reference.
This is a reference to A Few Dollars More.
I don't know if the story of this
episode has anything to do with
the story of that classic film,
Rob: There is no connection to
the Spaghetti Western classic
that is A Few Dollars More.
Kevin: Memory Alpha tells me A Few
Dollars More was a sequel to A Fistful
of Dollars, which had already had
its title ripped off by a Star Trek
episode, A Fistful of Datas, in The
Next Generation, Season 6, Episode 8.
So it's continuing the tradition
of mining that movie franchise
for Star Trek titles, if you
Rob: But we had no A Fistful of Badgies.
Kevin: Not a lot of Western
flavor in this episode either.
Rob: No, not much at all.
This was the episode where we
had the return of villains.
Not just one, not just two, but three.
Three villains, count them three,
coming together in a way of bringing
chaos into the Federation, into
the lives of our characters.
We have Badgey back, as
mentioned in the title.
We also had Peanut Hamper.
We had Mr.
Jeffrey Combs himself
returning in voice form.
And we know whenever Jeffrey
Combs is in Star Trek, it is
elevated to something special.
Kevin: Just one Jeffrey Combs though.
I feel like that's a
baseline at this point.
It's when you get two or three Jeffrey
Combses that it starts to get really good.
Rob: Yeah, I was thinking more and more
about the fact that when we reviewed
last week's episode and the fact that you
brought up, they had to use Iggy Pop as
a Vorta because they couldn't have had
Jeffrey Combs and I'm there going, and you
brought it up and I went, yeah, they could
have done some massive split screen stuff.
Imagine Brunt and Weyoun
in the same episode.
That would have made The Magnificent
Ferengi even more magnificent.
I can't get it out of my head now.
So I am gonna, I'm gonna dare to
assume that you did not enjoy this
episode as much as The Magnificent
Ferengi, but how much did you
enjoy or not enjoy this episode?
Rob: Yeah, it's it's an odd one.
I was under the impression that we were
going to have like a Legion of Doom
type, Axis of Three Evil, Axis of Evil,
sort of like all three, but it was
very much a story split in two fronts.
And yeah, I've never been
the biggest fan of Badgey.
I haven't really liked Peanut
Hamper and they as they had no
character development at all.
I was still a bit suspicious,
even at the end of the episode,
going, what's the con here?
I did feel like I was very much
in a 1920s or 1930s gangster.
What's the gag?
What's the con here, boys?
But yeah, the just the range and the
depth and the exquisite theatricality
that Jeffrey Combs brings to a voice
performance does help incredibly.
And there were some wonderful
revelations about our arc at the
end which was particularly exciting.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, I am in a similar
place with this episode of I didn't laugh
out loud at any point in this episode.
Rob: Mm hmm.
Kevin: kind of a, a chuckle more than
a laugh, it was kind of, I see what
you did there comedy, rather than
surprising and delighting comedy.
I also felt like this suffered from a
problem that we sometimes get in Star
Trek, where the plot of this episode kind
of happened to our characters, rather
than them being active participants in it.
The most active that our cast got in
this was Rutherford's attempts to talk
down Badgey aboard the Drookmani ship
and he did succeed in splitting him into
some interesting parts, but in the end,
did that actually amount to any outcome
that we could credit Rutherford with?
I don't think so.
Like in the end, what happened is
Badgey got exactly what he wanted
and evolved beyond his vengeful
desires and solved his own problem.
And that's also what happened on
the other front of faking out the
parole boards in order to hatch a
plan to overtake a planet somewhere.
In the end, they both
decided not to do it.
And all that our characters
provided was a lift to the end
of the episode in a shuttlecraft.
Rob: Yeah, the cardinal sin for me
was that it made our lead characters
incredibly gullible, especially like Tendi
and and Boimler, who kind of, you know,
Boimler was quite suspicious, and Tendi as
well, but then they immediately just fell
for it, and the gag about going from red
to blue was a very weird very thin gag,
Kevin: Yeah, it is a certain kind of
comedy where you're like, okay, so the
comedy is, our characters, which we like
most of the time, are stupid this week.
Rob: Yeah, very much they really
took away all the hard work about how
intelligent they are, and they just,
and against their better judgement
at the start, which they mentioned,
they just immediately bought it.
Also, the stakes were quite low.
Despite the fact that we saw a
lot of easter eggs of when Badgey
had full connection with all
the, there was the easter eggs
that go, Oh, there's that ship.
Oh, there's that class.
Oh, there's that station.
But particularly with the second one,
we had AGIMUS take over a planet, where
he did it like in almost instantaneously
and Boimler gives a throwaway line
about you know the Federation could
get it back to the way it was you
know in less Yeah, and you so you're
there going there are no stakes.
