The disease: Drafa. The mortality rate: one hundred percent. While many aboard Babylon 5 turn members of the threatened Markab race into scapegoats, Delenn and Lennier risk their well-being to support them, and Dr. Franklin desperately seeks a cure.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Andrea Thompson as Talia Winters
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Mary Kay Adams as Na'Toth
- Robert Rusler as Lieutenant Warren Keffer
- Andreas Katsulas as Ambassador G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Diane Adair as Markab mother
- Andrew Craig as Human
- Maggie Egan as ISN reporter (Jane)
- Mike Manzoni as Guard
- Michael McKenzie as Markab Victim
- Bluejean Ashley Secrist as Markab Girl
- Kim Strauss as Markab Ambassador
- Dan Woren as Bartender
- Rosie Malek-Yonan as Doctor
- Regular Characters appearing in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Stephen Franklin, Warren Keffer, and Lennier.
Capt. Sheridan is in C'n'C, signing for something when Cmdr. Ivanova interrupts. The Markab transport ship Kar'ti is ten hours overdue. Fearing a mishap, she wants to send a Starfury squadron to find the ship. During the conversation, the subject of Lt. Keffer's off-duty flights is brought up; Sheridan firmly bars him from any further flights.
Meanwhile, Dr. Franklin is examining a dead Markab. Markab Doctor Lazarenn is a little annoyed at Franklin's presence, but he explains that it is standard protocol to verify any deaths on board. Still, the fourth death in three days "of natural causes" is arousing his suspicions.
Ivanova briefs Zeta Squadron on their search and rescue mission. Afterward, she speaks directly to Lt. Keffer, relaying Sheridan's order: no more off-duty flights, or he would be removed from the squadron.
Ambassador Delenn has invited Sheridan to her quarters for a Minbari meal, to reciprocate Sheridan inviting Delenn to a human meal. She explains that Lennier had been preparing the meal for the last two days under very strict sacred guidelines. She also notes that the meal itself follows a sacred procedure: notably, lots of meditation.
Zeta Squadron arrives at the last known position of the Kar'ti and discovers the vessel adrift. Keffer's Starfury reports some 200 lifeforms, but nothing in the way of life signs: all 203 aboard are dead.
In Medlab 1, Dr. Franklin notices something very strange during his autopsy of the last Markab to die. Suspecting a connection, he orders Medlab 2 to hold the bodies of the other three Markab so they may be autopsied as well.
Zeta Squadron returns to the station through the jumpgate with the Kar'ti in tow. Reporting in, Keffer tells Ivanova to get a full medical team ready to inspect the ship and to inform Sheridan there may be a problem.
The lengthy meditation had caused Sheridan to fall asleep. Then his link beeps: Ivanova relaying the news from Keffer. He has to leave to go to Docking Bay 14. As he leaves, Lennier speaks a few choice words in Minbari as all his effort goes to waste.
But as Sheridan arrives in Bay 14, he finds the way barred by Lazarenn. He claims the ship is Markab property and demands they be left alone in their privacy, but then Franklin arrives and reveals that he knows the reason for the death certificates and why Lazarenn doesn't want them to board the Kar'ti. All four Markab died of a plague, and it's very likely that the Kar'ti suffered similarly. He demands to know the nature of the infection, and Lazarenn grimly informs Franklin and Sheridan that the disease is 100% fatal and 100% contagious.
Numerous dead Markab are being unloaded from the Kar'ti while Franklin loudly criticizes Lazarenn for hiding the disease. Reluctantly, Lazarenn explains the history of the Drafa Plague and tells Franklin that the plague, having wiped out a sinful civilization in the past, had become a dark legend among his people: a divine punishment for immorality. Its very mention (except to scare children straight) was practically taboo. Because of this, families who contracted this new plague hid it from others and continued to live and travel. These carriers would spread the disease among the population while the silence brought about by the taboo hid its presence. The topic was so frightening that the Markab government had barred Lazarenn from revealing the plague: for fear of destabilizing the government. As for the Kar'ti, it was one of many vessels full of Markab trying to flee the homeworld for fear of catching the disease. Instead, they were spreading the plague to every corner of the Markab civilization. So he and the few doctors who know the truth have been struggling to research the disease without help. Franklin gets to the point. He needs to know if the plague can cross into other species. At this point, no one knows.
