THREE GUYS AND… A TELEVISON SERIES
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“JOURNEY TO BABEL”
by Dominick Cappello
Star Trek: The Original Series — Season 2, Episode 10
Let us continue with our best of Mr. Spock interstellar tour, starring the incomparable Leonard Nimoy. The USS Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission, transporting esteemed delegates from various worlds. The Vulcan ambassador is Sarek, played by Mark Lenard, who had already portrayed a villainous Romulan commander in the episode entitled “Balance of Terror”. Sarek is accompanied by his human wife Amanda, played by Jane Wyatt. They are the parents of Mr. Spock, but the relationship between Spock and his father is evidently strained.
The Enterprise is en route to the neutral planetoid codenamed: Babel. But, the delegates on board must coexist with each for two whole weeks. Sarek reveals that he was displeased with his son choosing Starfleet over the Vulcan Science Academy. Spock has no interest in spending time with his father. After conversing with Amanda, Captain Kirk deduces that Spock is just as stubborn as his father. How very human of them to be so obstinate. Lt. Uhura tracks a mysterious signal while the diplomats bicker about an upcoming vote to allow a new planet to join the United Federation of Planets.
The source of the mysterious signal is discovered… A rogue vessel is tailing the Enterprise!!!
Sarek seems to be hiding an illness and he is continuously harassed by those who do not favor admission of this new planet. Sarek is pro-admission so to protect the planet from illegal mining operations. His chief opposition is soon found murdered and he is the prime suspect since the victim’s neck was snapped. Spock confesses that this is the manner in which a Vulcan would execute someone. Sarek’s only alibi is that the heart condition he has been concealing would make it impossible for him to murder anyone with his bare hands. Spock show little empathy for his father’s predicament. He is more concerned about the intruder starship that continues to trail the Enterprise.
Dr. McCoy must perform heart surgery to save the life of Sarek, but the real murderer, an assassin posing as an Andorian delegate, badly wounds Captain Kirk. Spock’s rare blood, T-Negative, is needed for the surgery. But, he refuses to relinquish command while Captain Kirk is incapacitated. In the hands of a lesser actor, Spock would come across as cold and a bit harsh in situations like this, but Leonard Nimoy always maintained the character’s dignity. Even with a fresh knife wound, Captain Kirk puts on a brave face, so that Spock will step down and give his father the blood transfusion that he desperately needs.
Kirk intends to hand command over to Mr. Scott, but the intruder starship that is in cahoots with the assassin decides to attack the Enterprise before he can do so. This is the second episode that I reviewed where Scotty is next in line to take command, but it never happens and he never actually appears in the episode. I’m sure this made James Doohan a bit prickly. Dr. McCoy must perform the surgery while the Enterprise battles the intruder starship. Kirk plays possum, then disables the enemy starship, which then self-destructs rather than surrender.
The assassin also commits suicide without revealing his motives. But, once both Spock and Sarek have recovered from their successful procedure, they come to the conclusion that it was smugglers attempting to create turmoil within the United Federation of Planets. In the end, Sarek does not thank his son for saving his life because all he did was act logically. The closest they have to a reconciliation is agreeing that Amanda is overly emotional and quite illogical. That’s about as warm and fuzzy as Vulcans are going get. Mark Lenard, besides portraying a Klingon in the “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979), would reprise his role as Sarek in three of the first six live action Star Trek films. Who else could have been Mr. Spock’s father so effectively?
– Dr. Jelly