The Babylon Project

Believers is an episode from the first season of Babylon 5, which is collectively entitled Signs and Portents.

An alien couple comes to Dr. Franklin with their terminally ill son. The child could be cured by a simple operation, but the parents' religion specifically forbids it. Meanwhile Ivanova escorts a damaged starliner through Raider territory.



Also starring[]


Guest starring[]


Cast notes[]



In Medlab, a young alien boy (Onteen race) named Shon is being monitored by Dr. Stephen Franklin and Dr. Maya Hernandez while his parents, M'Ola and Tharg, watch over him. Dr. Franklin assures the boy that soon he will be healed and grow up to be healthy and strong. Despite this, his parents insist he prepare himself for whatever fate may come. Speaking privately with Dr. Franklin, the parents explain that they could find no cure for him on their home world and are very worried about him. Dr. Franklin explains that while the boy's condition is very serious, it is treatable with a simple operation. However, as soon as the parents learn that it will require surgery, they object on religious grounds, insisting that surgery is strictly forbidden. Franklin and Hernandez object, but the parents refuse.

Act I[]

In C'n'C, Lt. Comm. Ivanova alerts Commander Sinclair that the station has just received a distress call from the Asimov starliner, which has suffered a breakdown in the midst of known Raider space. Sinclair orders Ivanova (after some subtle hinting on her part that she'd like to get "out of the house" for a while) to take a Starfury wing out to the Asimov and escort her back.

In Medlab, Dr. Franklin and Dr. Hernandez go over in detail how the procedure will work to a resigned Tharg and M'Ola. They understand how it will work, but insist it is forbidden, comparing it to the work done by meat butchers. Dr. Hernandez angrily asks how they could just let their child die, but Dr. Franklin steps in, suggesting a non-invasive alternative that while a long-shot may work without the need for surgery. While the parents discuss the matter privately, Franklin and Hernandez each confront the other over their behavior. Hernandez insists that Franklin's alternative will not work, and Franklin explains that he is doing it to buy time until the parents come around. Knowing their son will not survive another trip elsewhere, Tharg and M'Ola agree to the non-invasive procedure.

Ivanova and her fighter wing leave the station and enter hyperspace, heading out to the location of the Asimov.

Dr. Franklin gives Shon a "glopet egg" from the planet "Placebo" (in reality, a glowing piece of industrial goo) to help pass the time. Hernandez chides Franklin later over dinner, telling him that Franklin believes in science the way the family believes in their god. Franklin bets her a steak dinner that he will find a way to save the boy's life, no matter the cost, and encourages her to find an alternative method that is compatible with their belief system if she thinks it is possible.

Act II[]

Sinclair meets with Franklin and Michael Garibaldi in Sinclair's office. Sinclair asks him why Franklin wants to import a steak, and Franklin explains it is for "research" (and that either he or Dr. Hernandez will be paying for it). Garibaldi asks him about Shon's case. Franklin explains that the parents still won't let him operate and the boy will die if he does not. He tells Sinclair that the commander has the authority to order him to save the boy's life. Sinclair says that to do so will establish a precedent he's not comfortable with. Franklin points out that he already did that when he ordered Dr. Benjamin Kyle to save the life of Ambassador Kosh the previous year. Sinclair asks Franklin to find another solution than formally asking him.

Ivanova and her wingman jump into local space looking for the Asimov. They are soon able to locate it.

Back in Medlab, Shon's condition continues to deteriorate. Franklin tries to comfort him as best he can.

The non-invasive procedure has failed to produce any results. Franklin again confronts the parents, this time more direct in insisting they let him operate or the boy will die. Tharg and M'Ola are obstinate, however, explaining that the surgery will cause him to lose his soul, a fate worse than death. Dr. Franklin tells them that he has decided to go to the commander and make an official request to operate, overriding their wishes. They plead with him not to, but he is now as obstinate as they.

Tharg and M'Ola go to Sinclair, insisting that he prevent Franklin from operating. Since their people have no ambassador on the station, Sinclair must assume the role of advocate for the parents, but also look into what is best for the health and safety of their son. He thanks them for explaining the situation, and promises to make a ruling within 24 hours. Tharg is certain that Sinclair will side with Franklin, and warns him that if the doctor harms his son then he will kill him.

