Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 01 E 05 Babel
"I'm sorry, Chief, what's this about hovercrafts and eels again?"

O'Brien has been having a bad day. He's been run ragged all across DS9, fixing one broken system after another. While fiddling with the main floor replicators, his day gets worse. He is infected with an aphasia virus, a disease which leaves him babbling incomprehensible gibberish. Said disease was left in a booby trap planted by Bajoran terrorists during the early construction of DS9.

And the virus is spreading, in part thanks to Quark who, with a malfunctioning replicator killing his business, decides to use a replicator in an empty set of crew quarters to provide his menu. With O'Brien suffering a heavy fever, it's become apparent this virus is fatal.

Doing a little digging, Kira traces the disease back to its creator, a Bajoran terrorist named Dekon Elig. Problem is, he's dead, having been killed trying to escape Cardassian confinement. With that lead a dead-end, she seeks out Surmak Ren, the doctor who signed Dekon's death certificate. At the first mention of the virus, he terminates connection.

Almost all of DS9 is infected, with only Sisko, Odo, and Quark unaffected. With Kira leaving to "persuade" doctor Surmak to assist her, Sisko and Odo deal with another problem: A panicking cargo captain named Jaheel attempts to leave the station. Sisko insists he can't be risked spreading the virus, but Jaheel persist and fries his ship trying to tear loose from the docking ring with the clamps still locked. Now his ship is a ticking time bomb about to take the docking ring with it.

Meanwhile, Kira has located Surmak. Beaming him straight from his office to a Runabout, Kira reveals to the good doctor that she was already infected, and so now he is infected as well. This more than convinces him to get working an an antidote.

Sisko finally gives in to the virus, leaving Odo alone at Ops. Enter Quark, who works the transporter for Odo (despite barely knowing what he's doing with it) so he can rescue Jaheel and jettison his ship before it explodes.

With that, the virus is cured and life aboard DS9 returns to normal.


  • Admiring the Abomination: Bashir calls the virus a work of genius.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: The plot kicks off because the replicators can't produce a decent cup of coffee, and it's O'Brien's repairs that sets off the booby trap. At the end of the episode, with the device removed, the replicators still won't put out good coffee, forcing Miles to have to fix them again.
  • Blatant Lies: Quark tries claiming Rom fixed the bars replicator. Odo doesn't buy this for the obvious reason.
    Odo: Rom is an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent.
  • Butt-Monkey: Starting his long tradition of being DS9's punching bag, O'Brien is the first infected with the virus after being worked to the bone repairing malfunctioning system after malfunctioning system. He also comes closest to dying of the virus.
  • Closest Thing We Got: With most of the Starfleet and Bajoran personnel incapacitated by the virus, Sisko recruits Odo to fill in, despite his protestations that he's trained for security, not station operations.
  • Curse of Babel: The effect of the bioweapon.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Jaheel: Dog! Fellow! Distance!
    Odo: Tell me about it.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Quark quotes an 'old Ferengi saying' instead of a Rule of Acquisition. Rom fixing the replicators is treated like an absurd lie rather than business as usual.
  • From Bad to Worse: Bashir reports that the virus has become airborne, meaning that nobody on DS9 is safe.
  • Here We Go Again!: After all the trouble they went through, the replicators in Ops are still broken and Sisko barks at O'Brien to fix it.
  • Ironic Echo: Sisko admits that Odo is probably right about being unqualified for station operations, but it's necessary anyway because "you're all I've got". When Kira presents her plan to kidnap Surmak Ren, Odo suggests that Sisko go along with the idea because "she's all you've got".
  • Spanner in the Works: Thanks to Quark, the virus spreads that much more quickly through the station.
  • Shout-Out: To The Ren & Stimpy Show.
    • Surmak Ren is the most obvious one, supported by the fact that Ren is the son of Hoek (Ren's last name) and Stimson (Stimpy's real name).
    • Gul Spumco is named after the production company that produced said animation.
  • Taking You with Me: Kira convinces Surmak to work on curing the virus by abducting him and revealing that he is now infected.
  • Translation by Volume: Quark tries this on several patients who owe him money. Obviously, it doesn't help.
  • Troll: Quark offers to beam Odo to Jaheel's ship, citing his service aboard a Ferengi freighter. He then says "I must have witnessed the procedure a hundred times," right before energizing.
  • Word Salad: How everyone infected with the virus talks.