‘THE ULTIMATE COMPUTER’ (TOS)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
This is another one of my favourite ‘Star Trek’ episodes from ‘The Original Series’. In this episode, the Enterprise gets chose to test out a supercomputer in a series of simulated war games in outer space.
I like this concept of a supercomputer taking control of the Enterprise in this episode. It’s a typical concept of the 1960s and an idea that works well with the fear of humanity taken over by machines.
It gets interesting when it all goes wrong and the supercomputer starts going crazy with doing things against the Enterprise crew’s will. It also murders people when it’s defending itself and also the ship.
The supercomputer is called M-5 and was created by William Marshall as Dr. Richard Daystrom. Daystrom is a genius as he manages to plug the M-5 computer in all of the Enterprise ship’s systems.
But Daystrom is also over-protective of his M-5 computer, as he treats it like a child and wishes it to survive for the benefit of mankind. This behaviour causes him to be blind when the M-5 starts killing.
I was shocked seeing when Scotty and an engineering crewman try to shut M-5 down, that M-5 kills the engineering crewman with an energy beam. Kirk is horrified at this too as he accuses Daystrom.
In outer space, the M-5 causes the Enterprise to fire upon an oil ship in space as well as four Federation starships during a war game simulation. Kirk and the others struggle to stop M-5 doing it.
Early on in the episode, Kirk is dismayed with the M-5 having to do everything aboard the Enterprise with only a skeleton crew to maintain. Sulu, Chekov and Uhura find all Enterprise jobs done by M-5.
There’s a moment when Kirk decides to choose an away team that includes him to visit a planet, but M-5 choose a different away team list without him. M-5 states that Kirk is ‘non-essential personnel’.
Kirk soon comes to fear the fact that he’s to be made redundant should M-5 take over completely. I liked that scene when Bones goes to comfort and reassure Kirk of the situation with a glass of wine.
It gets really tense when Barry Russo as Commodore Robert Wesley, after trying to contact Kirk, decides to destroy the Enterprise because of M-5’s behaviour. Daystrom is very unhappy about this.
Kirk persuades Daystrom to get M-5 to listen to him. Daystrom agrees, but his chat with the M-5 computer doesn’t help. He and the computer are one and the same since they share the same mind.
Kirk decides that the M-5 computer must be destroyed. Daystrom becomes unhappier with this and he almost attacks Kirk before Spock gets to knock him out with a Vulcan nerve-pinch on his shoulder.
I liked it when Kirk finally manages to get in touch with the M-5 computer and persuades it to listen to him that it has murdered people. When M-5 learns this mistake, it soon destroys itself in the end.
I like how during the episode, Kirk, Spock and Bones debate about whether it’s better to have a computer control the Enterprise or not. There are funny moments between Spock and Bones in this.
I must say I’m very impressed with the new CGI effects sequences of the Enterprise in space featured in the remastered version of the episode. The new shots of the Federation starships are even better.
‘The Ultimate Computer’ is a wonderful ‘Star Trek’ episode that I like and it is very gripping about this supercomputer aboard the Enterprise. It was interesting how Kirk and the others get M-5 shut down.
The DVD special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 6 of the original DVD and Disc 8 of the re-mastered DVD of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 2’, there is a preview trailer for this episode.
‘The Ultimate Computer’ (TOS) rating – 10/10
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