Journey To Babel

So, I have this episode on DVD.  And I watched it *again* the other night.

And I decided to go through the episode and make random comments about it.  Because … well … I can.  I do love this episode, but still I can find plenty of things to bring up 😀

If you’d like to follow along, here’s the transcript. Starting at the beginning:

KIRK: The Vulcans are the last delegates we have to pick up. As soon as we get them aboard, we’ll be able to relax.

Haha, *relax* once the Vulcans are on board?  What are you thinking??

KIRK: My First Officer, Commander Spock.
SPOCK: Vulcan honours us with your presence. We come to serve.
SAREK: Your service honours us, Captain.

Buuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn …
Seriously, though, you cannot even look at your own son?

SAREK: Doctor. My aides and she who is my wife. (He holds out his right hand with two fingers extended, and a human woman steps forward to touch them.)

Seriously guys … the finger-touching thing … it’s like you’re stage actors.  Making it very clear the audience can see what you’re doing.  Like … just relax the arms a little bit.  Just a little. It just doesn’t look natural.


Every time they do it!

SPOCK: Humans smile with so little provocation.
AMANDA: And you haven’t come to see us in four years, either.
SPOCK: The situation between my father and myself has not changed.
SAREK: My wife, attend.
KIRK: Mister Spock. A moment, if you please.
SPOCK: Yes, Captain?
KIRK: Explain the computer components.
SAREK: I gave Spock his first instruction in computers, Captain. He chose to devote his knowledge to Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy.
SPOCK: If you will excuse me, Captain. (leaves)

Ooooohh, awkwardness.
First off, Spock, you smile all the time.  Don’t even try to deny it.  We have photographic evidence.
Second … parental guilt-trip!
You don’t call, you don’t write … would it kill you to …blah blah blah.
Then … seriously, Sarek?  Chill a little bit.  Let your wife talk to your son for a minute, alright?
And finally … way to bring the awkward, Kirk.  Only you could make a room full of Vulcans totally uncomfortable.

SAREK: It does not require pride to ask that Spock be given the respect which is his due. Not as my son, but as Spock. Do you understand?
AMANDA: Not really, but it doesn’t matter. I love you anyway. I know. It isn’t logical.

How the scene really goes:
AMANDA: “I love you anyway.”
SAREK: *Roll eyes*
AMANDA: “I know, it isn’t ‘logical.'”
SAREK: *Smile*

SPOCK: Vessel changing course, heading toward us at high warp speed. KIRK: Ready main phasers.
CHEKOV: Phasers armed and ready, sir. (The bright dot on the viewscreen whizzes past them.)

More like … *over* them.

GAV: Vulcan, I would speak to you.
SAREK: It does seem unavoidable.

I think I love you, Sarek.

JOSEPH: Security to Captain Kirk.
KIRK: Kirk here.

Put on your shirt, it’s hard to take this scene seriously with you standing around with your pants halfway up your torso.  …. Dramatic zoom-in …

KIRK: How was he killed?
MCCOY: His neck was broken. By an expert.
KIRK: Explain.
MCCOY: Well, from the nature and location of the break, I’d say the killer knew exactly where to apply pressure to snap the neck instantly.

Great explanation.  Because, clearly, Kirk didn’t understand your use of the word “expert” so you had to define it some other way.
Really?  How about mentioning what the nature and the location of the break *is*?

KIRK: Who aboard would have that knowledge?
SPOCK: Vulcans. On Vulcan, the method is called tal-shaya. It was considered a merciful form of execution in ancient times.

Ummmm … really now?  From McCoy’s lack of explanation there, this is pretty much a stretch.  That makes *you*, Spock, pretty suspicious right now.  Sorry.

MCCOY: Interesting? Spock, do you realise that makes your father the most likely suspect?
SPOCK: Vulcans do not approve of violence.
KIRK: You’re saying he couldn’t have done it?
SPOCK: No, Captain. I’m merely saying it would be illogical to kill without reason.
KIRK: But if he had a reason, could he have done it?
SPOCK: If there were a reason, my father is quite capable of killing. Logically and efficiently.

Spock you’re not helping things!!
Also, Spock was probably on-duty at the time, likely on the bridge, so he has a pretty solid alibi.
Has anyone here considered that either that was not the exact method used, or that someone other than a Vulcan could do this?  No?  Hmm?

SPOCK: Indeed, Captain? Interesting.

SAREK: Indeed? Interesting.

Wow.  Same reaction.
Anyways, you can tell that Sarek’s not feeling right.  He just looks ill.  I’m sure they take it as “looking guilty” perhaps, but no … he looks in pretty bad shape.

