Star Trek: Enterprise: Affliction   Rewatch 
April 19, 2020 6:40 AM - Season 4, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Captured by the Klingons, Phlox must…overcome unreasonable leadership to save millions from an airborne contagion?! OH COME ON

We do not discuss Memory Alpha with outsiders:

- This episode and the following one ("Divergence") attempt to explain the makeup change in Klingons between TOS and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which had been semi-acknowledged as canon since the broadcast of DS9's "Blood Oath" and "Trials and Tribble-ations" in the 1990s. Some viewers had criticized the Star Trek: Enterprise producers for not depicting Klingons of this era as smooth-headed, as they had been in the Original Series. While some fans simply ignored the Klingon makeup changes in the various series and films, others had longed for an "official" explanation. The writers of Enterprise hoped their take would find a way of satisfying both points of view, while simultaneously telling an interesting story. (For more from teleplay writer Mike Sussman, see Klingon augment virus.)

- The first Klingon prisoner is played by Marc Worden, who also portrayed Worf's son Alexander in DS9.

- Rivers is played by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also made a brief cameo appearance in "The Forgotten".

- James Avery (General K'Vagh) was one of the three finalists for the part of Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Avery is perhaps best known as Philip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

- The mention of the Hur'q is a reference to the DS9 episode "The Sword of Kahless", where Worf, Jadzia Dax and Kor find the Sword of Kahless among the ruins of the Hur'q civilization in the Gamma Quadrant.

- "Affliction" features the first appearance of the Rigelians in Star Trek. They, like the Tarkaleans, had been mentioned but not seen in previous series.

- The Levodian flu virus was first referenced in VOY: "Tattoo" [9_9 --ed.].

"You stole it!"
"Medical research isn't a priority for the High Council – I am forced to obtain information however I can."
"That doesn't sound very honorable."
"Given the choice between honor and saving lives, I choose the latter."

- Phlox and Antaak

"I'm being compromised, sir, and I don't like it."
"Then I suggest you adjust your comfort level, Lieutenant."

- Reed and Harris

"Perhaps you should've abducted Dr. Soong! He could have mapped this genome more efficiently than I can."
"We tried. Soong was under heavy guard."

- Phlox and Antaak

Poster's Log:
I found myself smiling a lot through this episode. It's just jam-packed with all kinds of stuff, and yet competently-executed. Some credit may well belong to director Michael Grossman, who only did three Trek episodes including this one but was apparently in the Whedon stable, having done some Angel, Buffy, and Firefly. I noticed more frequent close-ups in this one, which IMO heightened the drama.

Writing-wise: I remember thinking on first watch that the augment-virus explanation of the Smooth Klingons and Ridgy Klingons was maybe a little too clever, but with further contemplation, I think it works. Consider this, for instance: if I asked you to map the Smooths of TOS on a spectrum of personality and temperament, with Ridgies on one end and Arik Soong's Augments at the other, might they not be closer to the latter?

I can *accept* making Malcolm a "31 All Along," but doing it once the show is doomed is kind of…well, let's just say that if I'd watched this during its original airing and hadn't known yet that the show had been cancelled, I'd know now. I assume the writers decided "ah, fuck it"— that, or "we owe this supporting cast some meaty material." And the twist does allow for some dynamite scenes from Keating. Linda Park likewise gets a couple more Acting moments here than is typical. Man, this series squandered so much.

Always great to see Schuck, and in a cool role, too. And Cpt. Hernandez has grown on me as a character—her shrewdness and collectedness stand out throughout. (Though I hate the glowy conduits shooting right up through the floor of Columbia's bridge. Do you need MORE explosive stuff on a starship bridge? And wouldn't it distract your senior staff, having nightclub lighting on the bridge?)

Why does it not surprise me to learn that Phlox knows of "indirect channels" for acquiring medical information.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
We only have about six more ENTs left!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (4 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I also liked this very much, although I remembered it from the original viewing more for the answer to Worf's non-answer in "Trials and Tribble-ations." I mean, it just makes sense that they responded to the Augments incident, in which a handful of humans not only captured one of their ships but nearly committed genocide against one of their colonies, with "well, maybe we should look at this." But that points to one of the things that makes it even sadder that we're in the endgame for this series now: not only are the individual stories far superior to the ones that came before, but the events of previous stories matter in a way that they've rarely been allowed to during the Berman & Braga regime. In addition to the long-term impact of the Augments incident, there's the ongoing Trip-T'Pol situation, Archer being able to give T'Pol tips on mind-melding thanks to his having carried Surak's katra, the immediate suspects in Phlox's kidnapping being the racists who picked a fight in "Home", Captain Hernandez's prior familiarity with Trip, and Reed's relationship with his dad. The last was the occasion for some especially good bits from Dominic Keating, regretting both that he did what he did and that he can't just tell Archer what the deal is, and from Scott Bakula, leavening Archer's typical anger with some honest bewilderment. (I wonder what the consequences would have been to Reed if he'd just talked to Archer about Section 31. I mean, they're both big damn galactic heroes, right?)

The other actors got some good turns as well, especially the guest actors. I like John Schuck here better than his turns as the Klingon ambassador in the TOS movies; he gets to do less proclaiming and more naturalistic acting here, and he's got such a great voice. Ditto for James Avery; it's funny, I was never a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but I kept thinking to myself, where do I know that guy from? And even though she only had one scene, I wish that we'd gotten to see more of Collins, the no-nonsense Starfleet cop.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:10 PM on April 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh, and although I agree about the disco bridge (although, we understand, not the Disco bridge, which is its own kind of spectacular), there's a bit of a Trek tradition in adding a detail or two to the bridge of a guest starship, especially one of the same class, to make it readily distinguishable from the main ship's bridge. TOS had a special high back to the captain's chair that they'd swap out when they were showing another Constitution-class ship (I think that they also used it for the ISS Enterprise); the bridge of the Reliant in TWOK was a redress of the Enterprise bridge from the same movie with different colors and wall thingies; etc.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2020

So Klingons went from TNG Flavour Curls in ENT, to the Ridley Scott Alien heads in DISCO, to Smooth in TOS, and *back* to Flavour Curls in TNG?

Woof. That's clunky.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:22 PM on April 19, 2020

It's even clunkier than that: Flavour Curls in ENT S1, Smooth in S4, Ridley Scott Alien heads in DSC, Smooth in TOS, All the Same in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and back to Flavour Curls in Star Trek III. (It's possible that the Klingons on the bridge in TMP could have all been from the same house, as relatives tend to have similar foreheads, as witness Worf and Kurn, or the Duras Sisters.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2020

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