Episode 38 – “Journey to Babel” and all the hobgoblins are bleeding green

“Journey to Babel” is an episode that’s considerably more interesting when looking at it as a piece of the Star Trek universe than as an individual episode in its own right. There’s some neat world building here, with hints of the Federation’s policy on accepting new planets, but the big gain is the introduction of Sarek, one of the Federation’s greatest heroes and a legend on Vulcan.

Also, he’s Spock’s dad.

The episode really blows that load a little early with an attempt at raising tension when Sarek and Amanda enter the Enterprise and we never really get much of a sense as to why Spock and his father are at odds. Sarek makes a reference to his son’s refusal to enter the Vulcan Science Academy but he’s working as an Ambassador for Vulcan and a valued member of the Federation. It doesn’t seem like he’s done too much to differentiate himself either.

In all honesty, the plot is pretty inconsequential and aimless. On a mission of diplomacy for a planet that wishes to join the Federation, one of the ambassadors is murdered and all evidence points to Sarek. Strangely, everyone pretty much forgets about this fact when the Vulcan diplomat has a really convenient heart attack and the episode suddenly becomes about a really trite situation where Spock may have to let his father die.

It all feels a bit too much like a mix between an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and an afterschool special. We all know that Spock is going to be able to save his dad and somehow the ship will be able to defeat the Andorian ship but it just feels like we’re just waiting for Spock to go under the knife. I feel like this is the sort of episode that The Next Generation would have handled much better, milking the distrust between ambassadors for more tension than the drama between father and son.

This isn’t a bad episode but it is a dull and pretty dry one. The interesting parts are all skimmed by in order to give some overly touchy-feely exposition about Spock. If it weren’t for the host of colorful characters in the meeting room early on, this is an episode that would disappear from my memory in a week’s time.

Random Thoughts

I like that McCoy is given a lot to do in this episode. He’s operating, making sure that Kirk, Spock and Sarek all stay under his watchful eye and, what’s better, does it all with a smile. He even gets a fairly funny final joke to cap the episode off with.

Sulu’s nowhere to be seen. Instead, Chekov gets to say “wessel” several times.

In the scene where Kirk fights Teleth, he pretty clearly is stabbed in the lower back, right above the left side of his hip. Why then, does he continually touch around his nipples when indicating he is in pain? Also, the bandage is wrapped really high up on his torso.

So, Sarek’s kind of a huge dick to his wife, right?

Next Up: “Friday’s Child” draws the Enterprise into only their second meeting with the Klingons and I’ll get a song stuck in my head. Wait, which song were you thinking of?

“De-tec-tive…”: Batman Incorporated #2 gives a proper New 52 introduction to the Al Ghul family

Talia’s motivations for battling the dark knight’s worldwide project have been mysterious since she appeared at the end of “Leviathan Strikes,” and by the end of the second issue, her plans aren’t crystal clear. That, however, isn’t my question about this issue.

My question is why.

After the first issue’s cliffhanger of leaving Damian bleeding out from Goatboy’s sniper round, Morrison leads readers to the hideout of Ras al Ghul where he is accosted by the leader of Leviathan, Talia. Its abundantly clear that this isn’t a friendly visit. The opening, which wonderfully shows the seduction of Talia’s mother as well as the birth sets up her intents for her father.

Naturally, Morrison feels the totally unnecessary need to fuck up continuity, changing Talia’s lineage again but I’d have more of a problem with it if the whole thing wasn’t so damn entertaining. Rushing through Talia’s training, her time in college, Raj’s battle with his father and the “birth” of Damian, Morrison and Burnham do a great job catching up readers on one of their favorite characters and why she may have started the mission that she’s on.

For seasoned fans of the Bat-family, there is exceedingly little new material to dig into. That sort of is a good thing, particularly because the rest of the issue does so much to color her character and motivations both as the Demon Head’s daughter and as a super criminal on her own. That being said, Talia does take some manner of control over the League of Assassins, puts Ras under house arrest and reveals that Damian didn’t die last issue.

This was really my only gripe with the whole issue. Yeah, we all knew that Damian wasn’t dead and that Morrisson was pulling a cheap one at the end of Batman Incorporated 1 but he does it with no sense for drama. In an issue that’s all about Talia’s development from an innocent girl to a killer and mastermind, it’d be nice to show how her personal parallel character survived. If Morrison wasn’t interested in doing this same thing, why would he have Damian survive the bullet and then write it off in just a single enigmatic sentence. Its always been clear that Morrison adores Damian Wayne but its hard to see why when he treats the character like this.

I really enjoyed Batman Incorporated 2 a lot, mostly for what it did for Talia, who has long been one of the most underdeveloped of Batman’s rogues gallery and its interesting enough to make the lack of plot advancement still worth it. Hearing just a little of her plans for Leviathan as well as the way she feels about her father are sure to make the next few issues of one of the best books on the market almost impossible to wait for.