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 by Joseph Pevney
Written by D. C. Fontana
Featured music Gerald Fried
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 044
Original air date November 17, 1967 (1967-11-17)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Journey to Babel" is the tenth episode of the second season of the original science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by D. C. Fontana and directed by Joseph Pevney, it was first broadcast on November 17, 1967, and was repeated on July 5, 1968.

In this episode, the Enterprise must transport dignitaries to a peace conference, with an assassin on the loose. It 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. Wyatt had been widely known for the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best, where she played Elinor Donahue's mother. On the previous Star Trek episode, Donahue was the guest actor, playing Commissioner Nancy Hedford, who became Zefram Cochrane's "Companion".


On stardate 3842.3, the starship USS 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. Mining rights are disputed by many warring species who have strong reasons for keeping Coridan out of the Federation.

Ambassador Sarek from Vulcan boards with his human wife Amanda. Captain Kirk learns, to his surprise, that they are Mr. Spock's parents. Kirk is also taken aback by how coldly Sarek views his own son, apparently because Spock chose to devote his life to Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy, against Sarek's wishes.

Formal negotiations are to take place on a neutral planetoid called Babel, but preliminary diplomacy begins at a social gathering aboard the Enterprise. The issue is a controversial one and the Tellarite ambassador, Gav, demands to know Sarek's position. Pushed for a response, Sarek transparently implies that the Tellarites want to keep Coridan out of the Federation so they can continue to plunder the dilithium. Gav takes offense at this allegation and the confrontation briefly becomes physical before Kirk breaks it up, 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, the Tellarite ambassador, Gav, is found murdered (his neck having been broken by a method Spock calls Tal-Shaya, an ancient Vulcan form of execution), casting suspicion on Sarek. During questioning, Sarek suffers a cardiovascular malfunction, and is rushed to sickbay, where Chief Medical Officer McCoy determines that he requires immediate surgery. Because there is a shortage of his blood type T-negative, which is relatively rare among Vulcans, Spock volunteers to donate some of his own blood for the operation, using an experimental stimulant for increasing blood production.

Meanwhile, a member of the Andorian delegation, Thelev, stabs Captain Kirk. Kirk subdues Thelev but is seriously wounded and taken to sickbay, Thelev is imprisoned in the brig. In accordance with regulations, despite the objections of both his mother and Dr. McCoy, Spock halts his participation in Sarek's procedure in order to command the Enterprise, as the situation is too critical to leave in the hands of a less experienced officer.

Kirk recovers sufficiently to pretend that he is well, and with the grudging support of McCoy, returns to the bridge to relieve Spock and order him to return to sickbay. As Uhura picks up another encoded transmission from the Enterprise and traces the source to the brig, Kirk decides to stay in command in his weakened state. When Thelev is searched, it is discovered that his antennae are fake and conceal a small transceiver: Thelev is not Andorian but had been surgically altered to look like one.

The unidentified vessel closes in to attack Enterprise, moving at extreme speed; faster than the Enterprise can lock phaser weapons on it. McCoy begins operating on Sarek who is directly receiving blood from Spock. Kirk orders Thelev brought to the bridge and questions him about his and the attacking ship's motives, though Thelev is evasive. The ongoing attack damages the Enterprise and Kirk tries a ruse, shutting down internal power to make the Enterprise appear crippled. This lures the attacker to slowly approach until the Enterprise damages it with a surprise phaser counterattack. 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 and none for defense. Thelev's mission aboard the Enterprise, Kirk and Spock presume, was to sow distrust among the Federation members and weaken the Enterprise (by killing Kirk) prior to the attack. In support of the Orion origin theory (the issue is unproven by the end of the episode, though it is suggested that an autopsy of Thelev will confirm it) is the knowledge that Orion has been raiding Coridan for dilithium and would profit by selling the valuable mineral to both sides in a civil war between Federation members. Amanda asks Sarek to thank Spock for saving his life, but Sarek shrugs and says that it was only logical. Amanda expresses anger at the Vulcan mores, and Spock, noting her temper, asks Sarek why he married her. When Sarek replies "It seemed the logical thing to do," he and Amanda make a loving, touching gesture. McCoy loses patience with the discussion and takes advantage of his medical authority over his patients to order everyone to be silent, then beams at finally getting the last word.

Alien species[edit]

This episode introduced the Andorian and Tellarite species. 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 an arrogant-looking manner in order to see the other actors.[1] 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.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Block, Paula (2010). Star Trek: The Original Series 365. Abrams Books. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-8109-9172-9. 
  2. ^ "Star Trek: Communicator". 136. Official Star Trek Fan Club. December 2001 – January 2002: 69. 

External links[edit]