Star Trek celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this month. So, here on Redeeming Culture, we’re going to release a short review of every episode of Season One, one episode per day, all month long; for each episode, we’re writing a 3-sentence recap, a 3-word review, and (as much as we can) answering the questions “What fears or hopes are conquered or realized?” and “How does this point to Jesus or to the way God made us?”
For more about Trektember, read our preview post. Please note that there are minor plot spoilers for this episode below.
Today’s episode is the episode where Sulu fences: The Naked Time.*
As the Enterprise orbits a dying planet, they seek to solve the mystery of why the scientists at a research station suddenly died. The mystery becomes even more critical as they discover that the scientists were struck down by a mysterious disease which is now on board the ship. The planet is breaking up, the Enterprise is spiraling toward it, the crew has gone mad, the engines are down; now the crew must rush to overcome and solve all of these problems at once before they meet their untimely end.
Driving. Tense. Classic.
Big Sci-Fi Concepts
- We’ve seen a couple of episodes already that explore identity by stripping it or distilling it down to its core, but this episode looks at the true, uninhibited self that lies within each member of the main cast. Taking a close and literal look at humanity in extreme, impossible situations is a very Sci-Fi thing to do.
Fears Conquered/Hopes Realized
- The fear of losing control (and what might happen to us if we do) is the driving theme of this entire episode. Spock is so afraid of losing control, he utilizes every inch of his emotional control to stop himself from falling apart until he can get to a private room, in one of the most powerfully-acted scenes of the entire series.
- “Who is that person, really?” The desire and hope to one day understand what really makes someone tick is realized by the Enterprise crew; though many of them may be too “drunk” to experience it fully, this is the episode in which the crew truly begins to seem like a coherent group with good chemistry, as they see the true self of each of their crewmates.
What does this episode tell us about God or about man?
While the Bible decries intoxication, there’s an element of becoming a Christian that is reminiscent of having all our inhibitions removed. Coming to Jesus is a deconstructive moment; we must lay down all of our treasures and fears, our hopes and dreams, our good works and (especially) our sins, and stand before Him as the bare, uncovered people He made us to be.
Needless to say, this is an uncomfortable experience. It may even be dangerous.
But it’s incredibly valuable, because the things we carry with us to the Cross are very indicative of how we view ourselves. Like Sulu views himself as a swashbuckling hero, like Spock sees himself as the tortured, emotionally-repressed logician, like Kirk self-identifies as a man chained to his ship by the love he has for it, we too have a core nature that will be expressed when our inhibitions are stripped away by God at the cross. And when He shows us our values, He can start working through them to make us who He means for us to be.
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Thank you for reading Redeeming Culture! Come back tomorrow for more Trektember as we look at the seventh episode of Star Trek: “Charlie X.”
*“The Man Trap”, the fifth episode produced, was actually shown on television first. As such, we’re reviewing it out of sequence on Thursday to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary.