Of all the scripts I've written, the only one that I'm less than
absolutely 100% thrilled with is "The Quality of Mercy," because I wrote it
while absolutely sick with the flu, and have NO memory even of writing it. As
it is, though, I'm about 90% happy with it, particularly the B-story with
Londo and Lennier, which came out great.
In my original thoughts about the episode, there was more of a con
man ressurectionist angle to the show, which later got dropped.
Psi Corps telepaths are ****NOT**** allowed to scan defendants in any
official way connected to a criminal act. It violates the right to due
process. Even if requested, it's simply not allowed. You do NOT want to even
open the door a *crack* in letting a government-regulated agency begin making
determinations about who is and isn't guilty of a crime. That way lies
dictatorship, Thought Police and Big Brother.
The scan is preparatory to the prisoner being mind-blanked. It is,
as the Ombuds pointed out, the death of personality, the death of
one's mind. Hence the black band on the Psi symbol.
How has your presence on the net affected the series?
... I was
initially going to gloss over some of the legal aspects of the Psi Corps
in "The Quality of Mercy," but when so many people expressed interest in
how that worked, and when I saw some measure of confusion about it, I
took the time to indicate how the legal aspects work when it came time to
complete that script, thus answering the questions.
The one major reason I decided to begin this interaction, despite
CONSIDERABLE discourgement and disbelief from my peers, is that I
think it may be of some use, and because I think that one should be
willing to stand publicly with what you create, and because though
many criticisms are issues of taste or subjective preference,
sometimes (fairly often, actually), I learn something from the
discussion, or I'm corrected in something, and that realignment is
eventually reflected in the show. I'm giving some serious thought to
either revamping n'grath or killing him off given the reaction (paired
with my own). I won't be dictated to, but in some cases, as with
n'grath, I may be uncertain, but willing to try and see if the
experiment works. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, and the
general perception here seems close to my own. In addition, I was
initially going to gloss over some of the legal aspects of the Psi
Corps in "The Quality of Mercy," but when so many people expressed
interest in how that worked, and when I saw some measure of confusion
about it, I took the time to indicate how the legal aspects work when
it came time to complete that script, thus answering the questions.
About June Lockhart
No, no scenes with Bill Mumy, though some consideration was given to the
Bill kept bugging me to put him in a scene with June, but
I just felt it'd get in the way.
It would've worked, but the scene would've forever been about
the mini-LIS reunion. If it isn't important to the story, it shouldn't
We do tend to try and stay open to gender stuff; usuall there's a
reason why someone is male or female, so it's cast that way. But as
an example...in "Quality of Mercy," the role as originally written
was for a father/daughter combination. In the process of casting, we
thought, why not mother/daughter? So that's how it ended up. In
"Points of Departure," we have one of your requests already taken
care of...a part of a war cruiser commander who could've been male or
Q: What are Londo's appendages called?
Are Londo's appendages in addition to or instead of human-type
That would be instead of, not in addition to.
As for the tentacles...well, there's no rules about showing
tentacles on TV. I think they didn't even want to deal with it. There
are some moments when they pretend they didn't see it, and I pretend I
didn't write it.
Centauri males have six.
Centauri females, btw, have six narrow...ummm...slots on their backs,
three on either side of the spine, right around the base of the spine.
The awful thing is that the two women in props -- who were having FAR
too much fun with this -- kept bringing me the tentacle to verify the
shape, size, consistency, do we see veins or not....
I tell you here and now: our staff meetings are something else.
Actually, Centauri have six. They extend out from the sides of
the body, and "fold" in over the solar plexus when not in, er, use.
(We actually saw one extended for other purposes in the first season,
"The Quality of Mercy.") Female Centauri have six...er...slotted areas
on either side of the spine, just above the hips, three on either side.
To go any further would probably bring in the FBI.
- Does that mean Centauri women have multiple births on
a regular basis?
No multiple births, in that sense, not any different than humans.
