You’d think that the writers of TNG would stay away from references to The Original Series. Perhaps it would be best to ease into this new, updated universe and create your way. That might have worked, but “The Naked Now” blew all of that up by creating a throwback episode based on “The Naked Time,” which we all refer to as “the episode where Sulu runs around with a sword.” I mean, they already had McCoy in “Encounter at Farpoint.” This episode is known in Trek circles, as the “one where Data used his ‘multiple techniques’ on Tasha Yar.”
The crew of the Enterprise was en route to meet the S.S. Tsiolkovsky, which had been monitoring the collapse of a red supergiant star into a white dwarf. What should be a routine mission becomes anything, but when the crew receives strange transmissions.
On the bridge, Picard, Riker, Geordi, Troi, Worf, Yar, and Data listen and analyze the call. The crew of the Tsiolkovsky appeared to be drunk, and eventually, the Enterprise crew hear a sound of an emergency hatch being blown. BOOM!
Riker ordered Data, Geordi, and Yar to come with him, and they left the bridge. Worf took Data’s place at navigation. He reported that there were no life signs detected on board the Tsiolkovsky.
The Tsiolkovsky appeared to be an Oberth-class starship. This class was first seen as the U.S.S. Grissom, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
When Riker and company beamed over, they found no one alive, but they did find evidence of a massive party and a bunch of frozen people. Riker saw that someone did open the hatch, and they all got sucked out. But Data, rightly pointed out, that they were not sucked out, they were “blown out.”
As Geordi poked around with his tricorder, he was the first to become infected with the infection. Picard ordered that the away team beam back. He also noted that the transporter would be on “maximum decontamination,” which was a significant innovation over the devices in TOS.
Dr. Crusher examined the away team members, including Geordi, who acted grouchily. He was sweating and complaining about the heat in sickbay. She kept him under observation.
Riker went to Data and asked him to scour the records looking for an incident where someone, somewhere, at some time, took a shower in his or her clothes. Data said it would take several hours.
While she was distracted, La Forge took off his communicator badge and wandered off. Crusher walked in and picked up the badge and called security to report that he was missing. Picard ordered that it be a ship-wide search.
Geordi showed up moments later in Wesley Crusher’s room, watching the young phenom demonstrate his science project — a small tractor beam generator. Wesley also demonstrated a device that reproduced Picard’s voice giving various orders. Geordi was impressed, and told Wes that Picard was lucky that Wes “is on his side.” He clasped Wes on the neck.
Wes groused that Picard would not let him on the bridge. He said there was nothing on the bridge he didn’t understand. Geordi walked out and said that he felt hot. He wandered into the observation lounge.
“There once was a woman from Venus, whose body was shaped like a —“
Yar found him, and he told her that he needed her help to “see.” She said that he could see, and he said that he could see better than she knew. “More isn’t better,” he said. He wanted to see as a human would. He felt her face… and infected her. She took him to sickbay.
Picard came down to see Geordi as he was under examination. Crusher said there was nothing wrong with him. Picard asked again if there was some disease on the Enterprise. She said it was unlikely. Troi said she sensed confusion, but that he was acting drunk. Crusher said that they would have detected that.
Meanwhile, Data told Riker that he could not narrow down the search for “someone in the shower” with their clothes on without more information. Riker said that he remembered the story from a history of Enterprise ships from the past. This tale came from when James T. Kirk was captain.
Data brought up schematics of the original Constitution-class Enterprise … that was pretty cool. Tying the old series to the new, updated one with visuals.
Anyhow, Picard read the records from Kirk’s ship and realized they found the solution. He told Data to send the records to medical. He called Crusher to tell her they’d found the cure for the problem. Crusher asked if he was sure, and he said, “absolutely.” Data snuck an “are you really absolutely sure” glance at his captain.
Troi entered her quarters and found Yar going through her clothes. Yar told Troi that she needed her help to change her image as she draped a sarong over her uniform. Troi said that these clothes were not for her. As she said this, Yar reached out and touched her hand. BOOM. Now Troi was infected. Yar told her that she would get what she needed from the ship’s store and left.
