Star Trek: Enterprise

"The Breach"

3 stars

Air date: 4/23/2003
Teleplay by Chris Black & John Shiban
Story by Daniel McCarthy
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"If you don't start moving in the next five seconds, I'm going to take my phase pistol and shoot you in the ass. One, two..." — no-nonsense Trip

In brief: A nice hour of very traditional Star Trek.

The feeling best captured by the early moments of "The Breach" is the feeling of futility — the realization that no matter what you might feel or try to say, it won't be enough to communicate your good intentions to the other side that hates you. When feelings of long-held suspicion and a default position of hatred are stronger than a desire to judge a situation on the facts, it's gong to be a mountainous climb to reach the other side where understanding lies.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect about Star Trek is that it believes that mountainous climbs are (a) possible, and (b) worth doing. No matter how cynical the problems in our society may sometimes make us feel, an episode like "The Breach" is here to remind us that good things are possible and that a decades-held (over even centuries-held) attitude can be carefully peeled away to reveal understanding, albeit guarded understanding.

A nearby world has been taken over by an internal militant group that immediately expels all off-worlders from the planet. Enterprise is sent in to evacuate three Denobulans on a research mission. While in orbit of the planet, Enterprise comes to the aid of a damaged ship; among the ship's passengers is a man named Hudak who is in urgent need of treatment for radiation exposure. Phlox prepares for surgery.

Hudak turns out to be an Antaran, who immediately and adamantly refuses to be treated by Phlox on the basis that Phlox is a Denobulan. Phlox must respect the patient's wishes in accordance with Denobulan medical ethics. Without treatment, Hudak will die in a matter of days.

The bitterness here runs beyond deep. When Archer inquires about the situation, Phlox explains that the Antarans and the Denobulans were once, some three centuries ago, locked in a brutal war. The facts are left somewhat vague (Phlox is not particularly comfortable discussing it in detail), but it seems the Denobulans slaughtered millions of Antarans in the course of this war, using some especially ugly battle methods. "It wasn't our proudest moment," Phlox says quietly.

After the war ended, there began a bitter divide between the Denobulans and the Antarans. The societies no longer had any sort of relationship or dialog between them, but each society would pass down its history and hatred for the other side — from one generation to the next. Many of those feelings have survived to the present day, even though Denobulans and Antarans haven't encountered each other for six generations.

The story is about the possibility of the healing process and whether healing can overcome centuries of learned prejudice. Hudak, being the guest character, represents the side that initially does not want to budge. Phlox, being a permanent resident of this series, represents the more comforting side of the situation: a man with an open mind who does not wish to judge those on the basis of ancient history. Can an understanding be reached between these two? (Well, I've already answered that question. The answer is, this is traditional Star Trek.)

The early sense of frustration I mentioned is best shown in a scene where Phlox loses his self-control and uncorks his bottled feelings after Hudak persists in baselessly slandering his intentions. Phlox lets loose a brief tirade: "I have tried to treat you with respect, but I refuse to listen to these insults. You're the reason we haven't been able to put the past behind us. You've kept this hatred alive. No Denobulan would want to be in the same room with you!" It's a potent moment; the suddenness of Phlox exploding into this angry outburst comes across almost like an involuntary result of pent-up frustration. It felt very real and also worked as an attention grabber. John Billingsley shows a credible ability to turn on a dime from his usual affable nature to sullen and then emotional.

After Phlox settles down, the story also settles down into a series of dialog scenes that gradually try to strike an understanding between these two characters. The story's (obvious) message is that prejudice is learned, and that it continues to survive because of those who are either unwilling or unable to challenge the assumptions that have been passed to them. This, of course, shows the dangers in passing along harmful ideas to your children when you have not taken the time to fully consider what those ideas stand for. (Hate is learned, people. The "default position" I mentioned earlier is made default only in lieu of being taught more tolerant points of view.)

In a scene in the mess hall, Phlox tells T'Pol the story of one of his grandmothers, who passed these negative ideas along. Phlox ultimately rejected the antiquated prejudices, but he recalls an instance when his grandmother labeled an entire planet "tainted" merely because Antarans had once lived on it, years earlier. That's some deep, deep resentment. It's the sort of resentment that Hudak has held for Denobulans his entire life.

