(written from a Production point of view)
Enterprise finds an abandoned ship, filled with corpses which appear to have been used for an experiment.
The crew of Enterprise NX-01 is finally settling in on the new ship, and crewmembers are slowly getting acquainted with one another. In sickbay, Ensign Hoshi Sato is having Dr. Phlox take a look at her sick pet, Sluggo. Trip Tucker arrives to report more power is available for Phlox. He sees Sato and expresses dissatisfaction at having been in deep space for two weeks with only a "dying worm" to show for it.
Captain Jonathan Archer, meanwhile, not having done much exploring in space, is doing some exploring in his own quarters instead, trying to locate an irritating squeaking sound under his deck plating. He is also unhappy about the fact that they still have not run into anyone. T'Pol enters to report, but he quiets her, insistent on finding the source of the sound. She continues, reporting that scans of the sectors ahead indicate little chance of finding inhabited planets and even Vulcan star charts have limited data on the course Starfleet set Enterprise on. Archer is not happy with this answer, but T'Pol points out that Vulcans don't select their destination by what piques their interest as they don't share Humanity's enthusiasm for exploration. Space is vast, with only one out of every 43,000 planets supporting intelligent life. Archer is still not satisfied with this response, pointing out that at warp 5 they should be running into someone by now, when Sato comes in to see the captain. T'Pol leaves them alone to talk. Sato complains that her quarters are "on the wrong side of the ship" where the stars are going the wrong way. She wants port-side quarters and would like the captain's permission to switch with someone else. He grants her wish and somewhat uneasy about all this, she leaves.
While itching for a first contact, everyone keeps busy with various tasks. The captain, for instance, offers Malcolm Reed a little "target practice" session to adjust the torpedo targeting system. Dr. Phlox, on the other hand, is taking all this with the most easy-going spirit: in the mess hall, he is exploring a variety of dishes, pointing out their remarkable flavors. He loves speaking at the dinner table, as on his home-planet of Denobula speaking during dinner time is usually considered a waste of time. Somewhat bitter, Tucker points out that wasting time is all they have been doing lately. For Phlox, however, every moment has been an adventure. He considers Humans so unpredictable, pointing out the various little observations he has been making. It seems the day will go by with nothing interesting happening, when they suddenly encounter an alien vessel.
The vessel does not respond to hails. Shortly after a debate ensues regarding how to approach the situation: while the captain is eager to make contact with a new race, T'Pol goes by her Vulcan training, suggesting that they don't let their curiosity dictate their actions, go by protocol and just resume their previous course while ignoring the vessel. But Archer insists on letting that curiosity dictate their actions and explore what's out there. Scans of the vessel indicate bio signs which T'Pol interprets as the aliens not wanting to make contact, while Captain Archer interprets them as aliens not being able to make contact. After discovering multiple hull breaches as a result of possible weapons discharge, an away team is finally dispatched to the vessel. T'Pol protests, pointing out that there are a number of protocols they have not tried yet, but somewhat irritated by her constant objecting to and discouragement of their actions, Archer ignores her objections and proceeds as planned.
Archer takes Sato and Reed with him to the vessel, even though Tucker cannot wait to get out there and do some exploring of his own. Archer tells him to be patient and that there will be plenty of other opportunities for him to explore.
While recording his personal log, Archer complains about T'Pol's behavior and how he didn't sign up for a mission with a Vulcan in tow who continuously "sucks the air out of the room." He admits that she might be right to some extent, but still is reluctant to just ignore someone in distress based on some protocol. He realizes that if they are to make history with every light year, they are not going to do so while sitting on their hands. Later, Sato comes in, thinking that it would be better if she stayed on board, but Archer really believes it would be better if she joined them. She finally admits that her reason for not wanting to join the away team is that the environmental suits make her a little claustrophobic. But Archer doesn't buy this as an excuse and insists on having her there.
The away team docks their shuttle to a port of the alien ship. They enter into an airlock but can't get through to the other side. Reed suggests placing microcharges on the hatch and blowing their way through, but Archer discovers a lever of sorts that allows them through. On the vessel, they discover that everyone on board is dead and that the bodies are hanging upside down, having been washed out with some kind of fluid. T'Pol suggests leaving, pointing out that since the crew is dead, assistance from Enterprise is no longer required. A reluctant Archer agrees and resumes course.
