Star Trek: Enterprise

"Observer Effect"


Air date: 1/21/2005
Written by Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Directed by Mike Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Hold on. You ran a floating poker game at STC."
"The way the regulations were worded, gambling was an honor violation only if it took place during duty hours. So I only ran the game on weekends."

— Trip and Hoshi on why Hoshi got kicked out of Starfleet Training Center

In brief: Fairly standard material elevated by lots of good acting and directing, and an ending with a nod to the original series.

Here's proof that old Trek standbys can be put to good use, in a story that feels surprisingly unpredictable — even though the end result, in retrospect, was more or less inevitable, I guess. "Observer Effect" has in its employ Powerful Non-Corporeal Aliens, a Deadly Virus, a Ticking Clock, and a Human Message Denouement delivered Big Speech Style by the captain. All are familiar elements, but the way they are assembled and performed here ends up being more engaging than you might guess from a plot outline.

There's also a tie-in to the original series that is both subtle and sublime. Subtle enough that many knowledgeable fans might not even catch it; sublime in its prequel-that-sets-up-the-sequel kind of way.

As television, "Observer Effect" is the very definition of "bottle show." Here's an episode that features no new sets, zero guest stars, minimal visual effects. The end result: a pretty good hour of nuts-and-bolts Star Trek, where the interest of the plot is in watching the crew trying to straightforwardly work a difficult — maybe unsolvable — problem. No slam-bang excitement; just a commitment to observation and plausible procedure.

Trip and Hoshi return from a planetary away mission in a shuttlepod and realize during the return trip that they have become ill. They are quarantined in the decontamination chamber while Phlox runs tests. It turns out they are suffering from a silicon-based virus — incurable, but Phlox is certainly not prepared to give up. The race for the cure is on; Trip and Hoshi only have five hours to live. (Archer: "If you mean how much time you have, it's too early for that kind of talk." Excuse me? It's five hours. I'm not sure what to make of Archer's statement. Either he's a delusional optimist or he's trying to shield his officers from the cold, hard, very imminent truth. Either way, I tend to think a Starfleet captain would owe it to his officers to be a little more direct, bad news or not.)

Earlier in the episode the harbingers were already setting the story in motion. The whole scenario is being observed by two non-corporeal aliens who have taken the bodies of Reed and Mayweather as hosts. In the opening scene, they're playing chess at high speeds, while discussing the events they know are forthcoming. "Somebody always dies?" asks one alien. "Always," says the other.

What makes this episode more interesting than a straight-on crew-perspective tackle of similar material is the fact that as audience members we're put in the aliens' shoes. Since they already know what's going to happen, and because we are privy to their conversations, we don't merely have to watch an obvious plot unfold. Instead, it's also about the process of how these aliens watch it happen. In addition, it's about the ominous foreboding by those who have more knowledge than us: "This will likely be one of the times where everyone dies," notes one of the aliens at one point.

The aliens are on an observational mission, the results of which will determine whether they make first contact with their newest subjects. Their mission is simply to watch how their human subjects react to the crisis of a hopeless illness brought back from a survey mission. They are not permitted to interfere. I was a little confused as to what kind of response to the given crisis would warrant making first contact. Obviously not just survival, which the Klingons managed by destroying the shuttle before its infected crew members could return to the ship and infect anyone else.

These aliens must not initiate contact with very many species. Perhaps only those who can spontaneously adapt to the virus and become non-corporeal super-beings. You'd think that would leave them as a pretty lonely species. (Maybe not on TOS, where there were all too many all-powerful non-corporeal lifeforms.)

The two aliens are supplied two distinct voices. The one inhabiting Reed has a drier persona, more rigid about protocols and the status quo. The one inhabiting Mayweather is more inquisitive and empathetic; he's not looking forward to passively sitting by and watching his subjects die when he could, if it were permitted, step in and prevent it.

So Phlox searches for a treatment while Trip and Hoshi sit in quarantine and deteriorate. There are some nice (and rare, these days) character scenes where Hoshi talks about how she got kicked out of Starfleet Training Center. The series usually doesn't have time for supporting characters to have this kind of dialog; I suppose it's saved up for situations just like these, where characters have nothing else to do but sit and wait and talk.

