Star Trek: Enterprise
Air date: 11/19/2003
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by LeVar Burton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"This is a screwed-up situation." — Sim, understatement of the year
In brief: Provocative enough to make me think, but far too mired in its frustrating hypotheticals and manipulations.
I have little doubt there are people out there who will love "Similitude" and think it's a standout hour of Star Trek. I will respect their viewpoint but not agree with it.
This is an episode that, yes, deserves credit for trying something audacious. But ultimately, it just doesn't work. In order to get where it's going, "Similitude" resorts to the most blatant audience manipulation of the year, turning the screws of plot in ways that don't quite seem fair. It does not simply depict a can of worms unleashed, but reveals a script where the sci-fi can of worms has been allowed to explode. Manny Coto, who has written a complex and at times thoughtful script, ventures out on a limb, which snaps. There are more questions than the script is able to deal with in a meaningful way. Certainly the characters don't deal with the issues adequately.
Granted, I'd rather see this than a "Carpenter Street" exercise in mediocrity. I like tough questions. But I do not buy this story. The entire show is built on a foundation of unbelievable science, and then it stacks one extreme (and unconvincing) situation upon another. If the episode's theme is about the dangers of using science irresponsibly, then the episode itself is an example of using science fiction irresponsibly. Part of me admires Coto's willingness to plunge the characters into this moral quagmire. Part of me hates that each new situation is based on what seems like an absurd comedy of science errors. The episode is its own quagmire.
Here is the story. Trip is critically injured in a catastrophic accident in engineering. He is left lying in a coma. The only way he can possibly recover is if he has neural tissue transplanted to his brain from a matching donor. There is no matching donor.
However, Phlox has in his medical inventory — which I'm tempted to now call Phlox's Convenient and Magical Chamber of Horrors — a strange "mimetic symbiont" that has the ability to exactly clone whatever organism's DNA is injected into it. The clone lives out the full lifespan of whatever it copies in the course of 15 days, and then dies. Phlox hesitantly proposes that a clone be grown to Trip's age such that the transplant can be performed and Trip can recover. Of course, this means the clone will be dead within 15 days of being born.
Archer cautiously (although not cautiously enough) approves the plan despite the ethical questions, citing the fact that Trip is a vital part of the crew who is necessary to complete the mission. "Earth needs Enterprise. Enterprise needs Trip," Archer reasons. Simple as that.
Well, I'm not a fan of this reasoning. The Enterprise had better be able to function properly without the loss of one man — even the chief engineer — or there should be hell to pay. After all, this is a dangerous mission where any or all of the crew could presumably be killed at any moment. If Trip's function is so crucial, Archer should have competent personnel backups ready to take his place. To have Archer quickly sidestep his ethical questions by way of the increasingly catch-all excuse of We Must Save Earth At All Costs is something that strikes me as slightly fraudulent as presented by the story. The plot manipulates us into this spot where Archer's logic seems to hold water in the interests of humanity's survival. I don't think so; if that's the case, Trip should never be allowed to go on an away mission again, because he's too valuable.
So Phlox clones Trip. Before you know it, the symbiont has grown into a fetus, a baby, and an eight-year-old boy. Phlox names the child "Sim," which is just a little bit disturbing. (Might as well name him "Clone" or "Copy" or "Quad: Charles Tucker IV.")
The next revelation is that the child's memories are passed along genetically. The older he gets, the more he remembers. He gradually remembers everything from Trip's life, as well as everything from his own. I'm honestly not sure what to make of this. It's weird and bizarre and strikes me as, well, unlikely. Unless Sim's brain can process information like a computer, this kid should be going insane from memory overload. He gains new memories at, what, the rate of five years' worth every 24 hours? I don't even want to question the biological aspects of this accelerated growth, so I won't.
I have to admit that I didn't get much from any of the scenes of Sim as a child. The drama exists in another universe, because in my universe I want to comprehend this miracle of biology, while fighting every urge in my mind to reject it outright. (I kept telling myself: This is sci-fi; it's about accepting the impossible.)
But under the surface there's something about all this that somehow feels phony. I could never accept Sim as a character because he was such a bizarre sci-fi specimen and was obviously the object of a plot destined to kill him. The story's science facts upstage the characters and all their choices, and the script throws so many curveballs that some decisions come across as arbitrary.
There's the revelation that Phlox was wrong and he realizes Sim will die if the neural tissue is extracted. This creates a new moral dilemma (while hinting at gross negligence on Phlox's part), but on top of that there's Sim's discovery that an experimental procedure could slow his accelerated aging to that of a normal human. This experimental procedure is almost certain to fail, Phlox says. But try explaining that to someone who wants to live for more than a few more days. Basically, either Sim lives, or Trip lives. But the catch is that even if Sim lives, Sim dies — whereas if Trip lives, Trip actually lives. Are we balancing scales here? Archer might be.
I didn't much care for the extreme swings in Archer's behavior. In one scene, Archer is telling Sim, "We don't see it that way," when Sim believes that he must sacrifice himself to save Trip. But then, a scene later, after Sim expresses a desire to live, Archer pulls a 180 and confronts Sim, basically telling him that he has no rights. Which is it? I would call Archer a hypocrite, but the plot is so murky that even that may not apply.
The confrontation scene, by the way, is about as well acted as anything I've seen this season on Enterprise, with Scott Bakula simultaneously conveying about 10 different emotions in a situation that warrants nothing less than that. Archer tells Sim that he intends to bring back Trip at all costs. "Even if it means killing you." The delivery of that line is spectacular and chilling, but the thing is, I didn't believe it as anything more than a written line. It's so extreme as to be implausible, and opens ethical issues the show doesn't begin to address.
What also bothers me about this scene is its lack of accountability. Archer knowingly gave the order to allow Phlox to open the can of worms, and then Archer shows a willingness to play God when the worms get away from him. Is that the point? I'm not sure, because the writers let him off the hook by having Sim make the sacrifice willingly — a sacrifice that I guess makes logical sense but also seems like an overly neat and simplistic resolution to this mess.
I respect the ambition here, but I can't endorse the end result. Ultimately, I think what bothers me most about "Similitude" is that I had no emotional investment in it because of the endless sci-fi machinations. Intellectually involved? Yes. Emotionally involved? No. And that's a problem. I didn't feel like I was watching Sim make a sacrifice. I felt like I was watching a superficially pithy solution to the ultimate hypothetical situation — a situation that had been compounded by every possible hypothetical complication along the way.
I want to take that leap of logic and explore the underlying issues. But there are no underlying issues here. The fact of the matter is that on a fundamental level I simply refuse to believe Sim can be grown from something off Phlox's shelf. The story obviously wants to draw parallels between its hypothetical situation and real-life issues surrounding cloning or stem-cell research. But the paralells are too far apart. They exist in separate universes.
As for Sim, I find that I can't identify with his plight. His emerging feelings for T'Pol pose a question to us: Is Sim feeling it, or do the feelings really belong to Trip? To my amazement, I realized that I didn't care. The show had worn me down with too many conditions, filling me with too much resistance.
There's so much to ponder here that you might just call it ponderous. You might also say that "Similitude" has too little verisimilitude.
And I don't even want to know what else Phlox has sitting on his shelf. The cure to death, perhaps.
Next week: The Xindi go to Detroit to put a preemptive strike on Eminem's next album.
Previous episode: North Star
Next episode: Carpenter Street
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111 comments on this post
Fri, Sep 21, 2007, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
The science was totally unbelievable. Memories passed on through DNA? But that doesn't matter too much. I had a real emotional connection with Sim. 2.5 seasons into the series, and no other episode has gotten me attached to any of these characters. Well, almost none. I do feel pity for Mayweather, since he's so neglected.
This episode reminds me of that one where Tuvok and Neelix melded into one body. Everyone called him Tuvix, I think. It was pretty much the same dilemma, except the Tuvix episode really took the hard edge resolution. This episode's resolution was a little too easy.
Levar Burton really is one of the best ST directors. I hope he gets to direct one of the movies if he hasn't already done so.
Tue, Oct 16, 2007, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
This......this is just a mental experiment played out with no real emotional impact. coma to thing to clone to solution. Just...meh.
Mon, Oct 22, 2007, 8:29am (UTC -5)
Scott Baluka isn't the best of actors but he nails it here. He obviously doesn't like this whole idea at all, But more then that. He hates himself even though he's totally justified, And Scott Baluka seem manages to convey that well in this episode. It's as much about his character development as it is Sim's very brief life.
