In this episode, the Enterprise is carrying ambassadors from several Federation races to a conference on a planetoid called Babel to decide the fate of a planet called Coridan requesting membership in the Federation. The first scene involves the arrival by shuttle craft of the Vulcan ambassador Sarek and his human wife Amanda (played by Jane Wyatt who was the mother in the popular television series, “Father Knows Best”). As it turns out they are also Spock’s father and mother. We find out that Sarek and Spock have not been on good terms since Spock decided to join Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Academy as his father had desired.
Sarek is involved in an altercation that turns physical with the Tellarite ambassador over the illegal Tellarite mining of dilithium in the Coridan system. Later, when the ambassador turns up dead, Sarek is the prime suspect. Meanwhile an unidentified starship of incredible speed begins following the Enterprise.
While being interrogated by Kirk over the murder of the Tellarite Sarek reveals that he could not have been the killer because he is too weakened by a heart condition. Suddenly Sarek is stricken by a major heart attack and McCoy thinks that surgery will be necessary. But the Enterprise lacks sufficient supplies of Sarek’s rare blood type to safely allow the surgery. Spock volunteers to undergo treatment with a drug that will supplement his body’s ability to produce new blood and will thus be able to produce sufficient blood for the operation.
Kirk is attacked by a member of the Andorian delegation named Thelev. Kirk subdues him but only after sustaining a serious knife wound to the lung. Kirk is taken to sick bay and Spock assumes command which in his mind makes it impossible for him to provide the blood transfusion needed for Sarek’s life-saving surgery. When Amanda hears of Spock’s decision, she begs him to put another officer in charge and save his father’s life. When Spock refuses on the grounds of duty, Amanda slaps Spock in the face and runs away from her son.
When McCoy tells Kirk, what Spock has decided Kirk tells McCoy that despite his critical injury he will go up to the bridge and pretend that he is recovered in order to force Spock to assist in the surgery. Once Spock leaves the bridge Kirk will call Scotty to relieve him. McCoy reluctantly agrees to the plan because Sarek is so close to death. And it works. Kirk fools Spock and McCoy escorts the Vulcan back to sick bay.
But just as Kirk prepares to call for his relief the mystery ship begins offensive posturing toward the Enterprise. Simultaneously, Uhura detects communication between the enemy ship and the Andorian, Thelev in the ship’s brig. Although Kirk is in obvious pain, he maintains command and calls for the Andorian prisoner to be brought to the bridge while he directs Chekov and the helmsman battling the enemy ship. The ship is so fast that the Enterprise’s weapons systems are too slow to track it. Finally, with shields already failing Kirk is forced to make a desperate ploy. He deactivates the ship power systems to lure the ship in close and disables it with phasers at point blank range. The ship self-destructs rather than be captured and the prisoner Thelev reveals that he also has a suicide plan and succumbs to poison before medical aid can be brought.
Meanwhile during the attack McCoy is attempting to perform delicate heart surgery to save Sarek’s life while the operating area is convulsed by the weapons concussions and power fails some of his most important surgical instruments. At one point, Sarek’s heart stops and McCoy is forced to use a manual device to resuscitate him. Spock is also in grave danger from the equipment malfunctions occurring. But by the end of the attack McCoy was able to successfully repair Sarek’s heart.
Now Kirk staggers back to sick bay after allowing Chekov to relieve him. When Spock regains consciousness, he informs Kirk that he believes that the alien ship and Thelev were actually Orions. Thelev was surgically altered to appear Andorian and the Orions wanted to destroy the Enterprise and start a war and then sell pirated dilithium crystals to both sides.
Amanda appears and tells her husband to thank her son for saving his life. Sarek counters that it would be illogical to thank Spock for doing the logical thing. Amanda becomes outraged and disparages Vulcan logic. Spock notes that his mother seems very irrational. He asks his father why he married her. Sarek replies that it seemed the logical thing to do at the time.
But now McCoy steps in and tells all his convalescing patients to calm down and stop talking. After a few warnings, they fall silent and McCoy breaks into a big smile and says, “Well what do you know, I finally got the last word.”
This is not such a bad episode. The Spock family stuff is mostly amusing and the ridiculous fake aliens are, of course, ridiculous. They even have a couple of dwarfs painted copper that are supposed to be something or other.
Jane Wyatt relating scenes from Spock’s childhood and trying to reconcile her husband and son has some charm. On the story side of the ledger this earns a 7.
On the Shatner mockery side, we have the scene with Kirk battling the knife-wielding Thelev. At one point, when they are wrestling, Shatner does some kind of sideways jump where his legs collide with a wall and part of Thelev. It looks extremely uncoordinated and ineffectual. And after he is stabbed, he contorts and writhes in Shatnerian agony. So altogether I’ll give this a 7 // 7.