At one point, Trip and Hoshi are suddenly paid a visit by Archer and T'Pol ... except that it's not really Archer and T'Pol, but the aliens. There's a creepy reveal shot that is musically cued just right, and for a moment the decontamination chamber feels like a zoo.

Later, I liked Hoshi Goes Haywire. When she becomes delusional and claustrophobic, she starts raving in whatever language comes to mind: Spanish, Russian, Klingon. Although, I'm not so sure her code-breaking methodology is possible. "Math is just another language," she says, before overriding the computer codes and breaking the quarantine seal. The notion of one person breaking crucial security with such ease defies common sense.

Because of this incident, Trip and Hoshi are subsequently sedated. This sets up a scene where Phlox becomes aware of the alien presence and ends up in a bizarre — but informative — conversation with them. What I like best about it is the balance of perspectives. Phlox's response in this situation ("Your behavior is appalling" — great line delivery) fits into the story just as well as the aliens' matter-of-fact explanations for their willful inaction. It's all about point of view, not necessarily right and wrong. The scene also clears up all the questions we have about what happens to the people who are inhabited by these aliens and why they don't remember anything.

I mentioned that the episode doesn't feel as predictable as its synopsis sounds. This is mostly because of the way Hoshi and Trip are allowed to die at the end of the episode. You'd think the way the episode ends up reviving them would be beyond obvious — and, really, it is — but I found myself caught up in the moment, wondering how the crew was going to solve the problem. The bottom line is that they can't, and they don't, because the aliens solve it for them.

The more empathetic of the two makes contact with Archer through Trip's corpse (and I think I'd be far more freaked out than Archer is, but then I don't work in outer space), and then the other one takes control of Hoshi's corpse and starts an ideological debate. The empathetic alien argues for reviving Archer's dead crew members. The other one staunchly argues the protocol of non-interference. I liked the quiet irony that this alien is essentially arguing for his species' version of the Prime Directive. (And I still wonder if that question will be definitively tackled in the course of the season.)

Archer makes an impassioned speech about compassion, empathy, and the things about human beings that should trump logic and protocol. Will he convince the alien skeptic to take a risk and try something different? (The answer is the same as the answer to the question: Will Trip and Hoshi stay dead?) It's old-hat Star Trek, but that's what this episode sets out to be, and it mostly succeeds. Along the way it remains watchable as something that believes in Trek as humanist science fiction rather than just an adventure show.

Of course, the underlying ironic joke here is that, at the end, we learn the aliens are the Organians. Some (although probably not all) fans of TOS will remember the Organians as the race of super-beings who prevented — with their limitless powers — the Klingons and the Federation from going to war in "Errand of Mercy." The clear implication is that the events of "Observer Effect" represented the change in the Organians' policies from non-interference to blatant interference in the interests of preserving life.

And what I like best about that irony is how at the end of "Errand of Mercy," Kirk and Kor complain to the Organians that they have no right to interfere and stop their war. I guess they should take it up with Archer.

Next week: Andorians, Tellarites, weird "interplanetary relations," and an alien puppet master on a throne using two Nintendo Power Gloves.

Previous episode: Daedalus
Next episode: Babel One

◄ Season Index

39 comments on this review

Sun, Feb 1, 2009, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
"At one point, Trip and Hoshi are suddenly paid a visit by Archer and T'Pol ... except that it's not really Archer and T'Pol, but the aliens."

Minor slip here: They are visited by (aliens) Phlox and T'Pol, later (real) Phlox gets a visit by (aliens) Archer and T'Pol.
Mon, Apr 13, 2009, 4:27am (UTC -6)
The major flaw in logic in the episode is that one of the Organians comments at the end that by interfering this time and allowing the humans to live they wil never be able to run this test again.

Why exactly? They said themselves at the outset of the episode that not every crewmember dies every time, anyone who has lost some of their crew could leave a warning beacon in orbit. Given that they erased everyone's memory anyway could they not have done this prior to Archer leaving any kind of warning for anyone else and simply allowed Enterprise to continue their mission.

