(written from a Production point of view)
|"A Night in Sickbay"|
|ENT, Episode 2x05|
Production number: 030
First aired: 16 October 2002
|←||29th of 97 produced in ENT||→|
|←||30th of 97 released in ENT||→|
|←||658th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
Archer spends a night in sickbay with Dr. Phlox after Porthos picks up a deadly virus on an alien planet.
Captain Jonathan Archer, Ensign Hoshi Sato, T'Pol and Porthos are in the decontamination chamber after a not so successful visit to the Kreetassans home planet. Captain Archer is very frustrated because for the past five days Enterprise spent in orbit, they have been doing nothing but apologizing to and humiliating themselves in front of the aliens because months ago they ate lunch in front of them on their own ship. T'Pol points out that the Kreetassans manufacture plasma injectors and that Enterprise needs one. But Archer has a hard time containing his frustration because once again, after all the waiting and "groveling" as he calls it, they have been asked to leave, empty handed, because they somehow offended the Kreetassans again. How, they do not know, again. Archer does not want to hear it anymore, saying that he is exhausted and pretty much had it with these people.
After their decontamination cycle is over Doctor Phlox lets them know that they can leave except for Porthos: apparently he picked up a pathogen on the surface and the decon-agent has not been effective. With a heavy heart, Captain Archer leaves Porthos behind in the decon chamber.
In main engineering, Commander Tucker ("Trip") explains to the Captain the importance of getting those plasma injectors, no matter how uncomfortable the situation is. Archer complains that these people are impossible, but Trip insists on getting the injectors from them because their components are metallurgically sound and dependable. He tells Archer to take the "high road" as the trained diplomat that he is. Reluctantly, Archer agrees, saying that he will have T'Pol find out what they did wrong this time so they can apologize for it again accordingly.
Meanwhile, Porthos has been relocated to sickbay because the pathogen is affecting him in unexpected ways. Dr. Phlox explains that his autoimmune system is collapsing and that even though he was successful in isolating the pathogen and breaking down its protein sequence, he still cannot explain it, as it should not be affecting Porthos like this. Dr. Phlox is, therefore, running more tests to see what is happening. Archer is worried that this might be a life threatening situation but Dr. Phlox says that it is still too early to tell. Archer wonders why the Kreetassans did not notice that there is a pathogen in their atmosphere that Porthos' immune system cannot handle, given that Enterprise had submitted the genomes of the away team to them to check against the environment of their planet. Dr. Phlox says that they should have noticed any incompatibilities, assuming they actually took the time to check. This angers Archer who points out that if the carelessness of the Kreetassans has hurt Porthos or ends up killing him, they will find out what being offended is all about.
After he leaves sick bay, he speaks with T'Pol and learns that the Kreetassans are offended because Porthos urinated on one of their sacred trees which they consider cultural treasures. But Archer has no sympathy for them, exclaiming that maybe if they had bothered to read the genetic profile that was sent to them, they would have told them that the dog should have stayed on the ship, in which case he would not have had an opportunity to pee on one of their precious trees. T'Pol explains that she apologized on behalf of Archer, but Archer doesn't like that at all, saying that they are the ones who should be sorry and apologizing, not him. He says that if anything happens to Porthos, he will be the one watering their Alvera trees.
Later, Archer – unable to sleep and worried about Porthos – asks Phlox whether he could spend the night in sickbay in order to cheer Porthos up. Dr. Phlox says that Porthos is in no condition to know the difference either way, but Archer insists on being there nonetheless. He begins chatting with the doctor and asks him whether there are any dogs on his homeworld of Denobula. Phlox explains that the Denobulan lemur, which is highly sought after, is similar to a dog, with a tail, fur and mostly one head. He also reassures the Captain that he need not worry because he is qualified enough, holding six degrees in interspecies, veterinary medicine, in addition to half a dozen other degrees in various other fields such as hematology and botanical pharmacology. Moreover, he has been able to eliminate the pathogen and now wants to see whether the treatment that he has devised will stabilize Porthos' autoimmune system. He tells him to go get some rest, but Archer is still concerned and unsure how to feel. What's more, continuously throughout the night he is disturbed by the doctor's various odd activities in sickbay, such as feeding the animals, chasing them when they escape their cage, clipping his toe-nails and engaging in other strange grooming behavior. Realizing that he won't get much sleep like that, he decides to go and work out.
