“Space, The final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”
The Naked Time
Season 1, Episode 4
Original air date: September 29, 1966
The Enterprise is sent to the planet PSI 2000 to pick up a research crew and then watch as the planet breaks up, having become a frozen wasteland when the local star burned out. Mr. Spock and Lt. Joe Tormolen beam to the surface and find the whole research team dead and frozen as the climate controls are not working. As they investigate they find the team’s last moments were very unusual, a woman was strangled, a man was taking a shower fully clothed etc. During the investigation Lt. Tormolen is infected (more on this later) with an unknown pathogen that even the Enterprise’s anti-contamination doesn’t filter out. Slowly Tormolen goes crazy haunted by the deaths on the planet and after trying to kill himself is taken to sick bay where he dies from “not wanting to live” according to Dr. McCoy.
In the meantime, Tormolen has infected Helmsman Sulu and Navigator Riley with the mysterious illness. Sulu leaves the bridge in the middle of his shift and Riley begins to act with more and more grandiosity. Sulu begins running around the ship with a rapier trying to have sword fights with random crew members as Riley locks Scotty out of engineering and takes control of the ship – calling himself Captain Riley and broadcasting orders about ice cream helpings and ship-wide dances. The Enterprise’s mission over the planet is put in jeopardy as changes in the planets gravity and mass (?) could drag the ship into the atmosphere where it will burn up – and this is exactly what starts to happen while the bridge crew cannot compensate without engine controls. Kirk and Spock jump around all over the place trying to fix things. Scotty begins phasering his way into the engine room as both Kirk and Spock show up to unhelpfully tell him to move faster. Spock makes his way to sick bay, where an infected Nurse Chapel tells him she loves him, and infects Spock with the virus. Spock breaks down in the conference room, trying to keep his emotions in check as Kirk and Scotty break into engineering and neutralize Riley. Scott discovers the engines have been shut off and the only way they can be restarted in time is a controlled implosion of matter and anti-matter that is almost impossible to calculate correctly.
Kirk finds Spock- the only crew member apparently capable of doing the math and discovers his compromised state. As Kirk slaps Spock repeatedly to “snap him out of it” the virus spreads to Kirk yet Spock is somehow able to suppress its effects and join Scotty in Engineering. Kirk stumbles his way to the bridge where he is met by McCoy, who found an effective antidote earlier that was tested and successful on Sulu. McCoy injects Kirk with the serum, and the Enterprise attempts the dangerous cold start of the engines. While successful, the implosion somehow pushes the Enterprise back in time almost three days. A discovery of time travel that is notated by Mr. Spock and acknowledged by Kirk as something Starfleet may attempt in the future.
Known to Fans As:
The crazy fencing Sulu episode.
Notable Guest Stars:
Steward Moss as Lt. Joe Tormolen. Moss was another regular guest star on various T.V. series from the 60’s through the 90’s: From Hogan’s Heroes to Magnum, P.I. to Punky Brewster. His last role was in Bonanza: The Return in 1993. He died of a heart attack at the age of 79 in 2017.
Bruce Hyde as Lt. Kevin Riley. Hyde actually appeared in two episodes, this and The Conscience of the King. Hyde didn’t have much of a Hollywood career, focusing more on theater, eventually obtaining a PHD in Theater and working as a professor at St. Cloud State University. He died in 2010 of throat cancer.
As almost an after thought he crew of the Enterprise discover time travel, yet in all the other episodes and movies that deal with time travel I don’t believe this method is ever employed.
Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett, Roddenberry’s mistress at the time and future wife who goes on to appear in multiple series and voice the computer in TOS and TNG) has a mix of black and gray hair. Seems like they were trying to make her look a little older than her 34 years in this episode, she is then given blond hair in future episodes and acts like a younger woman.
Vulcan Nerve Pinches: One, on Sulu – first time in the show.
Damn it Jim: None
Kirk’s Shirt Off: Partially, McCoy inexplicably rips Kirk’s sleeve off to give him the antidote. But we do get a full, shirtless Sulu; Oh MY!
Aged the Best:
The infection gets on the Enterprise because Tormolen takes off his glove and touches his face. It then spreads to the crew members through sweat – and the illness makes everybody sweaty. Even after watching everyone become infected Spock lets Chapel touch his hand, and Kirk hits Spock (plot being the only legit reason it didn’t pass to Kirk and Spock earlier when they disarmed Sulu.) Basically this thing spread just like the Coronavirus and could have been stopped if Tormolen had kept on his gloves.
Aged the Worst:
Riley becomes essentially a drunken, Irish stereotype
Overall Grade: A-, this is a great episode and had all the dynamics of Trek that have been parodied over the years. Scott accomplishing engineering feats he said would take much longer, McCoy arguing with Kirk, Spock and his battle with human emotions (and the nerve pinch.) Uhura with a fantastic line. Sulu, “I’ll protect you fair maiden.” “Sorry, neither.” Which she supposedly ad-libbed. The best overall episode of the series so far.
Tomorrow’s Episode: The Corbomite Maneuver