It's not so much growing attached to Sim that's the focus but it's more of desperate measures. Even in a desperate situation can it be justified. Is there some things you simply can't do, even if it means extinction of your people. This episode reminds me more of DS9's 'In the Pale Moonlight'. Archer trading his self respect and being able to sleep at night in order to do everything he can to ensure the survival of his species. He may be wrong that Trip is so vital to that mission but in his mind, Trip is.
Wed, Jan 30, 2008, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
And sickbay is turning into a representation of the Voyager universe - where very little is seemingly impossible. And T'Pol kissing Sim at the end - how laughable!
Yeah, sometimes you have poor episodes where the writers essentially failed and didn't think hard enough. I'd rather have that, than a very poor application of science. Too often, Star Trek becomes more fantasy than science fiction.
Thu, Sep 11, 2008, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 15, 2009, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
What does concern me is how the characters (esp. Archer % Phlox) completely ignore the ethical implications of their actions. Star Trek was always as much about exploring moral issues as it was about exploring space. And this episode takes the whole thing and just throws it out the airlock.
Yes, we are in the expanse here. Yes, the stakes for Archer and his crew are high. But that's exactly the point. One of the morals of Trek was always that the ends never justify the means. This episode completely turns that on its head. Which is why I don't think it should be called "Trek" at all.
Thu, Apr 16, 2009, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
So that could have made this story interesting. But alas.
The authors failed here in fact. Archer (once stressed about his sick beagle!) and Phlox are not hesitating to sacrifice Sim´s life, and show the similar harshness as in the episode Dear Doctor, which turned them into Social Darwinists, by letting dictate Nature the rules, while they never accept Real Dictators in other episodes (and on all planets they visited). In other Hollywood movies they would have been the bad guys by now, but not here!
A plot twist could have saved the day, letting Sim live by this experimental treatment, and bury the coma - Trip. Trading places would have put the captain-doctor duo on a high moral level, nobody would have noticed it, Sim and Trip were identical, and the Xindi could be found and defeated, since Sim proved his engineering skills in this episode. But the authors quickly jumped away from such "easy escape", and made the captain & the doctor the grim duo again. Then again, this trading places trick was used before in Star Trek- in Voyager´s episode Deadlock, Harry Kim died, and the rest of the series the parallel Harry lived on. No one protested.
But Voyager had a highly moral captain, ready to sacrifice herself, in comparison with her, the authors made Archer a pragmatic cowboy, and Enterprise a ship to stay away from.
Maybe it reflects the change in the world between the optimistic 90s and the more pessimistic first decade of the 21th century. Maybe they wanted to shock the audience by showing a dead Trip in the opening scene, and let the audience wonder how this crew member would miraculously return, to get this cruel solution as a cheap trick after all.
Who knows. But the feel-good Star Trek seems gone forever. Betrayal to the series almost, and messing around with the hope and expectations of the audience as well.
Thu, Sep 17, 2009, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
The first reason I hated the episode was the bad science. I can stand some bad science, even in Star Trek. To be honest, I've always considered Star Trek to be more science fantasy, than science fiction. That's fine as long as it sets reasonable rules, and it doesn't blatantly break those rules. The symbiote or "absurdus plotdevicious" cloning memories with the DNA doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. I find it nearly impossible to get around that; it's like the breaking the warp 10 barrier in Voyager's Threshold.
And as for the moral debate, BenSisko hit the nail on the head. There was no moral debate. The moral debate consisted of the whole crew completely denying Sim's rights as a sentient being, because it's inconvenient for them. There is no real debate, and anything on the opposing side seems very hollow. Hell, the debate on both sides seems hollow.
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 12:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 2:02am (UTC -5)
Contrast Star Trek with Heroes. Heroes is complete fantasy and cannot be considered science fiction at all. It's watchable because it has decent character development. Never mind that I have to turn off half my brain when I watch it.
Mon, Dec 21, 2009, 12:30am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 20, 2010, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
My main problem with this isn't the bizarre science, although there are probably cleverer ways to clone someone than using magic slugs. I had trouble connecting emotionally with the episode because so few of the characters seemed to give a crap. No one--not even Phlox!--debates or questions the situation. It seems to be taken as a given by everyone except Sim that he deserves to live less than Trip. I would have appreciated some hints that other members of the crew--Hoshi? Reed?--were uncomfortable with the situation.
Equally problematic was Archer's single-minded and pointless aggression. The overly friendly, slightly dumb, slightly goofy Archer of seasons 1-2 got pretty annoying, but the hyper-aggressive Archer of this season is no more appealing. The scene in Trip's quarters where he essentially berates Sim for wanting to live disgusted me.
Thu, Jul 8, 2010, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
This episode made me and my girlfriend cry, because the story was so sad and the plight of Sim so disturbing. I have a degree in cosmology. She is researching neuroscience, specifically MEMORY. If two actual scientists can make the leap, why can't you?
The irony is that even the best scientists out there can fail to see the world in new ways. Only 150 years ago, scientists believed that the human body would not survive travelling at the speed of locomotives; that invasive surgery was impossible; and that radio had no future. Almost 100 years ago, Einstein himself thought quantum physics to be incorrect (even though he accidentally invented the discipline), and atomic energy to be impossible. So if you are unable to predict the future of science then you are in good company. However...
Star Trek has never been anything more than sci-fi for the masses, but generally speaking it never crosses too great a line with sci-fi as to make it unbelievable. What's to say that whatever Phlox injected the symbiont with did not contain Trip's memories? There is enough leeway to say that this episode does not cross that line as much as other "Fun With DNA" episodes, in fact probably less. Ultimately, the idea that it IS "Fun With DNA" is narrow minded interpretation, rather than incorrent implementation. This episode, as far as I'm concerned, does not cross the line. It is only a means to an end. And it's a very poignant end.
If you can't accept weird ideas or new ways of thinking about science at all, why are you even watching science fiction?
Thu, Nov 11, 2010, 2:37am (UTC -5)
I am rarely overwhelmed by a TV show. But the plight of SIM did it for me. As a parent of small children, maybe I was particularly vulnerable to the scenes of babies and the young boy.
Archer's dialog was superb. Telling SIM he would kill him to save Trip (to save Enterprise, to save Earth) reflected how complicated real-life situations really are. What would you do? Personally I problably couldn't kill Sim, while at the same time knowing full well that I probably should.
For me, end-justify-the-means arguments almost never hold up. But what if the whole world were at stake? What if not just your humanity but all humans faced imminent destruction? In that scenario all bets are off.
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
1. I liked the ambitiousness of the plot. Thank God this wasn't another "Archer goes to jail" episode!
2. Call me an old softie over here, but I liked Sim's interaction with T'Pol. I thought it was sweet, well acted and hit all the right marks.
3. I liked the imagery of the barnacle things on the ship. Nice work from the effects department there.
4. I connected with little Trip on an emotional level.
5. Travis finally got a line.
1. As was the case with the first two seasons, Archer is still an idiot. But, now he's an angry idiot who apparently doesn't shave anymore. I'm not sure this is an improvement. I'm getting a very "George W Bush presents Homeland Security" vibe from Archer this season, and the idea of George W Bush in space does not thrill me.
2. If the clone only lives for 15 days, wouldn't whatever they transplant into Trip have a similar shelf life? I actually had a harder time with that part than with the memory thing.
3. It bothered me that the barnacles on the hull came off so easily when they left where ever it is that they were stuck. It sort of took some of their bite away.
4. Archer threatening to kill Sim was very un-Trek-like. I also felt that whole enzyme plot twist came out of nowhere. Everything from the Sim talking about it in sick bay to Archer's psychotic freak out in Trip's quarters was kind of a mess.
5. Phlox's zoo is starting to bother me a little bit too. How many creatures does he have in there? How does he feed them all? How come future trek doctors don't have a petting zoo in their cabinets?