In sickbay, Sato, somewhat embarrassed for having "screamed like a twelve-year-old" while discovering the bodies on the the vessel, is talking to Dr. Phlox, who tells her that she really has nothing to be ashamed about. But she still feels uneasy, pointing out that no one else screamed. She also stresses that she came out here to explore and not to run into corpses on hooks. Phlox asks if she considered going back to the university, teaching, but Sato says that studying languages as an exolinguist is what she came out here to do. She doesn't want to go back. While Sato goes off on how she cannot just quit and go teach, Phlox points out that if her slug doesn't take the nutrients he is giving her, she won't survive. Sato feels bad, realizing that she shouldn't have brought her on board. She wonders if she can convince the captain to find a planet with an argon-rich atmosphere where they can drop off the slug; she thinks that the slug needs to get back to an environment that is more suited to her. Phlox jokes, stating that maybe she needs to go some place where she can teach.
During dinner, Archer feels guilty about having just left the alien vessel behind like that. He is especially edgy with T'Pol, accusing her of having no remorse and guilt. He is angry for not having even tried to do anything. He just cannot come to terms with the fact that they basically stuck their tails between their legs and ran, leaving them behind to rot, hanging like some slaughtered animals. He is asking if he is the only one who is bothered by this. He doesn't believe in avoiding confrontation at all costs and burying his "head in the sand" as he accuses Vulcans of doing. Coldly, T'Pol responds that they have a code of behavior which they try to obey, but that only upsets Archer even more, who points out that Humans have a code of behavior as well; something which he almost ignored. So, he decides to return to the abandoned ship to investigate. This time he wants to take Phlox with him to examine the dead crew and see if he can find out what happened to them.
On the alien vessel, Sato has initially a hard time deciphering the alien language. While working on it, she tells Tucker that she plans on asking the captain to take her home. She thinks she should have never left the university, as apparently she is not suited for this. She tells him about her behavior here yesterday and how she fell apart at the sight of those bodies. She believes that the captain needs a translator he can count on, someone who shows a little grace under pressure, and not someone like her. But finally, she is able to crack the language, enabling its communication system and sending a distress call from it.
In the meantime, Phlox is able to shed some light to the circumstances that caused the crew's death. He, for example, finds out that whoever did this was trying to collect triglobulin from them; for what reason exactly, he is not sure, as triglobulin has a wide variety of uses.
Shortly after, a ship drops out of warp and, not responding to any scans and not being disturbed by the not-yet-aligned targeting system, proceeds to disable Enterprise's engines. T'Pol points out, to Cpt. Archer, that the vessel's power signatures match the scans he (Archer) took of those bio-pumps. It appears that whoever killed that crew has returned.
The away team heads immediately for the shuttle and approaches the Enterprise while T'Pol orders Reed for an assessment of their weapons. He's not optimistic that they can hit a moving target, but T'Pol asks for his best and to get to the bridge. Archer calls in to try hailing the vessel, but they don't respond. The hostile alien ship starts to fire on Enterprise while Tucker struggles to get the shuttle docked. He finally succeeds and Archer, and the away team, are once again back on Enterprise. However, the hostile alien ship damaged Enterprise's port nacelle, thus rendering the warp drive inoperable, so they can't escape – they are forced to fight. Fortunately, the hostile alien ship stops firing. When Archer finally arrives on the bridge, he orders first one, then a second torpedo to be fired at the hostile vessel, but with the ongoing targeting system issues, they still prove quite ineffective.
The hostile ship then scans Enterprise, leading Phlox to suspect that the aliens have discovered Humans also produce similar compounds useful to their nefarious purposes. The hostile ship locks on with a stabilising beam when another ship drops out of warp. This new ship, it is discovered via a quick scan, are of the same species as the dead crew. Following a difficult UT communication exchange, culminating in Ensign Sato being forced to communicate without her translator, the alien from the second vessel understands that Enterprise was just trying to help. The ship attacks the hostile vessel, finally destroying it. Archer is relieved, believing that they just made a friend, thanks to Hoshi.
- "Captains starlog, May 6, 2151. After helping them recover their dead crewmen, we had the chance to spend some time with the Axanar. Turns out, they're androgynous and live over four hundred years. I look forward to meeting them again, under better circumstances. Before we resume our course, I have agreed to make a brief detour."
On an alien planet that has a suitable atmosphere, Ensign Sato is dropping off her pet slug, hoping that she'd feel better there than on Enterprise. She smiles at Phlox and together they leave to return to Enterprise.
