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Carbon Creek (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"Carbon Creek"
ENT, Episode 2x02
Production number: 027
First aired: 25 September 2002
26th of 97 produced in ENT
27th of 97 released in ENT
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 97 released in ENT Remastered  
655th of 728 released in all
ENT carboncreek vulcans
Teleplay By
Chris Black

Story By
Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Dan O'Shannon

Directed By
James Contner
April 12, 2152 / October, 1957
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T'Pol tells Archer and Tucker a story about her great-grandmother and two other Vulcans, who crash landed in a small Pennsylvania town in the year 1957.

Summary

TPols one year toast

T'Pol, Captain Archer, and Commander Tucker toast.

Jonathan Archer, Trip Tucker, and T'Pol are informally celebrating T'Pol's official one-year anniversary on board the Enterprise. Despite T'Pol insisting that she is only carrying out her duties and that a toast or a celebration are not needed, Archer tells her that it is indeed a special occasion considering that the previous record for a Vulcan serving on a Human ship was two weeks; whereby T'Pol corrects him, stating it was only ten days. Archer goes on to tell her that he has been filling out her annual crew evaluation. He points out that in her record he noted that while she was stationed in Sausalito, she took a five-day leave to visit an old mining town in Pennsylvania called Carbon Creek. T'Pol tells him that she went there for personal reasons. Both Archer and Tucker wonder what kind of personal business T'Pol could possibly have in Pennsylvania. She tells them that she went to Carbon Creek because she wanted to visit the site of First Contact between Humans and Vulcans, which in fact did not take place in Montana in 2063, as many believe, but over a century before.

Sputnik I

Sputnik 1 in orbit of Earth in 1957

T'Pol begins the story of the first Vulcan-Human first contact that took place in 1957 in Carbon Creek: A Vulcan survey ship is performing a survey from orbit after the recent Sputnik I launch by Humans. Unfortunately, after three weeks of surveying, they experience impulse manifold problems and are forced into an emergency crash-landing on Earth, or more precisely, near the small town of Carbon Creek in Pennsylvania. Their captain dies in the crash, leaving T'Mir (T'Pol's second foremother) in command of the two other surviving Vulcans. Their subspace transceiver is damaged in the crash and so they have no way of knowing if their distress signal has even been transmitted. To make matters worse, their emergency rations are used up within a week. After five days without food, their situation grows so desperate they decide to investigate all their options and pay a visit to the town nearby. Mestral and T'Mir disguise themselves by stealing clothes from a backyard clothesline and limiting interaction to Humans as much as possible so as to not contaminate their culture.

They wander around town, somewhat confused as to all the things they observe, until they find a restaurant and bar where they learn they can acquire food. Mestral decides to wager T'Mir's companionship with a human, Billy on a game of pool in order to provide his crewmates with local currencies so they can purchase food, much to her protest. After a rough beginning to the game, Mestral rallies back to win.

While T'Pol is telling her story, a much-amused Tucker can't help but question it. He states that two Vulcans thrown into a bar, hustling for a game of pool, and then walking out with an arm-load of TV dinners seems more like an old episode of The Twilight Zone. While he and Archer have a good laugh over this, T'Pol continues with her story.

The three Vulcans, realizing that they cannot go on relying on gambling, begin taking whatever employment they can find while they wait for a rescue vessel to arrive. However, as the weeks pass, it seems less likely that their distress call had been received. Coming to terms with their situation, the three build a life for themselves. T'Mir takes a job at the bar that they walked in earlier, which is run by Maggie. Stron has taken on a job as a plumber, using Vulcan technology when no one else is looking. Mestral takes a job in the local coal mine where Billy works, and becomes very interested in and fond of Human culture and technology, and makes new friends. He even becomes romantically interested in Maggie, much to the dismay of T'Mir, who refuses to engage in a more meaningful relationship with Humans. Stron, on the other hand, is very unhappy about his situation, complaining about the trivial nonsense of Humans he is exposed to everyday, such as being compared to one of the three Stooges; being a warp field engineer, he finds the situation intolerable.

T'Mir states that if they remain there they will die, because Earth seems to be on the brink of self-annihilation. Mestral, however, doesn't believe her, saying that if she spent a little more time observing Human behavior she might not have such a pessimistic view of them. He states that despite their weaknesses, Humans posses great potential, such as empathy and compassion. Furthermore, he becomes more reluctant to take orders from T'Mir, stating that it was about time they realized that their mission is over and that no one will come to their rescue.

Even if T'Mir is not willing to make deeper contact with the Humans, her opinion changes when she has a conversation with Maggie's son, Jack, who shows interest in meditation and astronomy and has a desire to learn. Jack is one of the few Humans T'Mir doesn't find repulsive and crude.

Later, when an accident in the coal mine traps twenty people, Mestral wants to use a particle weapon to free the trapped men. Stron and T'Mir are both initially reluctant to help save the miners because they fear being exposed. However, T'Mir eventually ends up helping Mestral free his friends.

Three months later, a Vulcan survey ship finally contacts them, saying their distress call made it to Vulcan through a Tellarite freighter. The three are taken by surprise at this new development, yet know that the time has come to finally say goodbye. When T'Mir says goodbye to Jack, he tells her that he cannot go to college after all, because he and Maggie can't afford the tuition. T'Mir decides to sell the Velcro found on board the crashed Vulcan ship at a patent office, in order to be able to anonymously help out Jack with his college tuition.

Mestral, however, has decided that he doesn't want to return to Vulcan; not wanting to let the chance slip by to study an emerging species at the verge of countless social and technological advancements. T'Mir, who has gained an understanding for what Mestral is saying, tells Captain Tellus from the Vulcan ship that Mestral had died in the crash together with the captain.

