Is the DMA Really an Updated ‘Star Trek’ Machine From the Past?


Paramount / Heavy Illustration Mr. Saru (Doug Jones), the DMA, and the Doomsday Machine

It is nearly upon you, dear fans of “Star Trek.” Much like previous seasons of “Star Trek: Discovery,” there is one nagging storyline that can only be fully understood by watching the final episode of the season.

For Season One, some fans were shocked to learn that Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) was actually from the Mirror Universe and fooled everyone. This came out a bit early but was still a season-ending surprise. Season Two asked fans to watch and wait as they revealed the mystery of the Red Angel, while Season Three gave fans the answer to what caused “The Burn.” That reveal was controversial, as many considered it a “big let down,” as noted by Trek Report


For Season Four, fans have been wondering exactly what the Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) is. This was made even more unbearable thanks to a built-in, mid-season show pause. As revealed in “Rubicon” and “The Galactic Barrier,” the crew learns that the DMA is somehow controlled remotely and outside the Milky Way Galaxy.

Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Saru (Doug Jones), and the rest of the Discovery crew have been hard at work attempting to understand what the DMA is. After Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) destroyed the first DMA controller, the crew (and Starfleet) surmised that they must break free of our galaxy to initiate first contact with the species, known as 10C. 

Thanks to research and calculations done by Zora (Annabelle Wallis) and Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), the crew knows that the DMA is mining “boronite” from the planets it is destroying. This all seems a bit familiar, as fans might remember another incident when the U.S.S. Enterprise faced an impervious and automated machine set on destruction.

‘The Doomsday Machine’

In the second season of “The Original Season,” Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and the rest of the crew faced a threat like no other. It was a massive, unstoppable machine that destroyed everything in its path. Shaped like a blue and purple cornucopia, the device destroyed a solar system and crippled the U.S.S. Constellation.

Spock said that after the destruction by the Doomsday Machine, there was “nothing left but rubble and asteroids.” 

The writer of that episode, Norman Spinrad, says that he was inspired to write the story after reading a book on the hydrogen bomb. At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a race to build the largest atomic weapon stockpile. The introduction of the H-Bomb created the concept of mutual destruction. Meaning, that if the U.S.S.R. attacked the U.S. with a hydrogen bomb, the U.S. would retaliate, ensuring that both nations (and likely the entire human world) would be destroyed in the process. 

Spinrad was also influenced by the “Berserker” series by Fred Saberhagen. Those books focused on “self-aware … world-sized battlecraft [which] carved a swath of death through the galaxy,” according to Good Reads

In “The Doomsday Machine,” the spacecraft destroyed planets (or anything else in its path). They used what was extracted to power itself to its next victim. Only thanks to a suicide mission by Commodore Matt Decker (William Windom) was the Doomsday Machine stopped. 

Could the DMA be an updated Doomsday Machine?

Like the DMA, the Doomsday Machine came from another galaxy, as Kirk noted. Like the DMA, the Doomsday Machine was virtually indestructible. Even the letters ‘DMA’ are represented in “The Doomsday Machine.” The DMA and Doomsday Machine are robotic and go from place to place, destroying and absorbing. 

Because of the episodic nature of “Star Trek” initially, there was no revisiting the machine after the show was completed. This worked well for the time and eventually was one of the reasons why “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” was such a great story because Kirk never “bothered to check” on the progress of those he left on Ceti-Alpha V

It could be that the crew might have encountered another Doomsday Machine, or the original device could have restarted itself if Trek had lasted more than three seasons. The episode does not specify if the Doomsday Machine uses any particular element or power source — like boromite. But, boronite was used by the Borg, and fans have suspected for years that the Doomsday Machine might be connected to the Borg somehow

Original Series vs. Discovery

If there is a connection between these two giant, destructive forces, it would not be the first time the writers of “Discovery” have modeled their show on the original. Many fans noted how Burnham and Kirk both seem to be able to do anything, and they both won’t accept a no-win scenario. In Season Four, the crew of “Discovery” started referring to Saru as Mr. Saru, just like the way the crew of the Enterprise referred to their alien first officer

And, Burnham has begun to invite Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) into her ready room for high-level meetings. This recreates the TOS trinity, which worked well with the captain, alien first officer, and doctor. This formula is a bit different, as Dr. Culber is a lot less abrasive than Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Saru is incredibly emotional (even without his fear ganglia) compared to Spock. 

It could be that after 700 years (give or take), Species 10C redesigned their Doomsday Machine into the DMA, which obviously is much more deadly than the original.

READ NEXT: ‘Star Trek’ Actor John De Lancie Shares What’s Coming in Picard: Season 2

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