Enterprise “A Night in Sickbay” (part 6 of 8)
Archer tells Phlox he had a dream, but only mentions the part where Porthos died. Yeah, you probably don’t want to tell Phlox you made freaky monkey love to the sound of his voice.
But Phlox is grim. It seems the outlook for Porthos isn’t good. Archer stares at Porthos, motionless in the premie chamber, and tells a not too interesting story about where he originally got the dog. Something involving his ex-girlfriend’s mom owning a pregnant beagle, blah blah blah. The only part that barely registers interest is that he was part of a litter of four males, “the Four Musketeers”, and hence, that’s how he got the name Porthos. And all this does is make me wonder if this episode would have turned out better or worse if Dick Lester had directed it.
Archer continues on, making a supposedly poignant speech about his love of dogs, all the while showing off the worst case of bed-head ever. Phlox lets it slip that people don’t keep pets on Denobula. Archer is confused, and asks why that dog-like lemur was so sought after and… wait for it.. wait for it… It turns out “their kidneys are considered a great delicacy!” Cue rimshot! That was no ladel, that was my knife!
Enter T’Pol, apparently the Chief of Enterprise Room Service, because she’s carrying a tray with two covered meals. Archer is again snide and obnoxious to T’Pol, asking if eating is part of the Kreetassan’s apology ritual. You know, I always love to see a captain berate his crew for doing nice things for him. It really humanizes him.
But, what’s this? Archer visibly softens here, and actually says “sorry” to T’Pol, and it almost sounds genuine! But lest you think this is the big breakthrough scene where the captain learns some humility, the dialogue is about to disabuse you of that notion.
Again, I really can’t say for sure that this is the worst line in Star Trek history. But surely, it comes very close.
Yep, that about does it for this series. RIP, Enterprise. When all you have left is juvenile gags about the science officer’s tits, you’ve reached the end of the road.
But T’Pol, as in 90% of her scenes, shows no reaction whatsoever. Phlox wanders past with a big “hmmmmm”. Yeah, did you notice that subtle Freudian slip there, professor? I know it was hard to catch. But hang on, folks, because things are about to get way worse.
Showing that the Kreetassans aren’t the only ones being anal retentive freaks, T’Pol says she’s divided their “reconciliation demands” into “specific categories”. Archer gripes, “My only concern right now is Porthos!” Which pretty much proves what she said earlier about his fucked up priorities, but I doubt anyone needs further convincing on this point, right?
Archer once again softens his tone.
It would almost be funny, if it weren’t so sad.
You know, I really think they should have gone farther with this whole Freudian slip angle. In fact, I just got a boffo idea for an episode! Enterprise should have had an entire hour of nothing but Freudian slips!
Trip: What you need is a hot beef injection—I mean, what this ship needs is a plasma injector!
Reed: I’m gonna stick my cock in your mouth—I mean, I’m gonna stick my cock in your ass!
You get the picture. After T’Pol leaves, Phlox is simply delighted that Archer made “two Pillarian slips within thirty seconds!” Pillarian? Wow, replacing a common word with a gibberish adjective makes everything so spacey and futuristic!
(By the way, “Pillarian” is obviously named for the late Michael Piller, who, among many other things, co-created Voyager and co-wrote Star Trek: Insurrection with Rick Berman. Lest you think this was meant as a touching tribute, however, Piller was actually still with us when this episode aired.)
Before teh komedy can reach dizzying new heights of hilarity, an alarm on Porthos’ chamber sounds. Phlox says that Porthos’ pituitary gland has “all but disintegrated”, and now they have to perform emergency surgery.
Phlox says they’ll have to replace his pituitary with the one from a “Calrissian chameleon”. But not the “Karma chameleon”, which will cause Porthos to change colors between red, gold and green. By the way, did anyone catch the subtle Star Wars reference there? Real clever, guys.
Before performing the operation, Phlox bitches about how this is the last Calrissian chameleon he has, and it excretes a toxin useful in treating respiratory infections. Archer—you guessed it—couldn’t care less. And that’s further proof that the captain is putting priority on the life of his dog at the expense of his crew, not that there was any doubt left. And I know beagles are cute and cuddly, and chameleons are not, but is it really ethical to kill an animal just to save the life of another animal?
Phlox has Archer fill up a big plexiglass tank with water so they can “super-hydrate” Porthos, which will minimize the “shock” of the operation. Archer once again throws a tantrum: “You’re going to drown my dog?” Yes, Captain, I’m sure Phlox is doing this just to fuck with you. I’m sure it’s absolutely unnecessary to your dog’s survival, and might actually be dangerous. C’mon, just do it, it’ll be fun!
