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Star Trek: The Unique Sequence Revisited: “Journey to Babel”



“Journey to Babel” has a stable suspense plot and a stable household drama plot, although it will get a bit overstuffed attempting to pursue each. Thematically, although, its two strands match collectively nicely sufficient, as rational patriarchy is introduced as a justification for benevolent imperialism and vice versa.

The title is so deceptive it could be thought-about a calculated deception. Although there are quite a few alien races depicted, the promised chaotic dialog by no means materializes. There’s a single path, and its nefarious, rebellious critics are handled in an environment friendly (and entertaining) method.

Father Is aware of Finest

The episode is ready completely aboard the Enterprise, which is transporting ambassadors to the planet Babel. There they are going to vote on the admission of the Coridan system to the Federation. The system is stuffed with dilithium crystals, that are important for Federation warp drive know-how, but it surely’s additionally underpopulated and undefended. That creates alternatives for smugglers and unlawful miners, who can be out of luck if Coridan joins the Federation.

Amongst those that come aboard for the convention are Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) and his human spouse Amanda (Jane Wyatt.) A lot to the shock of Captain Kirk (William Shatner), it seems that Sarek and Amanda are the mother and father of his first officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy.)

Spock and Sarek have been estranged for 18 years due to Spock’s determination to enter Starfleet moderately than the Vulcan Science Academy. Vulcans are dedicated to logic, so the estrangement consists principally of stiff stares and blankly raised eyebrows.

Ambassador Gav (John Wheeler) of Tellarite isn’t glad with such low-key battle; he calls for that Sarek inform him how he’ll vote. When Sarek lastly admits he helps Coridan entrance into the Federation, Gav assaults him. Sarek knocks him again towards the wall with a gesture, as a result of Vulcans are simply that cool.  Much less cool: Gav exhibits up murdered by a Vulcan neck-breaking approach (okay sort of cool.)

Sarek is the principle suspect—although he’s barely accused earlier than he has a Vulcan coronary heart assault. Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Spock decide {that a} difficult operation is critical, and Spock should present transfusions which can kill him. Spock’s mother is horrified, however he tells her she is being emotional. She is aggravated, and who can blame her.

The Federation Is aware of Finest

You’d assume that might be sufficient for one 50-minute episode. However not almost! Whereas Sarek has been preventing and having coronary heart assaults in all places, the Enterprise has detected a mysterious communication. Additionally, there’s a quick, small, unidentified ship out on the finish of sensor vary shadowing them.

Plus! One man related to the Andorian delegation tries to kill Kirk out of the blue (actually, given Andorian pores and skin colour). Kirk knocks the assailant out, however not earlier than he’s stabbed and his lung is punctured.

Kirk’s harm leaves Spock in command. And Spock is such a stickler for responsibility he received’t relinquish command for something, not even to provide his father a transfusion. Not even when his mother slaps him for being a cussed Vulcan dope.

So Kirk decides that regardless of the punctured lung, he’s acquired to get Spock to avoid wasting his dad. He staggers onto the bridge, fools Spock (who could be fairly unobservant at instances) and is about to provide ‘the conn’ to Engineer Mr. Scott when communications officer Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) detects one other unauthorized transmission. She traces it to the brig, the place the Andorian who tried to kill Kirk, Thelev (William O’Connell) is being stored.

Thelev, it seems, just isn’t an Andorian, and has a transmitter in his pretend Andorian antennae. He’s delivered to the bridge, at which level the small ship assaults. It’s too quick to hit, and batters the Enterprise badly, almost killing Sarek as he undergoes his harmful operation.

Kirk sneakily pretends the Enterprise has been disabled, and the small ship comes nearer, pondering it’s received. Then the Enterprise shoots and disables it. Caught, it self-destructs and Thelev poisons himself.

Sarek, in distinction, recovers. Spock can also be superb, and tells Kirk he realized that the small ship’s power signature was Orion. Orions are infamous smugglers; they have been hoping to sow chaos among the many delegations on the Enterprise so as to derail the talks and guarantee continued dilithium theft.

The episode ends with Sarek and Spock apparently reconciled, joined by their mutual superiority to the emotional Amanda. “Why did you marry her?” Spock asks. To which a (logically) rueful Sarek responds, “On the time, it appeared the logical factor to do.”

Father and Federation Know Finest

Vulcan tradition is meant to be completely logical and unemotional. It’s additionally purported to be calm and nonviolent.

In observe, although, what we see of the interplay between Spock, Sarek, and Amanda means that on Vulcan, “logic” means “historically hierarchical.” Sarek, as Kirk feedback, tends to order Amanda round with out a lot regard for her emotions or preferences. As a spouse, she’s subordinate.

Equally, Sarek is upset in Spock as a result of his son has defied his authority. Is it actually logical to count on a toddler to select a profession primarily based on their father’s preferences? Provided that you assume that each one logic is patriarchal logic. The problem isn’t rationality. The problem is the entitlement that Sarek feels is because of fathers.

Sarek’s argument for accepting the Coridan system into the Federation has an analogous air of condescending paternalism. “Underneath Federation regulation, Coridan could be protected and its wealth administered for the advantage of its folks,” he says. Notably absent from that rationale is any reference to what the folks of Coridan do or don’t need. Have they got a say on this determination? Do they get a vote? Or, like Spock, are they merely purported to acquiesce in no matter Sarek, by his logic, determines is the perfect determination for them?

The episode’s creators (author D.C. Fontana and director Joseph Pevney) are a bit skeptical of Sarek’s righteousness. His remedy of Spock appears unfair, and Amanda’s frustration with the logic of the lads in her life is relatable. “They’re each cussed,” Kirk says. Paternalism is rigid and worsening, just like the Federation costume uniforms that trigger McCoy such hassle. Is that this formal rigidity actually the one possibility for justice?

The reply, ultimately, appears to be a considerably reluctant however particular sure. Sarek by no means precisely validates Spock’s determination for Starfleet, and by no means admits he was improper. As a substitute, the 2 are introduced collectively by mutual devotion to a patriarchal paternalism that enables them to condescend to Amanda collectively.

The Orions, in the meantime, function the Federation’s chaotic, unhealthy sons, pushed by greed to unfold anarchy. Coridan wants order; households want order. You possibly can poke enjoyable at these stiff-necked collars, however it’s a must to admit they’re wanted. In 1967, Star Trek sympathized a bit with rebellious children—however provided that their riot concerned going into the improper department of the army service. Extra consequential violations of patriarchal authority, the present says, are merely illogical.

Ranking 7.3/10 SPECS

All episodes of Star Trek: The Unique Sequence are at the moment streaming on Paramount+.

This text was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Noah Berlatsky is a contract author primarily based in Chicago. His e-book, Surprise Lady: Bondage and Feminism within the Marston/Peter Comics was printed by Rutgers College Press. He thinks the Adam West Batman is the perfect Batman, darn it.


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