Saturday, December 17, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: Doctor's Orders

Enterprise, Season 3
"Doctor's Orders"
Airdate: February 18, 2004
67 of 97 produced
67 of 97 aired


The Enterprise crew watches VOY "One" for movie night and decides to reenact it with Phlox in the role of Seven of Nine.

Hoshi's skin care routine needs some work.


Kevin: So there are two opposing forces in my mind in rating this episode. On the downside, this is a pretty naked retread of Voyager's "One." This isn't even a riff, it's just a straight up cover. There was no surprise here and while that's not necessarily fatal, this story wasn't the most scintillating the first time. It was good, a solid episode, but not one calling out for a remake. On the other hand, Phlox is a delight. I enjoyed his slice of life stuff in the front of the episode, and as predictable as it was, his breakdowns toward the end were affecting. I will admit I literally laughed out loud when he walked into Sickbay naked because I was forced to acknowledge to myself that if I were on a ship by myself, I, too, would forego pants. (Also, see producers? When the nudity is justified by the story and not a cheap ratings ploy, I'll applaud it.)

Matthew: Obviously "One" sprang to mind immediately for me as well.  Like you, I am annoyed by the seeming laziness of so directly repeating an episode plot. Such a plot does offer us a deep look at one character in isolation, though. We learn that Phlox misses the hurly burly of Denobulan life, he has some nice scenes with Porthos, he eats leeches, his toenails are still disgusting (I don't know how he walks in shoes with them, but whatever). Do I think they explored his character as much as they could have? No. Much of the episode is taken up by horror-lite tropes, the occasional jump scare, etc.

Kevin: The T'Pol revelation was clear the moment she walked on screen. There was no discussion that she would not go under. He was literally walking around the ship naked. That's a "literally by myself" move, not "with one other coworker, so it is somehow extra creepy" move. There was some interest in watching a version of T'Pol unspool, but it definitely had no stakes. Beyond that, I don't have much more to say. There was a simple story and it was competently rendered. I was diverted, if not riveted, for the runtime.

Matthew: Apparently, the illusory T'Pol never touches objects or engages in dialogue beyond enything Phlox would himself know. I do appreciate that sort of attention to detail. Frankly, I wish T'Pol had been real. I think the contrast between the two characters' personalities was potentially fruitful, dramatically. As it stood, when she started to go blotto, it dragged me out of the story a bit because of how out of character it was. Does Phlox think she would go all scared an ineffectual?


Kevin: I will say that maybe they could have made room for someone else on the bench to have this one, but I can't deny that Billingsley can carry an episode. He is a gem, and a gifted comedian. And when he really felt like he was losing it, I actually bought that too, so we know he has range. In lesser hands, this episode is a wet fart and a waste of time. In his, it lands squarely in solid territory.  

Matthew: I totally agree. Billingsley's delivery and physical acting were what kept this from being a total bore. I like that his "fear" acting was never particularly over the top, either. I think Jolene Blalock also deserves some special mention, since her illusory T'Pol was subtly distinct from the real character. She did what the script called for, without going so far afield that it ruined the "surprise" straight away.

Production Values

Kevin: Like the rest of my review, there isn't much here. There's the standard issue blobby nebula, and is otherwise a bottle show with some explosions. We have definitely been here before. 

Matthew: I liked seeing the ship's galley, which we haven't visited often. I thought the exterior ship shots were pretty good, all told. Was the cloud just a purple thing? Sure. But it was pretty enough in widescreen. We also get some CGI bugs, and they looked... well, pretty much like every other time we've seen them. Not offensively bad, but clearly fake. Roxann Dawson's horror-lite direction is as effective here as it was in her previous outing in this style, "Dead Stop."


Kevin: If the metaphysical landscape posited by The Good Place is correct, this is the episode of Star Trek they give you when you get sent to the Medium Place. It's fine. It's good. The acting is good, but the story is kind of one note, and it's a note they've sung before. You can't identify anything 'wrong' with the episode itself, but it's never going to be one you rush to rewatch. There are better episodes. There are better Phlox comedy episodes. But again, there's nothing I can point to and say "This was Bad." So, it's a medium episode, and that gets a 3 from me.

Matthew: Yep. This episode is the definition of mediocrity (in the original sense of that word). And we have set our scale to make a 3 the absolute median. To the extent that there is variation within the 5 numbers of our scale, perhaps this is a "low" 3. But like you say, there's nothing particularly bad about it. It doesn't strip anyone naked, violate continuity, nor was it even boring in any major way. John Billingsley proves he can hold a viewer's attention with some voice over work and physical acting. So I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. While I won't argue with the rating, this is my favourite episode of the Xindi arc. If anything else gets watched from this season, it's because I pulled it out of the cover for this gem of acting.

    Expanding a little on the obviously required comparison to One: Seven's imaginary life is simpler. The invented character is first transactionary, and then attempts to take advantage of her vulnerability. It starts by playing on her emotions, and then moves on to attack her and the crew physically. When she sees her crew, they are obstacles to her.
    Phlox, contrarily, is much more comfortable with his own vulnerability. He fights his predicament with optimism, not efficiency. While his mind does conjure up enemies, it also gives him an ally, who gives him some useful advice and moral support. While he ends up far mor agitated than the stoic Seven, he finds ways to use his crew to support him, even when they are all unconscious.
    Phlox is happily embedded in his 'collective', having chosen it and embraced all its implications from the first. Seven started out much rougher, and still chafes in her environment. She studies her crew to work better with them, where Phlox' interest is rooted in curiosity and sharing.
    Finally, the ultimate problem for Seven is one she is eminently qualified to deal with - the ship needs maintenance to make it past its obstacle. Her final saving of the day is to sacrifice herself for her crew. Phlox' problem turns out to be that the outside world is hard to predict even for a few days (which suits the earlier point on the timeline), and his final saving of the day is taking an additional leap further away from his comfort zone, and take responsibility for putting the ship in warp rather than wake Trip to certain death. He risks all for one, opposite to Seven risking one for all.

    1. I think the last point would be the most interesting one to hang an episode act upon, but I don't know whether they really actually do so here.