In the Zócalo, a young Markab girl searches and finds her father and begs him to come to dinner. But when she tugs on him, he falls limp. He's dead: another victim of the plague. At that moment, Delenn arrives on the scene, and she tries to comfort the Markab girl as best she can as she begins to suspect something dreadful is befalling the station.
Franklin calls a meeting of station staff so as to inform them what to expect and to coordinate efforts concerning research and possible courses of action. He wants the Markab screened so as to determine the spread of the disease. Furthermore, he needs an early onset case so the plague can be studied in enough detail to learn how it works. Sheridan issues a quarantine order for the station until they can manage the plague. The subject of isolation is brought up, but Franklin refuses. Isolation would only raise suspicions. Furthermore, the disease could be airborne, and given the self-contained and recirculated atmosphere inside Babylon 5, an airborne disease will inevitably spread among the population. But Security Chief Garibaldi points out that once word of the plague spreads, Markab will be persecuted and targeted for violence. Sheridan orders security to go on full alert to help curb those instances.
The situation grows tense. People on the station do not react well to the quarantine, demanding they be released to leave the station. However, security is firm and the docking bays are barred. Meanwhile, all the Markab on board are brought to Medlab for "some tests". These tests involve drawing blood samples. And more dead Markab are turning up. Eventually, Markab Ambassador Fashar confronts Sheridan about his actions. He misinterprets their acts of caution as veiled accusations of impurity. Therefore, he intends to gather all his people into a self-imposed isolation on the station, believing that doing so will keep his people safe from the plague. Just then, Franklin reports in from Brown 17. A dead pak'ma'ra had been found there and given the lack of signs of violence – and the confirmation that the plague is airborne, and therefore all over the station – the possibility of the plague jumping species has just become that much more likely.
The Markab isolation proceeds quickly. Fashar is urging his people towards the vault wherein they will be sealed.
Meanwhile, Franklin is having trouble getting someone to go into the Isolab to perform the autopsy on the pak'ma'ra. They fear the plague will jump to them next. Just before Franklin goes in himself, Lazarenn appears and volunteers to enter the Isolab. He gives three reasons: he wants to atone for his earlier silence, he has expertise on the disease, and should he contract the plague, Franklin will get the much-needed early onset research. Lazarenn steps through the airlock into the Isolab, fully knowing he will not be able to leave it alive, and he and Franklin set to work.
Ivanova is talking to Sheridan in his quarters through BabCom, reporting on recent attacks against Markab and hints on possible extreme measures. Sheridan tells her to redirect some of the security personnel towards controlling the violence. Just as Ivanova ends transmission, Delenn enters his quarters with a request: for her and Lennier to be sealed inside with the Markab. Sheridan is strongly against it, but Delenn had been moved by the tragedy befalling them and wants to comfort them when no one else will. And she is ready to accept her fate should the plague take her; she promises that should that happen, they will meet again "in the place where no shadows fall." He finally agrees to let them in, but as she leaves, he asks that the next time they see each other, "Call me John?"
Violence against the Markab continues to increase as people blame them for supposedly dooming them. Garibaldi himself breaks up one such incident. The Markab reaches up to him, and in contrast to the muggers, Garibaldi firmly takes it and helps him back to his feet.
Delenn and Lennier are the last to arrive at the isolation vault. After they step inside, the vault door is closed, sealing everyone inside.
