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Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

For the phenomenon, please see singularity.

Upon approaching a black hole, the crew starts exhibiting strange behavior and uncharacteristically obsesses over trivial matters.



"Science officer's log, August 14, 2152. Enterprise remains on course for the trinary system. I've transmitted a distress call, but the nearest Vulcan ship is more than nine days away. By the time they arrive, they may only find debris… if that. Even if Enterprise makes it past the black hole without being destroyed… it seems likely the crew won't survive."

Act One[]

Sato family Oden

Hoshi Sato prepares oden

"…I'm continuing my analysis of the condition that's stricken the crew. But without Doctor Phlox's assistance, I'm not hopeful about reversing its effects. I'm documenting my findings so that Starfleet will at least have a record of what happened. The symptoms began not long after we set a course for the trinary system. That was nearly two days ago."

Enterprise discovers a class IV black hole, which is unusual because it is part of a trinary star system. The ship will have to drop to impulse due to the extreme gravitational shear between the stars. It will take two days to reach the system and Captain Archer decides to set a course. He also asks Trip Tucker to fix his chair when he has some free time; it is uncomfortable because when Archer leans back, he feels like he is sort of sliding out of it. He finds that most of the time, he ends up perched near the edge of the seat.

Back in his ready room, T'Pol informs Archer that Lieutenant Reed has a new security protocol that he wishes to discuss with him. She also informs him that Chef has fallen ill and that Ensign Sato has offered to take charge of the mess hall. Archer informs T'Pol that he has received a manuscript from Earth – a biography of his father – and that he has been asked to write the preface. He is concerned that he will not get it finished and wonders how he should sum up his father's life in one page.

In the mess hall, Sato gets ready to prepare one of her grandmother's specialties for the crew from scratch, no protein resequencer.

In sickbay, Ensign Mayweather complains about a minor headache and Dr. Phlox insists on examining him before he dispenses any medication. While he is at it, he says, he might as well check up on him and see if he has any problems ever since the neural implants he received at the repair station were removed.

On the bridge, Commander Tucker works on the captain's chair, with a lot of noise, much to the dismay of T'Pol who is trying to do some work. Meanwhile, Lt. Reed recommends to Archer implementing a ship-wide emergency alert, something more comprehensive than battle stations. He believes that the crew is taking far too long to react to potential threats. Archer is slightly irritated, stating that this is not a warship, but that he will run this by the senior officers and will get back to him.

During meal time in the mess hall, Lt. Reed continues obsessing about the various ways he can name the new security protocol while an annoyed Tucker is wondering if adding a cup holder to the captain's chair might be too much. They continue irritating each other, as each believes that his task is far more relevant than the others. Hoshi Sato gets slightly upset as Lieutenant Reed finds her dish a bit salty, while Dr. Phlox decides to keep Ensign Mayweather overnight for observation for he is convinced that there is something wrong with Mayweather that he must find. Meanwhile, Captain Archer is struggling with the task of writing something about his father for the upcoming biography. He gets especially impatient with Porthos who keeps barking for cheese.

Act Two[]

T'Pol, who seems to be immune to this, calls Tucker to her quarters, informing him that the trinary system is emitting some unusual radiation which she is trying to identify. But Tucker can't believe that she actually dragged him up there to identify radiation. He believes that she is just doing this to get back at him for having made so much noise earlier. He consequently refuses helping her, stating that he has no time to cater to her whims. When she asks him if he is feeling all right, he goes off on the importance of the captain's chair and its relevance to the well-being of the ship.

All throughout the ship, crewmembers continue experiencing obsessive behavior that keeps escalating. In sickbay, Dr. Phlox wants to perform a cerebral microsection on Mayweather, who is worried about getting a reprimand on his permanent record if he does not get back on the bridge to finish those upgrades. He is even worried about being court-martialed. When he tries to leave, Phlox knocks him out with a hypospray and ties him to the biobed. Lt. Reed plays the various alert signals he has been working on for Tucker, who is diligently working on the captain's chair and is getting seriously irritated by Reed. Reed says that he needs Tucker's assistance, but Tucker sends him away because he has to work on the chair first. Sato, who has been cooking the same meal over and over again, is once again in the galley adding various spices to her dish and obsessing about the amount of salt in it.

