Story by: Maria and Andre Jacquemetton
Teleplay by: Maria and Andre Jacquemetton
Directed by: James Contner
Enterprise encounters a pre-warp ship with two astronauts on board who
are sick. Archer decides to go to the aliens' planet to help as it
seems there is a epidemic there. Meanwhile Dr. Phlox has received a
letter from his human counterpart, Dr. Lucas, who is posted on
Denobulan thanks to the Interspecies Medical Exchange program. Phlox
narrates his reply to Lucas throughout the episode and as such we hear
Phlox' thoughts about humans and how he deals with a dilemma he must
This is a slower-paced episode than most I've seen in a long time yet
it is well-paced nonetheless. We basically shadow the doctor as he
goes about his daily business until he is given the task of "curing"
the ailing Valakians. We get shades of the Data-like character as he
observes how humans react compassionately even to fictional characters
in a movie. A little note here about Trip and how he denies crying at
the movie. I really liked this and love this character but I
While it's interesting to see how the doctor views humans (we even get
a little romantic interest for him, Kelly Waymire as crewman Cutler),
I have to say this part of the episode was boring. I don't really
like the character of Phlox very much, so for me it just didn't click.
I found Cutler's "romantic" interest in Phlox a bit difficult to
believe as well. I shouldn't say I don't like Phlox, it's just that I
don't care one way or the other. I guess I'm just tired of the
commentaries on the human condition and of these types of characters.
Still, at least these observations were needed in this episode as they
added to the story. In a way though, I wish it had been Archer we
were listening to as I think we need to know "him" better.
But what I found most interesting was the way the Theory of Evolution
was used here. Again, as in the last episode, Trek reitirates the
theory and puts it to logical use here to boot. Phlox discovers that
the Valakians are suffering from a genetic disease and not one caused
by a virus or bacteria. In other words, the species has been selected
by nature for extinction it seems. They are not the only sentient
species on the planet however and have a symbiotic relationship with
the Menk, the other species, who are immune to the disease. The Menk
are less advanced and serve almost as pets to the Valakians.
Everything is provided for the Menk by the Valakians while the latter
use them as servants and the like. Without having to fend for
themselves, the Menk are virtually kept back from evolving or so it
Dr. Phlox discovers that the Menk are not as backwards as they appear
and thinks they are at the threshold of an evolutionary leap and could
in time become the dominant species. Considering that the Valakians
are preventing the natural advancement of the Menk, he is faced with a
dilemma as Archer wants the doctor to help cure the Valakians. Phlox
informs Archer of his findings and an interesting discussion ensues
between the two. Archer is not so ready to deny the Valakians a cure
as the doctor explains that the Valakians will become extinct in time:
Archer: "I am not prepared to walk away based on a theory."
Dr. Phlox: "Evolution is more than a theory. It is a fundamental
Bravo to the writers for putting this in.
In the end, Archer decides not to give the Valakians the cure nor to
give them warp capability, another interesting aspect of this episode.
We see the beginnings of the Prime Directive and it is done
excellently. This is the type of episode I've been waiting for.
Perhaps not as mind-teasing as say TNG's "Parallels", "Cause and
Effect" or "Timescape" or disturbing as Voyager's "Scientific Method"
or "Tuvix" but still extremely thought provoking. I can't say I agree
with Archer's decision in the end but somehow it seems right. I'm
just not sure. Thing is, what if the Menk hadn't existed? Would
Archer have come to the same decision? I'm getting a headache
thinking about it and frankly I don't think I'll forget this one for a
I give this episode an A-.
Gisele La Roche
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