TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Discussion in 'Enterprise' started by TheGodBen, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. Tallis Rhul

    Tallis Rhul Commander Red Shirt

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    But...but...how else would we have had a cheesy conclusion that totally detracted from the atmosphere of the episode? :(
     
  2. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They could have had someone tell a bad joke on the bridge and have the episode end with everyone but T'Pol laughing.


    Dear Doctor (***½)

    Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in the Enterprise review thread let me introduce Morbo!

    [​IMG]
    EVOLUTION DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOODNIGHT!

    Thank you Morbo, you're always very insightful. :)

    This is a horrible episode to have to judge. At the end of the first season, as I looked back over the show thus far, I considered this to be my favourite episode of them all. It was a perfect character piece, a solid five-star outing, it gave us the necessary backstory for Phlox while giving Archer an interesting moral dilemma and it did this without feeling the need to shoehorn in a pointless action plot. It was quiet and it was slow, and it was all the better for it. This is the sort of Trek that I enjoy watching, this is what I wanted from Enterprise.

    But I was 16 years old at that time, and my love of maths caused me to choose the Applied Mathematics class rather than Biology. Suffice it to say that in my college years I read a few books which explained evolution via natural selection and I found it to not only be impossible to argue against, but also incredibly easy to grasp. It borders on being common sense, so the idea that there's people who have such an erroneous interpretation of it boggles my mind.

    After watching this episode tonight I wanted to see how others viewed the scientific inaccuracy, and the results were, frankly, absurd. Some people claim this to be the most evil episode of Trek ever, and some compare its writers to Hitler (good old Godwin). Personally, I don't see this episode as evil, it is merely incompetent. It tries to be the ultimate Prime Directive episode, it tries to be a valentine to science, nature and evolution, and I believe that these are commendable goals. Unfortunately the writers messed up by not having a clue how evolution actually works and they accidentally wrote a story where Phlox and Archer commit genocide through wilful inaction. Luckily, most of that stuff is confined to the final act of the episode, so I'll give this episode full marks for the first three acts and a zero score for the final ten minutes.

    The Valakians and Menk are new but they're not warp-capable so I wont count them. We also get a reference to the M'klexa but they were never shown onscreen.
     
  3. SFRabid

    SFRabid Commodore Commodore

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    Didn't like it. Didn't hate it. After TNG I was hoping Trek would never do another prime directive episode again. Still wish they hadn't.
     
  4. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    I think it was a good idea to do a pre-Prime Directive episode, but I think the conflict should have arisen out of some sort of mistake caused by the crew, something to give them a real reason to want to avoid interfering in other cultures.
     
  5. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    I'm OK with Dear Doctor as an episode, but if I were to judge the science, it might be the worst of the series (if you factor in the weight the science had on the episode). Still, if I suspend my disbelief, it works everywhere else.
     
  6. Peter the Younger

    Peter the Younger Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed. I really wanted them to make a mistake here and there, and learn from it. It's one of the things that bugs me about ENT as a whole, their morality seems to spring into being fully formed, almost like Picard was writing the speeches. I half expected one of them to say, "We should make this the first order of any starship, a primary directive for all captains to follow." (See, it's not the Prime Directive, because there's an -ary on the end.)
     
  7. Tallis Rhul

    Tallis Rhul Commander Red Shirt

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    I think the thing that bugs me in the long term is Phlox's sketchy "Medical Ethics"... after all he is adamant he won't force any of his patients to undergo treatment against there will, and then all but tricks Trip into going to neuropressure sessions.

    This is another such case. Given the scientific facts it almost makes it look like Phlox just sympathizes with the Menk and wants to help them out.

    That or he just couldn't be arsed. ;)
     
  8. SRFX

    SRFX Captain Captain

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    Okay, I am probably going to sound like a dumbass, but I am not entirely certain of the 'science issues' surrounding this episode, or at least, how it violates/doesn't violate the "potential" prime directive.

    My understanding of the depiction of evolution in relation to this episode is a "survival of the fittest" one, which certain seems to apply with the "fit" Menk and dying Valakians.

