8/5/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Carbon Creek"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E02
Air Date: September 25, 2002
Written by: Chris Black
Directed by: James Contner

Premise
T'Pol tells the story of her great-great-grandmother T'Mir who once accidentally crashed onto Earth in 1957 and looks exactly like her.

Review
T'Pol has been on the crew of the Enterprise for a whole year now and, instead of celebrating the anniversary of Enterprise launching on their mission with a crowd of appreciative crew members, Archer and Trip decide to celebrate T'Pol's anniversary with a quiet diner in the captain's mess with a Vulcan who was raised to believe that celebration is illogical. Another win for Team Archer.

During the course of the dinner Archer notes that he'd been snooping into T'Pol's past and noticed that she once visited Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. When he asks her why, she tells the story of T'Mir who crashed into Earth a hundred years before first contact was made with Zephram Cochrane.

In 1957, when Sputnik was launched into orbit, the Vulcans thought it would be a good idea to investigate the first human-made artificial satellite and make sure everything was in order. When T'Mir went to check it out, however, her ship crashed into Carbon Creek. Communications broken, the captain dead, the three-man crew decided that the best (and most logical) course of action was to venture into town and wear silly hats and hair-dos to cover their ears.
And thus the precedent was set
for Vulcans to wear beanies on earth before First Contact
They wander around for a while and eventually decide to walk into a bar. There, they discover that they need currency, or else all they'll be able to eat is bar nuts. And no one can survive on bar nuts alone. So what does Mestral (the Vulcan with the beanie) do? Accepts a challenge from a local to play a game of pool. If Mestral wins, they get money, if the local wins, he gets to go on a date with T'Mir. Obviously, with a superior handle on geometric principles, Mestral is the victor.
And to the victor, the spoils.
They try to settle in as much as possible while they wait for rescue from Vulcan. They take jobs, use their superior technology to help them fix sinks, and Mestral befriends a local woman named Maggie. Maggie is totally falling in love with Mestral. It's so obvious. Especially since she ends up kissing him. I mean, I dunno about Vulcan culture, but that's a pretty clear give-away for me... right? I ship it.

Stron is the third Vulcan in their group. He's the one who has taken a job as a plummer. He's a warp field engineer and he finds the menial work to be intolerable. Especially since he constantly gets compared to Moe Howard.
I have no idea why
Well, things start to get interesting when Mestral lies to T'Mir in order to go to a sporting event with Maggie. The lines are clearly being drawn. Mestral likes Humans and T'Mir thinks they will destroy themselves soon enough. T'Mir's opinion, however, is tipped when she has a conversation with a boy who's very interested in learning and in meditation, just like she is. This is good because when Mestral goes to work the next day in the coal mines, the mine collapses and Mestral really wants to help out the Humans who are caught with a particle weapon. T'Mir, on the other hand, initially says they shouldn't interfere using advanced technology. Mestral, clearly showing an unacceptable amount of emotion (especially compassion) disregards T'Mir's objections and blasts through the mine anyway. T'Mir eventually has a change of heart, however, and helps Mestral navigate the cave. The Humans are saved and the peasants rejoice. (yaaaaaaay.)

Three months later, they finally get a message from a Vulcan ship who says they're on their way in three days. So, now they have some loose ends to tie up. Jack, the boy that T'Mir was talking to earlier, says that he can't go to college because he can't afford it. So T'Mir does the awesomest thing that a Vulcan has ever done for Humanity: gave them THE POWER OF VELCRO. As the "inventor" of this new technology, she gets a jar full of money and gives it to Jack before she leaves. Mestral, however, decides he wants to stay behind. He wants to date Maggie and study humanity. This is convenient, because the inventor of Velcro is listed in history as George de Mestral, so I'm pretty much just assuming he took that identity and claimed Velcro as his own. (Velcro just sounds like a Vulcan technology, doesn't it?)

When T'Mir and Moe leave, they tell their ride that both the captain and Mestral died in the crash, and they take off, never to see Earth again...

Back on the Enterprise, Trip and Archer call out T'Pol on her story. This new information shakes their belief in First Contact to the core. But I don't know why because it technically isn't First Contact if they don't know they're aliens!! (Yes, that really bugs me.) Nevertheless, T'Pol assuages them by saying that they asked her to tell them "a story," which leads them to believe that it was a fictitious story.

However, later on, T'Pol goes to her quarters and takes out a vintage American handbag that, presumably, had been handed down to her by her great-great-grandmother.

Overall Thoughts
Let's talk about First Contact for a moment. If we're to take this episode's definition of First Contact, then First Contact was made with Farengi in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. Also, First Contact with Vulcans would also have been made in the 30's when Spock chased McCoy through the Guardian of Forever in "City on the Edge of Forever." "Carbon Creek" was not, I repeat not, a First Contact in any respect (well, unless you want to take time travel out of the equation). It's perfectly alright that the story happened, but unless they shook hands with humans and said "hi, we're Vulcans," then it's not First Contact.

Otherwise, the story was quite charming. I love seeing aliens try to interact with primitive humanity while trying to remain inconspicuous. I'm Steve Beaudry and I approve of this episode.