The station becomes a hotbed of galactic controversy when Sinclair is forced to protect a notorious war criminal — a scientist who’s invented an immortality serum. Ambassador Kosh hires telepath Talia Winters to oversee a very unusual negotiation.
Sub-genre: Intrigue P5 Rating: 8.21 Production number: 113 Original air date: April 20, 1994 DVD release date: November 5, 2002 Written by Larry DiTillio Directed by Bruce Seth Green IMDb: "Babylon 5" Deathwalker (1994)
• The League of Non-Aligned Worlds and the Earth Alliance are allies, thanks in large part to Earth’s intervention while the League was being devastated by the Dilgar thirty years earlier. JMS says, “The Dilgar War was one of the first conflicts that the EA got into, soon after establishing a presence in space. We mainly entered it to try and make a ‘rep’ for ourselves, then got more morally involved when we saw what was going on. That and the Minbari War are the only real major conflicts Earth has been involved with, and Earth was not directly at risk in the Dilgar war, though if they hadn’t been stopped, that might have changed eventually.”
- The Vorlons have a strong distrust of telepaths.
- The Minbari warrior castes know about the hole in Sinclair’s mind.
• What do the Vorlons know about immortality?
• Why don’t they like (non-Vorlon) telepaths?
• Is this the last we’ll hear about the immortality serum, or did Dr. Franklin keep the sample he was testing? (JMS has hinted that it’s not a simple plot device which’ll never be mentioned again.)
• Why do the Wind Swords speak often of Sinclair? What do they know about what happened to him?
• Na’Toth’s grandfather had the misfortune to be on a planet that Jha’dur took, and her misuse of him is the source of Na’Toth’s feud, yet the Narn seem to give the incident no particular weight. What world this was is not disclosed, but either it wasn’t a Narn colony, and Na’Toth’s grandfather was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or it was a Narn colony and the incident was smoothed over at the time. Evidence seems to point to the former, but it’s unclear.
• Jha’dur is a specialist in, “biochemical, biogenetic, and cyber-organic weaponry.” During the Dilgar invasion of the “non-aligned sectors” she decimated whole planets to further her own research. Presumably the other Dilgar were equally vicious and callous. She seems to be especially notorious though, known by name 30 years after the event, perhaps because her biological experiments seem especially horrible.
• At the time of the Dilgar war humanity was fresh on the interstellar political scene, having been discovered and given jumpgate/hyperspace technology by the Centauri. The non-aligned worlds seem to be relatively low-tech, and they were being overrun by the Dilgar in a particularly ruthless bid for an empire. Earth’s entry into the conflict turned the tide against the Dilgar, leading to the race’s confinement to their own system and their ultimate destruction when their sun went nova.
• Jha’dur was shielded and hidden by the Minbari Wind Swords, members of their warrior caste, at the close of the Dilgar war 30 years ago. The Minbari didn’t encounter humans until about 20 years later, at which time the first contact went bad and initiated the Earth-Minbari war. Up until now it seemed that neither side knew of the other, but how could the Minbari have aided and supported Jha-dur for 20 years without learning of Earth? Moreover, when the Minbari are debating their response to the loss of their leader the Wind Swords arrive on the scene with new, very powerful weapons. Presumably much of the Minbari arsenal of weapons and ships derives from designs given them by Jha’dur. The circumstances of the first contact problem between the Minbari and the Humans may also indicate that it was the result of a plot by Jha’dur for revenge on those who (at least indirectly) destroyed her race.
• The serum designed by Jha’dur is insidious, requiring something critical from living beings to make. It’s unclear whether this same process would be applicable to every species, or whether the same serum could be used across species. But in any case it was designed, perhaps intentionally, to cause a great deal of harm when used.
• Just what benefit the Wind Swords derived from her research is unstated. Note, however, that she has (a) been permitted by the Wind Swords to use up enough living entities to pursue her research, and (b) used at least one dose on herself with some amount left over. She has also been permitted to leave to negotiate with the Narn, her first entry into public view since the war.
• Senator Hidoshi calls Sinclair while Jha’dur is still in medlab. He insists that Jha’dur cannot be Deathwalker, but also insists that she be sent to Earth immediately. Still, he clearly knows all about the situation, which implies that he has sources of information both on B5 and perhaps among the Minbari or the Narn.
• Talia Winters has an interesting time with Kosh during this episode. Here we see the first of a known class of people called “vicars,” short for “VCRs.” These people are human recorders, capable of recording sensory and environmental information for later playback through devices directly implanted in their brains. This demonstrates a very high degree of possible integration between people and computers at the time of B5. How common this is and how sophisticated it can be has yet to be seen.
