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View Poll Results: The War Prayer
A -- Excellent 6 17.14%
B -- Good 9 25.71%
C -- Average 11 31.43%
D -- Poor 6 17.14%
F -- Failure 3 8.57%
Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

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Old May 21st 12, 10:43   #41
Alioth
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Re: EpDis: Believers

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Originally Posted by vacantlook View Post
What keeps me from viewing this episode as stellar though has a lot to do with finding the acting of the Shon character to be rather weak. Also, the that the religion of the aliens feels just sort of slapped together to suit a one-use need for this episode. I'd imagine there are plenty of people who disagree with me on this issue of their religion, but it's how it seems for me.
There are religious beliefs among humans that pose similar dilemmas: Scientologists opposing all medicine, Jehovah's Witnesses opposing blood transfusions, etc. I think occasionally there've been some stories in the news where someone dies for these beliefs too. Which made me wonder--I've noticed there've been quite a few Star Trek franchise episodes that correlated closely with some hot-button political or social controversy going on around the time they aired--TNG and Voyager seemed particularly guilty of this. I noticed this because I watched a lot of those eps when they were originally aired. I didn't watch Babylon 5 when it originally aired but many years later, but it seemed the show largely avoided doing this (comparing to what I remember of the 90s), as it was more committed to an arc, and more universal (and timeless) themes. I'm wondering if maybe this was an exception, because it kind of smells like one--anyone remember watching this originally and if there was some current controversy IRL similar to the one presented?

At any rate, when I do rewatches there are very few episodes that I skip (not even "Infection" or "Grey 17", but "TKO" is one), but this is one of them--simply because these types of stories get me worked up, there's no good way to resolve the values-lock involved, and we never see or hear of that particular people ever again.

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Old May 21st 12, 11:24   #42
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Re: EpDis: Believers

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Originally Posted by aajay View Post
Also has my favorite Kosh quote "the avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote"!
Spoiler for the Shadow Within (book):
That line was also uttered/thought by Kosh after observing that the Icarus crew had awakened the Shadows on Z'ha'dum. That's my preferred context for that quote--it doesn't seem to fit as well in this episode, although maybe it is referring to the precedent of his own unwilling treatment in "the Gathering", as someone upthread surmised.
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Old May 22nd 12, 16:34   #43
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Re: EpDis: Believers

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Which made me wonder--I've noticed there've been quite a few Star Trek franchise episodes that correlated closely with some hot-button political or social controversy going on around the time they aired--TNG and Voyager seemed particularly guilty of this. I noticed this because I watched a lot of those eps when they were originally aired. I didn't watch Babylon 5 when it originally aired but many years later, but it seemed the show largely avoided doing this (comparing to what I remember of the 90s), as it was more committed to an arc, and more universal (and timeless) themes. I'm wondering if maybe this was an exception, because it kind of smells like one
Well people have been using religious reasons to justify their actions for centuries, so it is really a timeless theme...

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there's no good way to resolve the values-lock involved
Just like life.
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Old August 13th 15, 03:07   #44
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Re: EpDis: Believers

Ehh, this episode. I didn't start out disliking it, but I find that every time I watch it, it annoys me more. There are some episode of Babylon 5 that I find hard to watch, while still thinking they are good or even great episodes, most notably "The Illusion of Truth", but also, as already mentioned upthread "Intersections in Real Time". There is definitely some of that going on with this episode. It's uncomfortable. But this one I wouldn't say is still a great episode. It has some good things going for it, but overall, it's just really not for me. I haven't skipped any episodes when doing B5 re-watches, but if I was going to start doing that, it would be with this one.

The themes explored in the main storyline of this episode are perfectly valid and interesting. Parents' religious beliefs and the impact of those beliefs on the medical care their children receive was a real world world issue when B5 was written and of course still is a real world issue today. Babylon 5 is generally GREAT at taking current issues and giving them a sci fi spin. I also like it when not every story is neatly tied up at the end and/or has a happy ending.

All of that, and yet it doesn't work for me.

