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Dear
Doctor

 

Cast & Crew

Director: James Contner
Teleplay By: Maria Jacquemetton & Andre Jacquemetton

Starring
Scott Bakula as Captain
Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Chief
Engineer Charles Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander
T’Pol
Dominic Keating as Lt.
Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery
as Ensign Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi
Sato
John Billingsley
as Dr. Phlox

Guest Cast
Kellie Waymire as Elizabeth Cutler
David A. Kimball as Esaak
Chris Rydell as Alien Astronaut
Karl Wiedergott as Larr
Alex Nevil as Menk Man

Airdate Information

Originally Aired: January 23, 2002
Season: One
Episode: Thirteen

Dear DoctorWhat
Happened

Enterprise finds a small pre-warp space craft with a dying crewmember
aboard. After being treated by the doctor, the Valakian astronaut imparts his
homeworld’s desperate story. They are all dying. One in every three people have
contracted a disease that keeps them from processing protein (or some-such medical
techno-babble). Eager to help, Archer points Enterprise to the astronaut’s
home.

Once they arrive, Dr. Phlox begins analyzing the problem and working on a solution.
In the meantime, he begins to question his relationship with Crewman Cutler
(returning from ‘Strange New World’). He’s sensing she wants to be more than
friends. The crew also discover that the Valakians aren’t the sole intelligent
humanoid to evolve on the planet. Forming a symbiotic relationship with the
Valakians are the Menk. Less evolved than the dominate species, they are nonetheless
evolved with a separate language and culture.

Finding it odd that the Menk seem to be immune to the disease ravaging the
Valakians, he conducts research to find a difference. Several days pass and
Phlox finally comes to a conclusion regarding the Valakians. There is no disease,
they are dying because a genetic defect. Confronting the captain with the news
that they can be cured, but it would be interfering with their natural evolution.
Equating the situation to early humans and Neanderthal man, Phlox implores the
captain not to help, no matter how inhumane that may seem.

After pondering the issue, the captain, reluctantly, agrees with the doctor.
No cure is to be provided. They are provided with medicine to ease their symptoms
and how to synthesize more. Phlox’s dire prediction for the species: The Valakian
people will be extinct in 200 years.

Review

Nice shakeup on the Prime Directive theme. Even without Starfleet’s highest
order, we can still debate the wisdom of helping under developed cultures. In
an odd twist of roles from TNG, we have the Doctor advocating noninterference
and the captain wanting to help.

One could dismiss this as a remake of TNG’s first season ‘Symbiosis,’
but that wouldn’t be doing this episode justice. Unlike the 1988 episode, the
stakes are much higher here. And the characters aren’t just following the rules,
they’re having to make judgments for themselves. Much trickier ground. I hope
they continue this type of story construction, far more interesting.

High Point

The running narrative of Phlox writing his colleague on Denobula was a nice
plot device, and gives us further insight in his character.

Low Point

Archer’s little "Someday" speech at the end was dumb. We all knew
(even non-Trekkers) that this was about the Prime Directive. He didn’t need
to beat it in with a hammer. I did like the fact that he wasn’t happy with the
resolution, stating it would haunt him forever. Doing the right thing often
doesn’t feel like it.

The Scores

Originality: An excellent spin on the PD theme, but still a spin. 4

Effects: Not a lot to speak of. Shuttle shots flying down and through the Valakian
city was clean and smooth. 4

Story: Bang up job. A great improvement over ‘Silent Enemy.’ On top of the
main story, the subplot of getting to know Phlox a little better was well done.
5

Acting: Great work from Billingsley and Waymire on their awkwardness in their
relationship. At least it doesn’t feel tacked on like the Seven/Chakotay thing.
4

Emotional Response: I wasn’t sure where they’d go in the end, so there was
a certain amount of suspense generated by the plot. 4

Production: The alien clinic and Menk camp proved to be well constructed and
not your usual ‘set of the week.’ 4

Overall: A major improvement over last week! Keep this up guys. 5

Total: 30 out of 42

Stills

From StarTrek.com

Fight or FlightNext
Time

Sleeping Dogs
(Jan. 30, 2001)

"Remind me to stop trying to help people"

When Enterprise comes across a wounded Klingon vessel, T’Pol, Hoshi
and Reed take a shuttlepod down to investigate. There they are ambushed by a
hostile female Klingon who hijacks the shuttlepod, leaving the Enterprise
crewmembers dangerously stranded aboard the Klingon vessel. Now it’s up to Archer
to take the Klingon under guard and enlist her help in rescuing his crew.