In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, Phlox devises a solution to his problem, while Archer confronts Reed about his betrayal. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.Â
You know, I can recognize that the science in this episode is practically non-sensical. Iâ€™m pretty sure a human canâ€™t exist outside a ship moving faster than the speed of light? I am also suspicious of this entire episodeâ€™s usage of vaccines and viruses. And Archer as a human host. And Archer going to that Klingon base entirely by himself??? WHO THE FUCK ALLOWED THAT. Also, Section 31 seems to have succeeded almost entirely by luck and nothing else, so… good on you?
Normally, I might be more inclined to nitpick the hell out of this, but you know what? I enjoyed this episode. Emotionally, it was satisfying, and it contained one of the coolest suspense sequences in the entire series. It was just so fun, wasnâ€™t it?
Again, I donâ€™t think Tucker should have survived a second of that trip between the Enterprise and the Columbia, but Iâ€™m willing to discard ACTUAL SCIENCE because that bit was DOPE. Two Starships! The Columbia flew upside-down! TUCKER USED A CABLE TO TRANSFER BETWEEN THE TWO AT WARP! It was a fantastic way to open this episode and to bring both Tucker and Captain Hernandez into the story.
And then, of course, it was immediately uncomfortable. Reed is carted off to the brig without explaining it to Tucker, and Tucker has to contend with his unresolved feelings towards Tâ€™Pol. For what itâ€™s worth, I feel like Tâ€™Pol is trying. Yet every time she makes an attempt at opening up a conversation with Tucker, he shuts it down, often with a whole lot of condescension, too. Look, remember when Tom Paris and Neelix were competing all the time, and it lasted multiple episodes? I need the same thing here as I needed there: an episode where the characters involved just sit down and TALK. Please! Both Tâ€™Pol and Tucker have a lot to say to one another, but theyâ€™re simply not communicating anymore. They cycle through small talk into condescension and passive-aggressiveness and then back again! PLEASE TALK.
I must admit that itâ€™s a little weird that this significant part of Reedâ€™s backstory is just dropped into Trek lore out of nowhere. Itâ€™s a bit too convenient, but again, I was willing to put that aside because I found his conundrum so compelling. Iâ€™ve never questioned his loyalty to Archer, so thatâ€™s part of the reason his betrayal stings so much for the captain. It really took Archer by surprise, and it certainly didnâ€™t help that Reed refused to alleviate any suspicions. What I love about this is that we get an element of Reedâ€™s past that haunts him, and he finds a way to fight against it. He ultimately chooses his loyalty to Archer, yes, but it goes beyond that. He defied Harris. He told Archer the truth. And then he hung up on Harris as the ultimate attempt to deny Harris access to himself.
I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll see this plot again, given that Iâ€™m so close to the end of Enterpriseâ€™s run, but if I could request anything, Iâ€™d say that this should have been a longstanding arc. Like, hinted at in multiple episodes, never explained, and then Reed is finally asked to do something truly unethical toward Archer. That would have made this pop even more!
I JUST LOVE HIS COMMITMENT TO HIS ETHICS. Itâ€™s a contrast to the journey that Reed is on, since Phlox never really deviates from his morals until he does so out of desperation. AND BOY, DOES HE EVER DO IT. This is one of my favorite performances from John Billingsley, and it shows. His character is forced into this miserable situation, and there are numerous times when Phlox is presented with a way out thatâ€™ll allow him to save himself. He never takes them. Ever. In the end, he devises a plan to force Admiral Krell into protecting the colony by INFECTING KRELLâ€™S SHIP WITH THE VIRUS. Again, itâ€™s the reverse journey when compared with Reed: Phlox remains ethical until he must violate his code in order to save millions upon millions of lives.
And he does it. He saves everyone. (Well, as far as I could tell. Did any of those infected on the colony die?) BRAVO, PHLOX.
The video for â€œDivergenceâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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