Recap: Star Trek S 1 E 4 The Naked Time

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Episode: Season 1, Episode 4
Title: The Naked Time
Previous: Where No Man Has Gone Before
Next: The Enemy Within
Recapper: Cue

"I'll never lose you. Never."
— Kirk, revealing his... fondness... for the Enterprise

The Enterprise has arrived at the ice planet Psi 2000 to document its impending collapse. Spock and some other loser beam down in Hazmat suits to investigate why a laboratory on the planet shows no life signs: turns out, everybody froze to death because someone left the door open and nobody cared enough to correct that. While Spock is investigating the corpses, his companion unwisely removes his glove to scratch his nose, allowing a strange red fluid to drip onto his hand.

Back on board the Enterprise, the Red Shirt starts acting strangely, in turns belligerent and depressed. He gets into a fight with Sulu and a guy named Lt. Riley, brandishes a dinner knife at them, and mildly injures himself. However, when McCoy operates on him, he dies, seemingly losing his will to live. McCoy is perplexed, as the victim was in good health and was previously known as a strong-willed individual. The reason for his odd behavior soon becomes apparent: he carried a virus that removes inhibitions (and makes one extremely sweaty, incidentally).

Chaos engulfs the ship as the virus spreads: crew members act careless, laughing maniacs run around the halls painting creepy messages in red paint, Sulu menaces passersby with a fencing sword, and Spock enters a crippling depression. Worst of all, Riley has locked himself in the engine room, stranding the ship just as the planet is breaking up, threatening the Enterprise. Kirk and Scotty try to break into the engine room while McCoy cooks up a vaccine. However, by the time Scotty gets the door open, it's revealed that the engines were stopped completely and that restarting them would take more time than the planet has. Desperate, Kirk orders Scotty to... do something involving matter/antimatter annihilation to get the Enterprise out of the way. Scotty cries that it only has a 1-in-10,000 chance of not blowing them to smithereens (so, naturally, it will work perfectly), but he needs Spock's help. Kirk tries to slap Spock out of his funk, but Spock only recovers when Kirk empathizes with him under the virus' influence and reveals the heavy burden of being Captain of the Enterprise — contrary to popular belief, you can never get laid, at least not with crew members. McCoy cures the crew and the ship escapes, but with a strange side-effect: it travels about three days backwards in time, in the series' first instance of time travel.

TNG ripped off simply revisited this scenario in "The Naked Now." ...just revisited.


  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Nurse Chapel makes one for Spock
  • Broken Tears: Spock loses all control over his emotions.
  • Cute but Cacophonic: Lt. Riley. "I'll take you hoooome Kathleeeeeeen!"
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Riley tells Uhura she can't have ice cream because she interrupted his song.
  • Driven to Suicide: Joe Tomerlin, who laments that humanity doesn't belong in space, stabs himself, and then despite receiving prompt medical attention, loses the will to live.
  • Drunken Song: Riley sings an old Irish ditty.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Lampshaded. Lt. Riley claims that Sulu's interest in Botany in The Man Trap was one of his weekly fads. This week it's Fencing.
    • They're still working through Spock's mannerisms by this time. When he nerve pinches Sulu, he says to the security guards, "Take D'Artagnan here to Sickbay."
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: A disease makes everyone get progressively drunker.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: Kirk attempts to slap Spock back into a steady state of mind. All it does is get Spock mad enough to slap him back, with enough force that he goes flying across the table.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Uhura's quip when Sulu says, "I'll protect you fair maiden.": "Sorry, neither."
  • Graceful Loser: After going through considerable effort to force their way into Engineering, Kirk leads the charge with Scotty and a pair of Security crewmen. Riley looks up from the chair and dryly observes: "No dance tonight."
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Kirk might not mind Riley's singing so much if it had somewhat less enthusiam and a little more musical talent.
  • The Hyena: The disease turns a few people into this.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Spock when he gets affected.
  • Love Is in the Air: The disease makes people lose their inhibitions, so many of the afflicted find themselves acting more amorous than usual.
  • Madness Mantra: Spock tries to ward off the effects of the disease by repeating "I am in control of my emotions." and reciting multiplication tables.
  • Million-to-One Chance
  • Murder Water: Contrary to the episode synopsis you just read, the episode itself doesn't have the cause be a virus — that was the retcon used in the 'revisiting' to cover the fact that the central premise of "The Naked Time" fell squarely into Science Marches On: polywater (a kind of high-viscosity, low-freezing point water that would tend to make other water into its own type). It's not actually sentient, but it is extremely dangerous, can move in ways that should be impossible, and is (a type of) water.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Kirk's reaction to Lt. Riley's announcement that he is going to sing another rendition of "I'll Take You Home Kathleen".
    Riley: And now, crew, I will render "Kathleen"...ooonnne moooore tiiiimme!
    Kirk (muttered): Please, not again.
  • Oireland: Riley goes uber-Irish while drunk.
  • Plot Hole: Is Uhura immune to the disease? She plainly touched Sulu's bare flesh. There is a later scene where she gets snippy with the Captain, but it was just due to stress.
    • Dr. McCoy, a front-line medical worker, also never succumbs to the disease - pretty impressive considering that it manages to afflict his head nurse. It would seem to indicate that some of the crew simply aren't susceptible.
  • Scotty Time: "I cannae change the laws of physics! I've got to have thirty minutes!" In this case, it's actually not an inflation, but the faster alternative of trying to cold-start the Enterprise's engines is way too risky for Scotty's skill level.
  • Sequel Hook: Spock accidentally invents time travel, with Kirk noting that it could be pretty interesting to try again some day.
  • Shirtless Scene: Sulu gets one. Oh, my!
  • Too Dumb to Live: Taking off your glove, getting some weird liquid on your hand, and then rubbing your nose? If the virus hadn't gotten him, this guy doubtlessly would have found some other way to kill himself in a few days.
  • World of Ham: Everybody under the influence of the virus starts gobbling up the scenery.