Star Trek: Enterprise

"Doctor's Orders"

3 stars

Air date: 2/18/2004
Written by Chris Black
Directed by Roxann Dawson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"As you might guess, Dr. Lucas, I had considered deleting this letter and starting over, since large sections of it are now, obviously, fictitious. However, I decided that my delusional account would probably prove entertaining." — Phlox's letter

In brief: A skeleton plot, but it supplies some pretty decent psychological-thriller atmosphere.

The secret at the end of The Sixth Sense has to go down as one of the best-executed narrative twists in recent years. I didn't see the movie until it came out on DVD, and still I didn't see the ending coming, even though I had heard for months that there was a revelation at the end. The key, I think, is misdirection. The solution is sitting there in plain view, but you are not thinking about it, because you are not aware there is even a puzzle to be solved. You are too busy concentrating on the character drama.

Or, in the case of Scrubs, perhaps you are too busy laughing. A similar narrative twist — with a reasonable level of underlying poignancy — appeared at the end of this week's episode. I wasn't expecting it at all, perhaps because Scrubs is not the sort of series where you expect a twist like that. But the clues were there.

"Doctor's Orders" guards a similar secret (funny how the same twist aired six days apart on two different TV shows), although in this case I'm not so sure it guards it so well, since I had clearly figured it out ahead of time. (The only tiny remaining doubt: Maybe I was being tricked into thinking there was a twist, and there actually wasn't one and they were just using weird events to make me think there was. Talk about over-analysis. As Data once said, "Knowing that he knows that we know that he knows...") All the hints are clearly there in "Doctor's Orders." The second Phlox offers to walk T'Pol to her quarters, the jig is up.

I admire the intentions here, and I admire most of the execution, which deals in psychological terror. But I wonder: Was anybody actually taken in by the trick ending? Had anyone actually not figured it out? (I ask in all seriousness, and would be interested in hearing from those who were.)

The issues, then, are (1) whether the experience of the journey is worth our time in getting to this predictable destination, and (2) whether the twist holds up as dramatically sound given the underlying material. For me, the respective answers are yes, and just enough.

As a rule, I like psychological thrillers, and I liked many aspects of this one. There's nothing in this episode that we haven't seen somewhere before (and, indeed, the basic premise is very similar to Voyager's fourth-season outing, "One"), but between John Billingsley's performance of an increasingly frantic Phlox and Roxann Dawson's skillful direction of a situation slowly but surely running off its rails, "Doctor's Orders" turns into a nice little pressure cooker. It starts calm and cold, turns mysterious and ominous, and then heats up with crisis and desperation. There's not a whole lot of actual substance here; it's more about mood, atmosphere, paranoia, and momentum, and on those counts it delivers.

The premise is that the entire crew (less Phlox and — sort of — T'Pol) must be put into a comatose state so the ship can travel through a massive spatial anomaly (the same type as the one encountered in last week's "Harbinger") that would cause the humans fatal brain damage if they were awake. Phlox's Denobulan physiology makes him immune to the effects. Also immune to the effects are T'Pol (sort of) and the captain's beagle, Porthos. Passing through the anomaly will take four days at full impulse; Trip warns that to attempt going through at warp would be too risky.

So the Enterprise becomes a vessel where everyone has gone to sleep, and where Phlox now finds that every routine bang and shimmy is magnified into dreadful sounds of forthcoming doom.

It's not until near the end of act one where we even see that T'Pol is still walking around the ship. It's a nice little craftily hidden surprise that keeps us just a little off-balance — and, of course, provides a major hint that telegraphs the twist at the end.

The twist at the end, to get this out of the way, is that T'Pol isn't and never was awake during the time Phlox is tending to the sleeping ship. She's a figment of his imagination, apparently designed by his mind to keep him from becoming completely unhinged, which happens gradually as a result of unforeseen effects from the anomaly field.

Obviously, the fact that T'Pol isn't real is hidden from the audience more for our benefit than for Phlox's, and the fact that it's T'Pol whom he imagines is for obvious script reasons: she's a Vulcan and could logically be immune to the anomaly's effects.

This holds water to a point, since Phlox is no more aware that T'Pol is a hallucination than we (at first) are. On the other hand, the question "Why T'Pol?" is an interesting one, and it raises some issues that the story doesn't really address. If this hallucination is designed to help Phlox deal with his isolation (Denobulans do not like isolation, and there's dialog explaining how they choose to live in crowded cities on their homeworld), why would his mind pick T'Pol, who tends to keep to herself both in real life and in this hallucinated version? Why not pick someone he knows better, like one of his wives or a close friend? If he must imagine someone from the ship in order to fool himself into believing that he is not alone, would his mind really pick T'Pol? (I ask in sincere curiosity, not purely as a nitpick. Perhaps he identifies with T'Pol as the other non-human outsider.)

It probably doesn't really matter, because the story is more concerned with structure and technique than deep psychology or character significance. On those chosen levels, the episode works pretty well, giving Phlox a series of hallucinations that he eventually recognizes as unreal and must cope with. One hallucination is his deranged hunt for the Xindi insectoid, which ends when he nearly phasers Porthos. (T'Pol: "You nearly shot the captain's dog!")

T'Pol is in no better shape than Phlox, and is losing control of her emotions as a result of the anomaly's effects. In retrospect, I like the idea that T'Pol falls apart just as Phlox does; since they are both really just Phlox, it makes sense that they would both go insane at the same time.

The crises stack up when it turns out the anomaly is growing at a faster rate than expected, and Phlox realizes it will take 10 weeks for the Enterprise to emerge on the other side. ("TEN WEEKS!" Phlox announces desperately, in a great line delivery that makes us fully identify with his desperation.)

Ten weeks is obviously not an option, especially given Phlox's (and T'Pol's) mental state, so Phlox (and T'Pol) must figure out how to start the warp engines and pilot the ship out of here. The resulting scene shows exactly why starships need engineers, and why going to warp speed necessitates an engine room staff.

Noteworthy is how useless T'Pol proves in these scenes — how she never takes action or pushes buttons — and it's a rather obvious hint that tips us off to the ending: She isn't doing anything because she isn't really there. I have mixed feelings on Jolene Blalock's performance, which eventually degenerates into a series of weird facial expressions amid T'Pol's increasing paralysis — which may be the point, but comes across as a little off.

Much better is Billingsley, who displays a range that begins at affable and ends up at frazzled, but all the while comes off as "Phlox." The thing about Phlox is that he has an overly expressive, cheerful style of speech. Most people typically only speak like that if they're on stage or in some other stylized medium (like, say, Star Trek). But with Phlox, it's his everyday style, and we accept it because he's a Denobulan — but more importantly because Billingsley brings a credibility to it. This is a solid and versatile performance, delivered within the boundaries of Phlox-isms.

