659. A Night in Sickbay
FORMULA: Vox Sola + Dear Doctor + Shuttlepod One
WHY WE LIKE IT: More Porthos for your dollar.
WHY WE DON'T: All that sexual tension.
REVIEW: The Kreetassans are back and they're still being offended, and they're still throwing parasites the crew's way. This time, poor Porthos catches a disease and he may well be dying. Noooooo! While "rewatchers" of the show will already know he makes it, it's still a pretty harrowing affair for pet owners. A visit to the vet for a sick pet may well be a death sentence, and seeing Porthos suspended in liquid at one point is grisly indeed. It's all made worse by the dog's heart-breaking performance.
Archer decides not to leave his pet's side and spend the night in sickbay. He's in for a sleepless one. Here, the potential tragedy is counterbalanced by the comedy inherent in Phlox's strange ways. The episode goes a bit far on the gross-out/CG anatomy side of things (cutting toe nails, wringing a super-long tongue of saliva), but it's always nice to see him interact with his personal zoo. The CG bat that escapes is especially well done, and Hoshi's resolving of a situation that had the boys falling all over themselves is a hoot.
Less interesting is a notion explored by Phlox that Archer is sexually attracted to T'Pol, which is the source of the conflict between them. I'm sorry, but they've never sold this idea well. They've put the two of them in close quarters, but there was just no chemistry there. All of a sudden, Archer is making Freudian slips that while kinda funny, seem out of character. And if I have to see another wet dream with T'Pol in it...
The episode is nonetheless a good character piece. Archer gets one step closer to understanding alien points of view thanks to his exposure to Phlox, which makes him realize that swallowing his pride and apologizing to the Kreetassans (who he blames for Porthos' health problems) doesn't diminish him. (In a deleted scene, Trip makes the point that it's ok to apologize when you shouldn't have to, as long as you don't mean it.) The required ritual is completely ridiculous, of course, but we don't get the sense that Archer is humiliated by it. His apology to T'Pol is more heartfelt (and thankfully nips the sexual stuff in the bud), and I think addresses the more likely root of their conflict, a clash of cultures. Look back at the standout treadmill scene and you'll see two competing ideologies, one of which sees no need to compete, frustrating the other. That is the essence of the Human-Vulcan conflict right there.
LESSON: Sometimes you have to swallow it.
REWATCHABILITY - High Medium: Despite what I consider a red herring, the episode is a good character piece with a fine mix of comedy and drama.