Back in Medlab, Franklin is trying to fight off fatigue and has been heavy in his use of stims, despite Lazarenn's words of caution. But Franklin believes the matter is too urgent to put off. The two of them talk for a while and note the similarities between the Drafa plague and the Humans' Black Death back in the 14th century. Not only with the scapegoating but also with the bumbling attempts to control it. Just then, Lazarenn stumbles and complains of dizziness. Franklin quickly realizes that Lazarenn is beginning to show plague symptoms and quickly sets up tests.
In the isolation zone, Delenn and Lennier counsel the Markab and try to comfort them. Then, Delenn encounters the Markab girl she met in the Zócalo. She has lost track of her mother and is scared. Delenn asks Lennier to locate the girl's mother. Lennier seems puzzled as to how to find one Markab among many, especially since the girl doesn't even know her mother's name. All they have at this point is faith they will find her.
Testing and monitoring of Lazarenn's early onset of plague is producing significant data about its pathology. They also record his remarks about various symptoms he experiences to see if there are relations. Franklin is intent on finding the answer, but Lazarenn provides an interesting thought: "Sometimes, the test is not to find the answer but see how you react when you realize there is no answer." Just then, the results of the Pak'ma'ra autopsy arrive: it was the Drafa plague. Almost everyone in Medlab is suddenly scared of the prospect of them being next, but Franklin stands firm, seeing the confirmation as just another piece of the puzzle. Why the Pak'ma'ra and not another race? He directs everyone to find correlations between the two races to see if there is a common link that the plague attacks.
Meanwhile, Delenn tries to comfort the Markab girl with the story of when she herself was separated from her parents in a city before eventually being found again. Just then, Lennier brings the girl's mother, and the two are reunited. But at that very moment of joy, the girl begins to collapse. Delenn realizes that the plague is within the vault.
Franklin is growing increasingly frustrated as test after test comes out negative. Just as he requests a comparison of Markab yellow cells with Pak'ma'ra green cells, Lazarenn urges Franklin to the window. His time is running out. He tries to say a last request but dies before saying to whom it is to be given. Franklin's frustration boils over, and he has a brief tantrum. As he is about to give up in despair, the Medlab computer reports on the results of his last request: "Match Found."
He soon reports to the command staff on the breakthrough. Markab and Pak'ma'ra have specialized cells (yellow cells and green cells, respectively) that produce the neurochemicals necessary for their brains to function. The plague specifically targets those cells, which is why they were affected. Based on that, he has produced a treatment regimen that stimulates production of those cells, allowing them to build resistance to the plague. They hurry to the isolation zone. Not getting a reply from inside, Sheridan orders the vault opened. The sight within stuns them silent: every last Markab in the vault is dead. The only ones left alive are Delenn and Lennier, both quite shaken from the experience. Delenn in particular stops in front of Sheridan, quietly says, "John..." and then breaks down in tears.
Later, Delenn congratulates the crew for discovering a way to stop the plague. Sheridan says the praise should be directed to Dr. Franklin. She also says they should take from this experience a greater sense of faith, compassion, and charity. Sheridan can only reply, "I hope so."
Franklin's view isn't as optimistic. ISN reports that the worst appears to have happened. The entire Markab civilization has been wiped out by the Drafa plague. As various people, including a Zócalo barkeep, offer outlandish reasons for the devastation, Franklin remarks, "Nothing changes."
"That does seem to be the rule doesn't it? Analyze the problem, choose whatever strategy makes least sense and then do it."
- – Doctor Lazarenn, commenting on the fear and hysteria created by the plague.
"All life is transitory: a dream. We all come together in the same place in the end of time. If I don't see you again here, I will see you in a little while in the place where no shadows fall."
"Delenn…when I do see you again…call me John?"
- The Markab civilization is wiped out by the Drafa plague. This is the only time in the series that an entire race suffers such a fate.
- Franklin's increasing use of stims would cause problems in later episodes.
|Babylon 5 Season 2 "The Coming of Shadows"|
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