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Recap / Babylon Five S 02 E 14 There All The Honor Lies

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"Death first!"
Season 2, Episode 14:

There All The Honor Lies

Their honor? We've had plenty of that ourselves. Conspiracies of silence because the larger ideals have to be protected. But you can't have larger ideals if the smaller ones get compromised.
Captain Sheridan

In Sheridan's office Ivanova is ranting. He has just asked her to oversee the new Babylon 5 Emporium, the latest scheme to help the station to become more self-sufficient, something that she feels will demean the station and its purpose. This, Sheridan feels, is exactly why she's perfect to oversee it; her natural outrage will help her see that nothing about the station is demeaned. With that settled, Sheridan leaves for another of Ambassador Kosh's lessons, which he admits he probably won't understand any better after than he does now.

As he walks along, someone runs into him. He doesn't think anything of it... until he realizes his comlink is gone. As he gives chase, he barrels into a Minbari warrior who pummels him and knocks him to the floor. Sheridan notices a PPG lying there and grabs it, pointing it at his attacker, warning him to back off, but the Minbari advances on him, appearing to draw a weapon, and saying "Death first!" Sheridan shoots and the warrior falls down a flight of stairs. As he goes over and looks at the body, he sees another Minbari who quickly runs off.

Later Sheridan is with Garibaldi and Delenn explaining what happened. No weapon was found on the body and since the warrior, Lavell, comes from a prominent family, Delenn has been ordered to conduct her own investigation to determine whether Sheridan should be charged with murder. As she leaves Sheridan orders Garibaldi to find the Minbari witness, and Garibaldi asks for a description.

Sheridan: Bald, with a bone in his head.

In Londo's quarters, Vir receives a transmission from Centauri Prime.

As Garibaldi finishes talking to one of the Minbari on station, Lennier shows up and asks to speak to him. Later he notes to Sheridan how Lennier always seems to be where the investigation goes, and they speculate that he could be in on it, and trying to cover it up. They talk about the link thief, who hasn't been caught, and why he took the link, knowing Sheridan would give chase.

In medlab, the autopsy of the body yields nothing to indicate one way or the other. There is also the question of the gun Sheridan found. Where did it come from? A Minbari would never use a human made weapon. The whole thing is starting to look like a setup.

Talia runs into a drunk Vir, but he runs off before she can find out what's wrong.

Delenn and Lennier have managed to locate the witness, Ashan. Delenn tries to question him, but he refuses, calling her a freak. She leaves, and Lennier rebukes him for insulting her. Despite this, Ashan is willing to talk to him. Later Sheridan insists of being able to talk to Ashan, and try to sort the situation out.

Ivanova arrives at the Babylon 5 Emporium and, while initially open-minded, is completely freaked out when a Markab pulls his face to reveal a human, and the human behind her turns out to be a Drazi in a human mask.

After Ashan has been brought to Sheridan's office, Sheridan tries to question him. Ashan merely calls him "Starkiller." Delenn and Lennier ask if he could be mistaken in what he saw, he asks them where their loyalties lie. The interview is interrupted by a woman who arrived on station earlier and introduces herself as Guinevere Corey, Sheridan's lawyer. Sheridan insists he doesn't need on, to which she responds, "The favorite song of the legally ignorant," much to his annoyance. The Minbari excuse themselves.

Corey explains that she was sent by Earthdome, who has decided to proceed with an indictment. They've decided the best course of action is to take it to trial and accept the verdict, which will most likely be in his favor, but either way, will cost him command of Babylon 5.

A frustrated Sheridan goes to his quarters to cool down, but he doesn't get the chance as Ambassador Kosh shows up for their lesson. Sheridan tells him he's not in the mood, but Kosh feels that it's "Precisely the correct time."

Garibaldi gives Zack Allan a task: follow Ashan and find out what he's up to.

In the worst section of Downbelow, Kosh tells Sheridan to enter a small alcove. When he asks what's in there Kosh tells him, "One moment of perfect beauty." Uncertain, Sheridan makes his way inside, and finds a lone figure who silently moves an offering bowl toward him. Not really having much else, Sheridan drops his command bar in. The figure seems to accept and what appeared to be large orange bags move and begin singing a Gregorian Chant as he, and outside Kosh, listens.

Vir is getting drunk some more when Londo shows up and asks what's wrong. Centauri Prime has decided that Londo's position has grown to the point that someone more important should be his aid, and so they are replacing Vir. Vir doesn't want to go home, because his family didn't want here there. He then gets up and leaves. Londo is about to follow, but suddenly notices a group of women with a doll of himself.