In the real world, today, there are many countries who have laws and regulations to apply in situations like these. Parental rights are taken away when a child's life is in danger and parental beliefs interfere with said child's medical care. That isn't to say that such laws prevent all deaths. Plenty of children still die because their parents pray over them instead of getting them the help they need. But in a clear-cut case of a child already being in the hospital with doctors confirming that they absolutely, definitely will die if not operated on, that operation is going to happen. I kinda sorta feel like there SHOULD be rules like that for Babylon 5. Admittedly, the situation is rather more complicated there because there's all these alien races and Earth isn't supposed to interfere with their business. Realistically, though, Earth is going to interfere in people's business. The green/purple Drazi were mentioned upthread. Babylon 5 command definitely intervened in that situation.

Parents don't own their children like some type of property. Not in our society, and not in the Babylon 5 universe. It's not the rights of the parents that are the issue, it's the rights of the child. That (among other things) is why I think that Sinclair is wrong in this episode. He feels like he has to be an advocate for the parents because no one else will, but the parents wishes have nothing to do with anything.

Franklin is arrogant and I think he's wrong in using trickery to get the parents to stay around in hopes that they'll come to see things his way. But, I feel he's right about everything else. He DID swear an oath and he's bound by it. He has to perform this operation.

Anyway, I find it hard to believe that Babylon 5 wouldn't have some kind of protocol for this type of situation.

Another issue is that I kinda feel like this type of surgery should be possible without cutting the chest open. We've seen other fancy stuff happen in that medlab.

Why are the parents there to begin with? Were they just traveling in the area or did they purposefully seek out alien help because they couldn't get it on their own world? I think that's a fairly important detail, but I don't think there's an answer in the episode. I think this episode isn't helped by the fact that this stuff is happening to a people we've never heard about and never hear from again. Do all people on their planet believe as they do? That seems a tad unrealistic.

Dr. Franklin is a smart guy. I also find it hard to believe he didn't see that "lamuda" thing coming. I guess there wasn't much he would have been able to do about it anyway. If parental rights had been terminated (which again, would presumably be hard to do in an inter-species sort of situation, but they DID come to an Earth station where SOME Earth rules should apply) they could have kept the parents and child separate, but as it was there was no way to stop the parents from taking the child.

It bothers me greatly that Dr. Franklin mentions the cost of the treatment to the parents. I've commented on this in some other thread, but I can't now remember which one. It wasn't "The Quality of Mercy" because I haven't gotten to that one (rest assured I'll comment on it there again, though ). Anyway, the point is that I would really hope that in the 23rd century health care isn't only for those who can afford it. Out of all the health care systems in the world, 23rd century Earth decided to go with something resembling that of the late 20th century US? What a TERRIBLE idea.

I'm kind of curious about the details of this clandestine operation that we didn't get to see. Was Shon already out of it? Did they tell HIM what they were going to do?

Aaaanyway.

I think Dr. Hernandez is great and I like how she stands up to Franklin when he's being a bit too self-righteous. I like the stuff with Ivanova and the raiders as well.

An unrelated comment about some of the dialog at the end. Sinclair says something like "What makes us human is that we care". What? They live in a space station full of aliens. I know they don't think that they're the only species who "cares". Did he mean "sentient" rather than "human"?
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Old October 11th 15, 19:03   #45
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Re: EpDis: Believers

Just got to this one in my most recent rewatch, and I'm at least considering skipping it. I hate doing that, though; it always makes me feel slightly dirty.

It is a temptation in this case, though. I think that outside of season 5, this is my least favorite episode in the whole series. It's hard for me to say exactly why; I think it's mostly that I don't like any of the characters in the episode with the exception of Sinclair and Garibaldi. The parents are smug religious fanatics, so I dislike them; Franklin is arrogant and self righteous in his own way, so I dislike him here (I love the character overall); the kid is an annoying kid; and I dislike Dr. Hernandez because the character seems inconsistent to me. At first, she's attacking the parents because of their beliefs; then a little later, she's attacking Franklin for lying to them; then a little later, she's attacking him again for having too blind a faith in science (which seems inconsistent with #1, which relies on faith in science). If four sevenths of the cast got sucked out a hole in the station, I'd be ok with that.

It's also that the particular religious objection seems hard to credit, to me, anyway. I know that some real world religious objections to medicine are scarcely less absurd, but the idea that having a hole punched in you lets your soul get out seems unusually goofy. What happens when you step on a tack and pull it out of your foot? Do you have a soul blowout? It seems silly to me, and could probably have been conceptualized some way that was easier to accept.