    So, whilst I wait for someone to smack me and tell me I'm stupid, I'll comment on the prime directive aspect. I have never seen the prime directive as a moral imperative imposed by starfleet, I have always seen it has a sort of, liability safety net - and in this episode, Archer and Phlox held up the prime directive (which doesn't exist yet) with flying colours. The prime directive exists in the future to stop the federation from interfering, and thus possibly becoming responsible, in the natural development of a culture/civilisation.

    This is exactly what Archer/Phlox achieved here - they avoided making a decision that would affect the natural course of development of this civilisation. I am not saying it was the correct decision, the prime directive quite often results in characters in Star Trek making questionable decisions all in the name of non-interference.

    I guess the flaw in the episode is that it did an excellent job of portraying characters sticking to a flawed directive which doesn't exist yet? On this basis, the story should've been told in a TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY setting showing characters making a choice within the confines of the prime directive, rather than in a universe where they are not constrained as such?

    Hope this makes sense! I am at work and VERY tired. And yeah - feel free to explain why the science of evolution is wrong re: this episode.
     
  9. Pemmer Harge

    Pemmer Harge Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "My understanding of the depiction of evolution in relation to this episode is a "survival of the fittest" one, which certain seems to apply with the "fit" Menk and dying Valakians."

    Evolution is just something that happens, it doesn't have much bearing on morality. Since there was no Prime Directive to tie their hands, I find it impossible to buy the way that Archer suddenly decided that he wasn't going to help after all (after saying he would!). You see millions of people dying and there's nothing in the rule book that says you shouldn't help them, then you help them. This episode came up with a ridiculous "dilemma" and, for all that in some respects it was a well-executed episode, made a really bad case for the existence of the Prime Directive. Especially galling is the arbitrariness of this "pre-warp" stuff. The Valakians were clearly an advanced civilisation, probably only a century or so behind Earth, so what's so important about warp drive? Maybe some civilisations will never develop warp drive.
     
  10. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^And really, since evolution has no "plan" or set goal, people in spaceships with magic tech are no less valid a method of natural selection than climate change or asteroid impacts. The only difference is, these people can make a choice about weather they want to let people suffer and die or not. There's no excuse for Archer and Phlox to throw up their hands and say that evolution wills it.
     
  11. SRFX

    SRFX Captain Captain

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    I think it's mentioned at some point in Enterprise that Vulcans considered warp-drive a reasonable point of development to begin introducing themselves to new species, because with warp drive, their chances of contacting an alien race has now significantly increased. It's unlikely a fledgling species will meet aliens races at sub-light speeds (as evidenced by our own real-world successes, or lack there-of).

    The Vulcans (who in the ENT era appeared to be self-proclaimed rulers of the universe) decided this would be the ideal point to begin guiding and assisting new species.

    What it comes off as is a control method - if Vulcans can 'guide' a species' development, then it makes them far less likely to become an enemy of Vulcan.

    That said, season 4 of ENT illustrates how Vulcan changed from an oppressive authoritarian imperialist state to the benevolent space elves of the 23rd century we have come to know and love - so it seems the Vulcans realised they were kind of wrong on this one.

    Although curiously - why didn't the prime directive die with the Vulcans ideological shift?

    As I said - the prime directive seems more like a neat way for starfleet/federation to cover it's arse, rather than act as a moral guideline for it's officers to follow.
     
  12. SFRabid

    SFRabid Commodore Commodore

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    Hasn't this always been the problem with PD episodes? TNG used to drive me crazy with it. "We cannot stop the asteroid from hitting the planet because of the prime directive." or "We cannot stop the earthquakes and volcanoes because of the prime directive." ... How many times was Pikard willing to let a race get obliterated because he did not want to interfere with their evolution? I wish ST had never traveled this road.
     
  13. SRFX

    SRFX Captain Captain

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    I dunno, I think the Prime Directive (at least Starfleet's application of it) in spirit isn't a bad thing - and in certain situations it was justifiable to adhere to, and the captains in the show so often went against it it didn't really matter (which made for good drama, especially when an Evil Admiral is involved).

    But it was this stubborn adherence to the PD that mostly irritated me throughout ST: Voyager. Janeway would constantly weight up the pros and cons of violating it and I was just "YES! IT IS OKAY IN YOUR UNIQUE SITUATION. YOU STILL HAVE A STRONG MORAL FIBRE. THE PD IS SOMETIMES DUMB!"

