Learning Curve (Babylon 5)

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"Learning Curve"
Babylon 5 episode
B5 Learning Curve 1.jpg
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 5
Directed by David J. Eagle
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Production code 506
Original air date 18 February 1998
Guest appearance(s)

Nathan Anderson (Rastenn)
Turhan Bey (Sech Turval)
Brendan Ford (Tannier)
Trevor Goddard (Trace)
Brian McDermott (Sech Durhan)

Episode chronology
← Previous
"A View from the Gallery"
Next →
"Strange Relations"
List of Babylon 5 episodes

"Learning Curve" is an episode from the fifth season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.


Sech Turval and Sech Durhan visit Babylon 5 to report to Delenn on the Anla'shok training. They bring with them two trainees, Rastenn and Tannier.

Garibaldi has an argument with Captain Lochley in the mess hall over the Earth civil war. He accuses her of not being on the side of Babylon 5 in the war. She answers that she did not take up arms against her government, but that does not necessarily mean that she fought against Babylon 5 and its allies. "We follow orders until one comes along that violates our conscience. Then we have to decide whether or not to follow it and take the consequences. Maybe you'll be proven right. Maybe they'll stick you in front of a firing squad. But your decision affects only you." She refuses to answer Garibaldi when he asks if she disobeyed any orders during the war.

Zack investigates a murder in Downbelow, the third murder in two weeks with similarities. The victim died from a single PPG burst at close range. Because there is no blood on the deck, he deduces that the victim was murdered elsewhere, and the body left in an open location as a warning. Zack implores the crowd for anyone to come forward with information, but no-one says anything. In the crowd are Trace, a new "crime boss," and a few of his henchmen. After Zack leaves, Trace discusses the situation with the henchmen. He decides that Zack is a threat to his criminal enterprises, and orders him killed. One of the henchmen tries to talk him out of it, but Trace refuses, indicating that before the war, he had a similar enterprise on Beta 7, and after killing two successive heads of security, he was able to make a deal with their third head of security.

Sech Turval sends Rastenn and Tannier away to explore the station on their own. Delenn, Sech Turval and Sech Durhan discuss the recent opening of the Anla'shok to all races in the alliance, and the problems they have encountered with the pak'ma'ra. Delenn observes that the pak'ma'ra are shunned by all other races, that others "go out of their way not to notice them." She then suggests using the pak'ma'ra as couriers for messages too important to send through normal communications channels to take advantage of their pariah.

Trace lays an ambush for Zack by having a woman call in a tip about the recent murder. When she discovers that Trace intends to kill Zack instead of just scaring him into not interfering with Trace's activities, she backs out. Trace decides to kill her before Zack arrives, but Rastenn and Tannier hear her cries. Rastenn says they should not get involved, but Tannier runs to help the woman. He saves her life, but is beaten badly and left for dead. Delenn, Sech Turval and Sech Durhan come to see Tannier in his hospital bed. Dr. Franklin says that Tannier will live. Sech Durhan asks the doctor to make Tannier well enough to stand on his own, and "we will do the rest." He then says the Minbari word "mora'dum" to Delenn and Sech Turval.

Delenn explains to Captain Lochley that the Anla'shok will handle the matter entirely, and that as Earth is a member of the alliance, they must allow the Anla'shok to operate without interference from station security. Lochley wants to ask President Sheridan, but Delenn says she has already discussed it with him, and he agrees. Lochley expresses surprise, saying it's not like Sheridan. Delenn is confused, and does not understand how Lochley could know Sheridan so well.

Delenn and Lochley discuss the mora'dum, "the application of terror," and what it involves. Lochley is concerned that it is merely revenge, until Delenn explains that the "terror" referenced is the terror that Tannier now feels. "Those who harmed him now have power over him. He must take back that power or he will never be whole again. We will go with him and bring him to the point of his terror. And then he and he alone will face it."

Under orders from Lochley, Zack removes all security personnel from the area where Trace and his henchmen are located. One of the henchmen tells Trace, and Trace is convinced that this is because of the "message" he sent by the attack on Tannier. As they are discussing their new-found latitude to operate, the lights go out. Trace sends two men outside with hand-mikes to investigate. As they investigate, the Anla'shok attack and swiftly overpower them, which Trace hears over the link. They all decide to leave the area, to get away from whoever or whatever attacked the men who went to investigate the power loss. As the group moves through the darkness, the Anla'shok attack and disable the henchmen one by one, until only Trace remains.

Tannier faces Trace as the other Anla'shok surround the pair. Tannier holds a Minbari fighting pike, and someone gives a pike to Trace as well. Sech Durhan tells Trace that he must fight his way past Tannier - and only Tannier - who is still wearing bandages. Trace refuses because he doesn't have the training to use a Minbari pike. Sech Turval points out that Tannier wasn't completely trained, either, and that didn't stop Trace from beating him before. They fight, first with the pikes, then with fists, until Tannier knocks Trace unconscious.

As Trace lies on the floor, Sech Durhan asks Tannier where is his fear now. Tannier replies that it is gone, replaced by pity.

"Because this is all he will ever have and all he will ever know. Because his name will be swallowed by silence. Forgotten. His name belongs to no one."

The Anla'shok then allow station security to take Trace into custody.

That night, after Sech Durhan, Sech Turval, Rastenn, and Tannier have left the station, Delenn asks Sheridan why Lochley would say "it's not like him" as if she knew him very well. The scene cuts, and then Delenn and Sheridan are in bed for the night. He has obviously told her that he and Lochley were involved once, as Delenn is very upset that he did not tell her much sooner.

Arc significance[edit]

  • Pestered by continual clashes with Captain Lochley, Garibaldi becomes interested in learning about her past.
  • Sheridan confesses to Delenn that he and Lochley once had an intimate relationship.

External links[edit]