Star Trek/Recap/S2/E06 The Doomsday Machine

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The Enterprise is investigating the destruction of several planetary systems when they come across the crippled starship, the U.S.S Constellation. The only person on board is Commodore Matthew Decker, the ship's captain. Through the disturbed captain's rantings and the pre-recorded Captain's Log, Kirk and co. deduce that after the ship was severely damaged, the entire crew was beamed down to a local planet, the captain taking the duty of going down with the ship after seeing to his crew's safety. However, a planet destroying weapon constructed long ago by a long dead race destroys the very planet where the captain thought his crew would be safe, leaving him alive and grieving. While Kirk, Scotty and a small repair crew stay on board the Constellation, Decker is beamed back with McCoy.

Decker isn't taking Survivor Guilt very well and takes command of the Enterprise upon learning that Spock would rather take logical steps than press forward and destroy the planet killer at all costs. Decker recklessly endagers the crew in his attempts to destroy the thing that killed his crew. When Kirk finds out about this, he is not amused to say the least. He manages to talk Decker into giving command back to Spock and report to sick bay. Decker graciously returns command to the Vulcan, but doesn't go to sick bay as commanded. Instead, he steals a shuttlecraft, intent to shove it down the machine's gullet- with himself inside.

They are unable to save Decker. He doesn't want to be saved. However, Kirk believes he had the right idea to destroy the device. He just needs something bigger than a shuttlecraft. Hmmm...this junked up starship that no one's using just might do....

Tropes used in The Doomsday Machine include:
  • Awesome Music: The music that plays when Kirk faces off against the machine sounds like the Jaws theme doing a counterpoint to a more heroic musical sting. The music was re-used in the episode "Obsession".
  • Beard of Sorrow: It's probably been a few days since the destruction of the crew of the Constellation, as Decker has grown some hefty stubble. His unkempt appearance makes him stand out among the clean and neat members of the Enterprise crew.
  • Catastrophic Countdown: Kirk has 30 seconds to get off the Constellation.
  • Dead Little Starship: Decker takes the destruction of the crew of the Constellation very personal.
  • Death Seeker: Decker
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: The very first thing we notice about Decker is the "Lord, kill me now!" look in his eyes.
  • First-Name Basis: Kirk used "Decker" when telling him to give command back to Spock. He switches to "Matt" when begging him not to kamikaze the Doomsday Machine.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Decker intended to do this. Ironically, however, the planet he sent his crew to for their safety was destroyed, leaving him alive. Decker had to settle for going down with a shuttlecraft.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:

Kirk: Bones, have you ever heard of the Doomsday Machine?

Bones: No, I'm a doctor, not a mechanic.

  • Jerkass Woobie: Decker. We feel bad for him since he's mourning the loss of his crew. Still, he can be a real jerk.
  • My Greatest Failure: Decker sees the death of the Constellation as a failure on his part, and very nearly puts the Enterprise in the same peril.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Giant cone of planetary destruction spinning around in space like a forgotten land mine.
  • Not So Different: It is inferred that before the disaster, Decker wasn't very different from Kirk.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Scotty looses his brogue when he's telling Kirk how to detonate the Constellation.
  • Playing Sick: Inverted when Decker insists he's competent to command a starship when he is clearly mentally unbalanced. Played straight when he fakes a cough just before slugging Lt. Montgomery while being escorted to sick bay.
  • Precision H Strike: Contrary to popular belief, never once on the TV series did Bones say "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a X!" (In this ep, for example, he says "No, I'm a doctor, not a mechanic.") Laws about swearing on TV were strictly enforced at the time. However, Decker does manage to slip in a "Hell" when comparing the machine to a devil.
  • Pure Is Not Good: The machine is made of pure neutronium. Whatever that is, it isn't good!
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Decker v the Doomsday Machine
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Decker really didn't need to sacrifice himself to the machine.
  • Science Marches On: The air pressure aboard the Constellation is measured in Pounds per Square Inch. kPa (kilopasquel) is currently the preferred measure of pressure.
  • Suicide Mission: Decker wants that machine destroyed at any cost, even his own life.
  • Tear Jerker: Kirk begs Decker not to do what he's doing, but it falls on deaf ears.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The eponymous Doomsday Machine.