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Old February 4th 15, 21:18   #75
Lennier's Tears
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Re: EpDis: Passing Through Gethsemane

I REALLY like this episode. It's probably the best standalone episode of the whole show (I may change my mind on that as I work my way through this re-watch).

If someone had told me about this episode before I first watched it, and described it as a story about forgiveness, involving monks and named "Passing Through Gethsemane", I would have thought "ehh". Religious themes aren't really my cup of tea, and I dislike stories that beat you over the head with some kind of morality message. But, this episode isn't like that at all!

The sin and forgiveness topics are excellently handled. There isn't a hint of preachiness in this (I guess there never is in Babylon 5). A complex issue is presented in a nuanced way.

It probably helps that the monk characters are so likable. I've mentioned elsewhere that I really like the Brother Theo character. He's kind of a stereotype or caricature, I guess .. But he seems so kindly and nice. Not at all preachy, just quietly devoted to his work. Brother Edward is fantastic. I love everything about this character. I really like Brad Dourif, so that helps [to add to the "Where else did we see him?" conversation: I believe he once scared the crap out of me in one of the later Myst games. Unlike the earlier games, this one had bits of moving video in between the still game scenes. Generally people walking into the scene. Startled me every time!]. He does such a good job with this part.

The issue of mindwiping is also a very interesting one. Personally, I don't think it's any more humane than the death penalty. It's pretty much exactly the same thing. The person is killed, you just get a replacement person instead of a dead body. The whole crime and punishment issue is so very complex ... I have lots of half-finished thoughts and somewhat undecided opinions on this, which I won't bore you with here. But, I think it's very interesting. I like that the issue is brought up in this episode, although I have some minor issues with how it was presented here. It's mostly just me and my opinions on what the 23rd century OUGHT to be like rather than a real problem with the episode.

Related, it appears that Brother Edward's new personality remains intact, even though he has his old memories back (or some of them, anyway). This is interesting. If one could reprogram a personality without taking away the memories, why is a whole mindwipe required? I briefly thought that maybe just changing the personality would be a more humane punishment, but it's actually probably more cruel to have a personality dedicated to serving with memories of horrible things they have done ... They'd probably end up like Edward, believing nothing can make up for what they did, and that they should die. Also, it's probably impossible to separate memories from a personality, although that is perhaps what we see here ... On the other hand, maybe it's Edward's new experiences that inform his old personality ...

I love the title of the episode. How appropriate. I suppose that is true for most Babylon 5 episodes. The names are well-chosen.

Minor nitpicks:

Even when this was written in the mid-nineties, the death penalty was long on its way out. Many nations had officially abolished it, and many others had stopped enacting it. It seems kind of odd to me that the writers felt this idea was likely to be around in the 23rd century. I don't have a problem with individual characters expressing a desire for a return to the olden days of capital punishment (ie Garibaldi). I am dubious that the world's governments would decide to bring it back as they join together in a global alliance.

But, even if they did have such forms of punishment in the 23rd century, I would think it would take a LOT for someone to be sentenced to such a punishment. At the end of this episode, we don't know exactly how much time has passed between the capture of Edward's killer and his new personality's departure for Earth, but it doesn't seem like it was a lot. I like the idea of an efficient justice system, but you'd think if someone's life is at stake, there would be appeals and it would get dragged out. In The Quality of Mercy, we see the same thing with Karl Mueller. There doesn't appear to be a jury or anything. It's a single judge deciding on someone's life. I'm a tad uncomfortable with that!

Of course my discomfort doesn't make anything unrealistic. Still, Earth seems to have pretty sensible policies, otherwise.

Did it seem like it took Edward's computer an impossibly long time to show him his search results? Just googling "Death Walks Among You" would have done the trick in seconds. Also, "According to station records, the Black Rose archives were accessed about five hours ago. Computer signature was the system in Brother Edward's quarters." There are station records that keep track of everyone's internet traffic? It kind of makes it sound like the those archives are a local resource, which is a bit weird, too.

Somewhat unrelated, if the technology exists to program human brains with personality traits and memories, isn't it odd that addiction is still an issue? Seems like someone could just go in and fix that part of the brain.

But, none of that takes away from my enjoyment of this episode. I think it's fantastic.
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