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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S1 E2 "The Naked Now"

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"Hmm, I'm getting a really weird sense of déjà vu right now."
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Original air date: October 5, 1987

The Enterprise comes across the science vessel SS Tsiolkovsky (which looks peculiarly like the USS Grissom from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock—apparently, The Federation doesn't update their designs much) to find the entire crew dead. It turns out they were all acting crazy and died when someone blew the hatch. The bodies all look like the ones from the TOS episode "The Naked Time"; Geordi finds the body of a woman who was taking a shower with her clothes on, causing him to start sweating and acting strange. Can you see where this is going? Riker does and enlists Data to look through their library to find out where he's heard about something like this before. When even the characters notice the episode is a rip-off, you know you're in trouble.

Dr. Crusher decides that Geordi should be confined due to his strange behavior. Naturally, Geordi is left unsupervised and unconfined, and he wanders off. Meanwhile, Wesley has decided to take recordings of Picard and Twist the Words to make it sound like he's putting Wesley in command. Geordi, of course, doesn't see any problem with this and compliments Wesley on his ingenuity. Data finds the relevant information after much difficulty (apparently Google didn't survive to the 24th century) and then the episode ends. No, of course not—this is a mutation immune to McCoy's antidote. Instead, Yar gets infected from Geordi and Troi from her. Yar becomes hot for Data and improbably infects him. Troi throws herself at Riker, who takes her to Sickbay and infects Crusher. Crusher now wants to get it on with Picard. Interesting how the infection causes the women to get horny, but not the men.

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Wesley has also been infected from Geordi and inevitably the first thing he does after losing his senses is hijack the ship, using (you guessed it) that recording of Picard which was totally innocent fun. To make matters worse, the star whose collapse the Tsiolkovsky was supposed to be examining is starting to... well, collapse. Picard is forced to ask Captain Wesley to save the day and Wesley cheerfully decides to follow through. Wesley realizes Data can put back the command chips removed by the infected assistant chief engineer at super speed. This still doesn't give them enough time, so Wesley throws the Tsiolkovsky into the way of the core fragment with the tractor beam. By this time, the elder Crusher has developed a modified vaccine and the day has been saved.


