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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “A Night in Sickbay”


Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “A Night in Sickbay”

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “A Night in Sickbay”


Published on July 11, 2022

Screenshot: CBS
Screenshot: CBS

“A Night in Sickbay”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Straiton
Season 2, Episode 5
Production episode 030
Original air date: October 16, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise has come to the Kreetassan homeworld to trade for desperately needed plasma injectors. However, the landing party did something to offend the Kreetassans—they’re not told what—and kick them offworld without the injectors. While in decon with T’Pol, Sato, and Porthos, Archer is bitching and moaning about this at great length.

Phlox releases the three humans, but says Porthos must remain behind, as there’s a contaminant the decon gel didn’t take care of.

Archer continues to bitch and moan about the Kreetassans, while Tucker points out that their injectors are by far the most compatible ones they’ve been able to find. They need one and Tucker urges his CO to swallow his pride, use his diplomatic training, and get the damn injectors.

Phlox reports that Porthos has a pathogen that is breaking down his autoimmune system. He’s in an isolation cage in sickbay while Phlox runs tests. Archer confirms that Phlox sent the genetic profiles of all four of the landing party, including the pooch, and yet the Kreetassans didn’t warn them about a pathogen that could harm beagles.

T’Pol and Sato work to try to figure out (a) what they did and (b) how to fix it. Archer, meanwhile, spends all his time in sickbay worrying over Porthos. However, his plan to stay the night there goes awry, as he’s awakened by Phlox doing various things from toenail clipping to tongue cleaning to feeding his animals. Plus, a bat gets loose, and Archer has to help him catch it. (Though in the end, it’s Sato who snags it with hilarious ease.)

Screenshot: CBS

T’Pol finally determines that the problem is that Porthos peed on a sacred tree. Seems to me they should’ve figured out that one on their own, but there it is. T’Pol requests that the Kreetassans provide an appropriate apology, while Archer bitches that they should’ve warned him about something in their atmosphere being lethal to dogs, and if Porthos dies, he’s gonna pee on their tree.

Phlox is able to get rid of the pathogen, but he’s worried that Porthos’ autoimmune system won’t recover in time to save him from bacteria and other normally harmless things.

Porthos’ pituitary gland fails, and he needs a transplant, which Phlox does from an alien chameleon he has in his little menagerie.

Archer then goes down to the Kreetassan homeworld and carves up a tree into disk-shaped bits with a chainsaw and arranges them while shirtless and wearing hairpieces while chanting stuff in Kreetassan. For their part, the Kreetassans are so impressed that they provide some spare injectors besides the one they need.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? NX-class ships use five plasma injectors for the warp drive. They can function with four in a pinch—three is right out.

The gazelle speech. Archer is way more concerned about his dog and his pride than he is fixing the ship. We also find out that he’s always had dogs since he was a kid.

Screenshot: CBS

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol rightly points out that Archer shouldn’t bring dogs on diplomatic landing party missions.

Florida Man. Florida Man Refuses To Let His Captain Cheap Out On Needed Engine Parts Because His Dog Is Sick.

Optimism, Captain! Phlox isn’t just a “people doctor,” he also has degrees in veterinary medicine, dentistry, botanical pharmacology, and hematology. He also reveals that Denobulans don’t have pets. 

Good boy, Porthos! Poor Porthos gets rubbed in decon gel, gets sick from an alien pathogen, gets a weird transplant, and has to put up with his human being a douchenozzle. Oh, and be replaced by the world’s most unconvincing puppy double for the surgery scene.

No sex please, we’re Starfleet. Phlox thinks that Archer is cranky because he hasn’t had sex much lately and diagnoses sexual tension with T’Pol, mostly based on how sensitive he is to her opinion. This gets into Archer’s head, and he makes two sexual slips of the tongue while talking to T’Pol, using “breast” for “best” and “lips” for “list,” and later has a weird dream that includes hot and heavy decon chamber stuff.

I’ve got faith…

“I really thought you were beginning to understand human emotions.”

“Not when they apply to primitive quadrupeds who haven’t evolved the ability to speak. Or to use a toilet.”

–Archer being whiny and T’Pol totally not getting why dogs are awesome.

Screenshot: CBS

Welcome aboard. The only guest this week is Vaughn Armstrong as a Kreetassan captain. It’s unclear if he’s playing the same Kreestassan captain he played in “Vox Sola.”

Trivial matters: This is Vaughn Armstrong’s last appearance on Trek while heavily made up. Even though most of his roles on Trek have involved heavy makeup and/or prosthetics, all his subsequent appearances will be as some version or other of the human Admiral Forrest.

This is the second appearance of the Kreetassans, after “Vox Sola,” also the last time to date that any has appeared with a speaking part.

This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form alongside “Carbon Creek.” These were the only two Enterprise episodes to be nominated for a Hugo, and they both lost to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Conversations with Dead People.” Additionally, eight episodes of the original series were nominated (two of which won), as were nine of the thirteen movies, three episodes of TNG (two of which won), two episodes of DS9, and one episode each of Discovery and Lower Decks.

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “You’re going to drown my dog?” Someone on my Twitter feed recently referred to this as the nadir of Star Trek as a franchise. I’m not sure if that’s the case, given that “The Alternative Factor,” “Plato’s Stepchildren,” “Shades of Gray,” “Homeward,” “Sub Rosa,” “Profit and Lace,” “Threshold,” “Fair Haven,” “Spirit Folk,” and “Dear Doctor” are all things that exist.

But this episode is definitely in the conversation, because holy crap, is it horrible.

We’re in trouble from the first scene with a decon gel scene that looks for all the world like it’s the opening to a scene in a particularly absurd porno flick, with Sato rubbing down T’Pol, T’Pol rubbing down Archer, and Archer rubbing down Porthos, the humans all in their underwear. And it never gets any better. The whole thing of Archer offending the Kreetassans while worrying about his pooch would, at best, make for a silly disposable B-plot, but it’s all there is to this episode.

When this first aired in 2002, I was mostly not watching Enterprise, but I decided to watch this one because I thought it was going to focus on Porthos, plus lots of Phlox, who is my favorite of the sentient characters on the show.

And instead, I got this. Archer being a whiny schmuck for an hour, neglecting the necessary repair work for his ship, all to complain about how the Kreetassans somehow were responsible for his dog being sick even though he’s the doofus who took a dog onto a diplomatic mission. And how did neither he nor T’Pol nor Sato figure out that Porthos peeing on a tree would be a problem? Shouldn’t they have at least guessed that?

The “comedy” bits in this episode are painfully unfunny—most of them involving Phlox’s sickbay antics. John Billingsley does the best he can, and I like that he maintains his professionalism even while his captain is being an ass, but the Goofy Alien Hijinks are just absurd, especially the attempt to chase down the Bad CGI Bat with a net and an origami bat on a stick.

And the whole thing with Archer and T’Pol’s alleged sexual tension is (a) out of left field, (b) nonsensical (Archer’s crankiness is probably more related to the lack of sleep and concern over his dog than wanting to boink his science officer), and (c) handled with all the maturity of an emotionally stunted thirteen-year-old boy. Especially the absurd dream sequence that has more porn callbacks and a cheesy puppy funeral scene. This episode reads more like bad fanfic than an episode written by the show’s two co-creators.

I don’t understand how this episode could possibly have snuck into the nomination pool for the Hugos in 2003. Just a dreadful stupid episode that definitely should be on any list of worst Trek episodes.

Warp factor rating: 0

Keith R.A. DeCandido misses having a dog.

About the Author

Keith R.A. DeCandido


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
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