Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Similitude"

**1/2

Air date: 11/19/2003
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"This is a screwed-up situation." — Sim, understatement of the year

In brief: Provocative enough to make me think, but far too mired in its frustrating hypotheticals and manipulations.

I have little doubt there are people out there who will love "Similitude" and think it's a standout hour of Star Trek. I will respect their viewpoint but not agree with it.

This is an episode that, yes, deserves credit for trying something audacious. But ultimately, it just doesn't work. In order to get where it's going, "Similitude" resorts to the most blatant audience manipulation of the year, turning the screws of plot in ways that don't quite seem fair. It does not simply depict a can of worms unleashed, but reveals a script where the sci-fi can of worms has been allowed to explode. Manny Coto, who has written a complex and at times thoughtful script, ventures out on a limb, which snaps. There are more questions than the script is able to deal with in a meaningful way. Certainly the characters don't deal with the issues adequately.

Granted, I'd rather see this than a "Carpenter Street" exercise in mediocrity. I like tough questions. But I do not buy this story. The entire show is built on a foundation of unbelievable science, and then it stacks one extreme (and unconvincing) situation upon another. If the episode's theme is about the dangers of using science irresponsibly, then the episode itself is an example of using science fiction irresponsibly. Part of me admires Coto's willingness to plunge the characters into this moral quagmire. Part of me hates that each new situation is based on what seems like an absurd comedy of science errors. The episode is its own quagmire.

Here is the story. Trip is critically injured in a catastrophic accident in engineering. He is left lying in a coma. The only way he can possibly recover is if he has neural tissue transplanted to his brain from a matching donor. There is no matching donor.

However, Phlox has in his medical inventory — which I'm tempted to now call Phlox's Convenient and Magical Chamber of Horrors — a strange "mimetic symbiont" that has the ability to exactly clone whatever organism's DNA is injected into it. The clone lives out the full lifespan of whatever it copies in the course of 15 days, and then dies. Phlox hesitantly proposes that a clone be grown to Trip's age such that the transplant can be performed and Trip can recover. Of course, this means the clone will be dead within 15 days of being born.

Archer cautiously (although not cautiously enough) approves the plan despite the ethical questions, citing the fact that Trip is a vital part of the crew who is necessary to complete the mission. "Earth needs Enterprise. Enterprise needs Trip," Archer reasons. Simple as that.

Well, I'm not a fan of this reasoning. The Enterprise had better be able to function properly without the loss of one man — even the chief engineer — or there should be hell to pay. After all, this is a dangerous mission where any or all of the crew could presumably be killed at any moment. If Trip's function is so crucial, Archer should have competent personnel backups ready to take his place. To have Archer quickly sidestep his ethical questions by way of the increasingly catch-all excuse of We Must Save Earth At All Costs is something that strikes me as slightly fraudulent as presented by the story. The plot manipulates us into this spot where Archer's logic seems to hold water in the interests of humanity's survival. I don't think so; if that's the case, Trip should never be allowed to go on an away mission again, because he's too valuable.

So Phlox clones Trip. Before you know it, the symbiont has grown into a fetus, a baby, and an eight-year-old boy. Phlox names the child "Sim," which is just a little bit disturbing. (Might as well name him "Clone" or "Copy" or "Quad: Charles Tucker IV.")

The next revelation is that the child's memories are passed along genetically. The older he gets, the more he remembers. He gradually remembers everything from Trip's life, as well as everything from his own. I'm honestly not sure what to make of this. It's weird and bizarre and strikes me as, well, unlikely. Unless Sim's brain can process information like a computer, this kid should be going insane from memory overload. He gains new memories at, what, the rate of five years' worth every 24 hours? I don't even want to question the biological aspects of this accelerated growth, so I won't.

I have to admit that I didn't get much from any of the scenes of Sim as a child. The drama exists in another universe, because in my universe I want to comprehend this miracle of biology, while fighting every urge in my mind to reject it outright. (I kept telling myself: This is sci-fi; it's about accepting the impossible.)

But under the surface there's something about all this that somehow feels phony. I could never accept Sim as a character because he was such a bizarre sci-fi specimen and was obviously the object of a plot destined to kill him. The story's science facts upstage the characters and all their choices, and the script throws so many curveballs that some decisions come across as arbitrary.

There's the revelation that Phlox was wrong and he realizes Sim will die if the neural tissue is extracted. This creates a new moral dilemma (while hinting at gross negligence on Phlox's part), but on top of that there's Sim's discovery that an experimental procedure could slow his accelerated aging to that of a normal human. This experimental procedure is almost certain to fail, Phlox says. But try explaining that to someone who wants to live for more than a few more days. Basically, either Sim lives, or Trip lives. But the catch is that even if Sim lives, Sim dies — whereas if Trip lives, Trip actually lives. Are we balancing scales here? Archer might be.

I didn't much care for the extreme swings in Archer's behavior. In one scene, Archer is telling Sim, "We don't see it that way," when Sim believes that he must sacrifice himself to save Trip. But then, a scene later, after Sim expresses a desire to live, Archer pulls a 180 and confronts Sim, basically telling him that he has no rights. Which is it? I would call Archer a hypocrite, but the plot is so murky that even that may not apply.

The confrontation scene, by the way, is about as well acted as anything I've seen this season on Enterprise, with Scott Bakula simultaneously conveying about 10 different emotions in a situation that warrants nothing less than that. Archer tells Sim that he intends to bring back Trip at all costs. "Even if it means killing you." The delivery of that line is spectacular and chilling, but the thing is, I didn't believe it as anything more than a written line. It's so extreme as to be implausible, and opens ethical issues the show doesn't begin to address.

