Star Trek TOS: Spock’s Parents and the Political Malarkey
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2, Episode 10
Journey to Babel
Everyone was dressing up fancy for a formal reception, and the threesome of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy looked pretty spiffy. The occasion? The Vulcans were arriving on Enterprise. Immediately, we learned the man for whom Kirk rolled out the red carpet was Spock’s father, Sarek.
Spock got a little alone time with mom, a chat which revealed Spock’s frosty relationship with his father. This fact was previously unknown. Spock and Sarek had not spoken for 18 years.
Kirk chatted with Spock’s mother, too, and she hinted at the idea Enterprise was a vessel that used deadly force to resolve conflict. Miffed by the suggestion, Kirk asserted his crew conducts no such business, preferring civilization via diplomacy. And this is an important tenet of Star Trek.
Uhura interrupted Kirk and Spock’s human mom, Amanda, to announce trouble afoot. Meanwhile, the reception was host to a party filled with strange-looking folks. It looked like a Halloween costume ball. At the same gala, Amanda notified McCoy of Spock’s childhood possession of a teddy bear — which turned out to be a real bear or so it sounded.
The threat Uhura worried about was an object traveling at warp ten and getting too close to Enterprise for comfort. Also, Sarek had a philosophical disagreement with one of the leaders of the Halloween costume delegation named Gav.
The next major event? Gav was murdered, leaving only Sarek as the prime suspect. The cause of death mirrored a Vulcan fighting method, and Sarek didn’t like Gav. Not looking good for Sarek.
Well, Sarek was ill, so it was unlikely he was the true culprit. He was so sick that he needed surgery — one Spock offered his blood even though he and his father were estranged. Things got even crazier when Kirk was investigating the murder. Kirk was stabbed by Andorian, sending him to sickbay next to Spock’s dad. Spock was left in command of the ship, canceling his desire to donate blood for his father’s procedure. His sense of duty to his job superseded his allegiance to his father, much to the dismay of Amanda.
Reminder — all of this tomfoolery transpired while Enterprise was pursued by the warp-10-speed ship. Kirk limped from sickbay to lead the ship once again. He did so deliberately as to coerce Spock into aiding his father’s blood transplant. It worked. The two were situated next to each other for the procedure.
Kirk outsmarted the speedy enemy ship through trickery. Sarek’s surgery, with Spock’s help, was successful.
All in all, the episode was peppered with various alien types, intergalactic politics and diplomacy, and high-stakes drama. Journey to Babel balanced family ties to a sense of duty with Spock’s dealings. The climax was reached without deadly force — remember when Spock’s mom mused that was the modus operandi of Enterprise? She was wrong.
And Spock and his father made amends after 18 years. This was the father-son episode.
Themes: Family Ties, Diplomacy
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).