Memory Alpha

Babel (episode)

Revision as of 17:27, April 27, 2013 by DS9 Forever (Talk | contribs)

40,414pages on
this wiki
Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
DS9, Episode 1x05
Production number: 40511-405
First aired: 24 January 1993
4th of 173 produced in DS9
4th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
248th of 728 released in all
Babel virus
Teleplay By
Michael McGreevey & Naren Shankar

Story By
Sally Caves & Ira Steven Behr

Directed By
Paul Lynch
46423.7 (2369)
  Arc: {{{wsArc0Desc}}} ({{{nArc0PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc0PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc1Desc}}} ({{{nArc1PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc1PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc2Desc}}} ({{{nArc2PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc2PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc3Desc}}} ({{{nArc3PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc3PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc4Desc}}} ({{{nArc4PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc4PartCount}}})  

Template:Disambiguate A virus infects the station's residents, making almost everyone unable to speak coherently.



Aboard DS9, Chief O'Brien is feeling both overworked and underappreciated. While he and his crew are in the docking pylon, trying to free several crew members stuck in a jammed airlock, a Boslic freighter captain, Jaheel, complains that O'Brien hasn't yet fixed his ship's antimatter flow converter; if his ship is left in dock for too long, the perishable goods aboard will be useless. After Jaheel exits with a rude comment, O'Brien is summoned to Lt. Dax's lab, where an incessant whine has been coming from her equipment. After fixing this, he rushes to Ops, to repair a conduit near Major Kira's terminal. Just as he's thought he's earned a breather, Commander Sisko gags on a mug of coffee delivered by the Ops replicator and asks why it hasn't been fixed yet. O'Brien grumpily makes his way down to the command level.

After fixing the replicators, O'Brien asks for a cup of coffee as a test. It tastes fine, but behind the panel, a long-hidden electronic device activates and starts sending a signal into the replicator.

Act One

In Quark's, Asoth, an angry Markalian customer complains to Quark about his Kohlanese stew, forcing Quark to taste a sample of it. Odo recommends Quark ask O'Brien to fix his replicators, but warns wryly that O'Brien is a very busy man. After Odo leaves the bar, Quark breaks into the Starfleet computer system to find the location of a replicator on the station that isn't broken.

Jadzia Dax, walking along the Promenade with Major Kira, discusses how odd it feels – being female for the first time in eighty years, she clarifies when Kira is confused. They notice Quark's is busy as they pass, and Quark himself greets them to say that they're having "a little party" to celebrate his replicators being fixed, and invites them to join in. Kira quickly excuses herself and tells Dax to go in if she wants. Dax is left flustered for a moment, before catching herself and smiling at Quark.

Back in Ops, Sisko thanks O'Brien for fixing the replicator; he also compliments the chief's wife, Keiko, on being a good teacher in the station's new school, which she recently opened. When Major Kira is speaking with O'Brien a moment later, his talk turns to gibberish, which no one can understand. He appears unable to comprehend anything said by anyone.

Act Two


O'Brien's confusing message

Dr. Bashir diagnoses the chief as suffering from aphasia, wherein the brain incorrectly interprets sights and sounds. As the senior staff discussed O'Brien's condition, Lieutenant Dax is suddenly stricken with aphasia, unable to communicate with the people around her. In the infirmary, Bashir discovers that a virus has infected the brain's synapses; as other crew members are afflicted, Sisko orders DS9 to be placed in quarantine immediately.

Odo notices that business is booming in Quark's. When questioned, Quark lies and says his replicators were fixed by Rom; in fact, Quark is surreptitiously using the replicator of a quarantined crew member. Odo, disguised as a piece of furniture, catches Quark in the act soon after this.

Sisko finds his son Jake on the Promenade after having been playing with classmate Nog. The concerned father orders his son back to their quarters. Sisko is now confronted by Jaheel, the impatient freighter captain, who is told to stay put.