What also bothers me about this scene is its lack of accountability. Archer knowingly gave the order to allow Phlox to open the can of worms, and then Archer shows a willingness to play God when the worms get away from him. Is that the point? I'm not sure, because the writers let him off the hook by having Sim make the sacrifice willingly — a sacrifice that I guess makes logical sense but also seems like an overly neat and simplistic resolution to this mess.

I respect the ambition here, but I can't endorse the end result. Ultimately, I think what bothers me most about "Similitude" is that I had no emotional investment in it because of the endless sci-fi machinations. Intellectually involved? Yes. Emotionally involved? No. And that's a problem. I didn't feel like I was watching Sim make a sacrifice. I felt like I was watching a superficially pithy solution to the ultimate hypothetical situation — a situation that had been compounded by every possible hypothetical complication along the way.

I want to take that leap of logic and explore the underlying issues. But there are no underlying issues here. The fact of the matter is that on a fundamental level I simply refuse to believe Sim can be grown from something off Phlox's shelf. The story obviously wants to draw parallels between its hypothetical situation and real-life issues surrounding cloning or stem-cell research. But the paralells are too far apart. They exist in separate universes.

As for Sim, I find that I can't identify with his plight. His emerging feelings for T'Pol pose a question to us: Is Sim feeling it, or do the feelings really belong to Trip? To my amazement, I realized that I didn't care. The show had worn me down with too many conditions, filling me with too much resistance.

There's so much to ponder here that you might just call it ponderous. You might also say that "Similitude" has too little verisimilitude.

And I don't even want to know what else Phlox has sitting on his shelf. The cure to death, perhaps.

Next week: The Xindi go to Detroit to put a preemptive strike on Eminem's next album.

Previous episode: North Star
Next episode: Carpenter Street

Season Index

40 comments on this review

urfriend - Fri, Sep 21, 2007 - 9:30pm (USA Central)
Definitely one of the best episodes of Enterprise. Not one of the best ST episodes, but it's up there.

The science was totally unbelievable. Memories passed on through DNA? But that doesn't matter too much. I had a real emotional connection with Sim. 2.5 seasons into the series, and no other episode has gotten me attached to any of these characters. Well, almost none. I do feel pity for Mayweather, since he's so neglected.

This episode reminds me of that one where Tuvok and Neelix melded into one body. Everyone called him Tuvix, I think. It was pretty much the same dilemma, except the Tuvix episode really took the hard edge resolution. This episode's resolution was a little too easy.

Levar Burton really is one of the best ST directors. I hope he gets to direct one of the movies if he hasn't already done so.
Omega333 - Tue, Oct 16, 2007 - 10:25pm (USA Central)
Tuvix was a much better episode than this one I would say. It just seemed to work on several levels and actually made you care about the darned thing.

This......this is just a mental experiment played out with no real emotional impact. coma to thing to clone to solution. Just...meh.
U-96 - Mon, Oct 22, 2007 - 8:29am (USA Central)
I think you underestimate this episode. Yes it could have been handled better but there are. There's not only the moral dilemma of creating new life solely for the purpose of saving someone else. But also it shows the very unenviable position Archer is forced to take. I totally understand his plight and I'm surprised you (Jamahl) missed it.

Scott Baluka isn't the best of actors but he nails it here. He obviously doesn't like this whole idea at all, But more then that. He hates himself even though he's totally justified, And Scott Baluka seem manages to convey that well in this episode. It's as much about his character development as it is Sim's very brief life.

It's not so much growing attached to Sim that's the focus but it's more of desperate measures. Even in a desperate situation can it be justified. Is there some things you simply can't do, even if it means extinction of your people. This episode reminds me more of DS9's 'In the Pale Moonlight'. Archer trading his self respect and being able to sleep at night in order to do everything he can to ensure the survival of his species. He may be wrong that Trip is so vital to that mission but in his mind, Trip is.
Jonathan - Wed, Jan 30, 2008 - 1:06pm (USA Central)
In my opinion, this is the worst episode of Enterprise thus far. It's an examination of the morally challenging issue of organ harvesting from clones. But I can't get past the extremely ludicrous use of science in this episode. Memories and DNA have basically nothing to do with each other. And it's fantasy to think that Sim could learn to have a simple conversation in a couple days, let alone work in engineering.

And sickbay is turning into a representation of the Voyager universe - where very little is seemingly impossible. And T'Pol kissing Sim at the end - how laughable!

Yeah, sometimes you have poor episodes where the writers essentially failed and didn't think hard enough. I'd rather have that, than a very poor application of science. Too often, Star Trek becomes more fantasy than science fiction.
Mike - Thu, Sep 11, 2008 - 8:19am (USA Central)
Hmm, speaking of Tuvix, I wonder if people would've found the episode more platable if they used the transporter to intentionally clone Trip a bit like the TNG episode "Second Chances."
BenSisko - Sun, Mar 15, 2009 - 9:10pm (USA Central)
I just watched this episode for a second time. I almost didn't want to as I remembered how outraged I was after seeing it the first time. Yes, this has nothing to do with science. But there are very good Star Trek episodes that aren't realistic at all. So this is not a major concern for me.