Phlox says there should be no trouble resuscitating Porthos after the operation, but he does admit to never actually trying this before. When pressed, he admits that no one has actually attempted this before.
Impetuous Archer flies off the rails of sanity once again. He actually grabs Phlox by the arm and yells, “You know, this isn’t some guinea pig you’re working on here! This is Porthos, my beagle! My pal!” My buddy! My homie! You know, I’m actually starting to understand why Archer is so upset. I’d be upset too, if I was about to lose my only friend on the ship.
And then he yells at Phlox for coming from a planet where they don’t even have pets, and the closest thing they have are “furry little things that go well with onions!” Oh man, let me out of this episode! I can’t take the shitty dialogue anymore! Yes, Phlox, you are a complete and utter asshole for being born in a place where they don’t have pets. This is entirely your fault.
In response, Phlox acknowledges that he may be “insensitive” to Archer’s psychotic bond with his dog, and says, “I’ll leave the procedure up to you.” When I first heard this line, I thought he meant, “Okay, you want to be a dickturd about it? You operate on the dog.” But what he actually means is that he’s leaving the decision about Porthos’ treatment up to Archer, which is slightly less awesome.
When we get back from commercial, lo and behold, Porthos (or a decent replica thereof) is completely submerged in the tank. So, I think it’s safe to say Phlox won that particular round of this titanic battle of wills. There are a lot of spinning and tracking camera movements around the two men as Phlox performs the surgery, and both of them are now wearing silver scrubs (I guess somewhere between here and TNG, they switch to the red outfits).
And here’s the thing. We’re supposed to believe Archer is so concerned about his pet that he would risk ruining diplomatic relations with an alien species. Which, in turn, could potentially strand his ship in deep space. I mean, that’s how much Porthos means to him. His buddy! His pal! But right now, during this operation where Phlox is actually putting tools and implements inside the dog’s brain, what is Archer doing? That’s right, he’s talking about how he has the hots for T’Pol. Is it just me, or does this seem slightly wrong?
Archer essentially admits that part of his hatred of T’Pol is his sexual attraction towards her. Because as we all know, there’s nothing hotter than a protruding clavicle.
It’s now 3:44 am, and it’s still irrelevant.
Phlox is dropping a small white object into a hole in the head of the Porthos Puppet, which I guess is a pituitary gland. Archer asks what he should do about his “potential” attraction to T’Pol, but Phlox says to do nothing. He points out that telling T’Pol would have absolutely no positive outcome. He says to simply “be aware” of it, and nothing more.
Then, amazingly, Archer remembers the whole Porthos surgery thing, and asks if there are any possible side effects from the dog having a “chameleon’s pituitary gland.” Phlox says, “He’ll have the ability to blend into his background when frightened.” Archer thinks he’s kidding, and Phlox replies, “Yes, I am,” and lets out a dry, silent laugh, almost like he’s one of those Galaxy Quest aliens. This is perhaps the only moment in this whole worthless episode that’s actually played well.
Then Archer asks a truly bizarre question: “Does your expertise on sexual tension come from professional training, or firsthand experience?” What? Is he asking Phlox about his sexual experiences now? This conversation has gone from pathetic to revolting.
What follows is a lot of exposition about Phlox and his Denobulan species. It turns out that all Denobulans have polygamous relationships, where each husband has three wives, and each wife has three husbands. Out of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, which one do you suppose came up with this particular concept? I’ll give you a hint: At least one of them has fantasized about being with a fifty-foot woman and crawling into her vagina. Any guesses? You only get one. So make it count!
This is mostly just background on Phlox and his five children, which is really only interesting if you like Phlox. To be fair, out of the entire cast, Phlox is the one who came closest to displaying an actual personality. In the first few episodes, it seemed as though he would be Neelix Part II, but thankfully, they managed to avoid going in that direction.
Phlox says he misses his wives, his kids, and “even the other husbands”, which makes Archer wince. Yep, he’s a trained diplomat, alright. So full of tolerance and understanding of other cultures. But Phlox says there’s nowhere he’d rather be than here on the Enterprise.
Archer apologizes for accusing Phlox of being insensitive. Phlox replies, “As I recall, you accused my entire species of being insensitive!” Hah! Stick it to him, Phlox. Phlox accepts the apology, but sticks it to Archer again with, “And to think, T’Pol told me you were incapable of apologizing!” Oh yes, twist the knife, please. I’m enjoying every minute of this. Archer’s mighty brow furrows, and the scene ends.