In the gym, he runs into T'Pol who tells him that he should not have brought his dog on a diplomatic mission, especially after they had offended the Kreetassan previously. She goes on to say that once again he was ignoring the consequences of his actions, because apparently he places more importance on the quality of the air his pet breathes than on the quality of the plasma running his ship. She is questioning his priorities. Archer takes issue with this and while they are arguing, Hoshi tells them that the Kreetassans have finally submitted their reconciliation demands and that the captain is not going to believe it. Archer glances somewhat dismissively at their undoubtedly ridiculous demands, and returns back to sickbay to get some sleep before the doctor's results are back.
At around 01:32 am, he is awoken by the alarm in sickbay. Porthos has gone into anaphylactic shock because his body is rejecting the treatment. Dr. Phlox is able to temporarily stabilize him until he devises a different one. Archer is frustrated once again, complaining to Phlox that the Kreetassans won't give them the plasma injectors until he makes a fool out of himself by going through a series of ritual apologies. He also expresses his frustration with T'Pol who accused him of caring more about the dog than his ship. Doctor Phlox wonders why T'Pol's opinion concerns him so much and not Commander Tucker's, for instance, who is a friend he has known for years. But Archer sort of ignores his question and goes on and on about the Kreetassans and their unreasonable demands and audacity to expect an apology in the first place. However, Phlox does not give in, asking if Archer ever considered that his anger might encompass more than just Porthos and the Kreetassans. He even goes so far as to ask him how long it has been since he was intimate with a woman. This really catches Archer's attention who is becoming increasingly frustrated with Phlox and his prying. But Phlox does not give in, asking him a little later if he thought anymore about why T'Pol's opinion is so important to him. He points out sexual tension, stating that for the past few months he has noted increasing friction between him and T'Pol. He goes on to say that if a person believes that their own sexual attraction toward another is inappropriate, they will often exhibit unexpected behavior, such as inordinate anger towards comparisons made between their ship and their Beagle. But Archer insists that there exists no sexual attraction between them, and that he and T'Pol have been getting along just fine.
At 02:49 am Archer wakes up again after having had strange dreams involving Porthos, T'Pol, and the decon-chamber. Phlox informs him that the second treatment is not doing well either. Archer looks at Porthos who is lying unconscious and tells Phlox about how he got him from among a litter of four male puppies – The Four Musketeers – and has had him since he was six weeks old. He asks if Phlox had any pets when he was a kid, but Phlox says that his people don't keep any pets. The Denobulan lemur he was talking about earlier is highly sought after because its kidneys are considered a delicacy. Somewhat appalled and shocked, Archer doesn't know what to say. When T'Pol later arrives with food, he keeps stumbling over his words and is nervous.
Doctor Phlox's treatment is effective but only partially: Porthos' immune system is stabilizing but his pituitary gland was severely damaged and is almost completely disintegrated. Dr. Phlox wants to transplant the pituitary gland of a Calrissian chameleon to Porthos. In order to do that, however, he needs to submerge him to minimize the shock to his pulmonary system. Once the surgery is complete Dr. Phlox will not have any problem resuscitating him. Phlox also tells Archer that after receiving the transplanted chameleon gland, Porthos may be harder to find, blending into the background when frightened, but this turns out to be an attempt at humor. Archer is apprehensive about letting the doctor perform a procedure he has never done before, especially given his peoples' attitude and insensitivity towards pets. But Phlox states that this is the only alternative available to them. Seeing that there is no choice, Archer agrees to go on with the procedure suggested by Phlox.