And so the gag was there at the
expense of any tension or drama or
believability because as you said
the intelligence of our characters
were pretty much just taken away from
them to make some big plot leaps.
Kevin: I think they, they telegraphed
the elements of this episode
so much that they had to do it.
Like the computers in the prison laughing
maniacally at the end of one episode.
You're like, okay, well they,
they have to come back, right?
And we had seen in the season finale of
season three, Rutherford's implant getting
tractor beamed off screen with Badgey on
the screen, and you're like, okay Badgey's
going to do something next season, right?
And so they had all these things
and I, I guess it would have been
particularly frustrating as a writer
to go, Oh we must pay off these
elements, but we don't actually have
a satisfying story to tell here.
Rob: There was a lot of retracing of
plot steps that we've seen before,
so we had different versions of
Badgey, so Logic-ey and Goodgey.
Even in Lower Decks we had two different
Rutherfords, we've had Brett Spiner
go up against Brett Spiner, we've had
multiple incarnations, and this is
just within the modern, within the
last couple of years of Star Trek and
they're repeating themselves in that way.
Yeah, for me it was, yeah, it was a
lot of old tropes and a lot of things
we had to, were sacrificed just to
hit some plot points, but that plot
point was a generic plot anyway that's
been done multiple times before so,
Kevin: We've been saying earlier this
season that we love strong, self contained
episodes, and it's okay if they contribute
to something to an ongoing story that
we will get a payoff for eventually,
but the most important thing is that the
episodes themselves carry their weight.
And this, to me is an apt counterexample
that this one was all about paying
off things that had been put on the
shelf and the episode itself did not
carry its own weight in the season.
So yeah, I think what I've learned
from this is to, it has doubled down
my skepticism for anything that Lower
Decks has in the past and will in
the future say well, we're not going
to tell you the answer just yet.
That's going to come back later.
I think I'm, I am no longer
going to be excited about that.
And for me the biggest example of that
is that we have another Boimler out
there hatching plans with Section 31
and that that is yet to come back,
but I am, I would just as soon they
forget about that, as you had Rob.
Rob: Yeah, I think it's, it may be my
disinterest it might be my my sense
of whatever when it comes to Section
31, or they may have gone into my mind
and manipulated me so I did forget.
Kevin: I wouldn't put it past them Rob.
Anything else from this
episode you wanted to call out?
Rob: Yeah, and normally we bring
it up at the end of the episode,
but we'll bring it up now.
Massive steps forward in our story arc.
So they tried to do a bait and
switch, but I think the bait and
switch was done better in previous
episodes of where it meant to...
Yeah, they've leaned heavily into
the fact that it's all Badgey
who's been behind this and then
Kevin: Yeah I, I, I didn't catch
that until the second viewing.
That um, yes, we are led to believe it's
Badgey controlling the Drookmani that are
behind it all, but the reveal at the end
is that actually, there is a third party,
and that ship was not Badgey's ship.
That mysterious ship is still at
large, but the thing it's doing is
not destroying these people in a flash
of light, it's stealing their ship.
Rob: When it came up, I didn't go,
oh, I went yeah, I should have trusted
my mind because it's just a big flash
and I'm there go, sure there's little
scraps of metal here and there, but
that could be, and I'm there going
it's right there in plain sight.
So that excited me to go, all right,
that's, the steps we've been making.
But it's hard to get those points
to be revealed at a good pace.
That gimmick of having a different ship
following the exact same procedure.
Some of it worked with
the with the Romulans.
Some of it didn't work so well with
the Klingons was a bit average.
Kevin: Yeah, I mean the Bynars
this week I would say didn't work.
Sure the Bynars, bringing back the
Bynars was fun for us Next Generation
fans who remember that one episode
of TNG Season 1, memorably entitled
11001001, but the Bynars were barely
interesting in live action when we
had no idea what they were about.
Now the mystery of the Bynars is past,
they were even less interesting for me.
And the, the binary chattering
to each other that had no kind of
emotional content for us as viewers
made it the least interesting of these
vignettes, when I think it needed to
be the most interesting in order to
keep us on this roller coaster ride.
So, uh, yeah, I would have put the
Bynars as the first ones in the season
and kept the Romulans for this week.
Rob: Very much so.
But, yeah, so it was good to...
I think it's been a good, slow
development of the nuggets of
information dropped along the way.
Kevin: Yeah, agreed.
Watching Tendi make a sandcastle was fun.
That turns out, I did not catch it,
I had to look this up because it was
conspicuous that she enjoyed that
sandcastle and that she took a handful
of sand with her when she left.
I was like, that's gonna
be something, right?
She's gonna throw sand in someone's
face later in this episode, right?
And it never came back.
But it's a deep cut reference to the
very first episode of this entire series,
Second Contact, where she offhandedly
mentions there is no sand on Orion.
