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Enterprise is attacked by an unknown alien starship, as Archer orders the crew to install experimental "phase cannons". Meanwhile, Sato is ordered to find out what Reed's favorite food is for a birthday dinner.



Alien starship, 2151

The mysterious aliens

Enterprise NX-01 launches Echo Two, a subspace amplifier. Hoshi Sato wants to run some tests, which will take about an hour. Malcolm Reed then detects an alien ship. Their configuration is unknown, but the captain tries to hail them, sensing an opportunity for first contact. Unfortunately, he gets no reply. The vessel then warps away, leaving Captain Archer to surmise, "Was it something I said?" The only information Malcolm Reed is able to gather from their first contact is that their ship is protected by a sensor-dampening field, preventing the Enterprise from scanning the vessel.

Act One[]

Sato guesses that perhaps Enterprise's signal didn't make sense to the alien ship, but T'Pol thinks that they simply didn't understand their motives. Travis Mayweather thinks the aliens didn't find them interesting. As Archer tells them to calibrate the new subspace amplifier, Sato speaks to the captain in private, saying that she has tracked down Reed's parents, who currently live in Kotabaru, Malaysia.

Stuart and Mary Reed speak to Captain Archer, thinking that perhaps Malcolm is in trouble. Archer finds out that they don't even know what position Malcolm has taken aboard Enterprise. When Archer tells them he is an armory officer, Mr. Reed says that Malcolm's grandfather would be pleased – he was an ordnance officer in the Royal Navy. Mrs. Reed says that the Reeds have been Navy men for generations. Archer then says that he is going to be making a special dinner for Malcolm's birthday, and he would like to know what he likes to eat. However, they don't know if he has a favorite food, as he "always ate what was put in front of him." Ending the conversation, Archer finds Sato and asks her to find out instead. Sato thinks that maybe Chef would be a better choice, but Archer claims that as it is a "delicate assignment", it needs her "finesse." Sato says that she's busy, but Archer orders her to complete the task.

Archer is talking to Trip Tucker. Tucker missed "dinner and a show" – T'Pol's latest bout with chopsticks. Tucker has been catching up with people from home. He received a letter from "the Natalie from Pensacola", who thought that their long distance relationship wouldn't work – after all, they are 100 light years apart. Archer then talks about Reed, saying that they don't know much about him at all. Their conversation is cut short however, as the Enterprise drops out of warp and Archer is called to the bridge; the alien ship has returned.

Archer tries hailing the alien vessel again, although the results are the same as the previous attempt. Sato then picks up something, and a high-pitched squeal is heard, temporarily startling the bridge crew, who clasp their hands over their ears in pain. T'Pol says that they're being scanned, as the alien ship comes about and fires on the defenseless Enterprise, before going to warp. Nobody is hurt in the attack. Reed managed to get some scans when the vessel fired, as their shielding dropped for just a few seconds. He detects at least fifteen bio-signs, but T'Pol doesn't recognize the species. Reed doubts that their spatial torpedoes would have made much difference anyway. Archer tells them to stay on long-range sensors, and leaves the bridge with T'Pol.

Act Two[]

Archer, T'Pol, and Tucker assess the damage caused by the alien's attack. It came uncomfortably close to breaching a bulkhead with only open space on the other side: Tucker and the 12 other crewmen working in the section at the time would have had no chance. Back in the turbolift, Archer tells T'Pol that Enterprise just wasn't equipped to handle some of the threats they are facing. There are phase cannon ports, but the weapons weren't installed because of their early departure from Earth. He suggests they should head back. Talking this over with Reed and Tucker in the armory however, they are convinced they can install the phase cannons within two weeks as they already have most of the parts anyway; Archer mentions that the crew at Jupiter Station is trained for the work. Tucker assures Archer that his engineers are just as good, but Archer says that other systems need overhauls as well. Reed asks for permission to start the work, as it would mean less time in spacedock. Archer gives them the green light, and as they get to work, Archer orders Mayweather to set a course for home.

Phase cannon schematic

Reed and Tucker show off the prototype phase cannon

Reed and Tucker go over the specs for the phase cannons with the engineering crew. They must get their only cannon working and build two more from scratch. Tucker believes they can finish the work long before they get to Jupiter Station, saying the only thing the station's crew will be doing is giving the Enterprise a "wash and a wax." Tucker gives them the motivational speech, and they get to work.