Phlox also relates to Hudak (and us) the story of how he made every effort to teach his own children to accept others as individuals rather than viewing them in blanket terms. This material is all, of course, at the very heart of the most traditional Trekkian civics lessons. What also helps is that the storyline works as character development for Phlox, and as an interesting, if limited and nebulous, peek into Denobulan society, something we know very little about thus far.

This is not only about Phlox trying to reach an understanding with Hudak, but also about old wounds that Phlox himself is still carrying. Specifically, one of Phlox's sons, Mettus, rejected his father's attempts to raise him free of prejudice against the Antarans. Mettus unfortunately accepted the views of other influences in his life. He chose to embrace the prejudices, and this drove a rift between Phlox and Mettus; the two haven't spoken in years. This gives the story a crucial personal meaning for its principal character: Phlox has carried the guilt for what he sees as a failure in his role as a parent. This idea is carried through to the final scene where Phlox sits down to compose a letter to Mettus — the sort of detail that makes "The Breach" a character story as well as a message show.

The story's subplot, where Mayweather, Tucker, and Reed go into underground caves on the planet to find the Denobulan researchers, ups the action quotient in an otherwise dialog-based show. Mayweather is apparently the Enterprise's resident expert on caving, although I found myself wondering how he acquired this experience considering he spent basically his whole life aboard a cargo vessel. (Perhaps he took the opportunity during his Starfleet years?)

There's a literal cliffhanger sequence where the three officers almost plummet to their deaths in the brief moments before, during, and after a commercial break. Of this scene I have the following observations: (1) The setup effectively embodies the cliffhanger notion, by creating a seemingly impossible situation of jeopardy that makes you say to yourself, "Now how will they get out of THIS one?" (2) I have my doubts that Mayweather could hold the complete weight two men suspended from a rope, even if for only a brief time. (3) I almost hesitate to suggest this, but I'll do it anyway to continue my harping on the theme of the writers' apparent Conspiracy Against Mayweather: He's sidelined here with a broken ankle, requiring Tucker and Reed to continue without him, thereby reducing Travis' number of scenes in a storyline where he was allegedly the leader. (4) Director Robert Duncan McNeill effectively milks every inch out of what is undoubtedly a small cave set. From a technical standpoint, these cavern scenes are sold remarkably well and photographed in a way that makes them seem large and believable.

This week's Ticking Clock™ is in the form of the impatient militant government, which has set a strict deadline with harsh consequences and is not prepared to move it for any reason, no matter how much sense Archer's requests make. This is predictably forced plotting, but it and the cave scenes work reasonably well as action unrelated to the main thrust of the story.

As for that main thrust, it's ultimately cautiously optimistic about the possibilities of tolerance and abandoning long-held prejudices. It's certainly more optimistic than one might be about the real world we live in, where fierce tribalism, hatred, and notions of "ethnic cleansing" continue in parts of the world and do not seem likely to stop any time soon. I talked of this show's early scenes' ability to depict futility. I should probably also say that a cause for such feelings of futility is better found on any given installment of the evening news.

Next week: Sci-fi properties write a new definition to the term "three-way."

Previous episode: Horizon
Next episode: Cogenitor

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52 comments on this post

Mon, Mar 24, 2008, 1:47am (UTC -5)
No matter what else the episode was about....I'll never forget watching that poor tribble being dropped into the cage as a snack for some....thing
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
A fairly average episode that has its moments, i.e. the dramatic (and hilarious) cave-fall and more info on the Danobulans.
Thu, Sep 2, 2010, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Yes, this was an episode of traditional Star Trek - preachy, "utopian" and patronising. Prejudice really is that simple folks, and all you need is an inspiring speech to end it.

God, for the days of DS9.
Tue, Nov 1, 2011, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
It's all too apparent that the writer(s) never did any climbing because of the farcical climbing scenes. Also, climbing technology hasn't improved apparently since 1920 in the Trek universe. And I would have thought they would have anti-grav units or something.

No, the best part of that episode was the fate the tribble. After that, it was downhill ...
Fri, Dec 2, 2011, 2:08am (UTC -5)
Two little callbacks to earlier episodes help contextualize a couple of the things Jammer mentions:

1) "Two Days and Two Nights" shows Travis as a fairly accomplished/experienced rock-climber (accident aside), so I'm guessing Chris Black (who wrote the teleplay for that earlier episode, and co-writes the teleplay here) decided that Travis's rock-climbing skills might as well become caving skills, particularly considering the nature of the episode's cave.