    But oh well.
     
  14. Yug

    Yug Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    So Ben, tell me... how does evolution work?
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    *smack* You're stupid. ;)

    "Survival of the fittest" was a phrase devised by Herbert Spencer as an attempt by him to explain Darwin's theory of natural selection in his own book. Unfortunately this phrase doesn't nearly begin to explain how evolution works and has probably caused more confusion than there would have been without it. This misunderstanding may have led to a confusion with the discredited ideas behind Lamarckism, Social Darwinism and possibly even the Holocaust. I hope you can see why I don't like the phrase.

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Darwin

    Okay, first I'm going to point out that I'm not a biologist, my degree is in electronics, so if any real biologists read this and notice that I've made a mistake then that is why and I would hope you'd correct me. But here's my attempt to explain how evolution works.

    Variation is the key. Even though my brother and I come from the same genetic sources, our DNA is slightly different due to variation. He's taller than me, I have a bigger nose and our voices are different, and that's because when a species procreates there is variation. Now lets imagine that we live in an environment where razor-sharp fans hover a little over six feet; in that environment my brother is more likely to die than me because his head is higher up, and if he dies before he gets a chance to procreate then his taller genes will not be passed on. However, since I'm just below the level of the fans I have a greater chance of surviving long enough to procreate and my average-height genes would be passed on to the next generation. This will happen on a species-wide scale in any environment where there's razor-sharp fans just above head height. As a result the human species in that environment would stay below 6 foot on average.

    Jebus, that was a terrible example. :lol:

    Basically, if you have a mouse in an environment that includes cats then the faster mouse is more likely to survive and procreate than its slower brother. The faster cat is more likely to catch the mice, while the slower cat will not catch any mice and will starve to death before it procreates. Over several generations both the mice and cats will get faster in an "evolutionary arms race", each one spurring on the other. Over thousands of generations the body shape of the mice and cats will adapt so much in order to accommodate the newer, faster legs, and after millions of years they will have changed so much that they no longer look or act like mice and cats, they have become new species.

    There are times when evolution leads certain species down a cul-de-sac and the species dies out as a result. The Irish Elk grew really huge antlers over millions of years, some modern studies suggest that this was the result of sexual selection; the males with the biggest antlers were more likely to scare off potential rivals in mating situations and as a result the antlers got bigger and bigger. However, during the growth stage of the antlers they required so much calcium to grow that they developed osteoporosis until they were fully developed. They could manage this in their current environment, but when the environment changed at the end of the last ice age the vegetations that grew in Ireland changed and the elk no longer had the required calcium in their diet. They could not adapt to this change in their environment quickly enough, the males started to die of malnutrition and the species went extinct. At least that is one theory.

    Anyway, I think what I've proved today is that if you want to understand how evolution works then read a proper science book because I'm crap at explaining it.
     
  16. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic Phloxist Moderator Moderator

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    I have seen many viewers assign full blame to Archer (or sometimes, tossing some culpability to Phlox) for what they assume will be the Valakians' certain extinction, simply because Phlox didn't intervene in both species' natural development by handing them a cure. But the Valakians weren't automatically doomed.
    No, Phlox didn't give them a cure. Archer didn't give them warp drive. But as pookha pointed out in an earlier thread about "Dear Doctor," the medicine Phlox developed gave the Valakians a fighting chance to find or develop the cure themselves.

    Neither Phlox nor Archer were predicting the Valakians' future with certainty. Phlox based his medical assessments on his studies of the genetics of both the Valakians and the Menk, and on the principle of evolution. But he acknowledged that two humanoid species living side-by-side on one planet was highly unusual. This wasn't an open-and-shut textbook example of one species destined to die out while the other developed; it was, as Phlox said, a "projection." The possibility of the Valakians curing themselves was left open.

    It's possible that the Valakians will survive because they aggressively seek a cure, spurred on by Archer's expression of hope for them. Phlox's medicine will give them ten or more years without the burden of the illness -- time to improve the medicine, perhaps, and extend its benefits, enabling scientists to do more and better research. Archer's refusal to hand over ready-made warp capability might well light a fire under them to find someone who will, or even develop warp drive themselves, so they can leave their planet and search for a cure.