Rob: Ah, see, there you go.
Section 31 has erased
that from my memory too.
Kevin: I, I do hope that fistful of sand
comes back, even if it's just like in a
jar on the shelf in her quarters in some
Rob: That would be lovely, yeah,
lovely to keep that reality and
that flow of story arc going.
But yes, that led us to talk about
what will our main topic in relating
to the larger world of Star Trek be.
And there's only one real option that's
staring us right in the blue lighted,
secretly red lighted face: evil computers.
Kevin: Evil computers, evil
whatever way you want
to take it, Rob, I am
Let's get topical.
Let's go AI.
All right, let's go the full AI existence.
Yeah, in chronological
order, we always go.
Now, in my research this is, for
me, this is more of a heavily...
Early classic y type era.
There's about three or four episodes
of note in the classic original
series from those old scientists but
yeah, it's a bit of a deeper dive to
find some more in the modern series.
Kevin: That's a good observation, Rob.
I have an early one
and I have a later one.
But I think it is interesting how
much it has fallen off, and in part I
think I would call that a side effect
of the Borg, that the Borg are now
so present in the lore, they are the
artificial kind of threat, and it's
hard to make an artificial intelligence
antagonist that is different enough
from the Borg that it's not just worth
doing another Borg episode, or another
Borg movie, or another Borg series.
Yeah, in Picard season one, we had the
kind of like evil snakes coming out
of the portal at the end to destroy
the universe that we were told Was
What's it control?
Control was in Discovery?
Kevin: And then Picard also had a similar
threat at the end of its first season.
So we've, we've had a few of these
kind of galaxy ending artificial
intelligences that are vague
threats until the very last moment.
But yeah, I would like to focus
on a couple of kind of up close
and personal encounters with AI.
And yeah, I think it is true to say
that they are more frequent earlier on.
Rob: Excellent, excellent.
Well, uh, kick us off.
Where are we going to in
in our original series?
Is it 1, 2, or the dreaded 3?
Kevin: I have a season one original
series one that I bet if you were
researching this topic, I bet it did
turn up as an early example for you.
And this is TOS season one, episode 22,
The Return of the Archons, which people
will remember as the Landru episode.
In this episode, the Enterprise, is
beaming up Sulu from a kind of undercover
mission, one of these early missions
where they go down in local garb to
investigate a culture undercover.
Kevin: The cold open of this
is Sulu's being chased down the
street of the Paramount backlot
by men in robes and large sticks.
And just before he gets beamed
up from his emergency call, which
takes a suspiciously long time.
They hadn't figured out how quick the
transporters can work this early in TOS.
He calls for help, then closes his...
communicator, and he's there with
another crew member, and the other
crew member's like, We gotta run!
They're gonna get us!
And Sulu's like, No, if we
move, they won't beam us up.
And the other crew member
freaks out and runs off.
But it is a good 30 seconds to
a minute before they can manage
to energize the transporter in
response to Sulu's emergency call.
Rob: That is early days, wow.
Kevin: yeah, he gets zapped by one of
these Lawgivers we end up discovering
they're called at the last moment
just before he beams up and he
materializes on the transporter pad
and he is all dreamily goofy and he's
talking about being one with the body,
and about the joy and happiness of
Landru, and it is very mysterious.
And the rest of this episode is
about unraveling that mystery.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and some security
officers who are barely named beamed down
to the planet, also undercover, in order
to try to get to the bottom of this.
It is a patchily written episode,
and it is, it works as much in
its favor as to its detriment.
That there are some things that are
barely explained in this episode.
And that is good in that it trusts
the audience to make assumptions
and tell their own story, fill
in those gaps in the story.
In the end, this is the first famous
time that Kirk causes a computer to
destroy itself by using logic against it.
He and Spock eventually confront
this computer that is calling
itself Landru face to face or
Rob: Screen to face.
Kevin: face to large computer
box with blinking lights
that takes up most of a room.
And Landru explains that Landru was
actually the name of the original leader
of this planet 6,000 years ago, but
as he was dying, Landru did not want
to leave the planet untended, and so,
as its benevolent dictator, what he
did was he built a computer and put
his intelligence into the computer to
become the caretaker of the planet.
And the computer, as computers do in
Star Trek, took it a little too far.
Went a little too logical with it and
decided that the best way to ensure
the health of the planet and the local
populace was to remove all of their
passions, all of their creativity,
all of their problematic emotions,
and to put these humanoid creatures
into the control of the computer and
all they do is smile and walk slowly
and greet each other and talk like a
strange, it's an interesting dialect.
A sample of this is one of, when
they are first being greeted, Kirk
and crew are asking if there's
a place they can stay the night.