2) The business with Phlox and his estranged son was introduced during the otherwise execrable "A Night in Sickbay." The explanation for that distance went unexplained there, and I was a bit surprised the writers remembered to explain it by working it in here.
Wed, May 30, 2012, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Naw, I enjoyed it, it was good to get back to a real classic Trek episode again. Phlox's speech about his sons was first class, and I don't think I've heard such a good "short, but extremely effective speech (TM)" since Picard :)

I could have settled for digging into the moral debate and peacemaking a bit more instead of all the rock climbing, but whatever.

Facepalmed at the sight of a Tribble, but was glad to see it cut short (d'aww, poor thing) before it became another Trouble. It seems the people that came before Kirk's crew were at least a little more informed, if only because of Phlox.

D'oh at the return of the infamous "Hard Headed Aliens" problem that plagued Voyager (this time in the form of completely inflexible deadlines and the usual "fire upon" consequences). I hope that got nipped in the bud, and quickly.
Sat, Aug 4, 2012, 3:47am (UTC -5)
I think someone else noted it here too, but I had a problem with the climbing tech they obsolete, even for 2003. At that time motorized repellers were already invented and used....heck how about a jetpack? or some plasma daggers to dig into the rock? Little obvious things like that bug me when you have warp 5 capable star-ships and matter transporters -- C'MON.
Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 9:08am (UTC -5)
One of the fun things about rewatching a series is being able to stop and research some of the guest actors, most of whom are not household names, but who are able to lift an otherwise static scene, and to do so from under layers of makeup. Henry Stram did that lying on his back. I'll probably never get to see him onstage, but I enjoyed his brief performance here. And to think he's the son of the great coach!
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
John Billingsley is awesome. There I said it. He's got range, is believable, and seems able to make all his interactions, even mundane ones, interesting. His story in this was excellent. The b-story with the rock climbing ... ... was extremely skippable, and I did skip it! Gotta love watching stuff on disc, dvr, and online. I'd go 3.5 stars on the Phlox story.
Captain Jim
Sat, Oct 27, 2012, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Zane314 said, "The b-story with the rock climbing ... ... was extremely skippable, and I did skip it!"

But, if you didn't watch it, how do you know it was skippable?
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
I have been watching Enterprise for the first time on Netflix, usually a few episodes at a time. I was going to go to bed, but stayed up to watch The Breach when I saw it would be a Phlox episode. I agree with what seems to be the consensus that the writers and Billingsley did a great job of fleshing out a character that many of us feared would be Neelix 2.0.

With that said, I wish this episode had taken more of a risk with Phlox's character. We learn that Denobulans and Antarans have hated each other for centuries--but of course, Phlox is the Good Guy, the Boy Scout who not only cast away any prejudices of his own but also judges those who are prejudiced, leading to his becoming estranged from his son. How much more interesting would this episode have been if it turned out Phlox did hold certain prejudices against Antarans? Billingsley is so capable, he could have portrayed a Phlox with a few demons but is still a likeable, relatable character. After all, we all have our thing.

There were three clear opportunities for the story to go this way: when Phlox was talking to the patient, when he was talking to Archer, and at the end, when he was writing a letter to his son. To the very end, I was hoping that through the letter, we would learn that while there was a rift between Phlox and his son because of their attitudes toward Antarans, it was Phlox who caused the falling out by being prejudiced, while the son was the more progressive one. Instead, the writers took the easy route by making Phlox a quiet champion of civil rights. I still enjoyed the episode, but it could have done a lot more to add a shade of gray to Phlox's character.
Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 9:54am (UTC -5)
Captain Jim said: "But, if you didn't watch it, how do you know it was skippable?"

Fair question. I watched some of the beginning of the rock climbing and became bored/dissatisfied. I used the Netflix timeline slider to preview stills of the upcoming rock climbing, I watched a bit of more and was bored again. Because of your question, I just looked at the rock climbing again and I found it boring - again.

