Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 10

Journey to Babel

Aired Unknown Nov 17, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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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.

    In "This Side of Paradise", when Kirk accuses Spock of being a devil-eared freak whose father was a computer and mother an encyclopedia, Spock responds with a throwaway line: "My mother was a teacher, my father an . Fontana, the writer of the teleplay, returns to these ideas and builds an entire episode around Spock's family, taking the first officer's internal struggle and turning it into an external contest with lives on the line. With his father providing a literal voice for logic and his mother embodying emotion, the two couldn't provide a better demonstration of Spock's two halves if they were a devil and an angel sitting on his shoulders.

    With makeup man Freddie Phillips somehow meeting unreal demands, the episode spearheads the diversity of the Federation, introducing more aliens than any previous episode, while simultaneously giving us an unknown alien ship, a spy, and a murder mystery. (It's just the sort of episode future Star Trek incarnations would turn into a two parter, but TOS didn't think in those terms). Fortunately, Fontana is at the peak of her powers as a writer and brings all the elements together for a bottle show that's so good, NBC rushed it through post production to get it on the air as quickly as possible.

    Its showpiece is Mark Lenard as Sarak, Spock's father. Despite Lenard, at 43, being only seven years older than Nimoy, the two build such a familiar father/son relationship, it's easy to accept the authenticity of it, allowing it to carry on in the animated series, the movies, and TNG. (It could have been easy for the show to disqualify Lenard on the basis that he already played a memorable Romulan in the first season, but why cast a second-rate Sarek when you've got a guy who can knock it out of the park?)

    Meanwhile, 66 year old Jane Wyatt plays Spock's mother, Amanda. Best known as the mom on Father Knows Best, the melodramatic Wyatt counterbalances Nimoy's stoicism and even has some nice moments with Kirk. (As the second episode in a row with a Father Knows Best guest star, and some TV fans recalling that Eugene Rodney was a producer of the show, it was easy for people to become confused and assume the Father Knows Best guy went on to produce Star Trek. When Gene Roddenberry was attending meet and greets, sometimes people would even say, "Glad to meet you! Just between us, I actually preferred Father Knows Roddenberry would simply reply, "Me too").

    Borrowing music (and the planet) from "Amok Time", "Journey" manages to recreate the Vulcan feel without stepping foot (or spending money on) the surface. And in the end, it surpasses "Amok" in terms of a takeaway. Seeing Spock navigate through his issues with his parents enriches the character in a way that stays with viewers for the remainder of his adventures. Indeed, Mark Lenard reprises Sarek in a prequel of sorts in the animated series episode "Yesteryear". He and Wyatt also reprise their characters in the fourth Star Trek film to tie up loose ends from "Journey to Babel". His final appearance as Sarek occurs in TNG.

    Remastered Edition:

    The original episode was specifically written to save money on effects to allow the budget for makeup and guest stars to be expanded. Fontana knew they could pluck shuttlecraft footage from "The Galileo Seven" and Vulcan shots from "Amok Time". For the new version, however, CBS Digital creates original shots. (Actually, they have to. This remastered effort predates the remastered versions of "Galileo" and

    The most notable change is the revamping of the shuttle landing, which includes several delightful touches and even a minor touchup of the shuttle bay in the live action. Some of these shots show the shuttle, the ship, and planet Vulcan all at once, something the original could never do. In addition to the shuttle, the Enterprise and planet Vulcan, a mysterious enemy ship gets an upgrade as well. Originally an abstract, spinning yellow blob, the new version still has movement but looks more like a ship. An explosion near the end is revamped as well. Most of the remainder of the episode is left alone.