Star Trek: Enterprise

Season 1 Episode 13

Dear Doctor

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 23, 2002 on UPN

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

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out of 10
204 votes
  • In which Archer grows up...

    Finally! Those watching the episodes in sequence know that so far Cap. Archer had the most annoying tendency to think himself like a God and his duty to solve all problems of the universe, without ever considering the consequences.

    Oh, I know you can say this is part of his characterization, since the Prime Directive doesn't exist yet, but for those of us who have seen Star Trek before and know the importance of the Prime Directive, it can seem very obtuse and distressing.

    Well, finally he learns the lesson, thanks to a great Phlox episode, which makes him quickly jump to my favourite character in the series. His example with the Neanderthals is precise: imagine that when the Homo Sapiens were driving the Neanderthals to extinction that some alien came and helped them survive. It might have saved hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lives them, but everything the human civilization would come to be would be lost.

    You can ask if it is worth it or not, but the point is: it is not your decision to make. You shouldn't interfere in complex situations without knowing all the facets of the problem (and you rarely do). It is worth noting that one of the coolest things about the Prime Directive (and Star Trek in general) is that it is not something about science fiction, it is something about human (or sentient) interaction, and it makes you think about things in our world too.

    Anyway, I give it a 9 mainly for Phlox teaching Archer what the Prime Directive is all about, and seeing Archer stumbling everywhere over complicated issues so far, that is quite a feat! But the rest of the episode was interesting too, I would give the rest a 7.
  • Science FAIL

    This episode was talking about the evolution of another species, and whether to get involved with it by healing a dying race. So the religious choice would of course be to help them if you can. But they decide against it at the end because they don't think they should be involved in changing the species' evolution, the supposed enlightened scientific choice. The problem here is that WE ARE PART OF EVOLUTION! Science too would help these people because there is no moral reason not to! It's not like they believe in a God or the superstition of destiny.
  • the prime directive/archer's choice is wrong and hypocritical.

    i love this episodes but the prime directive archer's choice is wrong & hypocritical.
    time and time again both earth and enterprise have been save by interference of other aliens in up coming episodes. in a pretext of noninterference it seems selfish, arrogant and evil of archer/starfleet to say no.

    i have no doubt that people who have family that are dieing of some genetic illnesses such as ALS or sickle cell anemia. will have problem with this show.
  • Perfection - If only more was like this

    When watching this series its been painful to watch certain things be written again and differently, and while this episode doesn't fall under that category (no emotional Vulcans, nor odd-acting Klingons that have made me wish this was not a Star Trek show so i could actually enjoy it) it deals with one of the main Star Trek themes (The Prime Directive). While the Prime Directive doesn't yet exist yet in the story time line the plot rotates around interfering with a doomed species that dominates a currently lesser but evolving species or allowing the species die and allow the dominating species to evolve on their own without the oppression (very mild oppression, but oppression none the less) of the other.

    It also deals with the doctor's loyalty/duty verse his opinions toward the end.

    To anyone who has negative impressions of this episode due to its lack of battle I have but one thing to say, Star Trek has never been about action and battles... rather its about morals and exploration with conflicts added to ensure a diverse show.
  • While the tone and moral dilemma of this episode is classic Trek, I did not care for the resolution. I think they made entirely the wrong decision. The idea that just because a species may not evolve any further that they should not be helped is absurd.

    While the tone and moral dilemma of this episode is classic Star Trek, I did not care for the resolution. I think they made entirely the wrong decision. I understanc not giving weapons or other potentially dangerous technologies to other cultures, particularly pre-warp cultures. I also understand that the sick species were basically at an evolutionary end, and the other species were still developing. However, The idea that just because a species may not evolve any further means that they should not be granted the same help that starfleet would extend to anyone else is absurd. If this had been happening to the Vulcans, they certainly would have done things differently (granted, the Vulcans would no doubt have found the cure long before Starfleet).
  • Dr. Phlox introduces Captain Archer to the idea that playing God is irresponsible. Allusions to the Prime Directive and the attempt to not play God plague this episode with un-originality.

    Captain Archer is asked to help cure a plague that is destroying one of the two humanoid species of a planet. Once a cure for the plague is developed Dr. Phlox demands of Captain Archer to not dispense it in the hope that the un-affected humanoid species be allowed to evolve into the Alpha-species.
    Captain Archer joins the other self-riotous Starfleet Captains that play God while attempting not to (Picard, Janeway, etc.). This was a sad episode because it seems out of character for Archer and I lost respect for him. I think Archer should have saved the people on the planet because it is canon-known that early generation Captains used to do whatever they heck they wanted ("cowboys").
  • Playing god!

    I loved this episode, I makes me think what happened in our past. We had 2 species here one was extincted and the other turned out to evolve into us. The Dr was right, what if an alien race got involved and helped the neandrthal, where whould that lead us. How do we know they didnt come down and give us the advanced edge we needed to survive. I believe Archer mad the right choice. There is a diffrence in helping someone that is sick or has a broken bone etc. But getting involved with a species genetics is another thing altogether.
  • A Phlox character development episode.

    As I was watching this episode, I really wanted to give it a lower rating than I did. The episode was extrememly slow. Heck, the problem that the characters were facing didn't really occur until half an hour into the episode. That is pretty much the end.