This is how I approached the rock climbing which involved middling (for me) characters: Trip (aw shucks!), Reed (I'm British!) and Mayweather (who's this guy?). If the rock climbing had Phlox, Hoshi and Jeffrey Colmbs (as Shran, Weyoun, Brunt, anyone really) I'd have watched!

But to me rock climbing is inherently boring. Plus, I'm a die hard MST3K zealot and anytime "rock climbing" is mentioned I get twitchy with a crazed look in my eyes ... :)
John the younger
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 8:32am (UTC -5)
Agreed: A nice little story that all works out neatly in the end. Naw..

I would also agree with Cloudane who made a comparison between Phlox and Picard. I think John Billingsley's delivery saves this episode big time; much as Patrick Stewart did for many a TNG outing.

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Boring. So, so boring.

Of course Phlox and the Antaran guy would manage to find a way to put aside their ancient hatred in the space of an hour. The ending was a foregone conclusion. I don't know...maybe it's the fact that I don't really care about Phlox at all. I don't dislike him, he's just sort of "meh" for me. If Doctor McCoy was substituted for Phlox I probably would have loved the episode. (And the dialogue would have been a lot less preachy and a lot more entertaining.)

I'd give this two stars because I recognize the fact that the episode was competently written, acted and directed. But if I was grading it based purely on its entertainment value for me it would be one star at best.
Lt. Yarko
Thu, May 16, 2013, 4:47am (UTC -5)
Seems like Billingsley is losing weight. He looks good.

Good episode. Yeah, the prejudice thing was dealt with too easily, but that's trek. At least they didn't have dinner and hug before the Antaran left. That would have been a bit much.

Also, the near fatal fall into the abyss actually impressed me. I think that was the first time any action in Star Trek TV actually had me on the edge of my seat. What a fall! And I was also impressed that Travis busted himself up good stopping them from falling. How many times in TV and movies are ridiculous falls stopped completely painlessly? (Dumb-ass Star Wars episode 3 in the elevator shaft?) I fully expected Travis to stop the fall simply by digging his feet in. I thought of that fall in Batman Begins when Bruce stops himself and the Liam Neeson character from falling off the snow ledge by digging his glove spikes into the snow. Yeah right. Well, what a surprise. Someone actually got hurt. Bad. (Poor Travis. He is always getting hurt!) I felt like they had really gotten themselves into a pickle. Yeah, Travis could not have held them for that long, and yeah, popping a thing into a crack in the rock just after the rope finally slips was a bit much, but at least it wasn't a totally boring scene like when the walkway fell at the beginning of Voyager.
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
I was actually bored with the sickbay scenes in this episode and downright disliked the climbing stuff. I get sick and tired of the hard-headed unreasonable forehead aliens from Voyager and Enterprise and this one had a doozy with the patient spewing constant hatred while Phlox tried to save his life. Just sedate the mofo and get on with the treatment.

The climbing was annoying because, as had been mentioned by others, the creators don't seem to know a thing about modern climbing let alone what the future potentially holds. I'll give a pass to older Trek series for their limited budgets and time, but Enterprise could've done better with CGI or something. Or perhaps it's just further proof the writers have no imagination?
Thu, May 1, 2014, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like the Tribble being eaten. Yes, they are a problem, but the two Tribble episodes were great fun, and I would like to see the Tribbles treated more gently. Maybe Phlox could have been planning to take it to a vacant planet or something, where it would be released to reproduce in peace. I think Trek in general is considered a family show, and I thought the Tribble being eaten was too nasty for the six-year-old who was watching the episode with me.
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
I wasn't planning to comment on this one until I saw Annie's comment above. I too was thinking what an interesting twist it would have been at the end if Phlox revealed that he was the one who had hated the Antarans, and that his son was the more open-minded one.

Anyway, both the A & B plots were ok with me, and I enjoyed the nerdy obsessed geologist types that had to be dragged away from their work. Three stars is about right I think.
Sat, Apr 18, 2015, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Zane314 - yes even as a Tucker and Reed fan I can understand why people thought some of the caving sequences were "skippable", although in my opinion the cliffhanger scene was genuinely exciting and well shot.