After emerging from his lesson, Sheridan describes his lesson to Ivanova as, "Beauty... in the dark."

Ivanova: It must be working. You're beginning to talk just like a Vorlon.

Delenn has received instructions on preparing Lavell's body by his clan's customs, which she shows to Lennier.

Londo finds Sheridan and Ivanova and demands to talk to them.

Elsewhere, Ashan is wandering around Downbelow as Zack follows, but is suddenly knocked out by Lennier as Ashan meets up with the thief that started the whole thing. Lennier confronts Ashan asking if he honors the truth or clan obligations. Ashan runs off.

In Sheridan's office Londo is objecting to the doll's lack of... "attributes." Sheridan and Ivanova eventually catch on to his meaning and Sheridan orders the dolls pulled immediately. Londo thanks them.

Londo: I do not lie when I say this could have been a major embarrassment to all concerned.
Sheridan: Oh, I'm sure ambassador. You don't lie, the Minbari don't lie, no one around here...
Londo: Who said the Minbari don't lie?

Sheridan seizes on this and is able to coax the admission out of Londo that a certain Minbari once lied to help a certain Centauri ambassador save face, something they find honor in. Sheridan realizes that must be it. Before he can pursue that train of thought a message arrives for him.

Later he finds Delenn in the stations rock garden. He tells her that the Minbari government wants Ashan sent back to the Minbari homeworld. Without him there can be no trial and no way for Sheridan to clear things up, ruining his credibility. Eventually they leave the garden.

In Delenn's quarters, Lennier meets with Ashan, who admits to the plan to discredit Sheridan. The clan was angered by Sheridan's appointment after the dishonorable way (in their view) that he destroyed the Black Star. Lennier also lost family aboard the Black Star but feels there is no more honor in this. Ashan insists Lavell's honor must be protected, at which point Sheridan, Delenn and Garibaldi emerge from their hiding place, with Ms. Corey.

Ashan is led away and Corey asks if they want a confession. Sheridan will settle for a statement clearing him of any wrongdoing, and leave Lavell's motive as just another of Babylon 5's mysteries.

In Londo's quarters, Vir is having his first hangover when Londo comes in and tells him that he's arranged for Vir to stay on as his aid. And he's arranged for Vir's family to come and see him on the station. Vir grabs another drink.

Sheridan and Ivanova run into each other. He asks her opinion on the store, and she gives him a teddy bear wearing a jersey with the initials J.S.' John Sheridan. Sheridan quickly orders the bears removed; in fact he wants the entire store gone. Ivanova smiles and heads off, while Sheridan takes the bear and marches off.

A short time later Warren Keffer is on patrol, trying to track down an unknown object, which he finds when the bear hits his cockpit. He declines to comment on what he's found and heads back in, leaving the bear floating in space.

Tropes seen in this episode include:

