Journey to Babel

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"Journey To Babel"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Star Trek TOS - Journey to Babel - Captain Kirk with Vulcan ambassador Sarek and Tellarite ambassador Gav.jpg
A toast to the ambassadors
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 10
Directed byJoseph Pevney
Written byD. C. Fontana
Featured musicGerald Fried
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code044
Original air dateNovember 17, 1967 (1967-11-17)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Friday's Child"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 2)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Journey to Babel" is the tenth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by D. C. Fontana and directed by Joseph Pevney, it was first broadcast on November 17, 1967.

In the episode, the Enterprise must transport dignitaries to a diplomatic conference.

The episode features the first appearance of Sarek (Mark Lenard) and Amanda (Jane Wyatt), parents of First Officer Spock, as well as the first appearance in the series of two other alien species, the Andorians and the Tellarites.


The starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is transporting Federation ambassadors to the Babel Conference to discuss the admission of the Coridan system into the Federation. The system is a prime source of dilithium crystals but is underpopulated and unprotected, a situation that some would prefer to maintain by keeping Coridan out of the Federation.

Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan boards with his human wife Amanda, ignoring Spock's greetings. Captain Kirk learns that he is in fact Spock's father, estranged from Spock because of his decision to join Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy.

During a reception for the passengers, the Tellarite ambassador, Gav, demands to know Sarek's position on Coridan. Pushed for a response, Sarek refers to the need to protect Coridan from unauthorized mining operations, with which Tellarite ships have been involved. Gav takes offense at the allegation and the confrontation briefly becomes physical before Kirk intervenes, warning all parties to keep order on his ship.

Meanwhile, Communications Officer Lt. Uhura has detected an encoded transmission beamed from the Enterprise to a fast-moving vessel at the extreme edge of sensor range. Shortly afterward, Ambassador Gav is found murdered, his neck broken by what Spock describes as an ancient Vulcan method of execution called Tal-Shaya, casting suspicion on Sarek. During questioning, Sarek suffers a cardiovascular event, and is rushed to sickbay, where Chief Medical Officer McCoy determines that he requires immediate surgery. Because there is a shortage of his rare T-negative-type blood, Spock volunteers to donate some of his own blood for the operation, using an experimental stimulant for increased blood production.

Plans for the procedure come to a halt when Thelev, a member of the Andorian delegation, stabs Captain Kirk. Kirk subdues Thelev but is seriously wounded and taken to sickbay, while Thelev is imprisoned in the brig. In accordance with regulations, and despite Amanda's emotional plea, Spock refuses to continue the blood donation and turn command of the Enterprise over to anyone else, as the situation is too critical.

Hearing of Spock's refusal to relinquish command, and having recovered sufficiently to be able to walk, Kirk returns to the bridge to relieve Spock and order him to the sickbay, intending to turn command over to Mr. Scott. When Uhura picks up another encoded transmission from the Enterprise and traces the source to the brig, Kirk decides to stay on the bridge. When Thelev is searched, it is discovered that one of his antennae is fake and conceals a small transceiver.

The unidentified vessel closes in to attack, moving too quickly for Enterprise to lock phasers. The ship takes several hits from the attacking vessel. McCoy begins the operation on Sarek, who is receiving blood directly from Spock. Kirk orders Thelev brought to the bridge and questions him about himself and the attacking ship; Thelev is unresponsive. Kirk decides on a ruse, shutting down internal power to make the Enterprise appear crippled. The attacker approaches, and the Enterprise damages it with a surprise phaser attack. The disabled ship self-destructs, and Thelev reveals that both he and the ship were on suicide missions; he then collapses and dies from a delayed-action poison.

Kirk returns to sickbay for further care and finds Spock and Sarek both alert, the surgery an apparent success. Spock speculates that Thelev and the attacking ship were of Orion origin, and the speed and power of the latter were consistent with a suicide mission, with all energy dedicated to attack. Thelev's mission aboard the Enterprise, Kirk and Spock presume, was to sow distrust among the Federation members and weaken the Enterprise prior to the attack. In support of this theory is the fact that Orion has been raiding Coridan, and would profit by selling dilithium to both sides in a war. Amanda asks Sarek to thank Spock for saving his life, but Sarek shrugs and says that it was only logical. Amanda expresses anger at this harping on logic, and Spock, noting her temper, asks Sarek why he married her. Sarek replies, "At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do," and offers Amanda his hand in a ritual gesture of affection. McCoy then firmly orders Kirk and Spock to remain quietly in bed, finally getting the last word.


Wyatt had been widely known for the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best, where she played Elinor Donahue's mother. On a previous Star Trek episode, Donahue was a guest actor, playing Commissioner Nancy Hedford, who became Zefram Cochrane's "Companion".

This episode introduced the Andorian and Tellarite species. John Wheeler,[1] the actor who played the Tellarite ambassador, Gav, had difficulty seeing through the eye holes in his prosthetic makeup and was forced to raise his head in a seemingly arrogant manner in order to see the other actors.[2] The Andorian antennae (sprouting out of the back of the head in this and other episodes of the original series) were depicted in the later Star Trek: Enterprise series as coming out of the forehead and capable of movement.[3]

In the final scene, Mccoy ends an argument, faces the camera, and says, "Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word", possibly breaking the fourth wall.[4]


In 1996, for the franchise's 30th anniversary, TV Guide ranked "Journey to Babel" No. 5 on its list of the 10 best Star Trek episodes.[5]

In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter rated "Journey to Babel" as the 15th best episode of the original series.[6] The episode is noted for introducing Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda, who became major characters across the Star Trek franchise. Sarek is the father of Spock's half-brother Sybok (introduced in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), and both adopted Michael Burnham (introduced in Star Trek: Discovery) as an older sister to Spock.[7]

In 2016, The Washington Post ranked this episode the ninth best episode of all Star Trek television.[8] They highlight a tour de force of interesting elements in "Journey to Babel" including Spock's family, the Federation politics, and an acting performance by Mark Lenard as Sarek.[9]

In 2016, Newsweek ranked "Journey to Babel" as one of the best episodes of the original series.[10] They note the episode features the Star Trek franchise aliens, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites in additions to Humans going to space conference.[11] The note the episode is a sort of teaching moment, about the Federation, politics, and Spock's relationship with his parents.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Block, Paula (2010). Star Trek: The Original Series 365. Abrams Books. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-8109-9172-9.
  3. ^ "Star Trek: Communicator". 136. Official Star Trek Fan Club. December 2001 – January 2002: 69.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Logan, Michael (August 24, 1996). "10 Truly Stellar Episodes". TV Guide.
  6. ^ Couch, Aaron; McMillan, Graeme (September 20, 2016). "'Star Trek': 20 Greatest Episodes from the Original Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ EST, Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (2016-01-02). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  11. ^ EST, Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (2016-01-02). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  12. ^ EST, Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (2016-01-02). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-03-27.

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