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Tropes:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The episode's antics are the result of polywater intoxication, meaning that the crew is effectively drunk.
  • All Women Are Lustful: The infection has this effect on the female crewmembers of both the Enterprise and the Tsiolkovsky.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Tasha Yar, to such a degree she displays everything from hipbones to Underboobs. Wow.
  • Bridal Carry: Riker uses this method when he carries Troi to sickbay.
  • Canon Discontinuity: When the crew research the previous incident with the original Enterprise, the computer shows a diagram of the movie refit version rather than the TV version. This was apparently deliberate, with the production team not wanting to acknowledge the now-dated look of the original TV series and always using movie-style aesthetics to mean "old ships." This policy changed later on in "Relics" when we finally get to see the original Enterprise bridge again, and in the Blu-ray release, which changed the diagram to the TV version.
  • Character Shilling: The episode's ending has the crew making a big deal out of Wesley being the one who saved the ship. None of them point out that it was only because of Wesley himself (albeit while he was effectively inebriated) that they were even in any danger to begin with.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Wesley shows Geordi his voice recorder early on; he later uses it to take control of Engineering. In addition, the handheld Tractor Beam that he plays with and turns into a repulsor beam inspires him to do something similar with the full-scale one on the Enterprise.
    • While surely not the intent of the writers at the time, Data getting intimate with Tasha Yar ends up becoming a Chekhov's Gun, which fired in season 2's "The Measure of a Man".
  • Composite Character: Wesley fills the roles of both Lt. Riley and Scotty from the original "The Naked Time".
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: With the Original Series episode "The Naked Time".
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Data: And there was a rather peculiar limerick being delivered by someone in the shuttlecraft bay. I'm not sure I understand it. "There was a young lady from Venus, whose body was shaped like a—"
    Picard: Captain to security! Come in!
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Data gets drunk, and is still using contractions. His explanation of how the virus can affect him is the clearest artifact of the original conception that he was actually more of a cyborg with several organic components.
    • Kirk and the Enterprise are treated as being obscure, rather than Legendary in the Sequel.
    • Troi refers to Riker as "Bill." He's only ever referred to as such in this episode and "Haven", otherwise it's always "Will".
    • Sarah MacDougal is the first of several chief engineers on the Enterprise, before Geordi is promoted to that position in Season 2.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Zig-zagged with the main cast apart from Tasha, but judging by what we see the background extras doing in corridor shots, there seems to be a lot of it going on...
  • Fanservice: Tasha Yar and her outfit.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The SS Tsiolkovsky's dedication plaque says it was manufactured in the USSR. Oops.
  • Foregone Conclusion: When our heroes find what looks like the solution to their problem before the episode is half-over, you can pretty much guarantee that it won't work.
  • Funny Background Event: As the infection spreads, more and more of the Enterprise crew leave off their duties and start hanging all over each other in the corridors.
  • Grammar Nazi: Data pointing out to Riker that the correct term is to be "blown out" into space, not "sucked out". note 
  • Gratuitous Russian: Rather embarrassingly, the Tsiolkovsky's dedication plaque spells the ship's name as "K.Z. Tsiopkovsky"note .
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: You'd think having inhibitions removed and being dead they wouldn't care, but one of the corpses frozen has their arm covering their breasts.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: When Captain Picard cuts off Data repeating an obscene limmerick being broadcast from the shuttle bay, Worf chalks it up to more wacky human humor that he understands about as much as Data.
  • Idiot Ball: When Wesley barricades himself in Main Engineering, using his portable tractor beam to put up a force field in the doorway, the Chief Engineer has to go through a complicated process to cut power to his device. Nobody thinks to just grab a phaser and melt the unprotected glass. Nobody thinks to use the transporter to beam past the obstruction either.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Data and Tasha Yar having sex together while intoxicated. After they're cured, Tasha tells Data that the whole thing never happened.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The crew finds computer records that point out that this is exactly what happened in The Naked Time. Even Riker immediately notes that this situation seems familiar somehow.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Averted—when the crew looks up the original Enterprise, none of them seem particularly familiar with the ship or James Kirk. This is in contrast to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, both of which play this trope straight with Kirk being famous and much admired. Note that Bones gave the show a send-off an entire episode ago.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Invoked by Tasha about her liaison with Data. Considering that Tasha is later revealed to have grown up on a hellish colony, constantly dodging rape-gangs, there might be a very good reason that she doesn't want to be reminded of the polywater intoxication turning her into the ship's bicycle. This incident might have brought up some very painful memories that she'd rather just forget about.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Data tells Tasha that Captain Picard has ordered him to escort her to Sickbay, she dodges the issue by asking "Did he say when?" Data unsuccessfully tries to talk sense into her with the obvious response "I am sure he meant now."
  • Loveable Sex Maniac:
    • Every female character who is infected becomes obsessed with sex, either in general or with a specific man.
    • Also a matter of Truth in Television. Alcohol intoxication reduces testosterone production in men, leading to an eventual inability to perform. In women, however, it actually increases testosterone production, which in turn ramps up their sex drives. The combination of reduced inhibitions and an increased sex drive is the source of the idea that women become looser when they're drunk.
