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Recap / Star Trek S1 E4 "The Naked Time"

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

Original air date: September 29, 1966

The Enterprise has arrived at the ice planet Psi 2000 to document its impending collapse. Spock and some other loser beam down in environmental 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. Kevin Thomas 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 disease that removes inhibitions (and makes one extremely sweaty, incidentally).

Chaos engulfs the ship as the disease spreads: crew members act carelessly, 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, hijacking the PA system to make bizarre announcements and advise women on hair and makeup styles, 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 an antidote. 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 they have. 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 disease's 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.

The Naked Tropes:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love
    Chapel: I'm in love with you, Mister Spock! (Spock turns to stare at her) You, the human Mister Spock...the Vulcan Mister Spock...
    Spock: Nurse, you should—
    Chapel: Christine, please. I see things, how honest you are. (takes his hands in hers) I know how you feel. You hide it, but you do have feeling. (Spock turns his head away but doesn't let go of her hands) Oh, how we must hurt you, torture you...
    Spock: I'm in control of my emotions.
    Chapel: The others believe that, but I don't. (puts her hands on Spock's face) I love you. I don't know why, but I love you. I do love you just as you are. Oh, I love you. (I Kiss Your Hand)
    Spock: I'm sorry...I am sorry.
  • Artistic License – Space: Why would a planet break up due to its sun going dark? Also, the universe isn't old enough for white dwarves or any other star to go dark, either, if it is meant that the star turned into a black dwarf. However, a 'dark star' was an early name for a black hole, so it's possible that's what they're referring to, with the planet breaking up and then compressing as it falls into the black hole's gravity well.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    McCoy: Mister Spock? Your pulse is 242, your blood pressure is practically nonexistent, assuming you call that green stuff in your veins blood.
    Spock: The readings are perfectly normal for me, Doctor, thank you, and as for my anatomy being different from yours, I am delighted.
  • Bottle Episode: This episode is considered a bottle show, as it contains no villain and mostly regular characters, and takes place almost entirely aboard the Enterprise.
  • Broken Tears: Spock loses all control over his emotions.
  • The Chains of Commanding: There's a gorgeous blonde right under Kirk's nose but The Captain can't get involved with a subordinate, and he vents over how he just wants a few days of Me Time on a beach with her.
  • Clothing Damage: A bizarre instance; it's already been established that hyposprays can be used to inject people through their clothing, and even if they did need to be used on bare skin, McCoy could have just injected Kirk on the neck (which isn't covered by his uniform), or have him roll up his sleeve. Instead, for absolutely no explicable reason, McCoy tears open Kirk's uniform at the shoulder in order to inject him.
    • Interestingly, it kind of looks like it was accidental. McCoy seems to only lightly tug at Kirk's collar and suddenly the entire sleeve comes off. Likely a good example of the low costume budget.
  • Curtain Clothing: The environmental suits were made from Art Deco shower curtains.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Lt. Riley. "I'll take you hoooome Kathleeeeeeen!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spock, of all people, gets in one when he tells two bridge crewmen to "Take D'Artagnan here to Sickbay."
  • Death by Despair: A Red Shirt tries to commit suicide, is stopped before he seriously hurts himself, then dies anyway because he can't summon the will to fight off the minor infection of the wound.
  • Decontamination Chamber: The transporter room is shown to have the ability to decontaminate the outside of isolation suits with some sort(s) of radiation. Of course the sort of radiation that would do that would also, at the least, damage the skin of the people in the suits unless the suits blocked the rays...and unfortunately the idiot who beamed down with Spock had taken off a glove, been contaminated, and then put the glove back on— thereby making sure the rays would do nothing (not that they'd have done anything against an infection within someone's body anyway).
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Riley tells Uhura she can't have ice cream because she interrupted his song.
  • Driven to Suicide: Joe Tormolen, 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 "ancient Irish favorite."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Lampshaded. Lt. Riley claims that Sulu's interest in botany in "The Man Trap" was one of his Fleeting Passionate Hobbies. 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."
    • The opening Captain's Log doesn't include a Stardate, though the subsequent log after the opening credits does.
    • Tormolen's rant about how "we don't belong out here" and "we're polluting space" seems to suggest that the sort of long-range space travel they've been doing is relatively new, and still has its critics. Later episodes and series would show Starfleet having been around for over a century already, and warp drive having existed in some form since the late 21st Century.
  • The End Is Nigh: Kirk enters the bridge turbolift, off to carry out a thousand-to-one chance that will save the ship or get them all killed, and sees the laughing graffiti artist has painted SINNER REPENT on the turbolift doors.
  • Failed a Spot Check
    • After removing his glove, Tormolen fails to look where he's placing his hand and gets infected by a bloodstain.
    • No-one on the Bridge notices that the helmsman has wandered off until an alarm sounds because the Enterprise is falling towards the planet below.
