(airdate: October 5, 1987)
Story: John D.F. Black and J. Michael Bingham [pseudonym for D.C. Fontana]
Teleplay: J. Michael Bingham
Director: Paul Lynch
Chief Engineer MacDougal: Brooke Bundy
Assistant Chief Engineer Jim Shimoda: Benjamin W.S. Lum
Captain's Log: The Enterprise is investigating strange messages from the Tsiolkovsky, a science vessel which has been studying a collapsing red supergiant star. Upon arrival, the Enterprise discovers that the crew of the Tsiolkovsky have committed suicide. While aboard the Tsiolkovsky, Geordi is contaminated by something that causes him to act irrationally; this is what affected the crew of the Tsiolkovsky. This substance is similar to what affected the crew of Kirk's Enterprise during their five-year mission, but the same cure doesn't work this time. Meanwhile, Wesley, also affected, takes control of Engineering and thus the ship; this is a problem because the star is collapsing, sending out stellar matter that will destroy the Enterprise - and one of the engineers has pulled out all the isolinear chips, shutting down the engines. Crusher is able to finally find a cure, while Riker breaks into Engineering and has Data replace all the chips, allowing the engines to come back online and the ship to escape.
Whoops!: The Tsiolkovsky dedication plaque has a couple typos in the Cyrillic, with a П (<p>) instead of the proper Л (<l>), and a З (<z>) instead of Э (<e>). (In other words, the plaque appears to call the ship the K.Z. Tsiopkovsky.) The remastered HD version revealed that the registry number on the Tsiolkovsky model is NCC-640 - which was the number assigned to the model the last time it appeared on screen, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The special effects remaster team therefore changed the registry to NCC-53911, to match the dedication plaque - but only in some of the shots where the number is visible.
The collapsing star is described as a red supergiant, but red supergiants tend to form neutron stars when they collapse; giant stars are the ones that typically form white dwarfs.
Why is Data affected by the water-carbon substance? Is his biomechanical chemistry really so similar that this intoxication actually affects him? (Especially given that they're going to establish later on that alcohol has no effect on him.)
A couple quibbles related to it being early days: Data uses a couple contractions (e.g., "Correction, sir, that's blown out"), while Troi calls Riker "Bill" instead of the with-hindsight-more-familiar "Will".
Classic Lines: Data: "And there was a rather peculiar limerick being delivered by someone in the shuttlecraft bay. I am not sure I understand it. 'There was a young lady from Venus, whose body was shaped like a-'" Picard, hurriedly interrupting: "Captain to Security, come in!" Data: "Did I say something wrong?" Worf: "I don't understand their humor either."
Cringe Lines: Data mangling Shakespeare: "If you prick me, do I not... leak?"
Technobabble: Strong shifts in gravity can turn water into an alcohol-like substance when combined with carbon, although it won't appear on scans.
Casualty Report: The entire crew of the Tsiolkovsky dies when they're affected by the water-carbon complex substance, leading to them dying by things such as disabling the climate controls and blowing out the bridge's emergency hatch.
Alien Love: Under the influence of the substance, Troi seems to have affection for Riker, while Beverly appears strongly attracted to Picard - and Picard seems interested in reciprocating, at least a little bit. Perhaps most notoriously, Yar (after having kissed a random blue-shirted crewman) seduces Data, although she subsequently tells him to forget it happened. [It was added moments such as this that led to D.C. Fontana using a pseudonym on the episode.]
Library Computer: The S.S. Tsiolkovsky is an Oberth-class science vessel, much like the U.S.S. Grissom (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), with a crew of eighty people aboard. According to its dedication plaque (which is located next to a monitor and a door labeled "07-2034"), the ship is actually called the K.E. Tsiolkovsky [and thus is named after Russian rocket scientist Konstanin Tsiolkovsky, one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry], while the name itself is written in Cyrillic script. The ship's registry is NCC-53911, while the ship was commissioned on stardate 40291.7 and constructed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR. [Thus suggesting that an entity called the USSR exists in the 24th century (and compare, perhaps, with comments in other parts of the franchise about a city called Leningrad) - although whether the initials here stand for the same thing as the initials of the 20th-century USSR is unknown.] Its motto was "The Earth is the cradle of the mind but one cannot remain in the cradle forever." [This is a quote from the ship's namesake.]
