this episode tried to be profound, to say something. the result was.. disappointing.
panar syndrome is very clearly a metaphor for HIV. i don’t think that in itself was badly done. but the actions taken in response to it and how it was framed were.
t’pol was, in essence, raped. she did not want to disclose this. it was disclosed, against her will, in order to keep the science directorate from recalling her. and captain archer, our series Good Guy, says outright that he was glad it happened. “i’m glad your agency was taken from you because it would have made me sad if you weren’t on the ship anymore.” t’pol didn’t make that choice for shits and giggles, she took a personal risk in order to stand for her values and avoid furthering prejudice. but it doesn’t matter as long as a couple male characters decide that choice is wrong, right!!
the b-plot was unnecessary and cheapened the main point of the episode. the issue was that phlox’s wife was making unwanted advances on trip. the blame was placed on him, despite the only thing he ever *did* being standing there uncomfortable. he needs to go apologize to phlox for “messing with what’s his”. trip had to have wanted her advantages, because he’s a man, he always wants sex. phlox deserves an apology because his wife is his property and not an autonomous being. and then the punchline is that denobulans are all polyamorous so phlox is fine with it. so everything’s fine then, right!!
it’s not surprising at all given the show’s politics, but this episode left a bad taste in my mouth.