This week a strange infection causes the crew some trouble. Everyone get your best Dana Carvey impressions ready, because on board the Enterprise, it’s...
First off... Sigh... Sorry I am a day late... again! I really do want to get these out on the day of broadcast, just my life has gotten a bit complicated at the moment. Eventually, things will be glorious. And eventually, I’ll be able to be more punctual. Just bear with me until then, please!
One final thing before we begin to explore this week’s episode. A last reflection on last week’s. Last week the sets, uniforms, and even the cast had some stark differences from the two weeks prior. This week saw them revert to form. So last week was an aberration. Star Trek thus far has been a very episodic series, so it would not surprise me if the episodes may not be being broadcast completely in the order they were filmed, and I cannot help but wonder if perhaps last week’s episode may have actually been the pilot?
Series often get retooled a bit between the pilot and filming of the first season, to the point where many shows have their pilots go unaired. For example, Sherlock had a very different version of A Study in Pink that just ended up being an interesting home video extra. In the case of Star Trek, I’m sure it is an expensive show, and they probably didn’t want what was a pretty good episode to go to waste. Still, maybe they should have aired it first? It was, after all, a solid episode. And airing it first would have made for only one sudden change in the look of the show, being a lot less jarring. The only thing I can think of is perhaps the network and/or the production team wanted a premier episode that would be more indicative of how the show would be normally.
Now, on with The Naked Time!
This week we find the Enterprise in orbit of Psi 2000, an ancient world on the verge of breaking up. The ship is there to pick up a crew of scientists, but when Spock and Lt. Joe Tormolen beam down, they find the science station frozen solid and the crew dead.
The life support systems had been turned off, but not everyone died of exposure to the elements. One woman was strangled. Another died in the shower, fully clothed. Very mysterious, indeed.
At this point, Tormolen has an itch. And so, like a consummate professional, he removes the glove of his environmental suit so that he can scratch himself. He then leaves the glove off for a moment, and places his hand against a wall. Something there moves towards his hand drips onto him.
Spock and Tormolen beam back aboard. They are put through decontamination and given medical check-ups, but both seem fine.
Enterprise remains to continue studying the break-up and to investigate the death of the science team. It will be a tricky orbit, however, with the planet constantly in a state of flux as it begins to break up.
Meanwhile, in the rec room, Tormolen gets himself something to eat but seems irritable. Sulu and Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley walk in, chatting about Sulu’s latest hobby of fencing, and go to sit with Tormolen. Next thing you know, he’s ranting about how humanity doesn’t belong in space, and how all those people (the scientists) died... why does he deserve to live? He picks up a knife from his trey, and Sulu and Riley scuffle with him, trying to get the knife from him.
Alas, Tormolen succeeds in turning the knife on himself. Sulu stays with him while Riley rushes to call sick bay for help. Riley also can’t help but feeling a bit funny...
On the bridge, Spock and Kirk discuss Tormolen. His psychological profile had always shown some self doubt, but they are at a loss as to what would have brought it to the surface with such extreme force. The orbit continues to be tricky and at one point, even begins to decay a bit. Sulu and Riley seem to be getting a bit sloppy at their jobs!
Meanwhile, in sick bay, McCoy and Nurse Christine Chapel struggle to save Tormolen. His wounds aren’t that severe, and yet he passes away. McCoy is distraught, his patient should have survived! It is almost as if he had just lost the will to live.
Sulu and Riley continue to get unusual. Sulu even abandons his post at one point! A while later, the orbit begins to decay again, and it is then that Spock notices Sulu’s station is empty! When he demands of Riley to know where Sulu has gone, Riley suddenly goes off with a wild, “Have no fear, O’Riley is here! And one Irishman is worth ten thousand of you!” Spock relieves Riley, telling Uhura to take over his post, and tells him to report to sick bay. Riley runs off...
He does go to sick bay as instructed, but only long enough to learn from Nurse Chapel that Joe died, and to infect her with whatever it is that he has, before whimsically wandering off once more.