That way they could have continued to run this test as long as they wanted.
Wed, Sep 16, 2009, 7:19pm (UTC -6)
As Craig (poster above me) says, "The major flaw in logic in the episode is that one of the Organians comments at the end that by interfering this time and allowing the humans to live they wil never be able to run this test again."

When the Reed-Organian said that, I immediately thought of the warning buoy that Archer said he was going to put into orbit. Why would that disrupt the Organians' plans? They can make dead people come back to life but they can't destroy a warning buoy or make Archer believe he's deployed it when he actually hasn't?
Sat, Feb 27, 2010, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
Awesome stand-alone episode! I don't care about the reset button or the minor flaws, I still get caught up in this simple, effective story every time I watch it. Excellent acting, production, and music... and, oh yeah--two words: Mike Vejar!
Mister Teeterman
Mon, Aug 23, 2010, 6:29am (UTC -6)
Yes, it feels like I've seen this one before, but it was enjoyable, if predictable. Didnt feel any real drama as everyone knew they weren't going to die. So all in all it was okay. 2 point 5 popcorns. Didnt the Organians stop the KLingins and the Colation of United Federation of Planets from fighiting in the old 60s Star Trek. I think so. Confusing that they are the same alienn.
Mon, Nov 1, 2010, 9:34pm (UTC -6)
@Mister Teeterman: Huh? Confusing why, exactly? The review makes perfectly clear, even to someone like me who hasn't seen either this episode or Errand of Mercy in quite some time, what the link is and the humorous aspects of it. How is this confusing?
Mon, Jan 3, 2011, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
I feel this episode would have been more effective if I hadn't seen "Dear Doctor" back in season one. Knowing that Archer is a total hypocrite somewhat lessened this episode's ending for me. Otherwise though, it's a very good outing.
Tue, Apr 26, 2011, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
"I found myself caught up in the moment, wondering how the crew was going to solve the problem."

The reason the plot worked, I think, is because the suspense wasn't about whether Trip & Hoshi lived or died but about whether the crew would pass the test, whatever it was.

This could easily have been a TOS plot, but for the fact that the episode involves the whole ensemble. Could you imagine a scene where Scotty and Uhura banter about their lives? Or where Sulu and Chekov have philosophical dialogues? In its place we probably would've seen more debate between Spock and McCoy about the ethics of trying to cure an incurable disease.
Fri, Sep 23, 2011, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
Funny how Travis was the most interesting he's ever been when possessed by the Organian.
Tue, Sep 27, 2011, 10:42am (UTC -6)
Wow! The crew felt like an actual, complicated, functioning crew, where everyone was a real character for 45 minutes - and even while being possessed.

That's one darn big landmark right here.
Sun, Nov 6, 2011, 11:33am (UTC -6)
Am I the only one who thinks that this entire episode proves what a sack of crap Dear Doctor's "moral" was?
Fri, Nov 25, 2011, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
Phlox is a bloody hypocrite. Archer too, but his hand was forced by UPN.
Paul York
Mon, May 14, 2012, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
The aliens suffering a virus in Dear Doctor could easily have made the same speech to Archer that he makes to the incorporeal beings here. Anyway good to see that he learned what it's like to be on the other side, and that the incorporeal aliens learned to exercise some compassion for once. Growing morally is what life is all about -- too bad Archer didn't figure that out in Dear Doctor.
Jake Cannon
Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 1:26am (UTC -6)
I really see this episode as penance for "Dear Doctor", and moreover, the various episodes of TNG ("Homeward", I'm looking at you!) that presented really reprehensible ethical decisions under the guise of the almighty Prime Directive. Archer's speech on compassion and empathy is surprisingly touching, and the episode hits all the right marks. This is Star Trek at its best, and all in a bottle episode to boot!
Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 9:51am (UTC -6)
Observer Effect is one of my 2 or 3 favorite ENTs up to now, 4 stars all the way. I was actually riveted by the story and I thought the acting and direction were top notch. I even liked T’Pol’s controlled but noticeable concern for Trip at the end plus Archer’s speech was very good and believable. The aliens were cool and I like how they introduced them at the start with the chess game … it had me doing a double take, are they making these 2 chess masters out of the blue? It was realistic that Trip and Hoshi immediately noticed Mayweather’s odd visit to quarantine though the aliens were played a bit off but not very obviously off which would raise alarms. The slow explanation of their race, what they were doing and their powers was nicely done. Finding out more about Trip and Hoshi was also neat. It occurred to me that, unlike TOS with Spock, this ship’s Vulcan science officer might only be the third smartest person on board after the linguist/cryptographer/security prodigy (and black belt!) and the multi-advanced degree alien doctor/scientist/exobiologist (and great basketball shooter!). The ending in sick bay was intense. I knew that somehow both Hoshi and Trip would survive, this isn’t BSG after all. But Archer and Phlox and the direction were very convincing plus the make up on Hoshi & Trip made it seem real. I’m glad that it was a non-violent solution not pew-pew, sensor pulse, quantum blah blah that defeated the aliens. Archer used human nature and qualities to convince the aliens they were on the wrong path. Really, a superb Trek and done with zero guest stars, just the normal cast with good writing. Excellent!
Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 8:02pm (UTC -6)
I refuse to allow Dear Doctor into continuity so this wasn't so bad. If you do allow Dear Doctor into continuity, however, you face the fact that Archer and Phlox are hypocrites. When it's someone else dying and they have the cure, we can't interfere because evolution demands it. But when someone else has the cure and we are dying, well they're not compassionate even though evolution demands we die. Apparently.
Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
Oh that's a really neat and clever tie-in with TOS, I absolutely love that. I'm not familiar enough with TOS (watched it all, but only once) to have spotted it myself, but knowing it's there... I just think that's brilliant.