Back in Ops, Sisko begins to suspect the replicators are spreading the virus. When Odo informs them that Quark has been supplying his entire menu with an infected replicator, Bashir checks the station's air, and determines that the virus has mutated into an airborne pathogen. They are now all infected; however, the virus has different incubation periods in different people.

Act Three

While searching with a tricorder, Kira finds the device hidden in the replicator's pattern generator. By now, 60 percent of the station is infected with the virus. The replicators were creating the virus within the food they were replicating (at the molecular level). While Kira initially suspects Cardassians are to blame, Doctor Bashir discovers that the virus is Bajoran in origin, placed aboard the station (possibly) by the Bajoran Resistance years ago; the device is 18 years old, the same age as DS9 itself, built in 2351.

As Sisko takes Jake, recently afflicted, to crew quarters converted into a hospital ward, he tries to console Dax and O'Brien, but they still can't comprehend one another. The situation soon worsens, as O'Brien is found unconscious in his hospital bed. The virus has attacked O'Brien's autonomic nervous system, threatening his life.

Act Four

Using her old contacts in the Bajoran Resistance, Kira tries to discover the creator of the virus. Her search leads her to a Dekon Elig, a Bajoran Resistance member, but he is deceased, his death certificate having been witnessed by a Surmak Ren, who was also a member of the underground. Surmak Ren has now been repatriated to Bajor and is currently a medical administrator. When she contacts him about the aphasia virus, he rudely terminates the connection.

Odo warns Quark that, with DS9's current skeleton staff, Quark would be held accountable for any thefts occurring during the quarantine. In the infirmary, as Dr. Bashir continues searching for a cure to no avail, he is overcome by the virus, suddenly speaking garbage to the medical computer and is forced to abandon his research.

Computer screen before (left) and after (right) Bashir is affected by the virus.

Sisko allows Kira to pilot a runabout (breaking quarantine) to Bajor to confront the uncooperative Surmak Ren. She beams him, without his permission, to the runabout. Kira exposes him to the virus, forcing him to help her in order to help himself. They return to DS9 to help with the cure.

On DS9, Jaheel (the impatient freighter captain) decides to leave the station without permission. However, the docking clamps are still securing his vessel to the space station. As he increases power to his engines, the mooring clamps become stuck in place. The freighter's engine begins to overheat, threatening to explode (and take half the docking ring with it).

Act Five

Odo suggests they explode the mooring clamps to blow the ship clear of the station, but finds himself soon working alone, as Sisko now succumbs to the sickness.

When Odo broadcasts a call for help throughout the entire station, it is answered in the form of Quark, one of the few people left unaffected. Quark assumes control of Ops, beaming Odo directly to the docking ring; Kira is absolutely stunned to find Quark answering her hail as she returns to the station. After boarding and showing Surmak to medical, however, she becomes the virus's latest unintelligible victim.

Odo rescues the babbling freighter captain and jettisons the doomed ship just in time. Surmak Ren, whose memory is refreshed about the virus once he looks at Doctor Bashir's notes, quickly develops an antidote for the virus, curing everyone.

As things begin to return to normal, Sisko welcomes O'Brien back to Ops – only to find a moment later that the replicators are faulty once more.

Log entries

Memorable quotes

"Chief, I thought you were going to fix the replicators!"
"Oh, you're absolutely right, sir! I knew I'd forgotten something! Can't have the operations chief sitting around daydreaming when there's work to be done, can we? Oh ho ho ho, I'll get right on it!"

- Benjamin Sisko and Miles O'Brien

"'Fix the replicators, chief.' 'My console's offline, chief.' Should have transferred to a cargo drone. No people, no complaints."

- O'Brien

"Major Kira, Lieutenant Dax... I'd be honored if you'd join my party, as my guests, of course."
"What's all this, Quark? You cheat your 1,000th customer?"
"Who says Bajorans don't have a sense of humor?"

- Quark and Kira

"There's an old Ferengi saying: 'Never ask when you can take.'"

