Season 1, Episode 4 – Infection
Talk about signs and portent. This one was a hammer to the head.
Babylon has been online 2 years at this point and a reporter from ISN has come to interview Sinclair, who apparently does not care to be interviewed.
The main plot is Franklin has an old friend, Vance Hendricks, show up with an artifact that he wants Franklin to examine. What we see that Franklin doesn’t is that Vance’s assistant, Nelson, moves the crate of artifacts through quarantine by killing the agent in charge and making it look like a heart attack.
Franklin and Vance find the artifact to be living technology, a biotech that can withstand time and attacks. In the meantime, Nelson is messing with the artifacts and one shocks him. We see him putting some sort of scarab on his chest and he begins to change into something not human. He says “protect.”
Franklin and Vance talk. IPX hired Vance to find artifacts and this one comes from a planet called Ikkara, which has been dead for a thousand years (Remind you of other places?)
Nelson is replaced by (or evolves into) a metal monster who begins a rampage over the station. Vance helps Franklin study the tech and they find that the Ikarran’s built supermachines who sought out all ‘impure’ enemies and destroyed them and finally destroyed the Kiarrans themselves as well. Remind you of anyone?
Sinclair uses this as a weapon when he goes after the monster and convinces it that it has killed its masters. The machine leaves Nelson and he tells Franklin that Vance knew all along. Vance tells Franklin that IPX is a front for hunting military tech to sell for huge profits and invites Franklin to join him. Franklin has him arrested instead.
Garibaldi visits Sinclair and gigs him for risking his life yet again and Sinclair has no real explanation for him.
The story ends with Sinclair finally talking to the interviewer:
Reporter: "After all that you've just gone through, I have to ask you the same question a lot of people back home are asking about space these days. Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea, and take care of our own problems, at home?"
Sinclair: "No. We have to stay here, and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics - and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars."
The ending – Earthforce Biotech division shows up to take the tech…
We first learn of biotech but it won’t be the last time for sure. Muhahaha!
We first hear of IPX and it won’t be the last time for that either.
We encounter the anti-alien sentiments from back home in the reporter’s questions.
Now I have some questions:
1. Were you suspicious of Vance Hendricks from the beginning?
2. Do you think this one was actually a sign of things to come or do you think it was less deliberate than that and only afterward did JMS connect it in some way to the things that occur down the line?
3. Why do you think Sinclair does what he does? Heroism? Something darker?
4. JMS considered this a weak episode… do you? Why or why not?
Babylon 5 Lurkers Guide: http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/guide/004.html