All in all, I'd have to say this episode was a success only because it provoked such polarized responses from the other commenters here. It was far from perfect. But, still, I'd rather see this than most of the mediocre material Enterprise usually puts out.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 9:09am (UTC -5)
I will say this right from the start: I'm not even put off by the pseudo-science that is thrown at us during these 40 minutes, and that says a lot given my field of studies (B.Sc in Biology). Yes, memories that are passed through DNA is very hard to swallow, but there IS such a thing of "suspension of disbelief" and even though I agree (like some of the previous readers commented) Star Trek is usually rooted in science, I don't mind short excursions into the realm of fantasy to serve the plot, for as long as it makes a compelling storyline. The problem here is that said compelling storyline suffers so much from its other flaws, it makes the entire trip like a picnic on Qo'noS. So unpleasant one wishes at least the science were sound.
In fact, I'll go one step further: Watching this episode unfold is like witnessing Rodin sculpt "The Thinker" with a sledgehammer. There is no room for grace, subtlety, or nuance, a concept which alas could easily be applied to the rest of the series.
For starters, the opening scene (before the theme song rolls): it takes less than 40 seconds between the opening shot and the camera moving and stopping on Trip (Sim) lying horizontal in a coffin, supposedly the big "dun dun" moment the writers were aiming for. Uhm... have you ever of building *suspense*? I don't know, perhaps something like Hoshi sitting sadly in the cafeteria, cut to two crewmen talking to each other in the hallway and exchanging memories on the defunct character (something which could be applied both to Trip and Sim, but would not yet reveal the identity of the deceased), cut to Archer writing in his journal about someone dying. I don't know, something *intelligent*! Instead, the short span of time before the annoying music plays says nothing more to the viewers than "it looks like Trip is dead". Just plain lazy!
As for the whole ethical issue, it's the episode's biggest flaw. First, there is the lack of accountability: creating a sentient being and sending him to his death simply for the purpose of saving another one raises a lot of ethical & moral issues. The episode attempts to tackle some of them, but the way it handles itself is less than satisfactory. "Even if I have to kill you" says Archer? Really? Is this what it's come to? Losing one's humanity at the cost of completing a mission, as vital for mankind as it may be? Trek's main strength has always been the high moral character of its captains: Kirk, Picard, Janeway, even Sisko... and yet with Archer we have consistently thrown all that out the airlock in this series. All because of the "increasingly catch-all excuse of We Must Save Earth At All Costs". Jammer could not have said it better.
But even so (and this brings me back to the sledgehammer issue), if Archer had to convey the message he was going to use "every means necessary" to save Trip, even at the cost of killing Sim... could he not have been more *SUBTLE*!!? Could he at least have strongly *implied* it, so that Sim would understand, but not explicitly state it? The writers are obviously going for the shock-effect, but it's so out of Trek-character it was less shocking and more actually disgusting for me. I suppose emanding subtlety from B&B and a series known to include fart jokes and even one "peeing in a cup" in this episode is too much. Finally, I completely agree with Jammer's comment on Archer's extreme swings of behavior (first when Sim believes that he must sacrifice himself to save Trip, Archer tells him "We don't see it that way,"; then later after Sim expresses a desire to live, Archer pulls a 180º and tells him he has no rights). Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to describe it.
I dare postulate that if this situation had presented itself on TNG, Picard would have eventually refused to operate on Sim, citing his humanity as the moral guide. And obviously for the sake of the story, Sim (who at first would have expressed a desire to remain alive) would then have agreed to sacrifice himself for the sake of the crew. Because he *understood*. And because after all, the crew were his friends: he had the memories of the original copy (Trip on this Enterprise), and therefore every meaningful person to the original would have also been meaningful to him. Kinda like it's done here when Trip references his sister, in a much less subtle/creative way.
Such a damn shame.
Mon, Aug 8, 2011, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure what I would have done in all those circumstances, but FWIW I found the characters attempts to deal with them engaging.
Tue, Dec 13, 2011, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
I am considering giving up on this show again (I dedided to back and watch from season 2 onwards to see the supposed improvements) but I just find the main characters so horrible- there is no one with any true trekkian morals, they are all self serving George Bush types. Archer was monstorous in this episode, he is no role model for any viewer- even Janeway was more thoughtful than this.
Tuvix was a masterpiece compared to this dull and ludicrous episode.
Mon, Mar 5, 2012, 1:53am (UTC -5)
I'm sure Archer would be more than happy to be called a murderer if his mission was a success. Small price to pay.
Sun, May 27, 2012, 12:34am (UTC -5)
My reaction to this episode is similar to "The Visitor"...I watched it, scratched my head and found it had some good ideas, some silly ideas and generally mixed execution, only to discover that people were moved to tears by it...
I have to say, if I were to point to the greatest problem with the episode, it's that the character motivations and the acting don't open the doors for me to care about the moral arguments. Add to that the fact that the "debate" (as others have pointed out) is barely presented in the dialogue. In "Tuvix," no one suggested that either Tuvok or Neelix were irreplaceable, and the performances by Lien and Mulgrew especially were so strong and committed, that I cared about the fate of a character created in the span of 45 minutes. Here, we get to see a snap-shot version of Trip's life (a character whom we know) and little in the way of performance lends itself to scrutiny.
I have a big issue with the way T'Pol is portrayed in this episode in particular--what backwater school of emotional repression did she attend to get choked up when Sim confesses a crush on her.
Is this another score by that new Trek composer? I am extremely impressed by his work, it made a mediocre episode palatable.
Wed, May 30, 2012, 8:29am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 30, 2012, 8:36am (UTC -5)
"The utilitarian analysis often rests on imprecise judgements of the utility calculus itself . . . assuming that questions of value can be reduce to a quantifiable amount" (ethicist Donald Brown).
Here we see Archer make a judgement that Trip's life is more important than Symb's. On what basis? They are identical people, so why is one more valuable than another? Because the one is human and the other isn't?
Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 9:17am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
This episode did nothing for me. I could not help comparing to Tuvok and maybe since the other series have done the provoking topics there is nothing ground breaking left for this series.
Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
It was an amazing episode, as in it's probably one of the most shocking things I've seen in all of Trek. But that's not... really a good thing. Once again, it was gripping and thought provoking, but staggeringly cynical and anti-Trek.
Personally I wasn't bogged down by the implausible science. Yes it's one of those cases where it heads more towards fantasy than sci-fi... whatever... they're similar enough. Most scientists have argued that warping space is a bit far fetched too, now look, apparently it's not as difficult as previously thought if you don't mind wiping out the system at the other end. Things change.
But I was certainly depressed and disturbed by the darker than ever nature of the episode. (And also to tears - I did get emotionally invested in it, setting the science behind me). At this rate I'm not surprised Star Trek was put out of its misery a season later - the soul of it is gone. Gone is the "we can find better solutions to our problems and save humanity by BEING human" (something Archer himself said a few episodes back), gone is the idea of humanity turning to barbaric solutions to its problems.
I'm struggling to motivate myself to continue watching the show, but I'm a completionist and will see it through.
I really hope there were consequences to this for Archer. Frankly I think the guy needs to be hauled in front of a court martial because he's a torturer and very nearly a murderer (arguably something similar), but that wouldn't help save his character, only the optimism of the show. He needs... NEEDS to struggle to live with this. So far every time we've seen him tossing and turning in bed it's been excused as things like a bad skin rash. Sorry, no, this man needs a conscience or he's just irredeemable. Even
Mon, Jan 7, 2013, 1:53am (UTC -5)
Like a few others here, I'm not too sure what to make of it.
- Good idea; Poor science.
- Occasionally moving; Occasionally too easy.
But ultimately, I think it's still better than the average Enterprise ep to this point.
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 24, 2013, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
I rate this 3.5 stars.
Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Sometimes you do have to ask people to die to save the majority. We've seen this in Star Trek II, when Spock sacrificed himself, and in a TNG episode where Deanna realizes in a command simulation that sometimes you have to order people into a situation in which they will die. In this case Sim wasn't given any choice.
I agree that Archer is sometimes a little too much like GW Bush, which may be one of the reasons that this show did not do so well, but I liked this episode. I thought the acting was fine. Young Trip/Sim was very, very good, excellent for a child actor; the scenes between Trip/Sim and T'Pol were touching. Sim's telling Phlox he was a good father was touching, too.
As for the holes in the science, well, there are so many holes in the science - or holes in what we understand.
Mon, May 6, 2013, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Instead of the awful "even if it means killing you" scene, Archer could say, Enterprise needs Trip, can you be Trip? Sim says, I'm better than Trip! I'm Trip and Sim. Archer says, Okay, I'll talk to the doctor. (As noted, Sim had proven his engineering capabilities!)