- Quark

"Rom's an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent."

- Odo

"Waylink complete...WAYLINK!! "

- O'Brien undergoing a medical examination

"Food, dabo, drinks! Money, hand mine, give!"
"Well Quark, I see even you couldn't weasel your way clear of this one."
"You underestimate the Ferengi immune system, commander. I'm merely here visiting my less fortunate customers to make sure they're not faking their illness to avoid paying their bills!"

- Quark and Sisko

"All right. You can... cross barrels. All job appalled."
"What was that?"
"Bread... the arrive... seen earlier!"
"Oh, I see."

- Sisko and Odo

"Quark? Am I to believe that you're actually volunteering to help?"
"Who said anything about volunteering? We'll haggle over price later."

- Odo and Quark

"I've got to get down to the docking ring before that ship explodes."
"I'll beam you down there."
"Relax, I served on a Ferengi freighter for eight years. I must have witnessed the procedure hundreds of times."
"Witnessed?! You mean you never operated the controls yourself?"

- Odo and Quark

"Welcome back! I could use some help up here!"
"Quark?! What are you doing in Ops?"

- Quark and Kira

"Computer, replay morning."
"Command unclear. Please repeat."
"Glass lunch judge a bin to let it!"

- Julian Bashir, beginning to feel the effects of the aphasia virus and Deep Space 9's computer

"Dog... fellow... distance."
"Yeah, tell me about it."

- Jaheel and Odo


- Benjamin Sisko, after the replicators malfunction again

Background Information

Story and script

  • Ira Steven Behr named the episode "Babel", a reference to the the biblical Tower of Babel where, according to Genesis chapter 11, God confused the previously uniform language of humanity. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 8)
  • Michael Piller commented "We had this premise for over five years at Next Generation. It was written by the same person who wrote "Hollow Pursuits" for us, and we had always been attracted to the idea that you could suddenly lose the ability to use language and communicate, and how people are able to communicate with each other". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 43)
  • On the aphasic dialogue spoken by the characters, Michael McGreevey commented "As I was writing that dialogue, I was very worried about how it would come off. At first, I just wrote gibberish, and I realized that was a mistake: it couldn't just be gibberish, because the person who was speaking was trying to say something. I literally had to say the lines out loud. Then, on paper, I put the real meaning of the words in parentheses, keeping the rhythm the same. It was almost like writing poetry, because I was using a meter, like an iambic pentameter. I think it helped the actors in delivering those lines. But it was rather frightening to write that stuff". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 8)
  • This episode contains two references from the animated television series Ren and Stimpy. The first reference used was in the name of the Bajoran, Surmak Ren, who was named after the co-main character "Ren Höek." The second reference was made in the name of the Cardassian Gul Spumco, who was named after Spümcø, the animation studio responsible for the the Ren and Stimpy series. A third Ren and Stimpy reference would appear two episodes later, in "Q-Less", in the name of the planet Hoek IV, which was again named after "Ren Höek." Ira Steven Behr chose to show episodes of The Ren and Stimpy Show to improve relations between the writers. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • During filming, Ira Steven Behr rang Michael McGreevey to let him know the aphasic dialogue was working well. McGreevey commented "It's almost eery. That's what we wanted. We wanted the audience to feel uncomfortable. We almost hoped viewers would try to figure out what they saying. To be misunderstood so completely is very frustrating; I wanted that frustration in the script". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 8)
  • The scene where Sisko goes into the infirmary to find Jake has come down with the aphasia virus was extremely important to actor Avery Brooks because it was the first scene to establish the 'physical' intimacy between father and son. Indeed, this aspect of their relationship was initiated by Brooks himself; "It wasn't a thematic element. I don't have any trouble being physical with my children. That's a part of my nature, as opposed to something they wrote about Sisko and Jake. The first day I met Cirroc, I hugged him. And I hug him every time I see him." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)



