Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 24

The Ultimate Computer (8 Mar. 1968)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Reviews: 13 user | 4 critic

Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system that could potentially render them all redundant.

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Scott / M-5 / Starbase Officer
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Sean Morgan ...
Barry Russo ...
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Storyline

Kirk is none too impressed when he's told that the Enterprise is to compete in simulated war games but under the control of a new computer. The M-5 computer is the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom, who is confidant that his unit can not only take control of the starship but do a better job than humans can. In its first simulated encounter, the Enterprise under M-5's control easily defeats two other starships. Soon, however, it begins to act independently of its human masters, tapping directly into the warp engines for its power and erecting a force field to protect itself. Daystrom has little interest in disconnecting the M-5 and treats it more like an errant child than a machine. For Kirk and the few crew members still aboard, it becomes a matter of life and death when Starfleet Command orders the Enterprise destroyed. Written by garykmcd

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8 March 1968 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In his 1999 essay "Welcome Aboard the Enterprise," science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer writes, "...the ship's computers, as seen in "The Ultimate Computer," were designed by a Nobel-prize-winning black cyberneticist, played with equal dignity by William Marshall. During the era of Martin Luther King and the Watts Riots, it was a powerful, important statement to have the white captain of the Enterprise deferring to black people; as Marshall observed thirty years later, the single most significant thing about his guest-starring role was that he, an African-American, was referred to as "Sir" throughout the episode." See more »

Goofs

As Kirk, Spock and McCoy ride the turbolift to engineering, Spock observes that it is unfortunate no computer can replace a starship surgeon. As they exit the turbolift, McCoy replies "Very funny" but his mouth is not moving. See more »

Quotes

Captain James T. Kirk: There were many men aboard those ships. They were murdered. Must you survive by murder?
M-5: This unit cannot murder.
Captain James T. Kirk: Why?
M-5: Murder is contrary to the laws of man and God.
Captain James T. Kirk: But you HAVE murdered. Scan the starship Excalibur, which you destroyed. Is there life aboard?
M-5: No life.
Captain James T. Kirk: Because you MURDERED it. What is the penalty for murder?
M-5: Death.
Captain James T. Kirk: And how will you pay for your acts of murder?
M-5: This - unit - must - die.
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Connections

Referenced in Futurama: Where No Fan Has Gone Before (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Finally, a counterpart for William Shatner
31 March 2006 | by (Goleta, CA) – See all my reviews

William Marshall (Daystrom) overacts with as much vigor as Shatner in this episode. Long impassioned monologues that leave me rolling on the floor laughing.

As usual, the writers didn't miss out on the chance for relevant social commentary. Back then, computers were so expensive, only corporations owned them. And it wasn't just the misinformed who gave computers more respect than they were due. Artificial Intelligence researchers believed that they would soon be matching human reasoning. Such power in the hands of a few was of course a frightening prospect.

Daystrom's best moments are at 29 and 42 minutes on the DVD.


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