Did Captain Archer make the correct decision, withholding a cure from a species that was dying, in season one’s “Dear Doctor”? Kris Hill and Kyle West dig deep and ask what they themselves would have done in Archer’s position.
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What is in Episode 19. The Valakians, the Menk, and the Conundrum of Dear Doctor?
Kyle West welcomed listeners to the show, and introduced his co-host, Kris Hill.
Kris immediately made a public request for Star Trek fans to stop body-shaming Mary Wiseman, who plays Ensign Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery.
As a father to a little girl, Kyle said he wanted to stay on this topic for a few moments.
Kyle told of all the female fans that he has previously heard say that they finally have a Star Trek character that represents them in shape and size. That character is Tilly.
Some negative comments had been seen on social media recently, but Kyle had ignored them. He thought they were petty. He didn’t realise it was part of a bigger problem online.
Kyle took aim at those making the comments, and how they usually don’t have a headshot in their profile photos. “This person who’s too afraid to show their face on social media, is going to start making comments on other people? Piss off.”
He also added, on the weight of actors, that “it’s none of our f***ing business”.
Setting the Scene
We were told that this was not a “Dear Doctor” review episode, but rather a discussion of the moral dilemma the episode presented Captain Jonathan and Doctor Phlox.
They played a piece of audio from the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, in which Phlox revealed to Archer that he had found a cure for the illness that was killing the Valakians. It included Archer’s decision to not provide the cure to the aliens, due to the effect it would have on the Menk.
Kyle gave a rundown of the story points that played a part in this episodes discussion topic. It focused on the Valakian cure potentially stopping the Menk from evolving to become the dominant life on the planet.
He admitted that he may have missed a few points, due to his new kitten attacking him whilst he wrote them down.
It’s a Toughie!
“Do they risk helping the Valakians, at the risk of stopping the Menk from developing?” Kyle admitted that he still can’t decide what is the correct decision, even after 19 years of deliberation.
He asked Kris for his own thoughts. Kris felt the same as Kyle.
The Warp Drive Issue
Kyle was surprised that Starfleet had no guidelines in place for how to deal with alien cultures asking for warp technology.
Kris agreed, but suspected that Starfleet may not have wanted to take the approach that the Vulcans took with them, where they held back their warp development.
Was Phlox too Quick to Decide?
Kyle asked Kris if he was surprised at how quickly Phlox was willing to condemn 50 million Valakians to death.
Kris said that Phlox was approaching it from a scientist’s perspective, not a physician’s perspective.
God, Evolution, and the Dinosaurs
Where does Kris sit, on evolution? “I do see evolution as sort of a process that is helped along. Though I do believe in Creation, I believe that Creation started the evolutionary path.”
Kyle, laughing at himself, admitted that he doesn’t believe in evolution. Despite alleged evidence of it existing, Kyle said that he can’t make sense of the process, and how it happens.
He described himself as coming across as a Flat Earther, but he can’t wrap his head around it.
He discussed his family history with religion, but said that he personally isn’t sure what Creation beliefs he personally has.
On a side note, Kyle asked how religion explains the dinosaurs, if God created the planet and humans within one week.
Trying to combine God, evolution, and dinosaurs, is possible what has caused Kyle so much confusion about evolution, he says.
Were the Menk worth 50 million lives?
Kyle laid out the potential future for the Valakians, and Menk, as Doctor Phlox likely saw it.
The Valakians would have circa 200 years to live, until they became extinct. The Menk would then have access to all of the cities and technology left behind.
By that timeline, Kyle believes that the Menk would theoretically evolve quicker than the 1,000 years that Phlox theorised.
Kyle stated Archer’s argument, that the Valakians were there now, and in need of help. The potential future of the Menk was based on a What If?
Kris felt that, if there were less Menk than Valakians, then Phlox was choosing the needs of the few, over the needs of the many.
He agreed that, in this situation, they needed to focus on the “right now”, not a potential future.
They were asking for help. Kris said that Enterprise should have offered a compromise that saw the Menk given more freedom, but the Valakians helped.
Kyle said that would be a point he wanted to discuss later in the show.
Kris felt that Archer was convinced that he made the right decision, by not giving the Valakians the cure.
Kyle believes T’Pol would’ve agreed, but that Trip would not. He rues that the audience never saw how Archer came to his decision.
A tweet from @Perry064, to the team, was read out by Kyle. They personally felt that Phlox was right, and that the Enterprise crew could not interfere.
“I’m a here and now guy,” said Kyle, who disagreed with Federation policy that would later be created for situations like this one.
Kyle wondered what Michael Burnham would’ve done, in the same situation. At first, he thought she would save the Valakians, but he soon questioned that assumption.
Greg, a Patron supporter of The Expanse – A Star Trek: Enterprise Podcast, wrote in that he felt Rick Berman’s Star Trek took the Prime Directive too literally. He said that you can’t live in the future, you must live in the present.
Kyle read out Greg’s comments, which both he and Kris agreed with.
In the episode, Archer said that he would have to learn that he could not play God, but Kyle asked if withholding the cure was also playing God.
The Other Crews…
Kris asked Kyle what he thinks the Doctors from other Star Trek series’ would’ve done, in Phlox’s situation. It proved to be a tough question to answer.
Immediately after, they answered the same question about each of the other Star Trek captains.
Kyle wondered if 24th Century Starfleet would’ve provided the cure, but with the expectation that the Menk would be given fertile land, and the opportunity to become self-sufficient.
They discussed the undeniable fact that the Valakians and Menk would eventually be headed for a conflict, if the Valakians found a cure but continued the status quo on the planet.
Kyle believed that, if the Menk did indeed evolve as Phlox had predicted, they would become an angry and aggressive species if they were still stuck under Valakian rule.
It was joked that Star Trek: Discovery, now set 1,000 years after Star Trek: Enterprise, could answer what ultimately happened to the Valakians and Menk.
What Would You Have Done…?
Kris said he would’ve given them the cure, on the promise that they would create a more balanced society with the Menk.
Kyle finally decided that he would have provided the cure, because he could not allow 50+ million people to die, plus future generations, based on a “what if”.
They asked listeners to contact them on social media, to say what they would have personally chosen to do.
This episode features a snippet of audio from Star Trek: Enterprise's "Dear Doctor", which is owned by CBS Viacom.
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