What does concern me is how the characters (esp. Archer % Phlox) completely ignore the ethical implications of their actions. Star Trek was always as much about exploring moral issues as it was about exploring space. And this episode takes the whole thing and just throws it out the airlock.

Yes, we are in the expanse here. Yes, the stakes for Archer and his crew are high. But that's exactly the point. One of the morals of Trek was always that the ends never justify the means. This episode completely turns that on its head. Which is why I don't think it should be called "Trek" at all.
Rudy - Thu, Apr 16, 2009 - 4:35pm (USA Central)
This episode was quite intriguing, in the beginning it seems to address the issue of cloning, harvesting organs, and moreover the moral implication of creating a human (baby) for the sole purpose of saving somebody else´s life. Babies are produced and born to provide bone marrow tissue for the first, severely sick child, without debating the consequence for this new child. What if it finds out later the very reason of his existence, with less fatal ending of course then in this episode.

So that could have made this story interesting. But alas.

The authors failed here in fact. Archer (once stressed about his sick beagle!) and Phlox are not hesitating to sacrifice Sim´s life, and show the similar harshness as in the episode Dear Doctor, which turned them into Social Darwinists, by letting dictate Nature the rules, while they never accept Real Dictators in other episodes (and on all planets they visited). In other Hollywood movies they would have been the bad guys by now, but not here!

A plot twist could have saved the day, letting Sim live by this experimental treatment, and bury the coma - Trip. Trading places would have put the captain-doctor duo on a high moral level, nobody would have noticed it, Sim and Trip were identical, and the Xindi could be found and defeated, since Sim proved his engineering skills in this episode. But the authors quickly jumped away from such "easy escape", and made the captain & the doctor the grim duo again. Then again, this trading places trick was used before in Star Trek- in Voyager´s episode Deadlock, Harry Kim died, and the rest of the series the parallel Harry lived on. No one protested.

But Voyager had a highly moral captain, ready to sacrifice herself, in comparison with her, the authors made Archer a pragmatic cowboy, and Enterprise a ship to stay away from.

Maybe it reflects the change in the world between the optimistic 90s and the more pessimistic first decade of the 21th century. Maybe they wanted to shock the audience by showing a dead Trip in the opening scene, and let the audience wonder how this crew member would miraculously return, to get this cruel solution as a cheap trick after all.

Who knows. But the feel-good Star Trek seems gone forever. Betrayal to the series almost, and messing around with the hope and expectations of the audience as well.
Benjy - Thu, Sep 17, 2009 - 5:38pm (USA Central)
I'll be blunt. I absolutely hated this episode.

The first reason I hated the episode was the bad science. I can stand some bad science, even in Star Trek. To be honest, I've always considered Star Trek to be more science fantasy, than science fiction. That's fine as long as it sets reasonable rules, and it doesn't blatantly break those rules. The symbiote or "absurdus plotdevicious" cloning memories with the DNA doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. I find it nearly impossible to get around that; it's like the breaking the warp 10 barrier in Voyager's Threshold.

And as for the moral debate, BenSisko hit the nail on the head. There was no moral debate. The moral debate consisted of the whole crew completely denying Sim's rights as a sentient being, because it's inconvenient for them. There is no real debate, and anything on the opposing side seems very hollow. Hell, the debate on both sides seems hollow.
David - Sat, Oct 31, 2009 - 12:28am (USA Central)
I don't understand the "bad science" criticism leveled at this episode. Anyone looking for scientific accuracy should have given up on Trek back when the original series was on - guess what, there's no such thing as warp drive or transporters, either. If you're going to buy the Star Trek premise of life in unlimited variety existing in a huge cosmos, there's no reason to dismiss the ep. on the grounds that a space slug can't be stamped with human DNA. All that matters to me is where they take the premise, and I thought overall they crafted an interesting and thought-provoking hour of television.
Jonathan - Sat, Oct 31, 2009 - 2:02am (USA Central)
Before Voyager, Star Trek was somewhat grounded in scientific fact. I don't mind that they have taken liberties with the science; that's part of science fiction. Good science fiction doesn't require strict scientific accuracy. But when the science and the depicted reality becomes farther away from even "soft" science fiction standards, it morphs into fantasy (such as the later years of Voyager), where it seems that truly nothing is impossible. The problem isn't so much that anything is possible, but that it is very difficult to say what is impossible/what cannot be done. My favorite episodes are about the exploration of scientific possibilities. When science is blatantly violated, then it becomes silly, and hardly worth watching, because Star Trek sucks at character development.

Contrast Star Trek with Heroes. Heroes is complete fantasy and cannot be considered science fiction at all. It's watchable because it has decent character development. Never mind that I have to turn off half my brain when I watch it.
Bill T. - Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - 12:30am (USA Central)
I'd give this 3-3.5 stars. My only major gripes are with the total implausibility/impossibility of the memory transfer -- but you have to admit they HAVE done that before in ST cloning. And Archer didn't spend enough time agonizing over the moral issues -- even though I believe he would have killed Sim. Throw out the "Sim can LIVE!" plot thread at the end, add in more moral quandary for the crew and exploration of self for Sim, and provide a better explanation for the memory transfer, and it would be almost perfect. Well, for Enterprise.
Katie - Tue, Apr 20, 2010 - 11:36pm (USA Central)
It's interesting to me that your main objection to this episode was the bizarre "sci-fi machinations," considering that your nutshell review of Tuvix--in which two characters are merged WITH A FLOWER via a bizarre transporter accident--said something like "a bizarre premise that nonetheless works."