KIRK: That’s a very convenient excuse, Ambassador.
(Sarek suddenly collapses.)
AMANDA: Sarek. Sarek. What’s wrong?
MCCOY: It’s difficult to say with Vulcan physiology, but I believe it’s something to do with his cardiovascular system.
KIRK: Can you help him?
MCCOY: I don’t know that yet either.

Are you a doctor or what?  You are SCANNING him and you can’t even tell what organ system is going wrong?????  Right after he says that line, I think Amanda seriously just glares at him.  Probably thinking the same thing.
Also, pretty convenient of him to collapse right then too.
But yeah. Poor Spock, just standing there, looking all scared.

KIRK: Spock?
SPOCK: Yes, Captain. I get sensor readings of tri-tritanium from the alien ship’s hull.
KIRK: I’m sorry about your father.
SPOCK: Yes, it could adversely affect our mission.
KIRK: Aren’t you worried about him?
SPOCK: Worry is a human emotion, Captain. I accept what has happened. The ship’s hull seems to have a high density level or is cloaked against sensor probes. It is manned, but sensors cannot make out specifics.
KIRK: I see. Well, the Romulans have nothing like it. Certainly not the Federation or the neutral planets. What about the Klingons?

Nice try, Spock.  Avoiding talking about it.  “I accept what has happened.”  Well, yeah, it happened, it was a legitimate, real event, so you accept the fact that said event occurred.  Again, nice try.
I love the “I see.”  He just nods at him all understanding-like.

KIRK: Bones, how is he?
MCCOY: As far as I can tell from instrument readings, our prime suspect has a malfunction in one of the heart valves. It’s similar to a heart attack in a human. But with Vulcan physiology, it’s impossible to tell without an operation.

Again, are you a doctor?  Or, are your instruments no better than we have now?  Or, several decades ago.

Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, results from the partial interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart muscle, causing the heart cells to be damaged or die.”

Cardiac arrest: Not to be confused with Heart attack. Cardiac arrest, also known as cardiopulmonary arrest or circulatory arrest, is the cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively.”

“Common causes of heart failure include myocardial infarction and other forms of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy. The term heart failure is sometimes incorrectly used for other cardiac-related illnesses, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) or cardiac arrest, which can cause heart failure but are not equivalent to heart failure.”

Okay, I get that you’re not the slightest bit familiar with Vulcan anatomy/physiology (even though you have an officer on board – the first officer at that – who is for all intents and purposes, *Vulcan*…) but a malfunction in one of the heart valves is not similar to a heart attack in a human.  A malfunction in one of his heart valves would be similar to … let’s see … a malfunction in one of the heart valves of a human! Impossible to tell without an operation … in other words … you know so little about him that you cannot even diagnose his condition (which seems pretty straight-forward) but yet you’re willing to do this risky surgery???

… Mrs. Sarek, has he had any previous attacks?
SAREK: Yes. There were three others. My physician prescribed Benjisidrine for the condition.
AMANDA: Why didn’t you tell me?
SAREK: There was nothing you could have done.

Still, Bones is annoying me.  Like … your patient is conscious and lucid, why couldn’t you have asked him?
But yeah, I like this little exchange.  “Has he had any previous attacks?”  “No.”  “Yes.”  “Whaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttt???”
Nothing you could have done … except well, a lot of things.

MCCOY: I’m not sure. It’s tough enough on a human. On a Vulcan, an ordinary operation’s out of the question.
KIRK: Why?
SAREK: Because of the construction of the Vulcan heart.
SPOCK: I suggest that a cyrogenic open-heart procedure would be the logical approach.
SAREK: Yes, unquestionably.

Well, at least Bones is looking a bit more knowledgeable by now, but still it seems like Spock and Sarek – Spock particularly – have more surgical knowledge than him.  Or, something.

MCCOY: Well, I’m glad somebody’s asking me something around here.

Yeah.  Because you know so much.

KIRK: There are other Vulcans aboard.

Wait, wait … what???  Other Vulcans … *plural*?  I mean, yes, it seems he is referring specifically to Spock.  If he really means there is more than one other Vulcan aboard, then they have at least one other suspect on board for Gav’s murder.  Eh?

MCCOY: Plus the fact I’ve never operated on a Vulcan before. Oh, I’ve studied the anatomical types. I know where all the organs are. But that’s a lot different from actual surgical experience. So if I don’t kill him with the operation, the drug probably will.

