The Babylon 5 crew makes contact with a strange alien probe. G'Kar's standing among the Narn is threatened from without and within.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Jeff Conaway as Security Chief Zack Allan
- Andreas Katsulas as Ambassador G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Anne Betancourt as Dr. Gonzales
- Neil Bradley as Narn #1
- Joshua Cox as Corwin
- Mark Hendrickson as Narn #2
- Larita Shelby as Med Tech
- John Saint Ryan as Troublemaker
- Michael Bailey Smith as G'Dok
- Regular characters appearing in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Stephen Franklin, Vir Cotto, Londo Mollari, and G'Kar.
Sheridan and Ivanova hold a meeting with the Transport Pilots Association. Because of new regulations, the meeting is fraught and chaotic. Ivanova tries to explain how Babylon 5 intends to work with them, but a man in the crowd accuses them of hoarding weapons and challenges Sheridan. Sheridan goes to face him, and the man ultimately backs down. Counselor Na'Far and his bodyguard (Ta'Lon) approach Sheridan after the meeting adjourns. Na'Far announces that he is the representative chosen to replace G'Kar.
Na'Far meets with Sheridan and Ivanova to discuss the problem of G'Kar's sanctuary on Babylon 5. Sheridan doesn't understand why Na'Far wants G'Kar to leave. Na'Far professes that the time for resistance is not now, and that he intends to take control of the local Narn population. Sheridan refuses to relinquish G'Kar, and Na'Far leaves.
Garibaldi and Franklin are chatting at a table in Earhart's. Franklin seems tired and disengaged as Garibaldi talks about work. He tries to get Franklin interested in dancing with a woman he'd been interested in, but he says he's too tired. Ivanova stops by to talk about Sheridan's integration into the station, and Franklin is interrupted by a call from Medlab. He steps out to the bathroom after agreeing to come in. While he's gone, Garibaldi and Ivanova gossip about Sheridan's personnel file. When Franklin returns from the bathroom, he is suspiciously re-energized and makes time for that dance.
Na'Far reports to Londo's quarters to meet with him as Vir Cotto looks on, clearly uncomfortable. Na'Far asks if he can continue to talk to G'Kar directly, but Londo changes the subject for the moment. He instead asks about the condition of Narn, wondering about his safety, should he visit. Na'Far assures him there would be no trouble. Londo goes on to mention work farms, relocation camps, construction gangs, and executions. Na'Far submits to his display of political dominance, and Londo grants him permission to contact G'Kar. Disgusted, Vir asks if that was necessary. Londo refuses to back down, even when Vir reminds him they are beaten. Londo declares that as long as they have their pride, they will always be a threat. Vir, incredulous, asks if what the Centauri want is to break the Narn. Londo is adamant that yes, that is the only way to assure that the Centauri never go through the perceived disgrace that led them to take such drastic actions. Vir is saddened and horrified to hear those words come from Londo.
In C&C, Corwin detects an unknown alien probe.
The probe sends a repeating pattern signal. Corwin estimates two or three hours before it's deciphered.
Londo visits Delenn in her quarters and gets a guarded and cool reception. Londo feels as if he has lost a friend, and Delenn tells him he has lost much more. Londo does not want to argue and asks for the return of the favor he incurred taking her and Draal down to Epsilon III. He wants to transfer Vir to the Centauri embassy on Minbar. Delenn wants to know why. Londo equivocates, then Delenn asks for the truth. Londo admits that he is fond of Vir and feels he should be away from "what must be." Delenn suggests that Londo needs him, which Londo roundly rejects. Delenn cautiously agrees to Londo's request. As he is leaving, Londo comments that he misses that they don't talk anymore. She replies that they never really talked. Londo retreats.
Garibaldi invites Franklin to his quarters for a spaghetti dinner. Franklin is suspicious of his motives, but Garibaldi insists he eat. Garibaldi attempts to draw a parallel between the two of them, citing their obsessive tendencies. Franklin interrupts him, wanting to know what he's getting at. Garibaldi points out that he drinks water now because he can't trust himself with alcohol. He mentions stims, and Franklin insists he doesn't have a problem. Garibaldi asks if he did any stims in Earhart's. Franklin begins to object that they're legal, but Garibaldi insists he answer the question. Franklin admits that he did, citing his exhaustive schedule as a legitimate reason to use them. Garibaldi points out that he picks up shifts he doesn't have to. Franklin is defensive and dismissive and accuses Garibaldi of projecting his own failings onto him. He immediately apologizes and insists he doesn't have a problem and can cut back at any time. Garibaldi concedes, but does not believe him.
