1:13 - Dear Doctor
TV Blurb: Cutler makes a suggestion, T'Pol gets on her back, and Phlox faces a decision.
Archer orders Phlox to find a cure for a disease killing an alien race, but the situation becomes more complex than anyone realizes. Wriiten by Maria Jacquemetton & Andre Jacquemetton. Directed by James A. Contner.
Although I try to avoid major spoilers when writing these essays, it may be unavoidable here. I know the episode ranks at the top of people's Shitlist. There are no fantastic special effects or action scenes, but it's an interesting study of the creature named Phlox.
We see Phlox at the beginning of his morning routine upon entering Sickbay, feeding the specimens. Phlox dictates a letter in voice-over throughout the episode, similar to TNG's "Data's Day".
When Cutler starts getting friendly, Phlox seeks advice on how to proceed from others. There's a very nice scene with Phlox and Hoshi discussing his problem during a Denobulan language lesson.
Eventually the Alien Of The Week shows up, his race is dying of a disease, and Archer tells Phlox to find a cure. What he eventually finds puts him in conflict with Archer. John Billingsley was apparently disappointed with the final episode's resolution, preferring one that had been in an earlier draft of the script.
We learn a lot of things about Phlox in this episode. He's impressed with humans' desire to help others. He's not always comfortable being around Vulcans. Phlox's personality in some ways reminds me of the stock sci-fi character of an eccentric professor. Depending on his moral compass, the eccentric professor could easily become a mad scientist.
Archer has a separate decision to make, similar to whether you should give your car keys to a guy you just met, who's never even been in a car before, and wants to drive downtown in your Porsche.
When the secret of the alien society was revealed, I saw comparisons to TOS' "The Cloud Minders". It also reminded me of reasoning used during America's 19th century antebellum era. The episode's final fade-out bookends the teaser's opening.
Next: "Sleeping Dogs"