Those responsible for this episode should have paid better attention to the title and just let it lie. In the crapper. Reed, Hoshi, and T'Pol suit up and dress down for a search and retrieval mission on a ship set adrift near a gas giant, while Quantum molders aboard Enterprise and makes futile suggestions. Phlox gets another aggressive patient, Trip welds stuff, and Mayflower went to play with Tiger the dog and Cousin Oliver. The plot went nowhere, and while it was on its way to Nowhere, it stopped off at a sieve factory in order to add french tips onto its gaping holes. Seriously, Bragermen? Please hire some real writers, if you need suggestions, just look around this site.
Before I begin, I'd like to thank all the concerned citizens who sent me mail this week explaining that "Neander-doll" is the correct German pronunciation of the word "Neanderthal." Believe it or not, I was aware of the correct pronunciation, which is why I didn't make a big deal out of Phlox's pronunciation. See, I'm a writer, and as a writer, my job is to get across to the reader what it feels like to watch what I am writing about. Hence, my phonetic spelling of the word was aimed at letting my readers know how Phlox himself pronounced it.
A disembodied hand loads up a phase pistol with a cartridge, making that high-pitched TWEE! noise. Reed is facilitating target practice with Hoshi. As she fires somewhat ineffectually at a computer-generated graphic -- not entirely unlike the metal-studded ball Skywalker uses to learn how to "use the Force, Luke" with a light saber -- Reed calculates Hoshi's performance on an e-pad. He tells her her hit-to-fire ratio is still under fifty percent. Apparently, she can't get the hang of this newfangled weapon, preferring the EM-33 instead. Reed gets all warmed up and says, "This is an entirely new weapon. Unlike the EM-33, you don't have to compensate for particle drift. Just point straight at the target and try to keep your shoulders relaxed. It's hard to aim accurately when you're tense." Okay, Arnold Palmer. Reed hands the weapon back to Hoshi and hacks out a cough (gee, is that going to be significant later on?), but before she can try again, the ship's engines audibly power down -- broadcasting that they're coming out of warp. Hoshi and Reed both wonder why they are dropping out since they were scheduled to be warping for the next few days. Reed checks a panel. "Oh, we're approaching a gas giant. Class Nine," he informs Hoshi, who comments that her target practice will have to take a sideline to examining a flatulent Shatner.
I've started singing the theme song around the house. Shut up. Look, just because I'm getting brainwashed doesn't mean I like it. "There. Are. Four lights!"
A probe is launched at the gas giant to investigate what it had for dinner and to energize some antacids, if necessary. Back on Enterprise, T'Pol reports the progress of Probe Pepto-Bismol. They manage to get an audio playback, which sounds so very much like whale songs that I start to hope the channel switched to TNN, which is airing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. T'Pol tells the collective, "Intense magnetic fields often create unique wave forms." Travis "The Boomer" Mayflower volunteers, "Siren calls!" Cpt. Quantum looks at him. "That's what we called them when I was a kid. My dad would put them through the speakers whenever we flew by a gas giant. It gave me nightmares sometimes." Nice dad. Although I guess I shouldn't talk, since I have a mother who stuffed my dad's old clothes with newspaper, tied the pieces together to make a body, slapped a mask on the thing, and threw it out her bedroom window so it fell past the living room window in which I was having a sleepover. Never saw so many wet sleeping bags. I think having those noises constantly playing could drive a few people quite nutty. Quantum signals Hoshi to turn off the audio. "Other than keeping Ensign Mayweather up at night, I'm not sure what we expect to accomplish here," T'Pol says. Heh. T'Pol points out that the humans have four gas giants in their own solar system, but Quantum says, "None of them are Class Nine. I think this one's worth a closer look." Of course you do. Something starts beeping -- demanding immediate care and attention in the style of Mariah Carey -- and T'Pol looks through her SpockViewer. "I'm reading an anomalous power signature in the lower atmosphere. And several bio-signs," she reports, punctuating her speech with a thrustage of bustage. Quantum furrows his brow (wait, which "Furrowed Brow" should we interpret this to be?) and orders someone to get the probe closer to the anomalous power signature. We can barely make out a Klingon ship through the orange crushy mist.
Sick bay. Reed grabs at a tissue and snuffles, "We can travel faster than the speed of light. You'd think we could find a cure for the common cold." Sorry, Bermaga, but I believe that line was already used in TNG. Phlox tuts him, saying that the human common cold is incredibly mild compared to the Kamaraazite flu. "He sneezed so violently, he almost regurgitated his pineal gland," Phlox says. Snerk -- Phlox just called Reed a wimp, but by the way, gross. Speaking through a snot-packed nose, Reed comments that he doesn't know how it is even possible for him to catch a cold in a hermetically sealed environment. Phlox brainstorms what outside influences could have snuck in and incubated themselves in Reed's system. "I did open a case of plasma coolant," Reed snarfs. "Whoever packed that case was probably nursing a cold," Phlox says, preparing a hypospray. Reed grabs at more tissues and sneezes, commenting he opened that plasma coolant five months ago in spacedock. Lord, has it been five months? I think this has been my longest continuous gig yet. "You underestimate the tenacity of a virus, Lieutenant. [You can say that again.] It can lay dormant for months, adapt to whatever environment it finds itself in." Phlox says. Phlox hyposprays Reed's neck and tells him to go straight to bed, but since we haven't had it sufficiently hammered into our heads that Reed is being cast as a workaholic, he rejects this advice. "The captain wants me on the team investigating that shipwreck," he says. Somehow, investigating a shipwreck in space doesn't seem as romantic as investigating one twenty-thousand leagues under the sea. Phlox tells him to try not to sneeze in his helmet. Yuck -- someone in the twenty-second century would do well to invent mini-windshield wipers to clean off the globs of phlegm.