Once Enterprise finally returns to Earth, the weary crew face repercussions from their journeys, both positive and negative.
Carrying the senior officers, the Enterprise shuttlepod swoops down from orbit to the San Francisco Bay Stadium, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. A ceremony celebrating Enterprise's success in the Delphic Expanse pays tribute to the heroic crew, although Captain Jonathan Archer says in a speech that the true heroes are their crewmates who didn't make it back alive. A crowd of thousands gratefully applauds their efforts which saved Earth from the Xindi superweapon.
Later that evening, Archer meets old flame Erika Hernandez in a quiet piano bar. She is not only Archer's former love interest, she is also a Starfleet captain, preparing to command the Columbia. Archer visits her aboard her vessel, still being prepared for its maiden voyage. He recommends she make several changes to the ship before leaving, based on his starship experience. Archer notes the ship's new weapons upgrades, recalling how he once naively opposed weapons on Enterprise, as they might deter from any first contact missions.
On Enterprise, Commander Trip Tucker mulls his options for shore leave – with his hometown in Florida destroyed, he has nowhere to go. T'Pol invites him to join her on a trip to Vulcan, which she hasn't visited in many years; Tucker accepts, leaving to pack his bags. Doctor Phlox, toting a large array of travel bags for his vacation on Earth, is warned by Lieutenant Malcolm Reed about the heightened level of xenophobia on Earth in the aftermath of the Xindi attack; Phlox dismisses the warnings and continues to the surface.
As Archer is debriefed by Starfleet Command and the Vulcan High Command, the topic drifts to the trellium-infected Vulcan ship Seleya encountered by Enterprise in the Expanse. (ENT: "Impulse") When Ambassador Soval insinuates that Archer destroyed the vessel without doing enough to help the delusional crew, Archer becomes outraged, blaming the High Command for not providing enough assistance in their mission, saying that he received more help from the Andorians than from the Vulcans. Admiral Forrest angrily orders Archer to take some time off to clear his mind. In a beautiful wilderness retreat, as Archer prepares to go rock climbing, Captain Hernandez suddenly appears, offering to join him.
Arriving on Vulcan, T'Pol leads Tucker into the house where she grew up. Her mother T'Les greets them, surprised to see that T'Pol has brought a guest – a Human guest, moreover. She informs T'Pol that she has "retired" from her teaching position at the Science Academy. She also shows T'Pol a letter from Koss, T'Pol's fiancée since childhood (arranged marriages are common in Vulcan culture); however, much to her mother's chagrin, T'Pol expresses no interest in seeing Koss.
Early the next morning, T'Pol awakens Tucker at four o'clock so that they, as guests in the household, can prepare the morning meal (another Vulcan tradition). While eating, T'Les is unhappy with many of the changes she notices in her daughter: T'Pol's unwillingness to marry Koss, T'Pol's plans to join Starfleet. She hints that T'Pol is becoming more Human than Vulcan.
In a bar on Earth, crewmates Reed, Ensign Travis Mayweather and Phlox enjoy their new-found celebrity, until they are confronted by a nasty bar patron exhibiting the very xenophobia they had heard of. When the man strongly urges Phlox to leave the establishment, Reed and Mayweather come to their friend's defense; a brawl ensues. During the fight, Phlox expands his face to three times its normal size, an instinctive defensive posture (much like a puffer fish in Earth's seas), scaring away the troublemakers. Afterward, Phlox calmly munches on a pretzel.
T'Les confronts Trip about being in love with her daughter, a point he reluctantly concedes. As he adjusts a field generator to fix T'Les' replicator, Trip answers a knock on the front door; it is Koss, asking to speak to T'Pol. When alone with T'Pol, Koss expresses his interest in going forward with the marriage, for traditional reasons more than anything else. T'Pol tries desperately to dissuade him, hinting at her "sickness" (either Pa'nar Syndrome or Trellium poisoning), even suggesting the kal-if-fee, a fight to the death – to no avail. Koss tells T'Pol that if she goes forward with their marriage, he will have T'Les reinstated at the Science Academy, hinting that her retirement wasn't voluntary.
High up in the hills, Archer and Hernandez discuss Starfleet politics, personnel issues, and encounters made by Enterprise in the past three years. Herself eager to explore the galaxy, Hernandez finds Archer a significantly changed man, not as "gung ho" about space exploration as he once was. Archer has a frightening dream, in which he is attacked on the mountainside by Xindi-Reptilians. Awakening with a start, he bares his feelings of uncertainty about his mission and his purpose in life. Hernandez offers to help, kissing Archer, and rekindling their romance.
When T'Pol asks her mother about the circumstances of her retirement, T'Les reveals that she retired to halt an inquiry into her alleged criminal behavior; the trumped up charges were retribution for T'Pol's actions on P'Jem, which resulted in the destruction of a Vulcan monastery. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident") Since T'Pol was aboard Enterprise and untouchable, the Vulcan High Command punished her mother T'Les instead.
T'Pol gives Tucker a tour of a Vulcan lava field, which resembles Earth's Grand Canyon, yet with giant statues ringing the valley. She tells him of her plans to go forward with the marriage to Koss in order to restore her mother's position; Tucker angrily storms off.
