Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Similitude”

Written by Manny Coto
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 3, Episode 10
Production episode 062
Original air date: November 19, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. We open with a funeral for Tucker, then after the credits, we flash back to two weeks earlier. Tucker has a notion to enable the ship to travel at high warp for longer without any ill effects. They test it, and it seems to go swimmingly right up to the part where it doesn’t.

The warp drive sparks and burns and Tucker barely shuts it down in time. Unfortunately, Tucker is badly injured in the process of shutting it down. Some nucleonic particles from a particle field they flew through got into the injectors, messing things up. It will take weeks to fix and Archer has to put T’Pol in charge of repairs because Tucker is in a coma. (Why Archer doesn’t put the deputy chief engineer in charge is left as an exercise for the viewer, as is why we don’t know who the deputy chief engineer even is.)

Phlox has no idea how long Tucker will be comatose, due to extensive neural damage. He needs a transplant of neural tissue, but there are no compatible donors on board. However, Phlox has a bizarre solution: one of the creatures in his menagerie, the Lyssarian Desert Larvae—which he keeps around for its secretions that make for a dandy salve—can also be injected with DNA. Doing so turns the larva into a clone of the being whose DNA its injected with, and it will go through that being’s entire lifespan in an accelerated timeframe. It will also have all that being’s memories and personality, but only at the equivalent “age” that the original had them.

Phlox can inject Tucker’s DNA into a larva, and we’ll have an adult Tucker in a few days. Phlox can then extract the neural tissue and cure Tucker. Meanwhile, the clone will be dead in two weeks.

Screenshot: CBS

It’s an ethically dodgy situation, to say the least. For one thing, the Lyssians themselves have banned the practice, but Archer decides to go ahead with it, because Tucker is just that indispensable.

The larva alters into a newborn human baby, and he grows quickly. Phlox decides to name him “Sim,” short for “simulacrum,” I guess, having rejected the crew’s suggestions of Enrique, Dennis, and Steven. Once he reaches the preteen era, Archer tells him the truth about who and what he is, and what his fate will be after only being alive for a fortnight.

Meantime, Enterprise still can’t go anywhere, is still stuck in the particle field, and is covered in magnetic particles that are sticking to the hull. At first it’s just a nuisance, but the cumulative effect of all the particles is causing systems damage.

Sim comes up with a solution: use the phase cannons to blast the particles around the shuttlepod launch bay, then launch the shuttles and have them tow Enterprise enough to overcome inertia, and then it’ll drift out of the field. Sim also asks to pilot one of the shuttles, but Archer assigns it to Mayweather and (for some reason) Reed. The shuttles almost shut down from the strain, but it works, and Enterprise starts drifting forward, eventually to leave the field.

Sim also confesses to having strong feelings for T’Pol, and he honestly doesn’t know if they’re his feelings or Tucker’s. For her part, T’Pol insists on keeping her relationship with Sim professional.

Screenshot: CBS

Phlox informs Archer that his tests have shown that, contrary to his previous theory, Sim will not survive the transplant. Sim also comes to Archer with some research: there’s a procedure that could extend his life beyond the expected fifteen days. The problem is that it’s experimental, and by the time they synthesize the enzyme needed to start the procedure, Sim’s neural tissue will no longer be compatible with Tucker’s.

Sim and Archer argue about his fate, with Archer saying that Sim should know that Archer is determined to complete their mission to find the Xindi. Sim counters that he knows that Archer isn’t a murderer, to which Archer replies with a plea that Sim not make him one.

Sim almost steals a shuttlepod, but when Reed detects someone tampering with the launch bay, Archer goes down to find Sim just sitting there. He changed his mind about trying to escape for two reasons. One, where would he go, exactly? Two, he thought about his sister—or, rather, Tucker’s sister. Tucker is as dedicated to their mission as Archer because of what happened to his sister, and he’s willing to sacrifice himself for that mission.

His last day before the operation is spent working on some engineering tasks for T’Pol. T’Pol also, in a move that seems driven more by fan service than by good characterization, decides to give Sim a kiss before he dies.

The operation is a success, and Sim dies and Tucker is saved. The funeral we saw at the top of the episode was actually for Sim.

Screenshot: CBS

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Compressing the antimatter stream through the injectors will apparently make warp travel smoother and allow your warp-five engine to actually travel at warp five for an extended period without shaking apart. 

The gazelle speech. Archer doesn’t hesitate to authorize the creation of Sim, but hesitates lots of other times throughout the episode.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol , not Phlox, is the one who tells Archer that creating clones violates Lyssarian law. Archer’s reply is that they don’t answer to the Lyssarians.

Florida Man. Florida Man Cloned By Alien Doctor!