As with a lot of others - Billingsley's excellent performance here lifted an otherwise competent (but not outstanding) script.
Paul Allen
Fri, Dec 25, 2015, 4:56am (UTC -5)
Caving without helmets???
Diamond Dave
Sun, Apr 17, 2016, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
While we have seen this all before - on multiple occasions - this again provides some solid entertainment. It's obvious that Phlox will work through everything eventually from the beginning, and picking the most open-minded character to have prejudices is a fairly easy character choice to make, but this is still a really good performance that hits most of the right beats.

In other news, Enterprise does Cliffhanger, and that's not a phrase I ever expected to write. That bit was all fairly forgettable. 2.5 stars.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 7:27pm (UTC -5)
Travis finally puts his ripped body to use, showcasing his incredible strength!
Fri, Jul 15, 2016, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Main plot:Phlox really is one of Enterprises best characters even if he believes that Evolution has chosen species to die to benefit others. His scenes with Hudak are amongst the best iv'e seen in the first 2 seasons of Enterprise.

B-pot:Catfish Tucker Malcolm and Travis go spelunking in order to rescue the researchers. The writers quickly get rid of Travis by making him break his Ankle.

Phlox's story earns this episode 3 stars. I couldn't bring myself to care about exploring the cave.
Sun, Jul 17, 2016, 2:29am (UTC -5)
Interesting how most of the more action centered ENT episodes during S1-2 are at best "meh" for me ("Andorian Incident" being a notable exception) while the eps which are primarily idea centered are the ones that stand out. This is definitely one of the best episodes of Enterprise's second season. Not exactly subtle in its preaching, but it does it extremely well.

It's interesting to view this ep alongside TNG's "The Enemy", specifically when Worf refuses to save the Romulan's life despite the horrible repercussions for the mission.

And the cave mission was pretty much a yawn fest. And as usual Travis doesn't get to do anything useful. Sigh.
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Tribble snacks.... lol

I thought this entire episode, A&B plots, performances by all the actors, was very well done. This is one of those flying under the RADAR outstanding trek episodes.

My biggest gripe with this is that they break Travis AGAIN!! I also agree with Jammers that I have a hard time believing that Travis attained expert skills in climbing while living on a transport ship.

This episode made me think of the Voyager episode "Nothing Human". Although I think this one was much better.

I cracked up when the Denobulans just scampered up the rocks :-)

Jammers' review says it all, but I'll go a little higher and give this "Star Trek" episode a 3.5.
Sat, Nov 5, 2016, 4:41am (UTC -5)
Without commenting on the actual substance of the episode, I'll just say that the tribble joke in the beginning was hilarious.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
The tribble was extremely hard for Phlox to acquire, and he went through all that trouble just to feed it to one of his critters?
Stuart M
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I'm currently rewatching Enterprise on Netflix, in anticipation of Discovery later in the year.

Some of the episodes are truly dire, I don't recall think they were so poor back when they forst aired.

As for this episode, its better than the average for season 2 - but not great in its own right.

I agree with other comments re Travis' climbing skills, I noticed this before and was hoping during Horizon they'd show some sort of recreational climbing wall/simulator to at least add some plausibility.

The tribble was a nice touch, anything that links into TOS reminds me that this is meant to be a prequel series.
Sat, Jun 10, 2017, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
The first appearance of a tribble (for earthlings that is); Hilarious! Unfortunately it's downhill from there as bleeding heart Archer has to butt into the Hatfield/McCoy war to save the life of one of the doc's patients. If he wants to die, let him die. Three crewman go spelunking. That's all folks. Nothing to see here.
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 1:12am (UTC -5)
A decent episode and Phlox continues to be one of my favorite ST characters.

What doesn't make sense to me is why would you send your chief engineer, your armory officer and your helmsman to go climbing in some caves on a politically unstable world? OK, so Travis has some rock climbing experience but why is Trip going? And you're going to risk losing the officer in charge of maintaining your ship's ability to defend itself?
Fri, Sep 1, 2017, 2:45am (UTC -5)
I like this episode, and I've never quite understood some of the animosity for Enterprise. All in all it's a far better show than Voyager was. Even better than DS9 alot of the time.

That being said, like others pointed out, it's pretty classic Trek and not too many surprises, but a well made and acted episode. Phlox is easily one of my favorite Trek characters, so any episode with him in a main storyline is a treat for me.

