12 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Believers” Spoiler Space”

  1. So yeah, I always liked this ep – just for the ending of course, being such an anti-trek ep (along with the s2 episode where the entire race dies from the virus). Otherwise is ok to watch and I’m not sure is otherwise relevant to the show in any way? (except in demonstrating that you can’t assume anything with regards to happy endings).

    1. While there’s not much as far as major storyarc to be found here, I think it does add to characterization, especially with Stephen’s refusal to compromise in his ultimate goal to operate on Shon. That refusal to bend in the name of doing his job is what will drive him first to drugs and then to leave his job at a critical time. We also get reinforcement in that the major races deal with others pretty much in the same way they do humans at this point.

  2. I was about to put this in spoiler free but thought I had better put it here just in case.

    I’m trying to get my wife to watch B5 and I’m glad she had already gone to be when I started watching this episode. Between Believers and Infection, you could turn off potential new fans. Bring on the exciting parts of Season 1, its about to heat up!

  3. I absolutely loved this episode and remember vehemently defending it on a B5 Compuserve forum after it premiered. With “Believers,” JMS threw down the gauntlet and declared that Babylon 5 would boldly go where no episode of Trek would dare to go.

    Also, in depicting the validity of another species’ beliefs, JMS rightfully made a bunch of SF fans nervous, particularly those who strenuously want to believe that a vision of the future must always be one that we approve of, and that inevitably secular enlightenment must be shown to reign supreme. But I recall JMS commenting himself on various SF message boards, that even though he was an atheist, he did not believe that a fictional universe that strictly conformed to his own beliefs would be interesting. And he was right.

    “Believer” isn’t dry essay about various faiths; it is good and compelling drama. Even though as a viewer I sided with Dr Franklin, I could understand the parents’ anguish over their son’s illness and medical treatment, and their frustration at having their wishes ignored.

    The ending of the story is a tragedy precisely because everyone has a valid perspective marred by an inability to compromise. And this theme expands in B5 to cover both the personal and the inter-galactic.

  4. When I first watched Babylon 5, about a year ago, this episode really stood out. I find Sinclair’s dilemma even more interesting than Steven’s – the desire to maintain the integrity of the whole Babylon project by remaining neutral, even though he shared Steven’s beliefs.

    1. That’s a great point, I thought it was one of Sinclair’s stronger episodes, he comes across as a solid Commander who weighs the options, understands the bigger picture and acts accordingly – even when he knows one of his senior staff won’t like it.

      I also enjoyed the differing responses of the Ambassador’s in turn, giving a little moment of character building for each one – or their races’ philosophy at least. Narn self interest, Centauri greed, Mimbari detachment and Vorlon….

      Kosh’s famous line works on so many levels – is he hinting at the coming Shadows (not that the parents had any relevance to that)? Or is it because he himself had been violated, so questioning another’s right to be operated on by human Doctors was like asking him to close the stable door after the horse has bolted?

  5. During the podcast, I think Jason commented that he thought Franklin’s actions warranted throwing him in jail. As a physician and ethicist, I’ll toss in a couple of comments based on current American medical ethics and jurisprudence as I understand it.

    There is standing case law in various jurisdictions in the US which establishes that a parent’s religious objections CAN be overruled when a child’s life is at stake – but that must be done THROUGH THE COURTS. A physican cannot undertake to abrogate a parent’s rights on his/her own. (This particularly applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse transfusion, and to Christian Scientists who object to all scientific medical care.)

    That being said, what Franklin did would not be criminal under current law. The crime of assault requires the intent to harm. When Franklin committed is the civil tort of battery – inflicting touch without consent. (That’s why “assault and battery” are linked – you can commit battery without assault, but not vice versa.) In present-day jurisprudence, Franklin would be subject to a civil lawsuit, but not arrest.

    1. That’s very interesting. One added complication is that Franklin is also a military officer who takes actions in direct conflict with a decision made by his superior. I suspect that would raise another set of issues which would not apply to a civilian doctor in the same position.

  6. I feel like Sweetums in the old Muppet Movie: “Hey, guys, wait for me!” I’ve finally caught up with your rewatch! Still having a great time listening to your smart and fun conversations about the show. My appreciation for it is certainly growing as a result.

    I wonder if the title of this episode was changed to avoid mentioning “Shadows” so prominently when, so far as I can tell, the Shadows (the aliens) aren’t involved in this episode’s events.

    By the way – loved Erika’s riffs on not one but two (count ’em, TWO) other sf franchises in her comments about why Garibaldi and Sinclair got to keep their jobs. Nice!

    See you for “By Any Means Necessary”!

  7. Despite the episode’s detractors, it has sparked the most lively conversation yet on the podcast. People were stepping on each other’s toes almost the entire time throughout.

    I remember back in high school being bored with this episode until the very end when the boy is killed.

    This time around I was riveted by the whole story. Sinclair and the child are definitely the heroes of the ep. Everyone’s a believer. So clever Mr. Gerrold.

    The biology was great. The medicine was great too. I have a rant about the incredibly horrible ways future medicine is portrayed in all scifi in general, with B5 as the greatest offender. But they got it right this episode, and others are so much worse. So I will save the rant for later.

  8. I listened to the podcast discussion and read through the other comments here, and my reaction is, quite honestly, to go “Huh? How can you people not see how genuinely terrible – in the literal sense of the word – this episode is?”

    Setting aside any and all arguments concerning the “hard” or uncomfortable nature of the story’s subject matter, there just isn’t anything about the episode that is particularly well-written. Shon’s parents are entirely one-dimensional and completely unsympathetic, Franklin’s bullishness is out-of-character even at this still-early stage, and Sinclair decides to ignore his own inner morality for no real reason. Even the B plot with Ivanova doesn’t work because it’s entirely disconnected from the A plot.

    When you throw in the uncomfortable and depressing conclusion to the story on top of all of those things, you end up with the only episode of Babylon 5 in its entire 5-year run that is truly cringe-worthy.

    The fact that the episode is also truly standalone in terms of the broader context of the series also means that there’s no ‘return on investment’ for having subjected oneself to the episode, which only heightens the horribleness of it.

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