And one of the locals says to the other
one, Your daddy can put them up, can he?
And they have these
little turns of phrases.
And it's only in a couple of scenes that
this kind of broken English is used,
but it's an early example of yeah, the
whole galaxy speaks English thanks to
the universal translator, but sometimes
it's a kind of a weird alien English.
And I thought that was interesting too.
Anyway, yeah climax of this episode where
Kirk says, Landru, your prime directive
is to protect the body and you are harming
the body, so you know what you have to do.
And the computer shoots smoke and
sparks and then destroys itself.
It is somewhat anticlimactic
by modern Star Trek standards.
At the time, it would have been this
revolutionary science fiction story
idea that would have had us bowled over.
But watching it all these
years later, it's funny how...
perfunctory it is.
Like, literally the computer destroys
itself, Kirk and Spock turn to each other.
There are like locals in the room who
are aghast at what has just happened.
Their God has just died.
They have never thought for
themselves in their entire lives.
And they don't know what
to do to each other.
Kirk and Spock look at each other
and start making jokes like, wow,
man, these people are going to
have their hands full figuring out
what to do for themselves, right?
Anyway, Kirk to Enterprise, beam us up.
And they literally do not
say a word to the locals.
They destroy the computer, turn around,
make a couple of jokes and beam up.
It is the original example of
Starfleet making a complete mess of
a local society and then peace out
right at the end of the episode.
Rob: Yeah, Prime Directive, what's that?
Oh my god.
Kevin: There is a good back and forth
about the Prime Directive where Spock
says you can't destroy that computer
and Kirk says the Prime Directive
refers to living, growing societies.
Do you think that's what this is?
And the matter is settled there, but at
least they give some lip service to it.
Rob: Oh, exactly, and that justifies why
they just completely ghosted the actual
inhabitants of the planet who they have
now destroyed their society forever.
Just go, yeah, we thought about
it, we talked about it for
a little bit, now we can go.
Kevin: The computer is surprisingly up
for a chat, like throughout this episode
it is this looming, scary force that
works through these speechless lawgivers
that point hollow tubes at you and rob
you of your self determination, and
it is all very foreboding, but then
finally when they find the computer,
it's answering questions, it's up
for a chat, it's ready for a logicful
debate, and in the end is willing to
destroy itself for the good of the body.
Rob: Of course.
Yeah, you beat it with logic,
so what else can you do?
It's such a, it's such a...
A trope of sci fi.
One of my favorite Doctor Who stories
again, me branching out into other
franchises, is a John Pertwee story,
my favorite Doctor called The Green
Death, and the big reveal at the end is
that the boss, the person in charge and
behind all this, is a computer that fills
an entire room, and yeah, he, again,
is the Doctor, just like Kirk defeats
it by using logic or, wordplay and
childish phrases and gimmicks and stuff
like that to short circuit the system.
Ah, the evil computer
can be so easily defeated.
Kevin: Yeah, I will say I think this is
the first evil computer in Star Trek.
Rob: I was looking at
modern stuff, but my...
Schedule halted me from really doing
a deep dive into it, so I've gone with
something I have seen and something that
heralded in Star Trek on the big screen.
We're gonna be talking about V'ger
from Star Trek The Motion Picture.
Kevin: Of course.
Rob: Voyager 6 a made up probe sent out,
Kevin: There's still time, Rob.
There's still time.
Rob: There is still time.
We haven't sent out a Voyager probe for
a long time, but we can do it again.
So at that point, Voyager probes
were sent out into space, and so they
extrapolated on that, that the sixth
one traveled for so far, it was actually
discovered by this mysterious...
civilization based on purely
technological beings, like AI as it were.
That's never mentioned, obviously.
And they try with their infinite knowledge
and intelligence to decipher this
rudimentary basic signal and messaging
of what Voyager was trying To pass on
to any possible lifeforms out there.
And of course they protect this ship
and send it home and without fully
understanding the basicness of its
purpose, and send it back protected, and
of course wipes out anything in its path,
and it's up to Kirk and the Enterprise in
very beige outfits and acting like they
didn't really want to be there, to solve
the problem, and so how how technology
and humanity can work together, and how
they can connect in more ways than one.
Kevin: Of course, Star Trek, the motion
picture does not have a spotless record.
There are a lot of people who say
it's the movie to skip, if you're
going to watch your Star Trek movies,
Rob: I think that's a bit cruel.
Kevin: I agree.
I think it is underrated, and
especially with the recent remastering
in 4K, you can stream it online.
If you've got Paramount Plus, you
can watch it for free and it looks
better than it has ever looked before.
They've fixed the vast majority
of the problems that plagued that
picture, which were largely schedule
and budgetary and a special effects
company that was in over its head.