    The only thing that stopped me from giving it a lower score was that I like the character Phlox. No, he is not my favorite. My favorite so far is T'Pol (which they still have not explored as much as I would like). However, he is still an interesting character. The puzzlement of the human species is part of what makes Star Trek a fun franchise to watch. No, it was not an amazing episode. It was not even an exciting episode. It did, however, have some interesting character developments. That is the only reason this episode did not get a lower score from me.
  • We follow the doctor through his rather uneventful everyday routine, and then, when at last something challenging happens, we witness him make the decision allow a sentient species to die in order to favour the evolutionary chances of another species!

    What a terrible episode!

    Apart from the series finale (which is in a category of its own), I think this must be the worst episode of Enterprise.

    It started boring (Data's Day all over) with the doctor muddling around sickbay, observing humans in their unnatural habitat, and writing (or rather dictating) letters to a friend.
    Then suddenly a challenge: Enterprise is visited by two members of an alien species, who have not yet developed warp-technology, but nonetheless endeavoured far into space to find someone who can help them fight a terrible disease.

    Of course Archer is sympathetic to their plight, and the doctor faces a great challenge to find a cure.

    So far, so good: rather boring (been there, done that), but not terrible.

    Then, however, disaster strikes: It appears there is another sentient species of humanoids on the planet! They are considered as being underdeveloped by the other guys, and are employed by them in menial jobs.
    The Enterprise crew then discovers that these 'underdeveloped' aliens are not as backward as everybody thinks, they appear to have quite an ear for language (at least some of them do), and show other signs of promise.
    In fact If they weren't held back by the others (the 'master race'), these servants might well develop into the dominant species on the planet!

    Phlox then finds out that the dominant race might not be dominant for much longer: the disease that is infecting them will extinguish the whole race in time.

    And believe it or not: this leaves him faced with a dilemma. What to do: save the lives of millions of sentient beings (who are slowly dying from a disease), and thus hamper the evolutionary chances of another brand of species, or just let them die and let evolution run its course.

    I found it mind-boggling that he chooses the second option, and even manages to get Archer on his side.

    Seriously: evolution is treated here as if it were some sort of deity, not to be meddled with.
    Evolution is just something that happens: species grow, evolve, change into other species, become extinct etc. There is absolutely no reason why it should be imperative always to let evolution run its course. People are tampering with evolution all the time: First by cutting down rain forests, to give an example, and then once more by saving endangered species through breeding programs etc. (viz. the great Panda: evolutionary a very unsuccessful animal, yet we try to keep it alive at all costs…). All that tampering, of course, is also part of evolution. There is no moral angle here. Evolution is neither right or wrong: it just is.

    So Phlox's argument that it would be going against natural evolution to save all these people is complete nonsense. It is even dangerous: The social Darwinists used similar arguments to state that weaker members of a society should not be helped, but allowed to die: helping them would 'interfere with evolution'. The stronger should be helped, not the weaker! These theories were very popular in certain circles during some dark periods in the 20th century….

    I'll stop now, although I could go on about these issues for some time. I've always disliked the 'Prime Directive' episodes of the different Star Trek series, and precisely for the reasons stated above. Of course, some borders cannot be crossed, like giving warp technology or advanced weapons to people you know are not ready for them. But allowing millions of people to die for all the wrong reasons is, in my view, something else.
  • great episode

    The enterprise visit a planet that is inhabited by two distinct humanoid aliens. When Archer and the away team discover that one of the alien species is heading to extinction, Archer and Phlox discuss whether or not they should be involved with the planet's affairs. This episode looks at aspects of the human condition through the perspective an alien race. there's no battle here, but it's still an interesting episode. the story was tight enough that it didn't feel like it was dragging. the scenes were paced so it'll look as if it was fluid. overall, it's a good episode, it's entertaining.
  • The beginning of the end for the series, and it's still season one.

    If anyone needs time to ponder why this Trek series was canceled after 4 seasons, one has only to look at this episode (and many others like it). While philosophically stimulating, if nothing else, it was another 'talky' episode, centered around a 'day in the life' of Phlox (or Enterprise's answer to a Neelix knockoff), the ship's doctor, who must grope with human compassion and inaction. Tried and true recipe for the franchisee, and ultimately too many of these episodes wrecked the franchise, and particularly this series. So if you're looking for action, or some nifty plot twists, or even an entertaining story (survival of the unknown species is simply ridiculous), this isn't it. We still love Bakula, who can make any bad scene a good one, and he has try extra hard for this episode.
  • This was one of those episodes i was thinking about for days afterwards. One of the gems in an already outstanding first season

    A day in the life of Doctor Flax. Already one of the shows most enjoyable characters, this episode really showcases his talent and depth. We follow Flax through most of a typical day, as he struggles with human romance as well as typical job issues until enterprise encounters a pair of aliens infected with a terminal disease that is rampaging their planet. When it is discovered that the disease is genetic and may be an evolutionary result, Flax is faced with the moral dilema, which will eventually become the Prime directive for the later series: non-interferance. The moral and ethical issues this episode brings to light are truly thought provoking and really calls into question a lot of the issues never addressed in the original series. When to apply the prime directive? Even if not interfering means the death of millions? Brilliantly done episode.
  • Phlox get spotlight

    This episode does a wonderful job with showing the background of the Denobulan doctor, dealing not only with his background and relationships, but also his own cultural mores and observations about humanity.
    Phlox is faced with a real moral dilemma whem trying to find a cure for a species who also have a caste system on their own planet; their society treats their race as the superior beings, while the other race is treated as menials, consigned to doing all of the work they don't want to do, as well as segregating them. Compounding this is his difference with his crewmates as to this system, their seeing it as exploitation versus his seeing it as a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.
    Of special note is the background score for this episode, it really adds an air of sentimental reflection, a key point in this episode. Very well done!