Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 4

The Naked Time

Aired Unknown Sep 29, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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  • No beach to walk on.

    This week’s story begins with the Enterprise investigating a frozen planet, where all its inhabitants on the station have died mysteriously. Spock and another officer by the name of Joe are sent down to the planet to gather readings and look around. This is when Joe stupidly removes his protective glove and contracts the virus that more than likely killed the people on the planet.

    Following medical checks and a decontamination that seemingly failed to detect any problems, Joe begins to question why he and the crew of the Enterprise are out in space. His actions and words appear as crazy talk to the rest of the crew, and later on he even turns a knife on himself. No doubt Joe was under the influence of a virus and depression had worked its way upwards because of it, but one has to wonder how much truth was in his words. It is a topic that is brushed under the carpet almost as quickly as it is revealed, but I was pleased to see it was brought up as it does have room for discussion nowadays and certainly would no doubt be a prominent topic of discussion in the future too. As a result of these scenes however, the plot continues as the virus is spread further throughout the crew.

    The episode then takes a turn into Trek’s comedic side and reveals both Sulu and O’Reily (who have contracted the virus) acting more than strangely. O’Reily begins speaking in a more prominent Irish accent, takes over the engine room and begins creating turmoil over the Enterprise, whilst singing old traditional songs over the intercom. Sulu on the other hand begins taking the ship hostage on another level, with his sword, eventually reaching the bridge which creates a great scene in itself. Spock comes to a conclusion that the virus is what is responsible, causing hidden personality traits to come to the surface of the characters and take over.

    To makes matters even worse, in comes in the trivial time limit plot restraint, to create tension which was already appearing but the writers seemingly decided they needed to go over the top and make the ship start falling into the planets surface trough its gravitational pull. As a plot device, it works. As an original plot device that doesn’t come off as contrived, it doesn’t.

    One of my favourite moments in the episode takes place during a short few seconds but the level of topics it touches on underneath its obvious façade is important. Kirk, in his frustrating position of command over such an unorganised ship and crew, snaps at Uhura before she snaps back. Both share a moment of silence before Kirk eventually apologises to Uhura, realising what is getting the better of him. It’s a nice moment that shows great characterisation and the relationship between them both that works brilliantly for such a small moment in the space that occupies the entire episode.

    As a counter balance to Kirk’s un-relentless attempts at trying to restore order, Spock on the other hand fighting with himself and his emotions eventually breaks down and gives in to the virus overcoming him in a brilliantly performed set of scenes. This is brought on by the nurse expressing her ‘love’ for him, and in turn Spock retreats to a room where he breaks down and cries, going over past memories of family and most probably all the moments he had to subdue his emotions. Nimoy does a great job of conveying the ongoing battle between Spock’s brain and heart, going back and forth between each before finally showing himself as he is, in all his frailty.

    Both Kirk and Spock eventually clash together, trading words and fists as Kirk tries to get his first officer back. He ultimately gives in himself to the virus and expresses his love for the Enterprise and the women he has to refuse every day because of his position. This in itself is an important scene and it too is well performed by Shatner, but in the end, it just doesn’t compare to Spock’s previous offering. Objectively however, it’s a great showing of characterisation and offers us a boundless insight into the ever guarded captain of the Enterprise.

    In the final minutes of the episode, McCoy finds a vaccine, Scotty manages to get enough power to propel the ship backwards in time, away from the planet and we see Kirk’s final moment of weakness as he reaches out to touch Yeoman Rand, before pulling away uttering “No beach to walk on”. The ending plot wise, isn’t too great. In fact, it is rather anti-climatic and doesn’t serve a great pay-off. As far as characters go, the ending is justified, and serves as a good climax even though certain characters situations are left unresolved. In addition to this, I personally thought the whole travelling backwards in time thing was unnecessary and prematurely conceived. It was interesting and a twist I wasn’t expecting however so in its defence, it does serve as a decent plot device, but not for the last 4 minutes of an episode that has almost nothing to do with time travel.

    As a whole, The Naked Time is an interesting hour, full of comedy, great acting and boasts a more than competent plot that still holds up today, even though the ‘virus on the enterprise, argh!’ thing has been done to death in the subsequent series’. Most of all, you’ll be treated to some fantastic character insights and development that have lasted throughout the Trek saga.