This is one of my favorite episodes of the series and I thought it would be nice to hear people's opinions on it. I'll start by giving mine.
"Fallen Hero" is one of those ENT episodes that delivers everything you expect from an ENT episode, much like "First Flight". What we expected from ENT was a look into pre-Federation Starfleet, into how the major relations with their alien partners were forged, and how a Starfleet captain and crew found their way before there were clear rules and procedures for how one should go about exploring space. "Fallen Hero" addresses the relationship with the Vulcans and does so in a much better way than anything we'd seen before.
Ambassador V'Lar herself is, to me, one of the best Vulcan characters out there. ENT gave us the wonderful Soval, but I also rank V'Lar among my favorite Vulcans, even if we only saw her in one episode. She is genuinely interested in learning about Humans, she appears free of prejudice against them, she's not condescending or patronizing, she has the courtesy of thanking Hoshi for giving up her quarters for her. What I like most about her is that she's authentic, she doesn't go to great lengths in order to hide her emotions. It felt to me like her time on Enterprise
was a sort of break from the usual Vulcan stiffness to her. I particularly loved the last scene where she is greeted at the shuttle door by those two Vulcans and she openly admits that it's tiring to always be treated as an official ("Someday I'd like to walk into a room without it seeming like a state visit."
). In addition to that, she delivers a line that echoes the essence of what we know the Human/Vulcan relationship to be: "I sense a great bond between you. A bond of trust and respect, but also a bond of friendship. I think it bodes well for the future relations of our two peoples. "
Watching Archer and T'Pol look at each other as V'Lar says this to them, I could see the inklings of the future classic partnership between Humans and Vulcans. I could see Spock&Kirk, Tuvok&Janeway, even Sarek&Picard in the making, and that's very rewarding, to actually witness Star Trek history.
The episode also gives Archer an opportunity to redeem himself of his usual resentful attitude towards Vulcans. As V'Lar's last remark about the future relations between Vulcans and Humans shows, a lot depended on how Archer handled this mission, and he did exactly what had to be done in order to show the Vulcans that Humans could be trustworthy and resourceful partners. I absolutely loved the scene with T'Pol in his quarters, as she comes to ask for his help. Even if he'd initially been determined to hand over V'Lar to the Mazarites, he actually chooses to trust T'Pol's belief that V'Lar is innocent. He actually acts as a friend and accepts risking the safety of his ship and crew in order to keep her safe. Plus, Archer's very human character is what eventually saves everybody: not taking the logical course of action, he takes a risk instead and uses ruse to buy the time they need in order for help to arrive.
I love "Fallen Hero" because it's the archetypal story of Human and Vulcan working together to achieve success, Human and Vulcan trusting each other's own defining qualities even if they do not understand them. If only we'd had more stories like this.