Meanwhile, Dawson and director of photography Marvin V. Rush maintain a visual style that stays active and interesting, including one odd shot that looks straight down on Phlox and T'Pol, who stare up into a fisheye lens. This shot, and the performances, are perhaps a little too over-the-top in the way they draw attention to themselves, but I respect the attempt here to go for an effect to convey the desperation. Dennis McCarthy shares musical credit with Kevin Kiner; together they turn out an effective score.

I'm sure some will argue that there isn't much story here. They would be correct. It's essentially a two-character show, the impetus of which is a silly spatial anomaly with arbitrary properties. And, no, the ending is hardly the surprise that it wants to be. But that's okay. This is an acting showpiece, and a technique showpiece, and a fairly entertaining one.

Not to mention it has Phlox's letter narration, ending with him deciding to leave the hallucinated parts in.

Gotta love that guy.

Next week: Mutiny aboard Voyager! I mean, Enterprise!

Previous episode: Harbinger
Next episode: Hatchery

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79 comments on this post

Wed, Oct 24, 2007, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Why are all the doctors on star trek so awesome?

Well...crusher not so much, but that series had picard. :p

I still like The Doctor the best, but Phlox is still up there...

As to the T'Pol thing, I would say its only logical for his mind to be able to imagine her instead of anyone else. As you have noted many times, the vulcans have super plot immunity, and no doubt his plot driven brain would realize this and think of her as merely immune whereas the humans he would be forced to help. He could conjure up some denobulans, but this would take a bigger leap of faith then 'T'Pol is Vulcan Immune'. As Phlox degenerates more though, more humans are seen, showing logic is slowly being strangled into submission.

I wonder if the thing really expended at all or if that part was in his head too. The plot never makes that point clear, although of the verious figments seen throughout the episode it would be the most believable...
Fri, Nov 9, 2007, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
The ending of Sixth Sense surprised you? Wow! While I enjoyed the film, I thought it was blatantly obvious from the opening scene (Given what happened).

Thus, the whole T'Pol thing in this episode was a real cheap shot. Archer clearly said he was leaving Phlox with this responsibility in the first 5 minutes. Obviously he wouldn't have said that if T'Pol had been concious too.

So from the moment we see her, we know something is wrong. Then they make the mistake of having the meal in the kitchen, where T'Pol doesn't eat. So what more proof do we need?

It is a shame that they couldn't have worked this one out a little better. Without Archer's speech to Phlox, T'Pol's appearance would have made more sense.
Thu, Dec 20, 2007, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
This episode really falls apart if scrutinized. It's something that has a lot of holes if thought of too much. For instance, if T'Pol was asleep, did that mean Phlox never checked on her? Didn't she need some form of sustenance while asleep? Also, where did the crew "relieve" themselves? Just right in their uniforms? Were they all given adult diapers? For that matter, WHY were they even in their uniforms while asleep?

While I was surprised by the ending, and enjoyed this episode, I did feel it was a cheap trick. It seems that someone came up with the ending, and then said "Okay, now write what happens forty minutes before this!"
Surprised yes
Sat, Dec 5, 2009, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Keep in mind that if you are simply watching Enterprise because you enjoy it, you probable won't see the twist coming. If you are a reviewer or someone who has to constantly analyze things, you have a much better chance of catching it.
Bill T.
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Man, what a rip-off of Voyager's "One". Enterprise ripped off a lot of previous ST scripts, unfortunately.
Fri, Jan 8, 2010, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
No suprises for me,but then again i usually check this site to see if the show is remotely entertaining ;)

So many spoilers you provided me with Jammer,but i take all of them with gratitude.Thanks for saving me from wasted hours of television and directing me to the true gems.
Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
The first time I saw The Sixth Sense, I MISSED THE BEGINNING and therefore could not make sense of the ending. To this day I wonder whether I would have seen it coming or not. Though I must say my favorite ending of all time is still the WTF?!? moment at the end of "Redemption".
Tue, Dec 28, 2010, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Phlox and the creepy atmosphere kept my attention long enough that I didn't think too much about the ending ahead of time. I knew from the get go that something wasn't right here. I figured it would be some kind of a dream sequence. But, beyond that, I didn't examine the thing very closely. Actually, I'm glad I didn't. While it wasn't the most shocking ending, it was very enjoyable and I'm happy I didn't over think it.

I live alone in a one bedroom apartment in a very large building in the Bronx. I have two cats and my boyfriend is here a lot. But, there are many nights when it gets quiet and I get lonely; and every little sound makes me jumpy. I hear the neighbors fighting and I get freaked out. Something falls on my fire escape and I feel like someone is trying to break in. We just had a huge snow storm here, and that felt like my windows were going to blow off. You get the idea. I think I liked this episode because I can empathize with Phlox's unfounded fear and paranoia.

I still think the characters on this show are really weak. But, that seems to be more the fault of the writers than the actors. There are four characters that I really like on this show though. I think Trip and T'Pol are great. Phlox is also awesome. Finally, I also love the unsung hero of this episode... Porthos!

I think it's time to put the travesty that was "a night in sick bay" behind us and have another go at a Porthos-centric episode. I think Porthos should have helped Phlox repair the warp drive instead of imaginary T'Pol. If he has super immunity to radiation or ions or whatever, maybe he can also regulate the intermix!

Anyway, in all seriousness, I agree with most of Jammer's thoughts on this one. Three stars from me too!
Tue, Mar 15, 2011, 8:47am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode again last night and I have one question. Why didn't Enterprise just travel beneath or over the anomaly? It couldn't have taken them any longer that going directly through it. I'm assuming when they said 2 weeks for the detour, they meant if they were to go around it.

Obviously, if they had just gone over/under there'd be no episode, but from a logical standpoint had I been commanding officer my order would have been to just travel over it at maximum warp. No need for a comatose crew and again, I just can't imagine the length of the journey would have been all that much longer.
Mick Jack
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 1:05am (UTC -5)
Completely obvious from the start.

Gee, T'Pal was a hallucination? What a shock. Dumb ending.

I think the complete obviousness of T'Pal's illusion - how could we really think otherwise? - ruined the episode. Even if you were completely dense, the drawn-out engineering scene where she was a helpless fawn made it plain, which rendered the ended "no shit, Sherlock".
Marco P.
Sun, May 8, 2011, 9:38am (UTC -5)
This was one of the first episodes of ST Enterprise I came across, back when it was airing for the first time in the mid-2000s. I wasn't exactly "mesmerized", and could already notice some of the show's flaws. Nevertheless I did actually like what I was seeing and my second viewing (several years later, now that I'm watching the series beginning to end) confirmed my first impressions. "Doctor's Orders" isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but IMHO it IS one of the better episodes of Season 3.