TMirs purse

T'Pol takes out her ancestor's purse

Back on the Enterprise and in the present, Archer and Tucker are speechless at what they are hearing, for this new information shakes their long-held beliefs about first contact with Vulcans to the core. T'Pol says that the event is very well documented in the Vulcan archives, but maintains the ambiguity by saying that she just told them "a story" like they had asked her to.

Later in her quarters, T'Pol takes out an old, vintage purse, holding it up in reminiscence of her great-grandmother's story and time on Earth.

Memorable Quotes

"T'Mir was your great-grandmother? I'd be the last person to question your math, but... aren't you missing a few generations? Sputnik was 200 years ago."
"Don't forget how long Vulcans live."
"Rig-ght...(Trip turns to face T'Pol) Just how old are you? (he turns to face Archer) It's gotta be in her record..."
"Trip - that's classified information."

- Tucker and Archer, discussing T'Pol's age


"Currency?"
"Yes. The paper appears to have value."
"What can I get you?"
"Do you have anything that doesn't require currency?"

- T'Mir and Mestral, upon first contact with a Human


"The game is based on simple geometry. It wouldn't challenge a Vulcan child."

- Mestral, describing a pool game


"Cryogenics... do you suppose they've experimented with protein replicators?"
"Why didn't you ask the merchant? You seemed eager to engage everybody else in conversation."

- Mestral's thoughts on frozen dinners receive an acid response from T'Mir


"You sit for hours each day in front of this idiotic device..."
"I'm doing research."

- T'Mir and Mestral


"I need to go now. I Love Lucy is on tonight. "

- Mestral


"It's unfortunate that you'll be leaving these people without experiencing one thing they have to offer."
"Such as? Alcohol? Frozen fish sticks? The constant threat of nuclear annihilation?"

- Mestral and Stron


"They revel in violence. They devote what little technology they have to devising ways of killing each other."

- T'Mir, and her pessimistic opinion of the Human race


"Do you realize you've just rewritten our history books?!"
"A footnote, at best."
"Footnote!? This is like discovering that Neil Armstrong wasn't the first man to walk on the moon!"
"Perhaps he wasn't." (Tucker groans.)

- Tucker and T'Pol, regarding the importance of the story

Background Information

Story, Cast and Production

Continuity

  • This episode bears some similarities to VOY: "11:59". In both episodes, a main character tells a story to other main characters about an ancestor of theirs on 20th century Earth. In both cases, much of the episode is set on Earth of the past, centered around the main character's ancestor (who is played by the same actress).
  • Although new, lighter-blue-colored Starfleet jumpsuits were produced for the second season, they were not seen until this episode. At first worn by only the regular cast members, the new uniform color eventually became more widely used as the season continued.
  • Trip mentions the statue of Zefram Cochrane, as described in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • This episode takes place on the first anniversary of T'Pol's assignment to Enterprise. It is also revealed that the previous record for a Vulcan serving on an Earth starship was ten days.
  • This episode has one of the few on-screen depictions of a Vulcan drinking alcohol.
  • Mestral is also seen eating a pretzel with his hand, which was noted as a contradiction of statements made by T'Pol in "Broken Bow", regarding Vulcans not touching food with their hands (hereafter, T'Pol herself was seen on occasion breaking the apparent taboo, as well). Taboo aside, Mestral may have simply been trying to act "Human," so as to remain relatively inconspicuous.
  • Although it has been established that Vulcans are apparently not supposed to tell lies, Mestral lies to T'Mir about his "date" with Maggie. Also, towards the end of the episode, T'Mir tells the Vulcan rescue team that Mestral died as well and his remains were cremated, when in fact, he had chosen to remain on the planet. However, before the Kir'Shara was discovered (as is depicted in the fourth season outing "Kir'Shara"), it was not against Vulcan culture to lie.
  • Mestral's Vulcan claim that the Human game of pool is a simple exercise in geometry echoes what Tuvok says to Tom Paris in VOY: "Jetrel".
  • The tip jar at the end of the show clearly shows an early 21st century U.S. $50 dollar bill.

Awards

  • This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form".

Links and references

Starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

References

alcohol; aliens; Armstrong, Neil; annual crew evaluation; astronomy; atomic bomb; baseball; Big Creek Manufacturing and Sales Co.; Bozeman; Buddhist monks; Carbon Creek; Carlsbad Caverns; Cochrane, Zefram; Crosley; cryogenics; deer; distress call; Doylestown; D'Vahl; D'Vahl type; Earth; emergency rations; fakirs; First Contact; fish sticks; Garrett, Mrs.; Gavin; geology; geometry; India; I Love Lucy; ketchup; logic; Mars; mechanical engineering; Moe; Montana; movie; mustard; neon sign; nuclear device; particle weapon; Pennsylvania; Phoenix; Pine Tree; Pittsburgh; pool; President of the United States; protein replicator; pretzel; quartz; satellite; Sausalito; Sputnik I; subspace transceiver; T'Les; Tellarite freighter; Tellarite; Tellus; television; Three Stooges, The; Tibet; Tim; TV dinner; Twilight Zone, The; warp field engineer; waveform discriminator; White Sands; Velcro; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan High Command; Vulcan Science Directorate; Vulcan Space Council; Vulcan survey vessel; Vulcans; warp field engineer; White Sands; Yellowstone Park; Zefram Cochrane's statue

External link


Previous episode:
"Shockwave, Part II"
Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 2
Next episode:
"Minefield"

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