My main problem with this isn't the bizarre science, although there are probably cleverer ways to clone someone than using magic slugs. I had trouble connecting emotionally with the episode because so few of the characters seemed to give a crap. No one--not even Phlox!--debates or questions the situation. It seems to be taken as a given by everyone except Sim that he deserves to live less than Trip. I would have appreciated some hints that other members of the crew--Hoshi? Reed?--were uncomfortable with the situation.

Equally problematic was Archer's single-minded and pointless aggression. The overly friendly, slightly dumb, slightly goofy Archer of seasons 1-2 got pretty annoying, but the hyper-aggressive Archer of this season is no more appealing. The scene in Trip's quarters where he essentially berates Sim for wanting to live disgusted me.
sweezely - Thu, Jul 8, 2010 - 1:03pm (USA Central)
Enterprise just can't win with you can it? When it does a great sci-fi episode that isn't grounded by "reality" or "real world situations" you bitch about it. And yet when it does a great episode concerning a real (albeit futuristic) moral dilemma of harvesting organs from a clone, you bitch about the science.

This episode made me and my girlfriend cry, because the story was so sad and the plight of Sim so disturbing. I have a degree in cosmology. She is researching neuroscience, specifically MEMORY. If two actual scientists can make the leap, why can't you?

The irony is that even the best scientists out there can fail to see the world in new ways. Only 150 years ago, scientists believed that the human body would not survive travelling at the speed of locomotives; that invasive surgery was impossible; and that radio had no future. Almost 100 years ago, Einstein himself thought quantum physics to be incorrect (even though he accidentally invented the discipline), and atomic energy to be impossible. So if you are unable to predict the future of science then you are in good company. However...

Star Trek has never been anything more than sci-fi for the masses, but generally speaking it never crosses too great a line with sci-fi as to make it unbelievable. What's to say that whatever Phlox injected the symbiont with did not contain Trip's memories? There is enough leeway to say that this episode does not cross that line as much as other "Fun With DNA" episodes, in fact probably less. Ultimately, the idea that it IS "Fun With DNA" is narrow minded interpretation, rather than incorrent implementation. This episode, as far as I'm concerned, does not cross the line. It is only a means to an end. And it's a very poignant end.

If you can't accept weird ideas or new ways of thinking about science at all, why are you even watching science fiction?
RussS - Thu, Nov 11, 2010 - 2:37am (USA Central)
Another truly great episode.

I am rarely overwhelmed by a TV show. But the plight of SIM did it for me. As a parent of small children, maybe I was particularly vulnerable to the scenes of babies and the young boy.

Archer's dialog was superb. Telling SIM he would kill him to save Trip (to save Enterprise, to save Earth) reflected how complicated real-life situations really are. What would you do? Personally I problably couldn't kill Sim, while at the same time knowing full well that I probably should.

For me, end-justify-the-means arguments almost never hold up. But what if the whole world were at stake? What if not just your humanity but all humans faced imminent destruction? In that scenario all bets are off.

Great Trek.



Carbetarian - Sun, Dec 26, 2010 - 8:57pm (USA Central)
Well, that was... Different. I'm not really sure how I felt about this one. So, here are my thoughts in general:

PRO:

1. I liked the ambitiousness of the plot. Thank God this wasn't another "Archer goes to jail" episode!

2. Call me an old softie over here, but I liked Sim's interaction with T'Pol. I thought it was sweet, well acted and hit all the right marks.

3. I liked the imagery of the barnacle things on the ship. Nice work from the effects department there.

4. I connected with little Trip on an emotional level.

5. Travis finally got a line.

CONS:

1. As was the case with the first two seasons, Archer is still an idiot. But, now he's an angry idiot who apparently doesn't shave anymore. I'm not sure this is an improvement. I'm getting a very "George W Bush presents Homeland Security" vibe from Archer this season, and the idea of George W Bush in space does not thrill me.

2. If the clone only lives for 15 days, wouldn't whatever they transplant into Trip have a similar shelf life? I actually had a harder time with that part than with the memory thing.

3. It bothered me that the barnacles on the hull came off so easily when they left where ever it is that they were stuck. It sort of took some of their bite away.

4. Archer threatening to kill Sim was very un-Trek-like. I also felt that whole enzyme plot twist came out of nowhere. Everything from the Sim talking about it in sick bay to Archer's psychotic freak out in Trip's quarters was kind of a mess.

5. Phlox's zoo is starting to bother me a little bit too. How many creatures does he have in there? How does he feed them all? How come future trek doctors don't have a petting zoo in their cabinets?


Conclusion:

All in all, I'd have to say this episode was a success only because it provoked such polarized responses from the other commenters here. It was far from perfect. But, still, I'd rather see this than most of the mediocre material Enterprise usually puts out.
Marco P. - Fri, Apr 22, 2011 - 9:09am (USA Central)
Once again, Enterprise takes potentially great material, both from the narrative and the ethical standpoints, and makes a big mess of it.

I will say this right from the start: I'm not even put off by the pseudo-science that is thrown at us during these 40 minutes, and that says a lot given my field of studies (B.Sc in Biology). Yes, memories that are passed through DNA is very hard to swallow, but there IS such a thing of "suspension of disbelief" and even though I agree (like some of the previous readers commented) Star Trek is usually rooted in science, I don't mind short excursions into the realm of fantasy to serve the plot, for as long as it makes a compelling storyline. The problem here is that said compelling storyline suffers so much from its other flaws, it makes the entire trip like a picnic on Qo'noS. So unpleasant one wishes at least the science were sound.

