Hoshi then talks to Archer in private, revealing she tracked down Malcolm's parents, Stuart and Mary. They talk to Archer, wondering if Malcolm is in trouble and not even knowing what his job is. Archer says that Malcolm is not in trouble and is an armory officer, to which Mr. and Mrs. Reed reveal that the Reeds have been navy men for generations. Archer then reveals that he plans on making a birthday dinner but doesn't know what Malcolm likes. His parents don't know either, since he always ate what he was given as a kid, so Archer orders Hoshi to find out.
After a casual conversation between Archer and Trip, the alien ship returns. Archer tries to hail them again, but they again don't reply, then they scan the ship with a device that makes a painfully high-pitched noise. Then, they fire (leaving no casualties) and leave again. The shields went down briefly when they fired, so Malcolm was able to get some scans— there are at least fifteen bio-signs of an unknown species.
Archer, T'Pol, and Trip assess the damage caused by the aliens' attack— it came perilously close to breaching a bulkhead that, if breached, would have sucked Trip and twelve others into space. In the turbolift, Archer wonders to T'Pol if they should go back to Earth, since Enterprise is not equipped for certain attacks and they didn't have time to install the phase cannons. However, when he brings the issue to Trip and Malcolm, they figure that they can install them within two weeks. Archer accepts, but also tells Travis to send the ship home so that the staff at Jupiter Station can rewire the rest of the systems.
While Trip, Malcolm, and the rest of the engineers get to work building the phase cannons, Hoshi talks to Malcolm's sister Madeline. Unfortunately, she doesn't know his food preferences either, only remembering a time he did a week-long fast for an experiment. Hoshi then talks to Malcolm's friend Mark Latrelle, who remembers that Malcolm did eat fish at a restaurant once, but he mainly only went there because he had a crush on a waitress and probably actually hates fish. Travis interrupts, asking how things are going, but Hoshi, revealing that she's also talked to his uncle Archie and his two aunts, was unsuccessful. T'Pol interrupts, suggesting that Hoshi ask Malcolm directly.
In the mess hall, Hoshi tries asking Malcolm how his meal is and offering to cook, but he's distracted by the schematics he's reading. She asks what his favourite food is, but he simply vetoes her idea of cooking. She reveals she has a hotplate in her quarters, but he takes this the wrong way, thinking she's coming onto him. Hoshi then leaves, with both of them feeling embarrassed.
The alien ship attacks again, and Malcolm is unable to contact the bridge and armory. He orders the crewmen to report to their stations, then the alien ship activates a dampening shield, turning off the lights. They then launch a shuttle, turn off the main systems, and enter through the launch bay doors. Archer enters the launch bay with a security team to find two aliens, who knock two of the security officers out and probe them. The humans fire phase pistols at the aliens, but they're immune, and then walk away. Archer sends his team after the aliens and has Phlox tend to the two injured crewmen. The alien shuttle then leaves and docks with its mother ship, which fires at Enterprise's port nacelle and warps away.
Phlox tells Archer that the two crewmen were scanned invasively but will recover. Trip then says that the impulse drive will be working within a few hours, but the warp core needs a few days to repair. The crew then tries to contact the Vulcan High Command and ask for help, but can't because Echo One and Echo Two have been destroyed.
Trip and Malcolm return to their work on the phase cannons. Malcolm, annoyed at the setback, wants to bypass the EPS grid and have the cannons draw power directly from the impulse engines, but Trip wants to build the cannons the proper way. He thinks that Malcolm's way could damage the ship and kill the crew, but Malcolm thinks it's an "acceptable risk" and if they do it the normal way, the aliens might come back too soon. Trip says that as the chief engineer, it's his job to decide which risks are acceptable, and Malcolm grudgingly agrees.
Some time later, Archer asks Trip for a progress report and Trip says the engines will be back online the next night. Archer then wonders if the crew really isn't ready to explore space, but Trip dismisses him. Trip then visits Malcolm in the armory, having changed his mind about the new phase cannon installation, and gives him permission to do it.
