Enterprise “A Night in Sickbay” (part 5 of 8)
In darkened Sickbay, a caption tells us it is now 1:32 am. It still doesn’t matter.
An alarm sounds, and a panicked Archer jumps out of his bunk. Dr. Phlox says Porthos has gone into anaphylactic shock. Archer helpfully yells, “You said we’d know in a few hours if this would work!” Phlox has to patiently explain that it has been a few hours, they do know, and it’s not working. Good god, is Archer an idiot.
After doing some Whatever Procedure with hyposprays, Phlox informs Archer in a really confusing way that the crisis has passed, for now.
He then asks Archer how things are going with the Kreetassans. Oh, you really don’t want to know, Doctor. Archer launches into another character-destroying spiel that’s basically a regurgitation of everything he’s said in the episode up until now. And there’s one more reason this episode is so abysmal: It’s the same five minutes of lousy material repeated over and over until this thing mercifully ends.
Archer yells that the Kreetassans have the gall to ask him to embarrass himself, by performing elaborate “ritual apologies”. Ritual apologies? I guess we have those on Earth, too. Here, they usually consist of releasing a public statement, releasing another public statement, checking into rehab, releasing three more public statements, talking to Al Sharpton, and then going on Larry King a bunch of times. Or, buying your significant other a $4 million diamond ring (Kobe Bryant version only).
Archer yells, “The fact that Porthos is on death’s doorstep doesn’t seem to bother any of them!” Oh no. He actually told the Kreetassans that his dog was dying? Yep. “Trained diplomat” right here, everybody.
Why did he think the Kreetassans would care? The people on Archer’s own ship barely care. Phlox is no doubt working hard, but do you think he really gives a shit about a dog dying? He’s obviously just trying to prevent his psycho captain from throwing the mother of all tantrums if Porthos dies. (And in that respect, Phlox might be the one person doing the most to help the ship at this point.)
Archer once again screams that the Kreetassans are the ones that should be apologizing, not him. He complains that T’Pol thinks he cares more about the dog than the ship. And Archer has the nerve to refute this? Isn’t it obvious by now?
Phlox suddenly zeroes in on this, wondering why he cares so much what T’Pol thinks. Archer explains that she’s his science officer, and his second-in-command, and she should know how “dedicated” he is to “this mission”—and god knows what their mission is. The people writing the show at the time obviously didn’t have a clue. (What was really funny about the desperate revamp of this show in the third season was when Berman and Braga told TV Guide that Enterprise would now have, and I quote, “a change of mission”. At the time, I remember hoping that this “change of mission” meant the ship would actually have a mission.)
Phlox accuses Archer of ducking his question, which he actually did not, but this stupid plot cul-de-sac has to start some kind of way.
Archer drinks some water. He blathers more self-righteous blowhard jerk stuff about how Porthos has “one paw in Beagle Heaven”. Phlox subtly asks why Archer doesn’t care more about what, say, Trip might think. I don’t know. Let’s call up Trip and ask him! What’s that, Trip? Sanctimonious fuckwad? Okay, thanks for your opinion, we’ll let you get back to sleep now.
Archer babbles about plasma injectors, oblivious to where Phlox’s line of questioning is leading. Finally, Phlox just slams him with “How long has it been since you were intimate with a woman?” Well, there you go. Archer needs to get laid. Actually, that’s the only logical explanation for his behavior in this episode. Still doesn’t excuse it. Heck, I need to get laid, too, but you don’t see me yelling at people for no reason, blaming other people for my mistakes, or threatening to piss on a tree.
Archer is taken aback by Phlox’s question, and refuses to even go down that road. He storms back over to the bed, and attempts to get some sleep.
Up on the bridge, Hoshi talks to a Kreetassan on the viewscreen. And it seems these guys really are anal retentive freaks, because they’re outraged that Enterprise didn’t synchronize their clocks with those of their capital city. The guy says it was a simple courtesy that the Enterprise crew should have known about. So either the Kreetassans are just acting like women, or the Enterprise crew actually should have known about this, and they’re just fumbling their way through dealing with this alien culture.