Ta'Lon visits Sheridan at a bar in Red Sector. They briefly discuss what Ta'Lon was doing in the interim since they were abducted. He mentions that he doesn't really know if he's protecting Na'Far from outsiders or other Narn. He thanks Sheridan and offers his services, if Sheridan would like to live to be 150.
Corwin has translated the probe's message. It sends a series of questions about various subjects such as physics, quantum mechanics, molecular biology, and genetics. He theorizes that it's an intelligence test to determine who is worthy of first contact. It promises cures for every known disease and technological advances if they pass, and threatens to kill them all with a 500,000 megaton explosion if they don't supply all the correct answers within 24 hours.
Ivanova reports that the probe began a countdown to thermonuclear detonation the moment the message was decoded. Sheridan asks if they can disarm the bomb, but Ivanova points out that the hull is seamless. Any attempt to disarm or destroy the probe would result in immediate detonation. The test involves just over 600 questions, some of which have to be outsourced to answer. They wonder about the motives of the race who sent it.
Na'Far leverages the conditions the Narn are living in back home against G'Kar in hopes of convincing him leave the station. G'Kar counters that the Centauri are trying to buy loyalty with table scraps. Na'far accuses him of being more damaging to his people with what he's doing, and G'Kar is quick to remind him that the Centauri are to blame. Na'far abandons this approach. G'Kar states that they are providing their own food drops and don't need to submit to the Centauri for everything. Na'Far believes it's a useless gesture. G'Kar retorts that it is important to retain even a vestige of independence. Na'Far accuses G'Kar of sitting in safety dreaming of rebellion while the consequences fall on others. He counsels that now is not the time to fight. G'Kar reminds him that that is essentially surrender. Na'Far asks him to come back to Narn and surrender to the Centauri, promising that he won't be harmed. G'Kar wants to know who will lead the Narn here if he leaves. Na'Far suggests himself, and G'Kar replies that they won't trust him. Na'Far levels the threat of Centauri retaliation to the families of the Narn here if G'Kar refuses.
Franklin, agitated, is attempting to examine a Llort patient. The translator is 30 minutes late, and Franklin is frustrated by his inability to communicate with the patient who is in obvious distress. He is snappish with the other doctor (the same woman in charge of Lennier's care after the bomb), but is interrupted by Ivanova asking after the questions. He hasn't had a chance to check back, and Ivanova reminds him of the urgency of their situation. He then decides to do an exploratory surgery on the Llort patient. He opens his drawer and picks up a stim injector, but decides against using it at this time.
Vir protests his assignment to Minbar. Londo argues that he will enjoy going there, and that it's a good career move. Vir wants to know who will take care of things in his absence. Londo replies that he'll do it himself, and that Babylon 5 is not a good place for him right now. Vir objects again, and Londo overrides him, telling him it has all been arranged. Vir tries one last time to change his mind, saying that if he leaves Londo will be alone. Londo replies that he's always been alone, and leaves.
Na'Far and Ta'Lon are walking in Red Sector when several Narn converge on them. One of them steps forward, accusing Na'Far of being a race traitor. Na'Far attempts to assert his appointed authority, which the other Narn rejects. He mentions his pouch brother has been arrested, but will be released upon the return of G'Kar. Na'Far tries to use this opportunity to garner sympathy, but is instead called a blood traitor. He tells him to go back to Narn, but he doesn't get to finish his threat, as Ta'Lon half draws his weapon. The Narn spokesmen is aghast that Ta'Lon would strike one of his own kind. Ta'Lon points out the Narn with a knife intending to backstab them, and a brief fight breaks out. G'Kar interrupts, taking a weapon that appears to be some sort of electrified metal knuckle guard from one of the attackers. He shames them for resorting to infighting. To stop it, he concedes to Na'Far's request to go back. He throws the hand weapon away in disgust.
Sheridan checks up on the progress of the questions. They have all but 5, and Ivanova asks Corwin to check the reply so they don't get killed over a typo. Sheridan orders the weapons system to power up slowly. Corwin interrupts to report that the Transport Association is on the link for him. Sheridan sets the meeting time at an hour after the probe is supposed to detonate.