  • Failsafe Failure: After decades of viral outbreak movies, the No Budget nature of the Hazmat Suit sticks out when Tormolen is able to casually raise his hood to scratch his nose, revealing that his suit has no independent air supply. It's possible it was only meant to be a thermal suit, as the planet is covered in ice after its sun went dark.
  • Fanservice: Sulu naked to the waist and covered in sweat.
  • First-Name Basis: Spock calling Kirk "Jim", not only when he's under the influence, but after they've both been given the antidote Spock enters the Bridge and asks, "Are you alright, Jim?"
  • Foreshadowing: When Spock says they've accidentally invented Time Travel, Kirk muses that they may risk it again someday.
  • A Friend in Need: An infected Spock talks of the shame he feels whenever he feels friendship towards Kirk. When Kirk himself starts to break down and pleads for help, it's only then that Spock pulls himself together.
  • FTL Test Blunder: "The Naked Time" has Spock and Scotty performing a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to restart the Enterprise's warp engines after they'd been shut down. It was an untried technique, with the possible consequence of blowing up the ship, but not doing it would guarantee crashing on a collapsing planet. Fortunately, the only consequence of the forced restart was that the Enterprise was flung three days back in time, introducing the idea of using the warp drive for time travel to the series, which would feature in other episodes and the franchise as a whole.
  • Get A Hold 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.
  • Graceful Loser: Riley has made a number of announcements over the ship's PA system, including a formal dance in the ship's bowling alley. 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."
  • Gravity Sucks: The gravity appears to surge at unpredictable times as the planet breaks up.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Though Tormolen is on a biobed that monitors his lifesigns at the time.
    Chapel: He's dead, Doctor.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Kirk might not mind Riley's singing so much if it had somewhat less enthusiasm and a little more musical talent.
  • The Hyena: The disease turns a few people into this.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Spock breaks into sobs when he gets affected.
  • Incoming Ham: A naked-to-the-waist Sulu charging out of the turbolift door, wielding an epee and reenacting The Three Musketeers.
  • Internalized Categorism
    Spock: I respected my father, our customs... I was ashamed of my Earth blood... (Kirk slaps him) Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I'm ashamed!
  • Intoxication Ensues: A disease makes everyone get progressively drunker.
  • It's the Only Way:
    • The only way to cold start the warp engines is through a theoretical method of combining matter/antimatter to create an implosion instead of an explosion.
      Spock: It's never been done.
      Kirk: Don't tell me that again, Science Officer! It's a theory. It's possible. We may go up into the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded, but we've got to take that one in ten thousand chance!
    • When Scotty tells Spock they still need four minutes to get things right, Spock tells Kirk that they're ready because they've run out of time and will just have to risk it.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted Trope; Sulu was originally supposed to go on his rampage with a samurai sword, but at Takei's request to do something less stereotypical, it was switched to an epee.
  • Knife Struggle: When Tormolen goes to stab himself with a dinner knife, Sulu and Riley wrestle the knife off him, only to find he's been stabbed anyway in the struggle. Worse, Sulu and Riley are themselves infected in the process.
  • Laughing Mad: Spock encounters a crewman laughing maniacally after painting LOVE MANKIND on the wall.
  • Loss of Inhibitions: The crew begins experiencing strange feelings and behaviors after being the search team for a mysterious disaster. Dr. McCoy ultimately realizes the water on the planet had mutated, causing it to affect the brain like alcohol. While some effects more resemble delusions (e.g. Sulu calling Kirk "Richelieu"), a lot of them (Sulu leaving his station early to fence at the gym, Christine Chapel making an Anguished Declaration of Love to Spock, Spock crying and Kirk confessing how stressed he feels because of his position) fall under the lack of inhibitions that alcohol typically causes.
  • Love Is a Weakness:
    • Spock had to hide his love for his mother, who was the sole human on an alien world where the expression of love was disdained. While he refers to it more specifically as "friendship", his affection for Kirk likewise messes up his efforts to act as a reputable Vulcan.
    • Kirk vents about how his love for the Enterprise is All Take and No Give.
  • 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.
  • Magic Antidote: Sulu is shown screaming as Bones injects him, then is abruptly restored to normal, confused as to why he's not on the Bridge.
  • Meaningful Echo: Kirk angsts that he can't act on his feelings towards Yeoman Rand, asking only for a few days with a real woman to touch, a beach to walk on, and no braid on his shoulders. Later on the Bridge he's giving Rand a Longing Look and reaches out to touch her, only to pull his hand back.
    Kirk: No beach to walk on...
    Rand: Sir?
  • Million to One Chance: Scotty gives the odds of successfully cold-starting the engines without blowing themselves up as 1 in 10,000— and that's with a supercomputer and weeks to calculate the formula. Fortunately, Spock is better than a supercomputer, if they can get him to stop crying long enough to focus.
  • Mundane Utility: Scotty's tool of choice for cutting through a bulkhead is a standard phaser.
  • Murder Water: When the first crewman is infected, the bloodstain somehow moves upwards towards his hand of its own accord. Bones eventually works out that the water on the planet has turned into a complex chain of molecules (a reference to the now discredited theory of 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.
