(written from a Production point of view)
Following her first experience with the transporter, an eerie series of events makes Hoshi think she is becoming invisible to the rest of the crew.
Hoshi Sato and Trip Tucker are on an uninhabited planet, devoid of lifeforms, taking pictures and gathering data from a set of ruins, of which there are many. They wonder what happened to the people that built the ruins, as much of the ruins are intact. They are forced to leave their work abruptly when they learn that a diamagnetic storm is approaching. Before they can reach the shuttlepod, another storm pushes the first one in much faster than expected, so they are forced to use the transporter to return to Enterprise. They must transport one at a time due to the storm's interference. Sato is hesitant to use the transporter and relates her fears of having scrambled molecules to Tucker while they await transport. However, after being reassured over the communicator that Tucker is fine, Sato beams up to the ship, and the transport sequence goes smoothly and without incident.
As it is the first time she has used the transporter, Sato starts to feel that things are not quite right. Fortunately, when she goes to relax and change her uniform in her quarters, the captain gives her the rest of the day off. Later, in the mess hall, some of her fellow crewmembers jokingly tease her, relating the story of Cyrus Ramsey, a man who was lost in an early transporter test and subsequently became the subject of various ghost stories. Despite the obvious familiarity her friends show with the legend (even Dr. Phlox has heard the stories, after being stationed on Earth for a mere nine months), Sato has never heard of Cyrus Ramsey before. Phlox simply suggests she get a good night's sleep, dismissing her concern about her birthmark being moved slightly by the transporter.
Sato retires to her quarters for the night, hoping to feel better in the morning. She is awakened by an emergency call from T'Pol and realizes that she has uncharacteristically overslept by three hours and missed the beginning of her shift. When she arrives on the bridge, Captain Archer informs her that Tucker and Travis Mayweather have been taken hostage on the planet by aliens that, somehow, hadn't been detected the day before. Sato is suspicious that there is a problem all of a sudden, and that T'Pol seems to know more about the ruins than she should. Then, the aliens communicate with them, but the universal translator can't translate. The crew encourages her to forget the UT and talk to them. She tries, but is not able to be of any help, failing to translate a simple bi-modal syntax. Archer says it's all right, but also orders her back to her quarters, putting crewman Baird on the conn. He calls Reed to the ready room as she leaves the bridge.
Sato tries to shake it off, taking a shower. Oddly, she briefly sees her reflection in the mirror fade away, and, in the shower, water appears to drop right through her hands. It passes, but startles her. Her relations with the crew increasingly deteriorate, with crewmembers apparently ignoring her more frequently. In the mess hall, she asks to join T'Pol at a table, but she doesn't hear her – just sees her and asks her to join her. Surprisingly, the hostage situation is already resolved, even though it's only been an hour. Baird apparently deciphered the language. Further, Baird is now in charge of communications and Archer has ordered Sato permanently off duty. She's devastated.
Sato can hardly operate the turbolifts, with other crewmen actually pressing the buttons for her. Oddly, she then hears Tucker's and Reed's voices briefly, and she tries to answer but it's gone. She then goes to sickbay for some answers, relating what she's observed recently. Phlox can see her, but still can't find anything wrong with her, attributing Sato's strange experiences to emotional trauma caused by her experience with the transporter.
A short time later, Sato goes to the gym. Finding Tucker already there, Sato asks him if he's feeling anything weird. He clearly doesn't, and tries to cheer her up a bit and suggest a sedative. She thanks him and he leaves but, soon, Sato finds she can't operate the equipment anymore, with even her hand passing right through the weights and the door mechanism. She watches in the mirror as she vanishes completely.