I think one of the main reasons I liked Enterprise is because of the realistic dialogue. The top of the page quote is a good example. 'If you don't start moving in the next five seconds, I'm going to take my phase pistol and shoot you in the ass.' That's what a real person might say. You don't hear that sort of thing on any of the other Treks that much at all. And Phlox losing his temper, as someone else pointed out. That's what a real person (alien :D) would say. So much of TOS was melodramatic crap, and Voyager's dialogue was insipid for the most part. DS9 and TNG weren't too bad, but Enterprise just seemed to get it right. I always felt they were more 'real' than most of the other characters on other Trek shows.

3 stars from me.
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
300 years is quite a grudge. After all the atrocities of World War 2 plus our nuking of Japan, we were allies in the Korean War within 5 years.
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:29am (UTC -5)
2 stars

If “Dawn” stole the Geordi/Bochra plot from “The Enemy” poorly then this episode hijacks the Worf/Romulan plot poorly
Sun, Mar 25, 2018, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Another "who cares" episode.
Tue, Sep 25, 2018, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Denobulan medical ethics are really rather similar to 21st century Earth medical ethics, at least as practised in the West. A doctor cannot treat a mentally competent patient against their will, even if their decision seems to be irrational to a dispassionate observer and even if the decision leads directly to death. No ifs, buts or maybes.

So to anybody who knows that, the scene where Archer literally screams at Phlox in rage-filled ignorance to treat the Antaran against his will confirms once again that the Captain is a bit of a twat.
Fri, Nov 16, 2018, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
Billingsley turned in a terrific performance that was able to bring more life to what could have been an arbitrary hatred between 2 alien species -- this episode doesn't have the well-worn history of say the Bajorans and Cardassians to fall back on so the little tales of Phlox's grandma teaching hate etc. were all well-placed and helped make things more engaging. Also thought the cave scenes were very well done, making the action-oriented B-plot decent. We get the Trekkian tolerance / anti-prejudice message trumpeted again and in a reasonably well-portrayed way.

A number of good scenes/dialogs involving Phlox -- with Archer (his position of treating patients), T'Pol (Phlox explains he didn't want to teach his kids to hate) and of course with the Antaran. Phlox goes through the range of emotions and Billingsley shows he's a capable actor. The ending with the letter to his hate-filled son was a nice touch.

Normally on ENT, action/travel scenes can drag on ("Desert Crossing" comes to mind as a poor example of physical travails) but here the scene where the 3 fall through the cave seemed very realistic almost visceral. Of course it is a miracle Trip/Reed weren't hurt at all. Found it a bit silly when the Denobulans put up a stink about not wanting to leave and then Trip threatens them and then they concede. Is the message here that threats of violence work? Worked for Archer with the ship that was bombing the planet as the people were escaping the cave...

Of course, it's very idealistic in that the Antaran who has been programmed to hate Denobulans all his life comes around and then develops an open mind -- but that's Trek for you.

I do have to wonder though -- at the start when the Antaran doesn't want Phlox's treatment, and Phlox is fine with that according to Denobulan medical ethics but then Archer orders him to find a way to treat the patient -- who has the authority in such situations? I suppose it's fine for Phlox to try to overcome prejudice and hate and then see what the patient says about treatment.

2.5 stars for "The Breach" -- pretty basic plot, mostly good character and background development for Phlox, good action scenes in the cave but it does strike me as a tad too idealistic and convenient. I think the ending in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is more powerful and realistic, but there were some good scenes here as well.
Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 4:33am (UTC -5)
Well. As a caver myself, the caving/climbing sequence gave me a chuckle.
No helmet? No safety line, No cowstail, No Backup Anchor?.
Using friend/cam as anchor, not a python?
Or better yet, maybe using a 22 century equivalent of injection/pressured python?
Arresting 2 fallen person on a momentum without anchor/securing yourself first?
Heh, goodluck.

A bit remind me to some of the silly scene from 'Vertical Limit'.
The director obviously had some consultant for the scene, as they using some 'real gear'. Pity, they didn't use it in a more realistic manner and scenario. But going in for a full dramatic instead of realistic.
But to their credit, scene wise at least they did it a little better compared to previous trek.

As Phlox/Antaran plot. I wished it's more subtle. Seeing a repressed resentment of the Antaran would be more interesting than just seeing him lashed out the moment he see Phlox.