In fact, I'll go one step further: Watching this episode unfold is like witnessing Rodin sculpt "The Thinker" with a sledgehammer. There is no room for grace, subtlety, or nuance, a concept which alas could easily be applied to the rest of the series.

For starters, the opening scene (before the theme song rolls): it takes less than 40 seconds between the opening shot and the camera moving and stopping on Trip (Sim) lying horizontal in a coffin, supposedly the big "dun dun" moment the writers were aiming for. Uhm... have you ever of building *suspense*? I don't know, perhaps something like Hoshi sitting sadly in the cafeteria, cut to two crewmen talking to each other in the hallway and exchanging memories on the defunct character (something which could be applied both to Trip and Sim, but would not yet reveal the identity of the deceased), cut to Archer writing in his journal about someone dying. I don't know, something *intelligent*! Instead, the short span of time before the annoying music plays says nothing more to the viewers than "it looks like Trip is dead". Just plain lazy!

As for the whole ethical issue, it's the episode's biggest flaw. First, there is the lack of accountability: creating a sentient being and sending him to his death simply for the purpose of saving another one raises a lot of ethical & moral issues. The episode attempts to tackle some of them, but the way it handles itself is less than satisfactory. "Even if I have to kill you" says Archer? Really? Is this what it's come to? Losing one's humanity at the cost of completing a mission, as vital for mankind as it may be? Trek's main strength has always been the high moral character of its captains: Kirk, Picard, Janeway, even Sisko... and yet with Archer we have consistently thrown all that out the airlock in this series. All because of the "increasingly catch-all excuse of We Must Save Earth At All Costs". Jammer could not have said it better.

But even so (and this brings me back to the sledgehammer issue), if Archer had to convey the message he was going to use "every means necessary" to save Trip, even at the cost of killing Sim... could he not have been more *SUBTLE*!!? Could he at least have strongly *implied* it, so that Sim would understand, but not explicitly state it? The writers are obviously going for the shock-effect, but it's so out of Trek-character it was less shocking and more actually disgusting for me. I suppose emanding subtlety from B&B and a series known to include fart jokes and even one "peeing in a cup" in this episode is too much. Finally, I completely agree with Jammer's comment on Archer's extreme swings of behavior (first when Sim believes that he must sacrifice himself to save Trip, Archer tells him "We don't see it that way,"; then later after Sim expresses a desire to live, Archer pulls a 180º and tells him he has no rights). Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to describe it.

I dare postulate that if this situation had presented itself on TNG, Picard would have eventually refused to operate on Sim, citing his humanity as the moral guide. And obviously for the sake of the story, Sim (who at first would have expressed a desire to remain alive) would then have agreed to sacrifice himself for the sake of the crew. Because he *understood*. And because after all, the crew were his friends: he had the memories of the original copy (Trip on this Enterprise), and therefore every meaningful person to the original would have also been meaningful to him. Kinda like it's done here when Trip references his sister, in a much less subtle/creative way.

Such a damn shame.
James - Mon, Aug 8, 2011 - 12:59pm (USA Central)
I cried at the end of this episode. I thought the acting was excellent.

I'm not sure what I would have done in all those circumstances, but FWIW I found the characters attempts to deal with them engaging.
Christopher - Tue, Dec 13, 2011 - 6:22pm (USA Central)
I cried too- inside and how goddamn awful this episode was- the science was a complete joke but I just couldnt care less about SIM- it was fodder from the teaser for God sakes. And Archer was a monster.

I am considering giving up on this show again (I dedided to back and watch from season 2 onwards to see the supposed improvements) but I just find the main characters so horrible- there is no one with any true trekkian morals, they are all self serving George Bush types. Archer was monstorous in this episode, he is no role model for any viewer- even Janeway was more thoughtful than this.

Tuvix was a masterpiece compared to this dull and ludicrous episode.
Steve - Mon, Mar 5, 2012 - 1:53am (USA Central)
It's all so easy to condemn Archer, but no one has ever been under the pressure he is. He has the survival of his entire species on his shoulders. The end really does justify the means. Why lose your highly talented Chief Engineer for a guy that will be dead in a week? IMO morality has to be brushed aside when billions of lives are at stake.

I'm sure Archer would be more than happy to be called a murderer if his mission was a success. Small price to pay.
Elliott - Sun, May 27, 2012 - 12:34am (USA Central)
It's too bad those transferred memories included that idiotic accent...

My reaction to this episode is similar to "The Visitor"...I watched it, scratched my head and found it had some good ideas, some silly ideas and generally mixed execution, only to discover that people were moved to tears by it...

I have to say, if I were to point to the greatest problem with the episode, it's that the character motivations and the acting don't open the doors for me to care about the moral arguments. Add to that the fact that the "debate" (as others have pointed out) is barely presented in the dialogue. In "Tuvix," no one suggested that either Tuvok or Neelix were irreplaceable, and the performances by Lien and Mulgrew especially were so strong and committed, that I cared about the fate of a character created in the span of 45 minutes. Here, we get to see a snap-shot version of Trip's life (a character whom we know) and little in the way of performance lends itself to scrutiny.

I have a big issue with the way T'Pol is portrayed in this episode in particular--what backwater school of emotional repression did she attend to get choked up when Sim confesses a crush on her.

Is this another score by that new Trek composer? I am extremely impressed by his work, it made a mediocre episode palatable.

