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Star Trek: Enterprise – A Night in Sickbay (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

A Night in Sickbay may be the most divisive episode of Star Trek: Enterprise ever broadcast.

On the one had, it seems like fans hated the episode with an incredibly passion. The Agony Booth described A Night in Sickbay as “the worst episode of one of the most cringe-worthy shows of the last ten years.” The episode is frequently included in those very popular “worst episodes ever!” polls that the internet loves so much. The only episode that seems more certain to provoke fan vitriol is These Are the Voyages…, the series finalé which has little to say about the actual series.

"I am THIS sorry..."

“I am THIS sorry…”

However, the hatred for A Night in Sickbay is not universal. It was one of two Enterprise episodes to make the shortlist for the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in the “short form” category. More than that, A Night in Sickbay actually polled ahead of the other nominated episode of Enterprise, Carbon Creek. Even in commercial terms, A Night in Sickbay was a success, earning the highest ratings (and share) of the show’s second season.

It seems that A Night in Sickbay exists in a rather strange grey area. It enjoys the support and appreciation of members of the cast and even those outside Star Trek fandom, while it provokes nothing but hatred from hardcore fans. This immediately makes A Night in Sickbay a fascinating watch; any show that can provoke such a polarising response must have some interesting aspects.



A Night in Sickbay was the fourth episode of the season produced, but the fifth broadcast. On the production slate, it was positioned between Minefield and Dead Stop. Those two episodes involved a lot of production work, a lot of new sets and a lot of expense. The second season of Enterprise had been quite lavish up until this point. After all, Shockwave, Part II featured Archer wandering in a massive wasteland, and Carbon Creek had seen the crew going on location to film with a large guest cast.

As such, a bit of cost-saving was in order. After all, Enterprise was beginning to feel the pressure of the new management regime at UPN. In the past, the Star Trek shows had been trusted to get their work done on budget and on time with a minimal of interference. Ever since UPN had changed ownership, the show found itself dealing with a much more involved and engaged network. A Night in Sickbay arrives early in the season, but it is a clear attempt to construct a time- and budget-saving bottle show.

"... And your little dog, too!"

“… And your little dog, too!”

Scott Bakula confirms as much on Inside A Night in Sickbay. The actor talks about the challenges posed by these sorts of episodes:

We call it a ship show, you can call it an elevator show… you reach a point in any television season where the studio says, “We need to save money! You’re spending too much money!” And the writers say, “We’ll give you a ship show.”

It is perhaps a little worrying that this is happening four episodes into the second season, but it does explain a lot.

Standard operating procedure...

Standard operating procedure…

The first season of Enterprise had faced a similar problem. Running over-budget and trying to construct an episode that would be cheap and quick to film, showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had developed Shuttlepod One. The episode took two members of the main cast, locked them in a confined space together, and then had them talk to each for forty-five minutes. The result was perhaps the first truly classic episode of Enterprise.

It feels like A Night in Sickbay is a conscious attempt to replicate the success of Shuttlepod One. Certainly, it succeeded as a bottle show – it wrapped in half the production time of a regular episode. A Night in Sickbay learned a lot from that late first season episode. Instead of trapping Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating in a shuttle, it locks Scott Bakula and John Billingsley in the sickbay set. It allows the two performers to play off one another with a minimum amount of distraction.

Batsh!t crazy...

Batsh!t crazy…

As such, it is no wonder that the cast love the episode so much. John Billingsley has explained what a pleasure it was to work so closely with Scott Bakula:

“I loved working with Scott,” John says, “that was the most time we’d had to work together, and that was fun. Scott’s such a warm and gracious man. I know people were a little in two minds of that episode. I rather liked that episode.”

One can see the appeal that the script would have for an actor. After all, like Shuttlepod One before it, there is a sense that A Night in Sickbay might easily have been adapted for the stage and taken on tour.

Takes a lickin'...

