The Babylon Project

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

Dr. Franklin investigates an unlicensed medical practitioner in Downbelow, while Londo takes Lennier on a tour of Babylon 5's seedier locales. In the brig, a convicted murderer waits for his sentence to be carried out — the death of personality.



Also starring[]


Guest starring[]




  • Unknown as Mertana
  • Unknown as Security Officer 1
  • Unknown as Security Officer 2

Cast notes[]



Londo Mollari is in contact with a Centauri senator conveying the concerns of both the Emperor and the Centaurum that the ambassador needs to try harder on improving relations with the other races, and establishing allies. Following the conversation, Mollari leaves his quarters and runs into Lennier. He stops him to chat, asking about Ambassador Delenn, who is away from the station. Lennier explains she is away, and Mollari quickly asks to spend some time together, since he doesn't know much about him. Lennier gives a brief and curt history of himself, which doesn't satisfy Mollari, who advises Lennier should know everything about the other species. When Lennier admits what he knows of other races is from books, Mollari invites the young Minbari to join him for the day, promising to "educate" him with some real world experience. Lennier is uncertain, but Mollari talks him into it.

In the courtroom, Ombuds Wellington pronounces a guilty verdict for Karl Mueller. Mueller had been charged with two counts of murder of two civilians and one count of killing of a security guard. Wellington announces that the sentence will be read the following day.

Act I[]

Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova makes her way to a free clinic in Downbelow. Dr. Stephen Franklin has established the clinic without authorization. Ivanova points this out to Franklin, who insists that he is doing what any good doctor should. Ivanova is more annoyed by him not telling her about it, and tells him that she will not shut it down. Pleased, Franklin invites her to assist him. He is puzzled that the numbers outside the clinic have fallen off.

Ombuds Wellington has a meeting to discuss Mueller's sentencing with Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, Michael Garibaldi, and Talia Winters. Garibaldi is convinced Mueller has committed more murders and favors spacing, but that is not a legal option for Mueller. Not able to send him away or keep him confined indefinitely, the only option left is the mindwipe, also known as the "death of personality." For that, they will need the help of a telepath. Winters is the only one available, and though she is strongly against being involved (having previous bad experiences), she reluctantly agrees.

In Downbelow, Dr. Franklin meets a young woman. He is looking for a woman who is rumored to be some kind of "faith healer" treating people. She points him in the right direction, and Dr. Franklin meets Dr. Laura Rosen right after one of her sessions. Franklin is very critical of her methods, which employ the use of a strange alien healing machine. Dr. Rosen admits she does not know much about it, but insists that it is completely legitimate for any number of illnesses or ailments. The woman from before enters – it is her daughter, Janice Rosen. She defends her mother's work and insists Franklin leave as she is tired after her sessions. Franklin dismisses Rosen as a con artist who is interfering with people getting proper treatment and promises to be back.

Ombuds Wellington announces Mueller's sentence: the death of personality, to be carried out on the station at midnight following a telepathic scan ordered for that afternoon. After the sentencing, an enraged Mueller has to be dragged from the courtroom.

Act II[]

Garibaldi discusses the Mueller case with Franklin. They are at odds over the ethical questions involved with the mind wipe, but Franklin agrees to set up the equipment that will be used. He also asks Garibaldi to investigate Dr. Rosen and find out if she is doing anything illegal.

Mollari brings Lennier to one of Mollari's favorite clubs, the "Dark Star". Lennier is instantly uncomfortable upon seeing the dancing women and tries to back out, but Mollari insists this is the real Babylon 5. Claiming he has forgotten his credit chit, Mollari asks Lennier to pay for their drinks. Lennier is distracted by the striptease acts, but pays for the drinks. When drinks arrive, Lennier cautiously asks if his contains alcohol, explaining even the smallest amount induces homicidal rages in Minbari. Mollari hastily has Lennier's drink replaced with water.