  • This episode is the first credited writing contribution of Ira Steven Behr to the series.
  • After he repaired the replicator at the beginning of the episode O'Brien ordered his coffee "black, double sweet" which is consistent with his coffee order in "Rascals".
  • In reality there are different varieties of aphasia. Specifically, the DS9 crew was suffering from "global aphasia" because they could neither produce nor understand spoken language. As seen in the episode, global aphasia is often accompanied by alexia and agraphia, the inability to read and write, respectively, though aphasia alone is not caused by viral infection and does not result in death.
  • Geraldine Farrell, who portrayed Galis Blin, appeared with Bajoran make-up similar to Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren, with the ridge going across the bottom of the forehead. Other characters such as Opaka and Sito Jaxa who appeared with this extra ridge have had it removed in later appearances.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also Starring

Guest Stars


Uncredited Co-Stars


Adaptive synaptic inhibitor; aft thrusters; airlock; Akira Advanced Genetics Research Unit; alpha 1 priority; ankle; antidote; antimatter flow converter; aphasia; aphasia device; aphasia virus; Argosian sector; auditory stimuli; autonomic nervous system; Bajor; Bajoran; Bajoran Archival Records; Bajoran Medical Index; Bajoran underground; base correlation; base pair destabilizer; bio-filter; bird; blood; body language; booby trap; Boslic cargo vessel; brain; bread; bug; Cardassian; Cardassian High Command; Cardassian Intelligence; Cardassian Regional Court; cargo drone; cat; cc; Certificate of Death; chief administrator; class M; coffee; command level; corophizine; cranial trauma; crew quarters; crime; dabo table; dabo wheel; daydream; delta radiation; diboridium core; dinner; DNA; DNA sequencer; docking port; docking ring; dog; dolphin; drum; emergency quarantine; energy decay; environmental control; environmental system; EPS converter; Federation; Federation cargo drone; Federation records; female; Ferengi, Ferengi freighter; fever; fire control system; flame; flower; fuel cell;garden; genetic engineering; geneticist; genetic programming; genius; gestation period; gesture; ghost; glass; Glessene sector; gold; gul; harbor; head of security; Higa Metar; honeymoon; hospital; hyperonic radiation; I'danian spice pudding; Ilvia; Ilvian Medical Complex; immune system; intensity grid; interlock servo; isolation plate; isolinear rod; judge; kelvin; kiss; Kohlanese stew; Kohn-Ma; Kran-Tobal prison; laboratory; landing pad 7; Largo V; liaison officer; lunch; main power core; Markalian; mass spectrometry analysis; medical assistant; medical doctor; medical library; medical tricorder; military; millirad; money; monoclonial link; mooring clamps; mutagenic adaptability; navigational computer; neural imaging scan; neural parasite; neural stimulation; neural trauma; neurophysiological history; neurosynaptic comparison; Nog; northeastern district; northwestern district; nucleotide convergence; nucleotide sequence; O'Brien, Keiko; operations chief; ops; PADD; pattern generator; pepper; Personal duty log, Miles O'Brien; positron emission tomography; power core; power coupler; prison; progressive base substitution; protein; protein sheath degradation; Regulan bloodworm; repair crew; replicator; replimat; Rom; runabout; sabotage; salt; scientist; secondary grid; secondary infection; sect; security clearance; security officer; sequential disruption; skeleton crew; sky; spoon; Spumco; star chart; stardate; starduster; station layout; stew; stretcher; strike; Surmak Hoek; Surmak Stimson; Tamen Sasheer; tea-cart; teacher; temporal lobe; terrorist; tetracitrus gel; thrusters; tractor beam; triagar solution; tricorder; tunnel; turbolift; University of Bajor; Velos VII internment camp; Velos VII; victory; viral characterization research; virus; visual cortex; volt; wager; warp; weather; window

External links

Previous episode:
"A Man Alone"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 1
Next episode:
"Captive Pursuit"

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki