Identifying what is or is not one's favorite of anything is strictly a personal endeavor. I'm more than sure I'm probably the only trekkie/er on the planet (or universe) that identifies 'Carbon Creek' as their favorite Star Trek episode.
It seems the least expensive episodes ring stronger for me. TNG's Inner Light, ENT's Shuttlepod One, DS9's Explorer's, VOY's 11:59 to name a few.
Carbon Creek wasn't just a "filler" episode made to conserve money to make up for other more graphic intensive episodes, it had a purpose. This episode not only revealed some interesting unknown Star Trek history, but provided a needed back-story for the character T'Pol.
This is a wonderful, heartwarming story. At this point in the series, T'Pol continually takes abuse for being 'Vulcan' even though she has time and time again proved unwavering loyalty to her Captain, the mission and the crew of Enterprise. So why does she put up with this? Until this episode we really had no idea and didn't know much about her background at all.
While she doesn't reveal the 'truth' to Archer and Trip over dinner, she does indicate to us by revealing her "mother's mother's mother's" purse that the story she has told us is true. One can only imagine the impact her grandmother had on a young T'Pol, telling stories of her experiences with humans, etc. Now we can surmise why she volunteered to serve on Enterprise and moreover why she decided to remain aboard when she has had the opportunity to leave. T'Mir was an explorer that ended up gaining firsthand experience with humans while being stranded on Earth in 1957. Humans intrigued her and she passed that curiosity and interest on to her granddaughter.
We see how important education is to T'Mir and we see how she just can't fathom that a brilliant kid wouldn't be afforded an opportunity to receive a higher education. T'Mir's introduction of Velcro technology fit nicely into history as we know it. The first Velcro was completely made from cotton when Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, patented the zipperless zipper 1955. The problem was the cotton hooks quickly stopped doing what Velcro does as they quickly wore out. Nylon had been around since 1935. It wasn't until shortly after Velcro was patented that Mestral discovered that nylon worked much better than cotton (circa 1958) because it didn't wear out nearly as fast with use. Seeing Maggie's expression as she found the money in the tip jar realizing her son could go to college was priceless.
Listening to baseball on the radio, bus rides, 'I Love Lucy', 'Moe', old vehicles, frozen fish sticks, family owned restaurants, the small coal-town atmosphere all added to the realness of this episode. The lighter tone during the encounters between humans and our Vulcans was fun.
It would have been nice for the series to revisit Mestral, but they did not. We can only assume he melded in nicely and contributed to human advancement where he could.
So this episode links Star Trek's future with humanities past and provides back-story for a main character that gives some justification for her continued interest in serving with humans on a star ship. All done with humor and knowledge of our real past that makes this occurrence as plausible as they come in trek.
Well done, Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Dan O'Shannon, well done. So the next time you see T'Pol unveil her Great Grandmother's purse, I hope you give this review a thought and I hope you might appreciate this Star Trek gem little more.