"It's old-hat Star Trek"
Yes, yes it is... and that's exactly what I've been wanting all along. The 'human values' thing does need to be spaced out in between other things still, because otherwise it'd be too preachy, but at times ENT was devoid of it and so I really appreciate episodes like this.

Interesting indeed how it fits in with Dear Doctor, and the missed opportunities for further exploring the hypocrisy / penance there. Oh well.
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
I must say I was pleased to hear Archer refer to his abysmal genocidal decision in 'Dear Doctor'.

I wonder what ethical wise the deciding differences are between letting people die because of the Star Trek creationist's "natural evolution" or because of an "accident." Too bad that Archer lets it slip away by starting to yell that they have lost compassion and empathy.

Now what is it? Is "natural development" the criterion, or "compassion and empathy"? From the flow of the discussion Archer definitely places the latter above the former, but doesn't draw the conclusion that he was horribly wrong in 'Dear Doctor' and all those other episode he let people rot due to his "non-interference" treatment.

And again we meet aliens who are creeps because they are so super developed. It's stupid that they should be learned a lesson by an inferior species. "I'm very non-corporeal and developed, so I don't use my own brains. Instead I use regulations from our master society, whatever the outcome." "Hey, my fellow super-developed beings, another ship. Let's watch them die!"

I would have liked a bit more background information about their excursion. They went through an old Klingon dump. Trip as the engineer is the obvious choice, together with a few of his men, but Hoshi? Do you regularly bring a linguist with you when you're going to visit a landfill?

Tip o' the hat to Jay for his remark about Travis :)
Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 2:54am (UTC -6)
CeeBee: You may think it's stupid that "super developed" aliens would need to (re?)learn compassion and empathy from us. I think it's logical, and better than the (incredibly clichéed) alternative.

First off, there's the massive development gap. Think about the varying degrees of difference in sophistication between us and various animal species, and how that affects our view of them.

When an insect dies, even while under observation, few of us notice and fewer care. Sure, most well-adjusted adults won't go around torturing bugs to death, but they'll also swat mosquitos without a second thought. There's so many of them, and we believe them to be simple and emotionless.

When a wild dog dies -- for example, due to combat with another wild dog, or from disease -- most of us would feel mildly sad for it, and perhaps moreso for the pack members it leaves behind. They may poke at the corpse or remain close to it for a bit, as if mourning or expecting it to get back up, but they ultimately move on. We don't think them truly capable of the same degree of grief and sorrow we know we are, and we must always consider whether any "grieving" we see them perform is just us anthropomorphising our grieving onto them.

