Affliction (Star Trek: Enterprise)
|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Michael Grossman|
|Teleplay by||Mike Sussman|
|Story by||Manny Coto|
|Featured music||Velton Ray Bunch|
|Original air date||February 18, 2005|
"Affliction" is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, and originally aired on February 18, 2005. The script was written by Mike Sussman from a story by executive producer Manny Coto. It was the second episode of Enterprise to be directed by Michael Grossman. The episode is the first of a two-part story, which concludes with "Divergence".
Set in the 22nd century, the series follows the adventures of the first Starfleet starship Enterprise, registration NX-01. In this episode, the crew investigate the kidnapping of Doctor Phlox (John Billingsley), and are attacked by a new type of Klingon. Meanwhile Phlox is taken to a Klingon colony to work on a cure for a plague whose effects include the removal of the Klingon's cranial ridges.
The episode sought to answer the question of why Klingons looked different in Star Trek: The Original Series than in other series of the franchise. It featured a number of guest stars who had previous connections to the franchise, including James Avery who was in the running for the part of Worf in The Next Generation, John Schuck who played a Klingon Ambassador in two Star Trek films, and Eric Pierpoint who had appeared in several other episodes of Star Trek previously. Some of the standing sets were redressed to appear as the interior of the Columbia, and some scenes were filmed outside at the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles, California. The initial ratings equalled the highest ratings of the fourth season, and although critical reception was mixed, it has subsequently been considered to be one of the best story-lines to be featured on Enterprise.
The Enterprise returns to Earth to commemorate the launch of the second NX class starship, the Columbia, and Commander Tucker (Connor Trinneer) prepares for his transfer to the new ship. T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) enters his quarters and the two discuss his transfer, and he remarks that he is not leaving because of her. Meanwhile Ensign Sato (Linda Park) and Doctor Phlox go out for dinner in San Francisco. They are attacked and Phlox is kidnapped. Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) and Lt Reed (Dominic Keating) investigate the area and detect some suspicious transporter activity. Reed continues his investigations and discovers a satellite grid was switched offline at the time of the attack. He is contacted by a shadowy figure (Eric Pierpoint) who invites him to a meeting. Once there, the man reveals that he is working for Section 31 and he requires Reed's assistance or else Phlox will die. In order to discover what happened during the attack, T'Pol conducts a mind-meld with Hoshi, and the two realise that the attackers were speaking Rigelian. They detect that a Rigelian freighter recently left orbit and head in pursuit.
Phlox finds himself at the Klingon colony Qu'Vat, where General K'Vagh (James Avery) seeks his help to cure a plague spreading through the Klingon race. On the Columbia, Tucker and Captain Erika Hernandez (Ada Maris) dine together and discuss the reasons for Tucker's transfer. He claims that it was because he was getting too close to some of the Enterprise crew. Later, while they are alone in their cabins, T'Pol and Tucker have a shared vision despite being on different ships. The Enterprise catches up with the Rigelian freighter, but finds only debris. The ship is suddenly attacked and boarded by what appear to be humans. The Enterprise crew fight off the boarding party, and the attackers leave behind an injured colleague. The alien vessel departs, with the Enterprise unable to follow. The injured alien is taken to sickbay, and scanners show that he is in fact a Klingon despite his human-like appearance.
General K'Vagh brings Phlox a Klingon to study, who notes that the Klingon's cranial ridges are dissolving. K'Vagh, to Phlox's horror, kills the Klingon so that an autopsy can be performed. After scanning the corpse, Phlox detects that the Klingon's DNA has been supplemented with that of a genetically augmented human. Phlox speaks to the Klingon doctor Antaak (John Schuck), and discovers that they used augmented DNA after earlier events (as seen in "Borderland"), but it combined with the flu carried by a test subject and went airborne, resulting in the plague as the modifications do not work the same on both humans and Klingons. On the Enterprise, Archer discovers that Reed tried to cover up evidence of the Klingon attack and confines him to the brig.
Antaak and Phlox are told that they have five days to cure the plague before it is too late. Antaak suggests that the only course of action is to create stable augmented Klingons, but Phlox refuses to help. Captain Archer discovers that the Klingon boarders sabotaged the Enterprise and the ship must increase speed in order to prevent the warp core from overloading. He orders that the ship is taken to Warp 5.2 ending the episode on a cliffhanger.
