John Billingsley's portrayal of Dr. Phlox
was terribly overlooked in the first season of Enterprise.
And for most of this year he has been shoved into the same
corner of the ship, giving simple advice and computer enhanced
smiles for comedic relief. But this week's Enterprise
placed the alien doctor as a key character in both the A and
B story lines.
the normal Star Trek writer's formula, the B story
line is light and funny. But the A story line isn't the typical
"eject the warp core" or "blast the phasers
through rock" story. This week Enterprise does
what Star Trek was designed for: explore the human condition.
Trek has a long history of dealing with heavy issues.
The original Trek held the legendary "first inter-racial
kiss" when Uhura and Kirk locked lips. The Next Generation
ran an episode dealing with the environment and the very next
week an episode dealing with gay rights. And there wasn't
a season when Deep Space Nine neglected to tackle a
heavy issue from poverty to racism.
episode has ever been as subtle as this week's "Stigma."
Stigma refers to the social embarrassment T'Pol is threatened
with when she learns she is carrying a disease her culture
frowns upon. It affects the brain and is transmitted during
prequel universe, mind melds are still new to the Vulcans.
And an even newer concept is their mantra, "Infinite
diversity - in an infinite number of combinations," or
so it would seem, because the members of the Vulcan medical
council turn their pointed noses up at T'Pol, or anyone who
has contracted the disease.
Phlox is then caught in his own lie when he attempts to acquire
the latest medical treatment for T'Pol's condition. By this
point we're twenty minutes into the program, and not one phaser
has been fired. It gets better.
T'Pol deals with the Vulcan command and her possible dismissal
from the Enterprise, Dr. Phlox tends to sickbay where his
second wife, Feezal, flirts with Commander Tucker. Last season
it was revealed Denobulans have multiple husbands or wives,
and that they can go years without seeing them.
viewers have gone for the entire run of the show without seeing
another Denobulan. Feezal, played by Melinda Page Hamilton,
expertly matches the odd mannerisms of Phlox. When Marina
Sirtis played the first Betazoid on TNG she mangled her native
British accent to become what she thought was a Betazoid accent.
However, no other Betaziod ever had a similar accent - or
any accent. (Marina Sirtis jokes that Troi must have gone
to boarding school) But the directors of Enterprise
are much more consistent with the character traits of their
Trip spends most of the episode running from Feezal, afraid
her sexual advances will upset Phlox. But Trip must not have
noticed the casual way in which Phlox treats marriage. The
simple fact that he has three wives should've been a clue.
Either Trip was just too put off by the concept of inter-species
bigamy, or the writers were too concerned with funny sexy
scenes than with how Trip would really handle the situation.
I hope it's the former.
rate it's been nearly fifty minutes and still no phasers have
gone off (or torpedoes, or tractor beams, or plasma bombs,
or . . .). T'Pol fights the Vulcan medical council's narrow
minded views at the risk of losing her job.
end, a member of the council steps forward, outs himself as
a mind melder and defends T'Pol by explaining she was attacked
when she received the disease. T'Pol keeps her job, and doesn't
give in to the bigotry of the council.
surface this may just seem like a dramatic and complicated
story, with no cool fight scenes. But if, indeed, you missed
the real message UPN added a tag commercial. Just as the screen
fades to black a PSA appears promoting the KNOW HIV AIDS organization.
To make the message anymore clear Billingsley would have to
step out of costume, sit on the set of sick bay and say "If
you'd like to learn more about AIDS visit your local library."
what makes Star Trek so great. Educating people about stuff
we'd like to forget about, and doing it in a classy fashion.
is no greater mission.
Star Trek's example here are some important links relating
to today's review: