(written from a Production point of view)
In order to traverse a trans-dimensional disturbance safely, Phlox must put the rest of the crew in stasis and pilot Enterprise himself.
Enterprise NX-01 is moving very slowly through a pinkish-purple cloud. The warp nacelles are inactive. On board, there is nobody on the bridge, in engineering, in the mess hall, or even in the corridors, apart from Porthos, who is being chased by Doctor Phlox.
Porthos stops, but only because he's got to where he wants to be; he paws at one of the crew quarter doors. Phlox suddenly understands, and lets him in. In the cabin, Porthos jumps up onto the bed to look at Captain Archer, who is lying there unconscious, with a small silver disc on his head.
Phlox and Porthos are in Phlox's cabin, discussing why Porthos keeps trying to go back to see the captain. Phlox discovers on his PADD that dogs are very territorial, and that a dog called "Scruffers" once traveled three thousand kilometers to get back to see his master. Phlox tells Porthos that he has heard of a Pycan space moth that traveled half a light year, but that it probably didn't have a name.
Phlox takes Porthos for a walk, meanwhile dictating a letter to Dr. Jeremy Lucas via the PADD. They arrive at the galley, where Phlox gets some leeches to eat, and gives one to Porthos, claiming he probably won't like it but that his intestinal tract will be thoroughly cleansed. Phlox then continues his letter, musing about his assignment to Enterprise.
Two days earlier, Enterprise first encountered a trans-dimensional disturbance, the "cloud" which the vessel is currently in. It is similar to another phenomenon the craft encountered a few weeks ago. However, this one is different, because it has only just started forming. It is also on a direct path between the ship and Azati Prime. To avoid several weeks of a detour, T'Pol suggested going through the disturbance. Dr. Phlox explained how he would need to put all the crew members into a coma, though Commander Tucker was extremely reluctant about this proposal. He suggested that they should cross the disturbance at impulse, rather than risk the unpredictable effects of warp drive in the disturbance. Despite Tucker's lack of enthusiasm for Phlox's plan, Captain Archer agreed to it.
Visiting Travis Mayweather – who is also in a coma, with a metallic, disc-shaped medical monitor on his forehead – Phlox continues his letter, saying that his own physiology is sufficiently different from the Humans' that he won't be affected by the disturbance, so he volunteered to oversee the wellness of the crew. Phlox then received basic training in the running of the ship, including helm and engineering operations. He also assured Captain Archer about the plan, thinking Archer was having second thoughts, though the captain clarified that he already trusted Phlox with his forthcoming supervisory role, a vote of confidence he was thankful for.
Phlox is jogging through the corridors of Enterprise, singing a song in Denobulan. ( file info) He walks into sickbay, appearing naked, and apologizes to his animals because he's late for their feedings.
Later, in the mess hall, Phlox is watching The Court Jester, a 1956 movie, with some popcorn. Suddenly, he hears something odd. Phlox looks at Porthos as if to check to see if the dog heard it, then goes to see if he can find out what it was he heard, though Porthos is at first hesitant to accompany him.
Walking through the deserted corridors, Phlox tells Porthos that he shouldn't have let Tucker talk him into watching The Exorcist last week. Then, he hears a sound again, and tracks it to launch bay one, where Porthos runs away from him. Phlox looks up and sees a small gas leak, which is rattling a chain. Suddenly, T'Pol appears behind Phlox, startling him. Phlox voices a rhetorical question to T'Pol, asking if they are on a starship or in a haunted house. Eager for some company, he invites her to dinner later, which she accepts without much enthusiasm.
Back in engineering, Phlox is running one of the routine operations that Tucker showed him when he hears, and this time sees, a shadowy figure running away on one of the upper platforms. Angrily frustrated, Phlox calls T'Pol on the intercom, presuming it must have been her, and compares her to a Draxxan cloud viper. However, she claims to be on the bridge.
Phlox and T'Pol are in the galley, where Phlox prepares a meal that his fifth grandmother made for each of his weddings. Apparently, Chef can never get it right and was lacking in his Plomeek broth skills as well, an opinion Phlox and T'Pol agree on. Phlox talks to T'Pol about how crowded his homeworld is, not by necessity but by choice, because Denobulans enjoy living in large groups. For him, being alone on the Enterprise has been unsettling, but T'Pol has found it to be a welcome respite. T'Pol doesn't eat or drink anything during the meeting.
