‘Doctor Phlox alone, on his own
going down the corridor he’s being shown
like Seven he hallucinates alone
He’s made up his mind, wake the crew it might be time!’
(to the tune of Here I go Again by Whitesnake)
Originally broadcast on February 18, 2004 this is Doctor’s Orders
Chief Medical Officer’s StarLog Date Unknown
Doctor Phlox finds himself alone on the ship with everyone else in stasis with the exception of Porthos. Soon he finds T’Pol and, when trouble beings to occur, the two work together to solve it. Before long he realizes that he may in fact be hallucinating as well due to the trans dimensional disturbances that forced the rest of the crew to be placed in suspended animation. After navigating the ship out of the Nebula with T’Pol’s help, Phlox is surprised to learn that T’Pol has actually been in stasis this entire time and her assistance was nothing but a hallucination as well.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Doctor’s Orders is really nothing new in the grand scheme of things. I mean, how many times can any franchise do the ‘one person alone on a ship begins to hallucinate’ story line? Heck, Voyager had an episode that was nearly the exact same story with not only the crew being placed in stasis but also the ‘dangerous region of space’ trope. Now, while this story has been done, ad nauseum, I have to admit, John Billingsley absolutely sells this episode in every way. Billingsley is a tremendous actor giving him a chance to be the primary character literally carrying the episode is certainly a treat. Adding in a hallucination of T’Pol played by Jolene Blaylock really just adds even more to the already fun story. The two of them play off of one another very well, and Blaylock really nailed her roll considering that she was playing a hallucination version of T’Pol but had to play it in such a way that it wouldn’t give away the surprise, but also not quite play it the same as she normally would. It’s great, in every way.
One aspect that I love about this particular episode is how we see Phlox and Porthos bond with one another while Archer is in stasis. It’s fun to see how it is clear that, while Phlox usually sees animals as little more than medical supplies, he is beginning to view Archer’s prize beagle almost as just another member of the crew. I also really appreciate how the episode is framed as a letter to Phlox’s Doctor friend, Dr. Lucas, who was mentioned early on in the series as part of the Medical Exchange Program. Things like this really help create a more sustained continuity within the series giving longtime viewers a nice treat.
Overall, this is a very simple yet very fun episode that is really well worth the time even just a chance to see John Billingsley really knock it out of the park. Honestly, even though the whole ‘lone crewman hallucinates’ story has become a trope, this one is very well worth it. If anything, this episode made me realize one of the biggest issues with this season…the xindi story has left little room for levity which is certainly a must for any Star Trek series.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that Denobulans see hallucinations as a health stress relief.
- This episode is directed by Voyager alumni Roxanne Dawson.
- There are several fun ‘horror’ references including The Shining, The Twilight Zone’s ‘Terror at 20,000 feet’, The Exorcist, and even a moment that references a classic Star Trek Original Series press photo!
- I do find it interesting that it is T’Pol who Phlox hallucinates and not any other member of the crew. This is never really explained but it is implied that this is because she is the only other non-human on the ship.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Hatchery
more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 9/27/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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