"What kind of birth control do the Centauri use?"
- Which of the six do they use for urination?
That assumes the urinate out of the same organs they use for sex; ain't
necessarily the case.
We used a bullwhip sound effect for the
"retraction" in QoM; when we were in sound editing,
I asked for the hardest whip-crack they had...and
got it put in REAL loud. Every time I hear it, I'm
on the floor....
While the TP themes in "Quality" go back through the history of SF,
including the Demolished Man, among others, the basic storyline (re:
Talia) came out of the pilot. At the time, I was asked -- frequently
-- "Why didn't Lyta scan Sinclair to determine if he had tried to kill
Kosh?" My answer then -- which is in some of the archives -- was that
it would violate the right to due process, that a defendant cannot be
scanned to determine guilt or innocence (in fact, I recall a rather
heated debate about that here a while back). I promised that this
would be elaborated upon down the road, and mentally logged in to do a
show with that premise...and I'd already decided about the death
penalty, and the use of telepaths in it. So "Quality" came out of
that, long before "Mephisto" was even written. At one point, knowing
that there were some common story areas, I called Harlan to tell him
the "Quality" story, so that if there were any problems, I could
revise it, but he said he saw no problem.
Isn't brainwiping as bad as killing?
There are actually many issues to get into in all of
this. Which is really the "person," the mind, the soul,
or the body? If a person has an accident, getting amnesia,
which wipes out his entire personality, is that person as
good as dead? Is there no difference between amnesia and
death? If not, why not just kill the amnesiac? But
obviously there *is* a difference. So what is the person?
What constitutes death?
We consider the actual death of the *brain* through the
cessation of brain activity to be the test for death. But
what if you simply rearrange those patterns?
There is also the question of *justice*. If the person
is dead, then that person cannot do much to correct the ills
he visited upon society. It is simply a waste of material.
So why not take someone who, in any decent society, would be
executed or forced to live in a 6x9 cage the rest of his life,
and give the soul, and the body, a new chance by giving the
person a new personality and letting him, as the Ombuds says,
"serve the community harmed by his actions"?
Finally, if the person is dead, he's dead; let's say 5
years down the road somebody finds evidence that proves the
person was innocent. There is at least the *chance* to
reconstruct some of the original memories and personality
All of this, again, has to be considered in light of the
fact that we are talking about a *space station* with limited
space and resources. You cannot warehouse every person who
kill somebody in a station that small; you would run out of
space almost immediately. (If you also include basic felons
and near-killings.) So what *do* you do with them? As was
noted, Earth doesn't want them and won't pay to have them
shipped back...what's left?
That's the dilemma I wanted to pose in the episode...what
*can* you do?
"...the 'personality' remaining in the body will
be punished for a crime that 'personality' did not
1) But again, which is the person...the old
personality, the new one, or something else?
2) Part of the new personality would be the delight
in serving others.
You will see the healing machine from "Quality" once more. Part of
the reason for that story was to set up something within the B5 universe
that will come in handy a long time later (but I'm *not* going to have it
lying around indefinitely; it would cause lots of long-term complications).
(Some TV shows foreshadow/set-up stuff an act or two ahead of time;
we do setups a full *year* ahead....)
There are limits to what the healing device can do, for starters;
it can't repair physical damage to the body, mainly it works with
disease and basic low-energy stuff; also, bear in mind that it was a
device used for *capital punishment*...meaning that to save one person's
life, another must sacrifice his or her own, if it's that far along,
so it's not really something you can trot out everytime somebody gets
They cannot carry out the original sentence because the body is
now dead, which would tend to diminish its social acceptability.
Dr. Franklin did not know that Mueller had yet found Rosen, or even
knew of it. There are no Babcom systems in DownBelow quarters. To
send a security team, when they're out searching, without cause, is
neither realistic nor sensible. He did the correct thing: to go and
warn her, while at the same time making sure that security knew where
he was going, and if they didn't hear anything, to send in a team.
