In which O’Brien commences to suffer, and Quark has an adventure.
Memory Alpha says: A virus infects the station’s residents, making everyone unable to speak coherently. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
Star Trek writers really like the word ‘Babel,’ because it’s been in the title of multiple episodes, including the awesome TOS ‘Journey to Babel’ in which we meet Sarek and Amanda, everyone looks extra classy in dress uniform jackets, and McCoy is just elated to hear that Spock had a childhood teddy bear.
I love his eyes. Furthermore, I felt quite unnerved when I realised that in the JJTrek universe, McCoy has brown eyes and Kirk has blue; what an inversion!
This episode is the most literal use of ‘Babel’ in Trek, because the name originates in a Biblical story that purports to explain why people in different places speak mutually unintelligible languages. Once upon a time all the humans got together to build a great tower at a place called Babel which was going to reach Heaven and really annoy God. So God caused them all to speak different languages so they couldn’t understand each other and co-operate, and the project was abandoned. I think this means the Universal Translator is an abomination, like eating shrimp, wearing poly-cotton blends, and Garak’s personal life. ‘Babel’ also, like ‘The Naked Time’ and ‘The Naked Now,’ introduces a contagion that messes with people’s minds, but to my eternal gratitude, nobody is going to get awkwardly laid.
Remember how last time the upper docking pylons were fucked? This week it’s one of the steampunk cogwheel airlocks, and the people stuck inside are really ticked. My imaginary husband O’Brien is trying to deal with this when he’s quite vigorously shoulder-tapped by an alien merchant captain who looks like a sad shaggy dog. O’Brien explains that he has to prioritise the airlock because the people in there have been stuck for over an hour, but the captain’s been waiting for two days for repairs to his ship, and his cargo is in danger of spoiling. O’Brien offers him a repair crew by the end of the day, saying that’s the best he can do, and the captain says reproachfully ‘Your best, Mr O’Brien, hardly seems good enough.’ O’Brien is digesting that, and probably thinking some quite rude words, when he gets a call from Dax, who has ‘a little problem’ in her lab.
Dax is waiting for him in the hall, because whatever’s wrong in the lab is making the most horrendous screechy feedback noise. He asks her a couple of questions about things she’s already checked (I am sure Jadzia doesn’t call tech support until she’s tried turning it off and on again), and thinks he knows what’s wrong. There, he fixed it. All the lights go off. Magnificently, he asks if there’s anything else he can do for her. (If he wants to come to my place and fix the broadband connection, I’ll make him lunch.)
In Ops, Kira is fed up with the computer not working properly for two days. O’Brien mends it for her and she says ‘Ah, that’s more like it,’ rather than ‘Thank you very much.’ I understand she just wants to get on with the job she couldn’t do while the computer was messed up, but it wouldn’t hurt to say. O’Brien is pooped – he hasn’t had a proper sleep for ages, and would settle for five minutes’ peace and quiet – but just then Sisko bitches at him for not fixing the replicators yet. (I think he burned his precious baby tongue on his hot drink.) O’Brien engages in Working Class Passive Aggressive Sarcasm, and Sisko looks confused.
In the glowing guts of the replicator, O’Brien imitates their voices and grumbles to himself ‘Should’ve transferred to a cargo drone – no people, no complaints.’ Well. Except from Keiko. But she’s a given. He tests the replicator, which makes some alarming flashy lights, but produces an acceptable cup of sweet, sweet black coffee. (By the way, which nation do you think drinks the most tea on Earth? Are you going to say the Chinese or the Indians? No, it’s the Irish. Source of all their powers.) That’s all right, then – but a slow travelling shot back into the machine’s innards reveals a little extra device which blinks into life.
In the bar, Odo and Quark are having a little chat. Business is slow today – in fact, business is just one guy at the counter, and he’s not even Morn. Just last week, I think, they were talking about how busy Quark’s was, but now Odo thinks Quark may be forced to close down, which would make his job easier. Quark says that without him, Odo would just have to find someone else to pick on, and accuses him of gloating. Hey, gloating is the only pleasure Odo gets most days. He loves a good gloat.
