Ryva Takes On Enterprise (Again)

Discussion in 'Enterprise' started by Ryva Brall, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    In the Memory Alpha article on the episode, John Billingsley wasn't happy with the ending, where Phlox agreed to provide a vaccine to slow the disease. Apparently he preferred an earlier draft, where Phlox stood his ground, opposing Archer.
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That would've been better.
     
  3. Redsskull

    Redsskull Ensign Newbie

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    I would point out they did leave an opening for them to find the cure elsewhere. I mean, there are more doctors like Phlox who will figure it out and may help them..for what it's worth. I also feel Archer was in way over his head dealing with things a simple pilot has no idea how to deal with, but he did react as a very disturbed man when presented with the idea by Phlox..I would have liked an episode where Archer does mention that he feels he did the wrong thing.
     
  4. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Dear Doctor is not about biology, it is about the power relations between the two species. Human ethics imply that we gotta treat the Valakian disease but also imply that we free the Menk. This is obviously not possible unless you wanna rule the planet and giving one group an advantage over the other is not possible either. So the Prime Directive, not existent yet but embodied in the ways Vulcans and Denobulans handle these issues, would forbid interference. That it is not humans but the species which have more deep space experience who came up with interspecies ethics was another great idea of ENT as Trek is often too anthropocentric.

    About the ending, I would have preferred the original draft in which Archer is not convinced by Phlox and treat the Valakians. He adapts interspecies ethics a bit to quickly, he should mess up a few times before he sees its merits.

    Dear Doctor is for me probably the best ENT episode, not at least because it is the most counterintuitive Prime Directive episode. You can't follow your hunch like Archer (sympathizes with the Valakians) and Cutler (sympathizes with the Menk) do, you gotta use your brain like Phlox does.
     
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    It's a variation on the Tuvix dilemma in Voyager, with no perfect answer.
     
  6. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No perfect answer? That's like the equivalent of not helping a person who's pinned down by a log on the grounds of if they were meant to survive they'd be strong enough to lift the log themselves. So not only do you keep walking by, leaving them there to die a slow lingering and painful death, you congratulate yourself on what a moral choice you made. Yeah... right.
     
  7. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    If these events had occurred in the 24th century and a Starfleet officer had done what you suggested, interfere into the relationship of two alien species and give one an advantage over the other, he would have been court-martialed for having violated rule number one.
    I agree though that Archer's choice is immoral. Interspecies ethics runs counter to the natural, biological morality of some stupid primates which is precisely why these stupid primates needs those new ethics so direly when they wade into deep space.
     
  8. Ryva Brall

    Ryva Brall Commander Red Shirt

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    Exactly. Cultural interference be damned. They had the means to save a dying race, and they chose to withhold their assistance. I don't see how any kind of reasoning can justify that.

    Denobulans apparently don't adhere to any equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. I can't think of any other Starfleet doctor who wouldn't find Phlox's decision appalling.
     
  9. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Doesn't matter whether any UFP Starfleet doctor finds the Prime Directive appalling, if his captain listened to his advice he would be court-martialed and rightly so. If you mess with the dynamics of two species who live on the same planet and give one an advantage over the other you deserve lifelong imprisonment.

    Funny that we talked about Archer being too much of a fly-by-my-pants / follow-my-guts kind of guy when Dear Doctor shows that he actually listens to the aliens on his ship and is able to adapt to a new world in which a species which has interacted only with itself for tens of thousands of years now has to interact with countless others.
     
  10. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I was trying to be fair in choosing the word "dilemma". The definitions I considered were:

     
  11. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's not "giving anyone an advantage." It's keeping them all from dying when it costs you absolutely nothing. Picard stopped a geological disaster in Pen Pals on those grounds even though it broke the Prime Directive. Heck, every Starfleet captain that's had a show has broken it several times. None of them got court martialed.

    I'll agree that the Valakian social system leaves something to be desired, but letting them die off? Heck 200 years ago in our culture it was legal to own a person as a slave based solely on the color of their skin. We improved for the better, and by all accounts the Valakians weren't even so malicious as we were. So it stands to reason so could they. Too bad they never got the chance.
     
