Monday, 13 May 2013

TOS - 1.4 - The Naked Time

Star Trek - The Naked Time
Time to get half naked and fence,
get my point?
These few early episodes have a recurrent similar theme in the broad stroke(even though they were written by different writers).

In this episode, the writer (John D. F. Black) posed the question of what if we lose our social inhibitions? Anarchy reigns of course.

That's exactly what happened to the Enterprise after they have infected an alien bug that lowers their inhibitions. Everyone becomes "themselves". After the infection, Sulu decides simply to leave his post and go to the gym, and annoys the rest of the crew to no end with his fencing. Apparently, fencing is what Sulu likes to do more than his job.

So the recurring theme seems to be that we have these different sides, and for a smooth functional society, we need to suppress, control, moderate or inhibit our wild, fun, selfish sides for the sake of conformity. This is of course desirable in a society at large, and absolute crucial on a ship in particular. The Enterprise is a society in microcosm, and thus higher level of mental discipline is demanded.

Of course, nobody is more upset by this loss of mental discipline than the one who takes pride above all else the ability of to reign in his emotion. Yes, Spock isn't immune to this discipline loosening bug that he starts to snivel like a little girl lost. He's very upset by it, and upset is something he would avoid at all cost. He's upset about being upset. Fun to watch.

Because of the lowering of emotional control, we also find out Spock's secret admirer, who keeps it bottled up quite well is now surfaced under the influence of this alien drunken bug.

You could say this movie has an anti-drinking message (not that I think the writer has that intention. But I'll never know). This is essentially what alcohol does, it lowers our inhibitions. In fact, this is the reason we drink. The effects of the alien bug - just like alcohol - on the crew are different for different individual. Some becomes depressed (I know of people cry after a few drinks), some become joyous (much like me or the jolly Irish crew member Riley), some becomes hyperactive (much like Sulu).

The hidden massage of the story is - if there's one - don't drink and operate a space ship. Or don't drink and fly. Or even shorter, don't drink flying. I bet you never see that community ads on TV any time soon.

I guess these sorts of anarchy affected ships at sea as much as ships in space, and the Captain's ability to handle these crisis is the mark of his/her leadership. I suspect these writers drew umpteen inspirations from the old naval literature (nothing wrong with that).

This recurring theme of trials and tribulations of we humble human to reconcile our different selves into a balanced healthy whole. This topic are explored in this and episodes 1.2 and 1.5. Examination of the struggle of the human condition, that's very much the central theme of the Star Trek franchise.

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