Option 1: Phlox determines that the experimental procedure for Sim is likely to work, saves Sim, Sim replaces Trip. (Trip can either die, or more interestingly, hang around in sick bay. Maybe at one point they can find another cure and we can have a neat few episodes with both of them!)
Option 2: Phlox determines that the experimental procedure for Sim is unlikely to work, Archer tells Sim that he needs one of them and Trip is his best bet. Then it makes sense for Sim to reluctantly agree to sacrifice himself.
As is, Archer again just comes off as an awful person and bad captain.
Tue, May 21, 2013, 2:28am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 7:19am (UTC -5)
Otherwise of course, totally impossible, as every single word in every language has a long history that has taken it to where it is: culture, trends, history, geography etc., all have an impact, and there's no way a universal translator based on decoding syntax could possible decipher that in a few seconds.
As for the ep., I think Jammer was a little harsh, definitely better than the Enterprise standard
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 8, 2014, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 22, 2014, 8:38am (UTC -5)
I also don’t get people griping about “this isn’t Trek”. Star Trek was not always about uplifting stories of a hippie-commie dreamland of the 24th century. It *always* had a darker side, even in the main characters. You also have to remember that this is the very beginning of the Trek universe, long before Kirk and Picard, long before centuries of progress in the Federation. Archer is no angel, but then again he shouldn’t be — he is a person of his time. It’s like whining about a story about the Vikings showing them bashing people’s skulls in.
OF COURSE Archer isn’t the marble god that Picard is, because he’s centuries before Picard and doesn’t have the experience and perspective that Picard has. The Prime Directive resulted from the lessons learned by Archer’s people, but those lessons were learned from *mistakes*. Obviously the crew of NX-01 and later crews had to make those mistakes in order for them to be learned from in the first place.
Archer is also in an impossible situation. Sacrifice Trip for Sim’s sake, and he effectively consigns all of humanity to oblivion. The pressure on him is immense. Is that utilitarianism? Of course it is, and it shows to what extremes human beings in such a situation are being driven. Would any of the posters behaved any differently in the same situation? I doubt it.
So I would have actually been pretty pissed if they magically came up with some solution to Sim’s predicament while also saving Enterprise and Earth with it. THAT would have been the easy and more comfortable route, but it would also have made Archer and Phlox unbelievable under the circumstances. Archer made a stupid decision in the first place that created the dilemma, but he’s only human, not Superman.
Meanwhile the remark that Archer was negligent for only having one top-notch engineer is bizarre. The NX-01 is a small ship only has just so much space for personnel, and has so many different needs, plus they’ve taken on an extra military crew for obvious reasons, so it’s not like they would have had the luxury of bringing along a few extra engineers. We simply don’t know if engineers of Trip’s caliber and knowledge are that commonly available — again this is Starfleet in its very earliest days! — and after all the whole mission was cobbled together as an emergency operation. Hardly as if every eventuality could be planned for. You may as well rip on NASA for not having crammed loads of extra pilots and engineers on board Apollo 11’s lunar module in case Buzz Aldrin got a toothache.
I thought the acting, direction and production were top-notch (and what's with the people bitching about Trip’s accent? I'm from the South and love it). I’d give this one 3.5 out of 4.
I agree with what some of the other posters wrote about some people never being satisfied: This is a classic case of “Enterprise” can’t win and that not even Shakespeare could save Trek from the nitpicking canon/science nerds. Maybe it really is better to let Trek die, not because it’s out of ideas, but because its fans simply can’t be satisfied anymore even when Trek *does* produce something thought-provoking, moving, and difficult.
Thu, May 22, 2014, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Had this been Picard's Enterprise where they could have just gone back to Starbase and picked up another chief engineer Picard wouldn't have been able to force Sim Geordi to undergo the procedure. But faced with what Archer is faced with? That's good stuff.
I didn't like the way that Archer made it seem like Sim had a choice and then totally flipped on it, but the end result was that Archer would have forced him. It was nice (because Archer has been through a lot this year) that the script didn't make him pull that trigger, but it was NOT wishy washy about the fact that he would have and should have, even if it was ethically murky. And that's pretty cool.
Very much an Edith Keeler must die moment. Lot of parallels to the greyest moments that the characters in TOS/DS9 have faced. I like this one.
I dock it a star for the weirdness with Sim getting Trip's memories/feelings for T'Pol as well as Archer's flip floppy. But those oddities can be overlooked since the rest was strong. 3 stars.
Thu, May 22, 2014, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 22, 2014, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
I never liked “Voyager” much anyway and thought most of it was lame as hell — wooden acting, cardboard cartoony characters (Kim, Tuvok, and above all Neelix), way too goody-two-shoes at times. While I’m only in the middle of S3, and while S1 and 2 were admittedly very uneven, I think “Enterprise” is turning out much better than “Voyager” did. Looking forward to the rest and hope it doesn’t let me down.
Sun, Jul 6, 2014, 12:28am (UTC -5)
Watching him decide to give his life for the ship... so moving, and so in character - after all, the real Trip was about to crawl out of a derelict shuttlepod's airlock to give Reed a couple of more days of life in a previous episode.
Any lesser actor, and it wouldn't have been nearly as good. I loved the kiss -- of course, we know Trip doesn't know about it, but T'Pol does, and I'm interested to see if it colors their relationship from here on out.
Archer... eh. I can't get worked up over him or his ludicrous decisions, or how he bounces like a pinball from one viewpoint to another, from understanding to demanding and angry -- there's not much middle ground with him. He can be so volatile and bombastic. This time I actually do think he took a realistic position, however, because of the fate of humanity resting on his shoulders. Once he made the decision to grow the clone, he was in for a pound.
I hadn't thought of him being like GW Bush. UGH. I don't want to think about Bush while watching Trek. Blech.
Sun, Sep 14, 2014, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Archer is tired of making the big decisions and tired of being trapped in hopeless situations. It seems like the Enterprise is running out of luck and the Captain needs a break. I don't think its lost on him that saving humanity might mean killing his friend and it feels right that Sim, in an act of friendship, wants to make this one awful decision a little easier for Archer.
Pretty good episode!
Thu, May 21, 2015, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
More of a success than a failure for me, maybe even 3 out of four stars.
Tue, May 26, 2015, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Similitude is an example of the worst sort of melodrama: deliberate, nonsensical plot contrivances intended to produce contradicting conflicts which are meant to solicit irrational sympathies from the audience.
What makes it all so seductive is the quality of the performances, which lends an air of legitimacy to what is really a very manipulative ball of confusion.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
This statement is as old as the dinosaurs and is only written by people who totally do not understand storytelling. A fiction does not give a writer the right to totally contravene the universes own internal logic. It has a limit. It especially has a limit when the universe in question is our own. Good storytelling has a balance and clever sci-fi is clever. Please, please learn this.
Sun, Jun 28, 2015, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
At the story intro, it was funny how the camera last panned to Mayweather, I thought he might be the one to play dead for the entire episode since he doesn't get a chance to do or so much anyway. Poor guy...
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 6:20am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
When Phlox explained the cloning procedure I cringed again at the ridiculous science.
But despite that I got pulled into the episode and enjoyed it a lot.
I don't think Sim finally volunteering to give his life took away from the moral dilemma aspect, as Archer had already decided he was going to die. It did put a much happier spin on the ending, making Sim a hero rather than making Archer a possible villain.
What did sort of dilute the moral dilemma is that the entire population of Earth would likely perish if they did not sacrifice Sim's last few days or a small chance at a longer life.
If it had merely been Sim's life vs Trip's or Sim's life vs. Enterprise and the lives of its crew the decision might have gone the other way or been more difficult . But 5 days of life for one clone vs the survival of humanity made it much easier to rationalize.
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 1:52am (UTC -5)
Just one quick point on the subjecivity of these reviews. I am astounded that you gave Twilight nearly a perfect score for the very same reason you disliked this one. The convenient reboot of time through some bizarre theory of parasites affecting Archer's brain that could be undamaged through time? It completely spoiled it for me.
Were there better ways that they could've explained the cloning? Yes. Artificial acceleration of the clone's growth would've amped up the controversy and made more sense about its short life span, and I suspect that's what would've accounted for it. It makes the cloning more transparently disturbing and permits the delusion that the clone would never survive and have a life anyway.