Meanwhile, Sato is talking to Madeline Reed, Malcolm's sister. Unfortunately, she also has no idea what her brother likes to eat, but says that he went for a week without eating. She says that Malcolm isn't the easiest person to get to know, something that Sato is discovering. Sato then speaks to Mark Latrelle, Malcolm's best friend. He thinks it is fish, because he went to a restaurant on the Embarcadero with Malcolm, but the latter only went there because of Maureen, a waitress. Latrelle then says that Malcolm hates fish, to Sato's frustration. Mayweather walks in as Sato cuts the communication, and asks her how the secret mission is going. She has spoken to Malcolm's sister, his best friend, his uncle Archie, and his two spinster aunts, but all they know is that Malcolm "occasionally eats". T'Pol interrupts, and suggests that if Sato wants to know something about Malcolm, perhaps she should ask him.

Sato sits with Reed in the mess hall. He is looking over the phase cannon schematics, and Sato attempts to make conversation. She asks him how his meal is, attempting to coerce the answer she wants out of him without him realizing. She says that maybe one night she should cook something herself, but Reed isn't paying attention. She goes directly to the point, asking him what his favorite food is, but he refuses her previous offer of cooking, without answering the question. Sato says that eating in the mess hall lacks a personal touch, and that she has a hot plate in her quarters. Unfortunately, Reed takes this the wrong way, thinking that Sato is flirting with him. As she realizes this, she takes her meal somewhere else, leaving an embarrassed Reed behind in the mess hall.

Act Three[]

Alien bipedal species, 2151-1

The aliens on board Enterprise

Alien bipedal species, 2151-3

The aliens on board Enterprise

Enterprise detects the alien ship behind them, and they attack again. Reed, still in the mess hall, tries to contact the bridge and armory, to no avail. He orders the crewmen there to report to their stations. The alien ship activates a dampening field, as the lights go out. They then launch a shuttle. As all main systems go off-line, T'Pol reports that the doors in launch bay 2 are opening. Archer heads there with a security team. Two crewmen are examining a relay, and they see two strange looking aliens walking past. Suddenly, they are knocked to the floor, unconscious. Archer and his team find them being probed by the two aliens, who are very tall and thin bipeds, with faces that look slightly humanoid. When Archer warns them to stop what they're doing, they give him a glance and then ignore him; he fires his phase-pistol at one of them, but there is no effect. The two aliens walk off, and Archer sends his team after them. He calls Phlox to the two injured crewmen. The alien shuttle leaves and docks with its mothership, which promptly fires at the port nacelle, damaging it. They then go back to warp.

Phlox tells Archer that the two injured crewmen were subjected to some rather invasive scans, but they'll recover. Tucker calls and tells them that it'll be a few days before they can go to warp, but the impulse engines will be up and running within a few minutes.

On the bridge, Mayweather suggests that they contact the Vulcan High Command, who could "give them a hand". Archer swallows his pride and agrees. Sato can't make contact with Echo Two, and T'Pol finds out that it has been destroyed – along with Echo One. They can't contact Vulcan.

Reed and Tucker are busy installing the phase cannons. While Tucker is calm and just getting on with the work, Reed is annoyed that they are falling behind. He gets even more agitated when his hand receives a rather nasty shock while touching the relays; he had ordered that they were to be depolarized. He explains that they could bypass the EPS grid, and have the cannons draw power directly from the impulse engines. The relays were rated for handling such power, and if a surge were to occur, the inverters to the cannons were designed to cut in at the first sign of overload. Tucker insists that they have to do it by the book, concerned about the cannons damaging the ship and getting crew killed, but Reed states that he's simulated the setup a dozen times and believes it would be an "acceptable risk", as otherwise, the aliens could return before the cannons are ready. Tucker tells him that as Chief engineer, he'll be the one who should decide what is an acceptable risk. Reed reluctantly agrees.

Archer asks Tucker for a progress report in engineering. Tucker says the engines should be back by the "end of day tomorrow." Archer tells him about his failed attempt to contact the Vulcans, who would "oh-so-politely" offer to help them. He also says that Enterprise won't leave Earth before they're really ready. Tucker asks him if his ears are "a little more pointier than usual". Archer says that he rushed out of spacedock because he had something to prove. Tucker however says that if he asked the crew whether their journey has been worth the risk so far, he'd get the same answer from them all.

Sometime after the discussion about risk with Archer, Tucker goes to see Reed in the armory. Reed is about to disconnect the cannons from the impulse engines but Tucker stops him; Reed confirms that he's sure that his setup will work just fine. Tucker gives his official approval and Reed asks him to give him a hand.

