28: Carbon Creek
Partly due to awful marketing from the trailer hyping a historical re-write,
one easily anticipates yet another time travel story here that will continue to
misfire dramatically just as the last two episodes have. Thankfully, "Carbon Creek"
is not time travel at all... it is in fact something much more cool.
What we get here is basically a shift in perspective, where one race's concepts
of an important "first" don't match those of another race's. Pretty good material
for Star Trek to explore, quite frankly.
However, one thing that got thrown out along with time travel was involvement
of the Enterprise crew. Only Archer, T'Pol, and Tucker appear today and only
in a wrap-around dinner table discussion. Meanwhile, Jolene Blalock also plays her own
great grandmother amongst a totally new guest cast for the bulk of the episode.
The actual narrative manages to have a fair share of charm, featuring extensive
location filming, some classic fish-out-of-water dynamics familiar to older sci-fi
anthology episodes, and some pertinent questions for the Vulcans on the issues of
involvement and secrecy. All worthwhile material.
It also reminds us of an issue in the feature film
"Star Trek 8: First Contact". Namely, how "big" and
public does extra-terrestrial contact have to be before it counts as the official
first contact? Spock's visit to the 1930's with Kirk in the infamous
"City on the Edge of Forever" pre-dates this
1950's adventure, but presumably that doesn't count because his alien nature was
Exactly how did Zefram Cochrane's meeting make it into the history books
when so many other previous encounters were dismissed? Perhaps the fact that most
traditional governments were wiped out helped ensure that no one spun massive
debunking campaigns full of misinformation and doubt, while the undeniable new warp engine
gave Cochrane and his team some serious credibility. But the meeting was still
an untelevised campfire party way out in the middle of the sticks. A continuation of
open contact and further visits were probably key elements as well.
Nevertheless, the incident at Carbon Creek still manages to bring into question
the Vulcan attitude of ignoring the Earth until the warp test flight surprises them
into knocking on our door. Something about this doesn't seem to allow the two stories
to fit together as believably as they should.
Still, not bad. This isn't a great episode, but it made for an entertaining hour.
One wonders if the crew of Archer's Enterprise can rise to producing an equally interesting
show when they get to tackle an episode full on as well....
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