Posted by: rebeccajrobare | May 30, 2017

Losing Control: “The Naked Now”

Mission Summary: The Enterprise is en route to the rescue of a science vessel that has been observing the collapse of a star. The vessel has been sending strange messages – the captain asks whether they have brought any good-looking men as Enterprise attempts to get more information about the crisis. Then they hear the sound of an emergency hatch opening, and the crew are blown out into space. The investigation reveals that the science vessel’s crew had a sort of infection causing them to behave as though severely intoxicated, and now the crew of the Enterprise are suffering from the same. Even Data is affected as the crew lose control, culminating in a race to move the ship out of the way of a chunk of the collapsed star. 

On Leadership: This second mission is a challenge to study because leadership requires a certain degree of control – over oneself, if not over others. Indeed, Captain Picard is famed within Starfleet for his high degree of self-control. This mission is therefore an exercise in what happens when a leader’s self-control is threatened. 

Picard is one of the later victims of the infection. He begins to express the attraction he has for Dr. Beverly Crusher, following her expression of attraction for him. To the credit of them both, they maintain focus on their tasks, with Picard continuing to command an increasingly unreliable crew and Crusher developing a cure. 

Crusher’s teenage son Wesley, himself infected, uses a library of recordings of Picard’s voice to call the Chief Engineer away from her post, and talk the also-infected Assistant Chief Engineer into allowing him into Engineering. Wesley uses a tabletop tractor/repulsor beam he has built to prevent the Chief Engineer from returning to her station, and takes control of the ship. This presents a challenge to the increasingly impaired Picard, who has expressed discomfort with the presence of children on his ship and has forbidden Wesley from coming onto the Bridge. Picard tries to convince Wesley to allow the Chief back to her post and to return control of the ship to the Bridge. Ultimately he is unsuccessful; resolution of the crisis is only possible because Dr. Crusher succeeds in synthesizing a cure. 

This mission is a challenge for the student of leadership. Even Picard and his most reliable crew members are impacted by the intoxicating infection. And Picard’s best effort to maintain control over his ship are unsuccessful. I believe the best lessons taught by Captain Picard’s leadership on this mission are

Maintain your focus, even when it is difficult

and

Keep trying new solutions in the face of defeat.

Thoughts/comments on this episode and/or my conclusions?

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