2 stars.
Paul York - Wed, May 30, 2012 - 8:29am (USA Central)
This is an exploration of medical ethics through science fiction. Do clones have rights? That's the question. According to Archer they don't; they are for bodyparts -- similar to the thinking of villain in the movie The Island. To have Simb go along with this and let Archer off the hook, ethically, seems an easy way out. Tuvix was a better episode because Janeway had to make the decision -- and she chose murder of Tuvix to save Neelix' and Tuvok's lives. In this situation, Simb had a right to expect help from Phlox to live longer, as least as much as Trip had a right to live as well. Archer's willingness to kill Symb to save Trip is ethically questionable, and probably based on his speciesism -- that Symb was not really human in his mind. But he was a sentient being and thus had basic rights. How convenient that he gave his life up that way. What if he had not done so willingly? The only person who showed any compassion was T'Pol, but only because she knew Symb was going to die -- the equivalent of mercy sex. Like Jammer, I was disturbed by Archer's simplistic thinking and rationale for allowing this to proceed. One man should not be irreplaceable. Perhaps it was his friendship to Tucker that really influenced him. This episode seems to argue - as did Janeway in Tuvix - that the mission is worth violating ethics for. But if that is so, why? Why pretend to be a moral society dedicated to freedom, rights, etc. if it's not really true? The hypocrisy of this way of thinking seems to mirror the hypocrisy of humanity, as least in liberal industrial society, which is so deeply embedded most people cannot recognize it.
Paul York - Wed, May 30, 2012 - 8:36am (USA Central)
Killing one life to save billions ... this is called utilitarianism. The problem with it is that utilitarian thinking is often unnecessary. Better, more inclusive solutions can be found, solutions that can save everyone. Who really has the right to play God, to give and take away life like that?

"The utilitarian analysis often rests on imprecise judgements of the utility calculus itself . . . assuming that questions of value can be reduce to a quantifiable amount" (ethicist Donald Brown).

Here we see Archer make a judgement that Trip's life is more important than Symb's. On what basis? They are identical people, so why is one more valuable than another? Because the one is human and the other isn't?
Joseph B - Sun, Jul 1, 2012 - 9:17am (USA Central)
I think it’s safe to say at this point that -- just based on the polarizing comments posted here -- this episode was a little underrated. The ep was well-acted, well-produced, and featured a SCI-FI spin on a contemporary "ripped from the headlines" story. This thing works on many levels. And "the kiss" at the end was the clincher for me. Three-and-a-half stars.
Moegreen - Wed, Aug 29, 2012 - 8:30pm (USA Central)
This is the same kind of clunky clap-trap as 'Tuvix'.
Tiarfe - Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - 7:05pm (USA Central)
Interesting comments.

This episode did nothing for me. I could not help comparing to Tuvok and maybe since the other series have done the provoking topics there is nothing ground breaking left for this series.
Cloudane - Mon, Nov 26, 2012 - 5:42pm (USA Central)
Wow... just.... wow.
It was an amazing episode, as in it's probably one of the most shocking things I've seen in all of Trek. But that's not... really a good thing. Once again, it was gripping and thought provoking, but staggeringly cynical and anti-Trek.

Personally I wasn't bogged down by the implausible science. Yes it's one of those cases where it heads more towards fantasy than sci-fi... whatever... they're similar enough. Most scientists have argued that warping space is a bit far fetched too, now look, apparently it's not as difficult as previously thought if you don't mind wiping out the system at the other end. Things change.

But I was certainly depressed and disturbed by the darker than ever nature of the episode. (And also to tears - I did get emotionally invested in it, setting the science behind me). At this rate I'm not surprised Star Trek was put out of its misery a season later - the soul of it is gone. Gone is the "we can find better solutions to our problems and save humanity by BEING human" (something Archer himself said a few episodes back), gone is the idea of humanity turning to barbaric solutions to its problems.

I'm struggling to motivate myself to continue watching the show, but I'm a completionist and will see it through.
I really hope there were consequences to this for Archer. Frankly I think the guy needs to be hauled in front of a court martial because he's a torturer and very nearly a murderer (arguably something similar), but that wouldn't help save his character, only the optimism of the show. He needs... NEEDS to struggle to live with this. So far every time we've seen him tossing and turning in bed it's been excused as things like a bad skin rash. Sorry, no, this man needs a conscience or he's just irredeemable. Even
John the younger - Mon, Jan 7, 2013 - 1:53am (USA Central)
Interesting debate.

Like a few others here, I'm not too sure what to make of it.

- Good idea; Poor science.

- Occasionally moving; Occasionally too easy.

But ultimately, I think it's still better than the average Enterprise ep to this point.
CJ - Thu, Jan 17, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)
The DNA memories were just impossible to accept. Star Trek has a history of plots based on DNA magic. This was one of the worst. I guess the theory behind this episode is he was aging rapidly and at each age he had the memories that trip had at that age. It's so bizarre that I can't suspend disbelief because I'm not even clear what the episode is asking me to believe.
mark - Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - 10:16pm (USA Central)
I had no problem accepting the sci-fi contrivance of cloning Trip. I mean, think about it--on a show where a "universal translator" can somehow render a never before encountered alien language into Engish within seconds, is Trip's clone any worse? In fact, Trip's clone isn't even in the same league. The universal translator simply IS NOT POSSIBLE, yet we all just accept it. I think an organism that can grow human cells into a clone is far less ridculously implausible than that.

