Monday, October 8, 2012

B5 Rewatch: The Quality of Mercy

Hey guys! Welcome to the Babylon 5 rewatch. Oh my goodness, we've made it to the last week of season one! Thank you for sticking around with me this long. Today I'll be talking about the twenty-first episode of the season, "The Quality of Mercy."

Join me, won't you? Mind the spoilers.

Let Me Sum Up

Londo, in trying to further his people's agenda to keep the Centauri as the most distinguished race while also making allies, decides to take Delenn's aide Lennier under his wing while Delenn is off the station. First he does this by taking Lennier to a strip club and convincing Lennier to buy the drinks (only narrowly avoiding getting Lennier drunk when Lennier mentions that his race tends to react violently to even the smallest amount of alcohol). Upon learning that Lennier is a master of the school of probability, Londo takes him to play poker, using Lennier's talents (and his own hand at cheating) to maximize their profits. Londo's cheating is eventually discovered and they are confronted by the other players.

A man named Karl Mueller has been tried and convicted of the murder of two residents of the station as well as that of a member of station security. The ombuds sentences Mueller to a "Death of Personality" for his crimes. His mind will be telepathically scanned and then all of his memories wiped, replaced with new ones. He will then spend the rest of his life serving the community to make up for what he has done, living under the  identity of his new set of memories.

Ivanova finds out that Franklin has been running an unauthorized free clinic for the residents in Downbelow who cannot afford to seek treatment in Medlab. She is upset that he did not let her know about it, but instead of shutting him down agrees to help him out. After a comment from Ivanova makes Franklin notice a drop in the number of patients, he does some poking around and finds out that a woman named Laura Rosen has been offering healing services of her own.

She has found a piece of alien tech that, while she does not fully understand it, clearly heals people. She also accepts whatever payment her patients are willing to give, rather than charging out the wazoo for such treatments. Franklin is skeptical and accuses her of being a fraud. She insists that her methods work and her daughter steps in to defend her. Unwilling to let the matter drop, Franklin asks Garibaldi to look into Rosen for him so he can see if she really is as sincere as she claims.

He discovers that she used to be an actual doctor and goes to talk to her daughter Janice to find out what happened. It turns out that Laura managed to become addicted to stimulants while trying to keep up with her patient load. This resulted in her making a fatal mistake and losing her license to practice. So she set out to find a piece of alien technology that could heal in order to receive a sort of vindication and be welcomed back into the fold.

While Janice does believe that the device Laura is using is genuine, she has been telling her mother that they don't have enough money yet to return to Earth. She confesses to Franklin that her mother is happy, but she is also unwell, with only a few years left to live. Janice refuses to let her mother once more go through the kind of ostracism she faced after she lost her license.

Franklin requests follow-up exams with Laura's patients and finds that the machine does indeed seem to be healing them. He goes to talk to Laura about it and realizes that the device transfers her energy into her patients, healing them at her expense. He confronts her about it and she confesses she knows this. But she doesn't mind giving of herself. She is dying of an incurable disease. She believes if she continues to use and study the machine she can find a way for people to keep on using it without expense or pain to themselves.

Franklin offers to help her with her research into the machine but she insists that she wishes to do it herself. She does allow that if anything should happen to her, she will leave the machine and all of her notes to him so that he may continue her work. She does ask him not to say anything to her daughter about the truth of the machine however. He agrees, on the condition that she comes to him weekly for checkups so that he may monitor her condition.

Talia is ordered to scan Mueller, though she really does not wish to (having previous bad experiences with scanning criminals). Still, she complies and is horrified by what she sees there. The scan is necessary to have a comparison for after Mueller's new memories are implanted, to ensure that nothing of his old personality remains. On the way to the procedure, Mueller manages to escape custody. He is injured in the process and makes his way to Downbelow.

One of the guards is sent to Medlab for Franklin to look him over and mentions that Mueller was injured and where he was headed. Franklin thinks Mueller would seek treatment for his injury and notifies his assistant in the clinic to contact him if the man shows up. She agrees but mentions he would be their first patient all day as everyone has been going to see Laura instead. Franklin becomes alarmed, realizing that Mueller might have done that as well. He tells the guard where he is going and to have Garibaldi send a team there if he hasn't contacted them in twenty  minutes.

Franklin arrives at Laura's to find Mueller hooked up to the alien tech and holding a gun to Janice in order to convince Laura to heal him. Laura is clearly exhausted and not doing well. Realizing that Mueller is unlikely to keep his word and let Janice and Franklin go once he is healed, Laura pulls a fast one and reverses the flow of energy from the machine. This heals her own illness and gives all of her pain to Mueller, killing him. She is taken into custody and tried immediately, but given the circumstances, the ombuds finds she acted in self-defense and allows her to leave. She does have to turn over the tech to the station for further study. Also, she has to live with what she did for the rest of her life, which now that she's healed, looks to be very long indeed.

As Garibaldi leaves the trial, Ivanova finds him with an update. While he was dealing with Mueller, his team had to break up a near riot in the casino, with two of the culprits remaining unidentified. He said he hasn't had a chance to look into it yet. She tells him no need, they've identified the men: Londo and Lennier. Garibaldi is shocked.

The two men in question are called before Sinclair for an explanation. Londo tries to wriggle out of it but Lennier steps up and says the whole thing was his fault. He claims he asked Londo to show  him around to parts of the station with which he was unfamiliar and not knowing all of the customs he managed to give offense to the other players. Sinclair accepts the confession, pointing out that they can't be charged with anything, given their diplomatic privilege, but he does expect them to pay the club owner for damages. They agree readily. When Londo asks Lennier why he covered for him, he says it is a thing of honor in Minbari culture to help another save face. Londo thanks him.