Ultimately, to an advanced mind, we just look like animals, running around on instinct and crudely emulating their own vastly more complex emotions. And to a mind so advanced as to be beyond our comprehension, we can just look like insects -- ants whose group behaviour and colonies should perhaps be studied, but whose individual fates are largely inconsequential.

Secondly, they may see the universe in a completely different light than we do.

What if we were super-advanced non-physical beings and we discovered that life was just a temporary phase -- that there really is some concept of a "soul", and that it moves on to greener pastures at "death"? Or reincarnates into new life? Death would have no negative meaning to us, or perhaps even a positive one.

What if we had been non-physical beings so long that we had forgotten what death was, or what it was to be physical? All we would see is biological creatures growing from single cells into a complex multicellular organism, running around doing their various funny physical-world things, and then eventually ceasing to exist. The others around them briefly behave in an odd fashion, apparently due to some fluctuations in their hormone levels, but almost all eventually return to normal behaviour.

I suspect it would be easy, perhaps even natural, to become detached from the whole thing. Again, we'd start seeing them as we might see an ant colony -- interesting to watch, perhaps worth watching with a statistical eye to see what patterns emerge from different species or how they react to problems, but ultimately not really worth our empathy.

Thirdly: If you ask me, the _least_ believable super advanced alien is the one you see in a lot of space opera, particular Star Trek -- the kind of alien that wields godly power and yet insists on using it to interact with _us_.

Particularly unbelievable is the "doting mother" style of aliens, the ones that watch us and step in at key moments to save us. That's akin to us setting up surveillance in the wild to watch for animal fights and swooping in to stop them.

To demonstrate what's wrong with that: Let's say you do that. You watch a group of animals, and every time they fight, you stop them. Every time they're starving, you feed them. If they have disease, you do your best to cure them.

What you've effectively done is to _domesticate_ them. They now depend on you, and if you cease to help them, they'll probably die. They'll also start picking up on your own behaviours as well. For animals, that's a limited set of mannerisms and trained responses, including Pavlovian ones. But for sentient species, it can be a whole lot more.

Give an intelligent species free food when they're hungry? They'll probably consider you generous and altruistic and may model themselves after you. Demand some sort of payment for it instead? They may embrace a system of barter or currency and go down the path of the Ferengi. Hide the food so that they might or might not find it? They'll say that you work your "miracles" in "mysterious ways" and probably end up like some religions today.

You can't help but have an impact. And if you leave the same impact with every species you meet, you're just going to raise a galaxy of species almost exactly like yours, instead of letting diversity flourish. Which is (IMO) the real reason that the Prime Directive exists.

Under the rules of the Prime Directive, the Federation has been known to watch pre-warp cultures via careful surveillance -- much the same as these aliens did. They've been known to cover up their presence if necessary -- same as these aliens did. And if some of the aliens, even those under surveillance, contracted a disease they had no hope of curing, the Federation observers would have no real choice but to watch them die.

The would-be exceptions only serve to prove the rule. That time when they moved some natives to another planet to prevent them going extinct? That was only because Wolf's brother had already violated the Prime Directive by beaming them aboard -- and by secretly making contact with them in the first place. Moving them was the only viable option at that point, short of a mass execution.

As a thought experiment, let's take the entire plot of "Observer Effect" and transplant it to a planet with lots of sentient beings on it. The Federation is watching the planet. There's an island with a contagion on it -- native, not placed there by an alien species -- that will easily kill the entire crew of any seafaring ship that discovers it, unless they quarantine or open fire upon their sick crew returning to the ship. And due to the distance and rough seas, it's unlikely that a ship of dead crew would make it back to shore and infect the mainland.

What would the differences be? Surprisingly few, I'd bet. The Federation probably wouldn't watch the contaminated island with the same sort of morbid curiosity as the aliens in this episode -- although they would likely be aware of it, and perhaps keep an eye on it from an epidimiologic point of view. They wouldn't destroy any "Danger! Stay away!" signs left by the luckier ships. And unlike (one of) the two aliens, when an infection inevitably occurred, they would feel empathy for the victims, and they would _want_ to help.

But when it comes right down to it, they also probably wouldn't interfere with an infection when it happens. They wouldn't put up their own warning signs, or decontaminate the island.

