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Recap / Babylon Five S 01 E 09 Deathwalker

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Season 1, Episode 9:

And Starring Sarah Douglas as an evil immortal cat-scientist...thing.
"Are you serious? This woman made the Duriam Massacres look like a church picnic, and now Earth wants to give her a grant?"

Talia Winters is surprised to be approached by Ambassador Kosh. He tells her that he has a job for her, and to meet him in Red 3, "at the Hour of Scampering."

Na'Toth is in the docking area, when she sees a feline-looking individual. She walks up to said person and begins pummeling her, screaming, "Deathwalker!" Security eventually pulls her off her victim. Some time after, Sinclair is briefed by Garibaldi, who notes the name Na'Toth was yelling, one that both of them recognize. They go to question Na'Toth, who tells them Deathwalker used her grandfather as a lab specimen when the Dilgar invaded his world, and that after that her family swore a Shon'Kar blood oath, meaning that if any of them encounter her again, they will be compelled to kill her. G'Kar asks that Na'Toth be released into his custody, but Sinclair puts her under house arrest. He orders Garibaldi to search the woman's ship for confirmation that she is indeed Deathwalker.

Talia has met with Kosh, saying that clearances and pay, a generous one, have been confirmed, but that she doesn't really understand. Kosh replies, "Understanding is a three-edged sword." Kosh's contact, Abbut, soon arrives, calling Kosh an "old dog" for bringing a date. Talia explains her presence and proceeds to scan him. Curiously, she finds he has no thought. They then proceed with their business.

In Medlab, Franklin is looking after his patient when Sinclair arrives. Together, they review the Earth Force record on Jha'dur, the Dilgar known as Deathwalker. After a lengthy list of atrocities, Franklin notes that this woman must be someone else; she's too young to be Jha'dur, too old to be her daughter, and there is no evidence of any prolonging processes. Garibaldi shows up holding a Dilgar uniform with the rank of Warmaster, Jha'dur's rank, from among her possessions. He also brings some sort of drug. Franklin doesn't recognize it off hand, and needs to run some tests on it before he can say what it is. A message comes for Sinclair that Senator Hidoshi is on the line for him.

Na'Toth apologizes to G'Kar for embarrassing him, but he says he is proud of her for following the Shon'Kar. Unfortunately, in this case it will have to be delayed, as Jha'dur has something that could potentially be of great benefit to the Narns. Na'Toth agrees to delay it, but not forget it. Sinclair is also given instructions about her. He is to send her to Earth immediately. When he tries to protest, the senator hangs up on him. Meanwhile, the woman wakes up, and seeing Franklin examining the vial lunges up and snatches it away from him, then demands to see the Commander.

Sinclair goes to meet with her, pausing to tell Londo not to listen to rumors of Deathwalker's presence. Londo's question about whether he would be informed if she were in fact on the station is met with a flat "No!" In Medlab, Sinclair dismisses Franklin, to which the woman responds, "You know the way of command. The Wind Swords are right to fear you." She confirms that she is Jha'dur. She looks as she does because she has developed a drug that prevents all diseases and grants virtual immortality. The implications are staggering, and she claims that, with the proper resources, she can bring it to the entire galaxy in less than a year.

Kosh's meeting seems to be going well, as well as a seemingly nonsensical stream of cryptic phrases and riddles can. Talia is utterly confused, and after concluding this session, asks what it meant. Kosh responds, "You must listen to the music, not the song." Talia then sees images of herself, as if through a series of mirrors.

Sinclair finds Lennier and tells him the situation. Lennier finds it hard to believe that even the Wind Swords - the most militant of the Warrior Caste - would harbor such a villain, but promises to look into it.

G'Kar is talking to Jha'dur, apologizing for the attack and making an offer for her serum. She shows that she knows of him as well, and his accomplishments against the Centauri. He offers to triple Earth's price, which she agrees to consider if he will give her one thing... Na'Toth's head. G'Kar quickly leaves, as Jha'dur cackles in glee.

Sinclair is discussing the situation with his officers. The serum is too complex to develop without Jha'dur's help, and so he has been ordered to send her to Earth. Garibaldi is not happy, but Sinclair says the potential could make all her victims' deaths mean something. It's clear neither of them really believe that, and Garibaldi warns that if word of this gets out, the League will tear the station apart to get her.

G'Kar, meanwhile, has found out about the plan to smuggle Deathwalker off the station. Na'Toth begs to be let loose on her, but G'Kar has another idea. He calls one of the League ambassadors. The security detail escorting Jha'dur is suddenly confronted by the members of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Ambassador Kalika, speaking for them, declares that they will only get Deathwalker off the station by killing all of them. They demand a hearing to decide her fate, and Sinclair agrees.

The next day, Talia tells Kosh she doesn't think she can do anymore, but he reminds her they have a contract. As Abbut approaches, she sees herself in some kind of computerized matrix.

The hearing to decide Jha'dur's fate is about to begin. Earth will vote in favor of a trial, and Sinclair expects the Minbari to vote in favor as well. The Narn and the Centauri both have had too many dealings with the Dilgar to risk coming out, and since the Vorlons have abstained (as usual), the deciding vote will be cast by the League - a certain yes.