Laura turns the alien device in to Franklin and wishes him luck putting it to better use than she did. She then says she is going to take her new lease on life and return to searching the galaxy for more methods of healing, and perhaps, redemption for what she had to do to get it.


Prevent other races from gaining the upper hand AND forge alliances. Um. Wow. Poor Londo. He's got his work cut out for him.

Good morning Lennier! *hugs* Oh. Sorry. Don't mind me.

Don't bite, Lennier, it's a trap! Londo's up to something! You know he is! Hmm. Maybe he does. That look when Londo said "trust me." Wow.

Haughty murderer does not look concerned about his fate. Hmm.

Ivanova, why are you in the bowels of the ship to see a doctor? Oh, it's Franklin. Interesting.

"You can start by removing your clothes." (Franklin)
"Not without dinner and flowers." (Ivanova)

Hmm. So, Franklin is running a free clinic against regs. Oh good, Ivanova's not gonna bust him.

Oh, this is interesting. They are deciding Meueller's sentence by committee.

Wow. The fact that spacing is actually a possible sentence is kind of...disturbing.

What do they want Talia to do to this guy? Wow. I don't think I would want to be responsible for having to come up with law relating to telepaths. Those are some rocky waters indeed.

So, a kind old lady faith healer helping out the needy. Using alien tech that she doesn't know all of the details about. Cue Franklin's skepticism. Dude. Maybe find out if what she's doing is actually working before calling her a fraud. It is alien tech after all.

"Death of Personality." How is that more moral than execution? How? Ah. Cue Franklin again to be the voice of morality. Very grey morality, to be sure. But still.

Londo...are you taking Lennier to a strip club? Oh, you're going to corrupt my poor sweet baby. Noooo!!! Heh. I guess that's certainly one way to learn everything you can about other races though. *rolls eyes* Oh, and Londo "forgot" his credit chit.

Well. Trying to get Minbari drunk is apparently a bad idea.

So, the healer used to be an actual doctor? Interesting. Ah...with a drug dependency. Never a good combination.

For the record. I love the daughter's crocheted vest. Pretty.

Eleventy-fifth year? How long do Minbari live? Uh-oh. Lennier, you shouldn't have mentioned probability to Londo. Off to the casino!

"But you said that by interpreting the movements of certain body parts, it would help me to better understand other cultures." (Lennier)
"Later. Right now I want to introduce you to the ultimate means of interstellar understanding. The Earthers call it 'poker.'" (Londo)

Sigh. I have this sneaking suspicion, and am trying to remember if I am correct, that Lennier might actually be trolling Londo. One can only hope.

Oh, Talia. She really doesn't want to do this. She does not like playing in criminals' minds. Not that I blame her. Yeesh. Yet another step in realizing that Psi Corps maybe isn't as benevolent as you want to believe, Talia.

Well. Seems Garibaldi was right about this guy being a serial killer. Oh, I just want to give poor Talia a hug.

Good good, Franklin actually called for follow-ups with Rosen's patients. Looks like the results weren't quite what he was expecting though.

Oh Londo, not going quite how you thought it would, is it?

Whatcha doing there, Franklin? Oh, monitoring Laura's life signs. She's giving bits of her life to heal others. It was corporal punishment? That's...damn. This episode wants to hammer home that there's just really no good way to go about killing criminals, is there?

Well, at least Franklin seems to have decided to be reasonable about this. Laura is right it is her own life and her decision to make.

...and now he's hitting on Janice. Sigh.

Man. Poor Talia. Seriously. I would not want her job for all of the money in the galaxy.

Londo has tentacles.

That he uses to cheat.

Of course he does.

Uh oh. Homicidal convict on the loose. That's not good.

Londo's been found out! Look at Lennier's smooth moves, taking down the opposition. Apparently in addition to history and math he also studied martial arts, it seems.

Oh no, injured convict in need of healing. Wow, Mueller, you are really challenging Franklin's Hippocratic oath today. Oh, Laura, what are you doing? Oh, reversing the transfer of energy? That's...damn. And. Dead murderer.

Well. She gets off for self-defense, but she loses her neat tech. Wonder what Franklin's gonna do with it? Heh. Garibaldi approves +100.

"You heard Mr. Garibaldi, you did the right thing." (Janice)
"Ah. I did the necessary thing. That is not always the same as the right thing." (Laura)

That's got to be a hard thing for a doctor to do.

"I'm still waiting for an explanation gentlemen." (Sinclair)
"Yes, and I am prepared to give you one Commander. As soon as the room stops spinning." (Londo)

Of course Londo is totally flippant about it. Equally of course, Lennier decides to take full credit. Sigh. Lennier, you are too much of a good guy. Aw, I love you. *pats* Londo, you got off lucky this time. Oh, Lennier, I don't know that you wanted the answer to that. Yeah, pretty sure that tentacle was Londo's boy parts. And I criticized this show for being afraid to push the envelope. Heh.

"I'm going to take a vow of silence regarding this entire conversation." (Lennier)

Oh, Laura is playing matchmaker. That's sweet. Good luck finding your redemption, dear healer.


Well, that's me done for today. Thanks for popping in! I hope to see you back here on Wednesday for the season finale, "Chrysalis."

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