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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
As O'Brien is going about putting the station back into working order he sets off an old booby trap that infects the whole station. As more and more people fall ill it's up to Kira to cure the station.
Not a bad episode from the beginning of the series. Looking back after seeing the whole series some inconsistancies are rather apparent but they do not detract from the episode itself. THis episode is designed to highlight the non-Starfleet characters and let them develop a bit more. Kira becomes responsble for the welfare of the station and viewers get a taste of what she is willing to do to get what she needs. Not only will she chas down every lead and detail looking for the remote chances of success but when she is willing to do some things no Starfleet officer would typically condone. By purposefully infecting the only person who can save the station with the virus thats killing it she reveals that she will play dirty to get what she needs. Odo and Quark are also highlighted as their relationship begins to be developed. They spar and bicker and manuver around one another but you can see the seeds of the strange, maybe not friendship but mutual respect, that develops over the next seven years. While not the best episode of the first season it does some justice for the DS9 natives.
After reading the notes for this episode on tv.com, I was able to gain a little more perspective for this episode. Seeing as the entire series was suppose to based on a space station that was build by many alien races over the course of 1000s of years (like the Biblical story, the Tower of Babel) helps to put this episode into context.
Other than that, “Babel” is your ordinary, run of the mill, quality stand alone episode that is the mainstay of the Trek franchise. The crew of DS9 faces a situation that could destroy the station and kill all on board but manage to get out of the situation just in the knick of time. Not a bad episode by any means, but nothing groundbreaking either.
The episode does give us a little more insight into the interpersonal relationships of some characters (Quark and Odo) and does shed some background information on the status of the station.
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