While back in sickbay again and then wandering through the corridors, Phlox continues his letter to Dr. Lucas, talking about how much he misses Denobula. He visits Captain Archer to give him a check-up, and is startled by a shadowy form that he sees on the hull, directly outside the window in the captain's quarters. Frightened, he calls T'Pol.
In the situation room, they discuss Enterprise's sensors, which have found no unaccounted lifeforms aboard Enterprise nor any alien ships nearby. Phlox is unconvinced but T'Pol simply advises him to catch up on his sleep.
Phlox continues with his rounds, only to find a Xindi-Insectoid in Ensign Sato's quarters. He is chased by the Xindi through the corridors and sees the silhouette of a second Insectoid that pursues him until he gets to an airlock, in which he traps himself until the Xindi move away, having apparently given up. From inside the airlock, Phlox contacts T'Pol, reporting that the Xindi are on board Enterprise.
In the ship's armory, Phlox relays news of the incident to T'Pol, who is very skeptical of his account. He meanwhile arms himself with a phase-pistol that he, after loading, offers to T'Pol. Although she doesn't take the weapon, he insists on searching the entire ship, with or without her help.
Phlox is conducting the shipwide search, T'Pol with him. The areas they search include a set of crew quarters and a cargo bay.
By the time they have searched four decks and are walking through a corridor together, T'Pol has become very vocal about her doubts that they will find anything out of the ordinary. Despite using a scanner to look for other lifeforms, Phlox almost shoots Porthos by mistake. This leads to an argument between Phlox and T'Pol, who starts to get uncharacteristically angry with him. Adamant that he will prove he is not hallucinating, Phlox leaves her. In an adjoining corridor, he hears Ensign Sato calling him over the com system.
When Phlox reaches Sato's quarters, she is in a steaming shower. He sees, as she emerges from the shower, that she is grossly disfigured. Sato blames him for her condition and reminds him that the crew were under his care. Stumbling from her bathroom, Phlox looks back and then sees Sato lying peacefully on her bed. No-one is actually in the bathroom and the shower is turned off. Phlox calls T'Pol with a request for her to meet him in sickbay.
En route, Phlox opens a turbolift door but is shocked to find Archer apparently standing inside the turbolift. As the captain seems unconcerned about Phlox having claimed to have witnessed Xindi outside the ship, Phlox realizes "Archer" is actually another illusion. This belief is proven when T'Pol meets Phlox in the corridor, momentarily distracting him, and he looks back to see there is no-one else there.
Back in sickbay, Phlox – having scanned his own brain – notifies T'Pol that the scan shows he's been subtly affected by the disturbance as well, and has in fact been hallucinating. Phlox considers handing over control of the ship to T'Pol, but she refuses after she admits she's been having trouble controlling her emotions due to the trans-dimensional disturbance and could become irrational.
On the bridge, they discover that they're still over a quarter of a light year from the edge of the disturbance, although they should have been out of it by now. If they continue at impulse, it will take them another ten weeks to get out of the phenomenon.
In the situation room, Phlox struggles to understand why the ship is still in the trans-dimensional disturbance. T'Pol concludes that the phenomenon must be expanding at an accelerated rate. She insists they engage the warp drive.
In engineering, T'Pol is exceptionally unhelpful, because she is finding it too difficult to concentrate on anything. Although Phlox has a dozen scientific degrees, none of them are in warp field propulsion. Since T'Pol can't help, she essentially advises Phlox to instead "read the manual" about how to engage the warp drive. Phlox is momentarily distracted by another hallucination, this time of Tucker reminding him about his warning not to engage the warp drive inside the disturbance. A few minor problems with the warp reactor briefly cause T'Pol to advise Phlox to awaken the real Tucker so he can help, regardless of the fact he will consequently die due to exposure to the disturbance. Finally, Phlox manages to take the ship to warp two and stabilize the vessel.