"Maybe we should go have a look."
"If you insist on allowing your curiosity to dictate your actions."
"We do insist."
- - Tucker, T'Pol, and Archer
"I didn't realize you spoke slug."
- - Phlox, to Hoshi Sato
"Crewmen Bennett and Hayden over there, do you see them? If I'm not mistaken, they are preparing to mate. Do you think they might let me watch?"
"It's good to see you're enjoying yourself."
- - Phlox and Tucker
"Come on, Travis. We've gotta find Mr. Reed something to blow up."
- - Archer
"Well, at least we know they're bipeds."
"What gives you that idea?"
- - Hoshi Sato and Malcolm Reed, while on the Axanar vessel
"Have you smelled Ensign Socorro after she exercises?"
"She gives off a fragrance not unlike the adrenal gland of a Nausicaan!"
- - Phlox discussing Human traits with Tucker
"You've seen too many science fiction movies. We just need the three phase-pistols. Put the rifles back."
- - Archer to Reed prior to boarding the Axanar vessel
"We've been out here for two weeks now and the only first contact we've made is with a dying worm."
- - Tucker
"Seems like everyone else on board is itching for a first contact."
- - Mayweather after Reed frets about Enterprise's faulty targeting sensors
"I don't think you need a translator!"
- - Hoshi Sato, after discovering the Axanar corpses
"The residue indicates oxidation and thermal shock effects; it could be the result of a high yield particle impact."
- - T'Pol and Archer
"This fellow hasn't suffered as much cellular decay. He's our best candidate for a post-mortem. Care to assist?"
- - Phlox talking about an Axanar corpse to Archer
"If I can't isolate it, I'm going to have to tear the whole flooring up."
"That would be... unfortunate."
- - Archer and T'Pol
"There's a vessel approaching Captain! It's power signature matches the scans you took of those bio pumps! It appears that whoever killed that crew has returned!"
- -T'Pol to Archer
- Captain's starlog. May 6, 2151. After helping them recover their dead crewmen, we had a chance to spend some time with the Axanar. Turns out they're androgynous and live over four hundred years. I look forward to meeting them again under better circumstances. Before we resume our course, I've agreed to make a brief detour.
- Friday 10 August 2001 – Pick-up shot in engineering, scene 82. (Paramount Stage 18)
- Friday 31 August 2001 – Re-shoot of pick-up shots of Linda Park at her console on the bridge, scenes R87, R91, and R93pt. (Paramount Stage 18)
- Tuesday 25 September 2001 – Insert re-shoot of scene 15 in the situation room. (Paramount Stage 18)
Story and script
- The series' writing staff were surprised that the story of the first regular episode of the series (both in production and airing order) featured the character of Hoshi Sato to such a large degree. "It just so happens that that's the show we came up with," said series co-creator and Executive Producer Rick Berman. (Broken Bow, paperback ed., p. 253)
- The revised final draft script of this episode was issued on 27 June 2001.
Music and production
- This episode is one of the few episodes – if not the only episode – to contain the melody from the series' main title music, "Faith of the Heart", in the episode score.
- An outtake of this episode has Scott Bakula knelt down, saying, "Something's squeaking. I think it's coming from underneath the deck plating. But every time I get close to it, I... I have to start the scene over." Jolene Blalock, who is standing over him, starts laughing a few seconds later, realizing what he has said.
- Actors Brett Baker and Max Williams were cast to portray two crewmen in this episode. They had costume fittings and were on set when the director decided that their scene should be filmed on the next day. The next day on set, the complete scene was removed from the script and Baker and Williams were paid as "under 5's" (a speaking role with 5 lines or less) and left with no appearance in this episode. (Source: Max Williams)
Two deleted scenes were filmed, but not included in the aired version of the episode. These scenes can be found on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the first season. The numbers used are the scene numbers, indicating where the scene would have been located in the episode.
This scene has Archer and Mayweather heading down a corridor towards a turbolift as they discuss finding an area to test the ship's weapons. Mayweather comments to Archer on how, when he was a child, the ECS Horizon once went on a nine-month, two-and-a-half light year journey from Lavinius to Bylaran Prime. To keep the children occupied, they were taught to play Geography. Archer and Mayweather proceed to play a quick round. The two soon begin to argue as to what can and cannot be used in the game. This leads Archer to comment that he thought the game was meant to avoid arguments.