Two days later, they test the new phase cannon on an uninhabited moon, but despite trying to simply take a few meters off the surface, they instead blow up a whole mountain and shake the ship. Malcolm reveals that this was due to the phase modulators being overloaded and and that the impact blew out a lot of plasma coils. T'Pol detects something strange in Launch Bay 2, so she, Archer, Trip, and Malcolm head down. T'Pol traces the reading to a device on the ceiling that's generating energy and tapped into most of the ship's systems. Archer sends the aliens a message, saying that he and the others will stop at nothing to defend their ship, then destroys the device.
Hoshi enters sickbay (where Phlox has released his patients) and asks him about Malcolm's favourite food, but all he knows is that Malcolm enjoys eggs, pancakes, sausages, and bacon. Then, he remembers that he does have an idea, but it would mean going through Malcolm's medical files. Hoshi says that she's under captain's orders, and Phlox reveals that Malcolm has many allergies and has been eating pineapple to get rid of his bromelain allergy.
The alien ship returns, and the Enterprise tries to hail them again. They reply, but with Archer's message, edited to say, "You are defenseless. Prepare to surrender your vessel." Archer orders Malcolm to fire the phase cannon, but it barely makes a dent. Archer wonders if they can overload it again, but Malcolm says that doing that would cause damage to the inside of the ship. Archer is still willing to do it, but Trip has an alternate solution— repolarise the gravity plating to absorb the recoil, which would shunt the excess energy to strengthen structural integrity. They do this, then fire at the alien ship again, disabling it, and the aliens go away at impulse. Trip and Malcolm give damage reports, and Archer decides that they shouldn't go home after all.
Then, everyone has a birthday party for Malcolm, complete with a pineapple cake, which he enjoys.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Archer decides to swallow his pride and simply call a Vulcan ship for help. However, the aliens have blown up their subspace amplifiers, leaving them cut off from further support.
- Badass Boast: When Archer learns that the aliens left a device on Enterprise to spy on them, he uses it to deliver a message to them before destroying it:"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."
- Birthday Episode: The B-plot of this episode is Hoshi trying to figure out what to put on Malcolm's birthday cake.
- Call-Back: In "Fortunate Son," Archer mentioned that they'd be dropping subspace amplifiers. This episode starts with them deploying Echo-2.
- Comically Missing the Point: Reed mistakes Hoshi's inquiries as a sexual invitation.
- Cut-and-Paste Note: The aliens later take Archer's Badass Boast from above and edit it to say "You are defenseless. Prepare to surrender your vessel."
- A Day in the Limelight: Reed is the main focus of this episode.
- "Dear John" Letter: Trip gets one from someone named Natalie. Apparently, a Long-Distance Relationship doesn't work too well, especially as this is the longest distance ever for humans of this era.
- Deflector Shields: The aliens have personal ones that No-Sell Archer's phaser shots.
- Dinner and a Show: Off-screen, apparently. Archer tells Trip about it after the latter ate by himself.Archer: You missed T'Pol's latest bout with chopsticks.
Trip: Damn. Dinner and a show.
- Does Not Like Spam: Mark Latrelle says that Malcolm hates fish.
- Drinking on Duty: Archer allows it after Enterprise fights off the aliens, but warns Trip and Malcolm not to make a habit of it.
- Explosive Overclocking: The first time they test their new cannons, the ship's circuits overload and the beams fire at ten times the power they were supposed to, causing internal damage to Enterprise. When the alien ship returns, Reed and Tucker figure out a way to supercharge them again while allowing Enterprise to absorb the energy recoil.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Stuart Reed expected Malcolm to follow him into the Royal Navy, as their forefathers had done for generations. He's not happy that Malcolm joined Starfleet instead.Mary Reed: The Reeds have been navy men for generations.
Stuart Reed: Until Malcolm decided to join Starfleet. I suppose the ocean wasn't big enough for him.
- Future Society, Present Values: Archer compares the mountain that Malcolm blows up to Mount McKinley, which was (re)renamed "Denali" in 2015.
- Hilarious Outtakes:Archer: How long until we have subspace something...airspace, French fries and Cokes?
Hoshi: (starts corpsing)
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The aliens while boarding Enterprise decide to put a device on board that not only spies on the ship, but also overloads the newly installed phase cannons far beyond their normal specs when Enterprise does a test fire. When the aliens return, after the alien ship No-Sell on Enterprise's first shot inspires Archer to order Malcolm to overload the cannons like before and fire again. The alien ship's shields collapse almost immediately and two spatial torpedoes launched afterward by Enterprise leaves the alien ship leaking a plasma trail. Needless to say the aliens run like hell before Enterprise decides to fire again.