Yes, it is a complete rip-off of VOY's "One" which was probably the superior version. In fact if you wanted to be overly negative about "Doctor's Orders", in the eternal words of "instead of being a psychological thriller where you don't know whether the enemies are real or imagined and discover the frightened girl hiding under Seven's hard Borg exterior, Phlox strolls around the ship naked and nearly shoots Archer's dog". When looked upon from that angle, nicely put.

That said, there's many positive elements in this episode and Jammer already pointed out most of them. For one thing the misdirection, so criticized as "obvious" by some of the readers actually worked for me. After all T'Pol is Vulcan, her physiology might logically be unaffected by the anomaly. To the question "why wasn't Phlox checking on her?" one might answer he didn't need to, since according to his mind she was already up and about. One would figure someone is stasis just needs occasional monitoring and only for safety reasons, not sustenance.

As for Jammer's question: why did Phlox pick the reserved Vulcan as an hallucination in order to feel less lonely? Presumably because the hallucination needed some way to be reconciled with his scientific mind. A Vulcan unaffected by the anomalies could be a lot easier to swallow (both for Phlox AND us viewers) than a talkative human.

On a completely unrelated note, any episode where we get to see a lot of Porthos action is already better than most. He is after all this show's best character (one the writers CANNOT make into a complete moron).
Tue, May 10, 2011, 4:47am (UTC -5)
Just by being an episode that tries to scare the viewer, it loses a star in my opinion. I never liked or understand the fun of scary movies. As seen in this episode, there is basically no story but Phlox running around being scared while we listen to the typical scary music and the sudden scary imagery that pop up on semi-unpredictable cues.
While I liked the monologues and the Phlox/T'Pol interaction, I really couldn't get past the fact that this is just a rip-off of "One", only with the roles reversed. Both have the logical scientific "babe" and the doctor, an evil nebula, an unwillingness to go around it, only humans effected(sort off), hallucinations of scary stuff and invading aliens, main character loosing her marbles, engine problems at the end, etc.
Where "One" still had an interesting insight into Seven, this only shows typical horror show clichés.
Fri, Sep 23, 2011, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek has, of course, done it may, many times, but I've always loathed the notion that a particular anomoly only affects organic lifeforms selectively (and almost unilaterally, humans are the vulnerable species) because it makes little logical sense. Radiation, poisonous gas, or whatver else working that way is simply ridiculous. It's a bad as the asteroids or the storms or the holes in the ozone layer in countless disaster movies (Armageddon and The Core come to mind immediately) that seem to have minds of their own because they inevitably target urban areas when the locations should be completely random. I guess it's not as thrilling to see a wheatfield in North Dakota get obliterated as it is to see asteroids decimate New York, electrical storms demolish Rome, or cosmic rays melt the Golden Gate Bridge.
Wed, Nov 9, 2011, 6:03am (UTC -5)
@Jeff: That's because space has always been treated as two dimensional in Star Trek.

Of course, if you want a in-universe explanation, you could make up something about the anomaly being (approximately) spheric, meaning that the way over or under it was as long as the one around it.
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Haha Jammer your reviews tend to attract the most pedantic cynical commentors I've ever seen. I don't now it that's the Star Trek fan base or a combination of factors. One's things for sure I wouldn't want to go to a party with any of these folks....I'd probably commit suicide just to get away from them.

And to the people saying "Y DON"T DEY JUS GO UNDER?!" Why would a spacial phenomena expand in only 2 directions. Do we live in a 2-D world? No, nothing is restricting it's expansion therefore it will fill space in all 3 directions.
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 6:49am (UTC -5)
* I don't know if

Boy, I really butchered that sentence didn't I?
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Phlox put T'Pol under, just like the rest. Hallucination is no amnesia. Why didn't Phlox remember this? Is hallucination the same as being stark raving mad? But it doesn't matter, until the end, when you realize what a plot hole it is.

But I liked it as a stand alone story, even if it was a rip-off from Voyager. Phlox is a nice character with some equally nice quirks.
Scott of Detroit
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
I'm a bit embarrassed to say, I didn't see it coming at all. I'm so used to characters doing frustrating things that I thought the writers were just being dumb when T'Pol was so helpless, turns out I was the one being dumb!

It was an alright episode, but the pacing was far too slow. I kept falling asleep.
Captain Obvious
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 10:39am (UTC -5)
"And to the people saying "Y DON"T DEY JUS GO UNDER?!" Why would a spacial phenomena expand in only 2 directions. Do we live in a 2-D world? No, nothing is restricting it's expansion therefore it will fill space in all 3 directions."

I'm pretty sure everyone understands it is 3D (or beyond).

The question is: Why isn't it faster to go around the anomaly at warp 5 than to go through it at full impulse? Must have been a pretty big pancake of an anomaly. But then it expanded in thickness pretty fast so that seems unlikely.

It made little sense to me and I'd have loved an explanation in the episode.

Any sort of pseudo scientific explanation on what sort of anomaly it was would have been interesting.

What made Trek insteresting to me was the exploration of possible phenomena. Here they just ignore any attempt at justifying it.
Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Marco P and Brock!

Reading the comments on Jammer's Review scares me. There are some really creepy and cynical people on here.

Anyway, I think Phlox is one of my favorite characters of all Star Trek series among Data, Worf, and Captain Picard.

But I cannot help wonder if the writers were out of ideas so they were picking ideas from previous series.
Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Haha, well Jammer's got very high standards and I guess it rubs off from time to time.

I loved this one, it didn't tell much of a story but managed to have me on the edge of my seat for Phlox. Plus it featured The Real Star of the Show a lot :)

And yes, it got me. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to the detail (I think often this is key - scrutinising the episodes too much is commonly where all the complaints come from - it's more enjoyable just sitting back and enjoying the ride). But it got me hook, line and sinker, and I actually breathed "oh wow" when it showed T'Pol asleep. Very good.

I do think it helps that T'Pol has had a few questionable and "more emotional than they've ever been before" kind of moments recently already (like her fling with Trip). If I was new to the show but already knew Vulcans, I probably wouldn't have been fooled so easily.
Fri, Jan 4, 2013, 3:31am (UTC -5)
Phlox talks about waking his medical crew after waking the senior staff. Aside from the revelation that he actually *has* medical crew, it does explain why he might not know that T'Pol had been put under -- it's possible his crew did it.