As T'Pol enters the armory, Reed asks her for a clearance code, because supposedly the armory is a restricted area and such a code is required as part of the new security protocol. T'Pol tells Reed about needing assistance in establishing a sensor interface in her quarters and about Tucker's strange behavior and asks him whether he noticed anything, but all Reed cares about is why T'Pol wanted to access the sensor array from her quarters in the first place. She notices that he is armed as well and finally realizes that there is something more going on here, when Reed threatens to go to Starfleet Command if Archer does not take his proposals seriously.

"…It wasn't long before I realized the odd behavior wasn't limited to Commander Tucker. In fact, everyone I encountered was acting strangely, growing consumed with matters that seemed trivial, at best. I also discovered that, although I appeared to be immune, the captain was not."

After taking apart the captain's chair, Tucker informs Archer that the captain deserves better than sitting on chairs they have been using on warp 2 ships for over a decade. He decides to build him a "throne" and starts taking Archer's measurements. While being measured, Archer begins reading what he has been drafting about his father to Tucker. It is nineteen pages long, and Tucker has no interest in listening to it all.

Tensions and belligerence among crewmembers increase. T'Pol asks Sato in the galley for plomeek broth, a seemingly simple request, but she is adamant about perfecting her recipe. Archer comes in just then looking for his lunch, but Sato ignores him as well. T'Pol watches as Archer tries to prematurely open one of Sato's pots and they wrestle with it a bit. Suddenly, an alarm sounds with Reed's voice repeating "tactical alert." He has obviously continued his own pursuits without consulting Archer.

Act Three[]

On the bridge, Reed shakes his head as Archer bursts in. Reed complains about the crew's response time, including himself, who he then reprimands his slow response time. Then, Tucker rushes in, dragging away the captain just to show him the extra features on his new chair. Reed is outraged that the tactical alert is being ignored for the chair, stating that this isn't a "bloody pleasure cruise." They become so agitated that Archer has to separate them. He leaves after demanding he not be disturbed unless it's a real emergency.

T'Pol, who is highly alarmed at the seriousness of the situation tries to talk to the captain about the crew's erratic behavior. She suggests declaring a medical emergency and have Dr. Phlox examine the crew, beginning with the captain, but Archer doesn't want to listen to it and throws her out of his quarters. She turns to Phlox in sickbay, just in time for him to start exploratory and dangerous surgery on Mayweather, a cerebral micro-section, to find the cause of his headache. He asks her to join him, but she realizes he has been affected as well and refuses. When he threatens her not to stop him, she subdues him with a Vulcan nerve pinch.

As the Enterprise approaches the trinary system, crew members begin to fall unconscious one by one until T'Pol is the only one left awake.

Black hole navigation

T'Pol plots a course away from the black hole

"…The crew's bio-signs were growing erratic. I began to doubt any of them would survive more then a few hours. Ironically, Dr. Phlox's obsession with Ensign Mayweather's headache has provided some useful data. His cerebral scans have helped me determine that the radiation coming from the trinary system is causing…//…my radiometric analysis is complete. As I suspected, reversing course won't take us out of danger quickly enough. The radiation appears to extend outward at least half a light year in every direction except one. If I can chart a course between the stars, we could escape the radiation before the crew succumbs. But I won't be able to pilot the ship alone."

T'Pol rushes to the captain's quarters and tries to revive him. She explains to him what is going on, but he is only semi-conscious, so she drags him out of bed and douses him in the shower. While plying him with coffee (which he finds terrible), she explains to him what the black hole is doing to them and that they need to get out of there as quickly as possible. She explains that they have to pass within two million kilometers of the black hole and that the course she charted will get them out of the radiation in seventeen minutes. However, given the massive debris field, she needs Archer to pilot the ship while she determines the course corrections, and that Mayweather is under sedation. Archer says he's in no condition, but T'Pol says it's their only choice.

