Man what a great episode. I know it was a.. long road.. to get to a Star Trek series that feels like Star Trek, but I'm pretty stoked about it. They took a lot of criticism to heart when it came to updating to 21st Century production values while respecting the setting look and feel of that era. The communicators, the tri-corders, the jelly buttons on the bridge. Fantastic.
The quick fake out at the beginning with the "aliens" seeing the visitors to their planet was cool. There were probably better ways to explain how they got a hold of some warp tech without trying to shoehorn the Discovery reference in there (like they could have just said a ship crashed and reversed engineered it) but it was okay. It just added uncessary extra steps. They also didn't really properly explain why there were only 3 people on that entire ship and why they were all down on the planet and how they got captured. Not a huge deal since we can fill in the blanks about the capture, but you'd think there'd be an actual crew on the Archer.
I also like that the episode mirrored the theme of The Day The Earth Stood Still that Pike was watching at the front. A few minor stupid things like the beaming the formula onto Spock's eyeball... but it's not like pulling weird stuff out of their ass isn't something we haven't seen a million times only to never see again.
All that said, I think it was a solid 8/10. Fingers crossed they aren't just doing this as a bait and switch by having a really strong start that everyone can love and then proceed to start tripping over itself with pointless writing that can make no sense as the series progresses. Being an episodic show makes it less likely that can happen, thankfully.
I thought the Discovery explanation was reasonable and maybe points to them being better about the more typical episodic deus ex machina that is promptly forgotten. I've always figured there is a way to have episodes connect without them needing to be one long-form story and the best way to do that is not have everyone suffer from short-term amnesia.
But yeah, it remains to be seen whether they keep it up. So far all the shows have had decent first episodes...