Oh, god, my parents are going to be just like that older couple in Frasier in whose RV Niles mistakenly falls asleep. Except, instead of saying "Clifford!" my mother's going to be saying, "Vern!" all across America. Probably parts of Canada, too.
T'Pol and Reed are escorted back to camp. "Captain, you all right?" Reed asks. "Everything's fine," Quantum says nonchalantly. "These are the Eska." He's bucking to get the Making Nice-Nice With Bloodthirsty Aliens Merit Badge just so he's only one away from breaking even with Reed. "My name is Damrus," Keith Szarabajka says, standing up. You know, I wondered why Holtz had shaved his beard in Angel -- it must have been for this role. Aliens in Trek are predominantly without facial hair -- except the Klingons, of course. And speaking of sudden changes, what's with all the English speaking? Quantum passes out introductions, and Reed gripes that Holtz-Damrus's "friends" almost shot him. "We're sorry. There are dangerous animals in the forest," one of Reed's escorts says. Holtz-Damrus tells them they haven't previously interfaced with humanoids on the dark planet, and T'Pol, always re-earning her Diplomacy Merit Badge, deferentially asks if she and her shipmates are trespassing on their "territory." Holtz-Damrus tells her that the planet belongs to no one, but "it's a special place for [them]." Not touching that one. Another Eska takes a swig of something and asks what they're doing on Dakala. "We're just here to explore," Quantum says, swanking himself about the campfire. "We'd like to stay awhile if that's all right." The Eska don't say anything. "It's a big planet -- we could find another landing site but I was hoping you might enjoy the company," Quantum continues, working on his Shoving My Big Schnozzle Where It Doesn't Belong Merit Badge.
A few minutes later, they're all sitting around the campfire roasting wieners (Wow, who would have bet on both Shatner and Wil Wheaton landing cameos in the same episode? It's good to see Wheaton making a positive change in his career aspirations. After all, today's wiener is tomorrow's bratwurst. Yuck, not like that!) and singing "Kumbaya." Over a slab of Drayjin meat, the Enterprise crew learns that the fatigue-clad, gun-toting, redneckish Eska are not there "studying wildlife." They're there to hunt, and the reason why their bio-signs were undetectable is because they use "sensing cloaks." Either that or the Enterprise sensors just suck eggs. I mean, they're only the twenty-second-century sensors; not what you'd call top-of-the-line by Trek standards. T'Pol gets their hosts to tell them that the Eska have been hunting on Dakala for nine generations, and it's "part of [their] tradition" to murder the Dakalan wildlife. "There are higher primates here -- we don't touch them," Holtz-Damrus says, getting up and going to the fire, clearly annoyed by all the sanctimonious questions. Quantum feels the need to point out that "hunting went out of style on Earth over a hundred years ago," but adds, "That doesn't mean we don't appreciate your hospitality," Quantum says, with about as much grace as a mastodon riding dressage on a donkey. "That gear you carry seems pretty elaborate to take down a few game animals," Reed says. One of the Eska tells him, "Don't underestimate the game on this planet." This peaks Reed's interest, and he asks to join them on their next outing. "I thought your people didn't approve," Holtz-Damrus says, not looking at him from his Place of Brood by the fire. But see, he's British, and the British are all about bloodsports. It's in their, uh, blood. Reed says he wants to observe their lurk tactics, since they were able to sneak up on the E-crew undetected. Except for the excessive crunching part. "I promise I won't kill anything, sir," Reed pleads to Quantum. The Eskas guffaw. Quantum heh-hehs uncomfortably and tells Reed that it's up to their "hosts." Holtz-Damrus stands up dramatically and raises his silver tankard to Reed in silent acceptance. Reed acknowledges this acceptance in kind.
Quantum throws a Captain's log on the campfire and reports that Hoshi is being brought back to the ship and exchanged for some camping gear. Strangely enough, the voice-over says that Trip and Malcolm are bringing Hoshi back to Enterprise. Didn't Trip stay on the ship? He wasn't in the sh'pod when they went down to the surface, and he definitely wasn't one of the four exploring and stumbling upon the Eskas. I think that's a continuity mistake on their part. Quantum offers no explanation as to why Hoshi is going back to the ship. Isn't she curious to learn the Eskan language, or are the writers trying to force the Hoshi Ick Factor on us because she's a squeamish little lady wearing dainty white gloves? Puh-lease. "If the bugs glow in the dark, at least you can tell if they've crawled into your sleeping bag," Trip says, throwing Quantum's copy of Songs You Can Sing Around The Campfire With Alien Hunters into his knapsack. Hoshi bleats that she's very happy to be sleeping in her own bed that night. "Anyway, it's the things you can't see that I'd be worried about," she adds. "Like those bore worms," Reed says in a strangely husky voice. "Bore worms?" Trip asks, a bit concerned. "Apparently they crawl into your ear to lay their eggs," Hoshi-Khan tells him. Trip looks very upset. "Have a nice night," Hoshi says, patting him on the knee and taking off. Reed chuckles at Trip's discomfiture.