The guy at the bar is loudly displeased with the quality of his food. Quark offers him an exchange, and the guy forces him to taste it. It’s evidently revolting. As the guy keeps trying to force-feed a choking Quark, Odo firmly intervenes, because only he gets to pick on Quark. As the bully leaves, Odo gloats ‘Another satisfied customer.’ Quark’s replicator is borked, and he’s down at the bottom of O’Brien’s waiting list. ‘The chief’s a very busy man,’ Odo gloats some more as he leaves with a warm sense of schadenfreude. Is the implication that nobody wants to come to Quark’s because now the food is shitty? But you can still drink, because he has lots of bottled drinks, and there are still the gaming tables and scantily clad ladies and the holosuites upstairs. It wouldn’t keep me away. Quark sits down at his computer and looks up the locations of replicators O’Brien has already repaired. That information, for some reason, is classified, and he goes into his till for a chip containing the appropriate security clearance. Clever, sneaky little Quark.
Back at Ops, O’Brien presents Sisko with a much more satisfactory cup of coffee, and gets a sincere ‘Very much appreciated, Chief.’ Good. There are still a lot of replicators that need fixed, though, so he doesn’t get to rest just yet. Sisko notices that he doesn’t look very well, and O’Brien says he feels hot but blames it on the messed-up AC. As he walks off, Sisko sends his regards to Mrs O’Brien, saying Jake enjoys her teaching. O’Brien says ‘She’s flower units about the lad herself.’ When a puzzled Sisko asks what that was, he repeats ‘She’s quite fond of the lad herself.’ Sisko’s glad to hear that, but he watches O’Brien a little curiously as he leaves. Okay. So far just seems like over-tiredness.
Next, a scene briefly establishing Kira and Jadzia’s friendship. As with Beverly and Deanna on the Enterprise, or indeed Jake and Nog, I get the impression that they make friends mainly because they don’t have a lot of options. It’s difficult to socialise with people outside your approximate level of rank, and most women, even if they get on really well with men, feel the need to have at least one woman friend, someone who gets the things that men just don’t experience. Benjamin and Odo are both good friends, but neither of them can be counted upon to lend you a tampon in an emergency. Jadzia and Kira don’t seem like women who would be naturally drawn together if they met socially, particularly because Kira tends to be very earnest and Jadzia has a much more urbane and light-hearted view of life, but I do think their friendship works in terms of mutual support and understanding. I guess the women’s friendships in Trek will continue to be this way as long as there are too many dicks on the dancefloor.
As they walk along the promenade, passing men greet them with ‘Ladies’ (Jadzia smiles nicely, Kira nods tersely) and ‘Hello Lieutenant’ (although fortunately not in a ‘Hello Nurse’ tone). Jadzia remarks that she’d forgot how different it is as a woman, since she hasn’t been one for eighty years – the level of attention she gets. She quite likes it. Well, it’s all right when you’re a tall, beautiful woman with hundreds of years’ confidence and wisdom and Klingon kung fu. For ordinary girls it can get a bit wearying. (Please, men, the next time a woman reacts negatively to what you think is a pleasant greeting, remember how many of us get persistently hassled with uninvited attention just for being out in public – and no, to us going out in public does not count as inviting attention. It’s the principle of ‘once bitten, twice shy,’ and most of us have been bitten several times.)
Quark calls them over to the window of his bar and invites them in, ‘as my guests, of course.’ Kira asks if he’s celebrating cheating his thousandth customer, and he calmly replies ‘Who says Bajorans don’t have a sense of humour?’ The party is in honour of the replicator (supposedly) working again, and he offers them a special pudding. Girls love pudding. Jadzia says ‘What do you think?’ Kira thinks she’s due back at ops, but Jadzia can go ahead if she likes. Jadzia hesitates a moment more, then smiles at Quark and heads for the door. He looks stoked and scampers around to greet her. I like the fact that this scene also marks the beginning of Jadzia and Quark being friends, although Quark isn’t thinking of it that way yet.
At ops, Kira says ‘Chief?’ and he weakly responds ‘How can I help you, Major?’ For the second time, someone tells O’Brien he doesn’t look well, but he keeps soldiering on.
‘I suppose this isn’t a good time to tell you that number three turbolift has broken down again.’ O’Brien gives her a miserable look, and she smiles, ‘Joking, chief.’ Oh, that Bajoran sense of humour!