    Archer and Phlox's decision not to interfere left the Valakians in the position to make their own fate -- not just lay down and die out. It's even possible that the Menk will help the ailing Valakians in some way.

    For me, the episode is what it intends to be: a question with no "right" answer, the same as many other Trek episodes. I agree that it wouldn't be that way on TNG. Picard adhered to the Prime Directive quite ruthlessly at times; he would never have considered handing over a cure to the Valakians, while Archer, with no such guideline, agonized over it.

    Regarding evolution...I didn't major in biology either, but I remember that mutation plays a role in evolution.

    This is from the Columbia Encyclopedia:

     
  17. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But the problem is that that is still working under the faulty assumption that evolution is some form of divine force which guides us, whereas the reality is that we tend to drive evolution and not the other way round. It's like the story I told of the Irish Elk, evolution wasn't what doomed them, it was the actions of members of the species in deciding who they mated with and when they failed to challenge one another, that's what killed them.

    And if we continue with the elks, if they were alive today and we made the projection that their habitat had changed so that the vegetation was no longer able to support them, should we do nothing and allow them to die because "evolution" has determined that they must? I don't think that it is right for us to sit back and let an entire species die, sentient or not, because we have chosen to imagine evolution as some mystical force which guides the universe. Evolution is a powerful scientific concept and I think Darwin was one of the greatest people who ever lived, but evolution is not a god, it should not be worshipped and sacrifices should not be made in its name.

    As for the PD, I am a PD advocate but only as a means of preventing cultural or technological contamination, I don't like the way TNG sometimes used it to justify letting whole planets be destroyed. If an asteroid is heading towards a medieval-level society then by all means it should be destroyed, but we shouldn't beam down to that planet and show them our magical things. The tricky part comes when a species wipes itself out by using WMDs or global warming, in which case I would say that was a decision made by the species themselves and not some random chance, so there should be no interference in that situation. C'est la mort.


    Sleeping Dogs (*½)

    Why are the Klingons stupid? They never used to be. Okay, so they were never going to win the award for smartest species in the galaxy, and they were often antagonistic, but they were never out-and-out stupid. It's almost like the writers mixed up the Klingons with the Kazon and forgot the fact that people disliked the Kazon for being stupid Klingons. By the end of DS9 I was tired of the Klingons going on and on about honour and glory, but after watching this I want those Klingons back, at least they were people rather than lame attempts at conflict.

    This episode feels too much like episodes we've seen before on several different occasions, off the top of my head I can think of DS9's Starship Down and Voyager's Juggernaut. There's a ship, they're in a gas giant, the crew MIGHT DIE!!!, they have to escape... it's all standard fare. There's a few nice character touches, but overall the episode was nothing new, other than making the Klingons stupid which I will contend was a bad thing.

    Archer flew down to a dangerous depth in a shuttlepod for some reason. Delegate, captain, delegate. But hey, at least there was nipples!

    Captain Redshirt: 7
    Nipples Ahoy!: 2
     
  18. SRFX

    SRFX Captain Captain

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    Well that makes more sense then, and I can understand your hostility towards the episode then. :lol:
     
  19. DGCatAniSiri

    DGCatAniSiri Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I remember two things about this episode, one of them mainly from the episode promo, and that one bugged me so... KLINGONS DO NOT HAVE WARBIRDS. Yes, they have Birds of Prey, but those are not developed for another century. ROMULANS have Warbirds, and the Romulans are established as not being known at this time. Does no one on staff even WATCH the shows they're supposed to be respecting the existence of? Gr. Had to get that out of my system.

    The other memorable thing about this episode was that it coincided with the nasty ice storm my town got hit with near the ending. Other than those two things, I pretty much remember nothing about this episode at all.
     
  20. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Of course they have Warbirds. The episode says so. Warbird is an English word. There is no reason that a Romulan word and a Klingon word can't both be translated into English as "Warbird".

    Adler was a German car maker

    Aigle is a Swiss car maker

    In English they would be called Eagle.