Star Trek –  Journey To Babel

★★★★ 1/2  November 17, 1967 Season 2 Episode 10

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Gene Roddenberry and D.C. Fontana

An episode I’ve always liked a lot. We meet Spock’s parents in this one. The actress that played his mom was Jayne Wyatt. To show you how bizarre this show was in the 1960s…Wyatt never watched the show before and after she read the script…she thought it was a comedy. That is until she got on set and saw how everyone took the show so seriously. 

I think it’s this episode, more than any other, in which Spock’s lonely place in the Trek universe is spelled out. We, as the audience, had already gathered as much during the past forty or so episodes, but here, Spock’s mother, the ideal choice to voice such concerns out loud, makes apparent the pain Spock has endured during his life – in terms we had only guessed at earlier.

Star Trek -  Journey To Babel

She had known since he was a little boy that he belongs in neither the human nor the Vulcan worlds and, as a mother, she had no choice but to feel his pain, that ultimate form of alienation – but, as a human, her feelings are much more obvious to us. Nimoy gives another subtly excellent performance; his demeanor is slightly different when speaking with his mother about ‘the situation’ between himself and his father. Despite the Vulcan reserve, you sense his discomfort and sadness.

The personal story is played out as part of a larger plot element involving diplomatic negotiations among ambassadors on board the Enterprise headed toward the planetoid Babel. Competing interests among the representatives threaten (and eventually lead to) hostilities, as the impending conference will decide whether planets of the Coridan System will become part of the Federation. If that wasn’t enough going on, a third party is presented as a foil in order to profit from the dissension…but the story centers around the Vulcans and their relationship. 

While describing this episode I realized what a deep episode this is. There’s a lot of plot to it and a lot of new alien species and characters. The introduction of Spock’s parents was interesting and I really enjoy the dynamic that Spock has with his mother especially. While the politics of the Federation is the focal point of this episode, it really focuses more on Spock’s relationship with his parents.

From IMDB:

For two weeks after the airing of this episode, Mark Lenard received more fan mail than Leonard Nimoy.

In the first episode to feature Spock’s parents, actors Mark Lenard and Jane Wyatt asked Leonard Nimoy for advice on how the two of them could display their affection for one another in a subtle way since the Vulcans supress their emotion. Since it was Nimoy who had devised the Vulcan neck pinch and the Vulcan salute, Nimoy suggested they touch and stroke each others hand by the index and middle finger.

Gene Roddenberry wrote the scene in which Amanda tells Kirk of the rift between Spock and Sarek. Writer D.C. Fontana felt that it would be inappropriate for her to discuss this with someone she had just met. But Roddenberry wanted Kirk to be more involved with the story.

This episode introduces the Andorians and the Tellarites. Later episodes established that, along with Humans and Vulcans, they are two of the four founding members of the United Federation of Planets.

Actor John Wheeler, in character as Gav, had so much trouble seeing through the prosthetics over his eyes that he was forced to raise his head to see his castmates. This added to the early mythos that all Tellarites were arrogant as well as belligerent and aggressive.

Jane Wyatt would only play Spock’s mother one more time, in the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). In Star Trek: The Animated Series: Yesteryear (1973), to save costs, Majel Barrett voiced the role. Mark Lenard, however, reprised his role of Sarek in the animated series and again in the films Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), as well as the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes Star Trek: The Next Generation: Sarek (1990) and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Unification I (1991).

Writer D.C. Fontana chose the name “Amanda” for Spock’s mother because it means “worthy of love” in Latin.

Mark Lenard had also been a potential candidate for the recasting of Spock if Leonard Nimoy were to quit the series.

Though they play father and son, Mark Lenard was 42 years old at the time and Leonard Nimoy was 36.

Jane Wyatt has said that some years after “Journey to Babel” first aired, while waiting in an airport she heard someone cry out the name Amanda. Wyatt said that at first she had no idea it was a fan trying to get her attention, as she had completely forgotten the name of the character she had played.

The original script called for an establishment shot of the city Sarek and his party travelled from. However, painting a matte to depict the city became budget prohibitive. Likewise, Sarek was initially to be beamed aboard the Enterprise, but use of existing shuttle craft stock footage was cheaper than employing Transporter effects.

Amanda’s description of Spock being bullied by other children for his human heritage was later shown in animated form in Star Trek: The Animated Series: Yesteryear (1973), and in live action form in the movie Star Trek (2009).

In the original draft script, there was a banquet scene featuring the three main diplomats: Sarek (the Vulcan), Shras (the Andorian), and Gav (the old Tellarite). When this scene was scrapped, the dialog was inserted into the final version of the buffet scene. Other dialog was scrapped that would have indicated that Sarek was an engineer before he became a diplomat, and that he was the son of the famous Vulcan diplomat Shaleris.