• Is Kosh a telepath? During the interviews between Kosh and Abbut (the vicar) Talia is occasionally goaded with an image dredged up from her mind. Clearly these are not her own thoughts, and clearly Abbut cannot be the source since human telepaths are regulated. That only leaves Kosh him(it?)self. Yet Talia doesn’t seem to have any hint that Kosh is doing this to her. If Kosh is a telepath, what other abilities does he have? And if he is a telepath, and the cause of Talia’s distress, what did he need the vicar for? It seems clear that the byplay between Kosh and Abbut was intended as misdirection, to divert, bore and confuse her leaving her open for Kosh to penetrate her shields and stimulate the images he collected.
• Kosh collects from Talia, in his words, “Reflection. Surprise. Terror. For the future.” He may intend the data as a lever or weapon against her.
- The Hour of Scampering is usually around tea-time, according to the
Vorlon/Human Translation Dictionary.
- How do Vorlons scamper?
The Vorlons do not scamper terribly well, but no one has yet told
- “Understanding is a three-edged sword.”
The three edges: your side, my side, and the truth in between.
- Your statement about the serum being a means of getting to the truth or
her truth at the very least is quite correct. And appropos to current
reality. We look back at the Nazis, and others, and say, “Well, WE
could never do that.” But of course we could. Fine tune your
attention to the frequency of misery and inhumanity, and in short
order you’ll pick up Rwanda, and Bosnia and a host of others. Our
capacity for greatness is as substantial as our capacity for evil.
And we must constantly be reminded of that duality; to pretend it
simply isn’t there, or is somebody else’s problem, inevitably leads
to tragedy. (For those interested, btw, I would encourage you to
check out a short story by Mark Twain, called “The Man Who Corrupted
Hadleyburg.” I think you will find it *most* illuminating.)
- Abbut was not – repeat, NOTan imitation of Harlan, as some have
suggested. It was originally written for Gilbert Gottfried, who we later
learned was unavailable.
- The Babylon 5 Advisory Council and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds
functions in much the same fashion as the Security Council and the
General Assembly in the U.N. The smaller worlds and alliances can’t
weild as much power as any of the Big Five. Together, they as a
group get a vote equal to one of the Big Five; they can deputize one
of their number to speak for them and cast that vote, which can often
break ties or create ties. It is not a terribly equitible situation,
but it was the only workable solution that would be accepted by the
other Ambassadors. We’ll see them chafing at this in “Deathwalker.”
- The prosthetics on our background aliens and the League started out
okay, but we felt we could do better, and began a series of
improvements, which can be seen most clearly in “Deathwalker,” where
they’re all proper prosthetics rather than masks.
- We didn’t have the League of Non-Aligned Worlds up and running for
the pilot. They get one vote, determined by majority decision. EAch
mamber of the main Advisory Council gets one vote, equal to that.
In “Deathwalker,” you had one abstention (Kosh), two to try her
(EA and League), and three against the trial (Narns, Centauri and
Minbari). Abstentions don’t count either way in such a vote; it’s the
negatives vs. the positives, and there were more no’s than yes’s.
- You assume the crowd meeting Sinclair could be placated. They make it
clear, in dialogue: “You will have to kill us all.” They could not BE
placated. Your assumption has nothing to do with what happened, or
what was said. Maybe in the ST universe, Picard can turn on the charm
and just talk people out of things. That doesn’t happen here, not
easily at any rate. It was turn back or kill them. Those were the
- As far as we knew, Lennier was going to vote with Sinclair and the
League. So you hold off his change of vote for the end. You get a
few no votes, annoy the League, Sinclair raises their hope, and then
Lennier, much as he hates it, dashes that hope. It’s an arc that way,
rather than a descending staircase.
- Except of course that Sinclair said that the non-aligned worlds would
have observers there at all times…there are no other Dilgar to help
break her out…the Narns have no desire to attack Earth installations
to break her out as long as they get their share of the serum…and
there really was no other alternative short of war.
- There’s no one escaping Deathwalker’s ship; it’s just debris spinning
away. She’s dead as a mackeral.
- Just to clarify…the Vorlon ship destroyed only Deathwalker’s ship,
not an EA vessel. And the Vorlon ship waited until Deathwalker’s
ship was far from B5, just before entering the gate, before coming out
to strike. At that range, it couldn’t miss, and at that distance,
B5 couldn’t react fast enough.