As an obsessive completionist, I'll probably rewatch it, anyway. But it really is a case of faith having to manage.
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Old October 12th 15, 02:20   #46
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Re: EpDis: Believers

I've wondered about how accident-prone they might be (or not be), too. Perhaps they just live in a really boring world, where only robots deal with sharp things, or do anything remotely interesting.

Perhaps their species is a lot tougher than ours, and don't feel that saving life is the highest goal for society, but breeding a stronger child is.

I bet the "rich" ones can get quiet "surgery", when they need it. I'm sure that much never changes.
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Old October 13th 15, 19:46   #47
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Re: EpDis: Believers

Not to be argumentative, but how were the parents smug? They were desperate, yes, and said some impolite stuff but I didn't find their fanaticism any worse than many of today's religions that are so certain that theirs is the Only Way.

As for stepping on a tack, JMS said:

Quote:
The area that cannot be opened is the chest area, primarily; a nick or cut or scratch really doesn't count; it's puncturing to the body cavity wherein the soul is housed.
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Old October 17th 15, 02:54   #48
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Re: EpDis: Believers

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Not to be argumentative, but how were the parents smug? They were desperate, yes, and said some impolite stuff but I didn't find their fanaticism any worse than many of today's religions that are so certain that theirs is the Only Way.
This wasn't directed at me, and I actually wouldn't call them "smug" as such, but I do think their attitude is a little worse than just "impolite". Definitely arrogant, somewhat condescending. If you truly believe that your species is the chosen species and all other sentient beings are lesser beings, I guess it would be hard to talk to other species without being condescending. Can you treat someone as an equal if, on a fundamental level, you truly don't believe that they are your equal?

I think the study of ethics in a universe with many "alien" species would be fascinating. You'd have to decide who qualifies as "sentient" and who doesn't, and then you have to decide what that all means. As we learn in "A Voice in the Wilderness", that is indeed a thing that's being studied. I'd love to learn more about that than just "the third principle of sentient life" (or what that particular Minbari considers the third principle of sentient life) but then I guess if it was never written, it doesn't actually exist
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Old October 17th 15, 17:41   #49
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Re: EpDis: Believers

As for stepping on a tack, JMS said:

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The area that cannot be opened is the chest area, primarily; a nick or cut or scratch really doesn't count; it's puncturing to the body cavity wherein the soul is housed.
[/QUOTE]

That actually makes a lot of sense. It's was the area that was the problem, and its proximity to what they considered to be the seat of the soul.

And the attitude is hardly alien, we've all heard of cases even in this day and age about some place having to intervene to get medical attention to a child who is in medical crisis and whose parents insist that prayer and not medical treatment must be the only option. That was one of the least "where-did-he-dream-that-up-from" aspects in the series. Sadly, in my opinion.

Every culture draws its line somewhere.
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Old October 19th 15, 17:28   #50
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Re: EpDis: Believers

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And the attitude is hardly alien, we've all heard of cases even in this day and age about some place having to intervene to get medical attention to a child who is in medical crisis and whose parents insist that prayer and not medical treatment must be the only option. That was one of the least "where-did-he-dream-that-up-from" aspects in the series. Sadly, in my opinion.
I agree. Hence my surprise at the fact that this situation appeared to be unprecedented, and there was no protocol. But, now that I think on it some more, perhaps there is no protocol because this sort of thing doesn't really happen among humans in the 23rd century B5 universe ... It's a posibility, but it doesn't seem likely. From what we see about human religion on the show, the situation doesn't look all that different from the real world 21st century, and, as you say, that sort of thing happens fairly regularly here and now.

I do think that the situation becomes a lot more complex when it involves aliens. Not just because of issues of jurisdiction, but also because there are so many alien species and in a case like this, there's probably not one person on Earth who knows anything useful about that particular species. You'd have to figure out first if this is in fact a religious issue, or if there is an actual physiological reason to avoid major surgery. It could be both, where a real issue has grown into some kind of religious taboo. You'd think, though, that if there were any scientific proof, the parents would have lead with that instead of this "soul" business.

Anyway, I do think the subject is fascinating, even if the episode doesn't do much for me.
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