Phlox was a Great Doctor

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by tomalak301, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    I'm in Season 4 of my rewatch and I think it was a few weeks ago there was a thread talking about favorite Doctors and Phlox was consistently put at or near the bottom. After having just wrapped up the Xindi Arc, I'm starting to think Phlox might be my favorite Doctor in Star Trek. He was compassionate, attentive, respected his patients, and helped pretty much the entire crew if they were going through a difficult patch or just the whole Xindi crisis in general. I'm watching his scenes helping T'Pol with her Trillium addiction, or just listening to Archer having to admit he has to cross a line in Damage and I can't help but be reminded of Doctor Bryce (I think that's his name) from The Cage.

    Is Doctor Phlox really that hated in Fandom or was he just part of the whole Enterprise hate that people have. I think the only negative thing I can think of was he kind of held his animals in captive and used them as slaves, but that's an entirely different topic.
     
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  2. marlboro

    marlboro Commander Red Shirt

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    Other than that genocide thing in Dear Doctor, I agree. John Billingsley is very underrated.
     
  3. MAGolding

    MAGolding Commander Red Shirt

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    You commit just one genocide and they never forget about it. Apart from that, Dr. Phlox seemed like a good but rather eccentric doctor for Star Trek. His sort of "down to Earth" methods if that is the right word seemed to go with Archer's style of command, for some reason.
     
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  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How is "Dear Doctor" genocide? It is natural selection of the planets inhabitants, Phlox has no idea what his actions would do had he saved the Valakians (they could thrive and over-populate leading to the decimation of their planets natural resources, environment and food supply, they could take it as the gods will they survive and exterminate the Menk or enslave them completely, etc), so by doing nothing it allows for evolution to continue on its intended path.

    As for Phlox himself, he is always a character I forget about on the show but thinking back he was regularly an unsung highlight that I should appreciate more (he's definitely better than Archer, Reed and Mayweather).
     
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  5. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah the whole Dear Doctor thing really did turn a lot of people off, but it was still an interesting debate and who knows what would happen in 100 years. Maybe technology is developed to change natural selection on it's own. Still, that one act shouldn't judge the entire character's arc.
     
  6. marlboro

    marlboro Commander Red Shirt

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    In a million years, which type of ant will be better - red ants or black ants?

    This is the type of question that Phlox says he knows the answer to.

    Natural selection basically says that an organism that has characteristics that give it advantages in a particular environment have a greater chance of surviving and producing offspring. Not that a species will automatically continue to evolve into something better. What is an advantage one day may be a disadvantage in a million years. I want to note that I used the word "better" a moment ago. This is where writers go wrong when discussing evolution often times. They seem to think that humans must evolve "upward" and become "better" like demigods or Q or something. They seemingly believe that there is some "intended path" from one celled organism, to monkey, to man, to god. After a nuclear holocaust a cockroach is better adapted to survive on Earth than a man who looks like Brad Pitt and has the brain of Albert Einstein. If Phlox decided that a catastrophic event happening on Earth some day is inevitable should he stop treating humans to make way for that plucky young inheritor of the Earth the cockroach?

    Phlox saying that he knows how these two races will evolve in 1000 years is silly. What will happen in a million? 10 million? 100 million? Saying that one race is going to be "better" than another one therefore he is going to let one species die is a moral judgement that is as monstrous as it is stupid. A judgement that some very bad people in humanity's past have also made to excuse some terrible crimes.

    It's 4 in the morning here and I am a terrible writer t begin with. Hopefully what i wrote above makes some kind of sense.
     
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  7. Terok Nor

    Terok Nor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    He was a good character. He just has a lot of competition because all of the doctors were great. McCoy, Crusher, Pulaski, Bashir, Picardo, Phlox. All have good points.
     
  8. Discofan

    Discofan Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    The genocide thing is really hard to swallow given that Archer seemed on the fence on that one (which of course is far from admirable) but in the end, Phlox' opinion was the determining factor. Phlox is the one that caused millions of people in the years, decades to come to die untreated if a disease he had a cure for. There are few people in human history who did something comparable.

    Sorry but try as I may, I can't forgive hitler, no matter how many people tell me that deep down he was a nice guy.
     
  9. Mutai Sho-Rin

    Mutai Sho-Rin Crusty Old Bastard Moderator

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    Dear Doctor is one of my favorite ENT episodes. I was the ENT Forum moderator here at the time and the moral outrage expressed by some over the decision to withhold A GENETIC MODIFICATION from the Valakians was intense. I used all CAPS above specifically because what Phlox had was not a "cure", it was a modification to their genome. I personally agreed with the incredibly tough decision that Archer and Phlox made but, as the moderator, remained silent at the time. The evolution of the Menk was an irrelevant addition to the overall story of the Valakian's fate. I don't have to be silent now.
     
  10. Discofan

    Discofan Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    This is from the episode:

    ARCHER: Can you find a cure? Doctor?
    PHLOX: I already have.


    Phlox never gives any detail about the cure that he's found so we don't know if it's a genetic modification.
     
  11. pl1ngpl0ng

    pl1ngpl0ng Commander Red Shirt

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    Enterprise is the best Star Trek and
    Phlox is the best doc.
     
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  12. marlboro

    marlboro Commander Red Shirt

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    PHLOX: This epidemic isn't being caused by a virus or bacteria. The proteins that bind to their chromosomes are deteriorating. Their illness is genetic. It's been going on for thousands of years, but the rate of mutation has accelerated over the last few generations. Based on my projections, the Valakians will be extinct in less than two centuries. I wish I had better news.

