I recently rewatched "First Flight" and I wanted to share my growing enthusiasm for this wonderful episode.
I love this episode because it's a precious piece of Trek history. That's one of the great things about ENT as a series, that it gave us little moments like this.
It was so exciting to witness the beginning of the Warp Program, and to see Archer as he was years before getting his command - a dedicated officer, almost too dedicated, but oblivious as to what it took to captain a starship. I also loved the chemistry between him and Robinson (the actors deserve a lot of the praise for that) and the way their relationship evolved into friendship and mutual respect. This also provides a nice moment in the shuttle between T'Pol and Archer as T'Pol learns about the somewhat strange dynamics of human relations. It's great to see that, by the end of the episode, she actually begins to understand how it all works.
The T'Pol/Archer scenes are also quite powerful in that they show the two growing closer to each other. I loved the fact that T'Pol reaches out to Archer and makes him talk about his distress, even if, as a Vulcan, she herself is not prone to discussing emotions.
Going back to the Robinson/Archer part of the story, I felt that Robinson was a sort of mentor or role model for Archer. In spite of his recklessness, Robinson seemed to have become captain material before Archer. At least he was aware of what the "necessary skills" were and was able to advise Archer on that. From what this episode shows, Archer's association with Robinson seems to have been essential in his transformation from by-the-book commander to risk-taking captain. Which makes me wonder, what made Starfleet choose Archer over Robinson for commanding Enterprise
? Any thoughts?