Then why are you considering surgery in the first place?!  You’d probably be better off if you let Spock do it …

Captain’s log, stardate 3843.4. First Officer Spock in temporary command. The captain has been critically wounded by one of the delegates to the Babel conference. The ship is on alert status. We are still being followed by the intruder vessel.

When it rains, it pours, right Spock? Okay, let’s sum up at this point.

  • There are 114 delegates on board, 32 of them ambassadors.  Though we’ve only *named* the Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians (with humans, this makes the 4 founding members of the Federation), we’ve seen many others.  From the nature of things, I think it possible, in fact, likely, that some of these are not even Federation members.
  • Ambassador Gav has been murdered on board the Enterprise.  The investigation is still underway, and they have no real suspects.  Their first and only suspect has been found to be gravely ill.
  • There is an unidentified ship following them and transmitting messages somewhere to the interior of the Enterprise.  There are no authorized vessels in this sector besides them.  This ship is not of Federation design, and not of any other known design either.
  • The ship is on alert status.  Because of all this.
  • Now Kirk has been attacked by one of these delegates, clearly attempted murder.
  • They are *still* headed to this Babel conference and tensions are *still* high even without all this going on!

Keep all this in mind in a minute.

MCCOY: It’s a bad wound. Punctured left lung. A centimeter or so lower, it’d have gone through the heart.

Kirk grabbed down low on his back, near his spleen.  A centimeter or so lower, and it would have gone through his *spleen* … he’s not Vulcan, Bones. Also, the Vulcan heart is on the right side, where the liver is in humans … not the left.

Nice shiny bandage.  It’s like a children’s hospital up in Sickbay, eh?

SPOCK: I’ll be in the brig questioning the Andorian prisoner.

Yes, Spock, that is where you should be.  Because you are acting as the *captain* now and this investigation stuff is your job.

SPOCK: My first responsibility is to the ship. Our passengers’ safety is by Starfleet order of first importance. We are being followed by an alien, possibly hostile, vessel. I cannot relinquish command under these circumstances.
MCCOY: You can turn command over to Scotty.
SPOCK: On what grounds, Doctor? Command requirements do not recognise personal privilege. I’ll be in the brig interrogating the Andorian.

I know everyone disagrees with this, but Spock is right!  He sounds all pained here to have to make this decision, so it’s not like it’s easy for him.  Remember that nice little list above?  Spock is the first officer and … well, turning command over to Scotty in such a situation really not only is a bad idea, but he’s right about “on what grounds.”  I know his father is dying.  But competent as Scotty may be, Spock has been involved in Gav’s murder investigation from the very beginning, he spends the majority of time on the bridge and has been actively trying to determine the identity of the other vessel since they first detected it, now he is leading the investigation into the attempted murder of Kirk … Scotty has been doing none of these things.  He has been in Engineering, where he rightfully should be.  In Spock’s mind, at least, he does not possess the same level of analytical skills as Spock does, and it would be very difficult to bring him fully up to speed in the short time available for him to adequately take on all these responsibilities.

AMANDA: Spock, you must turn command over to somebody else.
SPOCK: Mother, when I was commissioned, I took an oath to carry out responsibilities which were clearly and exactly specified.
AMANDA: Any competent officer can command this ship. Only you can give your father the blood transfusions that he needs to live.
SPOCK: Any competent officer can command this ship under normal circumstances. The circumstances are not normal. We’re carrying over one hundred valuable Federation passengers. We’re being pursued by an alien ship. We’re subject to possible attack. There has been murder and attempted murder on board. I cannot dismiss my duties.
AMANDA: Duty? Your duty is to your father.
SPOCK: I know.  But this must take precedence. If I could give the transfusion without loss of time or efficiency, I would. Sarek understands my reason.

Now his mother is trying to convince him.  Now, isn’t what he says here, pretty much what I said above? Anyways, it’s pretty clear again that this is not an easy decision for him.
I love how he says “I know.”  You’re like … ohhhhhhhhh …
Also, no, Spock.  If Sarek dies, he can’t understand your reason.  Because he is dead.  And dead people don’t understand … they don’t anything.  Except be dead.

Also … just a few scenes ago Amanda was insisting that she can’t risk losing both of them.  She tries to talk Spock out of this.  Now, she’s angry at him for refusing to do it?  Okay, I get it, it’s her husband, and she doesn’t want him to die … but …

SPOCK: Mother, how can you have lived on Vulcan so long, married a Vulcan, raised a son on Vulcan, without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?

Geez, Spock, give her a break for a minute.  We know, it’s hard for you too, but … ouch!

SPOCK: Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree, if I were to give up command of this vessel, jeopardise hundreds of lives, risk interplanetary war, all for the life of one person?