As a tribute to her long and distinguished career, Jane Wyatt is called “Miss Jane Wyatt” in the closing credits.

In the remastered version, the Enterprise shuttlebay and landing sequence was completely redone digitally, featuring a number of background actors visible within the viewing galleries. Also revamped were shots of Vulcan (now more closely resembling its appearance in Star Trek: Enterprise) and the battle between the Enterprise and the Orion ship, now featuring a more identifiable design.

The Andorians cock their heads for better visual acuity. According to Star Trek lore, the Andorian antennae are sensitive light beyond the normal human spectrum. Thus, Andorian vision is literally quadroscopic.

Before he was cast as Sarek, Mark Lenard played the first major Romulan character seen on Star Trek, the Romulan Commander in Star Trek: Balance of Terror (1966).

Scotty does not appear in this episode. Other characters refer to him as being nearby, but he never has to appear on-camera.

D.C. Fontana had become curious about past references to Spock’s background, and was inspired to more fully flesh them out. In particular, Fontana was inspired by information Spock had revealed about his parents in Star Trek: This Side of Paradise (1967). Fontana also felt such an episode would be an interesting way to reflect issues relating to the Generation Gap.

Many of the costumes worn by extras in the hallway and reception room scenes were recycled from several first season episodes, including the outfits worn by Galactic High Commissioner Ferris in Star Trek: The Galileo Seven (1967) and by Lazarus in Star Trek: The Alternative Factor (1967).

This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of TOS in the 2008 reference book “Star Trek 101” by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

Russ Peek, who plays one of Sarek’s aides, also appeared as mirror Spock’s Vulcan bodyguard in Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror (1967).

The Orion ship was recycled as the missile in Star Trek: Patterns of Force (1968), although this has been changed in the remastered version of the latter.

If one goes by airing order, this is the first episode in which Vulcans are mentioned to have a longer lifespan than humans. If one goes by production order, that title goes to Star Trek: The Deadly Years (1967).

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 Star Trek: All Our Yesterdays (1969).

Star Trek: Metamorphosis (1967) starring Elinor Donahue and Journey to Babel starring Jane Wyatt aired back-to-back. Both actresses had been regular cast members on Father Knows Best (1954), where Donahue played Wyatt’s daughter.

The Tantalus field controls used in Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror (1967) can be seen behind McCoy while Amanda is inquiring about Sarek’s condition.

The noise of the coded message sent by Thelev is also used in Star Trek: Miri (1966).

Bill Blackburn, in an unused make-up scheme for the Tellarites from a make-up test, can be seen in the end credits of Star Trek: The Deadly Years (1967) and Star Trek: A Private Little War (1968).

Mark Lenard, who played the 102-year-old Sarek, was 42 at the time of filming.


The Enterprise is transporting several diplomatic delegations to a conference on Babel regarding the future of the mineral-rich planet Coridan. Among the passengers are Spock’s parents, Ambassador Sarek and Amanda. There is obviously a chill between father and son owing to Spock’s choice of pursuing a career in Starfleet. Unknown to Spock or his mother is the fact that Sarek is seriously ill. There is also much tension among the delegations and a spy on board is transmitting coded messages to a ship that attacks the Enterprise. With Captain Kirk wounded in an earlier knife attack, Spock is in temporary command just as his father needs a transfusion that only he can provide.



William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Dr. McCoy
Jane Wyatt … Amanda (as Miss Jane Wyatt)
Mark Lenard … Sarek
Nichelle Nichols … Uhura
William O’Connell … Thelev
Majel Barrett … Nurse Chapel
Walter Koenig … Chekov
John Wheeler … Gav
James X. Mitchell … Josephs
Reggie Nalder … Shras
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
John Blower … Babel Conference Attendee (uncredited)
Jerry Catron … Montgomery (uncredited)
Billy Curtis … Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Vulcan Aide (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Purple-Skinned Delegate (uncredited)
Jerry Maren … Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Russ Peek … Sarek’s 2nd Vulcan Aide (uncredited)
Kai J. Wong … Doctor (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “Star Trek –  Journey To Babel”

      1. In Star Trek Enterprise, set before the original series, Vulcans generally have arrogant disdain for illogical humans. So, a ship with an all-Vulcan crew would make sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. There’s so much stuff going on in this episode it is surprising they fit it all in. The clip you shared was a big scene. The way Spock dropped his eyes says volumes. I think Amanda talking about the rift between father and son was totally appropriate. She either knows or guesses that Kirk will be able to help her son one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes they knew…they knew he was a real friend I’m sure. It’s a really good episode with a lot going on…for me…Spock’s parents are the main attraction despite the other things going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another favorite and very revealing episode. Amanda did a good job considering what she had to deal with. She had a nice balance of love, intelligence, and assertiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

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