DId I regret the "wap this up in 45 minutes" plot? Yes. It would've been much more interesting to drop the extreme acceleration and carry this plot out over several episodes, to let T'Pol's exploration of her feelings play out more dramatically as well, not just leave it ambiguous whether she had a moment of empathy to give Sim/Trip a goodbye kiss. And to play out the possibility that the saving of Sim might work.
Harder choices, less tidy outcomes would've elevated this to significant storytelling affecting the series, but it's well done nonetheless.
Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 7:35am (UTC -5)
The science was pretty good, actually. At least, it was pretty good for Star Trek, which was never meant to be super-hard sci fi.
The only thing that was a stretch, was the fact that Sim got Trip's memories which unfolded neatly and chronologically as he aged. But I can forgive this because:
1. It can be rationalized in many ways. Who knows? Maybe the body does "back-up" the brain state into it's chemistry somehow, in a way we currently don't understand. The raw info-processing power is certainly there.
2. Phlox himself seemed surprised that it happened. In other words, it is obvious that the writers knew that ordinary cloning doesn't work like that.
3. It was completely necessary for the dramatics of the story.
As for the ethics of the episode: I don't necessarily think that forcing Sim to sacrifice himself was morally wrong. BUT what really bugged me, is that none of the good arguments in favor of this course of action, were mentioned onscreen.
And these arguments are many: For one, if Archer sacrifices Trip for Sim, he will likely lose both of them. And it *is* the job of a starship captain to order crewmen to sacrifice themselves for the safety of the ship and/or (in certain circumstances) the success of the mission.
But none of this is even hinted onscreen. It just seems that Archer, once again, makes an arbitrary decision for all the wrong reasons. And this is the only reason I wouldn't give this episode a 4-star rating.
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 12:18am (UTC -5)
I couldn't not think of Tuvix, which I liked a lot, and I do like Enterprise, which I find vastly superior to anything else since TOS, one big reason being the lack of wallpaper characters like Troi, Chakotay, or God forbid, Worf.
And I totally condone John G's outburst about not expecting impeccable Trek behaviour from characters who don't have at least 100 years of Trek hindsight to guide them.
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
And yes, I cried at the kiss. Sweetly handled.
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
With the sole exception of Defiant/Sao Paolo, which weren't put into situations like this regularly.Medical ethics are shakier than we give them credit for. In a sense you could look as Sim as a facsimile of trip and nothing else. Of course it would behoove them to write more thought/rationale into audible dialogue.
The episode where he essentially left a ship with a full compliment of civilians derelict in an act of plunder, now that was a moral dilemma. This was too, and it affected me without thinking too much about the implications of ancestral memory (look up holonomic brain theory, apparently memory isn't even locally stored. I don't know much about it but it didn't ruin Dune for me.) I found the affection for this scion of Lt Cmdr was he? Tucker and it moved me deeply.
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
But that aside this was something of a tour de force - provoking and affecting in equal measure with some really strong performances and many great scenes. "Damn, this is a screwed-up situation" indeed. 3.5 stars.
Wed, Jun 15, 2016, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Still, the episode was sad (it did, at least, evoke an emotion), and it was an attempt at something interesting. It's just a shame that it was let down by what can only be too little thought, care, and time spent.
I also want to say thanks for these reviews. I know they're a decade old, but I'm keeping up with them now partly because it's remarkable how similarly we think. I'm yet to find one that I hadn't independently given the same rating and found the same things to praise or criticise. Thanks again.
Mon, Jun 27, 2016, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
The DNA doesn't include memories argument has an answer--epigenetics. Relatively new data show that PTSD can be transmitted from parents. Our DNA and bodies are far more plastic and adaptable than our current science dreams of...
Our current cloning technology doesn't do this but his do we know it can't?
In addition to honoring stories that spontaneously cause me to laugh or cry, I also honor those that invite vigorous debate. Therefore, this one is 4.
Fri, Jul 8, 2016, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode 3 stars.
Sat, Sep 17, 2016, 12:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 1, 2016, 1:21am (UTC -5)
1. Any Star Trek fan of the original series knows the show has unrealistic superhero ways of saving the all important Crew and the real interesting question is this a cool way that they saved the Star Trek world?
For me it was a strong yes.
The character bonds of loyalty and friendship is the real draw for me in the series because I feel it is something we all would love to have in a perfect world so that is why I ignore the Big Bang Therory arguments of making it work because it would probably take way too long to tell the story correctly in less than an hour.
The topics that are addressed are Sim's complete innocence. Trip is flawed in many ways but Sim is a clone innocence. His life is so short lived that it represents pure innocence which is a great topic to ponder.
I also like the dilemma of whose feelings love T'pol, Trip or Sim and I also love the logic with T'Pol's affectionate kiss because how could she logically evaluate that innocence other than pure. I liked the fact that Sim's short love of his life gave him the perfect goodbye.
I loved Sim's attitude of such a short life better say the most important things to the most important people like calling Phlox a good father since that was truly his reality.
Sim's Sacrifice and his reasoning that was his meaning to life, what he is here for that question we all ponder and see he is part of a greater whole.
I also liked the way they started with the funeral and it didn't take long knowing Star Trek that it was Sim's funeral but it was a cool mix of bringing up a possible cure for Sim and his desire to live and the end result of although his life was only days it was far more significant than most people accomplish in decades of life.
I liked the Porthos scenes with Sim since dogs also have a short life and innocences and I think we all that love dogs can relate to Sim's death like a beloved pet.
The connections with this episode are to many important life's questions and dilemmas.
This world is flawed but it sure is nice to escape to the Star Trek world where they solve all of these mysteries in less than an hour and this episode hit on my favorites.
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 1:09am (UTC -5)
The idea of the grew growing a clone who retains the memories of the original person, and then killing him to save the original person, fails here because of the utter lack of moral considerations or consequences. The episode never seems to consider that Archer and Phlox made a mistake by rushing ahead irresponsibility with a medical procedure that had all sorts of unanswered moral questions. And whatever happened to patient consent in the 22nd century? Are you telling me Trip didn't have a "Do Not Revive" order for this kind of case?
As Jammer says, although I don't know why he didn't object to it in "Dear Doctor," Dr. Phlox seems to be the most charmingly amoral person you'll ever meet. And that amorality as a counterpart to human morality seems to be designed into his character, making him into a sort of Doctor Frankenstein who always has some new and dubious procedure ready to go in what Jammer aptly calls his chamber of horrors. After convincing us in "Dear Doctor" that it could be morally wrong to withhold a cure from sick people in desperate need of help, Phlox convinces us here that it's okay to clone a human being without his knowledge and without any scientific data on what will happen. Um, thanks, but no thanks. This is profoundly dumb and offensive on so many levels.
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
So? I liked it a lot. It has all sorts of problems, but to appreciate it I needed to step back a little.
After all the nitpicking I've engaged in, along with most of you, I can hardly believe I'n writing this, but good SF - let's call it 'speculative fiction' is sometimes about ideas and hypotheticals, and accepting a lot of stuff which is unprovable at best, in order to explore the ramifications of a 'what if?' ('Hard' SF fans will disagree. I understand that, and I do like hard SF, but not exclusively.)
Phillip K Dick wrote some of the most admired SF of all time, but characters were seldom his long suite. Nor were coherent plots. The best Trek, OTOH, nearly always involves solid plotting and great characters - very probably because it's a TV series rather than a novel or short story, and you have to grow to like and believe in these people, or the whole 'enterprise' fails.
This episode is good SF, but maybe it's not great Trek.
Similitude only works if you're prepared to cut the writer's some slack on points of order, to be able to address the 'what if'. I don't know if it's remotely plausible that the events in this story could have unfolded the way they did, but if you accept that they do, accept furthermore the circumstances they happened in, and engage in the psychological, ethical and emotional issues that are produced, it's compelling, sometimes rivetting stuff. For once I'm prepared to forgo the nitpicking and just look at the issues which are thrown up, because they're so powerful.