Well, we all know he wouldn’t say “thank you.”
But yeah, you get the idea that Spock kind of thinks he can’t do anything right by his father.  Save his life, get your reasoning attacked.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  (Or the one.)  Pretty much what he’s getting at here.

AMANDA: … and I’ll hate you for the rest of my life.
SPOCK: Mother …
AMANDA: Go to him. Now. Please.
SPOCK: I cannot.
(She slaps his face and storms out.)

Yeah, he was totally about to cry.  Or something. And Spock is like … “How can you not understand that I have hundreds of lives in my hands right now?  I would do this if I could but I can’t.”  And she’s trying to guilt him into it.  😦

KIRK: How’s Sarek?
MCCOY: Not good. If I could only operate.
KIRK: What’s stopping you? I thought you were all ready.
MCCOY: I was. When you became injured, Spock assumed command. He’s going to stay there until you’re back on your feet, even if it costs Sarek his life. Regulations.
KIRK: I can’t damn him for his loyalty.  For doing his duty.  But I’m not going to let him commit patricide.
MCCOY: Jim, if you stand, you could start to bleed again.
KIRK: Bones, Sarek will die without that operation, and you can’t operate without transfusions from Spock. I’ll convince Spock I’m all right and order him to report here. As soon as he leaves the bridge, I’ll turn command over to Scotty and report to my quarters. Will that fill your prescription?

Well, now, they don’t quite get him either.  And Kirk … he knows everything that’s going on and he really thinks this is a good idea?

Interesting, this: “In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, McCoy (through the intervention of Spock’s brother Sybok) reveals that he helped his father commit suicide to relieve him of his pain. Shortly after doing so, a cure was found for his father’s disease and he carried with him the guilt about it for the rest of his life.”

SPOCK: Captain, are you quite all right?
MCCOY: I’ve certified him physically fit, Mister Spock.

And Spock GLARES at Bones.

CHAPEL: … Sarek’s heartbeat has risen to 324. Blood pressure 90/40, dropping.
MCCOY: I wish I knew whether that was good or bad.

How can you possibly be doing surgery on this guy right now????????  You don’t even know what his heart rate or blood pressure should be??????

SPOCK: The alien ship. I’ve just realised that if their power utilisation curve is not the norm, it should be possible … to identify them this way. Very important …
(Chapel gives him a hypo to put him to sleep.)
MCCOY: So is your father’s life.

Don’t you guys think that maybe you should inform Kirk or whoever you think is on the bridge, of this Very Important fact?

JOSEPH [OC]: Security here. We had to stun the Andorian. He had some sort of transceiver. It was hidden in his antenna.

Yeah … wow.  We know later on that he was “surgically altered” to appear Andorian.  Yet the antenna cracks off like … well, what it really is …

MCCOY: One more like that, and I’m going to lose both these men.

And yet, after a short break, one more like that does happen and he doesn’t lose either of them.

Then, watching … Chapel goes over to a cart … filled with spray bottles.  Like, it looks like a cart of cleaning supplies!

Then… why does Kirk keep rubbing his arm?  Referred pain, perhaps …

Then, when the Orion ship self-destructs, I love how they all duck like the debris is somehow going to hit them.  They’re inside the ship!  Wow.

KIRK: You might have had something else on your mind.
SPOCK: That hardly seems likely.
KIRK: No, but thank you anyway.

Thank you anyway … for what?

SAREK: Spock acted in the only logical manner open to him.

Ohh, Sarek, if only you knew.

AMANDA: Logic, logic! I’m sick to death of logic. Do you want to know how I feel about your logic?
SPOCK: Emotional, isn’t she?
SAREK: She has always been that way.
SPOCK: Indeed? Why did you marry her?
SAREK: At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.

Haha.  So after 18 years of not speaking to each other (in any meaningful manner) the first thing they do is share a joke at Amanda’s expense.  😀

KIRK: Bones. (starts to collapse.) No, no, I’m all right
(McCoy helps him onto a bed.)
MCCOY: If you keep arguing with your kindly family doctor, you’re going to spend your next ten days right here. If you co-operate, you’ll be out in two.

He’s threatening him.  Ha, I love this guy!

KIRK: Doctor McCoy, I believe you’re enjoying all this.
SPOCK: Indeed, Captain. I’ve never seen him look so happy.

And now these two are at it.  Spock’s just in a good mood or something, isn’t he?

MCCOY: Shut up. (to Kirk) Shh. Shh!

Christine looks confused and a bit … horrified! And … finally … for the best last line of an episode, ever:

Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word.



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