As the hearing begins, Kalika makes a motion for a trial to be held on Babylon 5. The votes go as expected, except the Minbari. Delenn has instructed Lennier to vote against. Kalika declares the League is not finished yet and storms out. When they are the only two left, Lennier apologizes to Sinclair for allowing Deathwalker to go free. When Sinclair asks, he explains that the Wind Swords did shelter Jha'dur, but the Grey Council only learned of her presence during the Earth-Minbari War. Now, ten years later, they cannot bear the shame of admitting it.

The jumpgate activates and League warships begins arriving. Sinclair orders Ivanova to stall them and goes to talk to Kalika. His attempts to placate her are rebuffed and he eventually has to tell her about Jha'dur's discovery. Back in C&C, Ivanova is surprised when the League ships suddenly move out of firing range. Sinclair tells her he played a wild card, and returns to chambers to finish negotiations.

Talia is back with Kosh and Abbut. She has another vision, in which she sees herself being attacked. Kosh suddenly declares their business completed. Abbut takes off his hat, revealing a strange cybernetic device from which he takes a data crystal which he gives to Kosh, then walks off. Talia asks what is on it and is told, "Reflection, surprise, terror; for the future." He then leaves.

Sinclair has managed to hammer out a compromise in which Jha'dur will go to Earth to develop the drug, along with a team the League sends, after which she will be turned over to the League's custody. They agree to the terms.

The situation now resolved, Sinclair goes to talk to Deathwalker one more time. She does not believe they will turn her over after the serum is developed, but he says he will make sure personally, a move she thinks will cost him his command. She mocks him for his confidence that they could never do what she and her kind did. She goes on to tell him that the main ingredient of the serum comes from another sentient being, and cannot be synthesized. Once the news becomes public, it will cause pandemonium as everyone in the galaxy will try to take advantage of it without becoming a victim themselves, a thought she clearly relishes. "Not like us?" she sneers, "You will become us!"

Later her ship has left the station and is approaching the jumpgate when it suddenly activates and a Vorlon ship jumps in, destroying Jha'dur's ship as it passes. Sinclair turns to Kosh and asks why. "You are not ready for immortality." the Vorlon says, then leaves.

Later, Sinclair and Garibaldi are reflecting on the irony of the situation, when Talia comes up and tells them of her strange experience. The memory she's been flashing back to is of a time when she had to enter the mind of a Serial Killer, an experience that disturbed her greatly. Garibaldi tells her Abbut is a Vicar (VCR) capable of recording anything, even brain waves. Sinclair guesses he recorded things she's afraid of for some reason, but no one really knows for sure.

Tropes featured in this episode include:

  • Aesoptinum: Deathwalkers' Immortality Inducer comes at the expense of other beings.
  • Blatant Lies: When Londo first approaches Sinclair to ask if the rumors are true that Deathwalker is on the station, Sinclair simply smiles and tells him to not listen to rumors, at the same time pulling off an exit via elevator/transport tube.
  • Berserk Button: Just seeing Deathwalker sends Na'Toth into a homicidal frenzy.
  • Blunt "No": When Londo asks if Sinclair would tell him if Deathwalker were aboard, Sinclair gives him a flat look and says, "No."
    Londo: Just making sure we know where we stand.
  • Cats Are Mean: Arguably. The Dilgar are the most feline of the show’s aliens.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted twice; Deathwalker's serum was set up as a way to bring Garibaldi out of his coma at the beginning of season 2 but JMS later came up with a better way to do it. And the crystal Kosh ends up with after his discussions with Abbut contains a copy of Talia's original personality, which would have been used to get the real Talia back if Andrea Thompson hadn't left the show for good.
  • Continuity Nod: The Wind Swords, who sheltered Jha'dur, are the clan to which the pilot episode's assassin belonged. They also mentioned within range of Jha'dur's hearing that Sinclair has "a hole in his mind".
  • Cool Starship: Possibly beginning Babylon Five's trend towards interesting ship designs is the Iksha Warglobe, a spherical, spoked vessel with a glowing green core. Also two Vree saucers (of a smaller model than would appear in seasons three-five), and the first appearance of the Drazi Sunhawk (with a bright red exposed energy core).
  • Cyborg: Abbut, the Vicar (as in VCR).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: So far in the series G'Kar has been ruthless and duplicitous, but he doesn't even entertain Jha'dur's offer of her research in exchange for Na'Toth's head.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Jha'Dur is infamous for her horrific Mengele-esque experiments on living beings during the Dilgar War, including Na'Toth's grandfather.
  • Fish People: The Abbai again, although Ambassador Kalika and her male aide have shorter fin-crests than the previous bunch of Abbai (in "The War Prayer"). The Abbai ambassador in the fifth season will share this shorter crest.
  • Foreshadowing: While the Vorlons destroy Jha'dur because the younger races aren't ready for immortality, what we have in this episode is the first inkling of how they enforce their worldview on the less powerful.
  • For the Evulz: Deathwalker clearly takes great enjoyment out of tormenting those around her, and she practically salivates as she describes the chaos her serum will cause. She also has a delicious evil grin on her face when she adds a stipulation to G'Kar on what she'd like as an incentive to give him the serum—Na'Toth's head (and when G'Kar is visibly horrified by this request, Jha'dur lets out the most gleefully evil laugh you'd ever see from a female villain not named Cruella De Vil).
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Kosh's terms used to tell Talia Winters when their meeting will take place, namely the Hour of Scampering and the Hour of Longing.
  • Immortality Immorality: For each person made immortal with the anti-agapic, another has to be murdered.
  • Immortality Inducer: Jha'dur's universal anti-agapic, which retards the aging process and prevents disease.
  • The Immune: Jha'dur's serum makes people immune to disease as well as old age.
  • Koan: How Kosh usually speaks, but in this episode it's pushed up to eleven during his "conversation" with Abbut, to the point of Ice-Cream Koan.
    • To be fair, though, while this time Kosh was probably being meaningless as part of his misdirection (in contrast to the usual, where there is meaning in his crypticism - often lots of it), a few of his lines are worth paying attention to. Certainly his final words to Talia, where he actually comes close to telling her straight what just happened (as straight as a Vorlon will, anyway...). Also, "a stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from the bristles" is very interesting given later revelations about Vorlon philosophy and Kosh's individualism.
  • Last of His Kind: Jha’dur claims she is indeed the last of the Dilgar, given that they were beaten back to their homeworld at the conclusion of the war and then their sun went supernova. We certainly never see any other survivors on the series.
  • Memory Jar: The episode had Talia Winters meeting with Kosh and a strange cybernetic man who apparently was recording her thoughts and saving them on a data crystal.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: A Serial Killer's mind is, anyway. When Talia was in there, she got lost in a Hall of Mirrors then surprise-attacked.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Deathwalker and her people, the Dilgar.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: When someone is known near-universally by the name "Deathwalker", it's a fair bet they're not the nicest of people. Her alias, "Gyla Lobos" counts as well if you understand Spanish as "Lobos" means "wolves".
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: The Vorlons destroy Jha'Dur's ship before she can share the details of her anti-agapic serum with anyone. Given that said details likely would have resulted in an interstellar bloodbath, this may be a good thing.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The key ingredient of the longevity serum can only come at the cost of another sentient being's life. Jha'dur specifically designed it that way.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Na'Toth's shon'kar has left her with this attitude. G'Kar has to force her to back down, but even then she'll only delay her revenge—which G'Kar approves of.
  • Sarcasm Mode: When Londo meets Sinclair again, this time in the Council chambers, he chides Sinclair for his Blatant Lies from earlier. When Sinclair tries to chock it up to trying to keep things quiet, Londo scans the mayhem in the room and sarcastically congratulates Sinclair on a "good job" in keeping things quiet.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The whole debate over whether to prosecute Jha'dur for her crimes or let her walk in exchange for her discoveries is rendered moot when Kosh unilaterally has her assassinated without having taken part in the argument.
  • Stealth Pun: Abbut is a ViCaR. Or rather, Abbot is a Vicar.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Abbut and Jovian Sunspots, reinforced by Garibaldi's description at the end of the episode (it's used as Abbut's supposed defining trait).
  • The War Just Before: The Dilgar War was Earth's first venture onto the interstellar scene, where they accrued a lot of good will from what became the League of Non-Aligned Worlds by defeating the genocidal Dilgar. Now they're dealing with one of the last remnants.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The League ambassadors are pissed when they learn that EarthGov is making a secret deal with Deathwalker. Sinclair, for his part, isn't happy about it either, but has direct orders to ship her off to Earth.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When confronted with a war criminal whose crimes make those of Nazi Germany seem comparatively tame, who butchered the other races mercilessly and now offers those same races immortality, it is interesting to see the main characters fail to do the right thing.
    • Sinclair wants justice, to the point where he votes in favor of the League's proposal in spite of his orders from Earthdome. In the end, however, he is undercut by Earth's desire for power. As Ivanova so rightly puts it: "Justice or immortality; an intriguing choice."
    • Londo makes a grand gesture, but ultimately shrinks away from doing the right thing.
    • G'Kar grandstands and speaks about the Narn's "keen sense of justice," but he is also happy to let Deathwalker go free for selfish reasons (although he is not willing to sacrifice Na'Toth to get her drug).
    • Lennier knows that Jha'dur is an evil woman, but he follows orders in order to keep the secret that she found sanctuary among the Warrior Caste. This is an early indication that a Minbari will lie to preserve another's honour - in Lennier's case, committing a lie of omission on orders from Delenn to preserve the honour of the Warrior Caste.
    • Even the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, the races that suffered the most at Deathwalker's hands, allowed her to go to Earth (albeit with the promise she will be put on trial later) when tempted by the promise of immortality.
    • Doubles as Foreshadowing (see above), but the Vorlons demonstrate what happens when they decide to stop abstaining and "vote".
  • You Are Not Ready: Kosh's simple explanation for why his people destroyed Jha'dur and her serum.