Asteroid phase cannon explosion

Oops… the results of shaving a couple of meters "off the top"

Two days after their last encounter with the alien vessel, and there has been no sign of them. It has taken just 48 hours to get the phase cannons working, and Archer expresses his pride in his crew in his log. They are ready to test the new weapons and find a moon with no signs of life. Archer asks for a couple of meters off the top of a mountain on the surface. The phase cannons do more, however, completely obliterating the mountain and causing a power surge on Enterprise that rocks the ship. As the cannons are checked for damage, Reed reports that the blast was ten times what was expected, due to something causing an overload to the cannons' phase modulators. The resultant plasma recoil blew out plasma relays across decks C and D. T'Pol detects an anomalous reading from Launch Bay 2. Going down to the launch bay themselves, Archer, Tucker, and Reed head inside first with their phase-pistols while T'Pol pinpoints the reading to find a small device attached to a corner of the ceiling. T'Pol scans it as putting out more than 600 megajoules of energy, and tapped into most of the ship's systems, including internal sensors and communications. Reed surmises that the strangers are toying with them, and want the Humans to know that they can destroy Enterprise whenever they wish, even with the ships' own weapons. Archer activates the closest visual sensor and leaves a message for the aliens. They may not be looking for fights, but they won't run away from one. Their new adversaries may think they've left them defenseless, but Humans don't give up easily, and after stating the crew will defend Enterprise any way they can, he ends the message by destroying the device.

Act Four[]

Sato enters sickbay, and sees that Phlox has released his patients. Asking him about Reed's favorite food, he notes that he likes eggs, cooked any way, pancakes, sausages, and bacon. Sato asks if there is one food in particular, but once again her plan is foiled as Phlox doesn't know either. Just as she is leaving, Phlox shouts out "bromelain!", realizing that maybe he can help, after all. It would mean going into Reed's medical files, but Sato says she is under orders from the captain. Phlox notes that Reed suffers from a number of allergies, including dust mites, oak pollen, tropical grasses, and various plant enzymes, including bromelain. He has been taking regular injections so his body can tolerate bromelain, which is found mainly in pineapple. Relieved, Sato thanks the doctor and leaves.

The alien ship returns, but this time, Enterprise is ready for them and stands her ground. This time, they want to talk, but the only communication that Enterprise receives is a repeating, edited version of Archer's speech with the word order changed:

"You are defenseless. Prepare to surrender your vessel."

Archer cuts the transmission, and orders Reed to fire as their opponent begins closing the distance, possibly for boarding action. The phase cannons rake across the target but have little effect though, only causing a slight fluctuation in the alien ship's shields. To Archer's frustration, Reed explains that even if Jupiter Station had installed the cannons they wouldn't be any more effective. Archer then wonders if they can overload the cannons on purpose; Reed notes that combined with the damage from the previous overload the plasma recoil would knock out power to two decks, but Archer would prefer that than surrender the Enterprise. Tucker comes up with a solution to repolarize the gravity plating to absorb the recoil (though Reed points out that it was not designed for such amounts of force), and then make use of it by shunting the extra energy to strengthen structural integrity, and Archer approves it. Enterprise fires again, rocking from the recoil, the cannons overloading the alien ship's shields and they fail, causing damage. Reed then fires two torpedoes, which disable the alien ship's warp engines. The bridge crew watches as the aliens turn and flee at impulse, one of their engines leaking plasma.

Checking in with the armory, Tucker reports that the plasma relays on B deck were blown out but it's nothing they can't handle. Reed will have the cannons back online within the hour, and the aft cannon should be ready by the end of the next day. Archer then decides that there's little point in returning to Earth. Sato says that an additional benefit of backtracking so far is that they can launch another subspace amplifier. Archer tells Mayweather to resume their previous course.

Malcolm Reeds birthday cake

Captain Archer, Ensign Sato, and Commander Tucker present Malcolm Reed with his pineapple birthday cake

It's September 2nd. Archer, Tucker, and Reed are sharing a round of beer in the armory, and they toast to their "mysterious friends": "I wish we could have seen the looks on their faces", adds Tucker. Tucker says that a way to thank them for the job they did was to let them sleep in the next morning, which Archer agrees to. Sato enters, with the "component" that Archer asked for. He opens the case, and reveals a birthday cake to Reed, who cuts open the cake. He is surprised to see that it has pineapple inside, and he reveals it to be his favorite, to smiles all around. Asking how on Earth they knew, Sato replies that they "have their sources". Smiling, Reed dishes out some cake to them.

Log entries[]

  • "Captain's starlog, September 1, 2151. It's been two days now with no sign of the alien vessel. My crew has managed to do in 48 hours what would've taken the armory team at Jupiter Station at least a week. To say that I'm proud of them would be an understatement. We're preparing our first test. Everybody has their fingers crossed, including me."

