TOS Rewatch: Sometimes You Have To Let Your Crewmates Die


It’s time for another Star Trek TOS rewatch. What lessons can we take from the iconic original series episode “The Naked Time”?

Hello! Welcome back to another installment of my colloquial and rather absurdist Star Trek rewatch. I’m Juliana Sabo, and I could not think of a better way to start this article.

My bad.

This week, we’ll be looking back at “The Naked Time”, a truly iconic episode with some of Star Trek’s most memorable (and gif-able) moments (that’s “gif” with a hard g).

Such moments include:

  • Scotty telling Kirk he “can’t change the laws of physics”
  • Spock seeing “Love Mankind” painted on the wall and sighing
  • Spock asserting he is “in control” of his emotions, and then proceeding to cry
  • Sulu telling Uhura “I’ll protect you fair maiden” to which she responds “Sorry, neither”
  • Just Sulu in general running around the Enterprise shirtless harassing people with his sword

But how did this all come to pass?

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Well, Spock and some dummy by the name of Joe pop down to a dying planet to pick up a scientific party stationed there. But, lo and behold! Everyone is dead. But not just dead; mysteriously dead.

Spock and that dummy Joe split up to investigate. Joe, being the dummy that he is, takes off his glove, touches things, and then scratches his nose. Needless to say, this was a mistake.

It turns out the scientific party was infected by some sort of pathogen that causes people to become irrational. By taking off his glove and touching things, Joe picked up this pathogen, which was then spread throughout the crew of the USS Enterprise.

Sulu starts fencing, Spock starts crying, and a very Irish Riley (who I hope in the reboot is played by Niall Horan) sings and turns off the ship’s engines, putting the Enterprise at risk of crashing into the dying planet they’re circling, killing everyone aboard.

The moral of the story? Don’t be like Joe.

Remember, friends, the words of Reboot McCoy: “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence”.  You gotta be careful out there.

But have no fear! I’ve watched enough sci-fi to know exactly what precautions to take while traveling through our vast and unknown universe. I present to you:

Rules of Exploring Space

Do NOT take off your protective gear

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This may seem obvious, but it’s the first rule our dumb pal Joe broke. He not only took his glove off, but also partially removed his protection to SCRATCH HIS NOSE.

He touched his face! Any of us who’ve gone through puberty know that’s bad enough on Earth, but in space? As we saw with Joe, that’s how you pick up alien diseases.

  1. Do NOT touch and/or stick your face in foreign objects

This harkens back to rule one, but I’d also like to point out that this is a major flaw in the Alien franchise.

They’re always sticking their faces into the alien eggs. Why? This is how you end up with a facehugger, and next thing you know you’ve got an alien bursting out of your chest and your crew is being terrorized by a Xenomorph.

Please keep a safe distance from any foreign objects.

  1. Do NOT implicitly trust CEOs and androids

This one’s pretty much exclusive to Alien, since Starfleet is primarily a peacekeeping and research organization. Unless you take into account Star Trek Into Darkness, which I still don’t understand the plot of.

But if the benefactor of your mission is a corporation, assume they’ve sent you for nefarious reasons. Especially if they send you with an android.

They will prioritize profits over people. Watch your back.

  1. After ground missions, ALL crew must go through decontamination and a physician checkup

This one the Enterprise actually did right!

No matter how benign the alien world seems, you must put all crewmembers through decontamination and then have a physician look them over. You can never be too cautious!

Of course, this isn’t foolproof, as we saw in “The Naked Time”. As McCoy tells Kirk, they can only check for what they know; there is no detection method for the unknown. So, yes, there are limits and, yes, it’s time consuming, but better safe than sorry.

  1. If a crewman shows signs of contamination, you MUST LEAVE THEM BEHIND

This may seem heartless, but it’s a necessary evil.

If a member of the crew is exhibiting signs of contamination, symptoms of a mysterious illness, or being attacked by some sort of black goo, you cannot let them back aboard the ship. They’ll probably die a horrific death, but at least the rest of the crew will be safe.

Remember: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.”

And that’s it! As long as you follow these five simple rules we learn from Star Trek, you should be able to explore the vast reaches of space without incident.

Next: Reviewing Discovery's pilot episodes

Stay safe, my friends, and boldly go where no one has gone before.