SCORE: (4/5 stars)
The planetoid Babel, previously used as a neutral place for cosmopolitical talks and featured in Enterprise, is the site for the latest Federation conference which will decide, among other things, voting on new Federation members. As a rather important event, the flagship of the Federation is sent to pick up delegates from various races: the Tellarites, the Andorians, and the Vulcans to name a few. The Vulcan Ambassador is one Sarek, also known as Spock’s father. He and Spock don’t seem to be on the friendliest of terms, even by Vulcan standards, and their relationship is more of one between a Starfleet officer and a Federation ambassador than a father and son.
Although the setting of the story is the transport of diplomats (and a faction that wants to stop the talks or spark some sort of interstellar war), this plays a distant B-story to the main tale of Spock’s family and the difference between Vulcan and human relationships. Sarek, though he won’t admit it, seems to disapprove of Spock’s joining Starfleet instead of fully pursuing the sciences, presumably in the Vulcan Science Academy. They seem content to ignore each other as best they can for the duration of the trip, to the chagrin of Spock’s mother Amanda. But when a Tellarite ambassador is found murdered in the corridor, his neck snapped in a quick and efficient fashion that Spock identifies as a Vulcan execution technique, logic dictates that Sarek is the most likely suspect, especially as the Tellarite was seen arguing with Sarek over his position on the upcoming vote.
The confrontation of Sarek ends abruptly when he collapses, clutching his chest. In sickbay, he reveals that he has been suffering heart problems recently. McCoy determines that without a dangerous surgery that will require quite a lot of blood, Sarek’s death is imminent. Unfortunately, Sarek has a rare bloodtype that they have no stores of, and the only other Vulcan on board who shares it is Spock. Spock is willing to donate his blood to the cause, even though that much might kill him, but this plan is cut short when the real assassin of the Tellarite, an Andorian operative, makes a move on Kirk and knifes him in the back. Worse, the operative seems to have contacted an enemy ship that has been following the Enterprise for a while now, and it could attack at any moment.
With Kirk incapacitated, Spock is in command, and cannot relinquish it in this time of danger for the ship. Amanda angrily confronts him about it, deriding his heartless “logic” and declaring that if he doesn’t save his father, she will never forgive him for it. Kirk awakens in sickbay after McCoy’s patched up his wounds and, though Bones insists he’s in no condition to go anywhere, Kirk realizes he has to relieve Spock of duty long enough to get him in sickbay. Carefully moving so as not to reopen his wound, Kirk makes it to the bridge and takes command, leaving Spock free to return to sickbay.
Kirk is about to hand over command to Scotty, but the enemy ship takes this moment to attack, so with a knife wound in his back and most likely dosed heavily with painkillers, Kirk manages to fend the ship off, disabling it. But they self-destruct before Kirk can get any information from them, and the Andorian operative (who’s revealed to not be Andorian) dies from a poison released into his bloodstream. That’s pretty much the end of that B-plot, which I think is a bit shameful that they never go anywhere with it or explain who the faction was that was attempting to sabotage Federation politics. Would have been nice to get a followup episode on that, but there it is.
Sarek has a successful surgery, and he and Spock seem to have the Vulcan equivalent of “fun” by acting extra logical around Amanda, who certainly thinks that some joy and familial gratitude should be thrown around on this happy day. McCoy finds himself in the rare position of having direct control over both Spock and Kirk, who will be spending the next few days recovering in his sickbay. He doesn’t take advantage of this fact or have any fun with it at all, and he certainly doesn’t lord his power over them.
- McCoy says he’s never operated on a Vulcan before, which is not true. He performed exploratory surgery on Spock last season when Spock was infected with neural parasites.
- Considering Spock’s frequent presence on away missions and placing himself in harm’s way, coupled with his extremely rare Vulcan blood type, would it not make sense for him to occasionally donate his blood to sickbay’s banks in the event he has later need for it? Surely when he was under the knife last season, McCoy wouldn’t just let him bleed out.
- McCoy: How does that Vulcan salute go?
[Spock displays it, McCoy makes a failed attempt]
McCoy: That hurts worse than the uniform.
- Kirk: Mister Spock, we leave orbit in two hours. Would you care to beam down and visit your parents?
Spock: Captain, Ambassador Sarek and his wife are my parents.
- Amanda: After all these years among humans, you still haven’t learned to smile.
Spock: Humans smile with such little provocation.
- Sarek: Tellarites do not argue for reasons. They simply argue.
- Gav: There will be payment for your slander, Sarek.
Sarek: Threats are illogical, and payment is usually expensive.
- Shras: Perhaps you should forget logic and devote yourself to motivations of passion or gain. Those are reasons for murder.
- Amanda: Your duty is to your father!
Spock: I know. This must take precedence. If I could give the transfusion without loss of time or efficiency, I would. Sarek understands my reason.
Amanda: Well, I don’t! It’s not human. Oh, that’s not a dirty word, you’re human too. Let that part of you come through! Your father’s dying!
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?
Amanda: Well, if this is what it means, I don’t want to know.
- Amanda: When you were five years old and came home stiff-lipped, anguished, because the other boys tormented you, saying that you weren’t really Vulcan, I watched you. Knowing that inside, the human part of you was crying. And I cried too. There must be some part of me in you. Some part that I still can reach. If being Vulcan is more important to you, then you’ll stand there speaking rules and regulations from Starfleet and Vulcan philosophy, and let your father die. And I’ll hate you for the rest of my life.
- Kirk: I’d like to get my hands on the guy with the sledgehammer.
Chapel: The one who hit you?
Kirk: No. The one inside my head.
- 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.
- McCoy: If you keep arguing with your kindly family doctor, you’re gonna spend your next ten days right here. If you cooperate, you’ll be out in two.
Spock: Doctor, I think I’ll return to my station now.
McCoy: You are at your station, Mister Spock!
Kirk: Doctor McCoy, I believe you’re enjoying all this.
Spock: Indeed, Captain. I’ve never seem him look so happy.
McCoy: Shut up! Shh, shh! Well, what do you know. I finally got the last word.