Act Four[]

Enterprise navigates black hole

Enterprise navigates the debris field

The Enterprise encounters large debris pieces as Archer pilots with T'Pol guiding. He makes a few mistakes but is able to correct for it. Suddenly, a very large asteroid blocks their path which requires the phase cannons. T'Pol thinks there's not enough time to charge them, but just as she makes her way to the security station, the ship is rocked by a large piece of asteroid bouncing off the hull and Reed's security protocol klaxon begins blaring; to her surprise, the weapons are all online and charged, thanks to Reed's recent upgrades. She fires and clears the rocks as necessary. Turning off the annoying klaxon, less than a minute later they clear the area and head into open space. With the ship no longer bathed in radiation, Tucker wakes up, groggily wondering if they got any nice pictures of the black hole.

Most of the crew has regained consciousness and is in relatively good health. Archer and T'Pol visit sickbay where Phlox is now busy with treating the minor injuries caused when crewmembers collapsed where they were standing, but nothing major. Even Mayweather's headache is gone with relatively little action on Phlox's part. To Archer's confusion, Phlox gestures to his own neck and thanks T'Pol for "interrupting" his intended procedure on Mayweather, to which she admits she wasn't sure it would work on a Denobulan. Somewhat embarrassed, he only elaborates to Archer that he was severely affected by the radiation as well, but he will make a full report after treating the crew.

Later, Reed reports to the ready room, where Archer tells him that his new tactical protocols were very useful during their crossing of the debris field and wants to make them standard procedure. Reed had already undone the changes but Archer asks that he put them back, only insisting that a better alarm is needed. Smiling, Reed assures that he'll get right on it. The two exit out onto the bridge, where Archer examines his chair which Tucker has just finished preparing for him and realizes that it feels much better and is, in fact, "totally different". He asks what Tucker did: amused, Tucker says he just lowered it... by one centimeter.

Memorable quotes[]

"I thought Vulcans had all this mental focus and discipline."
"We also have sensitive hearing."

- Tucker, while using a loud tool on the bridge to fix Archer's chair, which is annoying T'Pol

"Keep those target discriminators aligned. We don't want a torpedo mistaking one of our own nacelles for an enemy vessel!"

- Reed, in the armory

"I appreciate your concern Malcolm but this isn't a warship."
"Well, that's obvious, sir."

- Archer, when Reed suggests developing a new tactical system for Enterprise

"And Malcolm? Don't call it battle stations. Think of something less aggressive."

- Archer

"Just what the captain needs in a crisis; a place to rest his beverage!"

- Reed, when Tucker suggests putting a cup holder in the captain's chair

"Hand me the Kreetassan spice, I'll add it to the stock. Oh – and I'm out of carrots."
"There are twenty-five people waiting--"

- Hoshi Sato's response to Cunningham, who is trying to get her to speed up her cooking

"With all due respect, you've been cooking the same meal over and over again."

- Cunningham, finding Hoshi Sato obsessing over her cooking in the galley

"Shut off that damn noise!"

- Jonathan Archer, referring to the alert klaxon in a similar manner to that of Jean-Luc Picard (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

"It's a chair!"
"It's the captain's chair."

- Reed, commenting on Tucker's obsession with fixing Archer's command chair

"You're lucky you're a decent engineer because you obviously don't know anything about writing.'"
"I'm not the only one!"

- Archer and Tucker

"You ignored a tactical alert for THIS?"
"Give it a rest, will you!"
"This isn't a bloody pleasure cruise! Without proper discipline on this ship, this mission is doomed!"
"Why don't you go play soldiers somewhere else?!"
"If this were a military situation, you'd be taken out and shot!"

- Malcolm Reed and Trip Tucker, fighting on the bridge while under the radiation's influence

"What happened to my chair???"
"Did you know that this chair is the exact same model used on Neptune-class survey ships?"
"Is that why you called me down here?"
"Enterprise is the first warp five vessel in Human history. The pride of the fleet. And you're sitting in a chair they been using on warp two ships for over a decade. You deserve better. So, I'm starting from scratch. I'm gonna build you a throne. Stand right there. I need to get a few parametric scans. To get your exact dimensions – this baby's gonna fit like a glove."
"Isn't that used for aligning phase coils??"
"You won't feel a thing."