‘Major, larks strew pepper,’ O’Brien says, and while it’s obvious from the inflection that he’s saying ‘That’s not funny,’ that was total word salad. And word salad is all he can say, to Kira’s confusion. At first O’Brien seems to think that what he’s saying is normal and she’s still messing with him, but realisation and fear dawn on his face and he hurries off to the lift. Kira looks after him, and I hope that soon someone will actually look after him.
It looks as if O’Brien, very sensibly, went straight to sick-bay, where Julian examines him and can’t find anything physiologically wrong with his brain. O’Brien picks up a pad and types on its screen, but he can’t even write coherently. He’s getting very frustrated and upset, trying to leave, and Kira has to push him back to sit on the examination bed. Julian explains that he’s got some form of aphasia – he can still think clearly, but there’s a complete mismatch between the words he intends and the words that come out. To make matters even scarier for O’Brien, he can’t understand what other people are saying to him either. Julian pronounces ‘aural’ ‘ow-ral,’ which is not something I’ve heard before. Does he say ‘ow-dio’ too? Colm Meaney is doing a very good job with his nonsense dialogue, and I assume he had his own idea of what O’Brien was trying to say in each case and spoke accordingly.
In Ops, Jadzia and Sisko pepper Julian with questions. Aphasia usually results from head trauma, but O’Brien’s head is untraumatised (well, no more so than usual). He hasn’t had a stroke either, and there’s nothing in the medical library that matches. Sisko asks if Julian has any theories, and when he says not yet, says ‘Find one.’ Oh, thank you, that’s ever so helpful! I really hadn’t thought of trying that! He tells Kira to find O’Brien’s duty log and find out where he’s been and what he’s been doing. She had already thought of doing that, because she’s competent, and he’s been all over the station. Sisko tells her to retrace his steps, and tells Jadzia to temporarily take over O’Brien’s job. But there and then, in the middle of answering him, Jadzia comes down with the aphasia herself, and there’s an upswell of discordant, chaotic noise in the score, which I rather like. I don’t like Sisko at the moment, because screw him with his impatient, dismissive ‘Find one.’ I hope all his coffees are cold or too hot or taste like vinegar.
As Julian explains, aphasia doesn’t spontaneously develop like that, so they’re dealing with a disease that ‘only mimics aphasia.’ He’s compared the synapses of Dax and O’Brien’s brains, and found a nasty little virus in their temporal lobes, fucking with the connection between a thing and the word for a thing. Just then, two more aphasic people are brought in, but they’re nobodies. Sisko orders a quarantine.
Odo heads along to Quark’s bar, where one again business is thriving and people are playing dabo, or to put it aphasically, barnacle. Now how, he asks Quark, can that be, when all shops and businesses have been ordered to close until further notice? Except, Quark says, for essential station operations, and he considers Quark’s essential to mental health at a stressful time like this. Odo thinks they would be safer in their quarters. Sitting quietly. Thinking virtuous thoughts. That jerk from earlier is at the bar eating again, and this time he thinks it’s magnificent. Quark claims Rom was able to fix the replicators, which Odo thinks is just a bit too convenient. Quark looks shifty, and you’d think he’d be a better bare-faced liar.
A melancholy crane shot of the deserted promenade takes us to Jake on one of the overbridges, getting nabbed by Sisko, who expected him home an hour ago. Jake says ‘Sorry, I was at Nog’s,’ and I guess because he’s got other things on his mind, Sisko doesn’t really react to that, because ‘Sorry, I was at the home of a friend you’ve forbidden me to play with because you think he’ll corrupt me’ doesn’t usually make a good excuse for lateness. Jake is anxious about the quarantine, and Sisko reassures him that he’s just playing it safe. The sad dog captain from earlier walks up to complain some more, although he’s supposed to be on his ship locked down. He wants Sisko’s permission to leave, because none of his crew seem affected, and if they don’t go soon his cargo will be ruined. The Sisko is having none of it. The captain now says, ‘Please. I don’t want to get sick.’ But Sisko tells him that until they find a cure, nobody’s going anywhere.
In a corridor somewhere, Quark pushes a trolley along. He unlocks a door with a little wireless device, and goes in to a replicator. The first thing he orders is a rather nice pink cocktail for himself, and while he’s taking it out and tasting it, the trolley gloops into Odo. ‘I thought the front wheels were sticking a bit,’ Quark says, awesomely.
