Babylon 5: Passing Through Gethsemane
September 29, 2018 5:33 AM - Season 3, Episode 4 - Subscribe

One of Brother Theo's monks is having visions of murder, and believes himself to be going mad... Lyta and Kosh return to B5 after a time on the Vorlon Homeworld, which no human has ever before seen. "Gambling is one of the lesser sins. I've always thought if you're going to sin, you may as well go for one of the really big ones."

-In The Quality of Mercy, we were introduced to the concept of the "death of personality": a capital-punishment-lite where a person's personality is destroyed and replaced with a helpful, moral one by a telepath.
-In Convictions, a group of monks led by Brother Theo arrive on the station. One of his monks, Brother Edward, starts having visions of terrible murders, and receives a black rose with a message inscribed in blood. He truly fears he is going mad and experiences great anguish.
-Turns out he was the Black Rose killer and had been sentenced to the death of personality, which he discovers after a "B-net" search and seeing his own picture. Some family members of his victims have arrived on B5 with a Centauri telepath to undo the death of personality, reawaken his memories of the murders so that they can kill the killer, and literally crucify him.
-Lyta telepathically extracts information from the telepathic Centauri who undid the mindwipe to find Brother Edward's location (after Garibaldi blackbags him, jesus), but they are too late to save him. He dies in Theo's arms as Theo prays for God's forgiveness for Edward's sins.
-Before his death and before his memories are reawakened, Brother Edward talks to Delenn and Lennier about Minbari beliefs. They believe that every soul is a manifestation of the universe itself, through the lens of a single body. Brother Edward talks about Jesus' choice not to flee the Roman soldiers, and wonders if he would have had the courage to stay. He willingly submitted to the crucifixion because of this: he had the courage to stay in Gethsemane. "Now I know."
-Edward's killer is himself subjected to the death of personality and becomes Brother Malcolm. Sheridan is horrified, but Theo says he specifically requested that Malcolm join their order. Forgiveness is a hard road.
-Meanwhile, Lyta and Kosh return from the Vorlon homeworld; Lyta had parked outside of Vorlon space and was picked up by the Vorlon right before her air ran out. She cannot disclose what she saw on homeworld.
-She is pretty harsh with the over-familiar and pushing-his-luck Londo (touching her on the shoulder, threatening to turn her into PsiCorp) and threatens to implant nightmares in his brain. ("Nightmares. Hmph! The way my life has been going lately, who'd notice?")
-She has been modified and healed; her childhood injuries and congenital defects are all gone. At the end of the episode, she is shown to be modified with Vorlon-atmosphere-breathing-gills and Kosh transfers some sort of energy into her.
posted by flibbertigibbet (4 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The murder-memory plot, per some statements by Straczynski, was originally supposed to be a second-season B-plot in some form -- one imagines maybe without the monks? -- but was delayed due to some legal wrangling. I do like the discussions this brings up about the Minbari belief system, but otherwise the entire plot feels very forgettable in a way that the Vorlon subplot isn't.
posted by cjelli at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've always loved this episode. The murder-memory plot is a great place to examine belief, understanding, punishment, rehabilitation, revenge and forgiveness. It feels like a perfect sci-fi short story to me, with the interesting twist that stuff happening in the background (ie Vorlon shenanigans) has long term impacts.
posted by sarcas at 3:47 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wound up crying when I watched this - I’m in a different place with religion now than I was when I last watched this. But also, it is more jarring now to see in a normal SF show - I don’t think they tackle religion in the same way these days. It’s very much a product of its times.
posted by corb at 4:18 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Star turn here by Louis Turenne as Brother Theo. And Brad Dourif as Brother Edward is just sensational, just the right slightly-too-intense feel for someone whose personality is engineered.

Louis Turenne, of course, first appeared as Draal, Delenn’s former teacher who gave himself to the Great Machine in A Voice In The Wilderness. I was sorry when that character got recast— the new guy was pompous where Turenne was humble— but glad to see more of Turenne in this recurring guest role.

When Lyta returned in the same episode, I was sure Garibaldi would call on her to check on Edward’s memories. But I suppose that might have saved him, when the plot demanded that he die.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:27 PM on April 19, 2021

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