One of the best episode in the entire history of Star Trek
Aug 29, 2004
This is one of the best episodes of the original series, demonstrating originality by exhibiting many new species and some of the features of the Vulcan culture. Having Spock's parents on the Enterprise as Vulcan ambassador Sarek and his human wife Amanda was a stroke of genius. Most children experience tension with their parents over their career paths, and it was interesting to see the same thing happening among Vulcans. Surak had opposed Spock's decision to enter Star Fleet and they have not been on speaking terms for many years. The facial tensions, intonation and body language of Spock, Sarek and Amanda are examples of excellent acting. They display emotion without really being emotional. Sarek is one of many delegates of different species being ferried by the Enterprise to an interstellar conference aptly called Babel. Once there, they are to debate whether a new planet should be added to the Federation. Emotions are running high and shortly after a confrontation between Sarek and the head of the Tellerite delegation, the Tellerite is found murdered. The killing was done by breaking the Tellerite's neck, which resembles an ancient Vulcan form of execution. Since Sarek knows the technique, he immediately becomes a suspect and is questioned. However, during the questioning, Sarek suffers a seizure and all learn that he has a weak heart. Surgery is necessary, but that requires the transfusion of large amounts of blood, and Spock is the only available donor. Everything is in place for the surgery when Kirk is suddenly attacked by a member of the Andorian delegation. Although he defeats the attacker, he is stabbed in the back. Since command then falls to Spock, he will not relinquish command because the ship is in danger. An unknown ship has been trailing the Enterprise and communicating with someone on board. Since the ship does not respond to hails, the assumption is that it is hostile. Kirk then manages to go back to the bridge to relieve Spock, who then goes to sick bay. The unknown ship attacks, and after a fierce battle, Kirk manages to defeat the enemy. The Andorian was an Orion spy, planted in the delegation to create chaos and suspicion that they hoped would lead to interstellar war. Sarek almost dies during the surgery, but McCoy is able to complete the operation while the ship is under attack. What distinguishes this episode is the (non)emotion displayed by Spock and his father Sarek. While we all know that logic and no displays of emotion are the Vulcan way, they both exhibit emotion while apparently avoiding it. Their reconciliation in sick bay occurs when Amanda is blurting out her demands for each to say thank you and she says, "Logic, I am sick of your logic!" To which Spock says to his father, "Emotional isn't she. " Sarek replies, "She has always been this way." Spock then asks, "Why did you marry her?" and Sarek replies, "At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do." Without question, this is some of the best dialog in the series. This is one of the best episodes in the entire history of Star Trek. We see many new species, understand some of the tensions within the Federation, realize Vulcans experience familial tensions, learn that Vulcans can be very stubborn and find out a little about Spock's family history. A lot is covered in only one episode, but it is so well interleaved that nothing is unaccounted for.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Years before George Lucas knocked us out with his wildly imaginative bar scene inStar Wars(in which a broad mix of exotic creatures mill about),Star Trekdid much the same thing in "Journey to Babel." Serving as a transport for a variety of extraterrestrial diplomats, theEnterprisebecomes a warp-capacity hotel for truly eclectic visitors. (Director Joseph Pevney credits the makeup artist with this episode's impressive array of alien species.) The story finds murder committed aboard the ship and an attack on Captain Kirk (William Shatner), all in an effort to sabotage the imminent signing of a peace treaty. But against this mystery is an even more curious family drama featuring Spock's conflicts with his parents, the Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard), who disapproves of his son, and his human wife, Amanda (Jane Wyatt). Story editor Dorothy Fontana wrote the script after deciding it was time to show us the oft-mentioned mother and father of theEnterprise's first officer (Leonard Nimoy). We can thank her for inventing all the fascinating details of a complicated family relationship that ultimately became crucial to a couple of feature films and even a memorable episode ofThe Next Generation.--Tom Keogh