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15 Responses

  1. Jason Tank says:

    1) This is one of my favorite episodes, because of the moral quandry and how the whole thing worked out. It’s difficult to side with one side over the other, and serves as a great intro to the style of B5.

    2) This is one of the stupidest episodes. Does your soul exit your body if you get a papercut? What if you trip and scrap your knee, is that enough? As far as goofy religious beliefs go, this one takes the cake (and then beats you over the head with it because you popped a zit and now you’re evil).Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jason Tank says:

      Hey, we established in episode 2 that souls exist for some races. I wish they kept the soul hunters around to act as validation for this sort of thing.

      “Yep. The soul flew out of there the second the scalpel touched the skin. Like the skin was the shell of an egg.”
      “Nope. If the soul left, I would have seen it. So it’s either still in there or you people don’t have them.”Report

    • James K in reply to Jason Tank says:

      Seriously, how does a religion get going when its followers consider any combat to be near 100% fatal? And you’d expect them all to wear full bodysuits made of space Kevlar or something.

      Still it’s a classic sci-fi move to add a plot element solely to focus on a moral quandry.Report

  2. James K says:

    What I like about this episode is that it provides some characterisation for Dr Franklin, and in a way that puts new light on what we’ve already seen of him. His primary personality trait thus far is that he’s very principled – he won’t deal with smuggled artefacts or let his knowledge be used for war. In this episode we see the dark side of that trait – Franklin’s sense of principle makes him unwilling to compromise for other peoples’ principles.

    You can see this is the way Franklin approached the issue. If his goal was simply to save the kid’s life he made three mistakes. The third mistake was the one Sinclair called him on, he shouldn’t have made it official – its better to ask forgiveness than permission in a situation like this. The first mistake was not getting as much information as he could on their beliefs, not only might he have averted the kid’s death at the end, he may have been able to find a way that would have worked with their beliefs.

    Failing that, his second mistake was being honest with people he thought were an obstacle to saving an innocent life. What he should have done was tell them he was going to try to try ultrasound and oils, but the odds weren’t good. Then do the operation on the kid. When he recovers the parents will call it a miracle and a reward for their faithfulness and everyone goes home happy.

    I think the reason Franklin did what he did is because it wasn’t enough to save the kid’s life, he wanted to prove he was right and that his principles were superior. He wanted the parents to concede to his position, and fixing the kid on the sly, or compromising with the parents wouldn’t achieve that.

    As an aside, I like all the little ways the shows points out that it isn’t Star Trek. From the ambassadors who transparently don’t want to get involved in something that can’t help them (although Delenn’s response had a “Prime Directive” flavour to it), to the ways in which minor rule-breaking for personal gain is tacitly accepted (Inanova’s coffee plant, Franklin research steak); this feels more like a story with real people in it than non-DS9 Star Trek generally did.Report

  3. Reformed Republican says:

    I really like this episode because it does not handle this in the normal TV manner. Neither Franklin nor the parents were portrayed as being absolutely right, or absolutely wrong. The obstructionist bureaucrat who will not help the noble doctor was Sinclair, one of the good guys. Sinclair made a hard decision and Franklin made a hard decision, and those decisions had consequences. There was no miraculous recovery, and the kid did not die before Franklin could cut him open, allowing the characters to avoid carrying out their decisions. Then, at the end, the parents killed their kid. They did not realize “wow, the doctor was right, we will love our boy regardless.” That is not how these plots are resolved in a TV show.

    It is also interesting how JMS handles religion. JMS is an atheist, but his treatment of religion is very respectful. On the other hand, Franklin, who appears to be an atheist, comes across as a smug jerk at times because of it.Report

  4. Pinky says:

    What I remember most about this episode was how stupid Franklin was. During the first 3/4 of the episode, he was head-over-heels in love with his own intellect and morality. Then he didn’t notice the parents’ 180. “Oh, everything’s fine now, we’re just putting these ceremonial robes on him for his journey to the afterl– um, Sirius. That’s it. We always have a big death ceremony, or, um, “ceremony”, not “death ceremony”, because we sure wouldn’t do that, but the journey to Sirius is something we always wear traditional robes for. Here, boy, put on your death robes. Sorry about overreacting earlier.”Report

    • Reformed Republican in reply to Pinky says:

      His stupidity at the end is entirely consistent with his attitude throughout. He is so absolutely confident that he is right; it never crosses his mind that the parents would not realize that they were wrong. He is blinded by his arrogance. He looks so damned smug when they come get the boy, too. He really thinks he has it all fixed up.Report

  5. Dman says:

    Before I saw this episode again, I remembered not liking it. I remember it being ham handed and blunt, but watching it again, I kind of liked it, though it made me dislike the doctor more than I did before (the character, not the actor). It bugged me because I could not put my finger on why though. It has been pointed out by others, Pinky and James K, why. I think my favorite part of this episode was the parents shopping around for help. Earlier in the show they are very arrogant about non-believers and their own superiority because of their beliefs. Then they are deflated time and time again. They find out they are only superior in their own minds and the rest of the universe does not give a damn about them.

    And I have to comment on the lack of facial responses, again, from Sinclair. There were more sorrowful faces though this entire episode. Just his normal dull scowl.Report

  6. KatherineMW says:

    This was a strong episode, and one of the few that has almost no connection with the series’ overarching plot developments. It almost felt more like Star Trek, in the sense that it revolved around a characters and a moral dilemma rather than around an overarching plot arc, but unlike Roddenbery et al. JMS is not stridently anti-religion.

    I was impressed with how well it portrayed Dr. Franklin; the “gloppet egg” scenes show that, as compassionate as he considers himself, he’s patronizing these people, and the scene where the kid says he know’s its just industrial goo indicates that Franklin’s arrogance and sense of intellectual superiority is unjustified. And the kid is, in his own way, more understanding and open of other people’s ‘beliefs’ than Franklin is, saying “don’t tell him the ‘egg’ isn’t real”. It’s a really cute scene.

    The whole ending, with Franklin realizing that he seriously screwed up, is excellently done, as is the compassionate portrayal of the family.

    There’s a bit of a Science Marches On problem with the show designers not considering that, 200 years (or, as it happens, 10-20 years) in the future we’d have medical technologies open to us that averted the need for surgery in many situations, but I can overlook that.

    Ivanova’s subplot wasn’t well-done – it didn’t have any significance, and it put her in a seriously dangerous situation and then just wrote it off with “…and she escaped”. I heard somewhere that they had intended something else with that subplot and had to cut it and that’s why it feels off.Report