Believers (Babylon 5)
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|Babylon 5 episode|
|Directed by||Richard Compton|
|Written by||David Gerrold|
|Original air date||April 27, 1994|
"Believers" is a 1994 episode from the first season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5. It follows Dr. Franklin's ethical dilemma after he encounters a dying boy whose parents refuse to allow him to receive treatment that will save him, and Commander Susan Ivanova's mission to rescue a stranded transport ship in Raider territory.
Dr. Franklin faces an ethical dilemma when the parents of Shon, a dying alien child refuse to let him operate for religious reasons. Their son is suffering from an eventually fatal respiratory ailment. Franklin is confident he can save the boy, Shon, with surgery, but the family's alien religion prohibits surgery, believing that cutting into a body will release the spirit, reducing the body to something worse than death. They mention it as something only done to food animals in their culture. Franklin's associate Dr. Hernandez attacks their beliefs, but Franklin reprimands her, telling her that they have to work with the parents, not against them.
Dr. Franklin goes to Commander Sinclair and attempts to use a previous command order he gave as basis for an immediate operation on Ambassador Kosh by the station's previous doctor. Sinclair acknowledges he must consider the request but needs time. During this, Shon's parents attempt to sway the other alien race ambassadors to intervene on their behave, but none of them accept this. Even Sinclair finds that Earth does not want a part in this decision. Sinclair goes to talk to Shon to make his determination. Sinclair eventually tells Franklin that he will refuse to let him operate as to maintain the cultural neutrality of the station. With Shon near death, his parents spend more time with him before they depart; as soon as they leave, Franklin decides to operate against orders. The operation is a success, and Franklin proves to Shon that his spirit has not changed, but when Shon's parents arrive, they treat him as an soulless demon and at first abandon him. They eventually return for him saying that they have brought his "travel robe" and are going to take him "to rest." After they leave Franklin checks Hernandez's notes on the species in the medical database and realizes that the boy was wearing a robe used in spiritual journeys, not physical ones. He runs to the family's quarters fearing the implication that "journey" in this case provides, but it is too late. The parents have already ritually slain the boy. Later, Sinclair informally reprimands Franklin, but points out that Shon's fate would not have changed regardless of what Franklin did, and he should not feel upset over the outcome.
In a subplot, a restless Commander Susan Ivanova gets Sinclair to allow her to lead a squadron of fighters into Raider territory in order to rescue a stranded transport ship, the Asimov. She eventually ends up going against orders and following an enemy scout. This results in her discovering a fleet of Raiders waiting in ambush. She stops the ambush, thus saving the families aboard the transport.