While operating on Porthos at nearly four am, Archer finally opens up regarding his anger towards T'Pol, which, as he admits, could have a component of sexual tension to it. He wonders what he should do about it. Dr. Phlox suggests to do nothing but simply be aware of it. Archer asks him whether his expertise on sexual tension comes solely from professional training or first hand experience. Phlox explains that he has three wives, who each have two other husbands besides himself – a total of 720 relationships, 42 of which have romantic possibilities. He says that there are 31 people in his extended family and that he has five children: two daughters and three sons. Archer apologizes to him for having accused him of being insensitive before and Dr. Phlox accepts.
The night is over and Archer eventually decides to swallow his pride and proceed with the apology, which is long and ritualistic as expected. In the end, everything turns out all right; the Kreetassans are pleased, his apology is accepted and they finally give them their injector, in addition to two spares. Archer also apologizes to T'Pol about his recent behavior and goes picking up Porthos who is recovering nicely from his operation and can finally go home.
"I'll tell you one thing, Subcommander: if anything happens to Porthos, I'll be the one watering their Alvera trees!"
- - Archer, after T'Pol told him what offended the Kreetassans
"Captain, please. You needn't be concerned. I hold six degrees in interspecies veterinary medicine."
"I thought you were just, you know, a people doctor?"
"As a matter of fact, I've also earned degrees in dentistry, hematology, botanical pharmacology,..."
- - Archer inquires about Phlox's qualifications
"This isn't so bad. I was sure there would be something in here about standing on one foot with my eyes shut reciting 'The Night Before Christmas'."
- - Captain Archer while studying a PADD with a list of requirements for issuing an apology to the Kreetassans.
"Do we have a chainsaw on board?"
- - Hoshi Sato to T'Pol, looking over the PADD as Captain Archer leaves the bridge
"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 seeking sympathy from T'Pol over Porthos' condition
"Sorry, I'm a little on edge. I haven't slept very much, but I'm doing the breast I... the best, I can."
- - Archer makes a Pillarian slip while speaking with T'Pol, eliciting a subtle interest from Phlox
"Send me your lips... lisp... LIST!"
- - Archer, making his second Pillarian slip in 30 seconds
"Why haven't you adjusted your time to our capital city?"
"I'm sorry, we didn't know it was a requirement."
"It isn't a requirement, it is simply a courtesy. Something your species has yet to understand!"
- - A Kreetassan civil servant berates Hoshi
"What's the tank for?"
"I'll need to super-hydrate the canine in order to minimize the shock to his pulmonary system."
"You're going to drown my dog?"
- - Archer and Phlox discuss the emergency procedure to save Porthos.
"Tell me doctor, does your knowledge on sexual tension result from training or personal experience?"
"Well I do have three wives."
- - Archer seeking Phlox's advice
Scenes 24 - 25
Archer wakes up in sickbay and calls Commander Tucker – sleeping in his quarters – to come see him. Trip crawls out of bed and, upon entering sickbay, remarks that the Captain looks terrible, asking what happened. Archer says he's fine and that its Porthos who's not doing so well. Tucker says he's sorry to hear it, asking if there is something that he can do. Archer asks Tucker how long it has been since he's been intimate with a woman. Trip is baffled by the question. Dr. Phlox makes a noise to remind them that he is there.
Archer apologizes for waking Trip, and asks about the faulty injector: What kind of stress will put on the other four if they take it off-line and try to repair it? Trip says that it is a matter of time; the longer that they have to rely on four injectors, the greater the stress, the problem being that he has no idea how long the repair would take. If the stress gets too high, they'll end up with only three injectors, at which point Enterprise would be lucky to reach warp speed. Archer tells Trip to get some sleep.
Before leaving, Tucker tells Archer a childhood anecdote: "I had a grade school teacher who was certain I stole a pencil off her desk. I think it was a pencil. She wasn't going to let me go on the field trip to Pensacola unless I apologised. My mother told me I should tell her I was sorry, but I said 'I didn't steal the damn pencil.' You know what she told me? 'It's okay to apologize when you shouldn't have to, just as long as you don't mean it.' "
Scenes 39 - 49
Archer enters the bridge at 4:26 AM, remarking to T'Pol that he thought her shift didn't begin until 9:00 AM. She replies that she took the liberty of temporarily synchronizing their clocks to the Kreetassans' capital city. Archer asks Ensign Sato to join him in his ready room.
