Confessions and Lamentations
Don't look away, Captain. All life is transitory, a dream. We all come together in the same place, at the end of time. If I don't see you again here, I will see you, in a little while, in a place where no shadows fall.
It's a bad time for the Markab, one of their ships is overdue and missing and four of them have died in three days. Franklin is examining one with a Markab colleague of his while Ivanova sends Zeta Squad to find the ship.In the meantime, Delenn has invited Sheridan to a Minbari meal. He's appreciative, until he finds out how ritualistic the dinner is, eventually falling asleep.As Zeta Squadron locates the ship, they find that there are lifeforms aboard, but no life signs. Everyone on it is dead. They bring the ship back, and Franklin readies a full medical team to go over the ship but the doctor from before, Lazarenn, tries to stop them. He doesn't want non-Markab aboard, but Franklin realizes that the people on the ship, and the four dead Markab on the station all died from the same thing: a plague. Lazarenn explains that it is one hundred percent terminal and one hundred percent contagious.The entire Markab population is in danger and Franklin demands to know why they were trying to keep it a secret. They call it the Drafa, and it supposedly only strikes the immoral, something that is a great stigma among the Markab. When it broke out nearly a year ago, they were hesitant to talk about it, and have been unwittingly spreading it among themselves.Somewhere on the station, a little Markab girl finds her father, and is horrified when he falls over dead.Franklin briefs the command staff on what they know, but what they don't know is more worrying, how far has it spread, and, more importantly, can it cross species? Sheridan wants answers and orders the station quarantined until this is solved.The quarantine causes a panic and frightened people begin venting their frustrations on the easiest targets, the Markab. As the Markab are brought in and tested, the Markab ambassador protests to Sheridan that his people are moral, and when Sheridan refuses to give in, he decides they will withdraw from the rest of the population. Franklin then calls with more bad news; the plague is airborne and a dead pak'ma'ra has just been found.As the ambassador herds his people into a sealed area, Franklin tries to find someone to perform an autopsy on one of the dead pak'ma'ra. He's about to go in himself when Lazarenn offers to do it. He will perform the autopsy and then stay in the hermetically-sealed isolab, where, if he becomes infected, they will be able to monitor the disease's progress from the start.Delenn approaches Sheridan and asks permission to enter the quarantine area. There are people in need there, and she wants to help. Sheridan is reluctant, but eventually agrees when she points out that if they can't fix this, then before much longer they will be in the same position. As she leaves he asks that when she comes out she call him John. She smiles then walks out.As she and Lennier are admitted with a group of Markab, Franklin and Lazarenn are talking in Medlab, Franklin telling him about the Black Plague and comparing the means of trying to deal with it to the Markab isolating themselves, saying "Nothing changes," when the Markab suddenly collapses. He's contracted the plague. In the quarantine zone, Delenn encounters the girl from earlier, who is looking for her mother. She asks Lennier to go and find her. In Medlab Franklin is running every test he can think of while Lazarenn describes the symptoms he's experiencing when the results of the pak'ma'ra autopsy come in: it was the plague, it's jumped species.Delenn is trying to comfort the girl and tells her a story from her own childhood, of when she was separated from her own parents and found solace in a Minbari temple until they found her. As she finishes her story, Lennier comes up with the girl's mother. She runs over and embraces her, then nearly collapses.Franklin is desperately trying to find a connection between the Markab and pak'ma'ra when Lazarenn succumbs to the plague. Moments later a match is found in the specialized nerve cells that both species possess. He quickly creates a vaccine and rushes it to the quarantine zone, but it's too late. Delenn and Lennier sit a midst a room of Markab bodies and slowly stand and walk out. Sheridan asks if there are any survivors and Lennier says there are not. He leaves, but Delenn turns to Sheridan and begins crying into his shoulder.Later Delenn congratulates Sheridan for finding a cure, but he credits Franklin. Franklin is currently in the Zocalo watching a news report that the Markab as a race have for all intents and purposes been wiped out. A bartender tries to make jokes, but Franklin walks off in disgust, muttering, "Nothing changes."
