Dear Doctor

Episode Report Card
Keckler: C+ | Grade It Now!
Doctor's Day

Phlox VOs to Dr. Lucas, "I had meant to transmit this letter by now, but the Valakian epidemic has been taking up most of my time." Phlox hovers over patients, checking their various systems and monitoring their progress. All the patients have iMac oxygen masks over their mouths made of translucent chartreuse. Green's really not a appetizing color to use in hospital equipment or supplies. White, blue, grey, and purple -- fine. Red, yellow, green, and possibly orange? Ick. Phlox VOs, "Working with the physicians here has been quite fulfilling. I suppose it's the reason we joined the Inter-Species Medical Exchange, but I worry about falsely raising their hopes." Phlox shows the Valakian doctors how to use a DiscMan to take readings and then analyze them on a hospital computer. Phlox VOs, "Despite Captain Archer's confidence in me, I'm afraid the scale of the disaster may outweigh our best intentions." Phlox hyposprays a young patient and pats his shoulder. I thought the Denobulans didn't like physical contact? Phlox VOs, "I've decided to enlist crewman [Scrunchie's] help in my task." "So what are the Menks like?" Scrunchie asks Phlox, as he passes her some supplies aboard Enterprise. Phlox tells her she'll have the opportunity to observe them herself. Scrunchie gasps with delight and Phlox continues, saying, "You're a trained exo-biologist. I'd find your assistance in the field invaluable." "Thank you, Doctor," Scrunchie says coyly. Phlox VOs, "On a personal note, the affection Ensign Cutler is showing has left me a bit perplexed, so I've decided to discuss it with the one person on board who might understand the complexities of the situation." No, it's not Trip; Phlox said the person would understand "complexities."

Sick bay. T'Pol, lying on an examining table, tells Phlox, "That's impossible." Phlox tells her it's nothing to ashamed of. "My teeth were sealed with a tri-fluorinate compound twenty-three years ago," T'Pol informs him. Guess all that human food is bound to rot Vulcan molars. Phlox tells her that nonetheless, some decay has started. "See for yourself," he says, pointing at a computerized X-ray above T'Pol's head. She looks and glares. "I'm sure you have more pressing concerns, I'll come back later," T'Pol says, and makes to bolt sick bay. Phlox stuffs and nonsenses her excuse and tells her he can fix it right then and there. T'Pol resentfully lies back on the examining table and opens her mouth a crack. "Wider, please!" Phlox commands, and T'Pol's jaw drops like a cartoon character's. I think I'll just leave that little display without comment, as long as someone turns off that damn bamp-chicka-wocka-bamp-bamp music. Phlox pauses above T'Pol's unlocked jaw with a dental implement and comments, "You've lived among humans for quite some time now, Sub-Commander, and I'm curious -- have you ever known them to mate outside their species?" T'Pol adopts the "dentist's fingers in mouth" dialect, which is actually quite effectively comical since it's coming from her. "A-ha! There it is!" Phlox crows gleefully, and picks up another instrument. T'Pol asks, "Are you asking out of personal interest or scientific curiosity?" Phlox explains that he's become "close" with a crewman, and he thinks she's "attracted" to him. T'Pol tells him that in her range of experience with humans, "they lack the emotional maturity for inter-species relationships. They tend to be easily infatuated with things they find new. This crewman may simply be satisfying her curiosity at your expense," T'Pol finishes loftily. Phlox looks a bit disconcerted -- maybe even hurt? -- by the idea of Scrunch's interest being no more than a passing fancy. He tells T'Pol to open again and does some more dental work. Phlox VOs, "Sub-Commander T'Pol has a very pragmatic view of the universe. I admire her logic although she lacks the instinctiveness that a more emotional response can provide. Somehow, I find this unsettling." I find that odd, because what with the lack of emotion he seems to display in this episode, I'd think he'd actually relate to T'Pol more than he'd find her "unsettling." Phlox finishes with T'Pol's mouth and says, "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" T'Pol gets up without a word. "Thanks for your insights," Phlox says. T'Pol turns to him and tells him to be careful. However, she says it weirdly, more like "mmmbe careful." And the inflection has the result of over-dramatizing the situation -- again, something at odds with what it means to be Vulcan.

Phlox pays Quantum a visit in his Ready Room. "You asked to see me, Captain?" Phlox asks. Quantum says the director of the Valakian clinic contacted him to find out if Phlox has made "any progress" in finding a cure. Phlox stays silently troubled. "Doctor?" Quantum prompts him. "I've developed a medication to ease the symptoms of the disease, but --" Phlox pauses. "But?" Quantum prompts again. Phlox explains that the disease isn't being caused by a virus or bacterial infection. "The proteins that bind to their chromosomes are deteriorating. Their illness is genetic. It's been going on for thousands of years, but the rate of mutation has accelerated over the last few generations," Phlox says, and then predicts that the Valakians will go the way of the dodo in a few hundred years. Quantum looks stunned. "I wish I had better news," Phlox says, gravely. "What about a cure?" Quantum asks, standing up. Phlox tells him that "genetic abnormalities on this level are very hard to cure." Quantum seizes on the "very hard" and says, "But not impossible." Phlox amends, "No, I still believe the Menk community could be the key to a cure. I plan to study them in more detail." Quantum orders him to "take all the time [he] need[s]." Phlox doesn't look happy, but nods and leaves. Quantum takes the combined woes of the universe over to his window, and they all stare out at the stars.

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