Sato goes to sleep on the gym floor, and finds T'Pol and Tucker walking in. This time, they can't see her at all, and report to Archer the same, having searched the ship. She follows them to sickbay where she hears Phlox tell Archer and T'Pol that he had missed some subtle changes between two bioscans, taken only twenty-four hours apart, indicating that her sub-cellular membranes were degrading. Later, while in the transporter room, again undetected, she hears Tucker tell Archer, T'Pol, and Phlox that the secondary phase coils are out of alignment, and that was the source of the problem with the transporter when Sato went through it. He regrets going first off the planet, and Archer says Starfleet promised him the transporter was safe. Phlox believes that Sato is dead and her body should only be detectable as residue. Sato is unable to tell the crew that she is still alive and watches Archer pass right through her on his way out.
Sato follows Phlox and Tucker as they try to pinpoint her remains, wishing they would focus attention on the transporter. Then, interestingly, she hears alien voices from another corridor. She follows it, and then hears Tucker's and Reed's voices again talking to each other and instructing her to do something. It passes, and she hears Phlox and Tucker confirm her remains on the floor. Phlox collects it for Sato's parents and leaves Tucker there to contemplate. Sato watches as he regrets aloud leaving the planet first, despite being the ranking officer.
When he leaves, she hears the alien voices again. Walking further down the corridor, she witnesses two aliens planting bombs on the Enterprise's walls.
Sato immediately goes to the ready room to try and warn Archer, but instead she watches him get in touch with her father to inform him of her death. He has trouble doing so, as he starts by explaining from the beginning instead of simply saying she's gone. While he does so, Sato tries to get his attention. She puts her hand on anything that will respond, and finds she can manipulate some lights on and off. She tries Morse code, but can't get his attention. He finally says to her father that she is gone, but he can't respond, asking him to call him later and ends the communication. Archer sits back, and does notice the light finally. He brings in T'Pol and says he recognizes it as "SOS" in Morse code, and even hears "HOSH" as Sato changes it, but isn't fully convinced. T'Pol notes the plasma conduit is being interrupted, and that it's self-contained, but also suggests it's been a long day. Archer agrees and leaves it for tomorrow.
Sato takes it upon herself to do what she can. She continues observing the aliens activating their devices where she found them before, but also in engineering, avoiding the crew's looks. She realizes they can't see her, either, so she tries to deactivate the devices with her hand, and successfully does so once. However, the aliens reactivate them easily and modify it so she can't do it again. They then use an alien transporting device, and, after activating a timer, both transport away.
Then, she hears Tucker and Reed again, instructing her to do something. She guesses they mean the transporter and jumps on it. Finally, she is transported away, right onto the Enterprise's transporter pad with her equipment she had on the surface. This time, they can hear her and she tries to explain the alien intruders. They stop her and insist there's nothing wrong. Reed explains she was in the transporter buffer for only 8 seconds due to the storms on the surface. This leads her to the realization that all of her experiences since beaming back to the ship had been hallucinations, including the alien saboteurs and the story of Cyrus Ramsey.
"You sure you can't read any of this?"
"Nope. How about you?"
"Well, I think this says "Tall guys are popular.""
"Hmm. You're a budding linguist."
- - Tucker and Sato, while in the ruins
"You have to do this, Hoshi. There's no choice. I'll need you clear of the structure, one at a time."
- - Archer, ordering a reluctant Sato and Tucker to be beamed up to Enterprise
"Your molecules get pulled apart."
"Then they get put back together again."
"Do you know how many molecules you're made up of?"
"All right, how many?"
"Uh, a few trillion."
"That's a pretty big jigsaw puzzle!"
- - Sato, fretting to Tucker about using the transporter shortly before the two are beamed up to Enterprise
"Starfleet said it's safe. That's good enough for me!"
- - Tucker, on the transporter
"Welcome to the club."
- - Reed, to Sato on joining him, Archer, Novakovich, two unnamed security officers, and, most recently, Tucker, as the only Humans who have gone through the transporter on Enterprise
"It was very unsettling. Didn't you find it unsettling?"
"For a minute or two, but once I counted my fingers and toes…"
"I don't know, I just don't feel right."
- - Sato and Tucker, discussing their recent experience with the transporter
"It's not a joke, doctor. If that machine could move a birthmark, who knows what else it could do?"
