Overview – While transporting a Tellarite delegation to peace talks at Babel One, the Enterprise encounters the wreckage of the Kumari, and rescue Shran and some of his crew. The Andorians claim that it was a Tellarite vessel that attacked them. Tensions rise even further when an Andorian ship attacks Enterprise. As Archer and his crew try to determine what happened, suspicions between the Andorians and Tellarites continue to escalate. The crew discover a strange, alien ship that appears to have the ability to project the appearance of different types of vessels. They learn that the ship is Romulan, and Tucker and Reed beam aboard to investigate. As distrust between the Andorians and Tellarites mounts, matters become violent and Telas, Shran’s lieutenant and mate, is severely injured. By the end of the episode, Tucker and Reed make a startling discovery about the Romulan ship.
Score: 9/10 – “Babel One” is a perfect reason as to why Enterprise was cancelled far too soon. Like many good shows of the day, it often takes a few seasons to really build some steam, and the fourth season of Enterprise was excellent. In this episode, we get what many fans had been asking for, which is a glimpse into the beginnings of the Federation. We also get action, humor, suspense, intrigue, and some twists and turns we were not fully expecting. Shran has always been a popular character, and here Jeffery Combs is given some great scenes. We also get some greater insight into both Andorian and Tellarite culture. Another strength in this episode is how it shows how much Archer has come as a diplomat, reminiscent of the cowboy diplomacy that was often associated with Captain Kirk. T’Pol’s marriage being dissolved is almost treated as an afterthought, and while it is handled in typical T’Pol/Vulcan fashion, I thought it could have been fleshed out a little more. Overall, an excellent episode.
Relevance – 3 points. Of course a point will be scored for Babel, the famed peace location that served as the backdrop to the Original Series classic “Journey to Babel”, which served as our introduction to Spock’s parents. This is one of the things that I enjoyed about Enterprise, in that we were able to weave in much of the Original Series lore. Another point will be scored for the fate of the Kumari, Shran’s ship that he had commanded for several previous episodes. A final point is scored for the advancement in the relationship between Shran and Talas. This relationship will be important for the development of the next episode. If that is not enough, we are given a little tidbit of information from T’Pol, stating that her marriage has officially ended.
Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity is of particular interest here. One scene in particular that shows this is when T’Pol informs her captain that her marriage has ended. Archer expresses sympathy, while T’Pol brushes it aside in her typical fashion. It highlights how far these two have come. Universe continuity is also intact. The Romulans have always been trying to disrupt things from the shadows, and the remote-piloted ship is a perfect example of this. Story wise, everything works here as well.
Character Development – 2 points. While T’Pol’s marriage is dissolved in this episode, there is little else said about it. We also have Tucker and Reed with some action on the Romulan vessel, but aside from how they work together, nothing deeper is provided. No, this episode is mainly about Archer and his growth as a diplomat. We see him wrestle with doubts about their mission, while T’Pol patiently points out that he, Earth, and Vulcan have come a long way in such a short period of time. It highlights the fact that Archer has done a lot to foster relations between species that often were adversarial towards each other. Of course, this is building towards the events of the next episode, but it solidly establishes how much Archer’s leadership skills have grown.
Social Commentary – 1 point. As is typical of some of these action episodes, the excitement comes at the expense of a solid commentary on our present-day world. This is partly due to the fact that “Babel One” is setting up for the events of “United”, which actually carries a stronger message. This is also due to the notion that a lot is happening, and sometimes we just have to tell the story and not worry about saying something profound. We can glean a little something from the importance of working together. Reed and Tucker have to rely on each other as they explore the Romulan vessel, Archer has to teach the Tellarites and Andorians that they have to work together to defeat a common foe, etc. Star Trek is at its best when it makes us think more, but that does not mean that it’s not excellent when it doesn’t.
Cool Stuff – 3 points. One point scored for showing us a cool view of Romulus, which until this point has only been seen via matte paintings. I also scored a point here for the ship, both in design and for it’s part in the story-telling. I loved how it allowed us to see a few different models of ships. And the premise of it being remotely piloted from far away was interesting. I also liked how it was used to sow seeds of distrust among the future founders of the United Federation of Planets. A cool story-twist. Finally, the Tellarites are shown in a way that we have rarely seen, given far more attention than in the past. While the Tellarites are not as iconic as the Vulcans, Klingons, or even the Andorians, they had always been present in the background of Star Trek, and here they are given the spotlight like never before.
Rank – Admiral (21 points). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Enterprise deserved more than it got, and “Babel One” is a perfect example of it. I love how we see how the Tellarites and Andorians are brought together, and we are given a fun ride as the story plays out.
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