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Babel One

Review

Series : Enterprise Rating : 4
Disc No : 4.3 Episode : 88
First Aired : 28 Jan 2005 Stardate : Unknown
Director : David Straiton Year : 2154
Writers : Andre Bormanis, Mike Sussman Season : 4
Guest Cast :
Brian Thompson as Valdore
J. Michael Flynn as Nijil
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
Jermaine Soto as Corporal R. Richards
Kevin Brief as Naarg
Lee Arenberg as Gral
Molly Brink as Talas
YATI : When one of the hoses gets knocked out of Reed's suit, he loses most of his oxygen supply. For one thing, I would think that suits like this would be designed to be pretty rugged precisely to avoid this kind of thing. For another, surely it is possible to design the fitting of hose to tank so that if the hose pulls loose it seals the tank? I'm no expert on diving, but I seem to recall that the tanks divers use today have features like this!

Additionally, they refill Reed's tank by connecting it to the oxygen tank of a chemically fuelled manoeuvring thruster. Do these suits really supply pure oxygen to their wearers? Normal air is a mix of about 20% oxygen and about 80% nitrogen.

When the Romulan ship does heavy manoeuvring, Reed and Tucker hold themselves in place with their magnetic boots. Just how strong are these? After all, in order to be able to walk with them you have to be able to pull them free of the deck with relative ease. There's no dialogue indicating that they turned the power up to make them really strong or anything, yet now the boots can hold them in place against all these big accelerations?

Great Moment : The ending. They actually managed to surprise me with the Romulans not being aboard the ship! It's really obvious in hindsight, but I didn't see it coming at all.
Body Count : All but 19 of Shran's crew are killed in the opening attack. One MACO is beaten senseless by Talas, and she is later shot and wounded by a Tellarite, who is in turn shot by a MACO.
Factoid : The planet Babel One is first heard of in TOS "Journey to Babel", when Kirk's Enterprise was taking a group of ambassadors from various species there for a conference. Kirk also counted Tellarites and Andorians amongst his guests.

With new injectors, Enterprise now has a top speed of warp 5.06 and is apparently able to hold it quite comfortably.

The idea of liquid hydrogen and oxygen being used as rocket fuel is indeed correct - this is what many present day rockets use as fuel.

The Romulan ship is a re-use of the ships the aliens in chaotic space used in Voyager's "The Fight".

This is the first episode to show us a Tellarite ship, although we don't get a good look at it and it's really a Romulan ship in disguise.

We learn some fun facts about Shran's ship. For one thing it was the first of it's class, something which I had assumed was true purely in order to have a class name to work on! He's been captain of it for 12 years, though we don't know if he was the first captain of the ship.

Although the Romulans in the episode are not named, the credits list the boss Romulan as being called "Valdore". This is the official class name of the Romulan warbirds seen in "Nemesis" - indicating that the Romulans follow Human custom of naming their ships after famous historical figures.

Enterprise was officially cancelled about the time this episode first aired.

Quote : Gral : "I'm told this ship is the pride of Starfleet. I find it small and unimpressive."
Archer : "Funny. I was about to say the same thing about you."

"There's no rule that says the bridge has to be at the top of the ship." - Reed to Trip.


Plotline

Enterprise is transporting a group of Tellarite diplomats to a meeting with the Andorians for peace negotiations on the planet Babel One. When a distress call is received from Shran's ship Archer diverts to rescue a small group of survivors from the wrecked vessel. Shran claims that the Andorians attacked his ship without provocation, and is disgusted that the Enterprise has some of them on board. Things go from bad to worse when an Andorian ship arrives and attacks Enterprise. Archer must simultaneously solve the riddle of the mysterious attacks and keep the Andorians and Tellarites from starting a war on his own ship.

Analysis

I quite liked this one. It seems certain now that Coto is going to keep to the idea that Humans and Romulans never see one another prior to TOS "Balance of Terror", which is excellent. Using Babel One as a neutral negotiating planet is also a nice tip of the hat to TOS.

The idea of a mysterious vessel attacking others on sight is one Enterprise has used before, most obviously in "Fight or Flight" and "Silent Enemy". However, using the Romulans does give this episode a very different spin because although the motivations of the ship are a mystery to the participants, we the audience do know roughly what the Romulans are up to. Archer's lines about how a lot of species in this part of space have been combatants for a long time and that the conference might have led to an alliance is clearly hinting at the impending formation of the Federation; clearly the Romulans are worried that something like the Federation is in the winds. Rightly so, as it turns out!

It's nice to see Shran getting a little more development. His mentioning of a relationship with Talas as "I had to charge her with assault or mate with her" and Archer's "you made the right decision" is a nice funny moment. It's a shame that Shran once again falls back into his "trust nobody" attitude, as he did in "Kir'Shara"... but this is as much Archer's fault as Shran's. Archer should have been keeping both Shran and Gral up to date on his investigation as it proceeded; instead he kept them both in the dark, each thinking that the other was responsible for the attacks. It is notable that Shran surrenders almost as soon as Archer tells him the truth about what he has discovered. Shran does trust Archer, but breaking a lifetime of distrustful behaviour isn't easy without occasional reminders!

The idea of un-manned Romulan ships is an interesting one. Certainly this should confer many advantages - we see that the drone ship has little in the way of life support and inertial dampening fields. If anything the episode doesn't go far enough in this direction - why do the Romulans bother to provide artificial gravity in the ship, or lighting and heating? Because zero gee is expensive to do on a TV budget and having prolonged scenes with pitch darkness or torchlight would be annoying to the viewer, that's why! The viability of the whole concept rests entirely on the reliability of the communication link between the ship and home base - if your targets come up with any way to jam or interfere with your communications, the drone ships become utterly useless. I'm guessing that something like this will ultimately be used to defeat the drone...


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 3,150 Last updated : 6 Feb 2005