The movie looks and moves better than
it has ever before, and so never seen
it, it's definitely worth a watch.
Rob: Yes, and this 4K one that
is on Paramount Plus is also
available in physical media.
It's the Director's Cut.
There was the original theatrical
version, there was an extended version
that was released, but this is the...
The definitive director's cut much like
Ridley Scott's final cut of Blade Runner.
This is one that everyone goes This is
what Robert Wise of course the famous
iconic director of The Day the Earth
Stood Still and many other great films
Rob: In to direct this.
Kevin: I say all this, I heap all
this praise on the movie and encourage
you to watch it because I'm about
to spoil the plot of that movie.
So if you haven't seen it,
please pause and take a minute.
But what V'ger, what we learn about
V'ger in the end is that was that
Voyager 6 probe that encountered
a machine planet which we've never
heard referenced again in Star Trek.
Rob: Never again, no.
Kevin: If you were to try to pick what
that could be that we already know about
in Star Trek now, like there's nothing so
close as the Borg out there that you could
almost imagine that V'ger is the result of
the Borg modifying Voyager 6 and sending
it back, but it is not deliberately
sent back on a destructive mission.
It is sent back in search of its creator,
Kevin: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek
at this time, and largely throughout
the movies, had this fascination
with the creator and with God and
where does religion meet science
fiction and what are creation myths
in a world of science and logic?
Rob: It's a very big part of 1960s
sci fi, like it's explored in Planet
of the Apes, and many other, whether
it be the Twilight Zone as well, or
The Outer Limits, stuff like that.
That connection with technology
and belief, and connected
with a higher power as well.
Can they coexist?
Kevin: Yeah, so when Voyager 6, a machine,
is modified by an intelligent planet or
race of machines to go in search of its
creator, it expects to find a machine,
but what it finds is Earth populated by
these carbon units that must be sterilized
in order to try to find its creator.
So at the climax of this story, Kirk
has to try to convince this machine
that its creator is actually human.
And the best way he can figure
out to do that is to sacrifice
his XO Decker to the cause.
And he, Decker doesn't seem to
mind at all because V'ger is
embodied by a very attractive
lady at that point in the movie.
Rob: And she has no hair on her
head and all his hair stands on end.
Kevin: That's, ironically.
Rob: Yeah, that's the thing.
The Borg are a creation that is
quite, robotic, mechanical, but
they cannot exist without carbon
units or, they are the absolute
definition of of a cybernetic race.
In fact, even in, we get that in
Picard Season 3, that case of we are
at the end of, we're desperate, we
don't have any more units we don't
have any more, things to assimilate.
So they're dying out
unless they have that.
This is fascinating because
it is an existence, a race
that is entirely mechanical.
It's such a wonderful mythological ideal.
In the film it feels that way.
The way they talk about it, it's
beautifully written, beautifully
written about a race of machines.
And they don't even think about, as
you said, they're just carbon units.
They exist in a world where all
they think about is the mechanical.
And to look for the
mechanical creator of them.
Kevin: It's a nice big idea.
If you're a fan of the Voyager probes
and NASA as I am, it is a little
discouraging that all the Voyager
probes famously have a gold record
attached to them and a plaque that
has a drawing of a man and a woman.
And it's supposed to say, here we
are, and this is what we look like.
We are carbon units.
Come and find us.
V'ger did not bother to read the manual of
Rob: It was all scorched, and
so even it couldn't read Voyager
properly, so it was just V'ger.
So the gold record might have
been picked up by Ferengi.
And, yeah, and they would have
taken the picture as well.
That would have been their
version of titillation, possibly.
Kevin: Yeah the lady's naked on
the plaque, so it would have fit
right in as home decor among the
We can retcon this as much as we want.
So yeah, they're not in
the purest sense evil.
They're coming from a place of
really binary thought process.
But the actions they do are quite
callous in how they have no emotions
at all, and the potential they
have to wipe out civilizations.
And just the fact that they have
so much power and like how it just
you know, kilometers of protection.
Just imagine if this species
come back, at full force, this
is just a probe being protected.
It's a fascinating concept that
we have never returned to, because
maybe it's too big, and too immense,
and too powerful, and too deadly.
Kevin: One of the too-cruel nicknames
for Star Trek The Motion Picture
given to it by its critics was
Star Trek, the motionless picture.
And there are some very long, slow
scenes as was the style at the time.
But another of the titles that
it's been given over the years
is Where Nomad Has Gone Before.
That is a reference to Nomad, which
is a, another evil robot in Star
Trek, that appeared in the original
series episode, The Changeling,
which is Season 2, Episode 8.
Rob: What a segue!
Kevin: In The Changeling, the
Enterprise happens upon a probe
in space that calls itself Nomad,
and it is an intelligent robot.
