It’s hard to create a Vulcan character, have them stand out, and somehow not get them compared to Spock. It’s a difficult challenge that Voyager and Enterprise tried to take on to varying degrees of success. Part of the issue of trying to bring a Vulcan to life is making them unique but knowing you can’t have them express emotion.
This was the struggle with Tuvok on Voyager, but despite that, they did an admirable job making Tuvok seem unique among Vulcans. T’Pol on the other hand was wholly unique. While she was just as monotoned as the rest of the Vulcans in the series, she was much closer to being her own person than any other Vulcan had been after Spock.
She had a sense of warmth and desire to help Jonathan Archer, usually being a voice of reason. There were even times she’d let her emotions out, albeit briefly, when around Archer. He served as a safe place for her, even if she wouldn’t admit it, as seen in “The Seventh”.
T’Pol was also very progressive in her beliefs, which breaks from the Vulcan norm (at least at the time). She trusted Archer, as much as if not more than anyone else she knew. She didn’t want to belittle those who believed in the practice of mind melds, even when doing so could’ve saved her reputation. She believed in peace with the Andorians and made a real effort to fit in with her colleagues aboard Enterprise, even though her own people viewed them as largely hopeless.
She even embraced the ability to drop some dry wit on people without breaking stride. The most iconic moment of this came after she was done telling Trip Tucker and Archer the story of her great-grandmother and the events of Carbon Creek. Excited, the duo asks her if the events of hte episode really happened, but T’Pol just states she told them “a story”, as they had asked her to do, and slyly implies the whole thing was made up. Of course, the two guys start laughing, but T’Pol sits there, knowing the truth about everything.
It may have been without a display of emotion but it was nonetheless a sarcastic retort.
While there may have been some issues with portraying the character, Jolene Blalock did an excellent job and endured herself to the Star Trek audience during her run on Enterprise as T’Pol. Her character may not have had the most immediate impact but now two decades later, the character stands out as a true reason to check out the show.