- I Have My Ways: When Malcolm sees what kind of birthday cake he gets:Malcolm: Pineapple? That's my favorite! How on Earth did you know?
Hoshi: We have our sources.
- Long List: Phlox begins to list off absolutely every food he's seen Malcolm eat.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: The Enterprise crew beef up their arsenal with phase cannons, precursors to the Federation's phaser banks.
- Mistaken for Romance: When Hoshi tells Malcolm about the hotplate in her quarters, he thinks she's flirting with him.
- Mood Whiplash: This episode has some of the most glaring A-plot/B-plot dissonance in the franchise. The most intimidating foe the crew have yet come across, mixed with Hoshi trying to find out Malcolm's favorite food for his birthday. In retrospect, it was clear Hoshi was going Out of Focus from this point onward.
- Mundane Solution: T'Pol suggests that Hoshi try to learn Malcolm's favorite food from Malcolm himself. She then tries to probe for his favorite food, before flat out asking what it is. However, he interprets this as flirtations and politely declines.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We don't even see what the aliens look like till halfway through, and even at the end, we really don't learn anything about them, including their species' name or their motivations.
- Plot Allergy: Malcolm's allergic to dust mites, oak pollen, tropical grasses, and various plant enzymes.
- Plot Parallel: The idea of the B plot is so the audience can discover something about Malcolm, the main character of the A plot who's working to defend Enterprise against hostile aliens.
- Redshirt: Two guys in a corridor are incapacitated by the aliens, but they later recover.
- Rousing Speech: Trip gives two of them.
- The first one is to the engineering crew, with Malcolm's help:Trip: We all signed up for this trip because we wanted to do something no one had ever done before, not because we thought it'd be easy or safe. But we're not here to take foolish risks. The Captain and the rest of the crew are depending on us to keep Enterprise ready for anything.
Malcolm: And once we get these phase cannons on-line, we'll have a lot more firepower to do just that.
Trip: What're you standing around for?
- He gives the second one to Archer, to help him through a moment of self-doubt:"In the old days, astronauts rode rockets with millions of liters of hydrogen burning under their seats. You think they said, 'Gee, I'd love to go to the moon today, but it seems a little risky'? I think if you asked anyone on board whether they thought this mission was worth the risk, you'd get the same answer from every one of them."
- The first one is to the engineering crew, with Malcolm's help:
- Scotty Time: Trip and Malcolm want two weeks to get the cannons built and installed. They get it done in less than three days.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When Phlox offers Hoshi a clue to help her figure out Malcolm's favorite food.Phlox: I think I can help you, Ensign, but it would mean going into Mister Reed's medical record. That information is confidential.
Hoshi: I'm under direct orders from the captain. Couldn't you make an exception?
Phlox: Under the circumstances, I suppose it wouldn't hurt.
- Seriously Scruffy: Malcolm's got some peach fuzz from putting in so much overtime on the phase cannons.
- Shared Family Quirks: Apparently, there's a tendency for male Reeds to join the military.
- So Proud of You: In a Captain's Log, Archer commends his crew for completing the phase cannons in 48 hours, a job that would have taken the engineers at Jupiter Station more than a week to accomplish.Archer: To say that I'm proud of them would be an understatement.
- That's an Order!: Archer uses this line on Hoshi when she tries to duck out of finding out Malcolm's favorite food.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Discussed by Trip when telling Archer how much worse the damage from the alien attack could've been.Trip: There were thirteen people workin' in this section, cap'n, includin' yours truly. If that bulkhead had blown...
- Took a Level in Badass: Enterprise herself, thanks to the new phase cannons.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The A plot is a strong, tense plot where the Enterprise is faced with an enemy that outclasses their ship in every way. The ship is boarded, lives are almost lost, and in order to even survive, the Enterprise has to risk blowing half the ship apart. The B plot is centered around Hoshi finding out Reed's favorite food. Hilarity Ensues, despite, you know, the ship-endangering crisis going on. Needless to say, the A plot is horribly undermined by the thematic discontinuity, and gross stupidity, of the B plot.
- Your Favorite: Turns out Malcolm's favorite food is pineapple.