They bring it on board the ship, it
has a look around, it tries to make
sense of these carbon units, and then
it decides its job is to sterilize
the Enterprise of the carbon units in
order to uh, remove the infestation
from the ship, which is obviously the
important, mechanistic presence here.
And the crew has to temporarily
incapacitate Nomad, then they
throw it in the transporter
room and beam it out to nowhere.
Um, but the fact that this is so similar
a story to The Motion Picture is the
main criticism that I've heard about
that movie, is that at the height of The
Changeling, Spock mind melds with Nomad
and tells the story of Nomad encountering
an alien space probe, which it calls
Tan Ru, and Tan Ru is on a mission to
sterilize something and that gets mixed
up with Nomad which is an earth probe's
mission to collect biological samples
and that becomes sterilize biological
samples which is the bad thing that
Nomad tries to do in this episode.
Rob: The worst possible combination.
Kevin: Really, when you watch them
side by side, it is blatant that they
went we need a story for a movie.
What's a good one that we can tell again?
Rob: I love with both of those titles
you've got, the motionless picture, which
is clearly from a cinemaphile reviewer
who's steeped in cinema history, and
then you've got Where Nomad Has Gone
Before, and I'm going, and as you've just
explained, that is pure Star Trek fans
going, ha, look at how clever we are.
Kevin: That's right.
Yeah, not a bad episode, The Changeling.
I think I would recommend both The Motion
Picture and The Changeling for rewatches.
They're both a good time.
It is a shame that they are
so similar to each other.
Maybe to, don't watch them back to
back until, unless you really like
your evil computer stories, because
they are very similar, but it's fun
that they're both reasonably good
and they're both shockingly similar.
Rob: Well done.
Kevin: I was not planning to
talk about The Changeling.
So I will take us to
one last example, which
Rob: I wonder if it's the episode I wanted
to watch, and I'm interested to hear.
Is it from the original series?
Kevin: it is not,
Ooh, okay, I will
Kevin: which one did you have in mind?
Rob: I wanted to explore
The Ultimate Computer.
Kevin: Oh, yeah, I think we've
talked about it once before.
And it's a pretty good one.
That's the one where the Enterprise is
used for training exercises where they
hook it up to the M-5 Multitronic unit.
But yeah, Dr.
Daystrom is on board.
He has created the M-5 Multitronic unit
and he hooks it up to the Enterprise
and he's like, this is autopilot,
it's intelligent autopilot, and it
will make Starfleet crews obsolete.
I think we talked about it
when uh, Lower Decks did this
with its automated starships.
And eventually it goes rogue,
and it does not understand that
it is all a training exercise.
And when the it destroys a real
starship full of people and they try
to unhook it from the Enterprise.
It decides to defend itself against these
humans that are trying to destroy it.
So yeah, it's a good one for sure.
Rob: Great stuff in there, like it's
originally written by a guy Lawrence
Wolfe, who was a mathematician,
never wrote anything before or
after, it was heavily rewritten by D.
Daystrom was of course played by
William Marshall, who went on to
famously play Blackula, you got it.
Um, and there's great stories about
behind the scenes where Marshall
towered, literally physically towered
over Shatner, and Shatner uh, did
not want to be shown as Kirk as
being physically weak and short.
Boxes were brought in or Marshall
always had to sit down so that
Kirk could be either above him.
Great little stories like that.
Kevin: I'm gonna have to go through
my archive of books and see if there's
a picture of of Bill Shatner standing
on an apple box anywhere to be had.
Rob: So yes, that is an
episode for me to go back to.
Kevin: Yeah, it's a classic.
Very memorable in my mind cause
you know I'm a fan of starships.
There are several shots of three
Constitution class ships hanging
in space together as part of the
war games that they're doing.
And just that, that seeing multiple
Federation starships on screen at one
time, that was revelatory at the time.
It made Starfleet feel big in
a way that it never had before.
Rob: And it'd be great to watch it with
the episodes that are on Paramount Plus.
– we're not being sponsored by them at
all, but – with the new special effects
as well to see oh, it's commonplace
now, like Deep Space Nine, you've got,
with the later seasons, you've got
Klingons and Romulans and Ferengi and
all type of ships coming in all over
the place, stopping in at Terok Nor.
Yeah, this would have been a
revolutionary episode of going
look, this is the potential.
It's broadening it out even further.
No my episode that I'll take
us to is way out in Voyager.
And this is Star Trek Voyager Season
2, Episode 13, entitled Prototype.
And in the cold open of this
episode, Voyager rescues from the
vacuum of space, a humanoid robot
whose power supply is failing.
And about half of this episode is
B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim working
together to try to revive this that
they're not even sure if it's intelligent
or if it actually walks and talks.
It's just this inert humanoid shape
lying on a table in engineering.
