By Any Means Necessary (Babylon 5)
|"By Any Means Necessary"|
|Babylon 5 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jim Johnston|
|Written by||Kathryn M. Drennan|
|Original air date||11 May 1994|
A computer glitch results in an accident aboard the station that kills one of the dock workers. In light of the accident and in protest for being overworked, the dock workers start an illegal labor strike. The accident also resulted in the destruction of cargo that included a G'Quan Eth, a hard-to-obtain flower which G'Kar needs for a religious ritual in a few days. It turns out that Londo Mollari has the only one left on the station, but is tauntingly refusing to sell it at a previously agreed high price to G'Kar in order to aggravate him in revenge for the Narn attack on Ragesh 3, during which his nephew was abused. In retaliation, G'Kar arranges for an important Centauri idol to be stolen to force the surrender of the plant while Sinclair is forced to endure this petty conflict as a neutral agent.
Orin Zento, the (ostensible) negotiator sent by the Earth Senate Labor Committee to settle the strike, offers nothing but empty promises and threats of retribution for the striking workers. The strike gives the Earth Senate the excuse that it was looking for to invoke the "Rush Act", a law that permits a commander to use any means necessary, including the use of force, to end a strike. The strikers end up rioting when Garibaldi's security force goes to arrest them; however, Commander Sinclair manages to end the situation before anyone gets seriously injured.
Instead of using security personnel to end the strike as the Senate intended, Sinclair finds a loophole in the orders that allows him to divert funds from the military budget (which had received extra funding when the dock workers did not) to hire new workers and upgrade the dock equipment, as well as to grant amnesty to the strikers. When the stunned Zento protests that this move is not in the spirit of the Rush Act, Sinclair dismisses it by noting that the phrase "any means necessary" in the law clearly allows him to fully acquiesce to the strikers' demands to resolve the situation. As for the workers, they are delighted at this unexpectedly swift victory and agree to immediately resume their duties.
Meanwhile, after some prodding from Sinclair with regulations about the plant being a controlled substance only allowed for scientific or religious purposes, Mollari waits until after it is too late for G'Kar to perform the ritual to hand over the Eth flower (it must be performed in the sunlight that has touched the G'Quan Mountain at a specific time of the year). Mollari gloats while G'Kar despairs, until Sinclair reminds him that the rules of the ritual predate Narns traveling between the stars so there is now a loophole. The light from the Narn sun that was used for the ritual a decade ago is now about to reach the station, so G'Kar can perform the ritual with the required rays of sunlight, just several hours later. As such, G'Kar makes his preparations and performs his religious observance with some careful timing for the anticipated light's arrival.
- Sinclair's solution to the crisis would come back to haunt him in a future episode, as he predicted it would.
- Both the main plot and subplot demonstrate Sinclair's ability and willingness to bend the rules in order to do the right thing.
- The personal hatred between G'Kar and Mollari almost escalates into violence again, and it tests G'Kar's moral boundaries when he sends Na'Toth to steal a Centauri artifact to attempt to force an exchange for the plant.
- The subplot demonstrates G'Kar's spirituality and strong religious ties. Being the senior member of the particular religion of the Narns, it falls to G'Kar to ensure their rituals are followed. This is similar to different "lay services" aboard military ships lacking a chaplain of a particular faith.
- G'Quan is one of the greatest Narn spiritual leaders. His book is the Narn equivalent of the Bible and it is quoted numerous times throughout the series.
- This episode was written by Kathryn M. Drennan, wife at the time of Babylon 5 creator and executive producer J. Michael Straczynski. In order to avoid the appearance of favoritism, Straczynski had her submit (rather than be assigned) a premise, and required it to be approved by others in the production crew other than him. Unlike most writers, for whom Straczynski revised scripts himself, revisions of Drennan's script went through story editor Larry DiTillio instead.
- According to writer J. Michael Straczynski, the Rush Act featured in this episode is named for conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.