STAR TREK REWIND: “A Night in Sickbay”

“I’m told I’ve offended these people twice. Once for eating in front of them. The second time, I don’t even know what for. But if their carelessness has hurt Porthos or God forbid ends up killing him, they’re going to find out what being offended is all about!”

Curiously, this is one of the most hated episodes of Enterprise, but I find it charming and hilarious. Granted, fans had ‘shipped Tucker and Hoshi, as well as Archer and T’Pol; ultimately Hoshi was left holding the bag (unless you count the Mirror Universe). Hoshi, T’Pol, Archer, and Porthos return from a failed jaunt to a planet of dreadlocked, hyper-sensitive weirdos. The same weirdos we met in “Vox Sola,” and where Travis had successfully managed to convey a heartfelt apology for eating in their presence.

This time Porthos urinates on one of their precious trees, and of course, they take offense. Unfortunately, Porthos picks up a pathogen and has to remain in decontamination until Phlox can figure out what’s wrong with him. This upsets Archer, so he sets up a bed in the Sickbay where he can keep a watchful eye on his beloved beagle.

Porthos develops a problem with his pituitary gland, and the doctor must improvise a radical treatment. Phlox irritates Archer with talk of T’Pol and the unusual chemistry and sexual tension that they both share. Archer denies any attraction to T’Pol, but he suffers bizarre dreams of naked decontamination gel rub-downs, and a farcical funeral for Porthos that draws Archer and T’Pol closer.

The weirdo aliens send up their oddly specific rubrics for an official apology. The apology involves a sweaty bare chest, dreadlocks, and chainsaws. Of all the captains we’ve watched on these shows, I think Archer is the most irritable. Going into uncharted territory, while fine for the adventure aspect of the show, also involves ridiculous customs for which the captain has no patience. Archer will think twice before he brings Porthos down to another planet.

“A Night in Sickbay” stands as an excellent showcase for John Billingsley and the character of Phlox. We see his dedication to healing, working all night to save a dog. We’re witness to bizarre habits, such as shaving his tongue, and trimming his rapidly growing toenails. Archer, for his part, becomes a blithering idiot in a short space of time when confronted with T’Pol and her classic Vulcan beauty, even spitting out a few slips of the tongue in her presence.

I’ve always seen Archer as a father figure, in much the same way Janeway projected the tone and warmth of a mother to her Voyager crew. He’s stern and sly, confident yet nurturing while worrying after his sick dog. This is close quarters on a small ship sailing the stars. There will be conflicts, and there will be tension. I’ve grown to appreciate Enterprise some ten years after it went off the air.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Pike, Kirk to Picard, and Sisko to Janeway— boldly read what no one has read before!

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