Back on Enterprise, Phlox informs Hoshi Sato that the Xindi neural parasites are almost completely gone from her brain. To celebrate, she invites him to Madame Chang's for their famous egg drop soup, but he pretends to be too busy caring for an ailing osmotic eel. Having spoken to Mayweather about the bar fight, she knows the true cause of his reluctance to return to the planet's surface. She urges him to stand up to the prejudice; when he sadly declines to join her, she promises to bring him take-out.
Once Archer and Hernandez return from their climbing trip, Archer continues the debriefing at Starfleet Headquarters. After it is concluded, he apologizes to Soval for his prior outburst. Soval, who opposed Archer's appointment to Enterprise, now acknowledges that he was in error; while some of the captain's actions were morally questionable, he argues, they were necessary to save Earth, as well as Vulcan. Remarkably out of character (for a Vulcan), Soval thanks Archer, shaking his hand in friendship.
Tucker has donned T'Pol's father's Vulcan attire for the wedding ceremony. At the last minute, T'Les urges Tucker to divulge his true feelings to her daughter; Tucker declines, reasoning that T'Pol already has enough pressure on her as it is. Stunned at his selflessness (which reveals the depth of his love), T'Les walks away, wondering herself if T'Pol is really doing the right thing or not. Arriving at the ceremony, Tucker compliments T'Pol on her beautiful purple wedding gown; kissing him delicately on the cheek, she proceeds to the ceremony.
"I've been told that people are calling us heroes. When it comes to my crew, you won't get any argument from me. But I think it's important that we remember the heroes who aren't with us – the twenty-seven crewmen who didn't make it back. Without their sacrifice, I wouldn't be standing here right now. None of us would. But I'm sure I speak on behalf of my entire crew when I say... it's good to be home."
- - Captain Archer's address before the crowd at their "Welcome Home" ceremony
"I had an argument once with Captain Jefferies. He was one of the designers of the NX-Class."
"I'm aware of that."
"I told him I didn't want to be in command of a warship trying to make first contact with new species. Jefferies was right. We needed those weapons... and a hell of a lot more."
- - Captains Archer and Hernandez, on the bridge of the Columbia NX-02
"You did everything you could to sabotage our mission. I got more help from the Andorians than I ever got from the High Command. This planet would be a cloud of dust right now if we'd listened to you!"
- - Archer, to Soval, responding to insinuations that he was negligent in dealing with the crew of the Seleya
"There's more to life than one's profession. Perhaps you'll learn that one day."
- - T'Les, to T'Pol
"Things have changed since Enterprise left spacedock. You'll spend a lot of your time boldly going into battle."
- - Jonathan Archer, to Erika Hernandez
"If we weren't out there stirring up trouble, seven million people might still be alive."
"You weren't stirring up trouble. You were exploring."
"I'm not sure there's much of a difference."
"What do you suggest? Put our starships in mothballs?"
"No, we need them. But look at the Vulcans. They're not explorers. They keep their ships close to home. Never know who's going to come calling."
"That's not the mission either one of us signed up for."
"Maybe you'll feel differently after you've delivered a few dozen eulogies."
- - Archer and Hernandez
"Are you all right?"
"I'm not even sure what 'all right' means anymore."
- - Hernandez and Archer
"I look at you and I see the person I was three years ago – the explorer that my father wanted me to be. I lost something out there. I don't know how to get it back."
- - Archer, to Hernandez
"You're sorry? You brought me sixteen light years just to watch you get married to someone you barely know."
- - T'Pol and Trip Tucker
"Ambassador... I want to apologize for what I said to you the other day. I was out of line."
"Yes, you were."
"I'm glad we can finally agree on something."
- - Archer and Soval
"Captain... Your actions, while being morally questionable, were necessary. I opposed your appointment as captain of Enterprise, but it's obvious now that I was wrong. T'Pol has told me that the Expanse would have someday encompassed hundreds of systems, including Vulcan. You've done a great service for both our worlds. Thank you."
- - Soval, to Archer
"What ye are about to witness comes down from the time of the beginning without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way."
- - Vulcan priest, at T'Pol's wedding
- This episode introduces the theme of xenophobic Humans later seen in "Demons" and "Terra Prime".
- This is the first time since VOY: "Endgame" that a female starship captain has appeared on Star Trek.
- Joanna Cassidy, who plays T'Les in this episode, originally auditioned to play the role of Voyager's captain, Kathryn Janeway.
- On the bridge of the starship Columbia, Captain Archer mentions a Captain Jefferies. The remark is a reference to the Season 2 episode "First Flight", in which it was first mentioned that Jefferies is a major contributor to starship design, and Commander Tucker is a member of his team. Both lines of dialog are also homages to Matt Jefferies, who designed the Template:ShipClass starship USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series, and also the namesake of the infamous Jefferies tube.
- This episode features both the first appearance of the planet Vulcan on Star Trek: Enterprise and the first glimpse of Vulcan cities in live-action Star Trek. (The Vulcan city ShiKahr had previously been depicted in TAS: "Yesteryear".)
