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Enter Dr. Franklin, Babylon 5's new medical chief of staff, and an old friend of Sinclair's. The doctor arrives just in time for learning about a newly encountered species, whose ship tumbled through the jump gate, seriously damaged, with a passenger barely alive. Delenn, usually nonplussed, insists that it should be killed immediately, that it is a threat to everyone on Babylon 5. It is a Shaktaut, a "Soul Hunter". Attracted to death, it purportedly steals souls at the moment of expiration. Franklin is unimpressed, believing it all to be religious poppycock.
When someone dies, however, and it's clear the Soul Hunter knew ahead of time, Franklin finds his first day on Babylon 5 to be a major challenge to his perception of science.
This episode takes place on March 2, 2258.
This episode marks the first appearance of Stephen Franklin (Richard Biggs
) on the series.
Sinclair indicates that he's known Delenn for almost two years at this point.
Franklin: Ran into Dr. Kyle at the transfer point on Io. He sends his regards.
Sinclair: He's really looking forward to working with the President. It's a great opportunity.
Franklin: Well, with so many aliens migrating to Earth, we need more people like him back home.
A quick handwave establishing what happened to Dr. Kyle, who appeared only in the pilot movie.
The Soul Hunter: I remember! They called you Satai Delenn of the Grey Council. Curious. Curious. What is one of the Great Leaders of the Minbari doing here playing Ambassador?
Establishes that Delenn is an exceptionally powerful figure in the Minbari political structure.
Franklin: Well, I don't think he's going to cooperate.
Sinclair: I don't blame him. Who wants to admit to being a thief? A stealer of souls...?
The Soul Hunter: We are not thieves! We are preservers!
Sinclair: Thought that might get your attention.
The Soul Hunter: We act only for the greater good.
Sinclair: The Minbari don't seem to think so.
The Soul Hunter: Minbari...pale, bloodless, look in their eyes and see nothing but mirrors, infinities of reflection. Will not let us help them, no.
Franklin: What exactly is a 'soul hunter'?
The Soul Hunter: Ask among the Minbari, friend. We are drawn to The Moment. The Moment of Surrender. The instant of loss. Between despair and ecstasy, 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...
Sinclair: And what do you do with these souls... after you've saved them?
The Soul Hunter: We enshrine them, worship them. We talk to them, listen [to them]. We...learn.
Franklin: (chuckling) Well, this is nonsense. It's patent superstition, can't be done. With the right technology, maybe you could encode the personality matrix and produce a clone of someone's mind, but the idea of taking someone's soul? (whistles at the absurdity of it)
The Soul Hunter: Ridiculous, yes, so let me go.
Sinclair: Not yet. What is it between you and the Minbari?
The Soul Hunter: Minbari. Jealous. Selfish. Private. We have saved only a few. Very rare. Rarest of all, their leader Ducat. Dying. Your fault, your war, the pinnacle of Minbari evolution -- we came, I, others, they made a wall of bodies to stop us. He died. And his dreams, his ideas, all that he was, all that he could ever be... Gone. Wasted.
(after committing a person's body to space)
Ivanova: Something, doctor?
Franklin: (looking out at the stars) Sounds so brave, doesn't it? Typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. Wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right then.... it's over.
Ivanova: Doesn't matter. If we lived two hundred years we'd still be human. We'd still make the same mistakes.
Franklin: You're a pessimist.
Ivanova: I am Russian, doctor. We understand these things.
The Soul Hunter: We will help you, in spite of yourselves. (looks closely at Delenn) I know you. You were there at the death of your leader, Ducat.
Delenn: We stopped you from taking that which you had no right to take!
The Soul Hunter: You stopped me from saving him! That is where it began to go wrong. The lost souls... One after another after another... Voices still. I failed! Because you stopped me. Failed! The pattern began. I remember! They called you Satai Delenn of the Grey Council. Curious. Curious. What is one of the Great Leaders of the Minbari doing here playing Ambassador?