Well, after four episodes of gloom and doom, we get to the episode of TOS where everyone just gets space drunk.
I’m sure this says something deeply unflattering about me, but this is easily my favorite episode so far.
There will be SPOILERS for this episode and probably the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.
WHAT GOES DOWN, BASICALLY
The Enterprise is on a mission to a) pick up a team of scientists from some frozen, dying planet and b) watch said planet disintegrate. However, they arrive to discover that everyone on the science team is mysteriously quite dead. Due to some of the worst safety precautions I’ve ever seen, Lt. JG Tormolen gets infected with a contagious disease that drastically lowers the infected’s inhibitions. We’ll call it the Space Drunkenness Disease, or SDD.
Once back onboard the Enterprise, Tormolen accidentally starts infecting people. Everyone reacts a little differently: Tormolen basically commits suicide with a butter knife, Sulu strips off his shirt and does his best d’Artagnan, Nurse Chapel confesses her love for Spock, Spock cries that he couldn’t tell his mom he loved her, and Kirk rants about how hard it is to be captain because he’s not allowed to bang his hot yeoman. More importantly, some Irish dude named Kevin Riley takes over the ship and disables the engines, which is a serious problem because that disintegrating planet is going to take the Enterprise along with it if they don’t move.
Luckily, Scotty and Spock do, ah, science stuff, and they escape . . . only they travel three days into the past. Spock’s basically like, “My dude, we can pretty much time travel whenever and wherever the fuck we want now.” And Kirk’s like, “Maybe we’ll check that out in Season Two, but in the meantime, we only have ten seconds of the episode left, so let’s just head to the next planet.”
So, TNG did their own version of this episode (“The Naked Now”), and basically everyone hates it, mostly because it’s only the second episode in the whole series, and space drunk shenanigans are best appreciated when you have some sense of the actual characters involved. I agree with the criticism, which is why I’m pretty amused that “The Naked Time” is actually only the fourth episode of TOS that aired, especially since some of the main characters weren’t even in all three prior episodes.
Regardless, I do enjoy this one, partially because it’s just such a fun, campy episode (can Sulu just spontaneously attack people with swords all the time, please), and partially because it surprised me by having some actual heart. I really wasn’t expecting Spock’s whole breakdown–like, he’s all “I’m in control of my emotions!” and I’m like, “Oh, honey. No, you’re not.” But, I don’t know. I just genuinely felt bad for the guy. Like, he’s so desperately trying to get control of himself that he starts doing math (and not even respected math, like prime numbers, but super basic shit), and even that completely fails. Spock’s weeping, which I at first found amusingly over-the-top, suddenly becomes real. And the stuff about his mom living as a human on Vulcan, and how he couldn’t express his love for her (or his affection for Kirk), like, that really interests me. I mean, I already knew some of that because of the first Abrams movie, but I feel like this is the first TOS episode I’ve watched so far where I’ve really zoned in on one specific character and thought to myself, “Okay, him. I want to know more about him.”
The character work, sadly, isn’t quite so compelling with Kirk, who gets infected with SDD and immediately starts whining about how he can’t live his own life, and how he has to live the ship’s life, and how he’s not allowed to hit on Janice Rand, even though she’s always standing right there with her beautifulness. Like, in theory I could feel for the guy with a slightly reworked monologue–especially if we’d seen any indication prior to this episode that he had a thing for her–but as is, Kirk’s going on about how hard it is to be a non-womanizing captain, and I’m just like . . .
Aside from that, though, I really enjoyed pretty much everyone in this episode, especially considering that almost everyone actually gets something to do (rather than previous episodes, which have mostly focused on one or two people). And now that I think about it, I suppose it’s no real surprise that I enjoyed this one as much as I did, given how much I revel in ridiculousness, and value good character beats above all else.
For reasons unknown to even God himself, Spock and Tormolen are wearing biohazard suits where . . . how do you even describe this . . . the head piece/mask doesn’t actually connect to anything. There’s absolutely no kind of neck seal, which means they might as well not be wearing masks at all, like, it would be just as effective as going into a quarantine zone with a paper bag over your head for protection. You might reasonably think that’s why Tormolen gets infected, but it’s not; rather, Tormolen–henceforth known as Lt. JG Darwin Award–takes off his glove to scratch his itchy nose, continues his work without putting the glove back on, and then unwittingly touches some blood with his bare hand. Mind you, they’ve already found the mysterious dead bodies at this point, and the whole station is frozen over, like, it’s gotta be freeze-your-nuts-off cold, but sure, dude, you just keep poking around with your bare hands.
The biohazard suits, by the by, were also fashioned from shower curtains. Let me tell you this does little to add to the realism of their design. Also, one of the dead people? Totally a mannequin. It very well might be the worst fake dead person I’ve ever seen. There is absolutely no excuse for this.
The Fashion Report: Spock wears black pants and a slim, black T-shirt in Sickbay. I, uh. I really approve of this.
First Time We’ve Encountered: Man, LOTS of stuff. Nurse Chapel, for one. I’m always very excited to see Majel Barrett; I am less excited, I’m afraid, about the hideous wig on her head. (Tell me it gets better. Please tell me it gets better.) Also, I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve had someone crawling around inside a Jeffries Tube. Also, Spock says, “Fascinating.” AND he takes out Sulu with a Vulcan neck pinch!
Lt. JG Darwin Award may be a dumbass, but there are parts of his “we don’t belong in space” monologue that I’m like, well . . . okay, you might have a point. More importantly, this dude totally has pink blood, which could be due to shitty special effects and/or TV censorship, but I choose to believe signifies that he’s secretly part Klingon.
I continue to adore the vital signs/telemetry machines in Sickbay, which look more like some rudimentary 1980’s video game than actual medical equipment. I’m equally amused by the respirator, which appears to be an oxygen mask not actually connected to anything, and the fact that, far, far in the future, we’ve apparently given up on any type of resuscitation attempt. Like, no pulse? Sorry, buddy, you’re out. Next!
“The men from Vulcan treat their women strangely . . . but you’re part human too,” is not the approach I would take when trying to seduce a guy, Christine. Also, you really can’t start a love speech like that and then later say, “I love you just as you are.” Cause, uh, I suspect you really don’t.
Chief Asshat of the Episode, however, is still going to Riley. Not so much for taking over the ship and putting everyone in imminent danger, but for this: “In the future, all females will wear their hair loosely about their shoulders and use restraint when putting on your makeup. Women should not look made-up.” I mean, seriously. Fuck this guy.
I kind of want to paint LOVE MANKIND and REPENT SINNERS on my wall now.
You know what I wasn’t expecting from this episode? Time travel. That . . . that seems like a very random last minute complication to have. OTOH, I’m now picturing all the TOS cast singing, “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again,” and that makes me smile.
Finally, this: “You’ve interrupted my song. I’m sorry, but there will be no ice cream for you tonight.” This should be my favorite quote of the episode, like, I can see myself saying it in all kinds of contexts. “You don’t like The Princess Bride? I’m sorry, but there will be no ice cream for you tonight.” And yet, it actually gets topped by Sulu and Uhura.
LINE OF THE EPISODE
“I’ll protect you, fair maiden.”