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Star Trek Ent - Season 1 - Episode 13

Star Trek Ent - 1x13 - Dear Doctor

Originally Aired: 2002-1-23

Synopsis:
Dr. Phlox faces a serious dilemma as a dying race begs for help from Enterprise. [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.63

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 17 11 4 3 10 12 6 11 13 13 23

Problems
- This episode's ethics are a problem.

Factoids
- Denobulans don't like to be touched.
- The Ferengi once visited the Valakian homeworld. This implies that the Ferengi have had warp drive just as long as humans, maybe longer.
- This episode establishes the annual Denobulan hibernation cycle. It lasts six days.

Remarkable Scenes
- Phlox watching the crowd react to the movie instead of watching the movie.
- Cutler displaying affection for Phlox.
- Hoshi learning Denobulan.
- Phlox discovering that the Valakian epidemic is genetic.
- T'Pol: "The Vulcans stayed to help Earth 90 years ago. We're still there."
- Archer: "Some day, my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that tells us what we can and can't do out here, should and shouldn't do. But until somebody tells me that they have drafted that directive, I'm going to have to remind myself that we didn't come out here to play god."

My Review
I liked this episode, but I hated its ethics. The (future) Prime Directive is shown as a rather arbitrary standard in this episode. Help is refused to a species that goes into space for the sole purpose of seeking help from alien civilizations. Just because they don't have warp drive, they're regarded as unworthy or something. Well, a strict interpretation of the Vulcan (and seemingly Denobulan) non interference policy allows for Archer's actions to be correct. But we've seen even in the 24th century starship crews bending the rules for the greater good in exactly the fashion Archer refused to. There's that, and the events of this episode aren't at all consistent with the "to hell with a non interference policy" attitude taken in Ent: Civilization. What I really didn't like about this episode was how Phlox developed a cure but refused to share it with the Valakians. I 100% agree with Archer about not letting the Valakians have warp drive, but why not cure their freaking plague?! Because Dr. Phlox just arbitrarily decided to let the Valakians die off because he THINKS the Menk might evolve into a better species? Isn't this just a little racist? Isn't making this kind of decision for the Menk exactly the kind of interference the Prime Directive prohibits? Maybe not giving the Valakians the cure was within the bounds of the future Prime Directive, but the way it was shown here was needlessly cruel and wholly hypocritical.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Bob on 2009-05-17 at 7:18pm:
    I thought the ethics displayed in this episode were sound. They also did a very good job explaining why they made the decision that they did. I agree with most of your star trek episode reviews, but this was an excellent episode, deserving of a much higher score than a 1. I think you might need to watch it again. You forgot to note in the your Factoids that majority of all technologically advanced planets have a single dominant species. This fact along with the facts that the Valakian "plague" is a genetic defect and the Menk are undergoing an intellectual awakening is proof enough that Archer made the right decision. Humans have no right to influence the evolution of life on that planet.
  • From Daniel Baldwin on 2009-08-09 at 4:58pm:
    No no no! The episode was well written and acted, but morally it's terrible. They don't show us the consequences of this decision, do they? I wonder why? I suggest that people watch Babylon 5 "Confessions and Lamentations" instead.
  • From ive on 2009-12-06 at 5:25pm:
    ethics are perfect in this episode.
    compassion clouded your judgement as well.
    my rating - 6.9
  • From carsonist on 2010-05-02 at 9:48pm:
    I like this episode. An episode can be good even if the last five minutes include a decision you don't like. I think it's a bit extreme to rate it so low just because of one thing.

    Also, Phlox isn't making any decision for the Menk, he just realized that they could end up the dominant species of the planet, and if he interferes, they'll never have that chance. This episode is a perfect example of the Prime Directive, except the part where they gave out the lesser medicine.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-05-07 at 6:03am:
    I am amazed that some people think it is morally acceptable to withhold the knowledge of a cure from a dying race. (And if the Mink are evolving so wonderfully, surely in a few generations they will assert themselves.)

    I did give this episode one point however for the very entertaining observations of the doctor.
  • From rick on 2012-10-19 at 6:20pm:
    This episode should be a 0. Well acted, good premise, worst ethical decision I could possibly imagine. Strip away all this science fiction garbage (and aura of a supposedly higher moral standard) and what are we left with? We are left with genocide and that what Phlox/Archer did, pure and simple.

    God forbid we would "interfere" (read: save) with a species before they developed warp technology. I love how everyone seems to just accept that premise without thinking about how arbitrary and ridiculous it is. This whole seeming right to develop naturally without interference from other species is quite suspect.

    According to the ethics of this episode, we should all just kill ourselves so that we do not affect the natural evolution of the universe. Which brings me to another point. Why are we not a part of the "natural" evolution of the universe. If a virus is killing off a species why is our interference to save the species different than the virus killing it?
  • From Zorak on 2016-09-21 at 7:38am:
    I 100% agree with your review (if not your score). I really enjoyed the episode up until the absolutely ridiculous conclusion. The character development for Phlox was great, the scenes were well done, and everything was shaping up to be another good episode.

    Then they ruined it. Even if one were to agree with the ethics (which I certainly don't), it was a completely uncalled for direction for the episode to take. I thought maybe they were going to find out that the Menk (which frankly sounds lie an insulting name for a species) were indeed being mistreated in some way or that the Menk were causing the disease and sharing that knowledge would lead to genocide.

    What I was not expecting was for them to decide that this unique culture of two evolving coexisting species should not be saved in favor of a more "normal" evolution where one species outlives the other, all for the sake of fan service to the prime directive. It was a completely ridiculous and unwarranted conclusion based solely on speculation.

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