Soul Hunter (Babylon 5)
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|Babylon 5 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jim Johnston|
|Written by||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Original air date||February 2, 1994|
W. Morgan Sheppard (The Soul Hunter)
"Soul Hunter" is an episode from the first season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.
Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova and Commander Jeffrey Sinclair stand near one of Babylon 5's entry bays, waiting for the station's new medical chief of staff, Dr. Stephen Franklin. Sinclair introduces Franklin to Ivanova; Franklin is eager to begin his duties, but is surprised at how busy the station is.
In C&C, a crew member informs Sinclair of an unidentified ship emerging from the jumpgate on a collision course with the station.
Sinclair takes a Starfury out to grapple the vessel — a potential first contact — and tow it away before impact, but has the station's defensive grid armed, just in case. Sinclair successfully brings the ship in.
On his way to the medical bay, Sinclair passes Delenn, who offers to accompany him to identify the unknown occupant. Franklin is unable to determine if he is injured; but Delenn recognizes him. She seizes Michael Garibaldi's gun and nearly fires on the alien before Sinclair wrestles the weapon away from her. "You don't know what that thing is," she declares. "It is Shak Tot. It is a Soul Hunter."
Back in Delenn's quarters, she explains to Sinclair that the Soul Hunters are an ancient alien order, who capture and preserve the souls of distinguished individuals at the time of death. The Minbari consider them thieves and kidnappers; she urges him to send it away while he still can.
In the mess hall, Sinclair, Ivanova, and Garibaldi comment on how the alien population has gone into hiding and how several ships have asked to depart ahead of schedule. In Downbelow, a fight breaks out over a gambling dispute, while simultaneously the Soul Hunter begins to awaken. As a lurker is chased and stabbed, the Soul Hunter stands and begins to speak: "Can you feel it?" he asks. "It comes." The injured victim is brought into Medlab as the Soul Hunter narrates his death in metaphorical terms. The medical staff's efforts to save the stabbing victim are unsuccessful, and the Soul Hunter comments: "Gone now. Gone. Gone. Gone. If you could only see..."
Sinclair comes to Medlab to question the alien, who is unresponsive until Sinclair accuses him of being a thief. The Soul Hunter speaks up: "We are not thieves. We are only preservers. We act only for the greater good." ... "We are drawn to the moment, the moment of surrender, the instant of loss, between despair and ecstacy, when the flesh fails, and all that remains behind, the soul, we save. Not all, only the special ones, leaders, thinkers, poets, dreamers, blessed lunatics." He dismisses the Minbari perspective: they "will not let us help them." Sinclair asks what is done with the souls; the hunter responds that they listen to and learn from them. Franklin is sceptical of the idea of preserving a soul, dismissing the idea as superstition. The Soul Hunter tells the story of how the Soul Hunters failed to preserve the leader of the Minbari, Dukhat, whose accidental death precipitated the Earth-Minbari War. Sinclair is also skeptical, and tells the Soul Hunter that he'll be asked to leave as soon as his vessel is repaired.
In C&C, Ivanova conducts the funeral of the lurker killed in the attack, launching the casket into the nearby sun. Franklin comments on the transience of life; Ivanova counters that even if humans lived 200 years, people would still make the same mistakes. "I'm Russian, doctor," she declares. "We understand these things."
In Medlab, Delenn converses with the Soul Hunter, vowing to find and "release" the souls in his collection. He recognizes her from his attempt to seize Dukhat's soul. "That was where it began to go wrong," he comments, and then asks her: "What is one of the great leaders of the Minbari doing here playing ambassador?" Delenn hastily leaves Medlab, obviously distressed. As she leaves, the Soul Hunter pretends to fall and be injured, prompting the guard outside to enter; the Soul Hunter attacks him and takes his gun.
In C&C, Sinclair and Garibaldi conclude that the hunter has been to his vessel and opened a concealed compartment. In the alien sector of the station, the Soul Hunter approaches N'Grath, an insectoid underworld "fixer," to obtain a guide so that he can travel around the station undetected.
Another Soul Hunter's vessel exits the jumpgate. He speaks to Sinclair, and tells him "Someone is about to die." Sinclair clears him to dock as the first Soul Hunter sneaks into the ambassadorial section and kidnaps Delenn from her quarters. The second Soul Hunter comes aboard and tells Sinclair that the first hunter is deeply disturbed, and that someone will die at his hands unless he is stopped. He explains that, after having failed to capture Dukhat, he became increasingly frustrated and unstable, and turned to killing individuals before their natural death in order to capture their souls. The order of Soul Hunters has been pursuing him for some time, always just barely missing him.
In an isolated sector of the station, the first Soul Hunter prepares to extract Delenn's soul. He tells her "Your soul, one of the Grey Council itself, will atone for my failure." He begins the process of killing her slowly by draining her blood. During the process, he "sees into her soul", which prompts him to comment: "You would plan such a thing? You would do such a thing? Incredible!"
Finding Delenn's quarters empty, Sinclair asks the second Soul Hunter to use his ability to sense death to locate Delenn. He points to their location, and Sinclair and Garibaldi lead a security team in to find them. Sinclair, by himself, comes upon the Soul Hunter and his apparatus. The two engage in a protracted struggle, during which the Soul Hunter tells Sinclair: "Don't you understand? She is Satai... They're using you!" Sinclair frees the souls from his collection, who surround the Soul Hunter and confront him; as the machine begins to activate, Sinclair turns it on the Soul Hunter himself, capturing his soul and killing his body.
Back in Medlab, Sinclair and Franklin discuss Delenn's rapid recovery. Franklin asks Sinclair what he really saw, but Sinclair is hesitant to discuss the topic. Coming by Delenn's side as she briefly regains consciousness, she tells him: "I knew you would come. We were right about you..." but is unable to finish the thought before she falls unconscious again.
Back in his quarters, Sinclair queries the computer for the meaning of the term "Satai". Upon learning that it refers to a member of the Grey Council, he ponders what a member of the Minbari ruling body would be doing on ambassadorial duty.
Sinclair sees the second Soul Hunter off the station with the warning that members of his order were not welcome on Babylon 5. As he is leaving, he turns and asks about the location of the first Soul Hunter's collection. "Life's full of mysteries," Sinclair responds. "Consider this one of them."
Back in her quarters, Delenn, with the Soul Hunter's collection, intently examines the containers which seem to imprison souls; she then destroys the containers, releasing them.
- The Soul Hunter alludes to the death of Dukhat, a Minbari leader who later is revealed to play a significant role in events leading up to the Earth-Minbari War.
- Sinclair discovers that Delenn is not simply an ambassador, but is "Satai", a member of the Grey Council.
- When Sinclair rescues Delenn, she is heard saying "We chose well", referring to the Minbari government's key role in the selection of Sinclair as station commander.
- The episode introduces reincarnation as an important concept of the Minbari religion. The true importance of this concept will be revealed later in the first episode of the second season, "Points of Departure".
- While extracting Delenn's soul, the Soul Hunter briefly sees into her mind, seeing the plans that the Grey Council has for Sinclair. The Soul Hunter tells Sinclair that he's being used by the Minbari, a scene which is later reprised and explained in "War Without End", a two-part episode in late Season 3.
The starliner Asimov is mentioned in passing; the name is a reference to science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. In the original episode script, the ship had a different name; however, Straczynski renamed the ship following Asimov's death in 1992.