Season 1, Episode 12:
By Any Means Necessary
- Delvientos: We have a right to defend ourselves.Sinclair: But not with violence.Delvientos: I beg your pardon, Commander, but if someone pushed you, wouldn't you push back?
It's a busy day at Babylon 5, and ships are piling up outside the station waiting to dock. Inside there is near chaos as the workers attempt to keep up. A Narn captain has run out out patience. He demands immediate clearance to dock and deliver important cargo to G'Kar. As he enters the station, a docking platform malfunctions, lifting a shuttle directly into the ship's path. Despite instructions, the captain panics and fires his thrusters, propelling him into the side of the docking channel. A series of explosions rocks the area and two dockers are trapped by a fire.Eventually they are pulled out. One is able to walk away, the other wasn't so fortunate. The dead man turns out to be the lead docker Delvientos' brother.G'Kar is preparing for a ritual he must lead when he is informed that his cargo, a special plant, the G'Quan Eth important to the ritual has been destroyed.The docker's union representative, Ms. Connally, is in a foul mood as the cause is found. A substandard part failed, installed by contractors cutting corners in the rush to get B5 online as quickly and cheaply as possible. Sinclair assures her that he's been trying to get the Senate to increase their budget, but she is not convinced.G'Kar has gone to the markets to try and find another G'Quan Eth, but is having little success. Londo appears and taunts him for a bit about the accident, then walks off. Na'Toth then arrives with the information that there is one person on Station who has one: Ambassador Mollari.
- G'Kar: WHAT!!!Londo: (From across the room) Yoo-hoo! Ha-ha-ha!G'Kar: Oh, why does the Universe hate me so?
This episode contains examples of:
- Ass in Ambassador: Londo and G'Kar are at each others' throats (again) and both demonstrate this pretty well. It gets to the point that Sinclair, already stressed out from the labor dispute, threatens to throw both in the brig.
- Call-Back: Londo's spiting G'Kar to get back at him for the Ragesh III incident...and because he's a Narn.
- Continuity Nod: The reporter is the same one from Infection.
- Dangerous Workplace: The docking bay has been one for a while and the dockers have had just about enough of it.
- Didn't See That Coming: Zento falls victim to False Assumptions. He assumes Sinclair will use the authority of the Rush Act to force the dockers back to work. He's stunned when Sinclair uses it to give them what they want.Zento: You can't do that!
Sinclair: Correction: I couldn't...until you invoked the Rush Act. You should never hand someone a gun unless you're sure where they'll point it.
- Exact Words: The Rush Act gives Sinclair the authority to end the strike 'by any means necessary'. Sinclair does so by taking over the negotiations from Zento and agreeing to give the dockers concessions that Zento was unwilling to grant them.
- Failsafe Failure: A major mishap occurs, resulting in the loss of a Narn freighter and the death of a dockhand, due to a computer malfunction. It turns out most of the docking bay's computers were built with sub-standard parts and they don't have the money in the budget to fix them. The accident sets off both the A and B plots for the episode.
- Foreshadowing: Hidoshi warns Sinclair that his actions have angered a lot of powerful figures back home, and that this action is likely to cause problems for him in the future.
- Guile Hero: Senator Hidoshi's line to Sinclair says it all. "Remind me never to play Poker with you."
- Imperfect Ritual: Londo buys the last rare G'Quan Eth plant for sale on Babylon 5 before G'Kar can. G'Kar needs it for an important religious ceremony that must be held annually when the Narn sun falls directly behind a certain mountain on the Narn homeworld. Londo eventually lets G'Kar have the plant (after using it for recreational drug purposes), supposedly too late for the ceremony—but Sinclair convinces G'Kar that since his home sun's light continues to travel through space, and Babylon 5 lay almost exactly 10 Narn light-years from Narn, that the light that hit the mountain in the proper position 10 years ago would be the same light that would just now be hitting Babylon 5, so the ceremony could still theoretically go on at the station.
- Lampshade Hanging: Senator Hidoshi points out that Sinclair's gambit clearly violated the spirit of the law, and only got away with it because the senate wasn't willing to go against something with such overwhelming popular support.
- Loophole Abuse: The Rush Act says that the local Earthforce commander can use "any means necessary" to break the strike, with the unwritten intent that the commander use force. Sinclair uses this authority to give the dockers what they want.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Sinclair couldn't really do anything to end the strike without force until Zento gave him the authority.
- Not the Intended Use: Sinclair reads the fine print of the Rush Act, and instead of using force to quell the strike (the "intended" use of the Act), he finds a way to use the Act to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion. The Senate isn't happy, but they let it stand because public opinion is on Sinclair's side.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Orin Zento.
- Rabble Rouser: Delvientos is the most outspoken, the first to suggest a strike and the most antagonistic towards Zento, who admittedly isn't very sympathetic. He's more reasonable than most examples of this trope, and when an arrangement is reached that he's satisfied with, he calls the other dockers back to work.
- Read the Fine Print: After the Senate's confirmation of the Rush Act comes in, Sinclair asks to see the exact text of the act.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Senator Hidoshi tries to be one, but his hands are too tied to really be much help. He is genuinely sympathetic and warns Sinclair of the possible repercussions of his actions.
- Sinclair, like Hidoshi, also tries to be reasonable, but his hands are also tied...until Zento and the Senate invoke the Rush Act, and Sinclair (having read the full text) puts his broader powers to good use.
- Connoly, who is genuinely working to ensure the rights and needs of the dockers.
- Rules Lawyer: Sinclair makes use of the Exact Words of the Rush Act to give the dockworkers there what they (and he) want. In addition, part of Sinclair's justification for using the station's defense budget for upgrading the docks is that properly working docking facilities are necessary for the station's defense.
- Smug Snake: Orin Zento is not remotely sympathetic as a government negotiator, and neither the dockworkers nor the station commander are impressed by him. He's also the only one present who wants to actually see the Rush Act invoked. It's satisfying to watch Zento's reaction when Sinclair uses the Rush Act in a very unintended way.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Sinclair to Zento, who is raving about how Sinclair won't get away with what he's done, "I think. Ms. Connally said it best the other day: stuff it!"
- Take That!: The Rush Act is named after Rush Limbaugh, which JMS happily confirmed when several fans guessed it.
- The story was inspired by Ronald Reagan off-handedly firing thousands of striking air traffic controllers, giving the incident a happy ending.
- Title Drop: The key clause in the Rush Act says that the strike can be ended "by any means necessary".
- To Win Without Fighting: Once the Rush Act has been invoked, Sinclair can end the strike any way he sees fit. Everyone assumes that means violence, but he uses it to divert a large sum of money (that would otherwise have been sitting around doing nothing) into raises for the workers and upgrades to the facilities.
- Two of Your Earth Minutes: Cleverly inverted with Sinclair's solution to G'Kar's problem; as the station is just over ten Narn light-years away from the Narn homeworld (which has a longer year than Earth), G'Kar is able to use the sunlight from that event for the ritual.