The allusions to planets "Lavinius" and "Bylaran Prime" from this scene may have been in reference to Levinius V and the Bilaren system, respectively. The dialogue from this scene later went on to be used, almost word for word, in the episode "Desert Crossing", but with Archer starting the game this time and Tucker joining in. The two soon also begin to argue as to what can and cannot be used in the game.
Aboard the predominantly dark Axanar cargo ship, Archer, Sato, and Reed enter a room (after forcing the doors open) in which they find several consoles, still lit. While Sato and Reed wonder whether a specific deactivated console could have been used for communications, Archer studies what appears to be the ship's engineering display. He asks Sato if she can understand the schematic and shows the same display to Reed, who, after forming the theory that the diagram is showing an enormous power drain inside the ship, decides to investigate the source of the power drain.
- Although Enterprise set course for an inhabited planet at the end of "Broken Bow", by the beginning of this episode no new lifeform has been encountered by the ship except for Sluggo.
- The squeak found in Archer's ready room floor that annoys him in the beginning of this episode is repaired by the automated repair station a year later in "Dead Stop".
- This is the first appearance of the Axanar, whose homeworld of Axanar was mentioned in TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy" in connection to the Axanar Peace Mission, referenced in TOS: "Court Martial". They went on to appear only once more, in the form of a captive aboard the automated repair station in "Dead Stop".
- This is also the first Enterprise episode to prominently feature EV suits, though a different variation of this safety gear was seen already on two spacedock personnel in "Broken Bow".
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.7 and was watched by a total of 9.18 million viewers. 
- In the "Ultimate Guide" in Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78, this episode was rated 5 out of 5 arrowhead insignias and was named the 2nd best instalment of Enterprise's first season.
- The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 359) describes this as "quite an eerie episode."
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.2, 6 May 2002
- As part of the UK VHS collection Enterprise 1.1-1.3 Collectors Edition: 19 August 2002
- As part of the ENT Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the ENT Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Jef Ayres as Haynem
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Mario Carter as an operations division crewman
- Cecilia Conn as a command division crewman
- Amy Kate Connolly as a science division crewman
- Sandro DiPinto as a science division crewman
- Mimi Fisher as Bennett
- Stacy Fouche as an operations division crewman
- Lindly Gardner as an operations division crewman
- Jack Guzman as a science division crewman
- Cheri Isabella as an operations division crewman
- Martin Ko as a command division ensign
- Carmen Nogales as an operations division crewman
- Bobby Pappas as an operations division crewman
- Prada as Porthos
- Thelma Tyrell as an operations division crewman
- Gary Weeks as an operations division crewman
- Todd Wieland as an operations division crewman
adrenal gland; androgynous; Amazon; amino acid; anaconda; Anchorage; aphrodisiac; appetite; argon; atmosphere; Axanar; Axanar cargo ship; Axanar language; Axanar warship; bile; bio pump; bit; black bear; blood; body odor; cargo ship; cheddar cheese; Chef; chloraxine; class 3 pulse rifle; claustrophobia; code of behavior; conjugation; day; Denobula; disilicon polymer; DNA scan; docking arm; Earth; EM 33 sidearm; environmental suit; exobiology; exolinguist; eye tooth; flush; Forrest, Maxwell; grammar; Horizon, ECS; horn; hydraulics; hydro-skimmer; iced tea; infrared scanner; intelligent life; ladder; lag time; lamp; laundry list; linguistic database; locker room; logic; lymphatic system; micro-charge; meter; methane; molecule; Namod; Nausicaan; nitrogen; nutrient; oxidation; particle weapon; pasta; phase-pistol; phonetic processor; pink dolphin; Porter; postmortem; potato; protein concentrate; protein resequencer; pulsar grid; pump; Pyrithian bat; Salutatorian; science fiction; sector; sentient species; Shuttlepod 1; sloth; Sluggo; snake; Socorro; Spanish language; spatial torpedo; spicy; stabilizing beam; statistics; stellar nursery; stress; sub-molecular bioscan; Suliban; synonym; targeting scanner; telescope; theta band frequency; tube; tributary; triglobulin; Triglobulin harvester species; Triglobulin harvester's starship; trinary star cluster; tritanium; tube; universal translator; university; vaccine; vocabulary; Vulcans; Vulcan star charts; warp core; year; zymuth gland
- "Fight or Flight" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Fight or Flight" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Fight or Flight" at Wikipedia
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"Strange New World"