Takes a lickin’…

Even Jolene Blalock has added her voice to the chorus praising the show, seeming quite proud of the work that she did on the episode:

“I loved A Night In Sickbay. That was a terrific episode,” she exclaims. “That got pretty steamy [between T’Pol and Archer] and there was a lot of laughter on the set between all of us, between the actors and the crew. But we got through it. I know that A Night In Sickbay was one of our most watched episodes, which was great.”

Scott Bakula himself talked the episode up a great deal in the lead-up to the start of the second season, describing it as a “huge” episode.

This makes Porthos a sad beagle...

This makes Porthos a sad beagle…

On paper, A Night in Sickbay seemed to have everything that Enterprise could want. It took a step away from stock Star Trek plots to let the characters breath a little bit. It gave space to two of the stronger actors in the central cast. It was cheap and quick to shoot, while still being massively experimental. It gave UPN a lot of salacious material to include in the episode promos, but as part of an episode that wasn’t quite as cynical as Bounty or Bound.

However, A Night in Sickbay did not receive the same ecstatic response as Shuttlepod One had. Almost as soon as it aired, it seemed that A Night in Sickbay had provoked the wraith of fandom. Pretty soon, A Night in Sickbay was being ranked as the worst episode of Enterprisenay! the worst episode of Star Trek! – ever produced. Many of those critical voiced pointed to A Night in Sickbay as an example of everything wrong with Enterprise.

And now, the heavy petting can begin!

And now, the heavy petting can begin!

Most obviously, there was the painfully awkward decontamination sequences, which remain perhaps the most memorable iconic part of Enterprise – at least according to Virgin 1’s recent advertising campaign, which set some of the sequence to Barry White. As Robert Greenberger observed in The Complete Unauthorised History:

The show was still figuring out its voice, but fans were being critical, especially of the smarmy scenes between Trip and T’Pol set in the decontamination chamber, where a gel had to be applied to the naked body. Despite the soft lights, steam, and close-ups, the hoped for eroticism fell flat, especially in a Night in Sickbay.

Greenberger is entirely correct here. The decontamination sequences are a disaster. Since they first appeared in Broken Bow, they cast a pretty significant shadow over the rest of Enterprise. Although the show would eventually accept it as a failed experiment – allowing crew members to move through it fully clothed – the show is still at the stage where it thinks all this is sexy.

He was a man, take him for all in all...

He was a man, take him for all in all…

Which is, perhaps, the biggest problem with A Night in Sickbay. With the possible exception of the original Star Trek, the franchise has never really figured out how to make “sexy” work. Even then, it’s not as if the classic Star Trek didn’t have a wealth of uncomfortable issues are gender and sexual politics. William Ware Theiss’ costume designs might be the most provocative and iconic designs in the franchise, but they could still seem gratuitous and excessive. (Gene Roddenberry shortening miniskirts did not help.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation spent five-and-a-half years oogling Marina Sirtis’ cleavage while it figured out what to do with her character. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fared a little better, but still eventually settled on the idea that have the female members of the ensemble make out with one another in the mirror universe. Star Trek: Voyager abandoned all sense of subtlety when it hired Jeri Ryan and had her spend four years in a cat suit so tight it made her feel faint.

Taking the matter in hand...

Taking the matter in hand…

So it seems reasonable to suggest that Star Trek was a franchise that had a great deal of trouble when it came to doing “sexy.” Whenever the modern iterations of the franchise had attempted to do “sexy” – from Justice to Let He Who Is Without Sin to The Emperor’s New Cloak – they failed horribly. The problem with Enterprise was that the show had doubled down on the idea of doing a modern sexually-charged Star Trek. The result was pretty people pawing each other in creepy blue lighting.

To be fair to the critics, A Night in Sickbay has a lot of this stuff. However, it certainly is not the worst offender. It doesn’t feel quite as gratuitous as the sequences in Broken Bow or Bounty. Indeed, there’s a sense that A Night in Sickbay is perhaps acknowledging how awkward and unsexy these sequences are. It feels almost as though A Night in Sickbay is engaging in wry self-parody of the series’ attempts to sexualise what is essentially hand sanitisation for the entire body.

