11/7/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Doctor's Orders"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S03E16
Air Date: February 18, 2004
Written by: Chris Black
Directed by: Roxann Dawson

Premise
While the crew sleeps to make it through a ball of space lava, Phlox goes crazy and shows us why it's considered healthy for Denobulans to hallucinate.

Review
A lone beagle pitter-pattering through the empty corridors of the starship Enterprise. This is all that's needed for an audience to start wondering what's up. And then Phlox starts running after Porthos. And doesn't appear to be at all worried about Archer being in a technologically induced coma. And that brings the teaser to WTF levels.

In a flashback to a few days ago, the coma is explained. The Enterprise came across another gigantic ball of space lava, but this time, in order to get to the coordinates that Degra gave them in time, they have to go through it. The only way they'll survive passing through the space lava is to put everyone into a coma. Except for Phlox and Porthos who are immune to the effects of the space lava. That leaves Phlox as the chief medical officer and Porthos as the acting captain.
MY DREAMS OF COMMAND HAVE BEEN REALIZED!
After a few scenes of Phlox going about daily life (including walking around naked at one point), the good doctor is seen watching a movie, and that's when things start to get weird. Phlox hears noises in the distance and gets up to investigate. After a lot of stress-inducing suspense, he winds up in engineering where he finds a chain being blown around by a leaky coolant pipe or something. But the creepiness doesn't end there. He keeps hearing things... and then...
A wild T'Pol appears!
Well, it makes sense, doesn't it? Humans need to sleep through the space lava, but all the non-humans are awake. Good thing she showed up, too, 'cause Denobulans are very social beings and he was getting really lonely. Lonely enough to feel like he was going crazy. He tells T'Pol (and reminds the viewer) that it's considered healthy for Denobulans to hallucinate, but he swears what he's hearing is real.

And what he sees when he goes on his rounds checking on the sleeping crew, is an insectoid Xindi poking around in Archer's room! Well, now he thinks the ship is under attack. He thinks this so strongly that he almost shoots poor Captain Porthos when he sneaks up on him!

T'Pol attempts to calm Phlox, but the space lava appears to be getting to both of them as T'Pol starts losing control of her emotions. Phlox considers putting himself under like the rest of the crew, but T'pol insists that he shouldn't since she's in no better condition and the ship needs several more weeks to get through the expanding space lava unless they can figure out a way to use the warp engines without blowing up the ship. (Ya know... 'cause space lava + warp engines = BOOM.)

Well, they have a little trouble starting up the engines, but they eventually power through it and leave the space lava in just a few moments. And then they start waking the crew. And Phlox finds out that T'Pol is sleeping, too. The T'Pol he had been seeing was a hallucination all along. But that T'Pol was the one who had encouraged him to move forward, who convinced him of what was real and put him on the right course. That's why it's healthy for Denobulans to hallucinate.

Overall Thoughts
This one was pretty good. It takes a while to actually decide what's going on, which is great for this kind of story. Phlox plays off his insanity convincingly and makes you believe that there could actually be a Xindi invasion happening and the suspense was great. I'm just still not convinced about this whole space lava stuff. Maybe that's just me.