Memorable quotes[]

"Maybe they checked us out and decided we weren't very interesting."
"Us? Not interesting?"

- Mayweather and Reed

"The Reeds have been navy men for generations."
"Until Malcolm decided to join Starfleet. I suppose the ocean wasn't big enough for him."

- Mary and Stuart Reed

"We're talking about a delicate assignment, Hoshi. It needs your finesse."

- Archer, to Sato

"You know, they say long distance relationships never work. Well… this is about as long distance as you can get."

- Tucker, telling Archer his girlfriend Natalie back on Earth broke up with him

"You missed T'Pol's latest bout with chopsticks."
"Damn! Dinner and a show."

- Archer and Tucker

"If I asked your parents what you like to eat, would they be able to tell me?"
"Are you kidding? My mom would give you her recipe for pan-fried catfish and wouldn't let you go till you promised not to screw it up."

- Archer and Tucker

"By the time we reach Jupiter Station, I don't want their engineers to have a thing to do but give us a wash and a wax."

- Tucker

"Tactical systems are down."
"Why don't you save time and tell me what isn't down?!"

- T'Pol and Archer

"You looking forward to seeing Earth?"
"Sure. I just didn't think I'd be seeing it so soon!"
"This time, we won't be leaving before we're ready."
"Are your ears a little pointier than usual?"

- Archer and Tucker

"I… I never said we didn't belong out here, I just wish we had launched with all our systems online… especially weapons!"
"If we hadn't launched when we did, they would have sent Klaang back to Qo'noS in a box."
"I keep reminding myself of that, but I rushed us out of spacedock because I had something to prove."

- Archer and Tucker

"In the old days astronauts rode rockets with millions of liters of hydrogen burning under their seats. Do you think they said 'Gee, I'd like to go to the moon today, but it seems a little risky'? I think that if you asked any one on board whether this mission was worth the risk, you'd get the same answer from every one of them."

- Tucker, echoing the greatest exploits of NASA

"You're sure there's nothing down there?"
"Yes, captain."
"Not even a microbe? I don't want to blow up something that could evolve into a sentient species in a couple of billion years."

- Archer and T'Pol

"I just asked for a little off the top!"

- Archer, after the phase cannons destroy a large mountain

"I assume you planted that device because you wanted to learn more about us. I'll be happy to give you a quick lesson. We're not here to make enemies. But just because we're not looking for a fight, doesn't mean we'll run away from one. You may think you've left us defenseless, but let me tell you something about Humans. We don't give up easily. We'll protect Enterprise… any way we can."

- Archer, sending a message to their "mysterious friends"

"I don't suppose scanning his taste buds would help?"
"Medically speaking, there's no accounting for taste."

- Hoshi and Phlox

"You are defenseless. Prepare to surrender your vessel."

- The aliens' reinterpretation of Archer's original message

"To our mysterious friends. I wish I could have seen the looks on their faces."

- Tucker, making a toast

"Don't get too used to drinking on duty. But you did your jobs pretty damn well yesterday. I'd say that deserves a little celebration."

- Archer, to Reed and Tucker

"Pineapple? But that's my fav–"
(Sato suppresses a smile as Reed looks at her)
"How on Earth did you know?"
"We have our sources."

- Reed and Sato

Background information[]


Shooting Silent Enemy

Winrich Kolbe with Connor Trinneer

Shroomie sketch

Concept art for the aliens in this episode

  • The choice to never reveal the motives of the aliens who attack Enterprise herein was, in André Bormanis' words, "a bit of a risk." Bormanis, however, felt that the episode's unexplained depiction of extraterrestrial life was realistic, later commenting, "I think our earliest encounters with alien life forms will leave us utterly baffled." [1]
  • The first draft of this episode's script was issued on 2 October 2001. It was revised on 4 (blue revision pages), 8 (pink pages), 9 (yellow pages), 11 (green pages), and 12 October (goldenrod pages). The final draft of the teleplay was submitted on the latter of those dates, 12 October.
  • Reed actor Dominic Keating approved of how this outing ponders the specifics of his character's personality. "It's a terrific set-up, really," he commented. "Rather than an episode that puts it all on the table and says, 'OK, here's Malcolm,' this one asks, 'So just who is Malcolm?'" (TV Zone, issue #147, p. 30) The way in which the episode leaves this an unanswered question was also a highlight for Keating. "It's quite subtle because you get to see more of me, but you still don't know much about me," he observed. "We learn that we don't know much about Reed. It's sort of a nice way to begin the Reed experience." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 59) Additionally, Keating described the mess hall sequence in which Ensign Sato tries to determine Reed's favorite food as "a lovely scene." (TV Zone, issue #147, p. 30)
  • This is the only episode of the series to have been directed by regular Star Trek director Winrich Kolbe and was the final Star Trek episode directed by him.
  • The aliens, referred to by several members of the art department as "Shroomies," were designed by Dan Curry and represented with CGI models built by John Teska. [2](X)
  • Originally, this episode was to be titled "Call To Arms", [3](X) but was changed before airing when someone realized that there was a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode with the same name[!].


