Today’s the day we verify for sure and for certain that the Prime Directive does not yet exist, there has been no rule penned to give guidance as to what any mission into space should or should not entail, yet Archer & Phlox appear to agree that they didn’t embark on their adventure to play God.
Having this episode set squarely from Dr. Phlox’s perspective was cute. Cute in that he has an almost childlike exuberance to his observations living in close quarters with so many humans. Cute in the rather middle school way he goes about trying to discover if a certain female crew member is actually interested in him by talking to almost everyone except her.
The fact that he has a human pen pal living in the reverse situation makes me hope there will be a future episode narrated by said friend whose own letters parallel whatever is happening aboard the Enterprise and giving more information about Phlox’s own special proclivities (mating on his world is apparently combative and he has three current wives who each have two current husbands in addition to him).
Phlox’s observations and clear capacity for caring have a really lovely way of framing the issue of the as-yet-unpenned Prime Directive. When dealing with two bipedal species engaged in cohabitation on a planet (one clearly more “advanced” than the other) some of the humans see a civil rights issue of which the inhabitants appear ignorant, some are only concerned with helping to heal the advanced species, and Phlox alone is the one taking note of the potential inherent to the “lesser” species whose progress he does not wish to deny by giving too much aid to the more advanced species.
The fact that Archer doesn’t completely bulldoze Phlox’s concerns, and in fact comes to act in accordance with them even though he has a very human inner struggle about doing so, also provides a nice development in their relationship as captain and doctor.
I’ve taken inspiration from the Prime Directive for sonnets in the past, but this I think deserves very special treatment. And only time will tell what that looks like.