2/6/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Naked Time"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E04
Air Date: September 29, 1966
Written by: John D. F. Black
Directed by: Marc Daniels

Premise
A crazy space disease makes the crew act like they're attending a house party hosted by John Belushi. Which is inconvenient considering their precarious position over a gravitationally unstable planet.

Review
The planet Psi 2000 used to be just as awesome as Earth, but lately it has found itself to be disintegrating. A Federation science team was sent to study the gravitational effects of this disintegration, but when the Enterprise comes to check on them, they are found dead. So what can explain this turn of events? And how did they end up in such strange positions as showering with their clothes on? And is it the gravitational instability that makes random blood splotches drip sideways? And why would any Starfleet officer take off his glove in the middle of such an investigation!?

Unfortunately, I don't think there's much of an answer for that last question, but Lt. Tormolen does it anyway. And the sideways-dripping blood gets all over his hand and then he wipes his face with that hand. When he and Spock get back onto the ship, they are cleared by Bones, but Tormolen seems a little more troubled than he should be. He's told to get some rest while the crew muses on what could have happened on the surface.

The disintegration of Psi 2000 causing gravitational fluctuations which means Scotty has to be ever on guard to fix their orbit around the planet. So, other than an admission from Spock that there are some limitations in their scanning technology, Kirk is confident that they can continue researching the planet so long as no one goes crazy.

Just then, someone goes crazy.
YOU'RE NOT PROPERLY BUTTERED!
Tormolen ends up stabbing himself in an attempt to prove a point that space doesn't belong to the Federation. In the struggle, Sulu and Riley become infected. Bones is later unable to save Tormolen's life from the stabbing for whatever reason. But Sulu and Riley don't care. They're drunk as a skunk now. After being slow in making a course correction from the gravitational shift, Sulu abandons his station and Riley becomes more Irish than ever, sassing back to Spock. Spock orders him to report to sickbay, and I imagine getting off the bridge is his only motivation for complying. While there, he flirts with Nurse Chapel who subsequently becomes infected herself.

Meanwhile, on deck 15:
He is now properly buttered.
When the ship starts to lose control, Kirk calls down to engineering and finds that Riley has expelled the entire engineering crew including Scotty and locked himself inside. Now over the ships speakers, Riley begins to broadcast his own comedy show even worse than Leno.

Spock then wanders the corridors observing random crew madness and then checks on Nurse Chapel who, confessing her love for Spock, ends up infecting him. And then we see the saddest scene to ever come out of Star Trek. It's never a pleasant thing to see a Vulcan cry. Especially when he's got parental issues. He's losing emotional control, and he's bringing the viewers down with him.

Scotty eventually breaks into engineering, but finds that Riley has stopped the engines and it would take twenty minutes to warm them back up. With the decaying orbit, the Enterprise only has eight minutes to spare. Luckily, Scotty comes up with a way to execute a cold-restart with a controlled matter-antimatter implosion in balanced engines at the same time that Bones comes up with a cure to the infection.
"Be sure the aft plasma injectors in the secondary EPS manifolds
 have been properly buttered, Mr. Scott."
That's when Kirk finds Spock breaking down in the briefing room. He tries to snap him out of it, but instead becomes infected himself. Then he starts rambling on about how he's married to the ship or some such nonsense. He does admit, however, that Janice Rand is beautiful and desirable. But given the choice, he goes for his ship and heads out to save her.

So Bones delivers the cure and Scotty prepares the implosion. And after we've learned all the little details behind the motivations of major characters through the truth-telling mechanism of intoxication, Kirk orders the implosion and what happens? They unexpectedly end up going back three days into the past. For no apparent reason other than ~magical physics~. And that's the end!

Overall Thoughts
To be fair, this episode was originally supposed to be a two-parter ending with "Tomorrow is Yesterday", a time travel episode. So the time travel wasn't originally for no reason. In any case, intoxication is a good way to really get to know the people you're hanging with. And it's no different in space... except it happens without alcohol. Add this as another classic episode of a classic series!