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?
Senator Hidoshi has called with news on the budget. The increases have not been approved. Sinclair protests that they've already had an accident but the senator dismisses it. The dockers have not gotten anything. From the government's point of view they are bound by contract, they can't quit or go on strike. Ivanova then gets news that the workers are calling in sick, but they aren't really sick. It's an illegal "blue flu" strike.
Down in the docking bay the dockers are complaining about their working conditions when Garibaldi shows up to escort Ms. Connally to a meeting. The workers start getting a little heated, but Connally agrees to meet with the commander. At the meeting Sinclair pleads with her to get them back to work. If she forces the issue the labor committee will get involved and could invoke the Rush Act. She demands better pay and more workers, as well as upgrades before storming off. Then the Senator calls again.
Londo returns to his quarters to find G'Kar there, "guarding" them. He wants Londo's G'Quan Eth. It's very difficult to grow and keep, and Londo wants it to make a kind of drink, but he asks 50,000 credits cash for it. G'Kar is outraged and storms out.
Sinclair and Hidoshi are talking about the situation. The Labor Committee has sent Orin Zento, their best negotiator, to resolve the situation. Sinclair is to give him his full cooperation, including troops if the Rush Act is invoked.
When Zento arrives he is appraised of the situation and asks for support if the Rush Act is invoked.
G'Kar call Londo to say he has the money but Londo changes his mind, partly in retaliation for the Narn occupation of Raghesh III. After raging a few moments, G'Kar decides another course of action is called for.
Zento is talking to the dockers, trying to sound sympathetic, but none of them are buying it. The military got an increase, and he says that the rest should be sufficient. Ms. Connally protests that they were promised an increase, but Zento says that without a written agreement he can't do anything. The experts have told him that they have sufficient resources to run the docks efficiently. Delvientos says that those experts have probably never worked a spacedock, and their equipment won't last more than a few months. With tempers running high, Sinclair suggests they recess for the night.
In the morning, Sinclair, apparently having spent the whole night awake, is disturbed by Zento who demands to know why there has been an officially declared strike. He blames Sinclair for letting the situation get out of hand, and says he will meet with Ms. Connally for their meeting, but says he is willing to invoke the Rush Act and Sinclair had better be ready. G'Kar calls next and demands to speak with him. In chambers G'Kar explains the ritual, that he must burn the plant at the moment when sunlight breaks over the mountains where the Narn prophet G'Quan prayed during the holy days, and asks Sinclair to get it from Londo. Sinclair goes and talks to Londo, who still refuses to give it up. G'Kar is not pleased, but Sinclair has more pressing matters. G'Kar calls Na'Toth to put his backup plan into effect.
The labor negotiations are not going well, and despite Sinclair's attempts to compromise Zento decides to invoke the Rush Act. He then leaves to get confirmation from the Senate.
Ivanova is trying to placate frustrated captains, when Sinclair enters with a reporter asking about the situation. Londo and G'Kar then come in, each in a rage. A statue of a Centauri god has been stolen and Londo knows it was G'Kar, who fires back that Londo is making fabrications. The reporter begins asking for a comment, when Sinclair, already frustrated, orders Ivanova to escort everyone not authorized to be in C&C to the brig in ten seconds. She marches them out with a countdown.
Senator Hidoshi calls to (regretfully) inform them that the Rush Act has been invoked. This will likely end in violence, something Hidoshi fears some in the Senate were counting on. Sinclair orders Garibaldi to ready his men, then he asks to see the full text of the Rush Act.
Connally asks her people to keep cool, but boos and catcalls erupt as Garibaldi's security forces appear. They are to take her into custody, but a fight breaks out as they attempt to do so. Garibaldi manages to get her out and they meet Sinclair. He orders Garibaldi to pull his forces back and takes Connally and Zento to talk to the dockers.
He informs them that he now has the authority to use any means to end the strike and asks Zento if he has his full support. Once Zento affirms his support, Sinclair diverts the needed money to upgrade facilities and hire new workers from the increased military budget, and offer pardons for all the striking workers. Zento protests but there is nothing he can do. The dockers are satisfied with the arrangements and agree to go back to work.
Before he can unwind, he gets a call that Londo and G'Kar are going at it again; Sinclair goes to give the two a stern talking-to. Sinclair has found out that the G'Quan Eth has some controlled substances in it and uses that to seize it. Londo allows it without protest; the moment it was needed has already passed. G'Kar is very put out, but Sinclair tells him that the light that shone over the mountains ten Narn years ago will soon reach the station, and convinces G'Kar that it will do, as long as the statue is returned.
Before Sinclair can get to sleep, he has one more disturbance. Senator Hidoshi calls to inform him that the Senate has allowed his decision to stand. Most of the Senate doesn't like it, but public opinion is on Sinclair's side. The Senator (who was pleased with the outcome) also warns him that Zento has powerful friends and that Sinclair has angered them with his actions. Sinclair isn't that worried; he's never been that popular at Earthdome anyway.
With the G'Quan Eth now in his possession, and the light reaching the station, G'Kar leads a group of Narns in their ritual, ending with him chanting low over the burning limbs.
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. Sinclair even looks up the Exact Words of the Rush Act to make sure it'll allow him to do what he wants to do.
- 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."
- Gunboat Diplomacy: What the Rush Act is supposed to be, and what Zento wants. Sinclair manages to get away with what he did because it didn't had any Exact Words aiming towards this specific use — and even then, Earth Gov only allows it (and lets him keep his job) because not doing so would be a bigger PR disaster.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ms Connelly is visibly smaller in size than any of her male opponents (to a point where she is easily lifted out of harm´s way when the riots emerge). On the other hand - she is a skilled union leader who shows that she has a lot of popular support, and is truly a person you don´t want to mess with.
- 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. Also a War Hawk — when he activates the Rush Act, he obviously wants Sinclair to order station security to stomp the strike out in a "kill them all and let God sort them out" fashion.
- 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. It's impressive that he kept as cool as he did; the man who died at the beginning was his brother.
- 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 firing thousands of striking air traffic controllers, giving the incident a happy ending.
- Would any government willingly reduce their military budget to secure workers rights? Certainly not the US government (being the possible target of this particular Take That!).
- 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.