Once the ship is out of the trans-dimensional disturbance, Phlox wakens Archer, commenting there were "only a few minor glitches" during the transit. Phlox additionally reunites Porthos with the captain.
T'Pol and Phlox subsequently walk through a corridor with Commander Tucker, who is feeling slightly light-headed due to having eaten no food during the past four days. After Phlox recommends Tucker to "get to the mess hall", Tucker dutifully departs, having had no interaction with T'Pol. She offers to help rouse the still-comatose officers but Phlox politely declines her assistance and instead arranges to walk her to her quarters.
There, Phlox finds that T'Pol too has been unconscious in her quarters the whole time, and realizes that he has actually hallucinated her presence during most of the journey through the disturbance. Having realized large portions of his letter to Dr. Lucas are obviously fictitious, Phlox admits in the letter that he has therefore considered deleting the document but has concluded it might nonetheless prove "entertaining", a statement he uses to end the letter.
Phlox joins T'Pol at a table in the mess hall, bustling with officers who have since been awakened. She relays to him that Tucker has complimented the way Phlox supervised the ship. Whereas she suspects he enjoyed being alone on Enterprise, he mentions he was not as alone as he had expected. Meanwhile, Enterprise is still warping toward its Azati Prime destination.
"I'd be better off talking to my Pyrithian bat."
- - Phlox, to Porthos
"Bangs, squeaks, rattling chains… is this a starship or a haunted house?"
"Are you alright, Doctor? You seem somewhat agitated."
- - Phlox and T'Pol, as he was investigating a noise in the shuttlebay
"Would you mind not creeping around the ship like a Draxxan cloud viper?"
- - Phlox, to T'Pol
"My fifth grandmother made this for each of my weddings. Chef's tried to prepare it, but he never gets it quite right."
"Yes, his plomeek broth leaves something to be desired as well."
"I always thought so, but, uh, I was afraid to mention it."
- - Phlox and T'Pol, while sharing a meal in the galley
"Being alone on Enterprise – just the two of us – has proven more stressful than I imagined. Two people aren't even enough for a Denobulan marriage – a proper one, anyway."
"I'm sorry I haven't been better company."
- - Phlox and T'Pol
"Get away from her!"
- - Phlox, to the Xindi-Insectoid in Hoshi Sato's quarters
"I'm not delusional!"
"Are you certain? As I recall, you once told Ensign Sato that it's considered healthy for Denobulans to hallucinate. It's how you release stress."
- - Phlox and T'Pol
"You nearly shot the captain's dog!"
- - Phlox and T'Pol
"I'm a physician, not an engineer!"
- - Phlox, to T'Pol, as he begins his attempt to start the warp reactor
"The procedures for restarting the reactor are in the database."
"You're suggesting I read the manual?!"
- - Phlox and T'Pol
"How are you feeling?"
"A little woozy."
"I'm not surprised, you haven't eaten anything in four days. Get to the mess hall!"
"Aye, aye, doc."
- - Phlox and Tucker
"I'll assist you in waking the others."
"Oh, that won't be necessary. I appreciate the offer, but, uh, you need some rest. Let me walk you to your quarters."
- - T'Pol and Phlox
"Commander Tucker was complaining that it will take him days to realign the warp coils."
"Yes, he gave me quite a talking to."
"He also said, and I quote, 'Phlox did one hell of a job.' "
"You must have enjoyed having the ship to yourself."
"It wasn't nearly as empty as I anticipated."
- - T'Pol and Phlox
Story and script
- This is one of a mere few episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise (or any Star Trek series) to credit no guest stars. Due to its omission of any such performers and because only existing sets of Enterprise were used for this episode, it qualifies as a true bottle show.
- The scene in which Phlox is seemingly nude was inspired by comments voiced by Phlox actor John Billingsley. Very soon after participating in the filming of this episode, he explained, "At a [cast and crew] party a year or so ago, I was talking to the writers and I was speculating that Dr. Phlox, because he had three wives, would probably have three members. And I said something to the effect of, wouldn't it be interesting to have some kind of scene in which somebody walks in and sees Phlox nude and faints dead away. Everybody on the ship is walking around open-mouthed, slack-jawed, because they got a sight of the Doctor […] I think the writers thought I was bluffing, and so they said, 'All right, we've written you a nude scene.'" (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, p. 36)
- The final draft script of this episode was issued on 26 November 2003. The archival, post-production version of that draft was submitted on 12 February 2004.