The power supply is not compatible with
anything that Voyager has on board and
B'Elanna talks to the Doctor and comes up
with the idea of a transfusion and yada
yada, they manage to wake up the robot.
And what the robot wants more than
anything else in the world is for B'Elanna
Torres to help him repopulate his species.
He is a member of a fading, dying
race whose creators no longer exist.
They died off millennia ago and the
surviving robots are failing one by one.
They cannot figure out how
to reproduce themselves or to
recreate their own technology.
And uh, so they need an engineer.
And B'Elanna Torres is excited to help,
but it is against Janeway's better
judgment to assist a species you only
just met with repopulating themselves.
And it turns out Janeway's instincts
are on the money on this one.
Rob: Of course they are.
Of course they are.
We know Janeway, come on.
Kevin: Do you remember this one at all?
Rob: I'm looking it up right now,
and I've got vague memories of it.
It's quite uh, iconic in the
simplicity of, the design
The actor in the silver mask
and suit is very memorable.
And that's, that's what brought
this one back to my memory.
I didn't remember what happened,
what these androids were about.
I remembered this inscrutable,
expressionless silver face.
And going, did they turn
out to be good or evil?
I can't quite remember.
And so I went and looked it up and
sure enough, it was it was a switcheroo
where they seem completely innocent.
Rob: Bait and switch!
Kevin: When Janeway decides,
no, we will not be helping
this race to repopulate itself.
That would be a violation of the
Prime Directive, interestingly enough.
Kevin: And B'Elanna is frustrated but
decides to obey her captain's order.
She delivers the news to this android
who promptly kidnaps her, takes her
back to his ship and forces her to
take on this engineering project, in
which she is ultimately successful.
What she discovers is that every one
of these androids' power supplies is
uniquely coded to power only that android.
And so it is almost like copy protection.
It's like they were deliberately
designed not to be able to reproduce.
That should like, sound
some warning bells.
B'Elanna, of course, is an
excellent engineer and manages
to bypass the copy protection and
create a generic power supply.
And she creates a new android,
and it wakes up and asks for its
programming, and they celebrate for
a few sweet seconds until another
android ship shows up and opens fire.
And it turns out that there are at
least two factions of these androids.
They are at war with each other.
Giving one of them the ability to
reproduce and not the other one would
be upsetting the balance of this war.
That is a textbook side effect
of violating the Prime Directive.
Rob: right there.
First page of the textbook.
Kevin: But the final uh, shoe that drops
in this episode is it is revealed that
both of these factions of androids used
to have organic creators who were at
war with each other and they made these
androids to fight their war as a proxy.
And in the end, these two organic
races or factions that were with at
war with each other, they made peace.
They decided to call off the war, and
the androids said, No sir, that's not my
programming and if you're gonna get in my
the way of this war, we will destroy you.
So the androids killed their creators,
in order to fight their war everlasting.
And Voyager very nearly...
contributed to one side of them winning.
Rob: Silly B'Elanna!
Kevin: Yeah, silly B'Elanna.
B'Elanna is rescued, she manages to
destroy the prototype at the last moment,
and Voyager hightails it out of there.
Rob: There you go.
That's a good one.
And that's that's classic sci
fi stuff in there as well.
Of course, you know, the, the
creation killing its creator.
Something that appears good, but
is actually evil behind a facade.
All that classic stuff,
it just yums it up.
That's what, that is the meat and potatoes
of of the sci fi writer, right there.
Kevin: Without looking, I bet
you can guess who directed this.
Yes, Jonathan Frakes directed this.
Our beards are connected.
I've got a psychic beardal connection.
And this is from that early era of
Voyager where it hadn't found the Borg.
It hadn't found Seven of Nine.
It was too early to make meaningful
progress towards returning home.
So this was Voyager at the height of it,
at the height of its first incarnation,
when Voyager was a story about an
isolated ship on a journey that it
was never going to complete, and what
adventures did it have on the way?
What self contained adventures
would it have along the way?
So yeah it's a nice a nice example of the
original plan for Voyager, what that would
feel like when it was successful week to
Rob: Yeah, it definitely feels
like taking advantage of them being
in this new quadrant where you...
They literally have no idea
Kevin: You don't know the lay of the land.
You don't know that there, there
is a war that happened here and
those robots are not to be trusted.
If you find one, you put it back.
Rob: You hightail it out of there.
But it's a good one.
There are no doubt many more examples
of evil artificial intelligences
and computers to be discovered,
and I'm going to suggest, Rob,
that we leave them on the shelf.
I'm sure we will have another
excuse to talk about evil
computers sometime in the future.
Rob: I suggest putting them in the
shelf, and then closing it up and
sealing it up with all the other ones.