However, yeah, I'm one of the people who saw through the thing the moment T'Pol showed up. They talked about him having to run the ship single-handedly. They prepped him to do that. He had stuff he needed to check, he had to learn how to navigate, how to fix stuff in engineering, etc. Hell, he was *walking around the ship naked*.

After all that, T'Pol showing up was nothing short of a "wtf??" moment. After reading that there was some sort of twist at the end, I was really expecting it to be something *else*, since I couldn't imagine they would try to use something so blatantly obvious as their twist ending -- much less that people would actually fall for it.

I guess everyone watches differently, though.
John the younger
Thu, Jan 10, 2013, 7:07am (UTC -5)
I didn't mind this one. But then Phlox and Porthos are my 2 favourite characters on Enterprise.

Just thought the 'twist' at the end was there for the sake of it. Didn't particularly fit (like Sixth Sense or Fight Club) but then it wasn't bad either and they built it up farily well. My reaction was simply - ok so T'Pol was all in his mind, fair enough.

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
This is the most bored I've been all season. 1 star from me, but part of the reason for that is I simply don't care about Phlox at all. He's okay as a supporting character but I have no interest in episodes devoted to him.
Nebula Nox
Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was a lot of fun! It was nice that there were no aliene, just space expanding more quickly.

Are you suggesting that I read the manual?

Lt.. Yarko
Fri, May 24, 2013, 4:29am (UTC -5)
When T'Pol suddenly showed up, I was surprised. Didn't he put her to sleep too? So, I thought: Oh! She's a hallucination too. But then as the show went on, I kind of figured that maybe she wasn't. But then when the end came near, I realized that she was. So, I guess I knew, kind of. But I was satisfied. I liked the way it all played out. And I really liked the freaky Hoshi scene.

>>The ending of Sixth Sense surprised you? Wow! While I enjoyed the film, I thought it was blatantly obvious from the opening scene (Given what happened).

The grand majority of people who saw sixth sense were surprised by the ending. Guess we all are not as clever as you.
Mon, May 19, 2014, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
To be honest, I did not see it coming. Granted, there were more than a few obvious hints and I was puzzled when T'Pol appeared (probably because the responsibility for the ship was explicitly given to Phlox by Archer), but the show just kept rolling and I did not connect the dots. What I liked about the show was that it did not really try to do anything more than just Phlox dealing with solitude. It just worked better for me than "One" did - I Don't really know, why. Maybe because of Billingsley, maybe because Enterprise is a much better Ship for that kind of show than the ever-bright Voyager. Anyway - to answer your question - the moment where T'Pol was sleeping was very effective for those who did not see it coming (I thought that T'Pols uselessness in Engineering was very much over-the-top, but just bad writing/acting). It gave me quite a chill. The whole episode managed to generate some genuine horror/creepyness - I can't recall any other ST-Episode doing that - especially not the Vulcan-zombie-show. So even if I felt more than a little stupid for not seeing it coming, it gave me a nice payoff. It does have its advantages, shutting down your brain from time to time.
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Three stars?


Harbinger was better than this pile of poo. Just wow, man.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Yep, saw it coming but not immediately.

When T'Pol first appeared, I was just like "wtf?" However as the show proceeded I could see that she was never interacting with anything, and she wasn't telling Phlox anything that he didn't already know, etc. So I guessed that she was just in his mind and that they were going for the Sixth Sense ending.

Jolene's befuddled bubbleheaded facial expression when she's supposedly trying to find some control in engineering was PRICELESS! I almost had to pause the ep, I was laughing so hard.

3* indeed, agreed.
Peter Coutts
Mon, Apr 6, 2015, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
I did suspect T'Pol but not immediately.
However we are not supposed to be taken in once we get to the frantic engine room scene I guess.
The mood in this story is handled very well.
Phlox' disturbing reference to having ben talked into watching The Exorcist the week before help convey the haunted house feel of the ship (Tucker and Archer are clearly horror buffs)and this is spaceship based creepiness that can hold its own with Pandorum and Event Horizon. Zombie Hoshi in the shower might have given some kids sleepless nights when this was first shown.
W Smith
Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Overall not bad, especially since it dealt with Phlox who is well played by Billingsley. I saw the plot twist with T'pol well before the reveal, but my wife didn't see it coming at all. I think those of us with training or exposure to scriptwriting or story analysis caught it because we look for such things while watching a story. We know that a gun revealed in a camera shot means that gun is going to get fired at some point in the story. For others, it's a surprise. Seeing the "twist" in advance doesn't mean anyone is smarter or more prescient, it just means we all approach our story time in a different manner and outlook. That said, I didn't see the Sixth Sense plot twist coming, though seeing that movie probably helped me in this episode to detect the similar twist.
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 1:42am (UTC -5)
This was my favorite episode of the season so far. I initially groaned when they argued that it would be faster to fly through something at impulse than to warp around it. That's like arguing that it's faster to crawl through the everglades on your hands and knees rather than to fly over them in an airplane.

But technobabble not withstanding, I really got interested in the episode and became genuinely concerned about what they might have to sacrifice in order ot make it out of the anomaly in one piece. Credit for that absolutely has to go to Billingsley's Phlox who remains my favorite character of the whole ensemble. This was truly how Star Trek was supposed to be made. Well done!
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 5:34am (UTC -5)
I thought the episode was decent, a worthwhile if not particularly memorable diversion, worth your watching time and won't leave you with that kinda frustrated/mild headache feeling watching the weaker half of the Enterprise (and Voyager) episodes will that results from irritation with the show's writers and producers over whatever weak or contrived plot element got on your nerves.

I was actually surprised by the comments to this one, however (and no, I'm not trying to sound clever- I agree with what was said above about how some of us become familiar with script writing patterns and typical techniques and retain them, and I'll add myself some that analysis is one of the many areas of intelligence, probably my strongest, and in my time as a paralegal and year in law school- not so much my time working at Lowe's after withdrawing due to a car wreck and reconsidering things, and now being on my second year of a Psy.D program (for those who haven't heard of it-been around since the 60's technically but only really gained numbers and recognition/full legitimacy by the early 90's-Doctor of Psychology which is "only" four years and focuses on preparing students for the clinical practice of psychology as well as general professional applications, while the traditional and more well known Ph.D- Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology- takes eight year and emphasizes performing research and experiments along with working in academicia as a professor) as definitely trained my mind to subconsciously view situations as potential puzzles to be solved to see the obscured big picture with potential hidden motives at play or evidence in the open for one who knows to recognize it, so with a show like Stat Trek that often has mysteries even if I am just "sitting back and enjoying myself" my brain will still be on automatic and looking for clues that all is not as it seems and what the obscured truth is. I think those of us who have watched enough Sri to TV to become genre savy probably are like this even for those who aren't by nature natural analyzers and always prepared for deceit and manipulation. Working in psychology definitely gets you used to being highly suspicious that people are putting a spin on their stories/statements (similarly law makes you question whether every person of interest to a case is manipulating their statements according to an agenda, which as it turns out they usually are although usually in a way, at least if they are smart or have an attorney is done in a way that they can't be pinned down for it)