- A particular voiceover was not scripted. In that dialogue, Phlox, continuing his letter to Dr. Lucas, says that he himself and T'Pol are relieved that their time alone aboard Enterprise is almost over.
Cast and characters
- Although this episode gave John Billingsley the opportunity to play a leading role in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, he was pleased it didn't require him to learn many lines of dialogue.  He was mildly anxious, however, about the scene in which Phlox runs away from two hallucinated Xindi-Insectoids. "I was a little afraid," the actor confessed, "that that episode might risk painting him as a little bit of a fraidy-cat […] I suppose there weren't too many other options for him, but part of the Star Trek mythology is that no-one's going to run away from anything." (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, p. 36) Billingsley also noted that when make-up was factored in, his time spent working on the episode was close to sixteen hours for each shooting day. He was only lukewarm regarding the finished episode, commenting that he was more suited to appear in "the episodes that are more reflective, philosophical and meditative, that deal with issues such as cultural conflict."  What he particularly found difficult about this outing was that it required him to portray Phlox as becoming increasingly disturbed, so he had to keep in mind precisely where the doctor was at emotionally even though the installment was shot out of sequence. Billingsley was also somewhat dismayed that the outing reveals what a seemingly naked Phlox looked like, the actor admitting, "My only regret about it is, it's probably more interesting if it's left to the imagination what the Doctor might look like [in that situation]." He was, on the other hand, relatively happy with the Insectoid scene, remarking, "When I saw the scene, I thought it actually worked out fairly well." In a general fashion, Billingsley remarked, "I think it's a very self-contained episode. It was interesting for me to have a chance to actually get to explore some of his emotionalism." (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, pp. 35 &) Billingsley even once cited this as his favorite episode of the entire series. However, he did so mistakenly, clearly referring to a different episode (possibly "Dear Doctor").  Nonetheless, Chris Black noted about "Doctor's Orders", "That was fun for John [Billingsley]." ("Countdown" audio commentary, ENT Season 3 special features)
Make-up and production
- For the final scenes of Archer and Tucker in this installment (specifically the last scene for each character), the make-up department ensured that Scott Bakula and Tucker actor Connor Trinneer were showing a few days' growth of facial hair. The make-up department also produced the horrific facial appearance of the illusory Ensign Sato, creating it as extensive make-up for actress Linda Park to wear. Other uses of make-up were to show Phlox naked, which included a set of spinal ridges "glued" to John Billingsley's back and some other striations that were "painted" on the front of his body, matching make-up always used to portray Phlox's face and hands. 
- Principal photography on this episode took seven days, every one of which involved John Billingsley and T'Pol actress Jolene Blalock. The shoot began on 2 December 2003. (Information from Larry Nemecek) For five of the seven days, Breezy – the canine performer who mostly played Porthos – was on the set, with animal trainers Scott Rowe and Greg Pittman. Archer actor Scott Bakula worked only one day and none of the other actors were scheduled for more than three days. The production shoot was a relatively easy one and Billingsley was able to spend a lot of time with Breezy. A second beagle, Windy, occasionally doubled for Breezy, mainly for long shots.
- One particularly challenging shot was blocked out by Director Roxann Dawson; she used a Steadicam for a continuous take that follows Phlox from sickbay through a corridor and into Archer's quarters.