- Jonathan Archer and Trip Tucker, discussing the captain's chair while under the radiation's influence

Background information[]

Production history[]


  • This episode establishes black holes as a common phenomenon in the Star Trek universe. A conversation between Archer and T'Pol purports that the Vulcans have surveyed "more than 2,000" black holes. However, by the time of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Decker remarks that Voyager VI, "disappeared into what they used to call a black hole," implying that the definition of what constitutes a black hole may have changed in the intervening years. In fact, the Hirogen used a small quantum singularity to power their relay stations, which was referred to by the crew of USS Voyager as a black hole.
  • This was the first episode to show the galley.
  • Among the many things listed on the "Week's Dinner Menu" are peach cobbler, Plomeek tea, Argelian cole slaw, lamb, and beef in soy fondue, and french fries.
  • A part of Reed's obsessive behavior in this episode centers around finding a "shipwide emergency alert". This culminated in the "tactical alert" to be used in future Enterprise episodes, and what eventually developed into the more familiar "red alert" (although this term is not mentioned in this episode, Tucker suggests a "Reed alert" after Malcolm's family name).
  • In Tucker's obsession with improving the captain's chair, he says he plans to provide its armrests access to tactical data. Future captain's chairs, in fact, had this feature.
  • While trying to convince Travis to remain in Sickbay, Dr. Phlox mentions a protocystian spore. This is a reference to the Caretaker as seen on Star Trek: Voyager.
  • In the text of Archer's draft of the preface to his father's biography (04:02), there is a typographical error in the second sentence of the third paragraph: "This time, he would run the entire field analysis protocol, and he would use his won parameter set." "Won" should be "own."

Links and references[]



Uncredited co-stars[]


analgesic; analysis; Andronesian encephalitis; Archer, Henry; automatic repair station; "battle stations"; bearing; beverage; bib; biography; biomolecular scan; blurred vision; boarding party; breakfast; captain's chair; carrots; cat; centimeter; cerebral micro-section; Chef; chemical imbalance; class 4 black hole; clearance code; Cochrane, Zefram; coffee; color; command packet; cortical scan; course; court martial; cup holder; day; Denobulan; dizziness; duty roster; Earth; emergency shutdown procedure; EPS grid; first officer; flight school; flux paradox; fraternization; galley; generation; gravitational shear; headache; headrest; hyperspanner; iced tea; impulse manifold; inertial micro-dampers; kilometer; Kreetassan spice; laser micrometer; logic; manuscript; masquerade; Mazarite; mentor; mess hall; millimeter; Minaran spinach; mortar and pestle; mystery; narcissism; navigation sensor; Neptune-class; neural implant; neurotransmitter; obsession; oden; orange; paragraph; parietal lobe; parametric scanner; peach cobbler; phase coil; plasma conduit; plomeek broth; preface; prefrontal cortex; protocystian spore; radiometric analysis; recipe; Reed alert; riot; Risa; salty; sandwich; Sato's grandmother; senior officer; serotonin; shear front; sidearm; sprain; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Suliban; sub-cellular analysis; surgical brace; symptom; tactical alert; tactical drill; target discriminator; Tasaki; Terrellian plague; throne; tissue; trinary system (aka trinary star system); Vulcan; Vulcan database; Vulcan neck pinch; Vulcan ship; Vulcan star charts; warship; water polo

Menu references[]

Argelian cole slaw; asparagus; barbecue; beef; bread; brisket; cabbage; Carnegie style cheesecake; champagne; cheese; chocolate; crêpe; debris; filet mignon; fondue; French fries; fried chicken; garlic bread; ginger; DeRosa; green apples; green beans; green olive caviar; green peas; grilled alpine surprise; grilled curled onions; grilled trout almondine; grilled vegetable panini; lamb; lasagna; Minaran spinach; mixed green salad; noodle kugel; oden; parietal lobe; peach cobbler; Plomeek tea; raspberry sauce; red apples; rice pilaf; roast duck; scalloped potatoes; soy fondue; steamed rice; strawberries; twice-baked potato; Vietnamese pork

External links[]

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"The Communicator"
Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 2
Next episode:
"Vanishing Point"