Babylon 5: Believers
February 11, 2018 11:57 AM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

[standalone] Dr. Franklin locks horns with an alien couple who intend to deny life-saving care for their son based on their religious beliefs--namely, that surgery releases the soul, condemning one to a fate worse than death. "No one knows what is written in the stream until the waters surround him."

-He fails to convince them, then unethically performs the surgery without consent. In return, they ritually kill their son, as he is now a soulless demon.
-Kosh, on being examined while unconscious: "The avalanche has already begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."
-The Minbari religion has some influence from outsiders...
posted by flibbertigibbet (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I really disliked this episode--to the point of bailing very early. At the time this was apparently groundbreaking stuff, but watching it now for the first time, it just read as trite and obvious.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:58 AM on February 11


The first appearance of one of the rules of B5 - no cute kids or robots, unless they die by the end of the episode.

If there is anything to take away from this, it is the importance of faith and belief systems in the larger B5 universe.
posted by nubs at 6:10 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


it just read as trite and obvious

I think it suffers a bit, too, from being essentially an issue of medical ethics without ever actually being an issue of alien medical ethics; that Franklin's non-consenting patients aren't human -- and their beliefs are not human beliefs -- neither complicates or simplifies the situation he's in. And despite the purported novelty of the issue, it's (in broad strokes) not terribly uncommon to have patients not consent to procedures that doctors might prefer they elect (with varying consequences).

It's not cute kids or robots, but it's essentially ER with rubber masks; it feels like it wants to be looking at how dealing with alien beliefs presents challenges to medicine, but it never really has anything to say about it.

If there is anything to take away from this, it is the importance of faith and belief systems in the larger B5 universe.

That, and also helping develop Dr. Franklin's views on the unimportance of faith.
posted by cjelli at 9:44 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I think it suffers a bit, too, from being essentially an issue of medical ethics without ever actually being an issue of alien medical ethics; that Franklin's non-consenting patients aren't human -- and their beliefs are not human beliefs -- neither complicates or simplifies the situation he's in.

I view that as both a good and a bad thing; good in the sense that the fact that this is a non-human species does nothing to change anyone's approach to the question (which, given Franklin's background makes sense - he's used to working with alien species); bad in the sense that there's no attempt to see how the medical & belief system of the Children of Time has grappled with the ethical questions here.

For it's time, I remember it being a little bit of a shock - it was 1994. But the shock value for me came not from the fact that there was a belief system that was against medical intervention, as I was well aware of that problem as it already existed on Earth - there are a variety of belief systems against things like blood transfusions, etc, that I had heard & read about similar cases. The shock came from how the episode ended - that the parents would be so committed to their faith that they would kill their child and not through neglect.

I'm not sure what the episode wanted to say, or if it wanted to say anything at all beyond the fact that people had differing opinions on this and that there was no easy solution.

Trivia notes: episode was written by David Gerrold, also known for an obscure episode, The Trouble With Tribbles, of a little show called Star Trek.
posted by nubs at 8:41 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


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