Star Trek: Enterprise
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
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
76 comments on this post
Wed, Oct 24, 2007, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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!"
Sat, Dec 5, 2009, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 8, 2010, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
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)
Tue, Dec 28, 2010, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 1:05am (UTC -5)
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".
Sun, May 8, 2011, 9:38am (UTC -5)
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 sfdebris.com: "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)
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)
Wed, Nov 9, 2011, 6:03am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Boy, I really butchered that sentence didn't I?
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
It was an alright episode, but the pacing was far too slow. I kept falling asleep.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 10:39am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Thu, Jan 10, 2013, 7:07am (UTC -5)
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)
Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Are you suggesting that I read the manual?
Fri, May 24, 2013, 4:29am (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).
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)
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Harbinger was better than this pile of poo. Just wow, man.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Apr 6, 2015, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 1:42am (UTC -5)
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 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)
Sat, Apr 30, 2016, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
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)
Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 7:58am (UTC -5)
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)
"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)
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 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)
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 6, 2017, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
(simulates masturbation to bi-labial fricative accompaniment)
Worst episode of the season.
Sun, May 14, 2017, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
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 Alien...you 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)
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jul 3, 2017, 9:23am (UTC -5)
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)
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 4:36am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 1:04am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 12, 2018, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
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)
Mon, Sep 24, 2018, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
I wonder he if included almost shooting the captain's dog in his official report.
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 5:00am (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 12:08am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Fri, May 29, 2020, 7:11am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
“I’m a doctor, not an engineer.”
A clear nod to McCoy...
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 12:15am (UTC -5)
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)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Sorry for spamming.
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 7:26am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 22, 2021, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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)
* 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.
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index