not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake

Now I Watch All Babylon 5: "Believers"

I originally watched a lot of Babylon 5 when it was airing, but I got a late start: I only started watching it regularly sometime during the third season. Some time after that, a friend hosted a VCR'd B5 watchathon to catch latecomers like me up, going through the significant and arc-y episodes of the first and second seasons, but skipping a lot of others so we could do it in a day.

I also never watched season 5 (due to a change in my access to a TV).

I've always meant to go back and watch the whole thing from scratch and give it a fair shake. (In fact, maybe I have already and I've just forgotten it.)

Well, the time has come, and I'm watching them now. I also remembered that Shaenon Garrity, author of Narbonic and Skin Horse, started rewatching and recapping the series a year and a half ago, but (apparently) abandoned it after 9 episodes.

So I'm going to pick up where she left off.

Season 1, Episode 10: Believers

Plot: An alien child will die unless Dr. Franklin performs surgery on him, but his parents refuse to allow the operation since it violates their obviously-Christian-Science-inspired religious beliefs.

Dr. Franklin appeals to Sinclair for permission to operate anyway; the parents, lacking an ambassador on Bablyon 5, appeal to Sinclair to be their advocate, then turn to each of the major ambassadors in turn, all of whom decline to help (Kosh: "The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.")

Sinclair decides in favor of the parents; Dr. Franklin chooses to operate anyway, successfully; the parents treat the post-surgery child as no better than a zombie, and kill him (offscreen).

B plot: Ivanova takes out a star fury to escort a ship past some raiders.

The Title Means: The alien family have their beliefs, but then, so does everyone else.

Comments: The A plot feels like a very Star Trek-y morality tale. In my research, I found JMS commenting that he thought that this sort of ending was something no other show had done, but it reminds me quite a lot of the David Ogden Stiers ST: TNG episode (and I've only seen like 20 episodes of Next Gen, so maybe there are better matches), which predated it by a few years. (To be far, the Franklin choice and the twist differ there, but they do lead to the same place.)

Most of the show is devoted to discussing the morality of intervening against others' beliefs, and the show offers little guidance; Sinclair's decision is based more on practical matters of the greater success of Bablyon 5, and by design it didn't matter what Franklin chose to do. Overall it seems like an awful lot of debating to stretch out over 40 minutes (especially given the paucity of the B plot).

The show manages the tone so that at the ending I don't think we're supposed to imagine the parents being charged with murder (I dithered for a long time how to say "kill him" in the plot summary), but it's hard to see how they wouldn't be.

The Ivanova B plot is pretty frivolous, seemingly just an excuse to get her out of C&C. The whole mission is about avoiding tipping off the raiders because it would be bad, and when they do finally tip off the raiders, the show leaves the resolution of the problem offscreen, skipping to the safe return.

Kosh is a lot wordier in the show than he is in my memory.
Tags: now i watch all babylon 5
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