On a "typical" day on Enterprise, the crew finds their routine tasks turn into uncharacteristically strange obsessions over trivial matters. The crew's increasingly erratic and often humorous behavior includes: Archer's preoccupation with writing the preface of a biography about his dad; Trip's fixation on adjusting the Captain's chair to perfection; Hoshi's obsession with her cooking; and Reed's concern with a Tactical Alert.
Enterprise has dropped to impulse in order to get a closer look at a black hole that's part of a trinary star system. As it will take them two days to get there, the crew has time for personal endeavors. Archer concentrates on writing a one-page preface for a biography of his father. He also assigns Trip the task of making some adjustments to the captain's chair, which is apparently rather uncomfortable. Reed hopes to work on a new security protocol, while Hoshi takes over cooking duties for an ailing Chef.
Meanwhile, Mayweather visits Phlox for a headache remedy. Phlox, however, is not content to simply diagnose Mayweather with a headache, and begins to subject the ensign to a number of medical tests. Soon, each of the crew's seemingly ordinary tasks begin taking on more and more significance, as each person becomes obsessed with a single job. Archer turns his one-page preface into a 19-page missive, while Trip takes the entire captain's chair apart, determined to add new features (such as a cup-holder) and re-shape it to fit Archer perfectly. Reed, who is attempting to draft a special emergency alert, becomes obsessed with the perfect name and sound for the alarm. And Hoshi tries to get her family recipe for a dish called oden just right - so much so that she abandons her other cooking duties, leaving the crew to starve. Their behavior is also affecting their interactions with one another - Reed and Trip nearly get into a physical fight, while Phlox sedates a frustrated Mayweather so he can run more medical tests.
T'Pol, meanwhile, is the only member of the crew who does not seem to be obsessing over a particular task, and she can't help but notice everyone's odd behavior. She approaches the captain about it, but he remains absorbed in his preface, and becomes irrational and angry when she disturbs him. T'Pol also tries to inform Phlox of the crew's illness, but he is intent on performing an extreme medical procedure on Mayweather. Seeing that the doctor has also been affected, T'Pol quickly renders him unconscious via a Vulcan nerve pinch.
With the rest of the crew unconscious, T'Pol uses Phlox's scans of Mayweather and her own study of the trinary system to form a hypothesis: the radiation from the trinary system is affecting the crew. If they're exposed to this radiation much longer, they may not survive. In order to escape, she must chart a course between the stars. This means passing dangerously close to the black hole and a considerable amount of debris - she will not be able to pilot the ship alone.
T'Pol heads to Archer's quarters and manages to rouse the groggy captain by putting him in the shower and dousing him with cold water. She manages to explain the situation to him, and the two head for the bridge. While T'Pol determines the course corrections, Archer pilots the ship away from danger. Enterprise is rocked by debris, and Archer determines that they need weapons. T'Pol insists that there isn't enough time to bring them online - then she notices that they already are, apparently as part of Reed's new security measures. Enterprise fires its phase-cannons at the dangerous debris, clearing a path, and jumps to warp. The ship is finally out of danger.
Later on, Phlox examines the crew, and determines that there are no lingering effects from the radiation. Archer commends Reed on his Tactical Alert, noting that it saved Enterprise at a crucial moment. In fact, the captain requests that Reed make the new protocols standard procedure. Trip, meanwhile, has lowered the captain's chair a centimeter, making it much more comfortable, and Archer appears to have written a preface he's happy with.
"Singularity" is a well told sci-fi oriented second season episode in the vein of "Dead Stop" with resemblances to the style of the Original Series. From its shocking opening, "Singularity" jettisons Enterprise's often drearily linear storytelling for a series of flashbacks told from the perspective of T'Pol on a ship where the crew is either unconscious or insane. Like the first half of "Dear Doctor," the flashbacks serve to give us a sense of how an ordinary day proceeds on Enterprise, which...
There will be no points awarded for originality this week, seeing as "Singularity" came straight from the book of derivative staple sci-fi concepts. There also will be no points awarded for plot, since "Singularity" has minimal plot. If you're looking for plot or originality, you are strongly advised to look elsewhere; they are not to be found here.
If, however, you want to see weird, nutty behavior - behavior that's as amusing as it is ultimately meaningless - you could do far worse than...
Very early in the original series' run, an episode called "The Naked Time" was made. In it, while orbiting a planet showing extreme gravitational shifts, the crew is infected by a water-borne contaminant which releases most of their inhibitions. Some people got very silly, some rather obsessively morose, and some inadvertently menacing. In the end, we knew a great deal more about some of the lead characters (particularly Kirk and Spock).
It would be easier to forgive the derivative nature of this episode if the beginning were as witty as the second half. We've already gotten one paranoid-crew episode during Enterprise's short run - "Strange New World" - and I've lost count of the number of weird-behavior episodes we've seen on Trek overall, from "The Naked Time" to "Dramatis Personae" to "Bliss," etcetera. This sort of story is a staple of science fiction, and gets over-used on just about every series - there have been...