Overall, it's an enjoyable episode but nothing special or remarkable.
2 star or 2.5 max.
Thu, Nov 21, 2019, 2:44am (UTC -5)
I disagree with Jammer’s choice for the quote to use for this episode. I would’ve gone with:

‘My speleothems!’...’Fortunately I have some other samples in my case’
Sun, May 24, 2020, 6:32am (UTC -5)
Plox /Billingsley episodes are mostly quite enjoyable, here the script was perhaps a little bit to "pedagogic" but the acting good, even Dr Plox can lose his temper. Hoshi's character is as Mayweather's (mostly) quite much in the background. But Hoshis / Parks performance in the Tribble part was very good even if it was short.

T' Pols/Blalock Frankstein scenes was very funny.

I also like the space life episodes as a complement to those with more action. And the plot was definitely in Roddenberry's spirit. And then some actors also were in a cave.
Sean J Hagins
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 7:06am (UTC -5)
I'm guessing many of you here are from the States (That is just a guess-I may be totally wrong), so many of you may not have gotten the analogy of the Denobulans and Antarans in the light of how I took it, but I think this is a veiled reference to the Irish and English. Granted, obviously they HAVE seen each other in 300 years, but it has been that long that there was "bad blood" between the two. The troubles were happening when I grew up, and even in other Commonwealth countries, the Irish were looked down upon and treated poorly.

Such a shame that "man has dominated man to his harm". And that has happened so much that no matter what corner of the world you live in, you will find an analogy to the Denobulans and Antaran "question" for yourself!

Still, it was a touching episode.

As far as Travis goes, I really don't see why people are taking him as a sidelined token Black character. I think he has as much to do, and as much going on as the other non-main characters (Meaning the Captain, T'Pol, Trip and Phlox) Hoshi, Reed and Travis are just like the non-big three of the original series. I think Next Generation is the only Star Trek show (I'm not including Discovery or Picard since I've not seen them and have no intention to) to have a true ensemble cast where everyone got fairly equal time
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
@ Sean J Hagins

"As far as Travis goes, I really don't see why people are taking him as a sidelined token Black character. I think he has as much to do, and as much going on as the other non-main characters (Meaning the Captain, T'Pol, Trip and Phlox) Hoshi, Reed and Travis are just like the non-big three of the original series. I think Next Generation is the only Star Trek show (I'm not including Discovery or Picard since I've not seen them and have no intention to) to have a true ensemble cast where everyone got fairly equal time"

Travis was a main background character just like Hoshi, Phlox and Malcolm. Folks just like playing the race card. Could they have given him more at times? ... Sure, but the same could have been said for Checkov, Sulu, Scotty and Uhura.
Sun, Jan 17, 2021, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Billingsley is good here, but Duet it is not.
Frake's Nightmare
Sun, Mar 28, 2021, 6:46am (UTC -5)
Climbing plotline.......wait, wait, wait, oooh goody here's 'the accident' for non-jeopardy. Yawn.
Wed, Apr 21, 2021, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
"I think Next Generation is the only Star Trek show (I'm not including Discovery or Picard since I've not seen them and have no intention to) to have a true ensemble cast where everyone got fairly equal time"

Discovery and Picard are less ensemble than any other series, but imho DS9 is the one with most equal treatment of its cast, even TNG doesn't come close to that. DS9 devoted more to some of its recurring characters than most other series did to their regular ones.
Lee Jones
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
[""As far as Travis goes, I really don't see why people are taking him as a sidelined token Black character. I think he has as much to do, and as much going on as the other non-main characters (Meaning the Captain, T'Pol, Trip and Phlox) Hoshi, Reed and Travis are just like the non-big three of the original series. I think Next Generation is the only Star Trek show (I'm not including Discovery or Picard since I've not seen them and have no intention to) to have a true ensemble cast where everyone got fairly equal time"]