The Tsiolkovsky was monitoring the collapse of a red supergiant star into a white dwarf - a routine mission that they had been conducting for the past eight months. However, the huge shifts in gravity created complex strings of water molecules, which combined with carbon in the body to create a substance that acted like alcohol on the body; this water-carbon complex didn't seem to form naturally but rather was passed on by skin-to-skin contact, and it was broadly similar to a substance encountered by the original U.S.S. Enterprise during their observation of the disintegration of the planet Psi 2000. [Yes, this is a sequel to the original series episode "The Naked Time", although the specifics of gravitational forces and carbon from the body contributing to the issue weren't given there.] The resulting extreme intoxication and bad judgement led to the deaths of everyone aboard. The ship itself was destroyed when it collided with a large piece of stellar material that was ejected from the collapsing red supergiant.
The subsequent investigation into the Tsiolkovsky, prior to its destruction, by an away team from the Enterprise led to the spread of the substance throughout the Enterprise crew. This led to a number of atypical behaviors: Geordi became irritable and irrational; Wesley was convinced of his ability to take command of the ship from Picard; Yar became interested in more stereotypically feminine pursuits (such as nice dresses and romantic relationships, including with Data); Troi became more or less helpless; Dr. Crusher found herself attracted to Picard and had trouble concentrating on her job; Picard lost the ability to focus; Assistant Chief Engineer Jim Shimoda (a shorter man of Asian descent with thinning dark brown hair and a small mustache) acted like a child, happily pulling isolinear chips out of the computer in Engineering; and Data simply acted drunk. [It doesn't appear to have affected either Worf or Chief Engineer MacDougal; Riker looks like he's in the beginning stages, but he's treated before any serious symptoms show.] A common symptom was the feeling of being hot. As in "The Naked Time", the substance didn't show up on any scans. Crusher was able to "cure" the effects of the substance by using a broader-based remedy of the same one used on the original Enterprise (as the original formula didn't work, due to slight differences between the Psi 2000 form and this one); the treatment worked almost instantly.
Chief Engineer MacDougal is one of the chief engineers aboard the Enterprise. [We say "one of" because a) this is her only appearance on the show, which means we're going to have other chief engineers show up this season, and b) Riker mentions the presence of multiple chief engineers aboard in "Where No One Has Gone Before".] A lieutenant commander, MacDougal is an older Caucasian woman with short blonde hair and a serious disposition. She's able, with Riker's help, to break through Wesley's forcefield to gain access to engineering. She states that it would take her weeks to redesign the Enterprise circuits to alter the tractor beam from "attract" to "repel".
Wesley still wishes he could be allowed on the bridge, claiming that there's nothing up there that he doesn't understand. He's built a portable tractor beam as a science project, and he can convert it into a forcefield generator by connecting it to the ship's main power. [Well, he calls it a repulsor beam at that point, but it's definitely acting as a forcefield.] He's also created a red tricorder-looking device that lets him imagine he's on the bridge, receiving commands from Picard: he's pieced together various commands from other public announcements Picard has made. This allows him (under the influence of the polywater substance) to send away both MacDougal and Shimoda, allowing him to take over Engineering, thereby putting himself in command. [Yes, in this version Wesley takes over the Riley role from the original - although admittedly it makes more sense for a fifteen-year old boy to behave this way than for a twenty-something lieutenant.] Wesley can picture complex circuits in his head, allowing him to convert the Enterprise's tractor beam into a repulsor beam.
Data is written up in several biomechanical textbooks. He is similar to humans; he states that he has pores and fingerprints, and that his chemical nutrients are similar to human blood, and that they will come out if his skin is pierced. He has been designed to be fully functional when it comes to sexual interactions, and he's been programmed with multiple techniques. Surprisingly, he's susceptible to the water-carbon complex intoxication, causing him to act drunk. He can replace isolinear chips very quickly.