Meanwhile, we find where Sulu has gone The helmsman is gallivanting around the ship, bare chested and brandishing a fencing coil. “Richelieu, beware!” he declares, swinging and stabbing with wild abandon. He turns a corner and accosts two confused crewmen.
Reports of this reach the bridge, where Spock makes an observation that a pattern is developing. Tormolen’s hidden self doubt being forced to the surface. Then Riley, who had always fancied himself descended from Irish kings. Now Sulu, at heart an 18th century swashbuckler. Something is causing everyone to loose their inhibitions and act on their base desires or instincts.
The orbit starts to decay again, and they are having difficulty reestablishing it on the bridge. They call down to the engine room for more power, and alarmingly, there is no reply, and Kirk is about to go down there to investigate... but when the elevator doors open, Sulu is inside! “Richelieu, at last!” he says upon seeing Kirk, and he swings his foil towards Kirk. Kirk discovers very quickly that the foil’s safety tip has been removed.
Sulu swings his foil around to and fro, and his attention seems unfocused until Uhura calls his name. He focuses on her, saying, “I’ll protect you, fair maiden!” leading to the amusing protest from her, “Sorry, neither!”
A fight ensues between Kirk and Sulu, and while Sulu’s attention is on Kirk Spock comes up behind him. Spock places his hand on Sulu’s shoulder at the base of his neck, and Sulu suddenly falls unconscious. Is this some kind of Vulcanian martial art? Kirk says he’d like Spock to teach it to him sometime.
Spock, for his part, merely makes a quip ordering someone to, “Take D’Artagnan here to sick bay.” Kirk then makes another attempt to contact Scotty down in engineering, only for quite a surprise when instead he is replied to by Captain Kevin Thomas Riley of the starship Enterprise.
Riley has commandeered the engine room and begins to give out strange orders. Double portions of ice cream for the crew. New dress codes for female crew members. And a lovely serenade for the crew as he begins to crone, tying up the ship’s intercoms, “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen!” Riley should not give up his day job. Almost as troubling as his singing, however, he has cut off the helm and engine power, and without it, the ship’s orbit will decay within nineteen minutes. Meanwhile, Riley continues to sing.
Reports of incidents among the crew are increasing. Whatever is affecting the crew, it is spreading. McCoy is studying Sulu, trying to discover what it is that is causing this. Scotty works frantically to regain access to the engine room. Meanwhile, Riley continues to sing.
McCoy’s efforts are hampered a bit. He tries calling to another lab for a report, and Nurse Chapel is acting a bit funny now, too. Spock comes to sick bay to get a report from McCoy, finding only Chapel there. She seems enamored with Spock, and declares her love for him, touching him in the process, infecting him. Meanwhile, Riley continues to sing.
Chapel’s confession hits him hard, and despite his protest of, “I am in control of my emotions,” it is clear that he is not. Yet all he can do is say, “I am sorry,” to the Nurse before leaving her. He wanders the hallways, distraught and in tears, before sequestering himself in a briefing room. He insists once more to himself that he is in control, but it is very clear that he is not.
Riley’s singing has stopped, since Scotty has finally been able to regain entry to the engine room. Alas, it is worse then was feared. Riley hadn’t just cut off power from the engines... he’d shut them completely off! The bridge calls down to report to Kirk that they’re entering the planet’s outer atmosphere, and the ship’s skin is starting to heat up. They have eight minutes left! But with the engines completely cold, Scotty protests that it will take thirty minutes to get them restarted. There’s no changing the laws of physics!
Scotty tries to figure out a way to shorten that time. Maybe he can get it down to twenty-two or twenty-three. That obviously won’t be enough, though! Kirk makes a radical suggestion: a cold start of the engines! But Scotty protests. Mixing that much matter and anit-matter cold will just lead to one hell of an explosion. What if that can balance the engines into a controlled implosion, Kirk asks? Scotty says it could be done in theory, but it has never been done for real! Maybe a 10,000 to 1 chance if they had rows of computers working for weeks on the right mix formula...