Franklin should have had a search warrant.
Allow me to disagree with you.
Dr. Franklin did not require a search warrant to enter Rosen's
quarters. The door was basically open, and he is NOT an officer of
the law. Only officers of the law are required to have search warrants.
Neither was he there to arrest her.
Defense counsel was sitting with the defendant at the table. He had
no lines, but he was there. The trial had been ongoing; this was the
part where the verdict is rendered after a decision has been reached.
The pattern of the judge passing sentence is exactly the same as when
circuit court judges used to work the frontier areas of the US. Where
would you find a jury on B5? Most civilians are passing through, on
stop-over for only a day or two...unable to follow a long hearing.
The only other ones are station personnel, which represents a conflict
of interest. Your only choice is a circuit court style judge whose
loyalty is owed to no one.
The alien device was being used on humans without any kind of license,
she is not a certified doctor, and it was used in the death of a
human. Under those circumstances, it is within the judge s right to
confiscate the device for the greater good. (You can have a
unlicensed firearm in a state that requires licensing, and use it in a
righteous self-defense shooting, but it will be confiscated afterward.
No compensation is required because its use is/was unregulated,
unlicensed, and she was/is not a working doctor.)
It *is* due process. Even according to 20th century terms. Only
problem is in understanding what due process actually *is*, as
opposed to what we think it *should* be.
Yes, part of the reason for the QoM episode was to set up the notion
of an implanted personality as achievable tech.
David: "The Quality of Mercy" title is drawn from the same source as
Compton's book, Shakespeare. It has a lot to do with that episode.
Yes, absolutely; in "The Quality of Mercy," you'll get a look at
how the justice system has come to grips with the uestion of how to
handle violent crimes in an environment like a space station, which
has limited room for cells, limited resources, and other complications.
We do plan to get into this area a bit, without getting too LA LAW
A lot of our episodes are constructed to work as mirrors; you see
what you put into it. "Believers" has been interpreted as pro-
religion, anti- religion, and religion-neutral..."Quality" has been
interpreted, as you note, as pro-capital punishment, and anti-capital
punishment. We do, as you say, much prefer to leave the decision on
what things mean to the viewer to hash out.
A good story should provoke discussion, debate, argument...and the
occasional bar fight.
There's the sense that A, B and sometimes C stories in TV should
intersect. My attitude: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on if
you look at this as a real place or not, as opposed to a thematic
exercise. What I go through in the course of a day has nothing to
do with what happens to Larry DiTillio across town, except and unless
it involves our mutual work. Sometimes, as in "Quality," the stories
feel like they resonate, and can be used to illustrate one another,
and so they're linked. In others, what I'm striving for is a sense
of a "day in thed (the) life" of Babylon 5. The one kind of story is
neither better nor worse than the other, they're simply different.
One may like one more than the other, but to say they're "better"
plots is just silly. There's NO padding in this show, no stories put
in to fill out time; just stories that we want to tell, period.
Minbari use base 11, not base 10, so twelve would be eleventy-first
year, and so on.
Minbari base eleven includes fingers and head, from which the
principle of mathematics comes.
You're also looking at this from a strictly English-speaking
perspective; in German, for instance, 21 is "Ein und Zwanzig" (pardon
any misspellings in there, it's been a while) which is exactly the
same structure, albeit reversed, used for Minbari counting (and, in
fact, is more or less what I based his "statement" on).
Eleventy-seven = Eighteen base ten.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven
Eleventy-one, eleventy-two, eleventy-three, eleventy-four, eleventy-
five, eleventy-six, eleventy-seven, eleventy-eight, eleventy-nine,
Twelfty-one, twelfty-two, twelfy-three, twelfty-four, twelfty-five,
twelfty-six, twelfty-seven, twelfty-eight, twelfty-nine, twelfty-ten.
And so on.
Who here still has a problem with this?