Three Plot Points Equal “Similitude”
A wise person once told me that every story written for a Star Trek episode has to have three plot points, and that they will come together at the end of the episode to complete the storyline. I’ve thought about this a lot, and one episode that seems to stand out to reflect this belief is the Enterprise installment “Similitude”, written by Manny Coto.
Whenever a question appears on Facebook asking something along the lines of “What is your favorite episode of Enterprise?“, often “Similitude” is the hands-down winner amongst other fans. Although I consider “Shuttlepod One” to be my favorite episode of Enterprise and have written a previous article about it, “Similitude” is also in my top five listing of the show’s greatest episodes.
It was Manny Coto’s first script for Enterprise and it brought him great fame in the Star Trek community, leading to him becoming the showrunner for Enterprise in the fourth season. Manny is an Emmy winner for his work on 24 (Season 7 was my favorite season of that series and even contained some old friends from Enterprise: John Billingsley and Connor Trinneer). Manny is also an Emmy nominee for executive producing on Dexter. He considered his work on Enterprise as the high point of his career. I will agree with him on that!
Without Manny’s influence and guidance, I’m not sure how season four of Enterprise would have been. I also wonder what influence his time as executive producer would have had if Enterprise had lived out seven seasons, as did the prior three Star Trek series.
The direction of “Similitude” by LeVar Burton seems to have made the episode a fan favorite as well. In my opinion, he brought out the best in the show’s actors.
Okay, enough; back to the reason for this article: plot points. Let’s look at “Similitude” as it applies to this three-plot-point idea. If you have not seen the episode, stop here; too many spoilers are about to be revealed.
Plot Point Number One: Trip is severely injured
The episode opens with a lost lead. It looks like Trip is dead in a coffin, his deceased body ready to be launched into space.
After the opening credits, we see that the story begins two weeks before this lost lead. Trying to upgrade the warp engine, an explosion occurs that causes Trip to suffer a head injury.
Trip’s injury is the basis for the story and it will be the driving force for the other two plot points. Often, the first plot point continues throughout the story and the added plot points add issues that need to be resolved before the original plot point can be resolved.
Due to the explosion, Enterprise is without warp drive or impulse power and is trapped in a field of matter that wants to attach itself to the ship’s hull. By the time the engines can be repaired, the ship will be destroyed. With Trip in a coma, this leads to…
Plot Point Number Two: Cloning provides a solution
Regarding Trip’s injury, Dr. Phlox tells Archer he has a Lyssarrian Desert Larvae. When DNA is administered to it, a clone can be made of the source of the DNA. However, it will go through a normal life cycle in just fifteen days. The issue of cloning has been covered in many other films and TV shows, such as the movie The Island, but not to the level seen in this episode.
Archer is left with the decision of whether to approve the process and use the clone to obtain the needed brain tissue to save Trip’s life. He agrees that Trip needs to be saved for Enterprise to complete the Xindi mission.
The clone, given the name “Sim” by Dr. Phlox in its infancy, becomes not only a copy of Trip but even takes on his memories and traits. And this leads to…
Plot Point Number Three: Questioning purpose in life
As the clone matures, it becomes increasingly like Trip, and this causes issues with Archer and T’Pol. Whereas the child Sim struggles to understand why he was created, the adult Sim realizes his life needs purpose, and he proposes a solution to move the stranded Enterprise; Sim comes up with a plan to use the shuttlepods to tow Enterprise out of the magnetic field, saving the ship and crew.
After Sim’s plan works, Dr. Phlox discovers that Sim won’t survive the operation to save Trip’s life, news Archer and Phlox relay to Sim. However, Sim says there might be an enzyme that can extend his life and allow him to replace Trip; Archer refuses to allow that to happen. Sim therefore plans to escape the ship, to live out his short life expectancy, instead.
It’s then that Sim, contemplating the fact he has an opportunity to help prevent the Xindi from committing more deaths than they already have, realizes his true reason for existence, and he agrees to go forward with the operation. Before he goes to Sickbay, T’Pol gives him a going away gift: a kiss (which later becomes a plot point for subsequent episodes).
By the penultimate scene, all the plot points have been resolved, and Sim is now ready to do what needs to be done. This might be one of the most emotional scenes in Enterprise, where Sim says to Phlox, “You made a damn good father,” and Phlox replies, “You were a damn good son.” Step aside, end of Field of Dreams; this is the best father/son scene of all time! And with that, Sim accepts his purpose in life, saving the life of another. The episode ends where it began, yet now we know that the coffin contains Sim’s body, not Trip’s.
All things considered, “Similitude” is an extremely successful Enterprise episode, and its storytelling is a key part of that success. Thanks to Manny Coto, for writing the well-crafted tale and for being a part of Star Trek: Enterprise in general.