Babylon 5: Confessions and Lamentations

When plague strikes the station, Delenn and Lennier risk themselves to help while Dr. Franklin races to save the Markab race.

This is a very heavy episode. Let’s start with the funny bit first: the infamous dinner. Back in A Race Through Dark Places, Sheridan took Delenn out to dinner. Now Delenn returns the favor by inviting Sheridan to a ceremonial Minbari meal. Everything has to be done perfectly, and Lennier stayed up two days working on it. I can’t say I blame him if the idea of doing another meal doesn’t sound to appealing to him at the moment. And just like the food had to be prepared in a precise order, eating the meal is also an extremely ritualistic affair. If not done properly, you have to start over again. Sheridan falls asleep during the meal, but since he had no doubt already had a busy day I can’t entirely blame him, especially with all that meditation. Then Sheridan gets a call from Ivanova after he is woken up, and Delenn assures Sheridan that all the rituals of the meal had already been completed. I have to wonder about this, though, since if not true, Delenn could arguably have lied to save Sheridan’s honor. And you have to wonder what Lennier and Delenn said to each other in religious caste Minbari after Sheridan left. . .

It is just as well that we have this light moment, since the rest of the episode is heavy. When a ship from the Markab homeworld is overdue, Keefer and his squad are sent out to investigate. And on his way out, Ivanova reigns Keffer in on Sheridan’s orders. Keffer has been looking for the mysterious race he saw in hyperspace back in A Distant Star, which we now know are the Shadows. When they get to the ship, there are no life signs. Earlier, there had been three Markab deaths on Babylon 5, all due to seeming natural causes. Franklin is suspicious, however, in spite of the assurances of his Markab colleague Dr. Lazarenn, since this a higher rate than what occurs naturally. Franklin is right to be concerned. All these dead Markab, on the station and on the ship, were killed by plague. When Dr. Franklin confronts Dr. Lazarenn about this, Lazarenn says he was ordered to say nothing. Centuries ago, there was another outbreak. Thankfully, it was confined to an isolated island and the disease ran it’s course before others came. The island was known for it’s immorality, and so the disease came to be associated with immorality, and seen as the judgment of God on the victims. It also became a legend, a story to scare children into obedience – be good or the plague of Drafa will get you. The first new outbreaks occurred about a year earlier, but were of course not reported because of how the disease would reflect on the individuals and families involved. A few, Dr. Lazarenn included, have been searching for a cure, but with little if any support. The disease is completely fatal and completely contagious. One question facing Dr. Franklin and his team is the possibility of the disease jumping to other races.

Sheridan is forced to quarantine the station, which does not make people happy. Franklin starts testing all the Markab he can convince. Markab are dying at an increasing rate. The Markab ambassador, however, is outraged at the insinuation that his people are unclean from this disease. He has most of the Markab population on Babylon 5 join him in an isolation zone. Then, the first Pak’ma’ra death is found. Dr. Lazarenn offers to do the autopsy in isolab, to protect the others and to help. Meanwhile, Garibaldi and his people have their hands full keeping down violence, especially against the Markab who are not in isolation. A nice moment when Garibaldi helps up a Markab who has been beaten in spite of the risk to himself.

Franklin and his people have determined that the disease is airborne, and, without going into detail, somehow keeps signals from the brain from the rest of the body. Dr. Lazarenn starts showing the first symptoms, and immediately has Franklin start examining him. Delenn asks Sheridan to go into the isolation area with Lennier who won’t leave her to help in whatever way they can. Sheridan doesn’t want to, but finally agrees. Dr. Lazarenn reminisces about when he met Franklin while he was hitchhiking. Nice comment from him as well that sometimes the point is not to pass the test but to see how well you fail. Franklin, however, is not taking things so well. He is taking stims to stay awake, he is yelling at his staff, and is starting to loose control. When it is confirmed that the Drafa has jumped to the Pak’ma’ra, Franklin starts looking for similarities between the two species. Why the Pak’ma’ra first? Before he gets an answer, Dr. Lazarenn dies. Meanwhile, Delenn befriends a Markab girl whose father earlier died and who has lost her mother. This is the first time we hear the phrase, “faith manages”. While Lennier goes to look for the mother, Delenn tells the girl of a time when she got lost and was scared, but she found her way to an abandoned temple. She waited long, but eventually she saw a being that gave her such peace. Then she was found by her parents. And right on cue, Lennier returns with the girl’s mother. It is a joyful reunion. Until Delenn realizes the girl has the first symptoms of the disease. Dr. Franklin has found his answer and a cure. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say vital cells are being killed, and he has a way to stimulate cell growth. He rushes with Sheridan and Ivanova to the isolation area, but it is too late. Everyone there is dead except for Delenn and Lennier. We later learn from ISN that aside from a few ships and isolated colonies, the Markab race is dead. Delenn takes a positive view and encourages Sheridan to do the same, seeing what can be learned from the experience. Franklin, on the other hand is just depressed by it, especially by some of the reactions of others to this news.

There are one or two arc bits squeezed into this episode, though I’m not sure you could really call it an arc episode. But it is sure a powerful one, on the level of Believers from the first season. How do we react in a life threatening crisis like this? It says a lot about us as individuals and societies.

Dr. Lazarenn and Dr. Franklin are old friends, but Dr. Lazarenn has been holding out on something.

I don’t think Lennier is in any big hurry to prepare another Mimbari ritual meal.

Yes, Sheridan, just like math, Minbari rituals can put you to sleep.

A Markab girl goes into isolation with her mother.

Franklin despairs that he won’t find a cure in time.

Sheridan and Delenn embrace as she weeps. She is safe, but the Markab race is dead.

I couldn’t bring myself to show pictures of dead Markab.

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