In a lot of ways, "Carbon Creek" is the "City on the Edge of Forever" of Enterprise.
Okay, call me crazy if you must, but hear me out. When you strip the mystique and the Guardian of Forever from "Edge of Forever," it's basically an episode about traveling into the past and wondering what kind of impact you might have on the timeline. "Creek" strips away one gimmick for another, having it be contemporary Vulcans visiting the past by way of T'Pol telling Archer and Trip a story.
It's worth noting that although I'm not terribly wild about "Creek," there do seem to be fans who are. "Edge of Forever," naturally, is a classic. It's practically the classic of classics, what many fans consider may be the single episode the whole franchise could pin its entire reputation on.
It's also a pretty thin story, once you strip away its bells and whistles, and that's where "Creek" has the edge. Aside from the tragedy of Kirk having to sacrifice some broad he just met, the real achievement in "Edge of Forever" is how all the elements come together into a nifty package that makes you thinks and leaves you in awe. "Creek" isn't quite to that level, but it may be a more satisfying experience.
T'Pol's ancestor (who conveniently looks exactly like T'Pol) is part of an expedition that accidentally gets marooned on Earth circa mid-20th century. Not wanting to pollute the indigenous population with knowledge Vulcans are still going to keep guarded many years later even when humans are fully aware of them (oh, the ironies), the group attempts to assimilate into the culture, settle in like Vulcans always do, hiding their ears and whatnot (the way Spock does in "Edge of Forever"!), building ordinary lives in the belief they may be there awhile.
That's what the episode spends most of its time doing. It's a T'Pol episode that doesn't technically feature T'Pol, a fairly bold choice for a young series. It's also a rare chance to see Enterprise feature Vulcans who aren't suppressing rage over human illogic.
That whole storytelling thing, though, is a pretty important part of "Creek" as well. It's reciprocated by Archer later in the season (the excellent "First Flight"), and what's more, allows T'Pol to relax and warm into her ongoing stay with humans, marking a better developing point in the mission than the preceding "Shockwave." I'd go ahead and mark it as a full-out T'Pol episode if it featured her more directly. Suffice to say, though, no matter how I rate it, "Creek" is worth the visit.
Of course, now that I've gone ahead and compared it to a classic, you may start behaving like some Enterprise Vulcans and suppress some rage of your own...
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J. Paul Boehmer
Memory Alpha summary.