  12. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Indeed. Archer will hurt somebody no matter what he does. Either he helps the Valakians and hurts the Menk or vice versa or he helps both and become an intergalactic dictator who runs this planet or he helps none like in the show and hurts the Valakians.
    So far the people who argue for merely helping the Valakians ignore the plight of the Menk. As you said, it is Tuvix all over again (but just with more people involved).
     
  13. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    They do not let them die off, the Valakians have ample chances to meet somebody else who will help them or discover a cure themselves.
    I think you missed Phlox's point, the Valakians are only wicked oppressors from a human perspective. If you zoom out and take a look at many species the Valakian-Menk relationship was extraordinary as on most planets one species usually kills all its rivals. (We eradicated the Neanderthals but nonetheless think we have any business lecturing the Valakians? So much about the first cracks appearing in the notion that human ethics are universal and perfect.) Phlox doesn't wanna mess with this and help either side.
    The Valakians have a "human right" to be given medicine, the Menk have a "human right" to live on their own. If you wanna be consistent you gotta apply human rights equally. In this case this means treating the Valakians and liberating the Menk.
    Playing dictator, or as Archer said playing God, is not why humankind is out there. If there are the implications of applying human ethics in space they don't work, hence the need for interspecies ethics which are legally materialized in the Prime Directive.

    This isn't really all that complicated given the many episodes that explain it. Cogenitor also shows pretty clearly why you cannot apply human ethics on non-human species. Gee, human ethics, non-human species, you can even get this via pure semantics.

    ARCHER: You knew you had no business interfering with those people but you just couldn't let it alone. You thought you were doing the right thing. I might agree if this was Florida, or Singapore, but it's not, is it?
     
  14. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, I didn't miss Phlox's point. I just find it appalling. He doesn't like what they're doing so he's going to let them all die. He was planning on helping them before he found out about the Menk. So that's interfering as well and "giving the advantage" to the Menk.

    So given the choices of helping the Valakians and preserving the status quo, or doing nothing, solely to benefit the Menk, and letting the Valakians die, you're right... I'll choose the former. Tom Paris put it succinctly one PD episode... "They're all going to die, anything's got to be better than that." And saying that they didn't leave them to die is a cop-out. They're a non-warp capable race, so they aren't running into other races with any regularity to put it mildly unless they just happen to wonder into the system. That's just a cheap justification to avoid taking responsibility.

    Yes, as I said the Menk do deserve better. The Valakians and the Menk both have rights to that world and will have to learn how to share it together. Given time, their social system can reform towards giving the Menk freedom, especially once they realize they're not alone in the universe. Extinction and slavery are both terrible things. Extinction can't be undone, but slavery can. But too bad they won't get the chance as they slowly die off.
     
  15. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    It is only slavery if you judge it by human standards. Phlox describes it far more accurately as a symbiotic relationship. If the human perception is already flawed the treatment, human ethics, is flawed as well. I prefer Phlox's distanced humility to Cutler's and Archer's (initial) anthropocentric arrogance.


    When humans and Vulcans met things started to change on Earth. But the Vulcans never helped us. They did not give us medicine to deal with radiation poisoning, they did not ship us food to deal with hunger, they did not prevent any violent conflicts. Millions of lives could have been saved!
    They let us deal with all this stuff on our own. And when we finally got our shit together they did not want to share their technology! We had to work for decades until we breached the Warp 2 barrier while they just sat their and watched. In short, we were pretty pissed off.

    And they were right.

    OK, I am exaggerating, in this very episode T'Pol explicitly states that" Vulcans stayed to help Earth ninety years ago". I still doubt that the big breakthroughs like the eradication of hunger and war were done via Vulcan help. Earth wasn't united yet when they made first contact and before it wasn't united their hands were tied. Their job is not to solve the problems of another species and thus patronize it.
    So much about what the PD implies concerning how to deal with one post-warp species. In Dear Doctor it's two pre-warp species.