Inside the ready room, Archer ask Hoshi to sit down, and asks if she's read "the list", referring to the Kreetassans' reconciliation demands. Hoshi says yes, that she and T'Pol "broke it down". Archer interrupts Hoshi, stating that he requires her assistance on pronouncing a phrase near the end of the document.
- In Captain Archer's dream, the "Dog Cemetery" contains two head stones for dogs, one for "Duffy" (2132 – 2145) and another for "Goldie". Since Archer says he "grew up with dogs", it is probable these were his previous pet dogs.
- During the apology ceremony, Archer wears what appears to be the bottom half only of a standard uniform jumpsuit. This indicates that either the jumpsuits are in fact two piece garments with hidden closures or a previously (and subsequently) unseen uniform variant, or that a uniform was properly modified in order to conform to the Kreetassan's demands.
- The prosthetic Porthos figures seen in this episode – one suspended in the super-hydration tank and one resting inside the quarantine tank – were designed and constructed by Joel Harlow. 
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form."
- In the first scene after the credits at 3:15 the view of the planet from space shows an exact reverse of the Great Lakes of North America.
- The scene with Hoshi Sato, Jonathan Archer, T'Pol and Porthos was used in a Virgin 1 advert to show how more sexualized the show had become by first showing T'Pol and Archer clothed then cutting to them practically naked and then it says that the show has become a bit more risque by showing T'Pol putting lotion on Hoshi while she rubs it on Archer who in turn is shown to rub it on Porthos.
- The blue paper bird used by Phlox was folded by production accountant Suzi Shimizu. (ENT Season 2 DVD, Ronald B. Moore)
- This episode was discussed in the ENT Season 2 DVD special "Inside A Night in Sickbay", with interviews by Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Rick Berman, and Ronald B. Moore. Bakula describes the work in the new surgical scrubs as a challenge.
- Vaughn Armstrong reprises his role as the Kreetassan captain previously seen in "Vox Sola". Vaughn would play Maximilian Forrest, his thirteenth and final character, in the season four episode "In a Mirror, Darkly".
- In a 2004 interview, John Billingsley nominated this episode as one of his favorites. "I loved working with Scott [Bakula]. That was the most time we'd had to work together, and that was fun. Scott's such a warm and gracious man. I know people were a little in two minds of that episode. I rather liked that episode." 
- The Agony Booth website cited this episode as the absolute worst Star Trek episode in their list of "The Worst of Trek". In their recap, they commented, "This episode completely destroys Archer, making him out to be an incompetent, childish moron. As such, it's probably responsible in no small part for sending Enterprise into a ratings death spiral."  "There have been times I've disliked a character. There have been times when I think the writers ruined a character, or undid a lot of a character's development, purely out of laziness. But this... this is all-out character destruction the likes of which I have never seen before. It takes active, aggressive hatred for your own creations to annihilate them to this degree."  "It's [the episode] not terrible in the way most of the movies featured on this website are terrible, in that the filmmakers didn't know what they were doing, and just stumbled into making a horrible movie as a result of their own incompetence. It's terrible in that Epic Movie kind of way, where it seems everybody knew better, but the writers just hated the characters, hated themselves, hated their jobs, and most of all hated you for wanting to watch the shit they write." 
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Subcommander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed (no lines)
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather (no lines)
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Adam Anello as an operations division crewman
- Evan English as Tanner
- Aldric Horton as an operations division crewman
- Marlene Mogavero as an operations division crewman
- Mark Watson as an operations division crewman
Alvera tree; autosuture; Calrissian chameleon; chainsaw; decompression chamber; Denobulan; Denobulan language; Denobulan lemur; dentistry; Dog; Duffy; funeral; Goldie; hematology; Interspecies Veterinary Medicine; Kreetassa; Kreetassan; litter; logic; mammalian; Night Before Christmas, The; botanical pharmacology; Pillarian slip; pituitary gland; plasma injector; Porthos; Pyrithian bat; Pyrithian moon hawk; ritual sectioning; synaptic inductor; urination
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