Sinclair and Ivanova have just welcomed Dr. Stephen Franklin, their new Chief Medical Officer, to the station when a message comes from C&C. The jumpgate opens and a single unidentified vessel comes through. It has been heavily damaged and is coasting out of control, on a collision course for the station. Sinclair heads out in a fighter to try and grapple the ship and bring it aboard. If he is unable to, they'll have to destroy it. Ivanova readies the defense grid as he launches. After several attempts, he successfully snags the ship and heads for the docking bay.
Sinclair heads to Medlab and runs into Delenn, who offers to help identify the occupant. As soon as she sees him, though, she grabs Garibaldi's gun and tries to kill him. Garibaldi and Sinclair wrestle the gun away from her, but she insists they kill the newcomer, calling him a "Soul Hunter," and saying his presence means Tonight, Someone Dies. Later (in her office) she explains that they are drawn to the moment of death so that they can collect the souls as they pass.
The Soul Hunter begins to awaken, seeming to hear a lurker in Downbelow who is running a gambling stall. Franklin is startled to find him on his feet. Attempting to communicate reveals the Soul Hunter knows English ("I have been to your world before.") and he begins to speak in cryptic phrases about something that seems about to happen. The gambler runs afoul of one of his customers, who realizes he's cheating and starts chasing him. As the Soul Hunter seems to narrate in riddles, the gambler tries desperately to escape, but his patron catches up to him and stabs him in the chest. As the gambler is rushed to Medlab, the Soul Hunter continues his unsettling monologue. All attempts to save the man's life fail and he dies. Franklin turns back to the Soul Hunter who simply says, "Gone now."
Sinclair demands to know how he knew the lurker was dying. The Soul Hunter does not respond for a while, until Sinclair calls him a thief. The Soul Hunter jumps up and begins protesting he is not a thief. He then begins explaining the purpose of a Soul Hunter while expressing disdain for Minbari beliefs.
Sometime later, Delenn comes to see him. She demands to know where his "collection" is. He simply says it's safe. She promises that before he leaves she will tear his ship apart until she finds it. He suddenly recognizes her as Satai Delenn of the Grey Councilnote and asks why she is here. Rather than answer, she simply leaves. Right after, he collapses, drawing the guard into his suite, then knocking him out and escaping.
He gets back to his ship and retrieves his collection, a group of glowing orbs which float in the air before him. He tells them he knows why they have come here. He then goes to the local crime boss, N'Grath, and buys information on all the secret places on the station.
Meanwhile, another Soul Hunter arrives, and insists on coming aboard. When he meets with Sinclair he says the first Soul Hunter is a "disturbed" individual, who had failed to save some high-profile souls. Now instead of waiting for worthy souls to die, he simply kills them and collects their souls that way. As he tells them this, the first hunter arrives in Delenn's diplomatic suite. He drags her down to Downbelow and straps her to a large table, with a device that will apparently capture her soul once she dies—which is to be accomplished by another device that drains her blood to kill her without trauma.
Sinclair figures out who the Soul Hunter is after and tells the second one to use his sense to locate Delenn. He finally locates them after Delenn has lost consciousness. The Soul Hunter tries to stop him, telling him that Delenn is Satai and that the Minbari are using him. As Delenn approaches death, the other souls block the hunter, allowing Sinclair to turn the machine on him, sucking his soul into one of his own orbs.
In Medlab, Delenn is recovering. She wakes up just long enough to say they were right about Sinclair, but falls asleep before she can finish. Later Sinclair looks up the word Satai, and wonders why such a high-ranking individual would be sent as an ambassador, but decides it can wait.
As the second Soul Hunter prepares to leave, he assures Sinclair that Delenn will live. Sinclair warns him that his kind will not be allowed aboard in the future. Just before he leaves, the hunter asks where his brother's collection is, but Sinclair just says to consider it one of life's mysteries. The mystery in question is Delenn, who is destroying the orbs one by one and releasing the contained souls.