Phlox really gets the dog's body work...

Phlox really gets the dog’s body work…

After all, it opens with a decontamination sequence featuring the two female leads and a male member of the main cast… only to have the male member of the main cast more preoccupied about his possibly sick dog than the two sexy ladies in their underwear. This is an episode that emphasises how sterile and unsexy these sequences are. It seems to be the entire point of the sequence. (That said, there is a sense that the show is trying to have its cake and eat it. Bounty would air during the second season’s May sweeps.)

Still, A Night in Sickbay is trying to deal with human sexuality in a way that none of the other Star Trek shows have managed. After all, it is one of the few episodes of Star Trek that tries to talk about “sex” without talking about “love.” It appears that “try” is the operative word here, of course – the show fumbles and hesitates, the execution leaving a lot to be desired. There are points where A Night in Sickbay seems juvenile or sophomoric, when it seems to be trying for “adult.”

Pulling back the curtain...

Pulling back the curtain…

Then again, talking about “love” is easy, because that’s a vocabulary that is discussed a lot more frequently. Talking about “sex” is a lot more difficult because that’s something that pop culture has not always been able to do explicitly. This is not an excuse, of course, but it does a lot to explain why A Night in Sickbay feels so stilted and uncomfortable. As a franchise, Star Trek dates back to the time when married couples could be seen sleeping in separate beds on television.

While Kirk could talk in veiled ways about relations between men and women, it was often coached in generic terms – innuendo or metaphor. There were obvious sexual elements to characters like Nona from A Private Little War, but those elements were never explicitly talked about – and the subtext was often quite alarmingly reactionary. The Star Trek franchise has never really updated its vocabulary when it comes to these matters.

A net victory?

A net victory?

In first season episode of The Next Generation – like Justice – it often felt like the show was attempting to channel a decidedly sixties sexuality that was out of place in the late eighties. While Deep Space Nine fared a little better, episodes like Profit and Lace illustrated that franchise was still somewhat behind the curve on issues of sexuality. On Voyager, the potentially romantic chemistry between Janeway and Chakotay during the first three seasons was presented as pure love and devotion rather than anything sexual.

So it makes a great deal of sense that Enterprise would have a bit of a disadvantage talking about sex. The show had never really moved that far beyond the attitudes of mid-to-late sixties popular culture. Airing in the early years of the twenty-first century, Star Trek was very much behind the times in this regard. In many respects, A Night in Sickbay feels like trying to listen to grandparent talk about sex.

He's a lumberjack he's okay...

He’s a lumberjack he’s okay…

That said, there’s nothing wrong with the idea of talking about sexuality on Star Trek. As John Billingsley argues in A Night in Sickbay, it seems like a lot of the fan backlash to the episode was a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of candidly talking about sex in Star Trek:

What I liked about it was that it dealt with the sexual… it kinda in a very gentle way said, “All these people on the ship must be pretty horny? How do they deal with that?” Now, they put that into the Captain, and I think some of the fans got a little upset about that because the Captain is supposed to be strong and rock-ribbed and isn’t going to be easily swayed by these feelings of sexual tension.

The execution may leave a lot to be desired, but A Night in Sickbay is at least trying to say something new and interesting in the larger context of Star Trek.

"They call this 'pulling a Kirk'..."

“They call this ‘pulling a Kirk’…”

It is an episode about how sexual repression is fundamentally and undeniably unhealthy – a very interesting subject for a Star Trek episode, given how much of the franchise has been built around teasing and titillation without any substantial engagement with core issues of sexuality. A Night in Sickbay is itself packed full of wry and knowing imagery. The episode ends with a shirtless and sweaty Archer using a chainsaw to cut through a giant log. In a deleted scene, Archer recalls stealing a pencil from a female teacher’s desk.