    I understand that people have difficulties with all this as the notion that stopping hunger, war or diseases might not be a good thing is counterintuitive. But intuition and moralistic instincts alone don't suffice to create a decent form of interspecies ethics.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  16. Mutai Sho-Rin

    Mutai Sho-Rin Crusty Old Bastard Moderator

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    The great thing about this episode is the extensive discussion that it generates, even this many years down the road. I was the ENT mod when it first aired and the forum exploded over both the episode and the morality conundrum. It remains one of my top 5 ENT episodes on both counts.
     
  17. Ryva Brall

    Ryva Brall Commander Red Shirt

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    All right, I suppose it's time for me to forget "Dear Doctor" and get on with my life. On to the next episode.

    Sleeping Dogs:

    Meh. Not a bad episode, but not that interesting, either. Enterprise finds a wreck of a Klingon ship inside a gas giant, which is slowly sinking further into the atmosphere. Archer sends T'Pol, Hoshi, and Malcolm over to the ship to offer assistance (though why he didn't send his chief engineer, who would be of more use, I'm not sure), and they get trapped on board after one of the Klingons steals their shuttle. They have to find a way to restore power to the engines before the atmosphere crushes the ship. Also, apparently it smells in there.

    Meanwhile, Archer apprehends the Klingon woman who stole their shuttle, and she is predictably uncooperative. It seems her entire crew picked up a toxin from some ale they appropriated after a raid, and they're all sick or dying or something. After boning up on Klingon culture, Archer plays the honor card and tells the Klingon woman (Bu'Kah, I think) that if she doesn't help her crew, she'll be letting them die dishonorably. So of course, she agrees.

    Back on the ship, the away team have given up on trying to get the engines on-line, and instead decide to blast the ship into a higher orbit with the photon torpedoes. (I liked how Malcolm instantly perked up when he found out about those. He sure loves to blow stuff up.) They succeed, Archer and Bu'Kah arrive and get the engines running again, and after another scene with the Klingon captain (Vaughn Armstrong in his five-thousandth role) threatening to blow up Enterprise, Archer channels his inner warrior and manages to convince him to withdraw.

    And we end on an obligatory shot of three attractive people in their undies. In case you forgot that this was Enterprise.

    Like I said, meh. Not bad, but nothing we haven't already seen in past series. And there wasn't much suspense. DS9's "Starship Down", on the other hand... Now that was a great episode about characters being trapped on a ship under dire circumstances. But there was some good character development for Hoshi, who is determined to get over her fear of away missions. And there were some awesome CGI scenes. That shot of Enterprise's grappler catching the shuttle pod was pretty fantastic. Also, targs in the pantry!

    One small point: Malcolm should never have been allowed on an away mission with a cold. For all they knew, the common cold virus could prove to be like ebola or typhus to an alien species. C'mon, son. :p
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  18. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Good point on Malcolm spraying mucus everywhere. I think Enterprise's best quality was its ability to do character studies (I'm ahead of my reviews and watching Season 2's "Minefield" right now). Unfortunately their action stories sometimes suffered for it. I had always looked at Star Trek as an action-adventure format. I liked character shows, but preferred those built around a conflict that was really a thought study for viewers. "Sleeping Dogs" almost succeeds for me, but there's no real brain teaser in it.

    The final scene-- yeah, in my review I mentioned Malcolm fans might get a treat. Unfortunately, we T'Pol and Hoshi fans never got a full frontal of them without shirts. ;)

    I think Doug Drexler's old blog had renders of that Klingon ship. I'll have to see if I have them.
     
  19. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Someone should've asked Archer what gives him the right to take prisoners. ;)

    Other than that... basic Enterprise stuff. A plot that's not terribly engaging, a familiar race in a transparent attempt to draw in fans and excessive nudity without purpose. :p

    Though the effects on Enterprise always were good, but those only enhance an episode, they can't define it. Overall... fairly entertaining to watch, but not one I'd go out of my way to pick if I wanted 45 minutes of Trek.
     
  20. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Not a good episode. It took them some time to get the Klingons right, to me none of the three first season Klingon stories feels right, they are somehow off. In the following seasons the Klingon stories become pretty good.