- John Billingsley provided Roxann Dawson with some instructions about how he wanted her to show the Xindi-Insectoid that his character of Phlox apparently sees in Ensign Sato's quarters. Billingsley later remembered, "The one thing I said to Rox was, 'You've really got to make sure that you see the thing lunging for me, and that's what makes me run, because if it doesn't lunge, I'm going to be leaving Hoshi in there with a giant insect. It can't just be me running away." Billingsley also asked for the Insectoid to be much bigger than him. (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, p. 36)
- Filming the climax of this episode was physically challenging for John Billingsley. "There was a scene at the end where I'm supposed to start the warp engines, and that was pretty much half a day of running and jumping, and I'm not the running-jumping guy on the show," Billingsley remarked, shortly after working on the installment. "My knees were pretty tired the next day. These leaps from the platform down to the floor, which Connor [Trinneer] and [Reed actor] Dominic [Keating] and the captain are all perfectly willing to do in one great fell swoop, I did in half a leap. I put my foot on the lower rung and then kind of hopped to the floor. No matter how dangerous it was I wasn't going to ruin my knees over it, which I appreciated. The ship may blow up, but the Doctor's not going to have any knee problems afterwards!" (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, pp. 35-36)
- "Doctor's Orders" wrapped production on 10 December 2003. (Information from Larry Nemecek)
- Series co-creator and Executive Producer Brannon Braga was delighted with this third season installment. " I was thrilled to have an episode that John Billingsley could just carry from beginning to end. He was wonderful," Braga enthused. "It was also a nice little insight into his relationship with T'Pol, his fellow alien on board. Although the episode was soft, compared to a lot of the episodes we did this season, I thought it was fun. And kudos to writer Chris Black, who basically wrote a one-man play and really turned out a charming script." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 32)
- Chris Black himself commented about "Doctor's Orders", "That was fun." ("Countdown" audio commentary, ENT Season 3 special features)
- André Bormanis once called this installment "a great episode." ("Countdown" audio commentary, ENT Season 3 special features)
- This episode has a striking resemblance to the Star Trek: Voyager episode "One", where Seven of Nine must navigate the ship through a hazardous region of space and the crew is in a comatose state. She begins to hallucinate, too.
- While debating whether the things that the doctor saw are real, T'Pol references the events of "Exile", where Phlox told Ensign Sato that Denobulans consider hallucinations to be a healthy way for the mind to relieve stress. Since there are no indications that Sato or Phlox ever discussed the matter with anyone else, this could be seen as a clue that the T'Pol that Phlox sees is actually a figment of his imagination.
- This is the fourth time anyone in Star Trek speaks Denobulan. The previous three episodes are "Dear Doctor", "A Night in Sickbay" and "Stigma". Denobulan was also spoken in a deleted scene from the episode "Minefield".
- This is the only episode of Star Trek: Enterprise with the "I'm a doctor, not a..." phrase. Phlox says the line "I'm a physician, not an engineer." In the second season entry "Regeneration", he conversely states, "I need to think like an engineer, not a physician."
- Phlox telling T'Pol about seeing "something" outside on the hull of the ship may be a reference to The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet;" which featured William Shatner, as a passenger aboard an airplane. He too saw "something" on the wing of the vessel he was on, much the disbelief of his other passengers.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Mark Correy as Alex
- Daphney Dameraux as an operations division ensign
- John Jurgens as a command division crewman
- Ator Tamras as a science division ensign
- John Wan as an operations division crewman
- Breezy and Windy as Porthos
acceleration; amusement; antimatter constrictor coil; autonavigation; Beagle; canine; Chef; class C gravimetric field distortion; coma; Court Jester, The; Delphic Expanse; Denobula; deuterium; dilithium matrix; doctor's orders; Draxxan cloud viper; Earth; engineer; Exorcist, The; galley; Giacomo; hand scanner; haunted house; horse; hull plating; I'm a doctor, not a...; impulse manifold; intestinal tract; ion storm; Kaybin District; kilometer; Klingon, ancient; leech; Lucas, Jeremy; magnetic constriction coil; medical staff; millicochrane; movie; movie database; neocortex; neurochemistry; neuro-sedation; palace; parsec; particle confinement; pavilion; pestle; phenomenon; Phlox's fifth grandmother; physician; physiology; plasma relay; plomeek broth; popcorn; Pycan space moth; Pyrithian bat; rate of acceleration; San Francisco; science officer; scientific degree; Scruffers; Scruffers' keeper; senior officer; sir; space travel; spatial-compression index; Starfleet training; start-up sequence; theta waves; T'Pol (illusory); trans-dimensional disturbance; unnamed red giant; Vulcans; warp coil; warp field; warp theory; wedding; Xindi attack; Xindi-Insectoid
- "Doctor's Orders at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Doctor's Orders" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Doctor's Orders" at Wikipedia
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