Throwback Thursday – Star Trek: Enterprise’s Carbon Creek (Season 2, EP 2)
On this edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re reviewing Star Trek: Enterprise’s Carbon Creek.
We open Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Carbon Creek (season 2, episode 2) on T’Pol’s one-year-anniversary with the Enterprise. Tripp is “aw shucks-ing” his way to a story about one of T’Pol’s ancestors who was apart of the first unofficial group of Vulcans to land on Earth. Unlike the official first contact, the humans this time around were unaware they were dealing with aliens.
Welcome to Vulcan Piece Theater.
So four Vulcans are on a ship spying on Sputnik, have you heard this joke before? The four end up crashing due to a malfunction on their ship, but one of the Vulcans dies on impact. Anyone wanna take a guess what his rank was? If you guessed captain, you’d be right.
Your prize? Nothing.
So naturally, the captain’s death put T’Pol’s second foremother (great grandmother), T’Mir in charge. The Vulcans eventually make their way into Carbon Creek and start to explore the city, while being exposed to baseball and walking into a small-town bar.
Mestral, one of T’Mir’s colleague’s tries to make a wager over a game of pool. The bet? Money for T’Mir’s time. The hope is that the group can use the cash to eat if they win. Apparently Mestral discovered one of humanity’s oldest professions in the process.
Eventually, the three settle into normal jobs. Becoming coal miners, plumbers, and the like. T’Mir is ultra pessimistic about the crew’s time on the planet but Mestral sees the hope for humanity, even starting to date one of the local townswomen, Maggie. Two guesses how T’Mir feels about that.
After Mestral returns from seeing a baseball game with Maggie in secret, T’Mir tries to shut down any budding romances. That goes about as well as you think it would when two willing people are interested in each other. A chance encounter with Jack, Maggie’s son, has T’Mir starting to appreciate humanity.
After a cave-in, T’Mir and Mestral team up to save a bunch of minors who got stuck in a cave-in, despite both having different views on humans. After Mestral saves the stuck minors, the city embraces him as a hero. Three months later the group finally receive word from the Vulcans; they’re coming to rescue them.
T’Mir finds out that Jack, who definitely has a thing for older women, won’t be going to college. As the two had actually bonded she’s noticeably upset that he can’t afford to go to college. A drastic yet underdeveloped character change for T’Mir. She takes the initiative to try to get Jack into school by selling the Vulcan creation of hook-and-loop fasteners; aka Velcro.
Mestral opts to stay on Earth, with T’Mir and Stron (the third surviving Vulcan) with the pair choosing to keep his decision to stay on Earth a secret. Tripp has a minor freakout when T’Pol finishes the story, only for her to slyly imply the whole thing was nothing more than a “story.” A story that may of in fact been true after all.
Let’s go to the scores.
Acting: Not only are we able to delight in Trip Tucker and Jonathan Archer’s brief scenes, but Star Trek alum J. Paul Boehmer steals the show as Mestarl.
Writing: This episode suffers from being too short, with too little time to see the development and change of the Vulcans more organically.
Design: The crew really nailed the dirty feel that a small town coal mine had.
Special Effects: Very little in the way of special effects, and what was used was used to effect.
Enjoyability: A truly interesting idea though one could argue that re-writing Trek canon was a bit much for a one-off story.
Overall: 23/25 (92%)
A wonderfully unique and interesting episode that sure, does challenge Trek canon but is still extremely well crafted. The only issue is that it should’ve been a movie or two-parter, not a singular episode.