When he is told of the death of an old rival, Archer reflects on his days in the NX test program.
The Enterprise detects a nebula of what they believe to be dark matter. But Captain Archer's excitement at discovering the nebula is dampened when Admiral Forrest contacts him and informs him that an old comrade, A.G. Robinson, had died in a mountaineering accident.
After Trip Tucker loads six spatial charges onto a shuttlepod to excite the dark matter, Archer and T'Pol take the shuttlepod out to the nebula. After departure, T'Pol inquires about Robinson. Archer begins to tell her of when they had served in Starfleet together.
Commander Jonathan Archer meets with Commodore Forrest and proudly announces that he achieved a 92% efficiency in the warp reactor simulation. But he is disappointed when Forrest tells him that Robinson had been selected to pilot the NX-Alpha. That night, he has a drink with Robinson and several other pilots. Taking him aside, Robinson tells Archer that he did not get the assignment because he is too by-the-book.
Two weeks later, however, Robinson easily breaks the warp 2 barrier. But when he ignores orders to drop to impulse, he accelerates and the ship explodes shortly after reaching warp 2.2. Robinson, fortunately, survived by jettisoning an escape pod while at warp.
The Vulcans immediately claim that this proves that Humans are progressing in warp technology too quickly, and that the warp program will have to be postponed and the warp engine built from scratch. Archer expresses outrage at the idea, and he is joined by Charles Tucker, an engineer working on the NX program.
Later in the 602 Club, Archer and his new friend Trip Tucker agree that it isn't the engine at fault, but rather the intermix ratio. Further adding to Archer's anger is that Robinson admits that he faced the Vulcans and blamed the destruction of the NX-Alpha on Henry Archer's warp engine design. Archer and Robinson get into a fight which is shortly broken up.
Later, Archer discovers Robinson in the locker room packing, and convinces him that if they could get the intermix right, the ship would achieve stable warp flight. Robinson suggest that they test the theory by stealing the NX-Beta. Archer reluctantly agrees.
With the assistance of Tucker on the ground, Archer and Robinson launch the NX-Beta and enter warp. As Starfleet Security realizes that the ship has been stolen, the NX-Beta encounters similar problems that destroyed the NX-Alpha. However, just as security moves in on Tucker, Archer proudly announces that they are maintaining a steady warp 2.5, thus proving the engine design works.
Archer tells T'Pol that the Vulcans grounded the warp ships until every possible simulation could be run. After a year, however, they admitted that the engine was sound after all.
They launch the final two charges, the previous four having failed, and are rewarded with a nebula appearing before their eyes.
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"You remember what Buzz Aldrin said when he stepped onto the moon?"
"Nobody does. Because Armstrong went first."
- - Archer and Ruby
"Optimism doesn't alter the laws of physics."
- - T'Pol, to Archer
"One thing I learned from A.G.: You're never going to get anywhere without taking risks."
"You obviously admired this man."
"Quite a bit."
"And yet he cracked your molar?"
"Yeah, Humans can have funny ways of forming friendships."
"To say the least."
- - Archer and T'Pol
"When the first warp five starship is built, its captain won't be able to call home every time he needs to make a decision. He won't be able to turn to the Vulcans. Unless he decides to take one with him."
- - A.G. Robinson, to Archer
"Don't worry, you'll get out there some day. If I had my own ship, I'd sign you up in a second."
"I'm going to hold you to that!"
- - Archer and Tucker
"We didn't build this engine to make test runs around Jupiter. We built it to explore! If my father were alive today, he'd be standing here asking: 'What the hell are we waiting for?' "
- - Archer, to Commodore Forrest
- Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley), Lt. Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), and Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) do not appear in this episode. Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) appears in one scene and has only one line.
- Trip Tucker refers to Captain Jefferies, an engineer who worked on the NX program in the 2140s who later helped design the Template:ShipClass. This is a reference to Matt Jefferies who was the art director of Star Trek: The Original Series and designed the Enterprise, the D7-class Klingon battle cruiser, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey and many other ships. The Jefferies tubes are also named after him. He died on July 21, 2003, two months after this episode first aired.
- In the 602 Club there are paintings and patches of many of the spacecraft mentioned on Star Trek, including the DY-100 class, the Phoenix, the NX-Alpha, and the USS Enterprise (XCV 330). A patch of the Earth-Saturn probe, featuring Christopher, and added astronauts O'Herlihy and Fontana, named after the director and writer of "Tomorrow is Yesterday", the episode where it was mentioned.
- Also in the bar is the Rings game from VOY: "Fair Haven".
- In the bar, Captain Archer speaks with Ruby, who both Trip and Malcolm once dated. (mentioned in "Shuttlepod One")
- Vaughn Armstrong, Michael Canavan and Victor Bevine all guest-starred in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Armstrong played Danar in "Past Prologue" and Seskal in "When It Rains..." and "The Dogs of War". Canavan played Tamal in "Defiant" and Bevine played Belar in "Things Past". LeVar Burton directed Bevine in the latter episode and this one.
