“Space, The final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”
Journey to Babel
Season 2, Episode 10
Original air date: November 17, 1967
The Enterprise is hosting 14 ambassadors from different planets as they make their way to the neutral planet Babel for a conference to determine if the dilithium rich Coridan system should be admitted to the Federation. Kirk mentions that tensions are high on this subject as he and McCoy head to the shuttle hanger to greet Vulcan ambassador Sarek, with McCoy complaining about the uncomfortable dress uniforms along the way. Sarek arrives and is welcomed by Kirk, Kirk introduces him to Spock whom he ignores and McCoy whom he greets. They are introduced to Sarek’s wife Amanda and Kirk tells them that Mr. Spock will give them a tour of the ship; Sarek requests a different guide. When Kirk tells Spock since he’s not giving the tour he can beam down to the planet and visit his parents, Spock reveals to Kirk and McCoy’s great surprise that Sarek and Amanda are his parents.
Kirk conducts the tour, as they enter engineering Amanda sees Spock and breaks off to speak with him about his falling out with his father. When they join Kirk and Sarek it is made plain that the rift was caused 18 years earlier when Spock chose Starfleet over the Vulcan Science Academy. Amanda and Kirk have a short aside where they coyly agree that Spock and his father are both stubborn men. Uhura alerts Kirk to a strange signal that she has picked up. At a reception for the Ambassadors we see representatives of the various Federation species; Vulcans, Tellarites, Androrians and other unnamed species. Gav the Tellarite Ambassador begins to argue with Sarek, but it is defused by Kirk, meanwhile McCoy is trying to get childhood dirt on Spock from his mother. She mentions that Spock had a pet Sehlat which she described as a fat teddy bear, amusing Bones. Spock corrects McCoy’s assumptions stating that they are alike only if teddy bears are alive and have six-inch fangs.
On the bridge, they trace Uhura’s previous signal to an unknown vessel, a small ship but of no known design. The Enterprise makes chase. In their quarters Sarek chastises Amanda for embarrassing Spock, Amanda tries to get Sarek to admit he’s proud of his son but he simply states that a man in Spock’s position can’t be embarrassed in front of his crew. Flashing back to the bridge the small vessel plays cat and mouse games with the Enterprise, it’s much faster and more maneuverable, making passes by the Enterprise and then shadowing it again. We go back to Sarek who has come back to the reception room and is popping a pill when he’s confronted again by Gav. They begin to argue over the Coridan issue and Gav tries to physically assault Sarek but is easily pushed away – Kirk comes in and nips things in the bud.
We next see Gav, hanging upside down in a hallway, obviously dead. A security man alerts Kirk who is in is quarters. Kirk, McCoy and Spock investigate the body and McCoy mentions the neck was snapped in a very efficient manner, Spock confirms that it was done using the Tal-Shaya technique used by Vulcans. Given the recent confrontation, Sarek is the most logical suspect. The three arrive in Sarek’s quarters and his only alibi is private meditation which doesn’t look very good. As they continue to question him, he collapses and is taken to sickbay.
We next see Kirk and Spock back on the bridge where Spock won’t admit to any emotional worry about his father. The ship that’s been following them shows at least one life sign but it can’t be determined. Uhura picks up a signal from the ship that Spock can’t decode, except they realize it’s being sent to someone on the Enterprise. Back in sick bay, long story short; Sarek had a heart attack, his third, one of them coming when Gav was killed so it couldn’t have been him. He needs an operation, needs donor blood, only Spock has the right type but can’t produce enough, they find an experimental drug that helps a body produce massive amounts of blood but it’s too dangerous to use on Sarek, so Spock volunteers to take the drug himself and be the donor. At the same time, Kirk is in a hallway where he is in the middle of a fight with an Andorian. Kirk is stabbed but manages to knock the opponent unconscious and radio Spock for help as he passes out. Kirk is badly hurt and recovering in sickbay, so Spock now refuses to participate in the operation on his father because he must now be in command of the ship and precarious circumstances make him unable to turn that command over to Scotty or another less experienced officer.