Odo growls at him that he shouldn’t be in the crew quarters, and he could simply have asked to use a working replicator. Quark claims there’s an old Ferengi saying, ‘Never ask when you can take.’ (He doesn’t yet refer to this as a Rule of Acquisition, but I presume it’s in the book somewhere. They did, of course, put out a book of the Rules of Acquisition – I remember seeing it in a comics shop when I was at uni. The cover picture was Quark in a parody of the Vitruvian Man, although fortunately with all his clothes on, and he contributed a foreword in which he compared the DS9 showrunners to hobbits and woodland creatures. I’m pretty sure I do remember Quark using the word ‘hobbit,’ which I always found pleasing. Armin Shimerman would make a lovely hobbit; can he be a Sackville-Baggins in the next movie?)
Quark asks how Odo knew. Well, Quark claimed Rom fixed it, and ‘Rom’s an idiot. He couldn’t fix a straw if it was bent.’ a) Nice bartending analogy, b) that’s getting retconned.
‘You’re right. Rom is an idiot. Remind me to get rid of him tomorrow.’
Back in ops, Julian has worked out that the virus is spread by ingestion – it’s in the food. Kira protests that all the food on the station is replicated, and all the replicators use bio-filters to screen out contaminants – which I guess work about as well as ‘maximum decontamination’ on the Enterprise‘s transporters. Julian says that he’s taken samples from replicators all over the station, and all the ones on the command level are contaminated. The Sisko objects that they’ve all eaten from those, but aren’t all sick, and Julian handwaves that the incubation period varies a great deal between individuals. Kira gets an ‘oh shit’ look on her face and tells them that the last job O’Brien did was fixing those replicators.
Sisko orders those replicators shut down and inspected, but Julian says that’s not enough – he’s getting aphasic patients from all over the station. And you know how I was ranting earlier about how people should say ‘How is that possible?’ instead of ‘That’s impossible’? That’s what Sisko says, so I have to give him a brownie point, although I really don’t want to because he’s such a stroppy bitch this episode. Odo, who I suspect of waiting just out of sight until he heard a good feed line, walks in to tell them Quark is to blame – he was using a replicator in a vacant crew apartment on the command level, and selling the food from his bar.
And now Julian discovers that the virus has mutated into an airborne form. So they’re all screwed.
It would be hilarious if the Sisko voiceover that begins the next scene was just like ‘Tarot phones scarf battery tissue. Edible bottles match liniment,’ but instead he recaps for viewers who got home late and just tuned in. They’ve locked down the station and are telling any approaching ships to stand off.
Kira inspects the glowing gubbins inside a replicator, and locates the nasty little blinkenlights device. Clever girl!
Kira shows it to Sisko, and explains that it built a virus into the replicated food. Sabotage. She’s sure it’s Cardassian sabotage, because it has (basically) Cardassian batteries. Now would be a great time to go see Garak, since he’s reputed to be a spy, but we don’t get him again until Season 2. Boo! Bashir summons Sisko to sickbay.
The reason is that Jake has come down with aphasia. Here again, Avery Brooks makes a good impression on me with how naturally he shows Sisko’s affection for Jake, cupping his face between his hands, drawing his head forward to lean on his chest and kissing the top of his head, and putting his arm around him as he leads him away to the emergency ward Bashir has had set up. Because Jake can’t understand his dad’s words just now, those gestures of comfort and encouragement are extra important. Bashir says he’s got something to show Sisko when he’s free, and watches them go, presumably thinking ‘Wish I had a nice dad like that.’
In the ward, set up in vacant crew quarters, people are looking miserable and Quark is trying, in a sort of frantic pidgin, to remind a man that he owes him money. Sisko comes in with Jake and says ‘I see you couldn’t weasel your way out of this one.’ Quark responds ‘You underestimate the Ferengi immune system.’ Well, I imagine the Ferengi immune system is highly resistant to damp. He’s checking on his customers to make sure they’re not faking to avoid paying their tabs.
Sisko: No-one could be that devious.
Quark: I am. YOU! GOLD! OWE MEEE!
Oh I love you, Quark. I think it must have been a relief and a pleasure for Trek writers to get to handle a regular character who wasn’t noble and gallant.
Sisko finds Jake a bed, near where Dax and O’Brien are lying, looking sweaty and unhappy. He tries to give some reassurance, and leaves to see what Julian was on about.
