Negotiations, Ambassadors and father issues all on the episode that was originally broadcast on November 17, 1967. This is Journey to Babel.
Captain’s Log Stardate 3842.3
After welcoming Vulcan Ambassador Sarek and his wife Amanda on board the Enterprise, Kirk and McCoy are shocked that these are in fact Spock’s parents who are aboard for a diplomatic mission to Babel. However, after getting underway, one of the Tellarite ambassadors is found dead with the evidence pointing toward Spock’s father Sarek.
Soon it is discovered that Sarek has a rare disorder that could kill him and it is up to the estranged Spock to save his life with his own blood. As Spock tries to help his father, there is still a matter of a murderer on board but things get more complicated when the ship is attacked by an unknown enemy. Kirk tangles with one of the Andorians only to be stabbed in the chest just before beating him. The Andorian is soon revealed to be a spy for the Orion Syndicate and one of the Orion ships reveal themselves attacking the Enterprise. After a brief battle, the Enterprise outmatches the enemy vessel much to Andorian Ambassador Thelev’s disappointment. Thelev takes his own life in an attempt to not be caught and interrogated, and Sarek pulls through.
In the end the remaining delegates are taken to Babel and the Enterprise continues it’s journey while Spock, Kirk and Sarek recover from their wounds.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
The main story of this episode is rather forgettable, a simple murder mystery that ends up having a rather obvious solution. Sure, it provides some necessary drama for the time, but it could have been the ‘B’ story in pretty much any episode. The real story is the exploration of Spock’s relationship with his parents and the animosity between him and his father, Sarek.
While the reason is not revealed, it is established that Spock and Sarek have had some sort of falling out prior to the events of this episode causing the two of them to stop speaking. It is abundantly clear that Spock is struggling with this fact and, while he remains stoic, there is a slight sense of pain in his demeaner when his parents are near by. What is interesting is that the two of them are more alike than they wish to admit, both too stubborn and too ‘logical’ to talk, and it is Amanda (Spock’s Mother and Sarek’s Spouse) that see’s this even more so than they do.
The main story, while rather forgettable, does introduce two species to Star Trek canon that would become important to the story of the Federation itself, the Tellarites and the Andorians. These two species would be revealed to be two of the founders of the Federation which also includes both the Vulcans and Humans. While we get to see much more of the Andorian’s in the series Enterprise, it seems the Tellerites are still mostly ignored. Sure they turn up from time to time but there is quite a gap in their representation in much of the franchise.
Overall, this is a pretty solid episode when you focus on the relationship issues and the story of Spock’s family. Sure the murder mystery is fun, but the drama and character development created by introducing Sarek and Amanda is something that continues to resonate through the rest of the franchise for years to come.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We also get a great chance to see Sarek in action as a diplomat which is touched on again when he returns in Star Trek the Next Generation.
- The next time we see both Sarek and Amanda is in the Star Trek feature films, which we will discuss at a later time.
- We learn about Spock’s pet sehlat which will appear in the Animated Series…
- This episode marks one of the few times we see McCoy performing surgery on the series.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: A Private Little War
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Late To The Game 3/11/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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