And they can communicate
amongst themselves, but they
can stay hidden within...
I just realized, so Daystrom is in
charge of creating something deadly and
dangerous that can wipe out everything.
And they name
Kevin: You noticed that, did you?
It is kind of weird that...
The Ultimate Computer ends with
Daystrom being carted off as a
burbling madman going, My, my child,
my computer, you can't unplug it!
And then they name an institute after
him where they store the evil computers.
Let it not be said that the, that
Starfleet and the Federation are
not without a sense of irony.
Yeah, they must be self aware of that.
Self conscious of what they've just done.
Gee, it's weird.
Okay, we're putting it out there, okay?
I'm sure we're not the first
Kevin: Maybe Dr.
Daystrom had a brother who's perfectly
well adjusted and went on to make lots
of important contributions to science.
Rob: A twin brother, Lore Daystrom.
Prodigy is back.
Kevin: Prodigy is back.
I am, uh, you know, nothing's gonna
change the fact that this is a frustrating
state of affairs, that Star Trek has
decided to split off one of its excellent
series and put it up for sale, and I
think you called it that Netflix would
be picking it up, didn't you, Rob?
Rob: Yeah, I had an inkling they would.
It's like they've disowned a child.
There's so much within Star Trek
and this is the one that they
draw their line in the sand?
It's another weird thing.
It's another weird thing.
I don't know why Star Trek Paramount
have done it, but yeah, we get season one
starting very soon this year on Netflix.
That's 2023 if any of you are
finding this in the future.
And season two will start in early 20 24.
Kevin: Which cements, I think, the rest
of this year being pretty vacant of
Star Trek, that we are going to finish
off our run of Lower Decks Season 4
here and then go into a little bit of a
drought into the end of the year before
Discovery premieres early in the new year.
Rob: Yes, we'll have a
bit of a break in between.
Kevin: I am really looking
forward to Season 2 of Prodigy.
The level of difficulty for what
they are attempting in that story is
pretty high so I can't wait to see.
It may be a dumpster fire, but it
will be entertaining to watch whether
it is because it's an amazing story
that is not to be missed, or it is
an amazing mess not to be missed.
Rob: Yeah, same here.
And I love the fact that Kate Mulgrew
publicly on all her social medias
made a statement directly to all
the fans and supporters of Prodigy.
Was very heartfelt.
Because, it, to have, they're not
only denying a portion of Star Trek
that's been criticized with some
hardcore Star Trek fans for going,
being directed too much at kids.
But that's a direct criticism
to, yeah boo to them.
I bite my thumb at thee.
But to openly turn down a show that has
been such a goldmine for Kate Mulgrew
and such a tribute to her and her work.
Yeah, they're not real fans if
they're denying a show that is showing
off Kate Mulgrew so brilliantly.
Kevin: Yeah I agree
with everything you say.
For the interest of science, I'm going
to provide a contrasting viewpoint that I
think what this state of affairs tells us
is that Prodigy did not find an audience.
And it's gonna have a second chance
to find an audience on Netflix.
Perhaps there are many more families
with kids who have Netflix than families
with kids who have Paramount Plus.
And so Maybe it will find a
groundswell of audience following
that, that justifies a third season.
But I feel like they, they have an uphill
battle to fight here with season two.
That if, if season...
I don't think people are going to start
with season two and be captivated.
What it really depends on is does season
one find a new audience on Netflix when
it goes live here at the end of the year.
And if it does, that could lead
Netflix to order a third season.
I think the jury is very much out on that.
At the moment, the most likely
outcome in my mind is that
season two is the final season.
Rob: Yeah, oh, that's, I
think that's the reality.
Especially Netflix, because they are so...
If they do not get a big spike
in viewership or new membership
they will, yeah, they will not
Kevin: It needs to go viral.
People need to start posting
those Prodigy TikToks right away.
Rob: I mean it does prove a lot of the
criticism from some of the hardcore
fans was Star Trek shouldn't have
a show directed towards children
because what made it so special as
Star Trek, it just directed itself
at a high level and didn't, as in
their words, talk down in some ways.
And so the children found it because
they didn't feel as if they were being
taught, patronized to or talked down to.
I, I get that, but after we
watch it, it's, And it took me
a while to get into it as well.
I went Star Trek for kids?
But watching I'm going no, no,
no, this is solid Star Trek.
It's got a banger theme tune.
It's got a, a great new approach
to how we view the Federation
from the outsider's point of view.
So it's going to be interesting to see
those outsiders within the working of it.
And as I've said, Kate Mulgrew
given the second life that she
deserved within the franchise that
she brought so much quality to.
Kevin: Here, here.
let's hope the streaming gods
are kind to Prodigy on Netflix.
Rob: Let's knock on all the
Romulan wood and hope for the best.