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Doctor's Orders

Review

Series : Enterprise Rating : 2
Disc No : 3.4 Episode : 68
First Aired : 18 Feb 2004 Stardate : Unknown
Director : Roxann Dawson Year : 2154
Writers : Brannon Braga, Rick Berman Season : 3
Guest Cast : None
YATI : It's very hard to nitpick this one, because many things that we see could be dismissed as Phlox imagining things. I'm going to treat anything that wasn't obviously a delusion as real...

Early on in the episode we are told it will take less than an hour to cross the anomaly at warp 4. Warp 4 is 64 times lightspeed, so the anomaly is about 64 light hours across. We are then told that at impulse, it will take four days - 96 hours - to cross the distance. So that means full impulse speed is 64/96 = 0.666 xc, exactly two thirds of light speed. So far so good.

However, when they find that they are still inside the anomaly T'Pol says they are nearly a quarter of a lightyear from the edge. She then says it will take ten weeks to get clear. At 0.666 xc, it should actually take 19.5 weeks. In fact to get out of the anomaly in ten weeks the ship would have to be travelling faster than the speed of light on impulse drive, which is both a mismatch with what was said earlier and is supposed to be impossible.

On another front, when Phlox talks about waking everybody up he says he is going to wake his medical staff before most of the crew. Does Phlox have a medical staff? I don't think I've ever seen or heard of another doctor, nurse or even orderly anywhere near sickbay!

Great Moment : A few good moments; Jolene Blalock does an excellent job as T'Pol, especially when she starts completely losing it in the Engineering room. The spooky-factor on the nearly deserted ship was good - the shadow across the window made me jump, and for a minute I really did think that there would be some sort of space monster out there.
Body Count : Zero
Factoid : This is only the second episode of Enterprise with no guest cast at all - the first being "Shuttlepod One" back in season one.
Quote : "You suggest I read the manual!?" - Phlox to T'Pol regarding starting the warp drive up.

"I'm a physician, not an engineer!" - Phlox to T'Pol, and Enterprise makes it's first contribution to the "I'm a doctor not a..." list!


Plotline

Enterprise encounters another super-anomaly on the way to the Xindi weapon. Crossing it would cause brain damage to the Humans on board, but going around means weeks of delay. So they decide to put the entire crew into comas, leaving only Phlox and T'Pol to look after the ship for the four days it will take to go through. But can the good doctor cope with four days of isolation?

Analysis

This episode really annoyed me, and not just because it is a obvious homage to / rip-off of Voyager's "One".

When the crew first approach the anomaly, they specifically state that it is Humans whose brain will be affected by the thing. There is no ambiguity in the wording at all, the writers are obviously setting us up to believe that T'Pol was indeed awake. I began thinking she might be imaginary soon after she first appeared, since it was the most obvious twist I could think of for the ending, but dismissed this because they had told us that only Humans were affected. As the episode progressed I became more and more convinced that T'Pol wasn't real - I was finally certain around the time that she told Phlox to use the sensors instead of trying it herself.

If they had left left it ambiguous, if they had said "the crew" would have to be put into comas or something, that would be one thing. But to try and stop the audience from seeing the twist in the ending by telling the audience one thing and then doing something else... well that's just plain bad writing. The whole point of an episode like this is for the writer to try and outsmart the audience, not to lie to them and then expect them to think you have been clever about it.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 2,828 Last updated : 18 Feb 2004