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Recap / Star Trek Enterprise S 04 E 11 Observer Effect

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Trip and Hoshi come down with a fatal infection—and two non-corporeal aliens are very interested in whether they live or die.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Not for Malcolm or Travis, given that they're possessed by aliens every time we see them, but for once their actors get something to do.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Organians have one, which forbids them from helping anyone infected with the virus.
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  • Arc Words: "Somebody always dies."
  • Artistic License – Statistics: The Organians claim 10123 permutations of a chess game is a limited number and thus chess is very predictable. In truth, even if every atom in the observable universe (roughly somewhere between 1078 and 1082 in number) had the processing power of the average Organian - even allowing for several sextillion calculations a second - and they had been calculating these games every second since the Big Bang, you'd still get nowhere near 10123 as a total. In short, 10 with 123 zeros after it is a BIG number.
  • Bottle Episode: Second one in a row; this one uses only familiar sets (on Enterprise and the shuttlepod) and a few Ghost Extras. The Organians don't even need any special effects, only depicted as talking through whoever they possess.
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  • Call-Back: Archer mentions what happened in "Dear Doctor" while debating the Organians.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Before leaving Enterprise, the Organians decide to draw up plans for an official first contact with humans.
    • They also complain about the limitations of the chessboard. We see 3-D chess being played in TOS episodes.
    • Apparently, the Cardassians had also visited this planet.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Archer argues that the Organians should use their power to help instead of just observe. Kirk has the opposite attitude when he encounters the Organians.
    • The two Organians muse that it will take 5,000 years to prepare for official first contact with humans. Viewers, however, know Organians will be revealing themselves to Kirk just over a century after this episode.
  • Get Out!: Phlox quickly shoos Organian!Malcolm out of sickbay when he begins pestering him with questions about Trip and Hoshi's condition.
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  • Humans Are Special: Organian!Travis keeps trying to get Organian!Malcolm to admit this.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The first sign that one's hours are numbered.
  • Instant Sedation: Lampshaded—Phlox tells Trip that he'd better lie down after injecting himself with a hypospray sedative.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Organians utilize this to keep their presence a secret.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Organians being the observing aliens was the big twist at the time, but as you can see here, no one's shy about mentioning it.
  • Not So Similar: Archer references the events of "Dear Doctor" when talking about non-interference, but he tells Organian!Hoshi that this situation involves a virus that the crew could've been warned about instead of a result of long-term species evolution.
  • Oh, Crap!: After Trip flatlines, Archer is quite surprised when "Trip" suddenly begins talking to him. He also backs away in surprise when "Hoshi" suddenly sits up.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Trip and Hoshi both get better.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Archer calls out the Organians for no longer caring about what happens to the corporeal lifeforms they observe.
  • The Reveal: It's clear immediately that aliens are observing the crew and possessing different characters (mainly Malcolm and Travis). That they're Organians is the real twist.
  • Shot to the Heart: Phlox has Archer try it on Hoshi when she flatlines. It doesn't work.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: One Organian explains to Archer how advanced their species is. Given that they make a habit of watching, apathetically, while hundreds of species die from an incurable silicon-based virus, Archer snaps back with this:
    Archer: Not from where I'm standing.
  • Sick Episode: Trip and Hoshi.
  • Take a Third Option: Faced with either leaving Trip and Hoshi dead and letting Archer succumb as well or curing them and making their presence known, the Organians cure them and wipe their memories of what happened, leaving them alive and confused.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Apparently, sifting through the garbage dump on the planet without wearing any kind of bio-hazard protection gear is a common practice for visitors to the planet. Trip and Hoshi were in their normal uniforms and extremely filthy, making it amazing that they thought they wouldn't contract some kind of infection!
  • Unexplained Recovery: Trip and Hoshi, from our heroes' perspective. Thanks to a little Laser-Guided Amnesia, Archer doesn't remember persuading the Organians to bring them back to life.
  • You Are in Command Now: Archer tells T'Pol this while he's stuck in Sickbay with dead Hoshi, dying Trip, and his own life in jeopardy.
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