There is only one thing I can think of which crosses the blood-brain barrier for me, and perhaps I just didn't get it: it seemed that when Sim learned he wouldn't survive the procedure, this was a qualitative, not just a quantitative game--changer, and not just for him but for Phlox, who almost grew a conscience (though I now suspect Phlox's conscience is a bit of a chimera). As I understood it, everyone knew from the outset that the symbiont was born to die in 15 days. That was the whole crux of the ethical dilemma from the get-go. To me, learning that this was going to happen slightly sooner didn't change the big picture that much. Did Archer and Phlox think this turn of events had made them murderers? Sorry, they crossed that bridge and burned it when they decided to initiate the process in the first place (may I add that Phlox's scenes with the baby were probably the most chilling moments I can recall from Trek. God, if there was still doubt after 'Dear Doctor', these moments put him up there with The Doctor with his ethical subroutines removed, or the dentist from 'Marathon Man')
I really liked this episode because it hit me on an almost visceral level. It was very emotional, and it had the ring of truth to it, even if it were for all I know, impossible.
I don't think I'm going to judge Archer. I wish he'd have had a few more obvious reservations, and earlier than he did, but the stakes were enormous.
What might be a better question, at least from a Trek fan's POV, is have the writers gone too far?
Funny how DS9 always gets called 'gritty'. It is my favourite series, but I never thought of if in terms of that adjective. If DS9 was gritty, what does that make this episode? A lot of you probably have an answer to that.
Sun, Apr 30, 2017, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I think Similitude was one of the best episodes of Enterprise, and that Enterprise as a series is very underrated. Archer was a bumbling fool due to being the FIRST, does anyone expect an intrepid novice to behave any differently?
For Chrissakes, most people sincerely believe in magical gods that created the universe from nothing, yet people rank on silly Star Trek stories that are simply STORIES from the mind of man.
That's why they call it "science fiction"; simply enjoy the STORY - anyone who actually thinks that "warp drive" or "transporters" will ever exist in any universe has lost contact with REALITY, just like those who think religious dogma is fact.
Sun, Apr 30, 2017, 9:25am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
There are a number of plot holes here - how the ship can't have a replacement for Trip on such a dangerous mission, how Phlox effs up with the idea that transplant won't kill Sim (unacceptable bumbling on his part), how Phlox even has one of these symbionts sitting in a jar in sickbay, and how Sim just agrees in the end because he doesn't want to live his life in a shuttlecraft out in space (why not just run around the ship and force Archer to basically kill him).
Still despite all the flaws in "Similitude" (agree with all the arguments Jammer's review makes) - I found it an engaging hour of sci-fi. It is conveniently resolved at the end - for Archer's benefit - as are many Trek episodes. And it does attempt to push the emotional buttons on love (T'Pol kiss at the end -- which I thought was ridiculous but some may think it's a nice touch I guess) and honoring the sacrifice of Sim (firing him off into space).
For me the episode just gets up to 3 stars. You could see the ethical issues coming and I didn't expect the episode to deal with them well, but it told a good story. I liked Bakula's acting here - his more resolute/pragmatic self which is quite different from S1 and S2.
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 24, 2017, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
This time, I agree with those who said that Archer's spoken statement could have been less rude than "I musk kill you anyway". At least, I liked the detail of the unshaven, weary looks of him. Kind of visual indication of his stressed and somehow, remorsal state of mind.
I loved the final hearth - melting of T'Pol and the tasteful goodbye kiss. It was really touchy.
It was indeed a sad story but I believe that despite his short life span, Sim had a very, very intense one and it is at least a little consolation.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 9:40am (UTC -5)
To me , this was an episode that jumped the shark.
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Every time a human life is create people know it will die. I don't think lifespan is what makes a life worthwhile (a life that lasts 100 years isn't necessarily more worthwhile than one lasts 10 days).
As someone pointed out near the top of the thread: the decision to create this life is analogous to parents who have another child in order to provide a tissue donor for one of their other children. I understand people may feel uncomfortable about that, but as long as the parents will love the new child, I have no problems with it. Similarly, I have no problems with the initial decision to create the new life in this episode. Again, I must emphasize: quality of life is not determined by lifespan!!!!
If they would have stuck to that premise, this might have been a strong, poignant episode, as we could watch a human lifespan play out over a relative blink of an eye (would have been even better if they gave him a lifespan of a few months, and had his life play out over half a season). The idea didn't need a forced conflict.
Of course, they had to pile on all sorts of twists & turns: DNA memories*! Now the procedure will kill Sim! now maybe there's a procedure to make Sim live a "normal" lifespan!
I didn't dislike the result, although I agree with some of the problems others have stated. The biggest problem is that all the twists took away time to really absorb & dwell on the ideas or to give much characterization (with an idea that opened the door for a lot of characterization). I'd give the episode 3 stars.
*They could have easily gotten away with not using DNA magic. Just say that the symbiont had some small amount of telepathic powers that let Sim absorb some of Trip's memories. Telepathy is a magic that's been in Trek a long time!
Mon, Jul 31, 2017, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 13, 2017, 5:36am (UTC -5)
Scientifically or not, the most irritating thing was that due to the story plot it had to go very fast. I accept the cloning but growing something from 0y to 35y in 8 days was "unrealistic".
Though I think it was more about the moral dilemma. And it was at least three visible. Plox who used a dubious method, also admitting leaving out the option for a normal life span. Archer prepared to commit a "murder" and T'Pol's very mixed feelings which she for the firs time showed. But was the kiss her possibility to show her own feelings or was it a final logical gift to someone who loved her and scarified himself.
I join the comment from Mallory R. "Perfect science fiction story."
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 10:28am (UTC -5)
And Phlox never says with any certainty that Trip's memories are coming through in his DNA. He just hypothesizes it. I prefer to think that the clone had some sort of telepathic link with it's original donor, like someone else mentioned earlier. Fixes all the stupid science stuff pretty well. Telepathy is accepted in ST very readily. And they never say for sure how it's happening, so telepathy sounds good to me.
Once they find out he is getting Trip's memories, that doesn't really change anything, besides providing some scenes of Sim interacting with the crew, it's still a very simple choice. At least that's how I see it. There is a chance that the treatment they talk about may save Sim, but maybe not. So there are 3 options: Either 100% Trip lives and 100% Sim dies, or 100% both Sim and Trip die, or 100% Trip dies and 50% Sim maybe lives, or maybe not. The only logical choice is, Trip lives and Sim dies. Sim's lifespan also doesn't even matter in the slightest to the choice.
Say you have 2 children. And someone is holding them hostage with a gun. They give you 3 choices. They will kill one and let one live, or they will kill both, or they will kill one and shoot the other in the stomach with a chance they may either live or die. Obviously you are going to pick the first option. Guaranteeing that one will live. Why would you possibly pick one of the other 2?
The only real moral/ethical dilemma in the episode was whether to create the clone in the first place. The dilemma was, Trip dies, or a clone that lives 2 weeks dies. That's it. Once that was decided, any dilemma was gone. It had to die, naturally or otherwise. Simple as that. Should they have created it in the first place? I think so. Otherwise they would have lost their Chief Engineer, and they are on a mission to save the entire human race, remember. One clone that only lives 2 weeks and dies anyway is not so great a sacrifice to save our whole species from extinction.
And anyone comparing this to the Tuvix episode needs to have their head examined. Janeway flat out commited murder in that episode.
For Tuvix the choice was like this. You have 2 children, but they both die. Then you have another child. Would you kill that child to bring the other 2 back to life? Of course not. Well some people might, I suppose. But I would imagine that 99% of people wouldn't do that. There is a distinct choice to be made with Tuvix. Either 100% Tuvix lives and 100% Neelix and Tuvok stay dead, or 100% Tuvix dies and 100% Neelix and Tuvok come back to life. One is leaving things be the way they are, the other is murder. And noone had even died technically speaking, they were just merged together, so that's even worse I think. They were both still there and alive in a way. Nothing bad would have happened had Tuvix lived.
Janeway chose murder, she did it because she wanted her friends back (why she would want Neelix back I don't understand, but whatever). Archer made a tough ethical decision to save his engineer, and possibly the entire human race, by cloning Trip, and then by picking the only logical choice that existed. The 2 aren't comparable.
3 1/2 stars from me.
Sun, Oct 22, 2017, 9:39am (UTC -5)
DNA memory is not good science, but it doesn't bother me more than teleport, warp motors or instant phone calls between people separated several light-years apart.
I expected the clone to be flat-minded or disrespected, but he turned out to be tender, a genius (like the real Trip, I guess) and treated by all like a family. I loved this, and how he actuallt became a good engineer and saved the ship once.
I hated the "I'll kill you even against your will" speech from Archer, but I guess he thought twice later and wouldn't have done it without Sim's permission. He actually waits until Sim decides, in the end.
