The Enterprise crew returns home to a massive heroes' reception after their year-long mission in the Delphic Expanse. As they each tend to settling back in, Archer is particularly anguished over choices he had to make to save humankind from the Xindi's diabolical plot — and losing 27 crew members to the cause. He also becomes reacquainted with Erika Hernandez, an old classmate from command school who will soon be captain of the Enterprise's nearly completed sister ship, the Columbia NX-02. Then during a debriefing with the Command Council — including Admiral Forrest, Ambassador Soval and Erika at Starfleet Headquarters — Archer is angered over Soval's accusations that the crew did not do all they could to save some Vulcans during one of the exploits in the Expanse. A resultant outburst from Archer forces Admiral Forrest to order the captain to take a vacation for some much-needed rest.
Archer heads to a secluded mountain to get away from the constant adulation, and to try to find peace of mind. But soon after he arrives, Erika unexpectedly shows up, ready to offer him companionship and solace. While Archer isn't initially happy to see her, she prompts him to open up and express his hurt and anger over the travails and ordeals he and his crew suffered during the past year. He realizes that it will take time to come to terms with his experiences. He and Erika return to San Francisco and the Council reconvenes to finish the debriefing. When they do, Soval deems Archer's actions during the mission necessary, if morally dubious. And, in a rare gesture, Soval even thanks Archer for having done such a great service for both humans and Vulcans.
Meanwhile, T'Pol decides to visit her mother, T'Les, on Vulcan, and invites Trip to join her. When they arrive, T'Les is hardly thrilled to find T'Pol with a human companion, especially given that T'Pol had been engaged in a family-arranged bonding, which she had broken off three years earlier to stay aboard Enterprise. Despite her initial disdain towards Trip, T'Les can't help but eventually like him. And, despite neither T'Pol nor Trip telling her so, T'Les is quite certain the two are in love with each other. Further, she correctly surmises they haven't even told each other their true feelings yet either.
However, trouble looms for Trip and T'Pol being together when Koss, T'Pol's ex-fiancé, learns that T'Pol has returned. Koss comes to T'Les' house to visit T'Pol, and pushes aside her assertions that their engagement is over. He also makes a startling revelation: T'Les' mother didn't resign from her cherished academic post. T'Les was actually forced out apparently as retribution for T'Pol's involvement in the destruction of the P'Jem monastery. Koss also promises that — with his family's influence — he can have T'Les reinstated ... if T'Pol marries him.
Torn, and though curious about her current relationship with Trip, T'Pol decides to marry Koss. When a heartbroken Trip hears the news, T'Les encourages him to tell T'Pol his true feelings shortly before the marriage is to occur. But, as the wedding ceremony begins, Trip continues to keep his feelings to himself.
As for the other crew members, Reed and Mayweather have to defend Phlox in public when xenophobic sentiment is running feverishly high. An altercation in a San Francisco bar is broken up by Phlox himself, however, when he demonstrates a talent previously unknown to the humans — the ability to puff up his face like a blowfish.