... and I apologize for the lengthy detour haha. Anyway what I was going to say was now that I explained why you shouldn't feel I am trying to sound clever when I say that I didn't think the ending was a twist at all, and was surprised that's how so many here took it. I rather saw the dramatic techniques used in the episode to be of the same broad pattern as Eye of the Mind in TNG; While not as directly revealing of the true situation as that episode I thought this was one from the template of "mysteries" where the audience knows what it wrong or obscured but the characters don't so tension is created that way (dramatic irony I believe the term is?) was supposed catch on to be startled by T'pols initial appearance but not buy it for more than the brief moment of surprise because of how the captain had talked about putting the doc in charge of the ship, teaching him to fly it, and Trip's comments to him in engineering about waking him if needed, combined with how I thought audiences should already be wary because of how the doc seemed to be hearing mysterious noises and the clear emphasis on being "alone" on a big ship and intimidated by it. I guess another trait of being naturally skilled at analysis is being detail oriented, and I have a near "photographic" memory, to use the colloquialism, on recalling conversations/statements spoken to me or what I overhear, so in retrospect I can see how if you are someone who is clearly not that way how this episode would be less obvious, but for me the opening acts of it would have made no sense whatsoever for T'pol to truest be awake.

Aside from that like others have pointed out I found it hard to swallow that he would not remember that T'pol was sedated given that we saw him going around personally sedating the captain and explaining his irritability as being from the protestations of the other senior officers when he sedated them. But, having more then a little experience in (deliberately induced) altered states of consciousness myself, ok I'll drop the doublespeak, as some one who has tripped many times on psychedelics(mainly acid but also mushrooms) and dissociatives (ketamine-my favorite- and dextromethorphan) I know how an altered state is almost always more then just simply seeing what is not there. While no mainstream psychedelic will make you literally think things are there that are not, it does alter your thoughts and judgment enough to make it so they are the most enjoyable if you on the surface of your mind pretend you really are in whatever situation/place you are hallucinating yourself to be in, and it's kinda like being a kid again but even beyond that in how the expanded power of your imagination combined with your senses showing you the hallucinations are there, pretending in your mind that it's real can really immerse you much more, making some experiences seem truly (almost literally) magical (but the part of your mind that knows it's all an illusion makes you never forget that even for a moment- that's the difference between hallucination and psychosis)-especially the dissociatives, which in the dark or with closed eyes you soon find yourself floating around in what seems like another surreal dimension and can feel perceived motion and watch the often symbolic imagery move and evolve to the music playing and *see* the hallucinated objects expressing the melancholy conveyed by the end of the Coldplay song you have playing (expressed in ways that make since then but is extremely hard to describe later- you just know they are and understand)... this let me give the story more leeway as with the doc's own altered state he may have "just 'known'" that T'pol really was there intuitively and without reconsidering it (and perhaps in a way that would have been hard for him to describe later if asked why he couldn't tell he was in reality alone all that time). The negative effects of the anomaly, if you charitably view the episode in this light, are what made the doc's ordinarily "healthy hallucinations" for his species change without his knowing it into psychosis, where he thought they were real despite how he had all the information to know better.
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this again and noticed another possible clue that T'Pol isn't real. When things are falling apart in Engineering, Fake T'Pol encourages Phlox to wake up Commander Tucker. Phlox replies that if he did that, Tucker would die, to which Fake T'Pol responds that if Enterprise doesn't successfully complete its mission, billions on Earth could die. She says something along the lines of "Isn't it logical to sacrifice one life when so many others could be saved?" If that had really been T'Pol, she likely would have trotted out the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few [or the one]" line. In fact, what she said was so close to the "needs of the many" bit that I'm convinced this was a deliberate clue, the point being that if Phlox didn't know the "needs of the many" line (perhaps having never seen "Star Trek II"), his subconscious couldn't have had Fake T'Pol say it.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Apr 30, 2016, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
This is indeed a fairly comprehensive and ultimately not very successful retread of ground last covered in 'One'. For me at least the twist didn't work because it had been telegraphed from so far out the twist would have actually been that T'Pol wasn't asleep.

Although the episode built to a decent conclusion the early scenes were deathly slow paced and involved a lot of walking round corridors. There were a couple of decent shocks (zombie Hoshi might indeed have spooked the kiddies) but overall not a great installment. 2 stars.
Fri, Jul 8, 2016, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
Utterly amazing! I was surprised to see Voyager ripoff TNG in Ex Post Facto but I never thought Enterprise would ripoff Voyagers few original idea's! lucky for this show Phlox(Psychotic doctor that he is) is one of the few characters I like behind Porthos but ahead of Hoshi and Reed. 2 stars.
Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 7:58am (UTC -5)
I am surprised no one mentioned the easter egg of Phlox thinking something was outside the window on the hull.

It seemed like an homage to Shatner's Pre-Trek Twilight Zone episode, where he sees a creature on the wing of the plane he is on.

As for the twist, I was surprised to see T'Pol the first time she appeared, but did not consider that she was not real until the end. I wasn't exactly surprised as much as it just made sense given what had proceeded it.
Sun, Nov 6, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
My guess to your question of:

"Why not pick someone he knows better, like one of his wives or a close friend? If he must imagine someone from the ship in order to fool himself into believing that he is not alone, would his mind really pick T'Pol?"

Would be that in a state of mind he appeared and in a situation he was in, he (or better to say his mind) subconsciously have choose the most rational, logical, calm and methodical character he knew on the ship. Of course, it should have been Vulcan.

Another reason was that if he'd choose any human, he would have to answer some logical question as to why this particular human was not affected by anomaly, while others were.
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Another excellent bottle episode. A well executed concept, superbly acted by Billinglsey and Blalock.

As usual, the main review and the majority of comments are (in my view) deeply misguided and betraying pre-existing biases and prejudices.