Sometimes a cigar is jest a cigar, but A Night in Sickbay is quite candid in its imagery. Ending a show dealing with sexual repression on that image is delightfully provocative. As with Porthos’ in the deacon chamber in the teaser, there is a sense that A Night in Sickbay is having a lot of fun with its core ideas. This is not subtle, but there’s a charm in being so up-front about the subject matter. This is the kind of thing that Star Trek has never really done before, and there’s something refreshingly odd about the entire set-up.

In case you don't get it, this episode is entirely about Archer dealing with his wood...

In case you don’t get it, this episode is entirely about Archer dealing with his wood…

There are very serious problems with A Night in Sickbay, of course.The fan criticisms are largely correct. The episode does take a number of unfortunate aspects of Enterprise, and use them as the springboard. Most obviously, A Night in Sickbay reduces the character T’Pol to a two-dimensional male fantasy. She does not seem to exist outside of being the object of Archer’s repressed sexual urges and the focal point of his sexual fantasies.

Shuttlepod One had the same issue, reducing T’Pol to a sexualised object to assure audiences that Reed was a red-blooded heterosexual man who likes her “bum.” A Night in Sickbay might have been able to get away with this objectification of T’Pol… if it were the exception, rather than the rule. T’Pol spent most of Enterprise‘s run as a stock male sex fantasy – the catsuit wearing Vulcan who was frequently naked, and frequently massaging or rubbing things.

It's sad... so sad... it's a sad, sad situation... and it's getting more and more absurd...

It’s sad… so sad… it’s a sad, sad situation… and it’s getting more and more absurd…

The first two seasons of the show struggled to find a clear voice or identity for the character outside of that rather sexist set-up. (Things only got worse during the third season, when the show did seem to settle on a direction and arc for the character.) In this context, A Night in Sickbay becomes just one more example of an unfortunate trend in how the show treated T’Pol as a character. Still, at least A Night in Sickbay does not pretend to be centred on T’Pol as a character, unlike Bounty.

Similarly, A Night in Sickbay emphasises just how clumsy and unprepared Archer is for the role of commanding mankind’s first mission into space. Here, he rather clumsily brings Porthos down to an alien planet populated by a species he knows to be easily offended. After all, this isn’t Archer’s first encounter with the Kreetassans. He knows from Vox Sola that they are easily offended. Given there are places on Earth where you can’t walk a dog without a lead or a muzzle, how did he think this would be a good idea?

Dogged determination to cure Porthos...

Dogged determination to cure Porthos…

“Well, maybe if they’d bothered to read the genetic profile we sent they’d have told us to leave the dog on the ship,” Archer insists, “and then he wouldn’t have had an opportunity to pee on one of their precious trees.” However, this is ignoring his own responsibility in the matter. While he did warn the Kreetassans that he would be taking Porthos, it seems to have been a reckless decision.

It could be argued that Archer had no idea that the Kreetassans believed those trees to be sacred, so he had no reason to worry about Porthos. However, given the Kreetassans were offended by the act of eating in public, it is probably best not to make any assumptions and to tread lightly. Even discounting the trees, there are countless other risk factors. What if Porthos had bitten an alien diplomat? Or even just growled at one? That would be a more reasonable diplomatic incident, and well within the realms of possibility.

"What? I bring my dog everywhere!"

“What? I bring my dog everywhere!”

To be entirely, this portrayal is at least consistent – even if it is infuriating. Jonathan Archer was trained primarily as a test pilot, in much the same way that Kathryn Janeway was trained primarily as a scientist. Given that First Flight will reveal that Archer was not the first choice for the job, it makes a certain amount of sense that Archer would not be as suited to diplomatic negotiations as Picard or Sisko. Something like this seems reasonably in-character for Archer.

That said, there are several problems with this. Trip refers to Archer as “a trained diplomat”, which seems to negate any possible defence of the episode based on Archer’s lack of diplomatic qualifications. More than that, Archer has been leading this mission for a year now. The first season is populated with Archer making mistakes that his more experienced successors would easily avoid. The problem isn’t that Archer is making mistakes; it is that he is repeating mistakes. Archer makes mistakes, but he never learns them.

Sleepin' on it...