Yar was five years old when she was abandoned on her homeworld; she learned how to stay alive and avoid the rape gangs; she was fifteen when she left the planet. Under the influence of the water-carbon substance, she craves gentleness and stereotypical femininity, openly admiring Troi's sartorial tastes. Her own taste in clothing is very revealing, with her midriff exposed and her hair slicked back. Her quarters include a small palm tree and an imposing piece of abstract carved wood.
Troi is now dressed in a more feminine, dark grey jumpsuit, with a lighter green-gray high-cut briefs pattern. She's also pulled her hair back into a large bun, with a long band with red jewels woven through her hair. She seems to still have romantic feelings for Riker, and under the influence of the water-carbon complex mentions how she's aware of all the other minds aboard the Enterprise. Her quarters include a tree with white leaves of some sort and a pink crystal sculpture.
Under the substance's influence, Dr. Crusher finds herself attracted to Picard, although she's professional enough to try to overcome it for the sake of the crew. Picard (also intoxicated) seems inclined to reciprocate these feelings, although he doesn't seem terribly aware of what's happening at any given moment.
The original U.S.S. Enterprise was a Constitution-class vessel. [Thus at long last providing on-screen confirmation of the Enterprise's class name (after Starship-class, which can be seen on the dedication plaque in various episodes), even though Constitution-class had been in use behind the scenes since at least "The Trouble with Tribbles". The original version provides an image of the movie refit design during this conversation, while the remastered version elects for the original series design.]
We get a better look at Engineering this time around. Off of the area with the warp core is a room, separated by transparent panels, with various consoles inside; it also houses the Engineering computers. All of the Engineering functions can be accessed inside this room. As with the rest of Engineering, it seems to be less well lit than the rest of the ship, with lots of shadows and blacks present.
Isolinear optical chips are translucent blue or green plastic chips, roughly the same size and shape as standard microscope slides, which are involved in controlling the computer. One end of the chip is marked with a small white wraparound label with colored dots on it. They can be easily removed - we see them slotting into a panel in Engineering - but they have to go back into specific places and in a specific order in order to properly function.
A sonic driver is an engineering tool. It's a long thin grey rectangle with two light-up prongs on one end.
We get a good look at a hypo in this episode. It's a grey rectangular tube with an angled head with buttons on it to inject a patient with. The other end has a receptacle for a cylindrical ampoule, which is inserted by simply pushing the ampoule into the hypo.
How to convert the ship's tractor beam to a repulsor beam: come off the main lead, split off at the force activator, then reverse the power leads and send it back through the force activator.
Ship stores aboard the Enterprise carry a number of objects - Yar seems confident she'll find a stylish outfit there.
The Enterprise has a Training Division aboard. Under the influence of the water-carbon substance, they ordered a lecture on metaphysics.
Information Data views on the ship's computer includes various star charts (including one of the neighborhood around Sol, and one showing the locations of the transport Diana and the USS Muleskinner when they were plundered and "space jacked", respectively); some ships, including a shuttlecraft with curved, aerodynamic lines, a Klingon battlecruiser, an Excelsior-class vessel, some sort of flat Starfleet-looking vessel with two warp nacelles sticking out the back and a small oval saucer at the front, a Constitution-class refit vessel [and a non-refitted Enterprise in the remastered version], and a rather horrifying drawing of a parrot with Gene Roddenberry's head, labeled "The Great Bird of the Galaxy" (see "The Man Trap").
Final Analysis: "The formula from the old Enterprise didn't work. ... This water-carbon complex may induce the same symptoms, but somehow it's different. Maybe it's mutated." You can kinda sorta see why they might have thought this was a good idea: to provide overt links with the past and thus reassure people that this is still Star Trek. The main problems are that a) they already did that last week with DeForest Kelley's cameo (and much more elegantly too) and b) they don't do anything new with this version, so instead "The Naked Now" ends up being an uninspired retread of "The Naked Time". And we don't actually know these characters well enough yet to get much out of seeing them behave out of character (even the original series gave us a few episodes before they did this). It's got a couple nice moments here or there, but this is largely a waste.
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Page originally created: April 29, 2020
Page last updated: May 21, 2020