This is infinitely superior to lots of TOS, TNG and Voyager episodes.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 12:31am (UTC -5)
"I'm a physician, not an engineer!"
I don't care whether you saw the twist coming or not. I don't think it is key to the episode, at least not for my enjoyment. But no one mentioned the above quote, only one person mentioned whether the expansion of the phenomenon itself might be part of the delusion, and only one mention of the Shatner Twilight Zone episode. Those were the things I noticed and pondered immediately, and that made this my favorite episode of the season so far.
Sun, Mar 26, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
I'm not one to hate or bash Enterprise and this wasn't a bad episode but it was clearly a rehash of Voyager's One.
Paul Mehlin
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
I saw this episode for the first time today. I didn't figure out the ending ahead of time, do I was pleasantly surprised! I liked the episode.
Sat, May 6, 2017, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
The answer to your question, in a word, is no. In fact I found the "twist" to be tedious and insulting to my intelligence. "Oh gee, I'd really love to help you with the warp engine, Phlox, but I forgot how!"

(simulates masturbation to bi-labial fricative accompaniment)

Worst episode of the season.
Sun, May 14, 2017, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
With all the very-justifiable references to The SIxth Sense, and to the VOY episode "One" (which, yes, this was a second-rate ripoff of...) I'm kinda surprised that so many commentaries overlooked another classic sci-fi scene that was spoofed at least twice in this episode....

Take the wormhole on the left back to 1979....

As Phlox is roaming the corridors calling for Porthos, imagine a similar scene on board the USCSS Nostromo. Samuel Brett is similarly skulking through the bowels of a similar ship where most of the crew is nowhere to be found, calling out "Here kitty kitty...." His fate is sealed not by a Vulcan but by a stowaway know the rest....

Or perhaps most of you are a touch young to remember that one....

Once again, borrowing plot lines. I tire of this...
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 9:31am (UTC -5)
This horrible attempt at creating drama would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic. Ho Hum episode
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
Overall I don't think this is a very good episode - Billingsley's acting is very good, however. But basically no plot other than Phlox's hallucinations (why the T'Pol hallucination so permanent while the other ones are ephemeral is a question) and his struggle to get the ship into warp.
When T'Pol first appears in engineering and nearly gives Phlox a heart attack when she surprises him, I could have sworn she was also shut down which is why Phlox has to watch over the engines. So I start doubting my own memory but then the ending confirms Phlox was having a major-league hallucination with T'Pol. Not a big reveal at the end -- however it does mean the writers took some liberties with how Phlox can hallucinate for the purposes of the episode.
Also thought the atmosphere for Phlox's terror was handled reasonably well although the 1st half hour went by slowly -- I was wondering what is going to be the point of this whole thing.
Rating: 2 stars -- basically shows Billingsley is one of the best actors in ENT, does the paranoia very well but it's all hallucinations and ultimately not very meaningful.
Intrinsic Random Event
Mon, Jul 3, 2017, 9:23am (UTC -5)
I quite enjoyed this episode. If we're going to have a diversion from the Xindi story arc, then this is the sort of story I'm happy to see, certainly much more entertaining than that groan-worthy Harbinger ep. Personally I'm just glad when the writing and execution can sucessfully achieve a clear goal, even a simple one, without reaching for lazy solutions, and I don't think that's an issue here. It does strongly resemble Voyager's "One" in many ways, but I consider it a sufficiently different take to be worthwhile, and good further development of Phlox's character. And the atmosphere of the story was well realised. This isn't a deep story, but, it isn't dumb, and I'm always grateful of that in a Trek episode, because you can't take that for granted...
The truth about T'Pol isn't overly hidden, plenty of clues are there, enough to make an attentive viewer fairly sure that she's imagined, but not quite 100% sure for a while, at least. And so I think the twist works well even if you do see it coming, because you get to say "Ha, knew it!"
Mon, Jul 3, 2017, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
I predicted a different plot twist - I thought an alien lifeform had assumed T'Pol's form to hitch a ride through the spatial anomaly. Would explain why T'pol appeared without warning and wasn't sure how to operate the warp engine. When Phlox saw the real T'Pol asleep, I assumed that he was going to turn to the other T'Pol and ask who she really was - and why she had delayed the ship from getting out of the anomaly.
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
This episode should have been called Two. It works on multiple levels.
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I like the horror movie type episodes of Enterprise. I'm glad they decided to do some.

As for the twist, I figured T'Pol was a hallucination, but I wasn't sure. So a bit of a surprise, but not all that unexpected.

And I think the anomaly did expand. They say Trip complimented Phlox for doing a good job. I don't think they would have said that if he went to warp for no reason. Probably the opposite.

Phlox is great and I thought the helpless T'Pol was pretty funny.

3 stars
Owen Morton
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 4:36am (UTC -5)
Just to add my tuppence worth, I watched this one last night and very much enjoyed it. As many others have, I immediately recognised it for a rip-off of One, but I liked it much more than its predecessor - probably because I find Phlox a far more interesting character than Seven, and I like Enterprise a lot more than I do Voyager, so I'm possibly more willing to cut it some slack!

I did wonder - given how obvious it was that T'Pol was a hallucination - if we were supposed to figure this out early on, and that the fun of the episode was to be found in watching out for all the subtle clues.

Anyway, I'd class this as a solid middle of the road entry; if Enterprise had never been worse than this, it would have been a great show.
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:40am (UTC -5)
2 stars

Filler. Rehashed from VOY’s “One” which itself was not very good. Meh

And my patience by this point in the season was thin seeing the writers just drag out the Xindi arc week after week stalling
Wed, Mar 28, 2018, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
One star. So boring and unimaginative, pun intended. 40 min that felt like 4 hours.
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 1:04am (UTC -5)
Retread of One but nice twist at the end.
Tue, Jun 12, 2018, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
I have to day, I didn't see the ending coming... because I had already considered and rejected the possibility. If T'pol was under, why wouldn't the doctor remember putting her under? He should've said "T'pol did you wake up?" But he didn't. So I assumed I missed something. Turns out I didn't.
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Jul 19, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Traveling a quarter light year in ten weeks? At SUBLIGHT?!
Thu, Aug 2, 2018, 9:03am (UTC -5)
I totally did not see the ending twist coming, mainly because this is such a stock situation in all Star Trek shows - Vulcans are just outright immune or less affected to whatever ailments are befalling those silly humans.
Mon, Sep 24, 2018, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Honestly I thought the T'Pol twist was obvious from the start. It was very clear in the beginning of the episode that the entire crew would be comatose except him. They wouldn't have made such a big deal about showing him how to work everything if T'Pol was going to be awake too. She was also acting very out of character and I just didn't buy the explanation that she was being affected by the anomoly. As soon as it became obvious the doctor was hallucinating it was clear he was also imagining her as well. Now I still enjoyed the episode, I just felt the twist didn't work.

