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But “Babel” offers much more than that—it’s a solid look at the Vulcan family relationship (albeit one somewhat disrupted by the presence of a human parent in the mix), an exciting tale of political intrigue, and an Agatha Christie-type murder mystery that also boasts satisfying action both onboard the Enterprise and in outer space.
From the opening moments with Mc Coy’s bitching about his dress uniform it’s clear “Journey to Babel” is going to be rich in character; as is typical of TOS when it’s hitting its stride, there are more character beats in the opening teaser of this story than in entire episodes of some of the later Trek shows.
While its space action was ambitious, requiring the creation of an Orion adversary for the Enterprise, the resulting original effects were simple, low key shots of a spinning yellow animation, oddly similar to the photon torpedo effects in the later Star Trek films.
“Babel” features an opening shuttlecraft landing as well as the shots of the Orion ship attacking and ultimately exploding.
" "No, the power plant has to be destroyed first." "Mr. We've got to go blow up a power plant to stop outrageous electric bills for the GLF. That truck with the Mine Detector from earlier has since vacated the premises. The power plant is just about a twenty yard jog past it. That's why here on the Let's Play Archive we'll only ever serve up nice banners that behave properly.
We don't negotiate with terrorists." "But we can't get to Metal Gear..." "He may not look it, but Jimmy did head the unit's development; he may know how to stop the strike." "You know... Not sure why I'm the one coming up with ideas in the field.
CBS Digital one-ups the original by showing the shuttlecraft approaching the Enterprise stern (a multi-element shot never within the original show’s capabilities) and landing inside the hangar deck with far more dynamic motion than would have been possible with a wire rig.
I was glad to see that the CBS crew kept the shuttle approach within the methodical moves established by the original photography, and that adds verisimilitude to the shot that more flamboyant motion would have erased.
D’Agosta also scores with William O’Connell, familiar from numerous Clint Eastwood films like High Plains Drifter, in which he played a weasely, nervous barber.
O’Connell gives “Babel”’s vicious Orion saboteur an effective mix of arrogance, uncertainty and a strange nobility; he brings all these shadings to his brief moment of sparring with Kirk on the bridge while the Orion ship mounts its final attack.
The interplay between Spock, Sarek and Amanda has been much discussed and I won’t belabor that point here—what still dazzles me about this episode besides its intricate plotting and pacing is the brilliant casting by Joseph D’Agosta.