The counselor called to Picard on the bridge to report Yar’s strange behavior. Picard told her that Yar was not infected, but more like ‘intoxicated.’ He then turned to Riker. “It seems our security chief has the equivalent of a snootful,” Picard said.
Data turned and wanted to understand what he meant by ‘snootful.’ Picard told him to forget it. It’s only the second episode of the first season, and the crew is tired of Data’s over-literalism!
Back in sickbay, Wesley showed off his new beam project to the doctor. She told him while this strange stuff was going on, he needed to stay in their quarters. He agreed, but he argued a little first… which would be the norm for any teenager not named Wesley Crusher. She then realized that Wes was infected too.
Picard called and asked if she created the test injection. She said that she hadn’t, but she was working on it.
In the corridors of the ship, Yar slinked her way past crewmembers hugging and fooling around. She grabbed one medical officer and kissed him… passing the infection on to another.
On the bridge, Data was counting down to Picard, letting him know how many minutes they had until the data was downloaded from the Tsiolkovsky. Picard asked if the Enterprise was in any danger if the star went into collapse. Data said they could outrun any stellar material at half-impulse power.
In engineering, Picard called to the chief and ordered her to the bridge. Picard then ordered the assistant chief to medical. Wesley walked in and told him that he would keep an eye on the place while he was gone. They shook on it. BOOM. Shimoda was now infected.
When Chief Engineer MacDougal arrived on the bridge, Picard was puzzled. Then, an announcement sounded, where Picard’s voice announced that he’d handed over control to “Acting Captain Wesley Crusher.” The real captain was incensed.
In engineering, Wesley kept all from stopping him from taking over the ship, thanks to his science project’s force field. Shimoda swore allegiance to Wesley, who allowed him to return to his post. Shimoda stumbled in.
Picard ordered Riker and MacDougal to get “that boy” out of engineering. Worf shared that there were reports of odd crew behavior all over. Data also reported that a crewman was reciting the following in the shuttle bay:
“There once was a woman from Venus, whose body was shaped like a —“
Before he could finish, Picard shouted for security. Worf leaned over and told Data that he, too, did not understand human humor. SO FUNNY! Data and Worf, the two main, non-human characters, at least have each other. Spock had no one to raise his eyebrow to when his human shipmates did something stupid.
Security responded to the captain by telling him to keep his “britches on.” Then Yar jumped in, telling Picard that she was pretty busy at the moment. She ended by calling her captain, “Jean-Luc.” Data stopped to look for Picard’s reaction. Picard ordered Data to take Yar to sickbay.
When Data arrived in Yar’s quarters, we all witnessed one of the most infamous scenes of all of TNG. Yar oozed out of her bathroom in a sexy, skimpy, non-Starfleet outfit. She asked if Data was “fully functional.” He said he was “programmed in multiple techniques.” She told him that he was a jewel, and she threw him down on her bed.
Meanwhile, Riker figured out that the engines were being controlled from engineering. Wes was keeping all at bay with his device, and he and MacDougal would be able to short out the power to Wesley’s machine — but it would take some time. Picard ordered them to proceed.
But just as Riker set to work, Troi walked up and infected him. He picked her up and carried her to sickbay. As he did, she asked him if he’d rather be alone with her, “with me in your mind?” YUCK! That’s too creepy. No thanks, counselor.
In sickbay, Crusher was testing out antidotes on La Forge. She tried the old Enterprise drug on him, but it did no work. He still said he wanted to see. Riker stormed in and infected the doctor. She told him that the compound affecting the crew had evolved since the old days. They both realized that they were now infected. He ran out to try to work on the computers in engineering.
Picard began to plead with Wesley for control over the ship (while Shimoda played with the silicon chips from the ship’s computer). Wesley refused to return control of the ship, but he did offer that Picard could give him orders to execute.