  • This episode takes place one week before the previous episode, "Cold Front".
  • The ship that attacks Enterprise herein is of the same configuration as numerous Kovaalan ships that attack Enterprise in a subspace corridor in the third season episode "".
  • This episode establishes that Malcolm Reed was born on September 2.
  • Mark Latrelle's contention that Reed disliked fish is later disproved by a scene in "Shuttlepod One", in which Reed's first choice of emergency ration is sea bass.
  • Despite stating that medical records are confidential, Phlox appears to leave Reed's file on the display when he leaves.


  • Out of all the Star Trek episodes he has written, André Bormanis named this as one of his favorites. He cited the fact that the episode does not clarify the aliens' motivations as his "favorite aspect of the story." [4]
  • While working as an executive producer on Enterprise, Brannon Braga found this episode turned out well. In retrospect, he commented, "I thought [it] was kind of a good episode. I really felt the crew facing some unknown thing that was kind of scary." ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part III: First Flight", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.7 and was watched by an average of 6.11 million viewers. [5]
  • Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78)
  • The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 363) comments about this episode, "When you hear Archer say he doesn't really know Reed, it's almost impossible not to hear the writers sitting around a table saying the same thing. We find out a bit more about the tactical officer in this episode, which is unremarkable but watchable."


  • In the 25th century timeline of Star Trek Online, the aliens return as part of the game's "Legacy of Romulus" expansion pack, and are known as the "Elachi". They act as allies of the revived Romulan Star Empire under the command of Empress Sela and the Tal Shiar. Elachi ships (similar in appearance to the design in "Silent Enemy") participate in attacks on independent Romulan colonies and the fledgling Romulan Republic. During ground-based attacks they deploy large building-sized attack walkers.
  • The Enterprise novel A Choice of Futures by Christopher L. Bennett also features the aliens, here known as "Vertians". They launch a number of attacks on Federation ships, with it eventually being discovered that they communicate by empathy and thus did not recognise non-telepathic species as sentient and saw them as animals to be analysed. A mind-meld with Captain T'Pol convinces them of their mistake and they agree to change their behaviour.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Guest stars[]


Uncredited co-stars[]


allergy; apple juice; Archie; armory; armory team; astronauts; bacon; beam emitter; B-deck; beer; bread; bromelain; catfish; C-deck; Chef; chief engineer; chopstick; cook; cooking; D-deck; DNA; Denobulan; dilithium alignment; dozen; drive plasma; dust mite; Duvall; Earth; Echo One; Echo Two; E-deck; eggs; Embarcadero; enchilada; encryption code; engineering; enzyme; EPS grid; evasive maneuvers; finger crossing; fish; flattery; galley; generation; gigajoule; grav-plating; halibut; helium; hot plate; hull plating; hydrogen; impulse drive; Indian food; internal sensor; Jupiter Station; Klaang; Kota Bharu; launch bay; long range scan; mahi-mahi; Malaysia; Malcolm Reed's spinster aunts; Maureen; medical file; medical record; megajoule; mess hall; meter; microbe; microns; microscope; moon; Mount McKinley; nacelle; Natalie; oak; ocean; octopus; omelette; ordnance officer; pan; pancake; peanut butter; Pensacola; phase cannon; phase cannon port; phase-modulated energy weapon; phase modulator; phase-pistol; pineapple; pizza; plant; plasma; plasma leak; plasma recoil; plasma relay; polarized hull plating; pollen; primary coil; protein concentrate; Qo'noS; ravioli; ready room; Reed family; restaurant; rocket; Royal Navy; salad; San Francisco; sausage; scallops; scanning range; scope; scrambled eggs; sea bass; sentient species; Shenandoah; "Shroomie" starship; "Shroomie" shuttle; spacedock; structural integrity; subspace amplifier; subspace transceiver array; suction cup; survival training; Surak-class; swordfish; targeting scanner; taste bud; toast; Tucker's mother; translator; tropical grass; visual sensor; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan High Command; Vulcan ship; warp-capable species; warp drive; water; waveguide; welder

External links[]

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"Cold Front"
Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 1
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