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Jan 02

Enterprise: Dear Doctor (Ep 1.13)

Personally, I think this is the best Enterprise episode that has so far screened. Doc Phlox finally gets a proper role in 13 episodes. The thing that has impressed me about Enterprise is the astuteness of the writers in noting small but important details, this episode especially (eg: A few lines between T’Pol and Archer gives meaning and complexity behind the Vulcan-Human relation which up until now, seemed to merely imply the Vulcans were being tight-asses.)

Apart from T’Pol, Phlox is the only alien on board, and to see how he culturally fits in is refreshing. His character is finally fleshed out, and he actually gets to act like a real doctor this time: with all the stress and baggage that comes along with being a medical practitioner. His job is unique in that everyone on the ship eventually comes to see him – he has contact with everyone from Captain down to Ensign, and of course, Porthos (that dog is really cute. Just a bit more personable than Picard’s fish Livingstone :).

Phlox makes some particularly keen observations about human compassion – especially the double standards Cutler shows when judging cultures. Ultimately this episode is about the Prime Directive, or how such a rule was developed. Ah yes, the Prime Directive, one of the most contentious attributes of the Trek universe. Yes, it was abused by Kirk when he saw fit, and yes its always bent, but after an episode like this, you can really understand the reasoning behind it. There needs to be some direction on interference with alien cultures. In the end, Archer overcomes his human compassion and effectively hands a death sentence down – this is no small decision. The only flaw I can really point out about this episode is making it painfully clear Archer is talking about the development of the Prime Directive (especially when he specifically says “directive”). It would have been interesting to let the viewer ruminate over the episode and see what conclusions they drew from it themselves – more so for those who haven’t watched Trek before.