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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

6 Comments

  1. Ununnilium
    June 1, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    I dunno, I just don't see it – that is, I can't see the "logic vs. emotions" at all in this episode. It seems like an unsupportable stretch to say that "getting drunk while operating a starship is a bad idea" equates to "we must be in perfect control of our emotions at all times".

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    June 1, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    The kicker for me is Spock here. He's one of the last people to be infected with the virus and Nimoy goes out of his way to play up the fact Spock is struggling to keep his emotions under control. His entire breakdown is his internal battle between his (emotional) human side and his (logical) Vulcan side spilling over into the larger plot, and he's desperate to not only not be "drunk", but to get the Vulcan side in a position of control again.

    Though I agree the scene doesn't read that way quite as much in isolation. However for me, watching it coming off of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Enemy Within" makes it seem like a very natural extension of this theme.

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  3. Ununnilium
    June 2, 2013 @ 7:22 am

    Isn't that just Spock's character specifically, tho? He has that conflict, but what I take from it is that it's a bad thing that his emotions are so repressed that he can't control them when they're forced into the light.

    For that matter, that interpretation of The Enemy Within doesn't work for me either. I think the whole point of it was supposed to have the more aggressive, passionate side not be unequivocally evil – after all, it's shown as necessary, both for Kirk to be the awesome dude we all like and for him to survive at all.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    June 2, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    It is indeed part of who Spock is, but I'd point to the fact Spock is the character Gene Roddenberry seems to most interested in: I think in many ways he embodies the core values Roddenberry was primarily interested in exploring (this is in fact a thread I'm going to pick up in a few posts). Don't forget he was originally Number One.

    And I just can't see "The Enemy Within" that way, sorry: For me it really is just people have a Good Half and an Evil Half and while both are needed, it's "intelligence" (i.e. logic and rationality) that keeps them in check.

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  5. BerserkRL
    June 2, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    I can't agree that it's a good idea to have a show like this (either its TOS or TNG incarnation) early in a series' run. Having the main characters act against type doesn't have much impact if we haven't gotten to know their types yet.

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  6. Josh Marsfelder
    June 2, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    I think Justman's idea was that reducing the characters' inhibitions would get them to reveal personal details about themselves they wouldn't normally, thus allowing us to get to know their more intimate desires and beliefs. But, as I noted in the post, this argument doesn't work anyway because that's largely not what "The Naked Time" is doing in the first place.

    I'd also like the draw a distinction between characters acting against type and actors acting against type. The latter is what I've called an Actor Showcase and is what I'm more interested in and while the former is sometimes a way to get at that it's not a prerequisite (I would call the TNG episodes where Troi is possessed or Brent Spiner plays Lore Actor Showcases too). "The Naked Time" (and, subsequently, any other Trek reiteration of it) is trying to do both and basically not hitting either completely IMO.

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