  • Love Is in the Air: The intoxication-infection spreads only by direct contact, but at the same time, induces its victims to touch others. It takes over the Enterprise in short order.
  • Male Gaze: The camera zooms in right on Tasha's ass during her Sexy Walk.
  • Mood Whiplash: In The Teaser, our heroes look bewildered and slightly amused by what sounds like a party aboard the Tsiolkovsky — until they suddenly hear the explosive sound of everyone being spaced.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The collapsing sun.
  • Not Himself: Just about everybody by the end of the episode — Worf is the only main character not to be affected at all, Riker doesn't start showing any symptoms until right before he's cured anyway, and Dr. Crusher is eventually able to shrug off the effects of the virus — though it's been noted how odd it is to have this kind of story as just the second episode. We've just barely gotten to know these characters, so how is their acting out of character supposed to be any fun?
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Enterprise hears a crazy party on the bridge of the Tsiolkovsky, including some male voices egging someone else on to "do it". Then there is an explosion and...absolute dead silence on the open comline as the Data states the sound they just heard was the Tsiolkovsky's emergency hatch being blown open.
  • Orphaned Setup: Data is cut off before he can finish a limerick about a woman from Venus.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Geordi gets his infection from a corpse that falls on him when he opens a closed door.
  • Plot Armor: While most of the characters who get infected by the polywater virus start showing symptoms almost immediately, Riker gets infected by Troi at the halfway point of the episode, and doesn't show any symptoms until the very end, just in time for him to be cured anyway. In fact, Riker himself infects Dr. Crusher, who in turn infects Picard, and both become symptomatic long before Riker does. This is Truth in Television to a degree, as people have differing level of resistance to viruses, but it's convenient that the first officer is so resistant to it.
  • Punny Title: One might say that Tasha wants to get naked. Now.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A writers' strike caused the need to recycle the Original Series episode. Why they decide to recycle this specific episode is still a mystery (there were plenty of options that didn't rely on discredited scientific concepts or the characters you have just started getting to know acting odd, after all).
  • Reverse the Polarity: For the first time in the series! Wesley turns his miniature tractor beam into a repulsor beam, which he uses to create Some Kind of Force Field to block the entrance to Engineering. During the episode's climax, he scales the idea up to use Enterprise's tractor beam to push off of the Tsiokolvsky.
  • Retcon:
    • The Enterprise looking like the movie version has already been mentioned, but the episode also changed polywater from "The Naked Time's" form of water (as the then-cutting edge scientific concept of polywater said it was) to a kind of virus which for unexplained reasons is called polywater (as polywater had turned out to not actually be possible in the early '70s).
    • Tractor beam technology in this episode is initially only able to pull, not push, until Wesley invents a new technique to make the tractor beam bidirectional. In the original series, set nearly a century prior, the tractor beam already had this capability. Apparently the Federation lost the technology somewhere in-between Who Mourns For Adonais and this episode.
  • Robosexual: Data is fully functional in every way of course, and gets to prove it at Tasha's very strong insistence.
  • Scotty Time: Continuing a fine Trek tradition, only this time, it's the chief engineer who says it will take hours to put all the control chips back in, only to be upstaged by Wesley who suggests having Data sort them. She also says it would take weeks to convert the tractor beam into a repulsor, and once again, Wesley is able to do it in a few minutes.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Tasha Yar, again.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Is Cold: Yar mentions that most of the crew of the Tsiolkovsky froze to death after someone disabled the environmental controls, allowing the heat on the ship to "bleed out into space". In reality, given that they're so close to a star (even a red giant, one of the colder types of star), the actual result would likely have been the crew dying of heatstroke.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Data recounts a limerick beginning "There was a young lady from Venus, whose body was shaped like a..." as an example of strange behaviour by the crew, before being cut off by Picard calling security.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The bridge crew of the Tsiolkovsky did this to themselves.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Both the chief engineer and assistant chief are called away, and Wesley is left in charge over the several qualified engineers in the room. By the way, this is before the assistant chief is infected with the virus.
    • Apparently, Starfleet does not (and has never, and will never) utilize even the most basic hazmat protocols. While the transporters are supposed to be able to screen out biohazards, given that they don't seem to work on anything they can't recognize as a biohazard, you'd think that the crew might take at least a few extra precautionary steps to keep the entire ship from being infected, even something as simple as gloves and a facemask. (And as Star Trek: Enterprise would later show, there had been quarantine procedures available before; why not now?)
  • Underboobs: Tasha Yar's out-of-uniform outfit has a belly window that leaves the underside of her breasts exposed.
  • Vaporwear: Tasha Yar. That outfit has the least amount of cloth possible to make a wrap out of; it's clear that there's nothing under it. Fully justified, as it's something she threw on between partners in a marathon sex session.

 
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Source of the page quote. In "The Naked Now," from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Tasha Yar informs the android Data of her past of avoiding the rape gangs on her home planet and tells him that what she wants now is gentleness, asking if he is, indeed, fully functional. He tells her that he is indeed, programmed in a wide variety of pleasuring. "You jewel! That's exactly what I hoped," she told him, leading him into a closet for something that's not for our eyes.

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