Franklin tracks down Janice Rosen at the kiosk where she works selling jewelry, asking to talk to her about her mother. He learns that her mother used to be a legitimate doctor, until she became addicted to stims and wouldn't admit it. A patient died and she lost her license three years earlier. She set out to find some means to continue healing people, and she has found it. She stands by her mother's device and its abilities. Franklin asks if it really works why they have remained on the station instead of returning to Earth. Janice is evasive in answering, though she mentions her mother is neither young nor healthy. She flatly tells Franklin to leave them both alone.

Back at the Dark Star, Mollari is bored almost to tears by Lennier's stories about his past—like his studies of the 97 dialects and subtongues of his homeworld. Then Lennier mentions that in mathematics he was a master adept at probability. Excited, Mollari ushers Lennier out of the club room, telling him he wants to introduce him to what the "Earthers" call "POK-ah."

Hesitantly, Winters prepares herself for what she has to do. She confronts Mueller in custody and performs a deep scan of his mind (so she can compare it to his mind in a scan following the mind wipe). Inside his mind, she is horrified by what she finds: Mueller indeed has killed more than the three people he has been convicted of killing, a dozen or even two dozen or more, both humans and aliens. Mueller is clearly insane, taunting Winters about "needing more voices for his choir." Winters quickly finishes the scan and leaves the room as quickly as she can, leaving a sneering Mueller behind.

Act III[]

At the free clinic, Dr. Franklin goes over the examinations of the patients recently treated by Dr. Rosen. He is surprised by the results and leaves immediately.

In the private room of the Dark Star, Mollari and Lennier are in the midst of a poker game. Again, the subtler points are lost on Lennier (though he still manages to win quite a lot).

Franklin arrives at Dr. Rosen's during one of her treatments. He scans her as her treatment goes on. Once it is over and the patient has left, Franklin approaches her. He apologies for calling her a fraud. His scanning of her indicates that the device works by transferring "life energy" from one person to another, healing the second person. Rosen explains that the device (of unknown origin) was originally used as a means of capital punishment: convicted criminals were executed with it and their life energy was used to save others. She has figured out how to use the device, however, on a smaller setting that is not fatal. When Franklin points out that it must be slowly killing her, she informs him that she is dying anyway of Lake's Syndrome. She also explains that she "played dumb" about how the machine works to him because she did not want her daughter to know the truth. She plans to find out exactly how the device works before she dies, and she promises that he can have the device if anything happens to her. Franklin agrees not to intervene, on the condition she come to see him weekly for exams. Franklin runs into Janice as he is leaving and offers to buy her dinner sometime.

Garibaldi finds Winters in the Gardens. She is still clearly troubled by what she saw, and confirms to him that Mueller is nothing short of a mass murderer.

The poker game continues. Mollari, falling a bit behind, begins to cheat by casually unbuttoning his vest from which emerges a mysterious "tentacle" to secretly steal cards from the deck.

At midnight, Garibaldi and some guards begin escorting Mueller on his "last walk." He manages to make a break for it, though Garibaldi gets a shot off and wounds him in the shoulder. Mueller gets aboard a transport tube, knocking out Lou Welch and stealing his PPG. He then escapes into Downbelow.

Act IV[]

Mollari is caught cheating red handed when one of the other players deposits a jug of cold water on top of his "tentacle" while it is stealing another card. The player attacks him, but Lennier ably defends Mollari. However, they are soon surrounded by a large number of angry thugs. " not good," Lennier comments as he takes a defensive stance...

Lou Welch recovers in Medlab, telling Dr. Franklin that Mueller was definitely injured. Franklin contacts his assistant at the clinic to warn her that Mueller might show up. He then remembers Rosen, and heads there immediately. Once there, he forces his way in, and finds Mueller there, holding both Rosens at gun point. Mueller and Dr. Rosen are hooked up to the Machine, which Mueller is using to heal himself. After Mueller continues to threaten them all, Dr. Rosen reverses the feed of the Machine and her Lake's Syndrome is transferred to Mueller, and he dies in agony even as she is completely healed.

The following day, Ombuds Wellington rules over the death of Mueller. He finds Dr. Rosen acted in self-defense and orders no charges will be filed, though he orders the energy transfer device to be taken into the station's custody. Dr. Rosen is relieved, though she is deeply troubled at having taken a life, despite the assuring words of her daughter and Garibaldi.

