Star Trek TOS: A Drunken Virus and the Time Warp

The Naked Time

Star Trek — The Original Series

Season 1, Episode 5

The Naked Time

In the most outrageous episode to date (through five episodes), a virus contracted from an Earth-like planet, Psi-2000, caused all afflicted crew members to act drunk, horny, and Irish. Even the mild-mannered, thoughtful Spock chided himself for not expressing love to his mother as a kid.

Star Trek’s first brush with suicide was involved, too, as the first man (Tormolen) to contract the virus rapidly developed self-pity, culminating in his death after he fell on a butter knife while wrestling with Sulu and Riley, who tried to prevent self-harm. Before his death, Tormolen criticized the mission of Enterprise, lambasting everyone for “destroying space.”

Then, everyone got sick. Riley became outlandishly pro-Irish while wrecking the ship’s operational capacity. By the way, Enterprise spiraled into uselessness as nearly everyone abandoned their posts to act intoxicated. This can be interpreted as a parable on the effects of alcohol because seemingly everyone stopped caring about their responsibilities, instead preferring the state of getting lost in their feelings. Dr. McCoy figured out that the virus created a chain of molecules that spawned the goofy behavior. 

With Enterprise rudderless, destruction was on the docket. The crew rallied to break into the control room where pro-Irish Riley was wreaking all the havoc. Had they not stopped the goofball, the gravitational pull from Psi 2000 would have ensured the ship was burnt to a crisp during its freefall. 

That did not occur as McCoy quickly found a cure, and Riley’s self-quarantine was thwarted when the walls to the control room were penetrated. For about 40 minutes of episode time, though, men acted like rambunctious pigs, whereas women (mainly Nurse Chapel) grew oddly loving and sentimental. She professed her love for Spock, thus getting the virus into his bloodstream — birthing a nostalgic and fervid version of Spock that was previously unseen. Spock and Kirk took the high road for virus affliction, mulling loving ideas. But the rest of the men turned to frat boys searching for a lustful love connection. The drunk man-versus-woman drunk stereotypes were really accentuated. 

As it turned out, all of the strange shipwide pandemic fodder was a vehicle for Kirk and Spock to discover the ability to warp time. The crew did not perish, and when the ship stabilized, a discovery was made. Time actually went backward when things went haywire. So now — if there is ever an appetite for traveling back in time, well, the guys and gals have the formula for it. 

And imagine the cosmic doors that little bit of information can tear down. Consider it serendipity at its pinnacle. 

The crew can even send Sulu the Swashbuckler as a conquistador back in time. 

Themes: Time Warp, Virus Management, Serendipity