Worf interrupted to warn Picard of the star, but Picard continued trying to order Wesley. Picard also explained to Wesley that he was infected and feeling “drunk.” Picard said it was imperative to regain control of engineering and the ship in general so he could use a tractor beam to tag the Tsiolkovsky — when Wesley heard ‘tractor beam,’ he told the captain that tractor beams were his specialty and ended communications.
Worf finally was able to get his word in. He told Picard that the star was starting to collapse. Picard seethed.
In engineering, Riker and MacDougal struggled to cut off Wesley’s power supply. In sickbay, Crusher struggled with the antidote (and her hair). She tried a hair clip, but it was no use. A doctor shouldn’t have to fiddle with her hair while saving the lives of her crew.
On the bridge, Worf announced that the Enterprise had locked tractor beams onto the Tsiolkovsky. Just at that moment, a drunk Mr. Data wobbled out of the turbolift.
Picard tried to talk Data out of being drunk, but it didn’t work. Data explained that he, too, was susceptible to the illness, as he had chemical nutrients, which are similar to human blood.
“Prick me, and do I not … leak?” said Data.
Crusher barged in and told Picard that she must see him at once — privately. She took her hair down as she entered his ready room. As she said to him that she was infected, she sat on his desk in a very suggestive position. She told him that she found him “extremely … we haven’t time for that sort of thing.”
As she got up next to him, he told her that there “must be a cure,” and made a noise that sounded like a 1950s Buick starting up for the first time in decades. I can’t remember what I thought when I watched this for the first time, but when I saw it many years later, I paused and rewound it to hear that noise again.
Anyhoo… Crusher started to unzip her uniform, and she told Jean-Luc that he “owed” her and that she hadn’t had the comfort of a man … Picard told her, “not now,” and she slinked away.
Worf called to Riker to say that both Picard and Data were infected. Riker ran up to the bridge. An explosion pushed a chunk of matter toward the Enterprise. Picard ordered Worf to take the ship away from the matter, but the controls were not responding.
MacDougal got the force field down and realized that all the control chips had been pulled out of the computer. She said that if she had 2-3 hours, she could replace them. Worf said the ship had 14 minutes before impact with the star matter. Wes piped up and said that Data could do it faster — which was true.
We saw the Tsiolkovsky being towed by the Enterprise and the star material hurtling toward it. Inside, Riker hurried Data down to engineering so he could put the chips back in the computer. Wesley told Data that it’s like a game, and Data needed to see how fast he could put the chips back in. Data smiled and gave it a try.
Data told Riker that he would not finish in time. Wesley suggested using the tractor beam to push the ships apart, but MacDougal scoffed. He reversed the tractor beam and made it a repulser beam, which forced the Enterprise away from the Tsiolkovsky, giving Data the extra time he needed.
Meanwhile, Picard walked into sickbay and began flirting with Crusher. She tested the new remedy on Geordi, and it worked. Picard came down to engineering and inoculated everyone there, including Data.
The star matter destroyed the Tsiolkovsky as the Enterprise shoved away. Data completed putting the chips back, and the Enterprise jumped into warp, away from danger.
On the bridge, Geordi asked if something helped move the ship out of the way. Picard said that it was Data, with a little help from Wesley. Worf scoffed. Dr. Crusher looked at the Klingon and said: “he said, Wesley!”
Riker said that they’d need to mention Wesley in the log. Picard agreed but said they’d also need to mention Wesley’s science teacher.
On the bridge, all returned to normal, and the officers returned to their stations. This included Lt. Yar and Mr. Data. She walked up to him and told him that “it never happened.” He looked confused.
Picard said that he thought they would make a fine crew if they learned to avoid temptation. Then the Enterprise warped away.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
This episode was both a throwback and new. It was full of humor and set up what would come later (Wesley’s genius and Yar’s troubled past). It was an entertaining chapter in this new version of Trek, proving that this new crew was up to any challenge faced by the original Enterprise staff.
RATING: 4 out of 5