Tropes present in this episode include:
- Agent Scully: Dr. Franklin, who argues against the Soul Hunter's belief - and Delenn's - that the soul can survive past the body's death.
- Aliens Speaking English: Justified in that the Soul Hunter has been to Earth before.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "What is a member of the Grey Council doing playing ambassador?"
- Asshole Victim: The guy running the shell game Downbelow.
- Berserk Button: Delenn tries to kill the Soul Hunter as soon as she sees him.'
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Minbari and Soul Hunters' views on the nature of souls are completely at odds and impossible to reconcile, with each side believing they're in the right and what the other does is monstrous, with the show refusing to give an easy answer as to who is actually right, if either.
- Continuity Nod: Franklin mentions he ran into Doctor Kyle at the transfer point.
- The Dreaded: Soul Hunters are feared among some of the races, especially the Minbari who view them as thieves interrupting their souls' cycle of life, death and rebirth.
- Exact Words: The Soul Hunters are drawn to the moment of death, but the death in question is actually the renegade Soul Hunter's when Sinclair turns his own collector machine on him, rather than Delenn's.
- Fantastic Honorifics: The Soul Hunter calls Delenn Satai. When Sinclair looks it up later, he finds it's honorific for members of the Grey Council.
- Fate Worse than Death: The Minbari view having their souls taken by a Soul Hunter to be this as it removes the soul from the whole and diminishes all future generations of Minbari.
- Fixing the Game: How the gambler gets in trouble.
- Also the first Soul Hunter: Driven mad that he wasn't able to recover the great Dukhat's soul, he decided to make certain he would be at every victim's death by killing them himself.
- The Soul Hunter is astonished when he sneaks a peek at Delenn's soul, saying "You would plan such a thing? You would do such a thing? Incredible!" Later we find out he's referring to her becoming half-human.
- Also, when he fights Sinclair later. "Why do you fight for her? ...Don't you understand? They're using you!" This could refer to a number of things, including the Minbari's role in "choosing" Sinclair to run the station, or that Delenn's watching Sinclair to make sure he doesn't remember what happened at the Battle of the Line, or even that she knows that Sinclair has the soul of Valen. Perhaps even all three, since they're not entirely unrelated.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Sinclair kills the Soul Hunter by turning his soul capturing machine on him when it activates.
- Moral Event Horizon: What the first Soul Hunter crossed when he began committing murders to collect souls. Other Soul Hunters disavow such a practice, knowing it would ostracize them further among other races who dread their coming.
- My Greatest Failure: The Soul Hunter was unable to retrieve the soul of the Minbari leader Dukhat, who was pretty much considered the greatest Minbari since Valen... and Delenn's mentor.
- Noodle Incident: The Soul Hunter claims he's been to Earth before. Which begs the question, "Who was he there for?"
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Sinclair notes that Delenn's Berserk Button reation is something he's never seen in the two years they've known each other.
- Only the Worthy May Pass: Soul Hunters do not collect every soul, just the ones special enough to matter: "Leaders, thinkers, poets, dreamers, blessed lunatics."
- Race Name Basis: The Soul Hunter refers to Delenn as "Minbari" when she first comes to see him. Once he recognizes her he refers to her by name and title.
- Secret Path: The Soul Hunter buys information on all the secret ways through the station.
- Soul Jar: The orbs the Soul Hunters keep their captured souls in.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: What the Soul Hunter's presence signifies to the Minbari. In the end, it turns out to be the Soul Hunter himself.
- Villainous Breakdown: The Soul Hunter suffered one when he failed to capture Dukhat's soul years ago. He suffers another one when Sinclair knocks free the Minbari soul globes that then float up and encircle the Soul Hunter, driving him into the path of his own gathering machine.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Soul Hunter thought he was doing what was best.
- Your Soul Is Mine: The Soul Hunters collect them at the moment of death.