the story: Phlox raises a clone of Trip with the intention of harvesting his body parts.
what it's all about: If you've never seen "Similitude," that summary sounds pretty grim, so let me just get this straight. This is an episode built around the ethical dilemma of the situation. The clone leads an accelerated life, so his whole life is two weeks long. The episode absolutely knows that the situation is screwed up, and the clone even finds out there's a chance he could have his lifespan slowed down to normal, and that becomes part of the story, too...
It's an absolutely gut-wrenching experience, for the clone, and for Archer and Phlox, who agonize and argue over the situation. And the funny thing? It's the ultimate Trip episode, regardless of whether or not it's technically him featured in the story. Trip had developed over the course of the preceding two seasons into the heart of the series, and his personal stakes in the Xindi conflict only helped solidify that status. His relationship with T'Pol reaches its most satisfying point in "Similitude," besides; by the end of the series they had drifted apart, but at least for one episode and its peculiar circumstances, they were able to find peace together.
Beyond "Twilight," "Similitude" is also the ultimate creative statement of the Xindi arc. Archer finds himself pushed to his limits trying to find his way in a truly "screwed up situation." The biggest problem he faces with the clone is that he knows he needs Trip, and the clone won't live long enough to truly replace him, and even the risky lifespan-extending procedure isn't guaranteed to succeed, so he doesn't find it worth the gamble...even if it means the clone must die. The ending of the episode, in which Archer and the clone attempt to make sense of the experience, is one of the true classic scenes of the whole franchise.
- franchise - A classic character moment in all of Star Trek.
- series - A perfect use of the Xindi arc.
- character - The best Trip episode.
- essential - In a lot of ways, this may be Enterprise's best episode.