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Luke 2
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Just watched this for the first time, and had to see what the internet thought. As such I've read all the comments here. I (naively? hubristically?) want to try and cut through some of the arguments without the messy sidetracks.

IMO the episode is fascinating - well paced, well acted, well put together. The problem, however, is that well made pro-eugenics propaganda is still propaganda - which, entirely non-hyperbolically, this episode is (albeit unintentionally, I'm certain).

Discussion of the intent of the episode, the prime directive, whether we should always help and so on is interesting, but secondary. The fact is, the science underlying Phlox's arguments is so utterly wrong as to render all his reasoning objectively worthless from the get-go. What ticks it up to abhorrent is that it's quite literally the same misunderstanding of evolution - and subsequent reasoning - that underpins eugenics. I was stunned when the end wasn't Phlox realising how wrong he was, and that the episode furthering unambiguously portrays him as correct. Other Trek episodes are also badly wrong on evolution, but Dear Doctor isn't the harmless pulp they are.

Even if it wasn't fundamentally wrong, Archer had many other options to explore before letting an entire race die. Others in this thread have given many suggestions, from moving the Menk to at least asking Starfleet. The script presents a false dichotomy - which, although unwitting here, is a hallmark of propaganda.

But frankly, it all boils down to this - regardless of any peripheral details. Phlox and Archer decide to let a race go extinct (genocide or not) because of eugenics-adjacent pseudoscience, and the ending encourages us to see that as a tough but ultimately correct call. Hopefully I don't have to argue why that's bad, even irresponsible.
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