Of course, 10,000 to 1 is better than the 0% chance of survival they otherwise have. And they have something better than a row of computers... they have Mr. Spock! But where is he? Kirk calls and asks the bridge, but they have no idea where to find him.
McCoy injects Sulu with something. He screams a moment... and then... Why is he in sick bay? Last thing he remembers, he was on the bridge. McCoy has done it! He isolated what was infecting the crew (somehow water had mutated into a complex chain of molecules that act like alcohol on those infected, but is still basically water, thus it was missed by the ship’s bio-filters and can pass from person to person through perspiration) and developed a cure!
Kirk finds Spock. He’s still distraught over his lack of control. He laments to Kirk how he could never tell his mother he loved her, an Earth woman living on a planet where emotions like love were considered bad taste. (So I guess Spock is half human? In the last episode, it was said that one of his ancestors had married an Earth female. While technically correct, usually one’s parents aren’t referred to as “ancestors.” Ah well, as any good bureaucrat will tell you, technically correct is the best kind of correct!)
Kirk literally doesn’t have time for this, however, and tries to get Spock to pull himself together. Kirk grabs him and shakes him, trying to bring him to his senses, as he tells him they have to risk a full power start. Spock talks of his father. He respected him and his culture. He’s clearly not focused on the current emergency. Kirk slaps him, which finally gets Spock’s attention. But only enough for Spock to confess, “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.” Kirk slaps him again, harder, leading to this great face as he prepares to take his swing:
Kirk slaps repeatedly, and Spock just stands there taking it. Spock finally slaps back, and one blow sends Kirk flying. Spock’s reason starts coming through, though. Like Scotty, he protests that the cold restart can’t be done... but then you can see the wheels turning in his head. Having a problem to focus on seems to help him regain his control.
Alas, Kirk has started to loose his own. He seems conscious of it, however, realizing that he has the disease. But he soon starts lamenting to Spock, “Love... You’re better off without it. This vessel. I give, she takes. She won’t permit me my life.” Command is a lonely and terrible burden, and stripped of his usual control, the weight of it nearly causes Kirk to crumble.
Spock gently calls out to him, while Kirk continues to lament things such as the necessary separation he must maintain between himself and his crew, such as his beautiful Yeoman who he is not allowed to notice. Spock continues to try to get through to Kirk, their positions reversed from mere moments before. There is an intermix formula. Never tested, but it could work. Spock now seems completely normal. Kirk is struggling, but does his best to pull himself together. His is a lonely position, but there is one woman Kirk is allowed to notice: Enterprise herself. “I’ll never loose you,” he says, “never.”
Kirk manages to compose himself enough to get to the bridge. McCoy is waiting there an injects him with the cure. He sits in his command chair and issues orders to prepare once engineering is ready, but has one brief moment when he regards a confused Yeoman Rand and laments what cannot be.
In engineering, Spock and Scotty are ready. And it works! They successfully escape orbit. This is no normal journey, however. Engine power and speed are off the scale, and when Sulu checks the elapsed time, he is startled to see the ship’s chronometer is running backwards!
The implosion has sent the ship into a time warp. Kirk orders the helm to slowly reverse power, and they come out of it. Seems that they now have the last three days to live over again, however. “Not those last three days,” Kirk replies.
Spock postulates that this opens up some interesting possibilities, and since the formula worked, they could use it to travel back in time at will. Obviously, however, it was still quite a strain, but Kirk replies that they may risk it someday. I wonder if this may be setting up future episodes? We’ll see. For now, though, Enterprise just resumes course towards her next destination, steady as she goes.
This episode was an interesting character study. In the past few weeks, we’ve only seen the crew acting as professionals. Here, we see that stripped away and are exposed to what they are underneath all of that. They are fragile human beings. Even the half-human Mr. Spock, who without his control may be the most fragile one of them all. And yet they rise above that. Even before being injected with the cure, Kirk and Spock were able to muster up enough of themselves to bring the situation to a safe conclusion. So yes, they have their weaknesses and their failings, but they are all the more brave for them.