And when the "HMS Enterprise" finds the island, and two of their crew get sick, and their captain gets sick trying to help them ... unless they suddenly pull a warp engine out of their cargo hold, you're going to have three dead crewmen and some Federation observers who wish they were allowed to help.

Even if it spread to the mainland, who's to say that stepping in would be the right course of action? What if it spurs the medical community to make leaps and bounds in medical science to combat it? What if it interacts with a select few species' or individuals' DNA and changes them in a positive way? Are we to play god and decide what happens to them? According to the Prime Directive, the answer is a very clear "no".

Let's face it: When one of those ships finds that island and starts being struck down one by one by the disease, and they accidentally discover that someone has been watching over them and countless other prior victims, they're going to think the Federation and the Prime Directive as unfair and alien as Archer and Phlox did when they encountered the aliens and their "protocol".

But you know what? There's a reason for that protocol. And frankly, I think the aliens should have stuck to it.

(Then again, I also think they should've stopped being such jerks by presumably destroying other warning beacons just so they could use the disease as some sort of morbid personality test. Ah well.)
Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Silliest typo ever. Wolf →Worf. :)
John TY
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 8:00am (UTC -6)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

I mean, the idea that humans are somehow more compassionate and unpredictable than any other species observed over hundreds of years is shamelessly appealing to our vanity..

But all the same, I found this a pleasure to watch for all the reasons you've mentioned Jammer. Particularly the way it "believes in Trek as humanist science fiction rather than just an adventure show".

3.5 from me. Best thing so far this season after The Forge.
Nebula Nox
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 3:14pm (UTC -6)
great ep... small quibble. if the virus is Si based, would it be dangerous? it would need more Si to reproduce and we humans aren't a good source.
Pon Farr
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 12:00am (UTC -6)
I want to translate some of Hoshi's rantings during her escape attempt, for viewers' benefit:

As Hoshi first tries to leave quarantine in decom; standing at the exit interacting with the electronic "lock" panel:

@20:50 Hoshi (in Spanish) "I know that I'm backward. Enterprise doesn't go until tomorrow. I only need five minutes."

Hoshi and Trip at the airlock, minutes later:

@22:05 Trip: "Hoshi, you have to stop. That's an airlock. You open those doors, we die."

Hoshi (in Russian): "Of course. Goodbye."
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
As the review puts it: great show despite traditional ingredients.

And did anyone else was greatful that they chose to provide Travis with some screentime, even if it was not him exactly? Bitter irony.
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 5:12pm (UTC -6)
sorry: grateful, to be sure.
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 7:53am (UTC -6)
Little correction on Pon Farr's translation above... Hoshi says "I know I'm LATE..." not "I know I'm backward". Greetings from Argentina.

Good episode... Such a shame that Enterprise couldn't get to 7 series like TNG, VOY and DS9... It really was getting better, and the other three certainly took their time to get better as well... Really sad, especially after the great Kir Shara arc.
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 8:05am (UTC -6)
* 7 seasons
Johnny Archer
Sun, Sep 8, 2013, 10:14pm (UTC -6)
I think the criteria the aliens would accept to initiate first contact their way would be if the subjects are smart enough to diagnose AND develop a cure for the disease AND use it successfully to cure the affected. Hefty requirements for first contact!
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
Wisq, I agree 100% with everything you've said (and taken quite a long time to explain intelligently and in detail). I think you have the definitive answer here and I've enjoyed reading you.
Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 12:31am (UTC -6)

Simplicity is its own reward, but I also contend that not all Godly being episodes of Star Trek are bad. Look at TNG "Q-Who", Q taught everyone a good lesson that our arrogance in Technical advancement could destroy us, when faced with foes that are beyond anything we have ever known, i.e. The Borg.
Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
Love this episode!!

When I first saw it, I knew Enteprise had only 4 seasons so I thought Hoshi was gone (snif) Glad to see they didn't kill her off.

Great TOS feel and link to Errand of Mercy.

A rating of 10 from me!
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:39pm (UTC -6)
Is this episode penance for Dear Doctor? You be the judge.
Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
I don't feel like going back and forth on the details of this one, I was just impressed by Scott Bacula's acting in the final debate with the reanimated corpses of Trip and Hoshi. His quiet sadness rang true.
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:39am (UTC -6)

Could you please explain?