I wonder he if included almost shooting the captain's dog in his official report.
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
I did not watch that Voyager episode, so I do not hold the same level of fury as the other commenters. I thought the episode was a nice change of pace, not Emmy-worthy but still a decent execution.
Lew Stone
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 5:00am (UTC -5)
@Brock from 2012. I completely agree.
Rattrap Maximize!
Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 12:08am (UTC -5)
Three stahs.

I love creepy, psychological terror stories.

I especially like any Trek episode that goes against the Trek grain. Ask me about any TNG episode featuring Lwaxana Troi...

Aside from seeing an episode or two way back in the day, I'm on my first real run of Enterprise. I've been hearing so much about the 'Xindi arc' for so long, that I've found myself, frankly, let down. As yet, the Xindi seem to have little agency; most episodes seem to boil down to them ominously kicking the can further and further down the road, in meeting after meeting which could easily *all be the same meeting* for as much as I can tell.

Paradoxically, the Xindi Arc seems designed to come at the expense of substantive, cogent, entertaining stories on a per-episode basis WHILE ALSO kicking the can so far down the road as to suggest that the writers really had no idea where they were going with the arc. It's a... strange place to be.

As a bottle episode, Doctor's Orders felt free of the shackles of the Xindi Arc. The episode felt free to be its own thing, and it felt like a breath of fresh air as a result.

Phlox and T'Pol are *easily* the best characters for my personal taste. Billingsley obviously can act circles around the rest of the cast, while Blalock's performances are... extremely underrated IMO. She's oddly adept at communicating a wide range of responses via a very subtle mastery over a limited set of facial expressions, body language, and inflections.

I don't mind the fact that the plot here was thin -- like I said, it's a breather from the sorta overbearing ineffectiveness of the Xindi Arc thus far.

Seeing the ever-cheerful Phlox slowly descend into paranoia while attending to duties far beyond his qualifications, aboard an effectively deserted ship built a rather effective sense of quiet desperation. Where other commenters found the episode to be poorly paced, I found it to be a satisfying slow-burn punctuated by moments of real confusion and terror. Xindi insects on board? Radiation-poisoned Hoshi? I thought it was paced wonderfully.

While I was initially confused as to T'Pol's first appearance, I didn't suspect the twist until roughly the near-euthanasia of Porthos. It seemed odd to me that T'Pol wouldn't arm herself, just in case the things Phlox was saying were true. The scene on the bridge, where T'Pol never even once goes to her station to check anything is where I pretty much knew. The engineering scene became a bit... silly. But I can let that slide, the price to pay for an otherwise great episode.

The interesting question -- why did Phlox conjure T'Pol? Jammer points out that it seems like an odd fit, considering how introverted Vulcans tend to be, compared to the extreme socialization of Denobulans.

Frankly, I think Phlox conjured T'Pol *because* of how private she is. Limited interaction means fewer clues for his conscious mind to pick away at. T'Pol's value for privacy and limited interaction is a credible means for Phlox's subconscious to 'protect' the illusion. If Phlox conjured up a more engaging person, he'd likely interact with that person more. More interaction increases the chances of him spotting something 'off' with the other person. If he does, he realizes how mad he's going, and probably goes all-the-way crazy, leading to the demise of the NX-01.

Phlox actually had to be crazy, in order to maintain sanity.

This may sound a bit dark, but as Phlox was waking up Archer, I was kinda hoping for one last terrifying twist where the ship exiting the anomaly was a hallucination, and the entire crew died because he woke them too soon. Alas.

Anyway, great episode. Three stars solidly earned. The concept was solid, and the execution was awesome.
Wed, May 20, 2020, 2:13am (UTC -5)
Rattrap, I thought the same as you - T’Pol being less sociable made it more realistic. The scene where he’s asking her to go and watch the film with him but she wants to read and meditate in her quarters illustrates it. (Also further illustrates that she’s not real - why would she be reading when Phlox is maintaining the engines?)

It’s a rehash of One but I liked it. I do think the Xindi and zombie Hoshi weakened it, though. The noises and shapes were scarier. In Seven’s episode, we didn’t expect her to hallucinate, so the mysterious alien seemed more plausible. In this ep, we knew one Xindi wouldn’t be acting like that, and we also knew Hoshi wouldn’t have deteriorated that quickly if she had woken up. She certainly wouldn’t have gotten into the shower. So it was cheap.

I knew T’Pol wasn’t real from the start though my husband wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember if they’d said more than “humans are affected, denobulans are immune”. I don’t think they had, so Vulcans could have been either, but Phlox wouldn’t have been walking around naked if T’Pol was about, and he wouldn’t have been the one maintaining the engines.

In this episode, was Phlox able to maintain the ship alone because they weren’t at warp? In One, I remember it being a real struggle for Seven. She’s a skilled engineer and the Doctor was minding the crew at first too, right? And that’s a more advanced and I assume more automated ship.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
This Trip/T'Pol thing us so slow, boring and tedious and unnecessary. It holds back the T'Pol character.
Fri, May 29, 2020, 7:11am (UTC -5)
If I saw it in advance the first time I watch is a secret but the second time it was obvious. Now at 3rd or 4th rewatch, it sometimes felt a little long but that is easily forgiven.

In my opinion the the 2 Reasons why Phlox mind picks T'Pol as a companion is that, firstly she is the only person on board with sufficient experience as well philosophical intellectual and ethical capacity to join him. Secondly in many ways she is his counterpart. They complete each other in a way no other persons do.

I am seldom nitty gritty regarding the context but in the Fallen Hero episode V'Lar says that she and T'Pol was the oldest on board. I always considered Phlox as quite old having collected several degrees a in various sciences in combination with the maximum age of 350. Definitely he is the most mature person on board.
Gail NYC
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Very enjoyable! Luckily I didn't see the twist ending coming, which added to my enjoyment.

Carbeterian from 2010, I live in the Bronx too and I remember that snowstorm! It happened just days before I was moving and I had to lug boxes over piled-up snow. Luckily I was only moving two blocks away!

Always love a Phlox-centered episode, and really loved the Easter eggs in there.
Paul C
Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
In the warp engine scene Phlox says

“I’m a doctor, not an engineer.”

A clear nod to McCoy...
Sean J Hagins
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 12:15am (UTC -5)
A very good episode. Since you asked, Jammer, I was totally fooled about T'Pol. Although looking back on it, I did wonder why T'Pol popped out when Phlox was in engineering without any other indication that she was awake before. I didn't take it as her not being there though, I thought it was done just to give the audience a "jump scare"

And speaking of which, I think the only reason the Doctor's subconscious choose T'Pol is that again, it was the only way to fool the audience. If it was, say the Captain, I think I would have been instantly suspicious that he wasn't real.