After last week’s vastly different cast, we have back many of the familiar faces from the first two weeks. Sulu is back at the help. McCoy, Rand, and Uhura are likewise back. Interestingly, Mr. Scott (a.k.a. Scotty) from last week’s episode returned this week, as well. So perhaps we’ll see more of him in the future?
Three new members of the crew were featured prominently this week. I suspect we won’t be seeing Joe Tormolen again, however, may he rest in peace. So Blue pulls ahead in the Death Count with a total so far of 4 Blue, 3 Yellow, and 0 Red. Red sure seems to be the safest color to wear so far! If I was on the crew, I know which color I’d pick to wear!
We also meet Kevin Thomas Riley this week. A fun character, although a bad, bad singer. Finally, Nurse Christine Chapel.
We definitely learn a lot about Kirk and Spock this week, although much of that has been touched on already. A few anatomical tidbits about Spock: He has a pulse of 242, and his blood pressure is practically non-existent. Speaking of his blood, apparently it is green! (I guess that the green complexion that Shum commented on after the recap of the first episode was intentional, after all!) If this is standard for Vulcanians, or just standard for him as a result of his mixed parentage, I could not say.
Sulu must be a man of many habits, as Riley comments on them. Botany certainly calls back to The Man Trap, and of course the fencing gets quite an amusing display this week!
The crew has environmental suits they can wear when going into potentially hazardous conditions. I must say, however, that these suits seems almost amusingly ineffective. Yes, Tormolen took off his glove, which was a stupid thing to do. But he then shoved his hand up inside his headgear, which was a loose fitting, not at all air-tight affair! How they avoid infections in potentially bio-hazardous conditions normally, your guess is as good as mine!
Seems that the main engines run on a matter / anti-matter reaction. Is this a change from the lithium mentioned last week? (After all, last week was a bit of an atypical episode.) Or are the two somehow used in concert?
We get to see a new area of the ship in the form of Engineering. Although we don’t see it, apparently Enterprise also boasts a bowling alley! (Captain Riley wants the crew to have a formal dance there.) We’ve seen briefing rooms before; the Enterprise definitely has at least two of them, since this one had a sign by the door marked “BRIEFING ROOM 2.”
Time travel was apparently not a thing before now. Will we see it again after the events of this episode? We’ll see, I suppose.
The Written Adaptation:
For the most part, Blish’s adaptation is the usual condensed retelling of the events of the episode. There are, however, some notable differences!
Rather than Psi 2000, the planet isn’t really considered important enough to have a proper name, instead just having a scientific designation of ULAPG42821DB. Some junior officer on the Enterprise did see fit, however, to shorten that lengthy designation to “La Pig.”
There must be some rather heavy conflict somewhere in the universe, and it seems humanity has not lost their penchant for constructing horrifying weapons. Kirk reflects that the scientific data collected from observing La Pig’s break up could result in developments of weapons that could break up a planet at will, “people and all.” Not a pretty possibility.
The cure McCoy develops is delivered through the ship’s air system instead of through injection. Certainly a more logical method of dissemination if available, but it robs other crew members of some rather heroic moments. Riley comes to his senses before Scott can cut his way into engineering himself. Kirk and Spock don’t get their various scenes of inner reflection, nor do they need to overcome the disease on their own to save the ship. Finally, the engines are able to be restarted just fine once access to engineering is regained, with no need for untested intermix formulas, and no accidental discovery of time warp. At the story’s conclusion, Enterprise just resettles into a stable orbit to continue their observations.
Spock does get one odd moment in this version of the tale that he didn’t have in the broadcast episode, however. After events have settled down, they try to reach Spock in his quarters where he had sequestered himself while sick. When they open the intercom to his quarters, however, they only hear Spock playing his musical instrument and singing along. “Alab, was-craunish, sprai pu ristu, Or en r’ljiik majiir auooo—” Kirk begins to miss I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.
That’s all for this week! See you again next week, when Kirk goes wild and crazy for brandy and sex!
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