Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987): S01E03 – The Naked Now


Introduction

“The Naked Now” is the third episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, originally aired on 05 October 1987 in broadcast syndication in the United States.

Directed by Paul Lynch, the episode had been written by D.C. Fontana, under the pseudonym of “J. Michael Bingham,” with John D.F. Black also credited for his role in devising the plot’s origins.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise encounters a research ship where all personnel are found dead. The Enterprise crew quickly become infected with the same affliction, one that is similar to that suffered by the crew of James T. Kirk’s USS Enterprise decades before.

Based on an unfinished teleplay by Gene Roddenberry, the episode deliberately followed up on the events of original series Star Trek first season episode “The Naked Time” (1966). Fans initially criticised the origins of the episode, and later reviews were also largely negative.

Outline

The crew of the Enterprise responds to messages received from the SS Tsiolkovsky, a science vessel monitoring the collapse of a supergiant star. The messages suggest, amid their rounds of laughter, that the crew has been exposed to a sudden hull breach. After the Enterprise secures the Tsiolkovsky via tractor beam, an away team beams over and finds the crew frozen to death in various stages of undress—including one who was taking a shower fully clothed. A woman’s body, frozen, falls into Lt. La Forge’s (LeVar Burton) hands.

Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) orders full medical examinations of the away team on their return, and finds La Forge sweating profusely and complaining about the temperature. She orders him to stay in sickbay but he manages to escape, making his way to the quarters of Crusher’s son, Wesley (Wil Wheaton). Unaware of La Forge’s condition, Wesley shows him a portable tractor beam device and La Forge places an encouraging hand on his shoulder. Meanwhile, acting on a hunch by Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes), who had read a book on past starships named “Enterprise” and found a previous mention of someone taking a shower fully clothed in its pages, Lt. Cdr. Data (Brent Spiner) locates a historical record identifying the ailment as similar to one encountered by Captain Kirk’s USS Enterprise.

La Forge returns to sickbay, where Dr. Crusher quickly becomes concerned when she realizes that the infection is spread by physical contact. Much of the ship’s crew comes under the influence of the ailment, including Data, who engages in a sexual encounter with Security Chief Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). Dr. Crusher, struggling against the effects of the ailment, finds the original antidote documented by Kirk’s Enterprise to be ineffective, and begins devising a new version of it.

Now infected, Wesley uses a digital sample of Captain Picard’s voice to lure key engineering crew-members away from the engineering deck. He erects a force field around the area with his tractor beam device and assumes control of the ship. He allows one of the engineers, Mr. Shimoda (Benjamin W.S. Lum), who is acting in a childlike manner, into the force field. Mr. Shimoda manages to remove all of the isolinear chips from the engine control station and plays with them like toys.

As the supergiant star collapses, a fragment is blown into a direct impact course with the two Federation ships, and without the chips in place, they cannot move out of its way. Chief Engineer Sarah MacDougal (Brooke Bundy) manages to disable Wesley’s force field, and Data is sent to replace the chips. He reports that he will not have enough time. Wesley reverses the ship’s tractor beam, repelling the Enterprise off the Tsiolkovsky, giving themselves the necessary additional seconds for Data to replace the chips enabling the ship to move out of the way. The crew is cured of the ailment, and Picard partially credits Wesley for helping to prevent a disaster.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Paul Lynch.
  • Writer(s): John D.F. Black and J. Michael Bingham.
  • Release Date: 05 October 1987.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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