Babylon 5–Confessions and Lamentations (1995)   1 comment

Above:  Captain John Sheridan Comforting Ambassador Delenn


Confessions and Lamentations is a moving episode about death, disease, pride, stigma, and compassion.  I recommend it highly.

Two stories intertwine.  The first concerns the developing relationship between Captain Sheridan and Ambassador Delenn.  The Minbari Ambassador invites Sheridan over to her quarters for a ritual meal.  This turns out to be an awkward event, for Captain Sheridan falls asleep.  He claims to have been meditating, but snoring is not a sound associated with meditation.  The events of the episode drive the two closer than before, resulting in them being on a first-name basis when the end credits roll.

Below:  Ambassador Delenn

The Markab race is dying of a disease which carries great stigma.  The plague, which is 100% contagious and terminal, carries cultural connotations of immorality.  Many Markabs consider the disease divine punishment for unspeakable sin.  The stigma is so powerful that many Markabs prefer not to address the matter seriously, for fear of offending sensibilities.  The righteous, many Markabs believe, cannot catch the disease.

Below:  Dr. Stephen Franklin Discusses the Plague with Markab Doctor Lazarenn

Yet the disease has nothing to do with righteousness or sin, and no amount of holiness can keep one alive and healthy in the face of the plague.  So the “righteous” Markabs who flee from planet to planet to space station spread the plague and doom the Markab species.  The only sin involved is pride–pride in one’s own righteousness, perceived or otherwise.

Above:  Ambassador Delenn Comforts a Markab Child

The Markabs aboard Babylon 5 decide to quarantine themselves as a show righteousness (and to avoid beatings by hostile aliens).  This action has the unintended consequence of hastening the death of those in self-imposed quarantine, however.  As the Markabs aboard the space station die Ambassador Delenn and her aide, Lennier, go among them to provide comfort for the suffering.  These two Minbari understand the virtue of compassion.

By the time Dr. Stephen Franklin develops a medical treatment to prevent the spread of the plague the Markabs aboard Babylon 5, the Markab homeworld, and Markab colonies are dead.  Captain Sheridan comforts the traumatized Delenn, who, for the first time, calls him “John” while crying on his shoulder.

Confessions and Lamentations contains references to the Bubonic Plague, especially the 14th-Century outbreak called the Black Death.   The more recent disease Dr. Franklin mentions is AIDS, which has a definite stigma.  In the case of AIDS the stigma is focused generally on homosexuality, although many, if not most, transmission is heterosexual in nature.  But stigma is irrational, is it not?

If you want a good cry, this is the episode for you.



All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

One response to “Babylon 5–Confessions and Lamentations (1995)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2259) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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