Sleepin’ on it…

(The second season has been getting gradually better at continuity, tying together episodes like Minefield and Dead Stop. However, A Night in Sickbay seems to represent a step backwards. Not only does it return to the “Archer makes the same mistakes” plot beats from the first season, but it also seems to forget that the Enterprise just went through a pretty elaborate overhaul. Having a generic plot-enabling systems failure so soon after Dead Stop feels like the writers have stopped paying attention.)

A Night in Sickbay might have worked a lot better had it come earlier in the show’s run. Certainly, the final image of Archer humbling himself in front of the Kreetassans is somewhat undercut by the audience’s knowledge that this wasn’t the first (and likely won’t be the last) time that Archer has made an intergalactic faux pas like this. The lessons in A Night in Sickbay feel like lessons that Archer should have learned over a year earlier.

Gone to the birds...

Gone to the birds…

There’s also the fact that A Night in Sickbay is fixated on a possible sexual attraction between Archer and T’Pol. There is something particularly unwholesome about the idea of Archer sexual fantasies about T’Pol, as Mike Sussman and Phyllis Stong concede on the commentary to Shadows of P’Jem:

I think this was back when we were still… when our marching orders were to play a flirtatious relationship between Archer and T’Pol. It wasn’t exactly clear where the characters were going to go. Did we want to go in that direction with them? More of a Beverly and Picard  type of situation?

With the added wrinkly that you had a Vulcan on one side of it.

I though that they had a great relationship, an angry chemistry. But there’s something potentially distasteful about a commander and a subordinate. I mean, it was fun to write all this stuff – and fun for them to shoot it, I hope – but I think on all the shows you kind of need your leader to be the quiet… not the quiet, but the loner. You can be friends with the crew, but anything more than that is a little…

And a strong enough sense of propriety.

Archer is the ship’s commanding officer; T’Pol is his second-in-command and a representative of a foreign government. There is a reason that The Next Generation never really challenged Picard’s decision to keep an emotional distance from Crusher, much like Voyager respected and justified Janeway’s decision to keep an emotional distance from Chakotay.

I wish it would rain down...

I wish it would rain down…

Still, there are elements of A Night in Sickbay that do come close to working. Centring an episode around John Billingsley and another member of the ensemble is always a good idea. Billingsley has already demonstrated that he is one of the breakout members of the show’s cast, and so spending time with him is a solid way of passing a bottle episode. Notably, the third season comes to the same conclusion with Doctor’s Orders.

The comedy aspects of A Night in Sickbay are perhaps a little forced, but Billingsley sells a lot of the broad comedy around Phlox as a character. It’s very difficult to pull off that sort of slapstick humour in the midst of an episode that is also trying to be character-driven and introspective at the same time. Billingsley also does a great job with the dramatic material, explaining the nuance and complexity of Denobulan family relationships.

A captain and his dog...

A captain and his dog…

The idea of a plot about Phlox trying to save Porthos feels like something of a shout-out to Andre Bormanis’ original pitch for the character. According to the commentary for Silent Enemy, Bormanis proposed a darkly humorous twist on the good doctor:

I wanted to do something on the show where we revealed that on Denobula – on his home planet – Phlox was actually a veterinarian; he was not allowed to work on sentient life forms. I couldn’t convince Rick and Brannon to go for it. I thought that would have been pretty funny.

A Night in Sickbay seems to make a sly nod towards that idea, having Phlox assure Archer that he has “six degrees in Interspecies Veterinary Medicine.”

Mass appeal...

Mass appeal…

When Archer remarks he thought Phlox was just “a people doctor”, Phlox adds, “As a matter of fact I’ve also earned degrees in dentistry, hematology, botanical pharmacology.” Notably, Phlox makes no mention of a professional medical qualification that suggests he should be working on humanoid patients. It seems like perhaps Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were having a bit of fun with Bormanis’ idea.