The virus is synthetic, because it’s too tidy. However, Julian doesn’t think it’s Cardassian GE, because it’s just not their style. (How interesting that Julian is conversant with different styles of genetic engineering.) In fact, the style is Bajoran. He thinks it was a plot to sabotage the Cardassians while they were here.
In Sisko’s office, Kira reports that the blinkenlights device is as old as the station. It must have been smuggled on board during construction eighteen years ago – before, Odo notes, he was the sheriff. Well, of course. None of that malarkey on his watch. Kira surmises that the device’s makers were killed or captured before they had a chance to set it off, and Sisko wants her to use her resistance contacts to find out who made it. She’s not sure she can do that after eighteen years, and Odo points out that even if she can find the maker, they may never have created an antidote.
Why would you? Fuckin’ Cardies.
You know, I am much less interested in details of plot like this than I am in threshing over characters’ personalities and relationships. Such a girl.
Kira talks to some Bajoran lady with silly hair on a viewscreen, who instantly suggests someone who might have been involved, so that’s handy. The last she heard, he was in a Cardassian prison – and that was nine years ago. That’s all she’s got. Less handy.
In the ward, Jake gets into a panic and tries to get a nurse to follow him. The point is, poor old O’Brien, Patient Zero, has developed a nasty fever. He would, wouldn’t he? When do the spots and the vomiting start?
Bashir gives O’Brien some medicine, but apparently the virus has started doing nasty things to his neural system. It’s all a bit of a worry. Unless Bashir can counteract the virus, the chief’s got about twelve hours, and he still hasn’t made any progress. Seven other patients are now in O’Brien’s state. DUN DUN DUN. It’s all on Kira now. Bashir says he’d like to meet the virus’ creator himself, because it’s a work of genius. Sisko gives him a Look and says ‘I’ll try to arrange that for you.’
Kira is searching Bajoran archives for ‘Dekon Elig,’ her only lead, but it turns out he was killed while trying to escape. Sisko turns up and helpfully informs her of the twelve-hour deadline. Note that he does not offer to help her search, or even say anything encouraging. I am so glad he’s not my boss.
Kira calls up Elig’s certificate of death, and asks for info on the witness, a Doctor Surmak Ren. And his name? Is a tribute to Ren and Stimpy. Seriously. I remember loving Ren & Stimpy in the seventh form, but it has not weathered well for me (apart from the line ‘Quick, man! Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!’ I still hear the ‘Nose Goblins’ song from the soundtrack album in my head sometimes). He was also a resistance worker and prisoner, but has been repatriated to Bajor.
In his bar, Quark is playing dabo all alone, which sucks. Also, he’s losing. Odo comes in and Quark, who’s evidently feeling a bit lonely and scared, asks him to play. Odo looks away, and Quark says nobody has to know. It has nothing to do with Odo’s reputation – the truth is he never learned the game. So he’s sat in this bar, all these years, and never worked it out? ‘No wonder you always look so bored,’ Quark says. He offers to teach Odo the rules, but he says he has to get back to Ops. Since all his security team have aphasia, the promenade is very vulnerable. The real reason for his visit is to tell Quark to watch his step, because he’ll hold him responsible if anything goes missing. Quark watches him go, and mutters ‘Dabo.’
Julian is trying out different possible antidotes with the computer, and so far nothing works. And then… he goes aphasic himself. The computer can’t understand him any more. We have a POV shot in which the text on the computer screen has been replaced by word salad. I always wondered whether the words that turn up in an individual’s aphasia are in any way representative of their personality. If so, we may now note that Julian’s includes the words ‘honeymoon dolphin.’ (Good name for a band?) He looks worried and blinks a lot.
Kira is evidently tired, but pressing on, trying to find contact information for Surmak Ren. She manages to track him down and places a call. Surmak comes up, and claims he knows nothing about the virus, and instantly hangs up, which isn’t suspicious at all. Kira is mad.
Odo is protesting to Sisko that he’s a good security officer, but not qualified to help him run operations – however, he’s all Sisko’s got. Kira reports that she’s found their guy, but he’s evasive. She starts to run off and Sisko asks where she’s going – to continue the conversation, of course. He reminds her of the quarantine, and she, getting exasperated (as am I with his leaden manner), says she’s well aware of that and doesn’t intend to land on the planet. Odo advises Sisko to let her go: ‘She’s all we’ve got.’ Because he likes saying ominous things, he adds ‘Let’s just hope there’s someone to greet her when she returns.’
