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"I'll never lose you. Never."
—Kirk, revealing his... fondness... for the Enterprise
The Enterprise has arrived at the ice planet Psi 2000 to document its impending collapse. Spock and some other loser beam down in Hazmat suits to investigate why a laboratory on the planet shows no life signs: turns out, everybody froze to death because someone left the door open and nobody cared enough to correct that. While Spock is investigating the corpses, his companion unwisely removes his glove to scratch his nose, allowing a strange red fluid to drip onto his hand.
Back on board the Enterprise, the Red Shirt starts acting strangely, in turns belligerent and depressed. He gets into a fight with Sulu and a guy named Lt. Riley, brandishes a dinner knife at them, and mildly injures himself. However, when McCoy operates on him, he dies, seemingly losing his will to live. McCoy is perplexed, as the victim was in good health and was previously known as a strong-willed individual. The reason for his odd behavior soon becomes apparent: he carried a virus that removes inhibitions (and makes one extremely sweaty, incidentally).
Chaos engulfs the ship as the virus spreads: crew members act careless, laughing maniacs run around the halls painting creepy messages in red paint, Sulu menaces passersby with a fencing sword, and Spock enters a crippling depression. Worst of all, Riley has locked himself in the engine room, stranding the ship just as the planet is breaking up, threatening the Enterprise. Kirk and Scotty try to break into the engine room while McCoy cooks up a vaccine. However, by the time Scotty gets the door open, it's revealed that the engines were stopped completely and that restarting them would take more time than the planet has. Desperate, Kirk orders Scotty to... do something involving matter/antimatter annihilation to get the Enterprise out of the way. Scotty cries that it only has a 1-in-10,000 chance of not blowing them to smithereens (so, naturally, it will work perfectly), but he needs Spock's help. Kirk tries to slap Spock out of his funk, but Spock only recovers when Kirk
hams it up empathizes with him under the virus' influence and reveals the heavy burden of being Captain of the Enterprise — contrary to popular belief, you can never get laid, at least not with crew members. McCoy cures the crew and the ship escapes, but with a strange side-effect: it travels about three days backwards in time, in the series' first instance of time travel.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Uhura's quip when Sulu says, "I'll protect you fair maiden.":