What humans call a wild party (S01:E02)

The introduction to this series can be seen here.

The Naked Now:

A “virus” spreads through the Enterprise crew, the effects of which mimic high levels of intoxication. The crew must regain control before their own poor judgment destroys the ship.

This is a critical, CRITICAL, benchmark episode, for it is here that we learn – through the kickass security chief seducing several men – that the android Data is, in fact, fully functional and anatomically correct (see “Data’s Tango” by Voltaire for a musical exploration of the theme). Hordes of future shippers also get a second big gift in this ep, as the stuffy captain and forward doctor quickly coming to a boil on the sexual tension. I have to say, I enjoyed both storylines at the time. 🙂

We see another woman in a role of power on the ship this time, and a science-based role at that: chief engineer. The binary of women either being their sexual appeal or not having any is mirrored here, though; she’s older, with a dowdier hairstyle, and has no discernible personality. The character didn’t stick around long. I don’t have any suspicions yet that I garnered any empowerment about my femaleness from this show.

While we’re talking about sexuality, this is one of only a handful of episodes with true licentiousness involved… and there is an element of punishment involved in it here. Valuing sex and pleasure over duty is seen as a big part of the dangerous obstacles to overcome. The seductress I admired was certainly feeling shame by the end, and issues of her own consent under the influence were not touched on. In a telling moment, the story ends with the captain voicing the sentiment: “I think we shall end up with a fine crew, if we avoid temptation”; the dyads that coupled or threatened to couple are then held in lingering shots that emphasize the indulged or averted danger. Sex and relationships are here put on a similar plane of danger as Q’s capriciousness, and keeping proper control is quickly becoming a recurring theme in Picard’s personality.

At this point in time, my relationship to the show is far less about their influence on me as role models, as I haven’t yet put them in that role. What I remember more is what’s drawing me in and getting me invested in them, eventually making me want to emulate them. My current self is certain that Picard’s focus on control held great allure for me then, trapped in my wretchedly dysfunctional and capriciously changing environment. I’m less certain what impact the directly sexual elements of Naked Now had for me, honestly, though I doubt the show as a whole did much to enrich my slow-motion sexual development.

But I do know of one other issue that was powerfully capturing my attention. The series powers-that-be received a great deal of criticism for showing this episode so early; we hardly know the characters, so many felt the power of seeing them let loose already was muted. But I connected a lot with the characters this episode. I think the early drunkenness is thematically related to the joy of Data’s presence, and the shift from having an Vulcan on board to having an android. Both the original and Next Generation crews had one primary character that unpacked and commented directly on human nature. In the late 60’s, a Vulcan showed disdain for any signs of being human, and considered human nature a weakness to avoid. In the late 80’s, an android harbored a long-standing wish to be more human. While I love and revere the older, more contented Spock, Data in his innocence and yearning always appealed to me much more. Having this chance to see so much bare innocence and yearning throughout the crew so early was really appealing to me as well. They felt so vulnerable and human.

1. Thanks again, Memory Alpha.

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

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