I’m suspecting it’s the second thing, because it turns out three hours have gone by since they sent their “reconciliation demands”, and Archer has yet to respond. The Kreetassan is really peeved, but in all honesty, I don’t know why he even cares. If I were this guy, I’d think to myself, I’ve got a plasma injector that these loser humans need. If they can’t be bothered to jump through a few hoops to get it, no skin off my ass.
On second thought, maybe they’ve already sold the pay-per-view rights to Archer’s apology ceremony, and now they’re counting on him to come through. Personally, I can think of a lot of people who would pay good money to see the assmonkey humiliate himself.
Down in Sickbay, the hijinks with Phlox and his menagerie start up once again. This time, Archer hears someone spitting out words in a guttural alien language. I don’t know exactly what he’s saying, but I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about how much he loves kittens and rainbows, if you know what I mean.
It turns out to be Phlox, and Archer pulls back the curtain to find Phlox with a net, chasing around some CGI bat-like creature. (By the way, does anybody want to know why the Universal Translator wasn’t translating Phlox’s cursing just now? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Moving on.)
These antics continue for a while, and then we go to commercial. The really unfortunate thing is that the bat wrangling continues after the commercial. Now Archer has the net, and Phlox has an origami bird on a pole, using it as a lure. An origami gag? Is this what we’ve been reduced to? Every time I think this episode couldn’t get more insubstantial, they go and lower the bar on me.
So, Phlox makes the origami wings flap, and makes a weird bird call, and man, is this tedious. And then the CGI bat-thing makes a reappearance, and it attacks the origami, and Archer tries to catch it but is inept with the net—like that’s any surprise. He knocks over canisters of random substances trying to catch the bat-thing, but it eventually gets away from him. Phlox is lying on the ground when this happens (don’t ask) and gets covered with all sorts of random goo.
As the two men stalk around Sickbay looking for the bat, Phlox attempts to subtly return to the topic of T’Pol. Actually, he just blurts out, “Have you thought any more about why T’Pol’s opinion is so important to you?” Smooth, Doctor. That’s what we call the Art of the Segue. He then declares that Archer is suffering from “sexual tension” and that lately he’s noticed “increasing friction” between him and T’Pol. Wait, wouldn’t increasing friction between them help to relieve sexual tension? Never mind.
Archer denies this, and tells Phlox to leave the subject alone. But Phlox persists. His diagnosis is this: “When one person believes their sexual attraction toward another is inappropriate, they often exhibit unexpected behavior! Such as inordinate anger toward comparisons made between their ship and their beagle!” So, that’s it, huh? We’re supposed to believe Archer is acting like an unmitigated jackass because… he’s got the hots for T’Pol?
Was it really worth destroying this character to set up a silly “sexual tension” angle that ultimately went nowhere? I mean, from day one, Blalock and Bakula plainly had no onscreen chemistry, romantic or otherwise. So to anyone watching this show from the beginning, this development is completely random. It only serves as further proof that Berman and Braga never had long term plans for their characters. They were probably going to pair off T’Pol with every guy on the ship, and this was just Archer’s turn.
The thing is, for most of the first season, T’Pol was a symbol of everything Archer hated. He blamed the Vulcans for “holding back” the technological progress of humans, and T’Pol was kind of forced on him, so he spent most of the first season hating her. And now we’re supposed to believe all of that was really sexual tension? Congratulations, guys. Not only have you destroyed the character, but you’ve made him retroactively look like a total boob in episodes that aired long before this one.
The conversation is interrupted by the bat’s reappearance. At the same time, Hoshi enters Sickbay. She easily catches the bat—who didn’t see that one coming?—and pets it and speaks to it in comforting tones, and the bat finally calms down. Hoshi has that effect on many different kinds of mammals, I’m told.
Phlox grabs the bat-thing and scurries off. Hoshi says she’s here to let Archer know that the Kreetassans are waiting for a response. Archer yells, “It’s the middle of the night!” Yes, which is why you’re running around Sickbay with a butterfly net trying to catch a bat. Jackwad. (I’m running out of names to call Archer, as you can see.)
In response, Hoshi says they were supposed to sync their clocks with the capital city. And her body language on this line suggests she’s worried about being physically struck for even passing this information along.
But Archer just dismisses this with a “Thank you, Ensign!” She asks how Porthos is, and he spits, “I’ll let you know in a couple of hours!” Yeah, how dare you show concern for my dog? You… bitch! She leaves, and Archer heads back to sleep. Phlox asks if he’d like to continue the conversation about T’Pol, but just gets a curtain in his face.