Ivanova finds Garibaldi as he is leaving the courtroom, having some good news to give him. She has been able to identify two aliens involved in the instigation of a bar fight over at the Dark Star that resulted in over 30 arrests. Garibaldi can hardly believe it when she tells him who the two are.

At that same time, Sinclair meets with the culprits at Mollari's, insisting on an explanation for what happened. Mollari says nothing, but then Lennier inexplicably takes all the blame, saying his misunderstanding of the rules of conduct are what prompted the fight. Sinclair is reasonably satisfied, and citing their diplomatic immunity says that the matter will be dropped, provided restitution for the damages in the club is made. After he leaves, Mollari asks Lennier why he covered for him, having been told that Minbari cannot lie. Lennier explains that among his people, it is considered an honorable thing to help another save face. After Mollari thanks him, Lennier asks about the "tentacle" Mollari used to cheat – and is aghast when Mollari explains what it actually is. Mollari emphasizes his explanation by displaying a statue of a Centauri woman with six tentacles coming from her midriff, proudly revealing it as Li, Centauri goddess of passion, and a synthesis of male and female Centauri genitalia. Lennier bids a hasty retreat.

Act V[]

Dr. Rosen turns over the alien healing machine to Dr. Franklin. He looks forward to studying the device, hoping it can some day be used properly to heal people when nothing else works. Dr. Rosen explains that she is leaving the station, hoping to find further evidence about the machine's origins. Janice Rosen has decided to stay, and agrees to take Dr. Franklin up on his dinner invitation.


  • First appearance by Damian London as Milo Virini (here credited as Centauri Senator).
  • The Dark Star was the same nightclub that figured in the earlier episode "Born to the Purple."
  • According to Lennier, Minbari count in base 11, using ten fingers and a head.
  • Although they did not appear together in this episode, Bill Mumy (Lennier) and guest star June Lockhart (Dr. Laura Rosen) had famously played mother and son in the classic science fiction series Lost in Space.
  • The series title comes from a famous line in Shakespeare's comedy The Merchant of Venice ("The quality of mercy is not strained...").
  • Dr. Rosen's history of stim abuse foreshadows Franklin's own problems. A notable difference being, that Franklin will resign to take care of his issues before making a major mistake.
  • The Alien Healing Device makes an appearance in the Babylon 5 novel "Clark's Law" where Morden uses it to save a mortally wounded Londo Mollari. Despite the belief, that for one to live another has to die Morden survives the procedure. The book should not be considered canon, though.

Memorable quotes[]

"Next! You can start by removing your clothes."
"Not without dinner and flowers."

Franklin and Ivanova

"...[If] I'm going to share in the blame, I'd at least like to share in some of the fun."

Ivanova to Franklin

"A couple of hours of hard vacuum [in space] will do him and the gene pool a lot of good."

Garibaldi on Karl Mueller

"Here you will see the heart and soul of Babylon 5...Not to mention its kidneys, its spleen...a veritable parade of internal organs."

Londo Mollari to Lennier concerning Dark Star

"You once said you'd bet good money he'd killed before. You would not have lost."

Talia to Garibaldi after scanning Karl Mueller

" not good."

Lennier, as he and Londo Mollari are being surrounded by angry thugs at Dark Star

"I did the necessary thing. That isn't always the same as the right thing."

Laura Rosen to Janice Rosen

"I'm still waiting for an explanation, gentlemen."
"Yes, and I'm prepared to give you one, Commander, as soon as the room stops spinning."
"This station creates gravity by rotation. It never stops spinning."
"Well, you begin to see my problem, hmm?"

Sinclair and Mollari


  • First appearance of the alien healing machine.
  • Winters' previous experience with a serial killer and the effect scanning him left on her was discussed in "Deathwalker."
  • It is revealed in this episode that Centauri males have multiple genitalia, which they can control as limbs.
  • The Minibari exception to their rule on not lying if it involves saving face would be the cause of conflict in "There All the Honor Lies".  

Image Category[]

Category:Images by episode (The Quality of Mercy)

DVD release[]

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

External links[]