- Episode writer Mike Sussman had hoped to finally establish in dialog that the planet Vulcan orbits 40 Eridani, a long-held supposition among Star Trek fans (Gene Roddenberry himself was said to have endorsed the idea). The closest Sussman was able to come to this was Tucker's line to T'Pol: "You brought me sixteen light years just to watch you get married to someone you barely know." (40 Eridani is approximately 16 light years from Earth). Curiously, Sussman's production entity is named "40 Eridani."
- This episode marks the first and only time that Phlox puffs up his face like a blowfish. This is a defense mechanism that is apparently instinctive to Denobulans.
- While Archer and Captain Hernandez are rock-climbing, Archer points out a star in the evening sky, around which orbits the first Class M planet his crew visited (as chronicled in the Season 1 episode, "Strange New World"). This planet was later named Archer IV in his honor. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")
- In that same scene Captain Hernandez tells Archer that her old high school was recently named after him, continuing with: "I don't think Zefram Cochrane has that many schools named after him." In Star Trek: First Contact, Geordi La Forge tells Cochrane that he attended Zefram Cochrane High School.
- Michael Reilly Burke makes his first of two appearances as Koss. He previously appeared in TNG as Goval and on DS9 as Hogue.
- Koss was previously mentioned, but not seen, in the Season 1 episode "Breaking the Ice".
- T'Pol threatens to declare the kal-if-fee when her betrothed, Koss, informs her that he intends to go through with their prearranged marriage. Koss responds by suggesting that T'Pol's "Human friend" Trip Tucker might make a suitable challenger. In TOS: "Amok Time", T'Pring, a Vulcan woman bethrothed to Spock, does declare the kal-if-fee with Spock's "Human friend" Captain James T. Kirk as the challenger. "Amok Time" was the first Star Trek episode to visit the planet Vulcan.
- This is the only episode of Star Trek: Enterprise's 4th Season in which Xindi appear.
- This episode is very similar to the TNG Season 4 episode "Family"; both episodes use the crew's family and/or personal relationships to explore the repercussions of a recent traumatic event.
- Archer's line "You'll spend a lot of your time boldly going into battle" seems to be a reference to the famous opening narrations from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ironically, the last line of this entire series is "to boldly go where no man has gone before," and it was also spoken by Captain Archer.
- Mike Sussman "dropped in a couple of references" to The Way of Kolinahr. 
- Several props and costumes from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including a Vulcan statue. 
- At one point, Hernandez states she is "not sure how [she] feel[s] about a military officer on the bridge." which seems to indicate that Starfleet, at least in pre-Federation times, is not considered to be a military organization. This lines up with a similar comment made by Admiral Maxwell Forrest in ENT: "The Expanse".
- Archer reveals that 27 crew members died in the Expanse.
- During the bar scene in the conversation between Archer and Captain Hernandez, Archer asks her if she has seen any good movies when they were gone. Captain Hernandez replies "another World War III epic, swept all of the awards..." which could imply that a big award giving body, like the Oscars, still exists in Archer's time.
Links and References
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as 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
- Joanna Cassidy as T'Les
- Michael Reilly Burke as Koss
- Ada Maris as Captain Erika Hernandez
- Gary Graham as Vulcan Ambassador Soval
- Vaughn Armstrong as Admiral Maxwell Forrest
- Joe Chrest as a xenophobic bar patron
- Jim Fitzpatrick as Commander Williams
- Jack Donner as a Vulcan priest
- Joey Anaya as a dream Xindi-Reptilian
- David Keith Anderson as a bar patron
- Bill Blair as a Vulcan delegate
- Dieter Hornemann as a Vulcan delegate
- Roman James as a Rear Admiral
- Louis Ortiz as a bar patron
- Paul Scott as a bar patron
- Pablo Soriano as a bar patron
- Ator Tamras as a Vulcan wedding attendee
- Unknown actors as an
Uncredited Stunt Doubles
Andorian; alloy; Archer IV; asteroid; auxiliary control room; Bay Stadium; Captain's chair; Casey; Cochrane, Zefram; Delphic Expanse; Earth Starfleet; egg drop soup; EPS junction; field generator; Fire Plains; first contact; First Minister; food synthesizer; gespar; Golden Gate Bridge; high school; hull polarization; Jefferies, W.M.; kal-if-fee; kitchen appliance; MACO; Madame Chang's; mothball; Mount Tar'Hana, mountain lion; Nar'ru vine; neural pathway; North America; Template:ShipClass; ore; osmotic eel; P'Jem; P'Jem monastery; Polaris; pretzel; psychotropic compound; pulsed phase cannon; reactor breach; refit; Rigelian; scotch; Seleya; senior administrator; senior officer; squad; spatial anomaly; Starfleet Command Council; stasis unit; trellium; Tucker, Elizabeth; volcano; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan Consulate; Vulcan High Command; Vulcan Security Ministry; Vulcan Science Academy, World War III; xenophobia; Xindi; Xindi incident; Xindi-Reptilian; warship
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