Big props to my forumites, who have been like kids at Christmas with this episode.
Morning has broken, like the first co-o-o-n-tact. Sick bay. Phlox greets and feeds his various "pets," including the chittering Pyrithian bat we saw in "Fight or Flight." Feeling a bit peckish himself, Phlox samples a big, juicy, green caterpillar-type thing and feeds another through a cage. I'll bet it was a Gummi caterpillar.
Sick bay. Hoshi walks in, waving a clear yellow disk. "People are getting jealous. You get more letters from home than anyone else on the ship," she tells him. Ah, I see that we are continuing with the Hoshi-is-a-secretary metaphor by making her sort and deliver crew mail. Yes, she's the Communications Officer, but it's all just a little too convenient, don't you think? "What's her name?" Hoshi teases, but Phlox just chuckles and tells her it's from Dr. Lucas, a fellow doctor in the Inter-Species Medical Exchange program. On behalf of the viewing audience, Hoshi says she didn't realize there were humans living on Denobula. Phlox tells her that Dr. Lucas is the first, and since he helped him "get settled in" when Phlox first arrived in San Francisco, he wanted to return the favor. Hoshi reminisces that she had a pen pal from Australia when she was twelve. "I loved getting her letters. It was like this little window into distant places with strange sounding names," Hoshi says and asks if they're "still on" for that night. "Oh, yes," Phlox trills, "I'm looking forward to it. If you think you're ready, we can tackle gerunds today!" Hoshi says she can hardly wait, and leaves.
Phlox plays his audio letter from Dr. Lucas, who says he is in the middle of Denobulan mating season, "so [Phlox] knows how that goes." No, wait -- how does it go? I want to know! Dr. Lucas continues, saying, "I thought human reproduction was complicated. You Denobulans make us look like single-cell organisms." Okay, maybe I really don't want to know, after all. Dr. Phlox walks through a corridor, and the VO is his own, audioing a letter to Dr. Lucas. "I know the rigors of mating season only too well. It might help to bear in mind that a dose of niaxilin can be quite effective in separating the combatants," Phlox's VO says, which changes my mind again -- "separating the combatants"?! Phlox VO continues, "It sounds like you've settled into your new living quarters, that part of the city has some very lively Kaybin bars along the river. They're open all night, if I recall. Please don't venture into them unescorted -- they can be quite disturbing to the uninitiated." Sounds like Clarksville, TN.
In the midst of this audio letter, Phlox arrives at Engineering and is called up a catwalk by Trip. Phlox joins him and another crewman, sitting on the ground and looking a little stunned. "He was trying to reroute a nitrogen valve and the seal blew," Trip explains, and we can see that the red-shirt's face is shiny in patches with fresh burns. "How bad is it?" Trip asks. Phlox gets to work, explaining, "Oh, it's superficial. Only first-degree burns. A little dermoline gel should do the trick." He whips out a little jar, rubs a long cotton swab over it (the kind they use on your throat), and dabs at the red-shirt's face. Everyone knows I'm no fan of Trip's, but it was kinda nice that he stayed with First-Degree Burns until Phlox got there, although I did notice something steaming out behind him, and I started to wonder if it was the nitrogen valve, and whether it was a good idea that no one had resealed it after it "blew." Oh, well -- the quality of mercy not being strained and all that. Phlox VOs to Dr. Lucas that most of his work is very routine, with only the occasional emergency.