This is harder than classic Trek, but I like it because it shows evolution: 23rd century standards aren't ready yet, and they can't appear out of the blue, there must be initial doubts.
It's clever to show how Archer (and Enterprise) evolve from their era (close to our G.Bush time and a world war) towards a better future: the 23rd century Trek standards.
This moral development sounds to me more interesting than an immobilistic saint approach:
Archer starts the Xindy arc and the Sim episode really darkly, but he becomes more understanding (and more Star Trek) in the end. This is what a prequel should be
I expected Sim to volunteer, in fact: he's brave just like Trip is. And I expect Trip to disagree with such an experiment happening without his consent.
One personal touch: two years ago, I attended a medical meeting where my father was told his cancer had no cure, chemo was not an option and only strong painkillers were available. He behaved basically calm, but his skin went gray and his gaze and voice changed nervously, like looking for a way out and not finding it.
The scene where Sim requests a treatment to extend his life, portrayed the same situation perfectly. Good job by the actor (Connor/Trip/Sim) and by makeup department. It twisted my guts.
I loved Sim overcoming this horror to become a hero, his engineering skills (not just a spareparts container), and T'Pol being sweet to him.
I just missed some serious research to extend his life, and some kindness from Malcolm.
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 6:40am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer; 'Similitude' held my attention but I wasn't emotionally invested. The performances were great all around, though, and I respect Archer's determination to do whatever it takes to save one of his crew and stop the Xindi.
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 10:15am (UTC -5)
(a) the idea of a clone going through a full human life cycle in 15 days - it doesn't really matter if you kill him to save Trip, he's going to die anyway
(b) the idea that Phlox thinks he could have done the transplant without killing the clone and then realizing too late he was wrong - serves to put the best possible gloss on Archer's initial decision to do the cloning in the first place
(c) the crud accumulating on Enterprise's hull that puts the ship in mortal danger - they really have to go with the procedure or else everyone will die SOON
(d) the ludicrous notion that Sim inherited Tripp's memories--it basically means Sim is Tripp and not someone with the mentality of a newborn infant, so he is given character, we respect his courage and feel sorry for him.
Basically this episode took the easy way out so characters can do horrific things without recognizing it. Think about how the episode would have played out if instead of this ridiculous cloning scenario, it turned out a crew member could donate their organs to save Trip, and it came down to Archer ordering them to do so, even if it meant killing them. That would have real consequences, both for the characters and for the viewers' ideas about them.
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Most people would say yes.
Would you give up your (clone) life to save your own (original) life?
Would you give up your (original) life to save your own (clone) life?
Yes and yes.
No moral dilemma.
Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 28, 2018, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 7, 2018, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
The bad science, eh, its star trek, treks got a lot of gibberish science (I do however rue that my grand prediction of "higgs boson" abuse in ST:DISCO hasnt come true). The details should serve the story, not the other way around.
My problem is that the premise is a total ripper, but the resolution is monsterous. Symb isn't wrong, what is proposed is murder. This episode has never sat well with me for the same reason Tuvix never has. Some ethical choices are too big, and some crimes too monsterous, to yield to crass utilitarian thinking.
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 6:52am (UTC -5)
Think all the actors were great, particularly Billingsley and Trinneer. Billingsley does a tremendous job of showing in his very few scenes his journey from thinking of Sim as an organ pool which makes him a bit uncomfortable to loving Sim and being horrified by what he needs to do. Trinneer also walks the line very well between making Sim very like Tucker but a little bit less confident and more alien.
I burst into tears at 'You were a hell of a father'.
The ethical questions are so huge that it's almost impossible to judge, but I did think the episode did an excellent job both of hearing people out and showing that they were doing something they hated through grim necessity. Echoes of 'In the Pale Moonlight'.
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 15, 2018, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 15, 2018, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Archer can be pretty amoral when it suits him. Not good for a Star Trek captain.
Mon, Jul 16, 2018, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
"when it suits him"? .... circumstances didn't have anything to do with his decisions here?
Thu, Aug 9, 2018, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 9:23am (UTC -5)
1) Sim - child's thick accent - I'm not an English native and sometimes couldn't understand a word he said.
2) I cannot believe that noone predicted the moral consequences of keeping Sim conscious amd having him around, knowing him, getting emotionally attached and having to explain him his purpous and finally, with all that bagage, kill him. Why couldn't he be just sedated or kept in a coma or something and be harvested without ever having to wake him up. That also bothered me with Tuvix.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 30, 2020, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
By the end, the clone is expected to just meekly submit to be killed and harvested for his tissues so that Trip can be revived. So what exactly is this episode saying? Sentient life forms are now expendable if it helps the cause? I know this isn't Picard, but this is out of character even for Archer.
Bad writing, implausible story, no philosophical reflection whatsoever. This isn't just "not Trek," it's the Anti-Trek. It also doesn't advance the larger story arc of this season. Totally worth skipping -- zero stars.
Sat, May 30, 2020, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 8:00am (UTC -5)
People are again picking apart things as unlikely. Of course they are-it's just a TV show!
The memory thing would have to be there, or Sim would be an adult with the brain of a 10 day old baby. I don't want to see Trip drooling around the bridge and fouling his clothes!
Fri, Apr 16, 2021, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 2, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
"The NX-01 is a small ship only has just so much space for personnel [...] it’s not like they would have had the luxury of bringing along a few extra engineers.,"
No need for any extra crew, just a better one. NX-01 has a number of engineers on board, one or two of them should be capable enough to take over.
"We simply don’t know if engineers of Trip’s caliber and knowledge are that commonly available"
Hard to believe he's the only one and the mission of such importance should not have a problem with recruiting another one. Weren't there another NX ships being built? There would be some engineers preparing to work on them.
"You may as well rip on NASA for not having crammed loads of extra pilots and engineers on board Apollo 11’s lunar module in case Buzz Aldrin got a toothache."
A "slightly" different stakes.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
I also thought of Tuvix as soon as Sim decided he wanted to live. I really disliked Tuvix (the episode... and I guess the guy), but I thought it had more substance than this.
That said, I did think the acting by Trinneer and Bakula was surprisingly good, given the crumminess of the plot. They did a better and more affecting job than this episode deserved. That is particularly surprising for Archer, who is so 2 dimensional. So it wasn't all downsides (but unfortunately, their efforts weren't enough to make this good).
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Obviously I'm in the latter category. You'll get no disagreement from me that the acting from Trip and even Archer was really great (as I mentioned): I guess one's mileage varies on how much that lets the problems with the episode off the hook. I would dispute that it's nitpicking when there were ways to set up the central conflict that involved fewer contrivances and avoidance of important questions raised.
For one thing, I'd revise, my comment above that Trip and Sim were totally interchangeable: as other commenters pointed out Sim was innocent and lacked artifice or emotional baggage (like going off on Vulcans for reasons that I never caught) but had all his best personal qualities and apparently was also a genius at fixing the ship. Obviously T'Pol was a fan of his (Sim's): why wouldn't she step up to advocate for him and object to Archer's actions or urge him to figure out another solution-- like this enzyme they brought up and then disposed of minutes later, so what was the point of that?
Right, because there was no other solution and no one ever wanted to find one. He existed for the sole purpose of this organ harvest and was even aware that his lifespan was absurdly short. That was a done deal from the jump and despite all the gyrations they went through to create this possibly *more* likeable Clone Trip who wanted to live (even letting him work as chief engineer?), Archer, T'Pol, Phlox, Hoshi et al. had no intention of ever letting him survive. I thought that was pretty gross and depressing. But I will concede the acting was definitely good :).
Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 15, 2021, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
I, Sim, fiend for Blaylock's soup coolers therefore I am Trip:
Aw, Sim, you were born in the wrong century and attained the wrong rank:
Wed, Oct 12, 2022, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Furthermore... I have other questions:
1) Why was this trick never pulled for other crew members? This reminds me of the Voyager episode when Neelix was revived from the dead using Borg nanoprobes. Wow... how convenient... we have resurrection technology just sitting around that only gets used once in the entire series on our preferred character!
2) I'm a biochemist. The Enterprise era is 2150. You're telling me that neural tissue couldn't be cloned through some other means? All you'd have to do is impregnate a de-nucleated cell with neural stem cells and you'd get neural tissue. Add an enzyme catalyst in a growth medium and you'd get *a lot* of it. We know how to do this in the year 2022. Phlox can regenerate cellular damage caused by radiation and he can cure cancer, but he can't clone replacement brain tissue de novo? It makes no sense. He is super advanced when it suits the plot but he is in the 1950's when it doesn't.