- The EA escort got her as far as the gate. Then peeled away. And then
the Vorlon ship came out. That’s what Sinlair said: “They will escort
you as far as the gate.” And even if they had stayed with her THROUGH
the gate, it would’ve made no difference. Vorlon ship comes through.
Fires at Deathwalker’s ship. EA ships fire back. No visible effect,
the cruiser shrugs it off and goes back the way it came. Single
Starfuries wouldn’t even *dent* a Vorlon cruiser. So same result.
- Sinclair was taught by Jesuits…and as far as Kosh goes, better to
have him where you can see him, than not. They *are* a powerful
group, and it wouldn’t serve to ignore them. We courted them for 10
years for a first contact…and now we’re stuck with them.
- Jim, your thesis comes from the underlying assumption that, as in the
Trek universe, All Things Must Be Done Fairly, the government must in
the end be wise and fair and sensible.
That ain’t our universe. That ain’t even *this* universe.
Sinclair must follow orders. He didn’t want to escort Deathwalker off
and on to Earth, those were his marching orders. *The same marching
orders would be given to an ambassador representing Earth*. So your
career diplomat would be in exactly the same position. What, do you
think that career diplomats are independent agents of goodness? They
all work for SOMEone, representing their interests.
Earth put in the majority of the money required to build and operate
B5. They have the right, as such, to appoint a provisional governor,
nad (and) that is the function that Sinclair mainly serves. He runs
this place, AND he is responsible for maintaining good relations with
other representatives. He is also on a short leash. And in some
cases, as in “By Any Means Necessary,” other people are sent in to
handle certain kinds of negotiations.
Yes, it is a conflict of interest. So what? Do you think Earth cares
much about that? Is it awkward? Yes, of course. It *should* put him
in moral quandries. The Earth Government is constantly getting him
into binds. What they wanted him to do in “Deathwalker” was more or
less of a dubious nature. But in the end, he found a fairly moral
solution to the problem. That’s what he does. He finds anhonorable
way out of very difficult and morally ambiguous situations. What you
suggest is that we remove the moral ambiguities. Ehhh. I find that
boring as hell.
Do the other species like it? Of course not. Okay, so what’re they
going to do? Boycott B5? And let other species take advantage of all
the economic and political benefits the station provides? Let others
grow in familiarity and form alliances that might in time turn against
them? Not a chance. Fair or not, it’s the only game in town.
So I don’t buy your solution because I don’t think it’s a problem.
You do. That’s life. Political situations are rarely fair, or
logical, or ethical. If politics were based on ethics this would be
a MUCH better world. But politics are generally based on who has the
power, and the money, and the guts.
- The Dilgar War was one of the first conflicts that the EA got into,
soon after establishing a presence in space. We mainly entered it to
try and make a “rep” for ourselves, then got more morally involved
when we saw what was going on. That and the Minbari War are the only
real major conflicts Earth has been involved with, and Earth was not
directly at risk in the Dilgar war, though if they hadn’t been stopped,
that might have changed eventually.
- Have we seen the last of the Dilgar?
They’re dead as doornails.
- And yes, the Windswords were the warrior clan involved in the events
in “The Gathering.”
- Talia, like all Psi Corps members, wears gloves because she has to,
when in public, to minimize physical contact and accidental scans.
As for others wearing gloves…sometimes it’s a fashion statement
… and other times, well, space is very very cold….
- Abbut was screwing around when he said “I’m a 23 myself,” just
messing with her.
- “Kosh’s voice-the rumblings and bells and stuff, not the translation-
seemed to be missing a lot of the lower tones and bass that I
remembered hearing previously.”
He had a cold.
- “It also adds another piece of miracle tech never to be seen again.”
In point of fact, virtually *none* of the new tech stuff is just
gone…you’d be surprised what’ll be showing up again down the road
- Re: B5′s roster of strong women characters…this is something of a
bugaboo/obsession with me. I *love* writing strong women. (For that
matter, I love strong-willed, independent, smart women in real life
as well; I love being outsmarted, love it when someone can go toe-to-
toe with me on something.) Generally, and this isn’t entirely
intentional, women on shows I work on tend to get some of the best
lines, as is often the case with Ivanova. It’s not a case of being
“one of the boys,” but being one of the *people*. There’s a subtle
The women I write are often very close to many of the women I’ve been
involved with over the years. So far, no one’s sued….
Compiled by Dave Zimmerman and Steven Grimm.