    McCoy. It's water! Somehow on this planet, water's changed to a complex chain of molecules. That's how we missed it. It passed from man to man through perspiration. Once in the bloodstream, it acts like alcohol... depresses the centers of judgment, self-control.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: McCoy calls the Captain to Sickbay when Tormolen dies. Justified as he wouldn't want to announce that news to all and sundry.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Chapel tells Spock that "the men from Vulcan treat their women strangely. At least, people say that, but you're part human too. I know you don't... you couldn't hurt me, would you?" Her words clearly affect Spock, not only because he's become infected but because they strike a chord— he's later shown crying over how he could never express affection for his human mother because he was ashamed of his human side and wanted to show he respected the Vulcan traditions of his father.
  • 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.
    • When Spock tells Kirk that they've travelled back in time three days that they'll have to relive, Kirk has the same reaction. (While it does not mean the same events, the idea is still troubling.)
  • Oireland: Riley goes über-Irish while drunk.
    Riley. You know what Joe's mistake was? He wasn't born an Irishman.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Downplayed; Scotty has to burn through the bulkhead next to the door, a slow task if you don't want to cut the wrong circuit.
  • The Plague: The disease is apparently non-fatal, but is highly contagious and, in both episodes, adversely affects the crew in the midst of a disaster which could destroy the ship.
  • Plot Hole: Dr. McCoy, a front-line medical worker, never succumbs to the disease— pretty impressive considering that it manages to afflict much of his medical staff. Though, given that the stuff affects human physiology "just like alcohol", maybe he can just hold his liquor better than most of the crew.
  • Race Against the Clock: Starting from twenty minutes to impact and counting down. When they're eight minutes from crashing, they're suddenly confronted with having to restart the engines, an operation that would normally take half an hour.
  • Red Alert: Alert Condition Baker Two puts the ship into Lock Down. Or it would if Riley hadn't taken over the Engine Room where he can override any command.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: And when Sulu does check the readings for elapsed time, he finds out why.
  • Running Away to Cry: Spock locks himself away when the disease breaks down his emotional control.
  • Schmuck Bait: What exactly did Kirk expect to happen when he touched the end of Sulu's sword?. (There are no euphemisms in the previous sentence, but don't let that stop your imagination.) To be fair, foils used in sport fencing have dull tips for safety.
  • Scotty Time:
    • Averted when Scotty says, "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.
    • Scotty says he can't cut through the bulkhead any faster, not without compromising safety. Spock replies that If My Calculations Are Correct he'll be a minute and a half too late, whereupon safety will be a moot point.
  • Screen Shake: Which gets worse as the Enterprise's orbit decays. Bones actually calls the Bridge demanding they hold her steady as he's trying to treat Sulu.
  • Sequel Hook: Spock accidentally invents time travel, with Kirk noting that it could be pretty interesting to try again some day. The original plan was for this episode to lead directly into Tomorrow is Yesterday, but scheduling didn't work out.
  • Ship Tease
  • Shirtless Scene: Sulu gets one. Oh, my!
  • Snipe Hunt: Riley tells the Engineering personnel that the Captain wants them urgently on the Bridge, then locks himself inside.
  • Space Madness: Downplayed, as Spock points out that space madness would still have to be caused by something specific.
  • Stock Footage: A closeup of Kirk at the beginning of Act One is a recycled shot from "The Man Trap".
  • Technobabble: Noticeably averted when Spock just refers to a 'formula' that will fix the problem. Pity later spin-offs didn't learn from this.
  • Tempting Fate:
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Averted when Riley sculls his coffee on being called to the Bridge. Tormolen never starts his meal, however, what with being stabbed with his own knife.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Joe Tormolen, the Red Shirt who accompanied Spock down to the planet. He takes his protective glove off, puts his hand down on the surface of a planet where six people have died with no explanation, and scratches his nose with the same hand. Before he stabbed himself, he claimed that humanity didn't belong in space. Given his horrific failure to follow basic hazmat procedures on a space station where everyone has died for no evident cause, perhaps it was just that he did not belong in space.
  • The Triple: Riley asks Sulu why he's learning fencing. "Self-defense, mayhem, shish kebab?"
  • Tuneless Song of Madness: Kevin Riley, having been affected by the problem of the week, holes up in engineering, pronouncing himself the captain. As further evidence of his loopiness, he drives the crew nuts with his continual and badly sung renditions of "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen."
  • Unknown Phenomenon: When Kirk calls Spock to ask what happened, Spock replies, "Unknown, Captain. It's like nothing we've dealt with before." He later points out to Scotty that the fact that their sensors couldn't find a cause means nothing, because the possibilities where No Man Has Gone Before are infinite.
  • Wham Line: Kirk and Scotty cut their way into the Engine Room and hand Riley over to Security. Just then, Uhura calls to let them know the Enterprise has entered the upper atmosphere of the planet.
    Scott: Captain.
    Kirk: What is it?
    Scott: He's turned the engines off. Completely cold. It will take thirty minutes to regenerate them.
    Uhura: [on comm] Ship's outer skin is beginning to heat, Captain. Orbit plot shows we have about eight minutes left.
    Kirk: Scotty!
    Scott: I can't change the laws of physics. I've-got-to-have-thirty minutes.
  • World of Ham: Everybody under the influence of the disease starts gobbling up the scenery, nobody better than Riley, though.
  • Zeerust: Spock appears to be using a circular slide rule for his calculations on Exact Time to Failure.