- This episode marks the first appearance of a commodore in Star Trek since the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Counter-Clock Incident". The only other mentions have been Commodore Probert in radio chatter in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a brief appearance in the council chambers in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and a dubious mention in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Enemy".
- The search for the first Dark Matter Nebula would seem to be redundant as Archer mentions in the episode "Breaking the Ice" that he had previously "made a run" to a dark matter nebula to set up a graviton telescope.
- The NX hangar exterior was previously seen in the sci-fi series Seven Days as the Never Never Land facility.
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay were two Pilsner glasses , Keith Carradine's uniform and boots , and a 602 Club menu card. 
- The desk lamp seen while Robinson is emptying his locker was previously used during the Starfleet Praxis briefing at the beginning of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- During the flashback, Trip reveals the reason behind his nickname to Archer. As he is Charles Tucker III, his nickname is short for "triple."
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Enterprise.
- As part of the ENT Season 2 DVD
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log collection.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
- Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
- Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
Special Guest Star
- Michael Canavan as a Vulcan adviser
- Victor Bevine as a flight controller
- John B. Moody as a security officer
- Anthony Acker as a Vulcan adviser
- James D. Frey as a NX technician
- Kathleen J. Grant as a female senator
- Thomas P. Hunt as the senator's aide
- Marnie Martin as an operations division crewman
- Lemuel Perry as Leo
- Unknown actor as Earth Starfleet commodore
602 Club; Aldrin, Buzz; Alice Springs; Ariane; Armstrong, Neil; beer; bourbon; Bread Salad; Burger and Fries; Caroline; Chester; court martial; Cyrus; Duvall; ; escape pod; Fontana: Gardner; Holmes, Sherlock; International Space Station; Italy; Jefferies; Jupiter; Jupiter, moons of; Luna; Mount McKinley; midnight oil; mushrooms; New Berlin; NX Control; NX program; NX-Alpha; NX-Beta; NX-Delta; Template:ShipClass; pretzel; O'Herlihy; Potato Gratin; quantum field; Robinson Nebula; Rosalie; Rosti a la 602; Sandwich de Jour; San Francisco; Starfleet Mission Control; Starfleet Museum; Steamed Veggies; Tycho Base; Vulcan; Vulcan Advisory Council; Vulcan database; Vulcan Science Directorate; warp 2 barrier; warp barrier; warp drive
Akers, Thomas; Anders, William; Anderson, Michael Phillip; Antarctica; Apollo; Apollo spacecraft; Bean, Alan; Ariane; Baker, Michael A.; Barry, Daniel T.; Belgium; Bluford, Guion; Borman, Frank; Brandenstein, David; Brown, David McDowell; Buchli, James; Canada; Canadian Space Agency; Casper, John; Cernan, Eugene; Chaffee, Roger B.; Chawla, Kalpana; Chilton, Kevin P.; Clark, Laurel; Clipper ship; Coats, Michael; Conrad, Pete; Covey, Richard; Creighton, John Oliver; Cunningham, Walter; Denmark; Duke, Charles; eagle; Earth; Eisele, Donn F.; Endeavour (OV-105); Endeavour, HMS; Enterprise, USS (XCV-330); Evans, Ronald; European Space Agency; France; Galaxy; Germany; Gidzenko, Yuri; Gordon, Richard F., Jr.; Great Britain; Grissom, Gus; Hammond, L. Blaine; Harbaugh, Gregory J.; Hauck, Frederick; Helms, Susan J.; Hieb, Richard; Hilmers, David C.; Husband, Richard Douglas; International Space Station; Ireland; Israel; Irwin, James; Jernigan, Tamara E.; Kerwin, Joseph P.; Krikalyov, Sergei; Latin language; Apollo missions; Space shuttle missions; Lounge, John M.; Lovell, Jim; Luna; MacLean, Steven; Maple; Mattingly, Ken; McCool, William Cameron; McDivitt, James; McMonagle, Donald R.; Melnick, Bruce E.; Microgravity; Mission Control Center; Mitchell, Edgar; Mullane, George; Nelson, George; Netherlands; North America; Ochoa, Ellen; Olive Branch; Onizuka, Ellison; Payette, Julie; Payton, Gary; Phoenix; Ramon, Ilan; Rominger, Kent; Roosa, Stuart; Runco, Mario, Jr.; Russia; Russian Space Agency; Saturn; Saturn V; Schirra, Wally; Schmitt, Harrison; Schweickart, Rusty; Scott, David; Shepard, Alan; Shepherd, William; Shriver, Loren; Skylab; South America; Space shuttle; Spain; Stafford, Thomas P.; Sweden; Switzerland; Thornton, Kathryn P.; Thuot, Pierre J.; Tokarev, Valeri; United States of America; Veach, Charles L.; Weitz, Paul, J.; Wetherbee, Jim; White, Edward Higgins; Worden, Alfred; Young, John
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