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After their successful Xindi mission and an unexpected detour into an alternate timeline where Temporal Cold War factions helped Nazi Germany conquer America, Captain Jonathan Archer and his weary surviving crew finally return to Earth. As Enterprise undergoes repairs and refitting, Archer is debriefed by Admiral Maxwell Forrest, Ambassador Soval and others, and is reunited with a former girlfriend, Erika Hernandez, who has been appointed captain of the second Warp 5 starship, Columbia (NX-02).
After reacting in anger when Soval asks pointed questions about the Xindi mission, Archer is ordered by Forrest to take some rest and relaxation leave. He chooses to go mountain climbing and, to his initial chagrin, Hernandez invites herself along. Archer experiences a flashback in which he dreams that he's attacked by reptilian Xindi, and Hernandez tries to help him come to terms with his experience. In return, Archer tries to warn Hernandez that space exploration isn't as romantic as she thinks it is. Before long, the two briefly rekindle their romance. Upon resuming the debriefing after returning to Starfleet Command, Archer keeps his emotions in check, and ultimately receives an unexpected "thank you" from Soval.
In a subplot, Dr. Phlox and his fellow Enterprise crew learn that some people on Earth not only still hold a grudge over the Xindi's attack on Earth, but that all aliens are sharing the blame, as Phlox discovers when his presence in a pub results in a brawl.
Meanwhile, T'Pol - who has been invited to accept a Starfleet commission - takes the opportunity to travel to Vulcan to visit her mother, T'Les. When Tucker mentions that he doesn't really have a home to go to (although a later episode mentions his parents survived the Xindi attack), T'Pol invites him along.
On Vulcan, T'Pol learns that her mother has resigned from the Vulcan Science Academy as indirect punishment for T'Pol's role a few years earlier in exposing a secret monitoring station at the P'Jem sanctuary which had been used to spy on the Andorians. The only way for T'Pol to restore her mother's position and honor is to marry Koss, a member of an influential family with whom T'Pol had been engaged prior to her posting aboard Enterprise. Despite protests from Tucker (who reveals to T'Les that he is in love with T'Pol), T'Pol reluctantly agrees to marry Koss. Just before the marriage ceremony begins, however, T'Pol quickly kisses Tucker on the cheek.
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