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Babel reception
Series: TOS
Episode: 2x15
Original Airdate: 1967-11-17
Production Number: PRODUCTION NUMBER
Year: 2268
Stardate: 3842.3
Story by: D.C. Fontana
Directed by: Joseph Pevney
Andorian Ambassador Shras

As the Enterprise comes under attack on the way to a diplomatic conference on Babel, one of the alien dignitaries is murdered, and Spocks' sick father Sarek is the only suspect.

Teaser

The Enterprise arrives in orbit around Vulcan, picking up the last delegation of Vulcans to add to an assortment of ambassadors and dignitaries aboard (including Andorians and Tellarites). The delegates will be attending a conference on Babel to decide the admission of the planet Coridan to the Federation, which is rich in dilithium but poorly defended. As the shuttle of Vulcans arrives, Kirk and McCoy discover that the Vulcan ambassador to Earth, Sarek, and his wife Amanda, are in fact Spock's parents.

Act One

As Kirk conducts a tour of the ship for the ambassador and his wife, he also discovers roots of estrangement between Spock and his father, springing from Spock's election to attend Starfleet Academy over his father's choice of the Vulcan Science Academy. Kirk voices his support of Spock's choices and his personal friendship with Spock to Amanda, who appreciates the sentiment but also warns that the estrangement may be permanent.

As the delegates meet at a reception and Kirk and McCoy discover hints of Spock's childhood from Amanda, Sarek encounters voices of vehement opposition to Coridan's admission from the Tellarite ambassador, Gav. Kirk also learns the Enterprise is being tailed by a mysterious unidentified vessel, and someone within his own ship is in secret communication with it.

Amanda speaks with her husband against their son's estrangement, but Sarek resists. Later, Sarek is again confronted by Gav, and a brief struggle ensues, broken up by Kirk. Gav's lifeless body is later found stuffed up a Jeffries tube.

Act Two

Kirk, Spock and McCoy investigate Gav's murder. McCoy explains his neck was broken in a very concise manner, leading Spock to conclude it can only be a Vulcan execution technique called Tal-Shaya. Kirk then deduces that Sarek is logically the prime suspect, but when he is confronted by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, it is revealed that Sarek is becoming increasingly ill with a cardiac defect, and claims he could not have committed the murder.

It falls on McCoy to attempt to heal the ambassador with surgery, but the doctor has reservations, what with his own limited surgical experience on Vulcans and the requirement of large amounts of a rare Vulcan blood type. Spock elects to take the role of blood donor, risking his own life by taking a dangerous stimulant to induce blood cell production despite Amanda's objections.

However, Kirk is suddenly stabbed by Andorian delegate Thelev. He subdues Thelev and alerts Spock on the bridge, before passing out in the corridor.

Act Three

Thelev is placed into custody. Kirk has survived the assasination attempt, but now Spock refuses to participate in the procedure while his captain is lying in sickbay. In a bold move, Kirk assumes command before he is fully healed, and sends Spock to surgery.

Thelev

Thelev in the Brig.

As McCoy takes blood from Spock and begins to operate on Sarek, the unidentified ship begins to open fire on the Enterprise. The smaller vessel makes unbelievably quick passes and phaser strikes against the larger starship, too fast for Enterprise to return fire effectively. Thelev attempts to escape from his cell, but is stunned unconscious. As he falls his antenna breaks, revealing a transmitter to communicate with the attacking vessel. As the Enterprise continues to fight a losing battle against the smaller and faster ship, shuddering with each successive hit and suffering power losses, McCoy fears he may lose both his patients.

Act Four

As Enterprise struggles against the unknown vessel, Thelev is brought to the bridge, where Kirk confronts him as to his true identity. Thelev is uncooperative, preferring to taunt Kirk and enjoy the view of his fellow ship succeeding over the larger Enterprise. As the power goes out in sickbay, Sarek goes into cardiac arrest. McCoy and Nurse Christine Chapel try to make do with portable resuscitation equipment in an attempt to restart it again.

Meanwhile Kirk, fed up with Thelev's taunts and the other ship's apparently superior tactical ability, does the unthinkable. He drops the shields, then fakes losing all power to lure the other ship in. Enterprise appears dead in space. The enemy ship appears to hesitate, then slowly closes in for the kill. As soon as it is in range, Kirk delivers a torpedo salvo that cripples the vessel, to the observing Thelev's disappointment. The mystery ship then self-destructs to avoid capture, and Thelev commits suicide on the bridge via slow poison.

In sickbay, Kirk discovers that Sarek's surgery was a success, and not only are he and Spock recovering well, but also talking again as father and son. When Kirk orders McCoy to perform an Autopsy on Thelev to determine his true identity, Spock surmises Thelev and the attackers in the enemy ship were Orions, who had much to gain from disrupting the Babel conference so they could continue to loot Coridan of its dilithium. Kirk then slumps, finally too exhausted and painful to continue, but continues to protest as he is led to another empty bed in the ward by McCoy and Nurse Chapel. McCoy, eventually successful in telling Kirk and Spock to lie still and shut up, finally gains his first "Last Word" of the original series.

Background Information

  • The actor playing Gav couldn't see well through the prosthetics over his eyes, thus causing him to raise his head to see. This added to the early mythos that the Tellarites were arrogant.
  • Tellarites will be seen in two third-season episodes, with greatly modified masks.
  • An unused make-up scheme for the Tellarites can be seen in the end credits of several episodes.
  • The matte shot of Uhura appearing on the screen in Engineering is one of the smallest mattes ever used in the series until the view discs in All Our Yesterdays.
  • The fight between Thelev and Kirk is fun to watch, but Kirk's kick move before he is stabbed is, to coin a phrase, highly illogical! Shatner's nauseated look as he sees all the blood from his wound appears very convincing to some, however.
  • The unknown actor who plays one of Sarek's aides also appeared as mirror Spock's Vulcan bodyguard in Mirror, Mirror.
  • This episode introduces the Andorians and the Tellarites. Along with humans and the Vulcans, they are two of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets.
  • The guest actors in this segment are uniformly excellent, with Jane Wyatt and Mark Lenard leaving their mark with some of the most memorable portrayals in the series. John Wheeler, William O'Connell and Reggie Nalder make the most of their small roles, with Nalder's Austrian accent giving a great sense of the exotic to the role of Shras.
  • We learn about Spock's childhood pet, a sehlat, in this epiode. We will meet I-Chaya in D.C. Fontana's excellent animated episode, "Yesteryear"
  • Andorian make-up was very expensive. Three different sets had to be created, for O'Connell, Nalder and for the stuntman doubling for O'Connell.
  • The Orion ship, a convincing piece of animation, is recycled as the missile in "Patterns of Force"
  • The coded message sent by Thelev is the same signal heard in "Miri"

Guest Stars

Shepherd died in a stunt accident soon after his work in this episode.

Memorable Quotes

  • "Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word!" -- Dr. McCoy

References

Babel Conference; general quarters; Orion scoutship; quarterly physical; Rigelians; Saurian brandy; sehlat; benjisidrine; Heart surgery; T-negative; Tal-Shaya.


Previous episode:
Bread and Circuses
Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series
TOS Season 2
Next episode:
A Private Little War
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