  • Alone in a Crowd: Delenn refers to herself, word for word, as being this, though her situation doesn't really fit the trope.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Londo is outraged at the "Londo Mollari" doll being sold in the gift shop. Not because they used his image without his permission, but because it isn't anatomically correct. He feels he's being symbolically cast-- in a bad light.
  • Clear My Name: Sheridan from the claim he killed Lavell without justification. Even if his EarthGov lawyer is able to remove him from legal harm, without actually clearing his name the damage to his reputation will mean his tenure tarnished and he will be removed and replaced as commander of Babylon 5.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Vir has a few drinks after finding out he's being sent home.
  • Fantastic Racism: Ashan dislikes all non-Minbari... a category that includes Delenn. He also apparently believes that all non-Minbari are the real racists, while he is an innocent victim.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The "beauty in the dark" lesson Sheridan receives from Kosh not only helps him in his dire situation with the murder case, but was a prelude when he confronts darkness nearly a year later and finds beauty therein.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Lennier can be efficiently ruthless when he needs to be, while being impeccably polite and upbeat.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Londo finds Vir recovering from his drowned sorrows.
    Londo: Your first hangover, enjoy it! I remember my first hangover... well, actually that's not true; if I remembered it, then it wouldn't be a real hangover.
  • Helping Another Save Face: The investigation is temporarily stymied by the assumption that Minbari Cannot Tell a Lie, but in a Call-Back to "The Quality of Mercy" Londo reveals that they can lie in order to preserve another person's honor.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Lennier displays, lampshades, and openly mocks this trope during the course of the episode. Lennier is honor-bound to not reveal Ashan is knowingly lying about Lavell and is prepared to frame himself for the crime to stop the plot, even though it would result in their entire clan (including himself and Ashan) being disgraced. Lennier states he will personally retain honor by covering for Ashan. This is because Lennier will retain his personal honor, doing what he knew was right to clear the Captain's name, at the knowing sacrifice of his public honor. That he gets to drag the clan's honor down in flames around himself for their actions is a bonus.
    • Sheridan only ends up in the whole situation because, in the heat of the moment, he goes chasing off after a thief who stole his comm link. This despite the fact that the link is quickly rendered worthless once reported stolen, can easily be replaced, and as later episodes show, won't even work without detecting Sheridan's unique DNA when attached to his hand.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When Londo announces he's arranged for Vir's family to come visit Babylon 5, Vir immediately grabs a glass.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: Delenn says this when Sheridan accuses Ashan of lying, since Minbari do not lie and the accusation would require a severe response.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: A big part of the plot is that "death first" is a near homophone for a Minbari phrase that means "I submit to your authority" (i.e. 'I surrender').
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Ivanova narrowly avoids insulting Londo further when he's already worked up about his action figure's Barbie Doll Anatomy.
  • Latex Perfection: Played for laughs when Ivanova pays a visit to B5's gift shop. Suddenly, all of the human/alien customers remove their 'masks', seriously freaking her out.
  • Literary Allusion Title
    "Honour and shame from no condition rise;
    Act well your part, there all the honour lies."
    Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Man" Epistle IV, 1733-34
  • Moral Myopia: The Minbari warrior caste continue their valiant ass-covering exercise from Sheridan's introduction after Sheridan dared to actually win a battle against them when they were trying to wipe his entire species off the face of the galaxy.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: The plot is set in motion by a thief who bumps into Captain Sheridan and steals his comm link. An unusual variation in that Sheridan realizing he has been robbed is a key part of the plan.
  • Pet the Dog: Londo helping Vir. He tells his colleagues Vir is essential to his work and will resign if they remove Vir against his wishes. He goes further to tell Vir's family what an excellent worker he is.
  • Pun-Based Title: There all the honor lies. Lies has significant meaning in the episode. So does honor, let alone lies to save honor.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Played with. Ivanova bumps into a Markab in the gift shop...who pulls off his face to reveal he's actually a human in a mask. Then she bumps into a Drazi with a human mask, in a neat subversion.
  • Smug Snake: Ashan. He believes he is superior to all non-Minbari and Delenn.
  • Suicide by Cop: Sheridan is attacked and forced to kill his attacker in self-defense. Add one false witness claiming that he started the fight, and you get the meat of the plot.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: When Sheridan is asked to describe a specific Minbari, Sheridan (in full Sarcasm Mode) replies:
    Sheridan: Bald, with a bone on his head.
    Garibaldi: We're going to need a big line-up room.
  • Take That!: The episode takes a gentle jab at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with which B5 was dueling at the time. Worth noting, the episode was written by Peter David, known for his Star Trek novels. He actually expected the line to be cut, but JMS went ahead and used it verbatim (to which David responded, "You people really are dangerous over there, aren't you?").
    Ivanova: This isn't some deep space franchise, this station is about something!
  • Taking the Heat: Lennier informs Ashan that he will claim responsibility for Ashan's part in the crime. By lying, Lennier maintains his own honor by preserving Ashan and Sheridan's honor, at the expense of their clan's honor. But then, as Lennier points out, Ashan has already dishonored their clan by taking part in the plot to begin with.
  • Tempting Fate: Sheridan and Ivanova were talking about several problems they're encountering during the episode and Ivanova notes that they need to handle one problem at a time....just as Londo comes in, seething with rage, with doll in hand.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Bab-bear-lon Five, for the crime of impersonating the Captain.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: The Captain's legal troubles center around the fact that Minbari supposedly never lie and a Minbari is saying that he assaulted Lavell. However, Londo later tells him that Minbari will lie if it is to save face for another. This is a Call-Back to The Quality of Mercy in season one, where Lennier lied to protect Londo's dignity.
  • You Look Familiar: If Julie Caitlin Brown as attorney Guinevere Corey sounds familiar, it's because she played Na'Toth in the first season. Looks very different without the prosthetics, doesn't she?
  • The War Just Before: Minbari resentment over Sheridan's actions during the war lead some of them to try to frame him for murder to ruin his credibility.
  • Verbal Backspace: During Vir's Hangover Sensitivity where Londo says he remembers his first hangover...then recants and says that he actually can't.
    • Later, Sheridan tells Ivanova that he thinks that the giftshop and the B5 merchandize is a good idea...then takes it back when he sees Ivanova's JS Teddy Bear.