Another reason why I was fooled is that all the other hallucinations lasted a very brief time, and then disappeared. T'Pol stayed the entire journey. Even the fact that T'Pol could not help him with the warp drive I thought was plot contrivance more than a calculated thing.

Oh, I have a question, so did the anomaly really expand, or was that a hallucination too? I mean even the Warp Drive WAS engaged, but was Phlox dreaming that it was needed, or was it really?

You know, another thing, I actually wondered about Porthos. I guess I could see aliens being unaffected, but I was surprised that a dog would be fine.

Oh, and it was neat that they showed The Court Jester-one of my favourite comedies!

There is just one more thing-I do remember thinking that if T'Pol was awake, why was Travis showing Phlox how to pilot, and Trip showing him engineering stuff. But still, I didn't make the leap of logic (that T'Pol wasn't there)
Bob (a different one)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
Here's an animated gif of Hoshi popping out of the shower if anyone is interested:
Bob (a different one)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
^ damn I screwed up my gif. It's supposed to loop forever instead of just once.
Bob (a different one)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
I think it was a browser issue instead of a problem with the gif. Either way I think it should work now:

Sorry for spamming.
Frake's Nightmare
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play makes phlox a dull boy all work and no play
Neil Mack
Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 7:26am (UTC -5)
I'm with Stef on the Sixth Sense - it was telegraphed in trailers. I didn't watch the movie and said to my wife, that man is dead isn't he, because the boy says he sees dead people!

As for T'Pol, it crossed my mind when I first saw her but then thought, nah, they keep giving Vulcans immunity from abnormalities so she's up helping. But that makes me come to Jammer's question why Phlox chose her... it was to throw us off the scent of her being an hallucination.

At the end I was half expecting the reveal but i still chuckled at the misdirection and this added value to the episode.
Jeffery's Tube
Tue, Jun 22, 2021, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
The similarity to One doesn't mean the idea for this episode wasn't worth doing. There's plenty of worthwhile story to be mined from taking a familiar setup, sticking a new character in it, and then going in an entirely different direction with what happens.

But did the show do that? No.

Since it couldn't have been more obvious that Phlox was hallucinating T'Pol from the moment she first appeared, I thought the episode was going to treat that fact as beside the point and that when Phlox went to wake T'Pol up, we'd realize he knew all along she wasn't really there and he made her up to help him deal with the situation, and that he choose to treat her as being real all along. I also thought that, alternatively, maybe the episode would keep Phlox in the dark about T'Pol not being real even though the viewers were supposed to know it, and use this opportunity for Phlox to have some insights about the imaginary crew members he was making up, like his subconscious mind is working through some things--like maybe Phlox's brain puts it together that T'Pol is addicted to Trellium D, or that Archer isn't dealing with the stress of the mission well, or that he's secretly in love with Hoshi, or whatever. But no, those options are too clever for this show, so Phlox just does the obvious and hallucinates a generic alien attack so we can have action sequences. Typical Enterprise, a decent enough (if familiar) setup that it fails to do anything interesting with. Just stick some pyrotechnics in instead.
Sun, Jun 27, 2021, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
Uh, hello? Why is everyone asking why he hallucinated T'Pol and no one else? He hallucinated many people. He dismissed the humans immediately as impossible. T'Pol persisted because she was non-human, excuse enough for him under the circumstances.

One thing odd about the ending was that his T'Pol hallucination continued after they were out of the anomaly...
Sun, Oct 24, 2021, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
I watched reruns of "Doctor's Orders" as a kid, and zombie Hoshi scared the crap out of me. It's still probably one of the more intense scares in televised Star Trek (before the new shows, at least).

Overall, I do like this one. Good atmosphere, with a well-paced psychological breakdown, as a few other commenters have pointed out, and John Billingsley of course carries the show. The T'Pol reveal is obvious in retrospect but I don't consider it to be a huge problem. Despite being goofy at times it's a solid foray into the horror genre, demonstrating that a bottle episode can do quite well if executed competently.
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
We already did this on Voyager, at least a couple of different times. It's a pretty tired premise by now. I'd say this episode was completely unnecessary. The "twist" ending was also telegraphed way too soon, because Archer's pep talk to Phlox made it clear he was entrusting the entire ship to *one* person, not two. Combine that with Phlox received extra bridge operations training, and the result is that T'Pol's sudden presence awake and monitoring systems makes absolutely no sense. Her appearance midway was enough of a "WTF" moment, that one immediately knew something was wrong. Combine that with the fact that she didn't engage with any physical objects, and the result is that it was *incredibly* obvious that it was not really T'Pol. And I'm not just talking about later when she didn't know how to fix the warp drive and couldn't even help operate controls. I'm talking about pretty early on:

* She didn't eat the soup with Phlox in the galley
* She refused to take the phase pistol from him when they were in the armory (not really logical -- real T'Pol would have at least considered the possibility that there might have been a real threat).

Credit to Blalock for even *walking* in such a way that she seemed more like an apparition than a real person. But yeah, all of this was way too obvious to be effective or interesting. Also, at the beginning, T'Pol seems like she's there because she's supposed to represent the "rational" part of Phlox's mind. But later on she kind of devolves into being the most fearful and doubtful aspect of his personality. A bit inconsistent, that.
Wed, Jun 7, 2023, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
Entertaining ep!

I enjoyed the creepy scary vibe in the ship. It reminded me when a I had a summer job as an overnight security guard and I had to walk around this empty building in the middle the night. Freaked myself out a few times.

I knew something was up with T’Pol but didn’t expect the twist ending. Phlox is great! Bravo!
Michael Miller
Sun, Aug 6, 2023, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
I think what would have made this episode perfect is of T-pol was in fact supposed to be awake with Phlox at first, but then say 2 days in, she started feeling the effects, realized she was completely invulnerable, and then she gave him a quick tutorial on how to operate the ship systems. Then the hallucinations could have been very mild at first, and then really became creepy after he had to put T-pol in stasis as well. That would have resolved the easy giveaways at the beginning. Could have made T'pol not interact with him much from the start (maybe put them on opposite sides of the ship monitoring different systems, so the Doc still feels some effects of isolation, and then T'pol comes to the doctor saying she doesn't feel well and the doctor realizes the distorted space is affecting her Vulcan brain, so he puts her to sleep, and THEN the hallucinations become more frequent and scary!
Mon, Aug 28, 2023, 1:21am (UTC -5)
I thought T'Pol was a hallucination but then she didn't go away after a while so I figured that's not how they wrote the episode. Also if she needed to sleep, why didn't phlox say that in the beginning? Why was it okay for him just to see her there without him saying that she was going to die?

And then I just thought it was all just badly written as T'Pol sometimes is.

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