Carbon Creek (Star Trek: Enterprise)
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"Carbon Creek" is the second episode of the second season of the science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the 28th episode overall. This episode features a flashback story as told by the character T'Pol; the audience sees the story about her great-grandmother's experiences on ancient Earth as played by Jolene Blalock.
|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||James A. Contner|
|Story by||Rick Berman|
|Teleplay by||Chris Black|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||September 25, 2002|
One review of the episode have suggested it explores themes of acceptance, and is filled with the atmosphere enhancing characters with warmth, familiarity, and humor.
Captain Archer, Commander Tucker and Sub-Commander T'Pol are having dinner in honor of the first anniversary of T'Pol's assignment aboard Enterprise. During conversation, Archer asks why T'Pol traveled to Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania, before she joined Enterprise. T'Pol reveals that, contrary to human belief that the first contact between humans and Vulcans occurred in the mid-2060s (as seen in Star Trek: First Contact), it actually occurred a century earlier. Tucker and Archer react incredulously to this claim, so T'Pol offers to tell them her great-grandmother's story.
T'Mir is a member of a four-Vulcan crew studying Earth from orbit in 1957, when they witness the launch of Sputnik, the planet's first artificial satellite. A mishap with their impulse manifold forces the craft to crash-land in Pennsylvania. The captain is killed and T'Mir, as second-in-command, takes charge. A distress signal is sent, but after more than two weeks no reply is received. One of the Vulcans, Mestral, chooses to enter a nearby town, and T'Mir reluctantly accompanies him. Over the next few months the Vulcans successfully integrate themselves with the townsfolk, renting an apartment from Maggie, a tavern owner.
One day there is a firedamp explosion in the mine; Mestral helps rescue a dozen trapped miners by covertly blasting through a rock wall with a phaser. Eventually, a Vulcan vessel signals that it will arrive to retrieve the crew. Before leaving, T'Mir learns a human lesson in compassion, and travels by train to Pittsburgh where she "sells" the rights to Velcro. The money she receives is more than enough to pay for the college education of their landlady's son. As the Vulcan ship nears, Mestral announces that he intends to stay on Earth and observe the great advances he knows lie ahead. T'Mir reluctantly agrees, and tells the rescuers that Mestral had died along with the captain. The story ends with Archer and Tucker not sure whether to believe T'Pol's story, but the final scene of the episode is of T'Pol returning to her quarters and retrieving T'Mir's 1950s-era handbag.
- T'Mir was played by T'Pol actress Jolene Blalock.
- An alternate take of one of the captain's mess scenes was filmed, with the actors (including Jolene Blalock) acting as though they were intoxicated. The scene was played straight in the broadcast version, while the "drunk take" was included on the Season 2 DVD release as part of the season's blooper reel, due to actor Connor Trinneer breaking character at the end of the take.
- Carbon Creek was filmed in Crestline, CA. The fictional town of Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania, was shown during the episode to be on Pennsylvania Route 138.
- One inaccuracy that occurs towards the end of the episode is that after T'Mir is depicted with a handful of $50 bills (with designs appropriate to 1957), in the following scene the deposited cash in the jar contains (rather obviously) Series 1996 $50 bills with distinct designs and features not present in 1957.
- Another inaccuracy is that the baseball game attended is in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh.
- This episode contains a number of visual homages to the Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever," including a Vulcan shown working on an electronics project in a kitchen, Mestral wearing a wool cap to cover his ears (as Spock did in the TOS episode), Mestral and T'Mir raiding a clothesline for proper period apparel, and the Vulcans getting menial jobs much as James T. Kirk and Spock got jobs as labourers during their adventure (Mestral and T'Mir are both seen sweeping floors as Spock did).
- T'Mir's sale of the patent rights to velcro is analogous to Montgomery Scott's sale of the patent rights to transparent aluminum in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- This was one of several episodes to feature a minor running joke involving T'Pol's age. Her age would finally be revealed at the end of the third season.
- In the beginning of the episode, Trip Tucker delivers an off-hand remark about there being a statue at the site of First Contact between humans and Vulcans; a reference to Star Trek: First Contact, in which several characters (including the statue's then-future model) discuss the future statue on its site.
- Stron, because of his haircut, has to endure being compared endlessly to Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. Mestral enjoys the simpler pleasures of human life such as baseball games and watching I Love Lucy on TV (Desilu Productions, the show's production house, also produced Star Trek: The Original Series).
- Early in the episode, Trip remarks that T'Pol's story is like "an old episode of The Twilight Zone." The night this episode originally aired, a new version of The Twilight Zone debuted on UPN.
- The episode contains a fictionalized account on the origins of Velcro. In reality, Velcro was invented in 1951 by a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral. The Vulcan character Mestral is named after the inventor.
IGN gave Carbon Creek a "Good" rating with 7/10 points. In 2009, Den of Geek ranked "Carbon Creek" as the second best episode of Enterprise. The praised out the episode gives the characters warmth and familiarity, while overflowing with what it calls 'dry vulcan humor'. A 2016, binge guide by W.I.R.E.D. did not recommend skipping this episode.
In 2015, "Carbon Creek" was included in Geek.com's 35 greatest moments in Star Trek. In 2016, "Carbon Creek" was ranked one the top ten episodes Enterprise, and it was noted as an example of the apparent Star Trek tradition where actors play their character's ancestor.
In 2011, Tor.com recommended "Carbon Creek" as one of the better episodes of Enterprise, one that met the standards of a "good episode" of Star Trek despite, what they note many felt was an "annoying theme song".
- Hunt, James (November 4, 2009). "Top 10 Star Trek: Enterprise episodes". Den of Geek. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
- Stephens, Thomas (2007-01-04). "How a Swiss invention hooked the world". swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- McSweeney, Thomas J.; Stephanie Raha (August 1999). Better to Light One Candle: The Christophers' Three Minutes a Day: Millennial Edition. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-8264-1162-4. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- "About us: History". Velcro.us. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- Michelle (2016-07-27). "10 Essential 'Star Trek: Enterprise' Episodes". TREKNEWS.NET. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- Britt, Ryan (2011-07-06). "Six Enterprise Episodes That Are Just as Good as Your Favorite Star Trek Episode". Tor.com. Retrieved 2019-03-27.