The storyline in "Affliction" answers an ongoing question which had begun with the pilot episode of Enterprise, "Broken Bow". In The Original Series, Klingons appeared mostly human, with no applied prosthetics. However in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, they first appeared with forehead ridges and continued to appear this way through the remaining movies as well as The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. The DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" references the change, with Chief O'Brien suggesting that Klingons had been genetically modified and Dr. Bashir assuming a viral mutation had taken place.
Theories created by fans included the idea that the ridgeless Klingons were from a specific part of the home world, but this was discounted when three ridgeless Klingons from The Original Series appeared with ridges in the Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath". The Original Series had a restricted budget, and there was no funding for any prosthetic make-up for the Klingons until The Motion Picture. During The Original Series, it was decided to use them more frequently than the Romulans, whose prosthetics were more expensive. The original ridgeless design was created after suggestions by John Colicos, who based them on Genghis Khan and the people of the 13th and 14th century Mongol Empire. When "Broken Bow" aired, it featured Klingons with forehead ridges, despite the series being set prior to The Original Series. On the episode's script, the old style Klingons were referred to as "type-two" and "semi-Klingons".
The storyline was one of several in the fourth season of Enterprise which show runner Manny Coto sought to connect the series to The Original Series. Coto also revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that the episode would see the start of Section 31. The episode also featured the first appearance on-screen of the Rigelians, despite first being mentioned in The Original Series and again in DS9. "Affliction" marks the fifth writing credit of the fourth season for Michael Sussman, while director Michael Grossman had previously directed the episode "Hatchery".
Filming took place from December 3, 2004 through to December 12. Several of the standing sets were redressed to appear as the locations on the USS Columbia, including the bridge, Captain's mess and the engineering section. The exterior scenes where Phlox and Hoshi were attacked were filmed on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. As the New York streets backlot had already been used earlier in the season for the opening episode "Storm Front", this sequence was instead filmed in the area between the studio's Administration building and a building which had previously doubled for the high school in the sitcom Happy Days.
James Avery was cast as the Klingon General K’Vagh. He underwent a three-hour make-up process for the role, something he later described as a nightmare. He had previously been involved with Star Trek in 1987, when he was the runner up to Michael Dorn to be cast as Worf in The Next Generation. He became better known as Phil Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. "Affliction" also featured a cameo by Marc Worden as a Klingon prisoner, who had previously appeared in the Deep Space Nine episodes "Sons and Daughters" and "You are Cordially Invited..." as Worf's son, Alexander Rozhenko.
John Schuck was cast as the Klingon doctor Antaak, having previously appeared as the Klingon Ambassador in both Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Schuck had also appeared in episodes of both Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Eric Pierpoint had previously appeared in several episodes of Star Trek across the various television series, including the TNG episode "Liaisons" as well as episodes of DS9 and Voyager. He had also appeared in the Enterprise episode "Rogue Planet".
Brad Greenquist appeared as a Rigelian in this episode in his second appearance on Enterprise, he too had also previously appeared in episodes of DS9 and Voyager. The other Rigelians were played by stuntmen Brian Williams and Tom Dupont, whilst Linda Park was stunt-doubled by Diana Inosato. It was the second appearance of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the animated television show Family Guy, in a role in Enterprise. He had previously appeared as an unnamed character in the third season episode "The Forgotten" but gains the name Ensign Rivers in "Affliction".
Reception and home media release
"Affliction" originally aired on UPN, on February 18, 2005. It received a 1.8/3% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 1.8 percent of all 18 to 49-year-olds, and 3 percent of all 18 to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. This equals the ratings received by the previous episode, "The Aenar", which received the highest ratings of the fourth season so far. It finished behind programs on NBC, The WB, ABC, CBS and Fox.
Michelle Erica Green reviewed this episode for TrekNation, and described it as a "rollicking good ride". She thought that linking the reason for the Klingons' appearance change to the augmented humans from earlier in the season was a clever idea, but the introduction of Section 31 was suspect as they hadn't been mentioned at all through the season three Xindi arc. She was pleased with the level of detail shown on screen, such as the targs and Tucker changing the patch on his uniform when he transfers to the Columbia. Green said that John Billingsley "excels" in this episode, and that the ending was "perfect". Jamahl Epsicokhan on his website "Jammer's Reviews", gave the episode a score of three out of four, saying that it was "solid and entertaining, but with no real signs of greatness" and thought that the cliffhanger ending was unnecessary. The two part story featuring the episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence" were subsequently ranked the fifth best story of Enterprise by Den of Geek writer James Hunt.
The only home media release of the episode is on DVD; having been released as part of the season four box set on November 1, 2005 in the United States. The Blu ray release of the final season of Enterprise is due on April 1, 2014.
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