Optimism, Captain! Phlox creates a moral dilemma by suggesting the larva be turned into a Tucker clone. He also waxes rhapsodic about getting to hold a newborn for the first time in a long time when the clone is first created.

Good boy, Porthos! Sim spends a lot of time with Porthos, and the last thing he does before the operation that will kill him is cuddle the pooch.

Screenshot: CBS

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. The Vulcan Neuropressure sessions between T’Pol and Tucker have now evolved to the point where Tucker is giving T’Pol foot massages. Sim later tells T’Pol that he/Tucker has feelings for her, and then later still T’Pol kisses Sim, and it’s all just totally ridiculous.

I’ve got faith…

“Can he do any tricks?”

“I haven’t taught him any. Mostly what he does is eat, sleep, and, uh, not fetch.”

–Sim and Archer discussing Porthos.

Welcome aboard. The only guests are the young actors who play Sim as a child: Maximillian Orion Kesmodel when he’s a wee tot, Adam Taylor Gordon when he’s a preteen, and Shane Sweet when he’s a teenager. Gordon previously played a young version of Tucker in a dream sequence in “The Xindi.”

Trivial matters: Manny Coto had come onto the show as a co-executive producer four episodes earlier in “Exile.” This is his first writing credit for Trek. He will go on to become the show-runner in season four.

Archer and the preteen Sim play with the same remote-control ship that we saw Archer playing with as a boy in “Broken Bow.”

When Sim contemplates dying on board a shuttlepod, he says the only worse thing he could imagine is being stuck with Reed on the shuttle, a reference to the events of “Shuttlepod One.”

In 2004, composer Velton Ray Bunch won an Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) for his work on this episode.

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “Tell him to watch his ass.” This is one of the more well-regarded episodes of Enterprise’s run, so I really was expecting to like it more.

On the face of it, the episode presents a potentially fascinating moral dilemma. But there are two problems.

The first problem is that it doesn’t really address the moral dilemma in any meaningful manner, because Archer agrees to the procedure without a second thought. It’s not even clear he gave it a first thought. T’Pol—as usual—tries to remind him that there are consequences and ethical considerations, but Archer just fobs them off. This is some serious stuff, creating a sentient life form for the express purpose of harvesting its organs. That’s, well, gross.

And Archer’s rationale for it is specious to say the least. I made a facetious remark in the plot summary wondering where Tucker’s deputy chief engineer is, and it raises a much bigger question: why is Tucker so indispensable? He can’t possibly be the only engineer of any skill on board the ship, and Starfleet can’t possibly have sent a ship out on a mission as important as Enterprise’s mission to the Delphic Expanse without a full ship’s complement. That would include backup for all the important positions. I mean, what if Tucker suffers a sudden aneurysm or contracts a deadly disease that can’t be cured by a deus ex Phlox’s animal or gets shot and killed by one of the many aliens that have invaded Enterprise despite their having a military contingent on board? Would Archer just throw up his hands and turn back because he doesn’t have Charles Tucker III on board anymore?

It’s the Voyager problem all over again: somehow, on this ship full of people, the same tiny bunch of people in the opening credits do all the work, even though they’re all alone in the middle of nowhere and everyone would need to do their part. It was an issue again mid-episode when the two people tapped to fly the shuttles are Mayweather—which makes sense—and Reed—which totally doesn’t. Reed has never been shown to be anything more than a competent pilot, and Enterprise must have at least two more qualified pilots on board, given that Mayweather has to sleep some time, and given that they’re likely on a three-shift rotation. But Reed has a speaking part, soooo….

The second problem with the moral dilemma is that it’s so completely artificial. Trek is at its worst when it creates problems with one bit of made-up science and then solves it with another bit of made-up science. All the science in this episode is not just made up but so obviously constructed in such a way as to maximize the pathos and also make the solutions blindingly obvious and easy to restore to the status quo when it’s all over.

Having said all this, the episode is very well acted, a tribute to the actors and to director LeVar Burton. Scott Bakula does some really good work here, as he does start to realize the consequence to his unhesitating decision when he realizes he has to tell Sim the truth. Jolene Blalock plays T’Pol’s reserve beautifully, with her discomfort with Sim’s similarity (ahem) to Tucker just under the surface.

And Connor Trinneer and the three kids who play Sim’s younger selves do a very nice job with Sim, with a good mix of Tucker and not-Tucker to be convincing.

I will also give the episode credit for looking fabulous. The visual of Enterprise covered in metallic particles in the midst of a pinkish particle field is just spectacular.

Warp factor rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s first Trek fiction in thirteen years will be a DS9 story called “You Can’t Buy Fate” in Star Trek Explorer #7, which will be on sale on his fifty-fourth birthday, 18 April 2023. It’s available for preorder from Titan.


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