Spock and the senior Andorian Ambassador question Kirk’s attacker but get no answers. Amanda goes to Spock to beg him to help his father. Spock explains his reasoning and even admits that his father would approve of his logic in the matter. Amanda tries to get to Spock emotionally, mentioning the taunting he got from the other Vulcans children as a child, but Spock remains stoic with just the smallest hint of sadness in his eyes. Amanda slaps Spock across the face and leaves. Meanwhile, Kirk has awakened and is told the situation. He is determined to relieve Spock and show that he’s alright, so he heads to the bridge and McCoy certifies that he’s been cleared for duty. Spock heads to sickbay with McCoy to save his father. Just then the Alien signal starts again and is traced to the Andorian prisoner. As McCoy starts the operation Spock has a revelation about the small ship and wants to get up and tell the Captain, but nurse Chapel gives him an anesthetic putting him to sleep. As the prisoner is searched, he tries to escape and is stunned by a phaser, which knocks one of his antennae off, concealing a transceiver inside. Upon this discovery, the small ship begins to attack the Enterprise, while it only has standard phasers, its speed allows it to fire on the Enterprise and move away without being hit. This happens over and over, complicating the delicate surgery taking place in sickbay. Even at one point knocking out power. The prisoner is brought to the bridge but still won’t talk, he’s convinced the Enterprise will be destroyed. Kirk has power cut to half the ship and they start to float, seemingly dead. The smaller ship slows down and comes closer for a kill shot – this allows Chekov to get off a phaser shot that incapacitates the enemy ship. When Kirk tries to open a channel, the ship self-destructs and the prisoner says that was its orders, he too then takes a hidden poison caplet and also dies.
In sickbay both Sarek and Spock wake up and Kirk goes to see them both. Spock tells Kirk that he realized the ship must be Orion and because it was on a suicide mission it could afford to move that fast since it had no intention of needing energy to get home. Sarek figures they wanted to sow discord between the Ambassadors keeping Coridan out of the Federation so they could profit off the system. Amanda asks Sarek to thank Spock, but he says that illogical. She rails against Logic and Spock asks why his father would marry such an emotional woman, Sarek responds that “it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.” Kirk tries to leave, but McCoy, knowing his show of health to Spock was a ruse, orders him back to bed. Spock tries to get up, but McCoy orders him to bed as well. He tells both of them to “Shut Up!” and the episode ends with McCoy having a huge smile on his face.
Known to Fans As:
Meet the Parents
Notable Guest Stars:
Jane Wyatt as Amanda: Wyatt left a cushy life as the daughter of New York Socialites to pursue acting. Early in her career she was cast as the female lead, Sondra, in Frank Capra’s Oscar Nominated, Lost Horizon way back in 1937. She split her time between Broadway and film throughout the late 1930’s to early 1950’s appearing in pretty big films like Cary Grant’s None but the Lonely Heart and the Gregory Peck starring Gentleman’s Agreement. It is when she moved to television that she got her most recognizable part – at least to the Baby Boomers– when she played the mother of the Anderson family on Father Knows Best. She reprised her role as Spock’s mother Amanda in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and continued to do small TV and movie roles into the early 1990’s. Wyatt died in 2006 at the age of 96!
William O’Connell as Thelev (The Bad Guy): O’Connell is hard to see under that blue make-up but he became one of Clint Eastwood’s stable of players, along with; on again, off again girlfriend Sandra Locke and father of Juliette, Geoffrey Lewis, in almost every movie he made from the late 1960’s to the late ‘80’s. Paint your Wagon, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Every Which Way but Loose, High Plains Drifter – the guy got a whole career out of being Clint’s buddy. O’Connell is 86 years old and hasn’t acted in almost thirty years.
John Wheeler as Gav: Wheeler is another “that guy” who appeared in everything. His only real recurring role was as the bartender in the saloon on Bonanza for almost the whole run. One of Wheeler’s last appearances was in Beverly Hills 90210 (the original) back in 1989 but he is still alive and about to be 90.
First time we meet Sarak and Amanda.
First time we see Andorians and Tellarites.
We find out Sarak is 102 but that’s not considered even normal retirement age for a Vulcan.
First time we learn about Spock’s childhood, his pet and Tal-Shaya.
Vulcan Nerve Pinches: No
Damn it Jim: “I finally get the last word!”
Kirk’s Shirt Off: Yes, when security radios Kirk about Gav’s death he is shirtless in his quarters.
Aged the Best:
Spock’s battle with his human and Vulcan sides. When he turns from his mother, he has a subtle sadness in his face without an actual frown or tear – really great acting from Nimoy.
They apparently spent so much money on the costumes and make-up that they had Sarek use a shuttle (where they reused footage from The Galileo Seven) because they couldn’t afford the transporter effects. But they do look pretty good even in HD, especially the Andorians – the Tellarites were a little gorilla suit-ish -but really for this show so far, they were great.
This was the first major fight scene where the stunt men where not apparent.
Aged the Worst:
Kirk is clearly stabbed in the Kidneys yet McCoy says his lung was punctured and the knife barely missed his heart.
Once again, the exaggerated lunging around as the camera tilts back and forth. I don’t really remember caring when I was a little kid watching these for the first time, but it’s been so parodied in pop culture (probably first by the Belushi – Kirk, Chase – Spock SNL skit) that it’s just too damn noticeable to ignore.
Kirk kind of snaps at Uhura, don’t snap at her she’s doing the best she can!
In full HD with a close up on McCoy’s face we see the limits of mid-century dentistry.
A+, I love Spock and Vulcans so any Spock centric episode has me.
Tomorrow’s Episode: The Trouble with Tribbles