A Night in Sickbay is a mess. It does repeat many of the problems that plague Enterprise at this point in its run. At the same time, however, it is a very ambitious and novel piece of Star Trek. It is trying to do something new. Given the problems with the rest of the second season, it is hard to condemn the episode for failing while trying something bold and intriguing. It is not a highlight of the show’s run, but it also aired in a season that produced Precious Cargo and Bounty.

Fur and loathing...

Fur and loathing…

It’s not the worst episode of Star Trek ever produced. It’s not the worst episode of Enterprise ever produced. It’s not even the worst episode that this season of Star Trek produced. It is awkward, it is clumsy, it is repeating (and even amplifying) some of the core problems of the show to this point. However, it is also ambitious and bold. It lacks the skill necessary to pull off any of its central ideas, but there are worse sins.

You might be interested in our other reviews of the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise:

15 Responses

  1. I have to admit, although I love TOS, TNG, and Voyager, I never got into DS9 and never gave Enterprise a try…

    • DS9 is phenomenal. From the fourth season onwards, it is amazing. But the final eight (or so) episodes of the second season are really good in their own right. I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. It’s my favourite Star Trek.

      Enterprise really finds its legs in its third and fourth seasons.

      • Should I start with DS9 or Enterprise?

      • I would start with DS9, particularly as an X-Files fan.

        It has a lot of interesting thematic intersections. Both are essentially shows about evaluating America’s place in the cynical nineties, with DS9 being described as the first truly multicultural Star Trek. Not to mention themes of paranoia and mistrust of authority.

        The first season is a little bland, but it’s quite short (twenty episodes) and the final two episodes are phenomenal. Duet is one of my top ten episodes of Star Trek ever. And probably reasonably high on that list. The second season is of variable quality with some great highs (Necessary Evil and The Wire are classics), and the third season is experimental (again, with great highs Improbable Cause is a phenomenal piece of television).

      • Thanks for the advice! I’ll finish my run of Buffy and Voyager, then will head on to DS9 and give it another try 😛

      • Hope you enjoy. If you want a list of highlights, let me know!

        (Also: speaking of Buffy, watch out for Jane Epsenson’s short stint on the DS9 writing staff. I think she wrote one episode, becoming one of the first two television writers to work on both Star Trek and Doctor Who with John Shiban.)

      • I have you on my list, I’ll keep you posted for sure! And thanks–I had no idea (about Jane Epsenson). I do dream of joining a television writing team for a couple of years on a Buffy like show. Maybe some day 🙂

      • We can dream.

        If you make it, remember me!

  2. This gets at an important point. What ENT lost in Trekkies it gained in casual viewers. The phrase which often comes up in discussion with it is “down to earth”. For all the talk of Hoshi, Reed et al. being the cream of the crop, they’re just people.

    Personally I found it banal, but there’s a place for banality.

    That’s why the cast and writers are unapologetic about ANIS, and more power to them. Without a doubt, ENT would have survived if the it hadn’t been ‘boxed’ and was allowed to retool itself in a substantial way: less continuity, less formula, perhaps a shuffling of crew assignments. ANIS is an okay script, it’s just not suited for this Captain.

    • I don’t know. I think Bakula would have done well as the lead of a more relaxed and contemporary Star Trek.

      But he’s really not suited to the big operatic Star Trek moments. He doesn’t do speeches or moral conflict as well as Shatner, Stewart or Brooks. (Or even, if we’re being honest, Mulgrew.)

    • No, it didn’t. Voyager did. Enterprise managed to lose both. Note that despite brief boost in viewers, the ratings plummeted after this episode aired. In fact, AFAIK when the show was cancelled, it was only Trekkies who were still watching.

      Tell me, what captain would this be suited for? Aside from maybe Abram’s Kirk (but not even Justin Lin’s Kirk) nocaptain could have this episode around them and remain in character or remotely sympathetic.

  3. *sigh* At the end of the previous episode — Dead Stop — I asked if we could keep THAT version of Archer. Evidently not. In “A Night in Sickbay,” we get an Archer who seems not to truly grasp that aliens are NOT HUMAN until Phlox whaps him upside the head with it.