I rate this 3.5 stars.
Nebula Nox - Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 2:52pm (USA Central)
I thought it was an interesting episode. Although some people are saying the writers were courageous - and they were more courageous than usual - I think they actually punted on the ethical dilemma. By giving Sim such a short lifespan, they made Archer's decision much easier. It is easy to deprive someone of 5 or 6 days of life - a harder decision when it's 50 to 60 years. And I know we could look at it in terms of percentages, but most people don't function that way.

Sometimes you do have to ask people to die to save the majority. We've seen this in Star Trek II, when Spock sacrificed himself, and in a TNG episode where Deanna realizes in a command simulation that sometimes you have to order people into a situation in which they will die. In this case Sim wasn't given any choice.

I agree that Archer is sometimes a little too much like GW Bush, which may be one of the reasons that this show did not do so well, but I liked this episode. I thought the acting was fine. Young Trip/Sim was very, very good, excellent for a child actor; the scenes between Trip/Sim and T'Pol were touching. Sim's telling Phlox he was a good father was touching, too.

As for the holes in the science, well, there are so many holes in the science - or holes in what we understand.
JAL - Mon, May 6, 2013 - 11:52am (USA Central)
Could have so easily been better.
Instead of the awful "even if it means killing you" scene, Archer could say, Enterprise needs Trip, can you be Trip? Sim says, I'm better than Trip! I'm Trip and Sim. Archer says, Okay, I'll talk to the doctor. (As noted, Sim had proven his engineering capabilities!)
Option 1: Phlox determines that the experimental procedure for Sim is likely to work, saves Sim, Sim replaces Trip. (Trip can either die, or more interestingly, hang around in sick bay. Maybe at one point they can find another cure and we can have a neat few episodes with both of them!)
Option 2: Phlox determines that the experimental procedure for Sim is unlikely to work, Archer tells Sim that he needs one of them and Trip is his best bet. Then it makes sense for Sim to reluctantly agree to sacrifice himself.
As is, Archer again just comes off as an awful person and bad captain.
Lt. Yarko - Tue, May 21, 2013 - 2:28am (USA Central)
I have to admit: This is the first episode of Enterprise that moved me. Yeah the science made no sense and the ethics were questionable, but accepting all that, I was moved by Sim's predicament and his choice to place the needs of the others above himself. It seemed like the thing Trip would have done. And who can't be happy about a guy getting his dream kiss? :)
Cheyne - Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - 7:19am (USA Central)
Mark - I've been thinking about the UT too, and I've concluded that the only way to understand it is that it's a telepathy machine... it makes you hear the thoughts of the other alien in your language, and it manipulates your speech centers/ functions/ whatever into speaking an alien language. That's the only way to understand it. That also helps understand why sometimes we "hear" Klingons or whoever speaking their own language in a rite or ritual, because they want us to hear their own language, and the universal telepathy machine picks up on that desire that they have that others hear them speak in their own language.

Otherwise of course, totally impossible, as every single word in every language has a long history that has taken it to where it is: culture, trends, history, geography etc., all have an impact, and there's no way a universal translator based on decoding syntax could possible decipher that in a few seconds.

As for the ep., I think Jammer was a little harsh, definitely better than the Enterprise standard
Captain Jim - Wed, Feb 5, 2014 - 10:12pm (USA Central)
Hmm, seems like most people either loved this or hated it. Personally, I liked it a lot. It's too bad that so many allowed their dislike for the premise to color their enjoyment of the episode. I found it very moving. Easily three stars at least.
lizzzi - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 11:24am (USA Central)
This was a very moving episode. I loved Sim and I am troubled that Phlox and Archer couldn't figure out some way to save him. Why not "sacrifice" him to save Trip, but also use the white-blob creature to form another clone: a Sim 2, so to speak. He would be the same, with the memories of Trip and Sim 1, and Sim 1 would live on through him. (Like the Weyouns, or Will and Tom Riker.) It's just a a thought. T'Pol's kiss was sweet and real--unlike the tacky, silly, emotionless neuro-pressure scenes. Watching Enterprise for the first time, and taking these episodes one-by-one, I think that the lower moral tone is sad in a beloved franchise that caught our imaginations and gave us such a hopeful view of the future. I wouldn't mind romance or sex if if wasn't portrayed so stupidly. And worse yet, the killing off of populations "just because" (Dear Doctor, Crossings) seems the opposite of what Trek is all about. Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway: I think they would have found a way to save Sim, save the planet in DD, and establish a relationship with those wispy puffballs .
John G - Thu, May 22, 2014 - 8:38am (USA Central)
I think this was one of the most powerful episodes in the whole series so far. Yes, the moral dilemmas are extreme, but that’s kinda the whole point, shaking things up.

I also don’t get people griping about “this isn’t Trek”. Star Trek was not always about uplifting stories of a hippie-commie dreamland of the 24th century. It *always* had a darker side, even in the main characters. You also have to remember that this is the very beginning of the Trek universe, long before Kirk and Picard, long before centuries of progress in the Federation. Archer is no angel, but then again he shouldn’t be — he is a person of his time. It’s like whining about a story about the Vikings showing them bashing people’s skulls in.

OF COURSE Archer isn’t the marble god that Picard is, because he’s centuries before Picard and doesn’t have the experience and perspective that Picard has. The Prime Directive resulted from the lessons learned by Archer’s people, but those lessons were learned from *mistakes*. Obviously the crew of NX-01 and later crews had to make those mistakes in order for them to be learned from in the first place.

