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Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 10

Journey to Babel

Aired Unknown Nov 17, 1967 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
176 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Spock meets his estranged father when the Enterprise escorts a group of ambassadors to a conference on the planet Babel.

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  • Spock must deal with his parents when the Enterprise escorts a group of ambassadors, including Spock's father, to a conference on the planet Babel.

    Star Trek scores again with its second Vulcan episode of the season. This time the writers focus on Spock's relationship with his parents. The fact that Spock is half human is a great source of drama for many Star Trek episodes, with the fans of Trek able to identify with Spock's internal battle between logic and emotion. This episode ups the ante, adding Spock's Vulcan father to serve as a literal voice of logic and Spock's human mother to serve as a voice for emotion and then putting Spock in the middle with the fate of the Enterprise in the balance. The producers tracked in music tracked from "Amok Time", but the music fits the episode so well you'd swear it was one of Trek's best original scores.moreless
  • A sublime, character-driven episode ...

    "Journey to Babel" is deservedly one of the all-time beloved episodes of the STAR TREK fan base. This is probably because this is a Spock-centric story (always popular with the Trekkers) that reveals important back-story about Spock's family and childhood. We also get to see Spock make "logical" choices that would make any human blanch, most notably his refusing to give his father a bloood transfusion because Starfleet regulations say that he cannot relinquish command of the Enterprise for personal reasons.

    It's the winning performances of Leonard Nimoy, Mark Lenard and Jane Wyatt that carry this episode through - though the political intrigue sub-plots don't hurt a bit, either.

    One of the best of the second season.moreless
  • A superb piece of drama-in the classical sense.

    Probably the best stay-aboard-the-Enterprise episode of all three seasons. Story, direction, casting, and acting all go together to make this a superb piece of drama-in the classical sense. Spock's teaser just before the title sequence break-"Captain, Ambassador Sarek and his wife ARE my parents."-would have pulled in any remotely interested watcher of Star Trek who was, perhaps, considering watching something else that Friday evening, back on November 17th 1967. In fact, the whole string of dialog leading up to that final line is effectively designed to pique the viewer's curiosity. Why doesn't Sarek return Spock's Vulcan salute? I mean, he gives it to McCoy, who only makes a half-assed attempt to return it. And why would the Ambassador prefer another guide to show him around the Enterprise? Then, there are the little touches-details of direction and acting that still catch me off-guard nearly every time I watch it. Gav, the Tellarite Ambassador-slightly inebriated and undoubtedly looking for a fight-confronts Sarek at the bar (Star Wars cantina-style) for a rematch. When Gav goes for him, cool-breeze Sarek performs his little Aikido/Vulcan/Jedi deflection move that shows us that Gav would never have stood a chance-"Gentlemen, gentlemen! Whatever arguments you have…!" Then, later, when McCoy, Spock et al are in sickbay having their discussion about Vulcan/Human blood transfusion matters, the scene cuts to a fight-already in progress-between Kirk and (who we later learn to be a faux) Andorian Aide to Ambassador Shras. Even after 30-plus years, it still catches me by surprise. It's the kind of scene change we might see in a Tarantino film today.

    And speaking of casting-where did they dig up that (lovely) old fossil? Reggie Nalder, perfectly believable as an alien-in any definition of the word-what with his old-world Transylvanian accent (actually it's Austrian/Hungarian; I looked him up), and his face-so full of time-worn character: "My people are a violent race, but we've no quarrel with Captain Kirk." Nalder's characterization is just one more subtle layer of icing on the cake that makes this such an exquisite episode. I even like the make-up job. It worked for me back then, and it still does today; I don't even care that his antennae don't move. Even ("Daddy, that guy's a piggy!" as my 4-year-old son pointed out) Gav doesn't bother me too much. But those two little golden-skinned Ambassadors-you remember-the ones with the Shriner's hats who are making mixed drinks with those silly little colored ice-cubes? Come on!moreless
  • During the filming, one of the Andorian’s antennae falls off. They just proceed and write it into the script like it was meant to happen

    The tension between Spock and his father was well played and well represented. No wonder after this, they developed it even further when we got to the movies. Very good plot and great pacing for all the other aspects of the script as well. "Humans smile with so little provocation". What a great line and embarrassingly true. On a side note, I think this is the only episode where that blasted shuttecraft performs beautifully without running out of fuel or gets wrecked or crashes. Those things are death traps!moreless
  • Spock is reunited with his human mother and estranged Vulcan father as the Enterprise transports a group of ambassadors to a peace conference, but there is also an assassin on board. A fan favourite episode...moreless

    This episode is a favourite amongst many fans.