- - Sato, to Phlox
"Ever since I used that transporter, nothing has been the way that it's supposed to be. I couldn't translate a simple bimodal syntax but Crewman Baird could. Crewman Baird doesn't know the first thing about our linguistic database! And Captain Archer told me to stay in my quarters, but my mirror doesn't want to give me a solid reflection and my shower can't decide whether to bounce off me or go through me! And nobody wants to talk to me."
- - Sato, lamenting about her situation to Phlox
"Transporter technology is very new. I'm sure Humans were equally frightened when the automobile was introduced, or the airplane. New forms of transport take a while to get used to. I'm not at all surprised at your reaction – you wouldn't catch me using that apparatus."
- - Phlox, sharing his opinion of the transporter with Sato
"You're upside down, ensign."
- - Tucker, to Sato while in the gym's gyroscope
- Filming for this episode began on 2 October 2002 and was wrapped up on 10 October 2002.
- Keone Young previously played Buck Bokai in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season one episode "If Wishes Were Horses".
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay was the alien explosive device. 
- The term "vanishing point" in art refers to the point at which two lines converge and appear to disappear. It is likely also a double pun referring to Sato's fears about her birthmark disappearing.
- This episode establishes that Hoshi Sato initiated the convention of using the word "beam" as a verb.
- While on the gyroscope, Tucker says, "You're upside down, ensign." This is the same phrase he spoke to Ensign Mayweather upon encountering him in Enterprise's "sweet spot", in "Broken Bow"
- The illusory story of Cyrus Ramsey is not unlike the actual fate of Quinn Erickson in the fourth season episode "Daedalus". Sato's imagined experience is similar to that of Ensign Ro Laren and Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge during their encounter with a Romulan interphasic cloaking device in TNG: "The Next Phase", as well as Kathryn Janeway's experience with an alien parasite in VOY: "Coda".
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 Tucker III
- Gary Riotto as Alien #1
- Ric Sarabia as Alien #2
- Morgan H. Margolis as Crewman Baird
- Carly Thomas as Alison
- Richard Bai as command division crewman
- Mark Correy as Alex
- Hilde Garcia as Rossi
- Glen Hambly as operations division ensign
- Bryan Heiberg as operations division crewman
- John Jurgens as command division crewman
- Marnie Martin as operations division crewman
- Lidia Sabljic as command division crewman
- Jessica Vash as command division ensign
4,000 years ago; 2146; airplane; Alice Springs; amino acid; anxiety; Australia; automobile; bimodal syntax; biomatter; biomolecular scan; bioscan; biosensor; birthmark; biting fly; bomb; California; camera; centimeter; club; Death Valley; Denobula; Denobulan; diamagnetic storm; dinosaur drawing; dipeptide; distress call; DNA; door control; dozen; Earth; Easter bunny; explosives; flash unit; fog; genetic profile; ghost story; God; gyrosphere; hallucination; humanoids; Humpty Dumpty; July; kidnapping; kilometer; King's men; leech; linguist; linguistic algorithm; linguistic database; Madison; matter stream; matter stream converter; May; medical record; meter; mirror; "Mister Tall and Popular"; molecule; molecular transport; Morse code; motion sickness; multiaxis exercise trainer; nervous system night; pattern buffer; per se; phase coil; photograph; physics; pilot; plasma circuit; polaric discharge; polaric energy; polarized hull plating; produce; protein filament; psychological disorder; Ramsey, Cyrus; ranking officer; rock; Sato's father; Sato's mother; sedative; shuttlepod; shower; sink; soil; S.O.S.; Starfleet; sub-cellular membrane; subcutaneous pigmentation; subordinate; superior officer; test subject; thundercloud; translator; transport beam; transport protocol; transporter (transporting device); transporter phobia; trespassing; turbolift; turbolift control; universal translator; Vulcan; warp imbalance; warp reactor; Wisconsin
- "Vanishing Point" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Vanishing Point" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Vanishing Point" at Wikipedia
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