Archer is also in an impossible situation. Sacrifice Trip for Sim’s sake, and he effectively consigns all of humanity to oblivion. The pressure on him is immense. Is that utilitarianism? Of course it is, and it shows to what extremes human beings in such a situation are being driven. Would any of the posters behaved any differently in the same situation? I doubt it.

So I would have actually been pretty pissed if they magically came up with some solution to Sim’s predicament while also saving Enterprise and Earth with it. THAT would have been the easy and more comfortable route, but it would also have made Archer and Phlox unbelievable under the circumstances. Archer made a stupid decision in the first place that created the dilemma, but he’s only human, not Superman.

Meanwhile the remark that Archer was negligent for only having one top-notch engineer is bizarre. The NX-01 is a small ship only has just so much space for personnel, and has so many different needs, plus they’ve taken on an extra military crew for obvious reasons, so it’s not like they would have had the luxury of bringing along a few extra engineers. We simply don’t know if engineers of Trip’s caliber and knowledge are that commonly available — again this is Starfleet in its very earliest days! — and after all the whole mission was cobbled together as an emergency operation. Hardly as if every eventuality could be planned for. You may as well rip on NASA for not having crammed loads of extra pilots and engineers on board Apollo 11’s lunar module in case Buzz Aldrin got a toothache.

I thought the acting, direction and production were top-notch (and what's with the people bitching about Trip’s accent? I'm from the South and love it). I’d give this one 3.5 out of 4.

I agree with what some of the other posters wrote about some people never being satisfied: This is a classic case of “Enterprise” can’t win and that not even Shakespeare could save Trek from the nitpicking canon/science nerds. Maybe it really is better to let Trek die, not because it’s out of ideas, but because its fans simply can’t be satisfied anymore even when Trek *does* produce something thought-provoking, moving, and difficult.
Robert - Thu, May 22, 2014 - 9:08am (USA Central)
Actually, I was Trekked out after Voyager and only made it through a season of Ent. Recently have given S2-S4 a try (because I've heard 3&4 is good compared to VOY) and episodes like this are exactly as you say they were. There's a real "needs of the many" argument here that say Tuvix was lacking. Janeway didn't need to kill Tuvix because Tuvix was a great security chief. If Tuvix say didn't have Neelix/Tuvok's memories and was just a different person it might have been more interesting because of how short handed they were and how irreplaceable each highly experienced staff member was. This episode's moral dilemma had a weight to it that was impressive.

Had this been Picard's Enterprise where they could have just gone back to Starbase and picked up another chief engineer Picard wouldn't have been able to force Sim Geordi to undergo the procedure. But faced with what Archer is faced with? That's good stuff.

I didn't like the way that Archer made it seem like Sim had a choice and then totally flipped on it, but the end result was that Archer would have forced him. It was nice (because Archer has been through a lot this year) that the script didn't make him pull that trigger, but it was NOT wishy washy about the fact that he would have and should have, even if it was ethically murky. And that's pretty cool.

Very much an Edith Keeler must die moment. Lot of parallels to the greyest moments that the characters in TOS/DS9 have faced. I like this one.

I dock it a star for the weirdness with Sim getting Trip's memories/feelings for T'Pol as well as Archer's flip floppy. But those oddities can be overlooked since the rest was strong. 3 stars.
Robert - Thu, May 22, 2014 - 9:16am (USA Central)
Huh, I commented after reading John's comment to agree with it... it seems many of you already made the Tuvix connection but most of you liked that one better. That's pretty shocking to me.... the ending of Tuvix was so horrible I think it ruined a little bit of every other character for me because they didn't object (except Kes because she was literally a child and her side was acted really well in this episode and the doctor because he did in fact object). I'm shocked!
John G - Thu, May 22, 2014 - 3:59pm (USA Central)
Ya, I agree with Robert, the Tuvix thing was so hokey and contrived (even by Trek standards) that I hated it, so I’m equally surprised to see people comparing Sim to Tuvix unfavorably.

I never liked “Voyager” much anyway and thought most of it was lame as hell — wooden acting, cardboard cartoony characters (Kim, Tuvok, and above all Neelix), way too goody-two-shoes at times. While I’m only in the middle of S3, and while S1 and 2 were admittedly very uneven, I think “Enterprise” is turning out much better than “Voyager” did. Looking forward to the rest and hope it doesn’t let me down.
Snooky - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 12:28am (USA Central)
Very moving episode. I had tears in my eyes at the end, and I credit Connor Trineer's acting. The first young boy who was young Sim/Trip was spot on, too.

Watching him decide to give his life for the ship... so moving, and so in character - after all, the real Trip was about to crawl out of a derelict shuttlepod's airlock to give Reed a couple of more days of life in a previous episode.
Any lesser actor, and it wouldn't have been nearly as good. I loved the kiss -- of course, we know Trip doesn't know about it, but T'Pol does, and I'm interested to see if it colors their relationship from here on out.

Archer... eh. I can't get worked up over him or his ludicrous decisions, or how he bounces like a pinball from one viewpoint to another, from understanding to demanding and angry -- there's not much middle ground with him. He can be so volatile and bombastic. This time I actually do think he took a realistic position, however, because of the fate of humanity resting on his shoulders. Once he made the decision to grow the clone, he was in for a pound.

I hadn't thought of him being like GW Bush. UGH. I don't want to think about Bush while watching Trek. Blech.

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