    This is the first time we meet Sarek, Spock's father, played my Mark Lenard. He puts in a good performance, and I found him very believable.

    Another of the episode's merits is the array of alien races seen. The episode does not include a beam down to a planet, which saved money, so instead more was seemingly spent on the alien designs.

    Some of the alien costumes and makeup are quite good (I like the Andorians, even if they do look very '1960s'), but I agree with another reviewer that one race, the Tellarites, has absolutely terrible makeup, and is quite obviously a mask.

    The story unfolds well, and has several plots that all affect and hinge on each other. There is the hunt for the assassin, but also Spock giving blood to Sarek, Kirk being badly injured in an attack, and several other strands which all interact with each other. I liked this multi-plot tale, and found it more pleasing than some of the more simple outings of the season.

    As good as the episode is, it probably wouldn't make my personal Top 10. Not because it's bad, but simply because there are other stories that I like better. I'm also fonder of stories that involve beaming down to planets.moreless
William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Jane Wyatt

Jane Wyatt


Guest Star

John Wheeler

John Wheeler


Guest Star

Reggie Nalder

Reggie Nalder


Guest Star

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Nurse Christine Chapel

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Trivia: Sarek is 102 years old.

    • When Thelev attacks Kirk in the corridor, listen carefully to the sound of them fighting and you will hear a totally out of place sound that sounds something like a bongo drum being hit or the sound a cartoon might make when a coconut falls on someone's head. A sort of hollow percussion sound that's totally out of place. (This is removed in the remastered version.)

    • When Kirk orders engineering to cut both starboard and port power, the external shot of ship a moment later shows all of the external lights still on and the engines still churning. On the shots of the bridge, all the equipment is still working, so that sure wasn't much of a power shutdown.

    • When the Andorian stabs Kirk, it is in his right lower back. No blood is seen and later Bones says Kirk is stabbed in his left lung above the heart.

    • The Tellarites have boots on even though the Tellarites actually have hooves.

    • The assassin politely takes time out to adjust his tunic, giving Kirk time to recover from his attack. Then he stabs at Kirk with his knife in his left hand - there's a camera cut to Kirk kicking him and the knife has jumped instantaneously to his right hand.

    • When Sarek goes into the reception room to take his pill, the Tellarite holding the drink has it in his left/right/left hand depending on the camera shot.

    • After Amanda leaves Spock's cabin, he goes up to the door and touches it in contemplation. How does the door know not to open?

    • For some reason Kirk has the mirror in his cabin at waist height. He has to squat down to adjust his uniform at the beginning of the episode. Exactly what does he look at in a mirror at that height?

    • In one scene the Enterprise's phasers were pink instead of blue. (This is fixed in the remastered version.)

    • In one scene on the bridge, the space sensor array was not moving.

  • QUOTES (14)

  • NOTES (7)

    • Kirk knew that Spock's father was an ambassador ("This Side of Paradise"), that Spock's family was "important enough" to have T'Pau officiate at his wedding ("Amok Time"), and of course, that Spock is half Vulcan and half Human. Given the seeming rarity of Humans and Vulcan/Human marriages, it seems unusual that Kirk doesn't see a Vulcan ambassador with a Human wife and not make the natural conclusion.

    • It is revealed that Spock had a pet sehlat, a sabretooth tiger-like creature that would be later shown on the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear" and the Enterprise episode "The Forge."

    • This episode marks the first time that the four founding members of the Federation - Terrans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites - are all seen together.

    • In addition to introducing Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda, this episode also introduces two familiar Star Trek aliens: the Andorians and the Tellarites. Ironically, by not going down to a planet in this episode, the producers were able to spend more of the episode's budget on alien make-up.

    • Mark Lenard previously played the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror".

    • Desilu No: 5149-44.

    • Though Sarek doesn't appear in any more episodes of classic Trek except the non-cannon animated episode "Yesteryear", he appears in the Star Trek III, IV, and V movies and makes two guest appearances in The Next Generation. Amanda also reappears in Star Trek IV.