The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: A Night in Sickbay

Captain Archer is in for a tough night. Not only has he offended the Kreetassans again, but Porthos has picked up a pathogen during the visit to their home planet. Whilst Doctor Phlox tries everything he can to save Porthos, Archer spends a restless night with his dog in sickbay.

Enterprise has produced a fair few mediocre episodes so far, but rarely has it stooped to such obvious filler as A Night in Sickbay. Few episodes have so obviously smacked of cost cutting since TNG’s Shades of Grey, and that’s not a name you want to be associated with.

The bulk of A Night in Sickbay involves Archer being an arsehole, blaming everyone except himself for the fact that his dog is sick. Porthos, who lies motionless in an isolation chamber for most of the episode, is the highlight of the episode, because everything else is simply dreadful. To give you some idea of the depths reached in this episode, let’s list a few of them.

  • Archer tries to get some sleep in sickbay, only to be woken up by Phlox scraping his tongue and sawing off his toenails.
  • Archer tries to outmatch T’Pol on the treadmill, in a pointless display of macho insecurity.
  • Archer and Phlox spend a ‘comical’ time trying to capture Phlox’s escaped Pyrithean bat.
  • Phlox launches up an entire subplot of how Archer’s tetchiness is clearly due to sexual tension between him and T’Pol. Did we really need this subplot? No, of course we didn’t.
  • Archer has to slice up a log as part of a Kreetassan apology ceremony.

Porthos factbox

Porthos was one of a litter of four male puppies – each named after a Musketeer. His dam belonged to the mother of one of Archer’s ex-girlfriends, and Archer was delighted to have a puppy of his own.

Porthos now has a pituitary gland donated from a Calrissian chameleon.

Phlox’s love life

Phlox once again explains that he has three wives, and that they each have three husbands including him. Here he describes it as “A total of seven hundred and twenty relationships, forty two of which have romantic possibilities”. 720 is six factorial, which is probably why the writers settled on it, but it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. If the marital group is the minimal three men and three women, then the number of possible pairings is a relatively tame 15, with 9 of those being heterosexual romantic relationships.

Of course, Phlox’s three wives may have Phlox as their only husband in common, so they each bring two unique husbands to the relationship, who in turn have their own wives who are not married to Phlox. Additionally, maybe Phlox is not just counting relationships between members of his generation – there are also his children, his parents, his parents-in-law, siblings, half-siblings, cousins and so forth. Given this freedom, we might be able to get the numbers to work. This thread explores a few possibilities.

Other points

  • As usual, Star Trek is entirely heteronormative by suggesting that sexual tension can only develop between people of the opposite sex.

Summary – A Night in Sickbay: In which Archer is a complete arsehole.

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