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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 1 Episode 5


Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM Jan 24, 1993 on Syndicado
out of 10
User Rating
206 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Stardate: 46423.7

Miles O'Brien unknowingly triggers an old and forgotten booby trap that releases a potentially fatal virus throughout the station. This Aphasia virus results in the crew only being able to speak in gibberish, before inducing a coma in the victim.

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  • Transporters When Prologue Counters

    If the concept for this budget saving episode seems like a discarded Star Trek: The Next Generation story, that's because it is. (The idea of an aphasia disease on board the Enterprise was discussed on and off throughout most of TNG's run.) Despite the biblical title, the episode comes across as the second rate filler episode it is -- albeit with some cute moments from O'Brien, Quark, and Odo that make it watchable. ("Anything else I can do for you?") Unfortunately, the babble of "Babel" becomes annoying quickly, and the resolution to the crisis is rushed.moreless
  • Another mysterious communicable disease threatens a Star Trek crew and is stopped at the last minute.

    When running short of ideas for a Star Trek episode, a mysterious life-threatening illness was apparently the filler of choice. This one is of course different than its predecessors in symptoms, but we get the same formula.

    Really, the only charms of the episode lie in Kira, Odo and Quark. Kira reminds us that she is willing to take extreme measures to protect her comrades at arms, even when dealing with fellow Bajorans. And Odo and Quark just offer plenty of that semi-friendly jousting that provided entertainment throughout the run of the show.

    These types of TNG-lite episodes showed up a lot during DS9's 1st season, but became much less frequent thereafter. And a good thing too.moreless
  • A fun episode where everyone slowly contracts the same virus, causing them to speak nonsense.

    "Babel" is very similar to the second episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" except that the virus affecting the crew this time makes them speak nonsense instead of producing intoxication symptoms as we saw in TNG. I have to admit that I admire the actors' abilities to speak such strange sentences so well. I found myself wondering if they had trouble with the lines that could have led to multiple takes.

    The Jake and Benjamin Sisko relationship gets an opportunity in this episode to develop as the commander worries about his son. Avery Brooks handles those scenes well and easily shows believable concern. This is just a hint at how vital the relationship will become in the show.

    This episode also had one of the few early angry, aggressive Major Kira scenes that I didn't have a problem with. Generally, I was not a fan of her character early on. However, in this episode I think she was truly out of options leaving her with no choice but to intentionally infect the one person that could produce an antidote.moreless
  • 'Dumb but fun' just about sums up 'Babel'

    Chief O'Brien - harrassed and overworked as he tries to keep DS9's systems operational - inadvertantly unleashes a virus that causes aphasia, or the inability to communicate, in its victims.

    The plot is a little hackneyed (we've had these 'crew stricken by mysterious illness/virus' storylines many times before), but the aphasia aspect was quite novel and well done (I loved some of the garbled dialogue, such as 'she's flowery units about the lad herself').

    The plot plays out very conventionally I have to say, although it's enlivened throughout by some fun and engaging characterisation, particularly between Quark and Odo, who steal every scene they're in.moreless
  • The Space Station tries to survive a Bajorian virus.

    Very simple episode, this was very evident of the first season a lot of simple episodes that were entertaining.

    Miles is being worked to death and as he is working on a couple of replicator units the mechanism next to it renders a virus that makes human speech unrecognizable. Eventually the virus leads to death as well from a form of high fever.

    This is one of these episodes as well that probably did not require a huge portion of the budget as most of the cast mainly had to speak gibberish and act confused to sell the virus.

    Odo and Quark are immune for the most part to the virus so it's funny to see Odo needing Quark's help "Do I detect a hint of panic". Apparently the virus was installed long ago before the station was rebuilt from a prison of sorts thereby making it undetectable.

    A decent episode overall.moreless
Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

Lt./Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Season 1-6)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Alexander Siddig

Alexander Siddig

Dr. Julian Bashir

Jack Kehler

Jack Kehler


Guest Star

Matthew Faison

Matthew Faison

Surmak Ren

Guest Star

Ann Gillespie

Ann Gillespie

Nurse Jabara

Guest Star

Mark Allen Shepherd

Mark Allen Shepherd

Morn (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • In this episode, we learn that Quark served aboard a Ferengi freighter for eight years. It was during that tour of duty that he learned how to operate a transporter.

    • Goof: When Quark is giving his countdown, from thirty to twenty seconds, only eight seconds passes, as does the countdown from twenty to ten seconds.

    • Nitpick: Odo claimed he knew Quark was lying about Rom fixing the replicators because of Rom's stupidity. As the character of Rom became more developed as the series progressed, we discovered that Rom is, in fact, a mechanical genius.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Sisko: Give my regards to Mrs. O'Brien. Jake tells me she's a wonderful teacher.
      O'Brian: (showing the first signs of the virus) That's good to hear, sir. She's flower units about the lad herself.

    • Quark: There's an old Ferengi saying: 'Never ask when you can take.'

    • Surmak Ren: I sympathize, but I don't think I can help you.
      Kira: All right. Then how about helping yourself?
      Surmak Ren: Meaning what?!
      Kira: Meaning, I've been infected with your virus, doctor. So now you're infected, too.

    • Odo: Rom's an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent.

    • Kira: I suppose this isn't a good time to tell you that number three turbolift has broken down again.
      (O'Brien looks as if he's just heard he's going to die)
      Kira: Joking, Chief.
      O'Brien: Major, lark's true pepper.

    • Quark: Major Kira. Lieutenant Dax. I'd be honoured to have you join my little party. As my guests, of course.
      Kira: What's all this, Quark? You cheat your 1000th customer?

    • Jaheel: Dog fellow distance.
      Odo: Yeah, tell me about it.

  • NOTES (1)

    • According to the special features on the season one DVD, the original concept for the Deep Space Nine station was going to be inspired by the biblical Tower Of Babel, wherein the station was built by various, unrelated alien races, over thousands of years.


    • The Tower Of Babel
      The episode is named after the Tower of Babel, a tower in the Old Testament which was to be built to the heavens. Its construction was postponed indefinitely because God gave everyone an individual language, making it impossible to communicate.