Sun, Apr 19, 2015, 10:44pm (UTC -6)
Very interesting reading Wisq. I liked the parallels you drew.

This was like watching Dear Doctor. Except the victims are now humans as opposed to being the alleged saviors. Interesting to see how desperate we became in our hour of need. Archer's speech about "playing God" in the aforementioned episode gets quickly put on the backburner when the shoe's on the other foot.

I do wish the writers had chosen to not let the aliens help the crew, though. They should have been made to accept the inevitable just as the Valakians were forced to. No reason why the Prime Directive shouldn't cut both ways.

I also agree with Markus. Travis gets more screen time, just not as himself. The irony of that wasn't lost on me either.
Ellen McGowen
Sat, May 7, 2016, 11:17pm (UTC -6)
There is one little problem with this episode: the biochemistry is bogus in a very elementary way.

The virus is silicon-based; it needs silicon compounds to grow. There is no silicon in human bodies. So how could it grow in us?

I could imagine it infecting windows, wine glasses, ceramics, silicon based electronics (if such electronics are still in use in the mid 22nd century)... but not humans or animals from Earth.

Otherwise, it's an ok episode.
Diamond Dave
Sat, May 14, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
To me this has a kind of TNG type feel - powerful aliens putting humanity on trial sort of thing. But the possession aspect is a neat little narrative trick that really works well here - although it's noticeable that this is the most Travis has had to do for weeks and he's not even himself.

However, even if the delivery is fresh the story isn't nearly so inventive and it plays out like so many other ticking clock episodes. The reference to the Organians is a nice touch, but I never picked it up not being a TOS fan. 2.5 stars.
Sun, Jul 31, 2016, 12:24am (UTC -6)
Wow - brilliant, 4 out of 4 stars for me! Pretty much the same opinions as Zane 314 commented on. I was enthralled from beginning to end with this witty, intelligent and rather complex episode that rewards the viewer with a great script, solid acting and heaps to say and think about with a lot of the Prime Directive issues in the ST universe.

Although on the surface it may appear a rather conventional "bottle episode" the more you look into it the more I got out of it. In my opinion.

Like chalk and cheese compared to the woeful episode that preceded it.
Sun, Jan 29, 2017, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
This is one brilliant episode. This is pretty much what defines Star Trek for me - yes, SI Viruses are bogus, and although i am one of those ST-Fans that love the Technobabble, this is one of the exceptions i really don't care.

And i agree with Wisq for most of his wonderful write up - with a slight exception. I don't think, Archer and Phlox are Hypocritical. There is a difference between changing two Species, and getting involved in their normal development in getting "one Species". That would be like - as it was an example in that episode - giving the Homo Sapiens an advantage or disadvantage.

But that's not what the Organians did and it's a very different situation. If Star Trek has taught me one thing it's that not one single situation is black an white and there is always more to what meets the eye. Giving the Homo Sapiens an advantage or an disadvantage is completely game changing.

Using Wisq's example about the Island, this would be like the Federation stepping in to relief the suffering - but not letting them know why. "Miraculous healing" would also spark that curiosity, the leap in finding a cure for something, that nobody ever has seen. It would take a bit longer, but it's no where near what happened in "Dear Doctor", because i am with Hoshi, regarding who the Valakians treated the Menk, and especially after the reaction from the Valakians, when they where told that the Menk are actually pretty intelligent and so on - bottom line is: Asking for the (metaphorical) Cure and the Warpdrive was not something Archer did in this Episode. Getting back to the Island, they would have been cured by the Federation - but they have no idea, why. Yes, it's an interference, but that's more like caring for the broken bone in the wing of a bird - the bird isn't going to depend on you. So is the interference from the organians. It's not something that will be changing the history of humanity (well, actually, if Archer would have died...well, it probably would have infuriated Daniels ;) ), or the course of humanity.

It also doesn't make a difference if Phlox would have found the cure to heal the captain - or if Starfleet Medical will find one in a few months from the Episode. But Hoshis, Archers and Trips deaths are not necessary for that cure.

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