I cannot think of a single Trek show in which the rest of the cast get as much equal time as the main one or three protagonists. There are two reasons why this episode annoyed me. One, why on earth was Tucker part of the Away team regarding the protagonists. I understand why Reed and Mayweather were on the team. Their skills were needed. Why on earth was the Enterprise's Chief Engineer on this mission? For what reason? And two, watching Archer trying to force Phlox to operate on the Antarian or trying to force the latter to accept Phlox's service reminded me on how much the Starfleet and Federation characters can be so damn controlling. It was irritating to watch.
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
The Phlox stuff was excellent but goddammit the cave was trash. If they are sliding for what seems like 20 minutes, they can't have it both ways and then rely on Travis keeping them secure after an incident that should by rights take his leg off. And yeah why haven't there been any climbing advances since 200+ years
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 11:44am (UTC -5)
I'm going to echo the "caving without helmets??" and "totally unrealistic depiction of climbing" sentiment from others. I found it ridiculous that the best place they could find to place lights on themselves was on a giant hook-shaped extension protruding upwards from their shoulders/packs. Not exactly practical when trying to maneuver (or manoevure, if you prefer) in a cramped cave. We've already had *headlamps* for a century or two, and they work well for miners and the like. It makes no sense that they wouldn't simply use headlamps here as well.

This other complaint is even more relevant in the 24th century, in episodes like TNG "Chain of Command". But even as early as the ENT era, they clearly have anti-grav tech: we know this because they have artificial gravity on their ships, and shuttlepods that can take off slowly from the ground without providing thrust > weight. So it seems silly that rappelling is the best means they have at their disposal for traversing cliffs and chasms. An anti-grav platform or boots would seem safer.

Finally, they show at the beginning that they have detailed 3D maps of the cave network/system, but they never USE that information during the rescue attempt. Instead they're clearly just fumbling about randomly. Travis even says "I'll see what's below" and throws and object downwards to gauge the depth of a drop. 1) Why not use the tricorder to measure the depth, and 2) you should already know "what's below" in advance, if you're one of the pre-mapped parts of the tunnels.
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
I’m watching this ep for the first time - as Enterprise is on Paramount+ live w/o commercials and there are NO eps of TNG TOS DS9 or VOY that I haven’t seen at least half a dozen times. These heavy handed message shows are the absolute pits. Season 2 is packed with them, too. The only high point here was the excellent directing from Robert Duncan McNeil in the cave scenes.
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 10:42am (UTC -5)
The uncredited voice of the Xantoras governor sounds a bit like an older Michael Ansara.
Fri, Mar 10, 2023, 11:14pm (UTC -5)
Yum, yum, then Tribbles are good eatin’!

Lol Worf would have been happy to see the detestable creature used as a snack!

I enjoyed this ep, the cave accident was genuinely intense! Great job!
Mon, Mar 20, 2023, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Stumbled upon this one and felt like commenting.

That was a decent half of an episode. Billingsley interesting as usual, especially here where he has to balance the previously established, somewhat quirky-weird-funny nature of Phlox with this more serious material.

Being probably the best actor of the enterprise cast, he unsurprisingly lives up to the challenge of this strange balance. Also the outburst of anger in the middle - super tasty execution. More nervous and shaky than theatralic like most people would probably perform this. Super realistic, if one can say that in this scifi context.

So yes, even if it's not exactly the most surprising trek plot ever, I can always enjoy such a nice display of good acting, even in the rare occasions where the show is "enterprise" (ok I guess thats mean, but what can I say, to me it was always the show with the weakest cast) (until discovery came along).

And speaking of weakness : that other half of the episode might be a technical achievement in "how much perceived space and action can we milk out of a dimly lit trek cave set (TM)?", but that doesn't make the events any less boring.

So utterly boring. Damn, enterprise was such a weak show, and season 2 clearly the weakest of them all.

Still - really enjoyed Billingsley flexing his acting muscles here. Imagine that actor would have played the captain. What a different series it could have become.
Swasticular Cancer
Tue, Apr 25, 2023, 2:46am (UTC -5)
I'm appalled at the number of comments that seem to prefer perpetual hatred and grudge holding. Thats not Trek. Yes I realize hundred of years of prejudice realistically wouldn't be resolved in an hour of TV, but Trek was always about optimism, sometimes to the point of blind optimism. I prefer that over modern "Darkier" Trek that seems to revel in its chosen victim classes being perpetual victims and perpetually hating their imagined oppressors.

Seriously, do you prefer the message that someday we will overcome our shortfalls, or do you prefer to think that in hundreds of years we will all still be fighting the same pointless battles?

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