Act III[]

M'Ola and Tharg appeal to each of the four major ambassadors on the station: G'Kar, Londo Mollari, Kosh, and Delenn. Each, in turn, declines their request to step in and intervene on their behalf (each for their own reasons).

Ivanova's fighter wing detects a single Raider ship in the vicinity. She orders the Asimov to pour on the speed to get away before they can be attacked.

On the station, Garibaldi meets Sinclair in the Zocalo. Sinclair is clearly torn over the decision he has to make. Garibaldi offers some moral support, but has no more advice to give him than anyone else. Afterward, Sinclair goes to Medlab to speak to Shon personally. He talks to the boy, who admits that he wants to live very much but does not want the operation, as he believes he will lose his soul. Sinclair stays with him for a while.

Later, back in his office, Sinclair meets with Franklin. The doctor makes one last appeal, dismissing the aliens' belief system and insisting the surgery is the only way to save the boy. Sinclair, reluctantly, refuses to allow the surgery.

Act IV[]

Sinclair tries to rationalize his decision to Franklin. He explains it is not about what he personally wants, but that the commander of Babylon 5 cannot override the beliefs of aliens who come there just because they conflict with his own personal beliefs. Franklin gets a link from Hernandez, telling him that the boy's condition has worsened. Franklin has the parents come to stay with him for a time. They tell the boy how much they love him, and express how proud they are that he is accepting his fate bravely. As soon as they leave to let him rest, Franklin asks Hernandez to help prep the boy for surgery – he will perform the operation anyway. Saving the boy is worth more than his career or anything else. Dr. Hernandez offers to assist and they begin with Dr. Franklin saying a prayer of his own before they start.

Ivanova orders her wingman to continue escorting the Asimov back while she goes after the lone Raider before he can call for backup. She manages to take him out, but flies nearly headfirst into an entire squadron of fighters.

The surgery goes well and Shon begins to feel better. Franklin calls Tharg and M'Ola to Medlab, expecting them to be grateful. However, when they realize Franklin has operated anyway, they curse Shon as a demon and leave him in tears on the Medlab floor.

Sinclair, enraged, confronts Franklin about his behavior. Franklin stands by his actions, no matter the consequences. Franklin and Sinclair are called down to Medlab. Once there, they find a solemn Shon standing by his parents. They explain that they cannot forgive the doctor for what he did, but they understand he only did what he thought was right. They would like the boy discharged to them. Tharg carries a "traveling robe," which they explain is for "great journeys." They leave with Shon (who tells the doctor good-bye), and Franklin cockily feels justified for his actions.

That evening, while Franklin and Hernandez prepare to go off duty, Hernandez pulls up the files she had been researching about Shon's people. Franklin looks over it, until he sees the entry on the "traveling robe," which distresses him. He rushes out of Medlab and straight to Shon's quarters. He arrives to find that the parents have taken their son's life in a ritualistic manner, insisting that the boy was "just a shell, and there was nothing left to do but end its pain." Franklin breaks down in tears.

Act V[]

Later, in the Garden, Franklin offers his resignation to Sinclair. The commander decides he will not ask for it – this time. Franklin is tortured by what has happened, but insists he will know better from now on.

Meanwhile, the Asimov arrives at Babylon 5. Ivanova returns alive and in one piece (though her fighter is another story). Garibaldi fills her in.

Memorable quotes[]

"The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."


"Life has to be more than just a pulse beat."

Jeffrey Sinclair

"I'm waiting. For an apology."
"You'd better check the temperature in hell first."

Dr. Franklin and Jeffrey Sinclair

"Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't change anything."

Jeffrey Sinclair

""I'm trying to tell you that what makes us human, is that we care.. and because we care, we never stop trying.""

- Jeffrey Sinclair


  • This episode recalls the events of "The Gathering," when Commander Sinclair disobeyed the express wishes of the Vorlon Empire when he ordered Dr. Ben Kyle to operate on Kosh following the assassination attempt on his person.


Image Category[]

Category:Images by episode (Believers)

DVD release[]

This episode, along with the other episodes from season one, has been released on DVD with extensive special features.


External links[]