G'Kar is packing his belongings when Garibaldi comes to visit. He mentions that although he heard that G'Kar was leaving, he didn't really believe it. G'Kar tells him that the families of the Narn on the station are being threatened as long as he remains here. Garibaldi tries to tell him that if he returns, the Centauri will almost certainly kill him. G'Kar is surprised that he cares. Garibaldi replies that too many people in his life have died and he doesn't want to add another. G'Kar responds that his fate is in the hands of G'Quan, and what must happen must happen. He is visibly touched by Garibaldi's concern, but he doesn't change his mind.
Franklin calls Dr. Gonzales on Earth, asking after the answers to the questions. She answers that they have all of the answers but two, and that they need a certain scientist to answer them. Franklin tells her that without them all, they're worthless, and that she'll have a quarter-million dead on her hands. She is aghast at the accusation, and Franklin snarls that they have four hours to live and she had better get on it now, or else. The other doctors watch his irate display awkwardly. The doctor he was working with before asks if he's all right. He says that he is, and asks after the Llort. She says he's not doing well, and Franklin assigns Dr. Estevez to his case. Franklin opens his drawer and eyes the stims again, this time opting to take one.
Na'Far speaks to a congregation of Narn, advising them to wait and rebel at the proper time and in the proper way. He tells them he is there to help them work within the system imposed on them. The Narns look conflicted – some unimpressed and offended, some unsure. Na'Far asks what could be more important than their safety. Ta'Lon speaks up, replying that there is one thing.
At three minutes to transmission time, Sheridan again wonders aloud about the content of the message. He asks Ivanova to repeat what the message promised in return for the answered questions. She does so, and his skepticism increases further. He reasons that any species able to answer the probe's questions would already be advanced enough to have the technology and knowledge the probe is offering. Corwin calls two minutes, and Sheridan decides to wait. Due to the anonymity of the probe, he isn't convinced they have correctly interpreted the new alien species's motives.
Sheridan voices a different theory: that their earlier conclusion was incorrect and that it makes more logical sense for the probe to be a "berserker", looking to eliminate any advanced race powerful enough to conceivably threaten its creators. Ivanova isn't sure he's right, but Sheridan holds firm. The deadline passes and the probe fails to detonate, instead moving away from the station. Sheridan decides that, to spare the next people the probe finds, he'll send the answers remotely to a maintenance drone when B5 is safely out of the blast radius. Doing so results in the probe detonating spectacularly.
With the crisis safely averted, there is one downside: now Sheridan has to go to the Transport Association meeting after all.
G'Kar is stopped by a Narn called G'Dok as he is leaving. G'Dok implores him not to, saying that he is valued and he is needed. G'Kar apologizes, but continues. Two more Narn stop him at the bottom of the stairs with the same message. G'Kar says that he is doing this for their own good. He is stopped a third time by a larger group, including Ta'Lon. Their spokesman says that they will not let him leave.
G'Kar reminds them that their families are in jeopardy. He asks if anything is more important than their safety. Another Narn says yes: their freedom. He says that their families understand the risk and prefer to live free rather than in comfort as slaves. Ta'Lon confronts him with his drawn blade. G'Kar recognizes it as a K'tok, a blade that, once drawn, cannot be sheathed until bloodied. He asks again if he has taught them nothing. Ta'Lon replies that he carries his sword in his hand, while G'Kar carries one in his heart and mind; so, in actuality, Ta'Lon is outmatched. G'Kar smiles and agrees to stay. While the other Narn celebrate, Ta'Lon slices his palm to satisfy the demands of honor and resheathes his blade.
Garibaldi and Franklin discuss the probe and the chaos of life on the station. Garibaldi apologizes for jumping the gun about the stims, and that if Franklin says he has it under control, he will respect that. Franklin thanks him and immediately insists that he does indeed have it under control. He claims that he came through the probe crises and never touched the stuff. Garibaldi is neither convinced nor surprised.
Sheridan and Ivanova suffer through another turbulent meeting with the Transport Association.
Vir leaves the station, looking back at Londo, who nods but says nothing.
"You'll be disbarred so fast you'll leave skidmarks as they throw your ass out of the EMA! Now you get on it, and you get on it now!"
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