    I do really like what Phlox does here, and how he seems capable of guiding Archer to an important realization (and I don’t mean the one about his sexual tension). John Billingsley is wonderful, and Scott Bakula does a nice job with the ridiculous crap they give the poor guy to play.

    But long before T’Pol mentioned it, I was screaming at Archer that he was an idiot for taking his DOG on a delicate diplomatic mission. And not just any mission, a mission to a people who had already shown themselves uncomfortable with the more animalistic aspects of mammalian life, as shown by their objecting to witnessing the act of eating. Taking his dog on a mission to such people was a truly boneheaded maneuver. Archer continues to act as if he’s on a personal sightseeing tour of the galaxy, and he just happens to have a Starfleet ship and crew along for the ride.

    I understand that this is supposed to be humans’ first foray into space. But can’t they give us “humans are beginners” without making Archer a complete idiot? Are the writers not smart enough to think up more subtle mistakes, or do they not trust the audience to understand it if they do?

    The thing is, “Other people are not you, and THAT’S OKAY” is a message the world still needs, and it’s one that Star Trek is well-suited to deliver. I’d love to see an intelligent, thoughtful story arc where Archer comes to realize more and more that aliens have different ways — ways that are just as well suited to them as Archer’s own ways are to him. I’d love to see Archer realize that it’s not the development of the warp drive that marks humankind’s readiness to join galactic society; it’s the acceptance of the differences among peoples.

    The aliens in this particular episode could have been a great lesson for Archer, because he could have realized that when the Kreetassans fail to understand that humans have a different culture and don’t understand Kreetassan ways, he’s been doing the same thing, with other aliens.

    The heavy-handed sexual overtones in this episode don’t bother me anywhere near as much as portraying a Starfleet captain as a freaking idiot. I’d love to see T’Pol get some actual character development, but Blalock isn’t a very strong actress, and it’s possible that she couldn’t carry much character development, even if they gave it to her. If they hired the poor lady solely for her breasts and lips, I guess it makes a certain sort of sense that those are the aspects of her that they most emphasize. I wish they’d hired a really good actress, instead. Leonard Nimoy was not considered any kind of heartthrob when HE was hired, and he managed to make Spock sexy without even trying. I find myself wondering what an actress of his caliber might have been able to do with T’Pol, even if she were as non-traditional looking as Mr. Nimoy was.

    I guess I keep leaving “Archer is an IDIOT” rants in your comments. I hope that doesn’t annoy you. I’d really rather be leaving, “This was a GREAT episode” comments, but there have only been a few of those so far. 🙂 But god, I miss Kirk’s professionalism. It seems really weird that Hoshi and Travis feel more professional than the captain does.

    • No worries at all! Archer is an idiot. He’s probably the franchise’s least effective captain. Janeway is radically inconsistent from episode to episode, but at least she tends to be good at whatever the writers have chosen for her to be this week.

      And, I’d argue, it’s pretty easy to be more professional than Archer when the writing staff seems to forget that you exist most of the time.

    • Honestly, I don’t get what this has to do with Kreetasans being aliens. Diplomat’s pet peeing on something sacred isn’t weird alien culture offense, it’s regular offense.

  4. I can see what the writers were trying to do with this episode, and while it is not a good one, it also doesn’t deserve its internet reputation either. I can think of a dozen TNG and Voyager episodes that are worse off the top of my head, as well as some Enterprise episodes.

    That said, I really got annoyed at how childish Archer acts in this episode. It’s not just a character that lacks experience or is more suited to testing prototype ships. (Why would Starfleet pick a test pilot to command their first major deep space mission??) It’s that Archer lacks basic human skills in this episode. He is unable to negotiate fair normal social situations and acts like an offended shopping mall customer rather than a high ranking military officer.

    Speaking of sexuality, there are at least one or two scenes in this episode where Hoshi is subtly attractive in a very human way that makes the whole focus on T’Pol seem incredibly forced and sad.

    I like that we got some character development here, but it was done in a pretty sloppy way. Ah well.

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