This episode contains examples of:
- Apocalypse Anarchy: Referenced. In the newscast, itís mentioned that multiple out-of-control fires have broken out on the Markab homeworld due to rioting that took place during the final days.
- Arc Words: "Faith Manages," as Delenn points out, the worst thing they can do is allow themselves to succumb to hopelessness. It's not enough to save the Markab, but it does save the pak'ma'ra.
- Continuity Nod:
- Cry into Chest: All Delenn can do is cling to Sheridan and cry.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Loads of Markabs going into a quarantine zone, carrying their belongings, surrounded by armed guards - with the notion that none of them will return?
- However, in this case, the Markabs were isolating themselves by choice, and the guards were there to prevent anyone else from trying to attack them.
- Downer Ending: For virtually everyone involved. Only the pak'ma'ra benefit, as there is now a cure to a deadly disease they're vulnerable to. And lunch.
- Dude, Not Funny!: The bartender's joke at the end: "What do you call two billion dead Markabs? Planetary redecorating." Franklin is not amused.
- Fancy Dinner: Sheridan is a little put off by the highly ritualistic meal Delenn and Lennier prepare for him.
- Find the Cure: And Franklin does...too late to save the Markab. The only silver lining is that it could be used to prevent the plague from spreading to the pak'ma'ra.
- First-Name Basis: Sheridan is so moved by Delenn's kindness to the Markab that he asks her to call him "John" in this episode. Heartbreakingly, she does the next time she sees him - as she walks toward him, devastated, after the loss of the entire Markab species.
- Foreshadowing: A subtle hint is dropped that the Drafa virus might be artificial. A plot point that will gain prominence as far down the road as Crusade.
- Ghost Ship: A Markab transport is overdue and cannot be contacted, and when Zeta Squadron finds it there are no lifesigns. Subverted when Keffer says there's no one on board and his computer tells him it is detecting lifeforms, just no lifesigns. They're all dead.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Both Delenn and Lennier as a result of witnessing all of the Markab in the isolation area dying from the Drafa. Sheridan and Franklin experienced only the aftermath.
- Holier Than Thou: This is pretty much what dooms the Markab. Their leaders repeat until the end that only those who are impure will be cut down by Drafa. The Markab Ambassador to Babylon Five even accuses the humans of poisoning the Markab population in order to make them look sinful.
- Irony: The Markab believed only the morally pure were immune to Drafa. However, it was their sin of pride that prevented them from seeking outside help in combating the disease until it was too late.
- Oh, Crap!: The look on Delenn's face when the Markab girl she helped in the isolation area feels dizzy — an early stage of Drafa.
- Paranoia Fuel: The station is put into quarantine when the plague is discovered, and much of the plot centers on not understanding how the plague spreads or who it can infect, with many people acting out of fear rather than reason. Doctor Franklin's own medical staff becomes more and more hesitant to risk exposing themselves to the plague, and has to be verbally browbeaten into getting to work. At one point, Garibaldi saves a Markab who was being attacked, and hesitates for a long moment before taking his hand to help him up.
- The Plague: The Drafa. It is named after an island on the Markab homeworld that was known for being extremely immoral. When the population was wiped out, the Markab believed it was a punishment by the gods for lacking morality.
- Redemption Equals Death: Lazarenn chooses to perform the autopsy on one of his people in a sealed lab in order to atone for his role in keeping the Drafa plague secret. Once he gets infected, Franklin is able to monitor the disease in progress to provide valuable information for a cure. Unfortunately, Lazarenn dies before the cure is developed.
- Shout-Out: Delenn comforts Sheridan with the words "all life is transitory, and a dream". This statement refers to several seventeenth century plays, among them some written by William Shakespeare, but also the known play Life Is A Dream by Spanish playwright Calderon.
- Take My Hand: A variant. After Garibaldi drove off a mob for beating up a Markab, the injured Markab reached out to Garibaldi. Garibaldi hesitated before taking his hand to help. (At that point, it was not established whether the disease can spread to other species.)
- This Is Gonna Suck: Garibaldi comes across as pragmatic during the staff briefing on the Drafa outbreak. He correctly asserts that once news becomes public, the general population will view the Markab as scapegoats and adovocates quarantine because it will be easier for his security force to protect them.