11/12/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Naked Now"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E03
Air Date: October 5, 1987
Written by: J. Michael Bingham and John D.F. Black
Directed by: Paul Lynch

Premise
The crew of the Enterprise is infected with a weird disease that makes them all drunk and horny.

Review
Assigned to investigate the loss of contact with the SS Tsiolkovsky, the Enterprise warps out to a dying star and finds the terribly designed starship floating around and they pick up a transmission from a female talking seductively and then blowing out an airlock. Naturally, this is not a normal thing for a ship's crew member to do, so a team beams over to dig deeper. They look around the Tsiolkovsky and find everyone dead. But apart from that, it looks like they were all involved in a party complete with orgies and alcohol. And the orgy room is frozen over.

So they bring back all the information they scanned to study, but the problem is that the information wasn't the only thing they brought back. Geordi, who caught one of the dead crew members as she fell out of a closet, was infected with whatever they had and now Bev has to take a look at him. He gets irritated for no reason and then wanders off as one might expect a drunk person to do. Meanwhile, Riker goes to Data on the bridge and asks him to run a search for what happened to the crew of the Tsiolkovsky to see if it ever happened in the past. Because Data is Google now.
My primary directive is to not be evil, sir.
Turns out it had happened in the past, to the original USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Turns out complex water molecules grab carbon from the body because of the strange gravitational shifts during a dying planet or star, or whatever, yadda yadda yadda... point is, they think they have an answer, so they send it to Crusher.  Meanwhile, Geordi is walking all over the ship infecting everyone. Tasha, Troi, Picard, etc. Picard sends Data to bring Tasha to the bridge and Tasha tries to seduce Data. This is when we find out that he is "fully functional".

As the rest of the episode progresses and the crew becomes progressively less inhibited, we learn a little bit about what each character wants. Geordi wants to see, Tasha wants love (which she attempts to get from an emotionless robot), Riker wants Troi, Picard wants Crusher, and Wesley... well, he just wants to be grown up. In an attempt to become grown up, he hijacks engineering and instructs Picard to tell him what to do. Picard explains to him that he's drunk and Wesley says "I feel strange, but also good!"
Justin Bieber of the 24th century.
Meanwhile, the engineering assistant pulled out all the isolinear chips so he could stack them like a Jenga game while the star outside is about ready to explode. So now, when the star does explode, it's impossible to move the ship. Working through their drunkenness, Crusher finds a cure and fights through being distracted by Picard to test it on Geordi. When it works, she starts using it all around. But before it works, Picard sends Drunk Data (he has pours!) down to engineering to fix the isolinear chips. Which is fortunate because Data is the best at restoring isolinear chips when he's drunk!

A piece of the star is hurling toward the ship and it's still gonna take Data a while to restore power to the engines, so Wesley breaks out his mad genius skills and suggests pushing the SS Tsiolkovsky into the star fragment's path. Because stars have fragments now. At Wesley's suggestion, they use the tractor beam to move the other ship and slow down the star fragment and Data finishes restoring power just in time to warp away, thus proving that the Enterprise crew can still function and save the day while drunk.
Good riddance to that terrible ship, too.
So Picard says he's going to mention Wesley in his log to Starfleet and Tasha has an awkward moment with Data. This is our new crew, people. This is what we've become.

Overall Thoughts
"The Naked Now" is notoriously the worst episode of the first season and for good reason. The drunkenness was intended as a way to quickly reveal everyone's inner needs and introduce them more wholly to the audience. While, as a writer, I appreciate the attempt, it's simply a faulty assumption that you need to reveal these things so quickly. When you do, it feels forced. When you don't, you often learn that there's a better route to travel. And besides all that, there's the issue of Data being drunk and stars having fragments... what is science?

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