    "Ther DNA dun Blowed up on 'em!"



    ARCHER: A cure, Doctor. Have you found a cure?
    PHLOX: Even if I could find one, I'm not sure it would be ethical.
    ARCHER: Ethical?
    PHLOX: We'd be interfering with an evolutionary process that has been going on for thousands of years.
    ARCHER: Every time you treat an illness, you're interfering. That's what doctors do.
    PHLOX: You're forgetting about the Menk.
    ARCHER: What about the Menk?
    PHLOX: I've been studying their genome as well, and I've seen evidence of increasing intelligence. Motor skills, linguistic abilities. Unlike the Valakians they appear to be in the process of an evolutionary awakening. It may take millennia, but the Menk have the potential to become the dominant species on this planet.
    ARCHER: And that won't happen as long as the Valakians are around.
    PHLOX: If the Menk are to flourish, they need an opportunity to survive on their own.
    ARCHER: Well, what are you suggesting? We choose one species over the other?
    PHLOX: All I'm saying is that we let nature make the choice.



    So for any of you humans out there who may be genetically predisposed to having breast cancer, hemophilia, or sickle cell anemia, you need to hurry up and die. Wouldn't be fair not to give the chimps a shot at evolving with all that breathing you insist on doing.
     
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  13. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hitler had a plan to murder millions of people, in as systematic a way as possible, using those that were persecuted as scapegoats for all the wrongs that had befallen Germany before the rise of the Nazis. How is that in any way similar to a species own genetic structure deteriorating naturally? Phlox didn't kill the Valakians, nature did. It's one of those facts of life that as advanced and supreme as people think they are, they will always be natures bitch. Same way we don't know what the world would be like now if Hitler was killed during WW1, there is no way of knowing what interfering in the natural development of a species on an alien world might do to them in centuries to come. The Prime Directive may sound harsh but the whole point of the it is to look after the greater good, and create moral and ethical dilemmas for our heroes.
     
  14. Discofan

    Discofan Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    A few points:

    1- There was no prime directive at this point in history.

    2- Even if there was a prime directive it wouldn't apply. The people were asking for help.

    On TNG, Picard who was reluctant to intervene did it anyway when the little girl that was exchanging messages with Data, made it clear that she was asking for help.

    3- Phlox had a cure for the Vallaakians' disease. He said as much when Archer asked him if he did. The Valaakian kept asking for a cure and he lied to them (either by omission or commission) and actively withheld the cure from them (we don't know if the cure is genetic or if it protects against the virus that Phlox said was causing the disease, in which case it wouldn't have to be genetic).

    No matter how you look at it Phlox is the willing and conscious cause of the death of millions of people and in our worldwide history that puts him in a very restrictive club:

    A club that includes members like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and maybe five or six others, none of these people has ever been called nice, at least not by any normal person from a civilized country.
     
  15. marlboro

    marlboro Commander Red Shirt

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    The idea that an entire species will develop a terminal illness after millions of years of evolution without some kind outside factor seems ludicrous to me. In fact, it seems like a complete copout by the writers. "Let's write an episode around a tough moral decision. And then let's be sure to have a preposterous way of backing out of it."

    What difference would it make if it was just a virus though? If the Doc was right and the Menk had all this untapped potential to make them "superior" to the Vallaakian in the future isn't he just as morally obligated to let the Vallaakian die out? According to Phlox Mother Nature has already made her choice, he would just be speeding up the inevitable, right?


    The morality of post TOS Trek is often bizarre and terrifying to me.
     
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  16. HopefulRomantic

    HopefulRomantic Phloxist moderator Moderator

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    Ah, another "Dear Doctor" thread.

    *handing out safety helmets*

    I'll say what I have said in previous threads: Why do y'all assume that the Valakians died? When they were powerfully motivated to develop a cure, and had time? The treatment Phlox gave them would have eased symptoms for like 10 years, right? Archer said outright that it was possible the Valakians would come up with a cure themselves.

    The Valakians might well have survived. They might have changed their perspective about the Menk and fostered their development. There were a whole bunch of possibilities.

    Many have pointed out that Phlox didn't actually know what would happen, he got it wrong, he didn't know evolution from a hole in the ground, etc. So maybe that means the Valakians seized the day and surprised Phlox and you and everybody who has been kicking Phlox and Archer over this, and they survived. Maybe the Menk too.

    BTW, I love Phlox. And Archer.
     
  17. 1001001

    1001001 VERY STABLE GENIUS!!! Moderator

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    Suppose Phlox did give the cure to the Valakians, then one of their children grew up to be Space Hitler (or "Spitler"). Would Phlox then be responsible for that?

    :shrug:

    Anyway, Phlox is my favorite character from Enterprise. But I'm a bit biased.
     
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  18. Discofan

    Discofan Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    Maybe Phlox should spend his time killing people instead of curing them... It would keep them from siring murderous psychopaths who would kill people for spurious reasons...
     
  19. 1001001

    1001001 VERY STABLE GENIUS!!! Moderator

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    Ah, but what if he kills someone, who's child would have grown up and defeated Spitler?

    Phlox is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
     
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  20. Long Syntax

    Long Syntax Captain Captain

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    In universe - to place Phlox in the same category as Hitler is hyperbole at its finest.
    Out of Universe - John Billingsley breathed life into a role that could have been relegated to a permanent B plot. An excellent actor and even better human being.
     
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