3) Why is Trip so "critical to the mission" that he is worthy of this treatment but other crew members who have been maimed and killed haven't been? How is there no backup crew to replace Trip's functions as they undertake this perilous mission into the Delphic Expanse? It would have been more believable if Archer just said he wanted to save his good friend and leave it at that. He's already violating all medical ethics, so more bias wouldn't hurt.
4) If the cloning function of the symbiont is so secret that hardly anybody knows about it, then how does Phlox know? How is he, as a licensed physician from Denobula, even permitted to do such a thing? Did he obtain the symbiont through black market means? There are so many unanswered questions on this aspect alone. A few extra lines in the script could've remedied this gaping plot hole.
5) How can Phlox be so super ethical in some episodes but allow ethics to go out the window in this case?
6) How can Archer allow a fully functional and sentient copy of his friend to run around the ship, interact with the crew and form social attachments while knowing he will prescribe its death within 15 days? Talk about "cruel and unusual"!
7) Why does NOBODY on the crew have a problem with this? These are Starfleet officers. "The mission" is not excuse enough.
It seems like a lot had to be thrown out the window to drive this plot. I agree with Jammer, it's too unbelievable. If something this unethical could happen in the real world, I guarantee you that the clone would be kept in isolation and not allowed to run amok. The science doesn't add up, even for science fiction. The state of medicine in 2150 would be so advanced that this symbiont would be unnecessary.
Wed, Oct 12, 2022, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
The problem arises when Trip becomes aware that an experimental drug could extend his life. Phlox and Archer aren't willing to try it because if it doesn't work, Sim will have aged beyond the window of opportunity for doing the neural tissue transplant to save Trip. Archer decides that it's better to hedge his bets on definitely saving Trip vs. risking life extension for Sim that may not work and then both Sim and Trip would be lost. Archer makes it clear that he would be willing to violate the rights of a sentient being and commit gross medical ethics violations to save Trip, for reasons that don't really add up.
The ethics work within the confines of the events of the plot. It works because Sim does consent, in the end. That's how the writers got past the ethical dilemma. If Sim didn't give his consent in the end then we would have a very different outcome. In reality, it shouldn't matter if Sim's life extension wasn't guaranteed. He would be a sentient being refusing to consent to a life-threatening medical procedure. Phlox would be obliged to obey.
To put this into perspective, even when it was believed that Sim could survive the neural tissue transplant, he still had the right to say no. But this is where the ethical premise of the script fails. Nobody thought to ask in the beginning: "What happens if clone-Trip says no to surgery, even if it's not life threatening?"
They don't discuss the rights of this sentient being that they're creating before it is created. The conversation is never had in the entire episode and that's why it's a bad episode. The Federation may not exist yet but there are still multiple sentient alien species already working with humans, so clearly rights extend beyond humans. I find it hard to believe that Archer, even in his "mission mode", would be able to put aside 22nd century ethics here.
What happens if a "more important" crew member is in peril and another crew member of less important status has something they need? Would Archer make a similar gambit based on "mission" priorities? The way "Similitude" is written, that door is technically left wide open.
Consider that Archer's mission is to save Earth, yet any other Trek series would at least have the conversation that Earth has to be worth saving -- meaning, the values of Starfleet and humanity. If we toss all our principles out the airlock, including valuing other living beings, then what are we really saving?
This episode was a missed opportunity on many levels and is a reason why Enterprise flopped. They always took the easy way out of interesting philosophical dilemmas, then had no follow up, even though philosophy is the driving force of Trek. It's supposed to use science fiction and aliens to explore the human condition. Otherwise what's the point? It's too bad, really.
Fri, Dec 2, 2022, 1:28am (UTC -5)
Yes, the biology is ridiculous. As is warp drive, the transporter, and time travel (which, the Vulcan Science Academy has declared "impossible"). Yes, the biology is contrived to fit the plot. As is time travel ("Twilight", the Temporal War arc).
What happened to the impulse drive? Or even the thrusters?
The physics is ridiculous. F=ma. Enterprise isn't a block of wood on a desk. If you push it, it moves. The harder you push, the more it accelerates. There's no "threshold". Ever watch a tiny tug move a giant oil tanker? To add insult, a "dyne" is a very small unit of force. So, when Malcom says "3 kilodynes" while piloting a shuttlepod.... that's less than my pinky can exert. The Saturn V had 33 TRILLION dynes of force....
And, sure, no one should be irreplaceable. But we don't get to live in the idea world, we live in the real world. And, knowing the stakes, not knowing what the future will bring, and knowing that Enterprise might be on a one-way trip..... yeah, you really can't afford the risk of losing any key staff. Which, of course, means no stupid detours to play cowboy. (I note that during WW-II, there were numerous assassination attempts on high-ranking enemy officers -- some people truly are irreplaceable.)
So... why did I like it?
Because it puts Phlox and Archer through the wringer. And I found both portrayals convincing. Phlox *clearly* didn't like this option -- but his job was to present *all* options to Archer.
And Archer -- he literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders. So when he goes from compassion ("We don't see it that way") to killer ("Even if it means killing you"), Bakula sells it and I bought it.
What are Sim's choices? Even assuming the experimental enzyme won't work, Sim is within his rights to refuse. On the other hand, how would he live with himself those last three(?) days. How does he stay with a crew who know that he's let them (and by implication all Earth) down? What would Tripp do? Don't the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one? (ST:TWOK)
Had Sim refused, Phlox should have refused to operate. And Archer's threat to kill Sim would really cross a line that probably should not be crossed. And (SPOILER ALERT) will cross in "Damage".
Finally (a soapbox I've been on before), there's a lot of claims about "Trek morality" and how the ends never justify the means. TOS and TNG were safe galaxies, and when there were real threats the writers gave Kirk ("The Changeling") or Picard ("The Best of Both Words") rabbits to pull out of their hats. In the Dominion corner of the galaxy, the writers didn't give Sisko the rabbit ("ITPM"), and he had to make ugly choices to survive (I fully support his choice). "Trek morality" is great in a "safe" TOS/TNG galaxy -- it's extinction in a Dominion galaxy. I guess you can say "the writers should always have a rabbit handy for our heros"... but that gets boring fast. And I don't believe the real world always offers up rabbits....
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 12:13am (UTC -5)
When Trip dies in the last episode, how come Phlox isn't smiling and holding up the clone blob?
Wed, Apr 19, 2023, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Trinneer, Blalock, and Billingsley are fantastic in it. Blalock was still being forced to walk around in skin tight clothes even when other women on the crew are not, but she delivers without blowing the Vulcan expectations of trying to be stoic, but wtith small cracks to suggest that she is less than 100% in control of her emotions. Trineer has evolved his character with the limited writing, and Billingsley outshines them all. The epsiode has things to offer. Sim's scenes with T'pol were fitting, and his final moment with Porthos was a nice touch.
As for that final scene between Sim and T'Pol, it is SO misread here. Her character was evolving anyway, but she has had her mind forced into a meld, suffered in the expanse, and is probably unable to contain her emotions. Her final scene with Sim was NOT something she had to struggle to do or muster up – far from it. She has mostly likely wanted to explore her sexuality and is attracted to Trip, but she could not do that with the real Trip, so she gets her chance to do something that no one else would ever find out about – to act on her attraction. Loved it.
Yes, the writing was far from perfect, and the central plot was destined to end with a dead temporary copy if not a clone that might have survived. I am surprised that so many people focus on the clone being allowed to die his expected death without an experimental attempt to extend his life span at the expense of Trip. Clones of this nature are the stuff of fiction generally and the idea that all of the clone's engrams could be copied into the "clone". This goes far beyond cloning as we know it. This "clone" is, as the plot runs, based on the idea of more than a regenerated being that will grow from tissues and genes into a new being with the same genetic material. He is a temporary holding for Trip in a temporary body with Trip's memories and cells. And I doubt anyone would be reacting so harshly to the episode if it was about being able to create a copy after the real Trip died.
Does this make it necessarily less troubling morally? To me, there is enough of a difference, and enough of the story to make it watchable.
And the scoring of it was really touching.
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