Kira flies away in a runabout. GO KIRA.
Sisko visits Jake on the ward and gives him a hug. He tries to encourage him, saying things will get better, and he won’t lose him. Another kiss on the head for poor little Jake. I feel heavily divided between how irritating I currently find Sisko as an officer, and how much I like him as a daddy.
In ops, Odo shows Sisko there’s activity on docking port five – the sad dogface captain is trying again to leave. Sisko warns him that they’re not going to release the docking clamps, but he turns on his engines. His whole crew are in the aphasia ward and he is desperate to leave while he can still function. Sisko points out that he’ll be worse off if he comes down with the virus out in space alone, but he won’t listen. Sisko instructs Odo to release the clamps, but grab him with the tractor beam when he’s clear of the station. However, with dogface’s ship currently pulling away from the clamps, they get stuck and can’t retract (why, it’s just like a Chinese finger trap). The ship is getting damaged by the strain, and is in danger of exploding – which would ruin the docking ring.
Out in Bajoran space, Kira makes another call to Surmak’s office, confirms that he’s there, and then beams him onto her runabout. CLEVER GIRL.
Sisko and Odo can’t get back in touch with dogface – his communication system is damaged, and when they patch through, his bridge is on fire and he’s out of sight. They have about fifteen minutes before an explosion, and Sisko is starting to feel sick. He sends out a call for anyone still in their right mind to report to ops and help. Odo suggests exploding the mooring clamps to push the ship clear of the docking ring. That will have to be done manually. Odo volunteers to go, and Sisko starts to talk gibberish. ‘Oh… I see,’ says Odo.
On the runabout, Stimpy is accusing Kira of kidnapping and threatening her with jail time. She doesn’t care, and says he has to help them because he created the virus. He says, though, that he only assisted, and that was a long time ago. Kira insists on an antidote, but he says he doesn’t know of any. He doesn’t believe he can help. Kira suggests, then, that he try to help himself. Because she is lousy with the virus and breathing all over his face.
I might need a Kira DEAL WITH IT gif.
Odo, in Ops, is getting worried. He sends out a shaky-voiced call saying ‘I could really use some help.’ Enter, of course, Quark, gloating. He offers his help, for a price to be settled later. Odo says he has to get over to that docking port before it gets blown up, and Quark casually says ‘I’ll beam you over.’ He served on a Ferengi freighter for eight years, after all – he’s witnessed the procedure hundreds of times.
Odo: Witnessed? You mean you’ve never handled the controls yourself?
Quark (gleefully): Energising!
He gives Odo a little wave bye-bye and looks around Ops with great satisfaction, because now this is An Adventure.
Kira, coming back in her runabout, hails the station and gets a cheery greeting from Quark. (So Odo’s hope came true.) She asks wtf he’s doing in there, and he is just giddy with glee and gloats. I love how excited he is. There’s a little tiny bit of a swashbuckler in Quark.
Dr Stimpy has a look at Julian’s work so far, and the aphasia starts to affect Kira. Dear oh dear!
Odo goes and rescues the dogface captain from his stupid burning ship, and he has aphasia. As he burbles, Odo mutters ‘Tell me about it.’
Dr Stimpy has found the antidote! Hurrah! (I get the impression that Julian would have found it too, if he’d stayed well for another ten minutes or so.)
Odo releases the dogface ship just in time, with Quark yelling the countdown at him. It hurtles away and splodes in space, shaking the station but doing no real damage. So much for that cargo he was worried about; I hope he had insurance. Quark hails Odo to make sure he’s okay and raises the matter of his fee for all this help, and Odo is all ‘Why youuuu!’
Closing voiceover, and everyone’s getting better. O’Brien is back at work in ops. The replicator is fucked up again, and Sisko yells at O’Brien like it’s his fault!
Best thing about this episode: Odo and Quark’s sparring and gloating. Worst thing about this episode: Sisko’s a dick! Again, the conclusion felt a bit rushed.
Next time, back to TNG, for ‘Where No One Has Gone Before,’ the episode that introduces Wesley’s, uhhh, older gentleman admirer, the Traveller.