And now, if you’re one of the few people who thinks this episode has way too much content, you’re in luck: It’s Dream Sequence Time! This is no spoiler, by the way; it’s obvious in about two seconds that this is Archer’s dream.
The rain pours down in a cemetery. The camera dollies over several tombstones with engravings of dogs, which means we must be in a pet cemetery. But… but… I don’t wanna be buried in a pet semetary!
Phlox is in Archer’s dream, dressed like a reverend, and delivering a eulogy. Yep, this is supposedly Porthos’ funeral. Archer, T’Pol, Hoshi, Reed, and Trip all stand around, dressed in black. They’re all carrying black umbrellas, except for Archer, who I guess is too grief-stricken to care about the rain, or something. There’s also some black guy here. Not sure who he is.
Oh, right—that’s Travis Mayweather, the ship’s helmsman. He gets zero lines in this episode. On this show, it’s kind of a motif.
Phlox’s eulogy is a hodgepodge of different idioms and sayings, in much the same way Samuel L. Jackson’s “the righteous man is beset on all sides” speech was a big mash-up of different Biblical quotes. Except it’s infinitely lamer. Phlox begins, “We are gathered here today…” To get through this thing called life. Electric word, “life”. That means forever, and that’s a mighty long time. But not nearly as long as this episode.
As Phlox delivers the eulogy, T’Pol moves closer to Archer, and there’s a close-up of her rain-slicked hand grasping his. Father Phlox says that Porthos would “never hesitate to offer his paw in exchange for a simple smile or a slice of cheese! Like his namesake, this quadruped believed we should stand together: ‘All for one and one for all!'” This is a reference to the fact that Porthos—as Archer will pointlessly reveal later in this episode—was named after one of the Three Musketeers. And all this really does is make me visualize Gérard Depardieu curled up in the premie box. And wonder how much that would have improved this episode.
And then, as T’Pol and Archer link hands, we hear Phlox reuse his line from earlier, about how people experiencing “inappropriate” sexual attraction towards each other “often exhibit unexpected behavior”. Only this time, it’s in the style of a eulogy, with the same inflections and everything, which is actually a nice touch from the actor playing Phlox, John Billingsley. Now, let’s see him do this scene in the style of a hoedown!
Suddenly, we’re back in the blue light of the decon chamber, with Archer and T’Pol and Hoshi and Porthos. Oh my god, is this episode starting over? Arrrgh no! Get me out of this time loop! Three! Three! Data, the solution is three!
This scene initially plays out exactly like the opening teaser. But then the timelines diverge when Phlox gets on the intercom, because it turns out that in this dream version of the boring teaser, it’s Hoshi and Porthos that get a clean bill of health, while Archer and T’Pol are the ones who have picked up a pathogen. Hmm. Is he sure it’s not really an STD?
Hoshi picks up Porthos and leaves. Awww, Hoshi and a puppy. What more could you want, really?
Once she’s gone, Archer dips his hand into a bowl of decon gel. Suddenly, he turns around to find himself all glittery and glistening, and so is T’Pol. In fact, T’Pol is seen from the back and she’s topless, and ZOMG Famine Victim!!!111!!! You can see all kinds of bones protruding all over the place, and it is so gross. And I wouldn’t be even criticizing her looks if the producers weren’t shoving this in my face as the epitome of sexiness.
Archer and T’Pol proceed to lightly touch each other, completely free of passion, while Phlox’s voice is heard on the intercom, repeating earlier dialogue where he asked Archer about the last time he was intimate with a woman. What does it say about Archer that Phlox somehow finds a way into his sexual fantasies? But more importantly, what does it say about Archer that his wet dreams are completely free of any kind of sexual passion? Eventually, Glistening T’Pol and Glistening Archer kiss, but there’s a flash frame and Archer wakes up. End dream sequence.
Yep, that was fully useless. On Trek shows, dream sequences usually are. I’m pretty sure the whole point of that was to give us a shot of T’Pol half-naked. Because that totally makes up for the dopey script.
For those keeping track, it is now 2:49 am. Clearly, this time counter was designed specifically to make me feel like I’ve spent the whole night watching this episode.