In the episode, "A Night in Sickbay" of Star Trek: Enterprise, Captain Archer and others, including the dog Porthos, return to the ship and have to go through decon because of a pathogen. The decon doesn't work on Porthos, so Dr. Phlox has to take stronger measures... or so he says. A lot of this episode is about Porthos's medical emergency... if there were an emergency.

Did Dr. Phlox fake the whole thing to torment Archer? Phlox has a sadistic streak, revealed in another episode with this line: "I took an oath not to harm patients. I can inflict all the pain I want."

I'm thinking that this might have extended to inflicting mental discomfort, and that Phlox staged the whole thing as a dark joke on Archer. Is that correct?

  • 3
    There's nothing in the episode to back up your theory. I find it hard to believe that he would intentionally cause harm to Archer's beloved pet just to screw with his head. That would be totally out of character.
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:06
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    I think you're severely misinterpreting his quote about pain. For context, it comes from episode 2x04 "Dead Stop." Reed is going through physical therapy which is usually (and necessarily) painful. Reed complains by saying it can't be ethical to cause that much pain. Phlox responds with your quote. It's nothing more than a bit of dark humor. Not even close to sadism.
    – Alarion
    Mar 1, 2017 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


This question seems like it may be opinion based

Do no harm is tricky. As a comment pointed out the quote comes from an episode where Reed is undergoing physical therapy, physical therapy requires some measure of pain if it is done correctly so Phlox was being ironic by pointing out that hurting Reed was helping him.

Even if you assume Phlox is sadistic he still states that his oath requires him to do no harm. IIRC in the episode in question Phlox involuntarily contained Porthos in sickbay, performed surgery on Porthos, and killed one of his medical creatures to transplant something into Porthos all three of which would be defined by the Hippocratic oath as doing harm if there wasn't a valid medical reason for them.

The medical emergency was most definitely real, I see no evidence that Phlox took any pleasure in the torment Archer felt however you may interpret something differently than I.

  • Oh, no.... Dr. Phlox would not harm or even risk Porthos in that way. Instead, my line of thought (and my theory) is that (still speaking within the fiction) the whole thing was rigged. That is, we see the real Porthos only in decon and at the end of the episode. The one that was actually "at risk" was a fake beagle, possibly a hologram. Granted, in Archer's time a hologram doesn't seem too likely, but there are other ways.
    – Jim
    Mar 2, 2017 at 19:34
  • Oh, P. S. - Phlox would have hidden away the real Porthos, possibly in suspended animation, say.
    – Jim
    Mar 2, 2017 at 19:36
  • What really set me off thinking this was Phlox's rather evil-looking grin at the end of the episode, right after he told Archer that he was always welcome in Sickbay. My immediate reaction to that grin was "Phlox, you slick devil!"
    – Jim
    Mar 2, 2017 at 19:39
  • causing psychological torment would also be causing harm, also I think pretty much every time Phlox smiles it looks a little off since it is not a natural Denobulan expression, still tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YMMV[ (obligatory warning tvtropes will ruin your life)
    – revenant
    Mar 7, 2017 at 6:04

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