Star Trek TOS: How to Fall in Love with a Machine

Star Trek TOS: How to Fall in Love with a Machine - Metamorphosis
Star Trek TOS: Metamorphosis

Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 2, Episode 9


As a taxi service, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy took Nancy Hedmond back to the Enterprise at the start of Metamorphosis. She was summoned to prevent a war by Starfleet but fell sick to a rare disease. 

During the transport, turmoil began. A cloud engulfed the front of the ship, disabling its operations. They stopped on Gamma Canaris, discovering nothing was wrong with their equipment — but nothing worked either. A true paradox.

Screams commenced off in the distance. A blue-eyed man named Cochrane encountered the group, and he was surprisingly friendly. Must be too good to be true. 

In a foretelling exchange, Kirk and McCoy speculated Cochrane was familiar, but they couldn’t quite finger the connection. Meanwhile, Nancy broke out in a fever. Soon after, the group determined the familiarity — Cochrane was a time-traveling old man disguised as a young one. Cochrane invented space warp technology. Kind of a big deal, huh?

Nancy took a turn for the worse, weeping in pain as Cochrane and Kirk’s team struggled to understand each other. The cloud from the top of the episode, called Companion, appeared throughout Metamorphosis. And it was controlled by Cochrane. Companion was retrieved by Cochrane with hopes it could heal Nancy. But Cochrane informed Kirk the mysterious cloud was not in the business of healing people. 

Star Trek, Original Series, Season 2, Metamorphosis

Spock was trying to fix the fallen ship, Galileo, and was shocked by Companion with electricity. 

Point of order: The music in this episode was significantly more dramatic and sorrowful than most others. 

Companion turned rogue, choking Kirk and Spock in its cloud. Cochrane came to his senses and ceased the electricity emitting from the apparition. They broke free and started a dialogue with the cloud. 

Companion wanted humans to remain captive, whereas Kirk preached the merits of human freedom. Spock diagnosed Companion loved Cochrane. Not too thrilled by the news of love with a machine, Cochrane decried the “inhuman monster” qualities of machine-man love. Wait until he realizes how many men fell in love with the allure of technology in the decades to come.

The cloud furthered its commitment to love for Cochrane. Kirk rebuked the notion of “true love,” explaining the difference between machines and humans. Companion was not impressed, so it entered the body of the sickly Nancy. Immediately, Nancy roared back to health, showing flawless vital signs.

So, Companion conjoined to Nancy. Would the cloud in the shell of a human be enough to attain the love of Cochrane? She begged for it. Yes, it would. Cochrane and Companion Nancy joined hands, adventuring off to do who knows what

The two — it appeared — lived happily ever after. 

Man can love machine so long as it has a human touch, a prophetic wink from Star Trek to the 21st Century. 

This was likely as lovey-dovey as it gets for Star Trek — the music told the whole story. It felt like a romantic film from the 1950s.

Themes: Man’s Love for Machine

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).