Talia is involved in carrying out the sentence of a convicted murderer. Dr. Franklin investigates a possible medical scam in Downbelow. Londo takes Lennier for a look at the less savory sections of the station.
Londo is talking to a Centauri senator on his screen. The senator tells him that it's vital he promote good relations with the other species on Babylon 5, some of whom may be potential allies. Londo protests that he's doing the best he can, but the senator tells him to try harder.
Shortly thereafter, Londo encounters Lennier in the hallway. When Lennier admits that most of his knowledge about the other races comes from reading, Londo offers to spend two days showing him "the Babylon 5 I know."
Meanwhile, in one of the station courtrooms, Ombuds Wellington announces the verdict against a man named Karl Edward Mueller, who has been found guilty of murdering two station residents and one member of the security staff. Sentence will be handed down tomorrow, Wellington says.
In Downbelow, Ivanova finds Dr. Franklin running an unauthorized free clinic for people who can't afford the services of Medlab. She upbraids him for not telling her - she won't shut the clinic down, "but if I'm going to share in the blame, I'd at least like to share in some of the fun."
Garibaldi, Wellington, Commander Sinclair, and Talia Winters discuss the fate of Mueller. Garibaldi suggests spacing him. "A couple hours of hard vacuum would do him and the gene pool a world of good." He's upset not only because of the crime, but because he believes that Mueller has killed many times before.
Wellington replies that there are only three legal punishments. Mueller can be returned to Earth. Sinclair counters that Earth doesn't want Mueller and won't pay to have him shipped back. The second option is life imprisonment, but Garibaldi says there's not enough room in the brig for the prisoners who're already there, let alone to keep someone for life. The third option involves Talia, who reluctantly agrees to help. Garibaldi suggests that while she's in Mueller's mind, she can see if he's killed before; Wellington reminds Garibaldi that any such evidence would be inadmissable.
Franklin searches Downbelow for a woman named Laura Rosen, who he's heard is running a bogus medical practice. He enters her office to find that she and a man are both hooked up to an alien device of some kind. The man says he feels much better now, and asks what he owes; Laura tells him that's up to him, and that he can leave his donation in the box outside the door.
She and Franklin talk about the device. She claims it cures anything from the common cold to Stafford's disease. Franklin starts to confront her, calling her a con artist and a fraud, when Laura's daughter Janice arrives and tells him to leave. He does, but promises to return.
Ombuds Wellington sentences Mueller to personality death. He'll be telepathically scanned and brainwiped, then programmed with new memories, to spend the rest of his natural life serving the community he harmed. Mueller is livid, and struggles against his guards, but they lead him away.
Franklin tells Garibaldi he'll need to check over the brainwipe machine to make sure the procedure is painless, something Garibaldi isn't too concerned about. Franklin asks Garibaldi to see what information he can find on Laura Rosen.
Londo takes Lennier to Dark Star, a club with erotic dancers. "Here, my friend," he says, ushering Lennier to a seat at the stage and ordering drinks. "Here you will see the heart and soul of Babylon 5. Also its spleen, its kidneys... a veritable parade of internal organs." Claiming he left his credit chit in his quarters, Londo tells Lennier to pay for their drinks. Lennier asks whether his drink contains alcohol - even small amounts, he says, can cause Minbari to experience violent, homicidal rages. Londo quickly grabs Lennier's drink and orders water for him.
Franklin stops by the stall where Janice Rosen sells jewelry for a living. He talks to her about her mother. Janice says that all her mother ever wanted was to be a doctor. And she was, originally, but she could never do as much as she liked - she started taking stimulants to stay awake longer, became addicted to them, and finally slipped up, causing the death of a patient. After her license was revoked, she wandered the stars, thinking that if she could find some new alien healing technology, she could return to Earth, vindicated.
"And now she thinks she's found it," says Franklin. "What do you think?"
"I think... I think that for the first time in years, I see my mother smiling. For the first time, I see hope in her eyes."
Franklin counters that it's a sham; the machine doesn't work. Janice says he doesn't know that for sure. If it works, asks Franklin, why are Janice and her mother still on Babylon 5? They could return to Earth and show her mother's fantastic discovery to the world. Janice starts to claim she can't afford it, but Franklin says she can; she just doesn't want her mother to know it.
Janice leaves, warning Franklin not to try to take away what her mother has; if he does, she'll fight him, and win.
Lennier relates the story of his education to a bored, bleary-eyed Londo. He studied the ninety-seven Minbari dialects and subtongues, then moved on to mathematics, specializing in probability. That perks Londo up, and when Lennier says he achieved the rank of master adept, Londo drags him away from the stage to introduce him to something the Earthers call "poker."
After preparing, Talia goes to Mueller's cell to scan him. He's not very cooperative, and when she threatens him, he scoffs. "It's not like I'm going to remember any of this. That's the plan, isn't it? Take away my thoughts, my memories, everything that makes me me, so they can put me to work for the rest of my life, mopping floors, scrubbing toilets..." But he eventually sits down, allowing Talia to enter his mind.
She finds herself facing the security guard Mueller killed, watching him die from Mueller's point of view. And it's not just the guard, Mueller says to her, as face after face drifts by, humans and aliens alike. He is building a choir, and has to keep adding to it until there are enough voices to sing him into heaven. "The overture is just beginning," he says. Talia breaks contact with him, stumbling back, overwhelmed by what she's just seen and felt.
Franklin's clinic assistant brings him a file full of followup reports on Laura Rosen's patients. If he can show Janice that her mother isn't helping people, he says, maybe she'll listen... but apparently that's not what the reports show. He rushes away.
Londo and Lennier play poker in another part of Dark Star. Lennier looks at his hand and announces cheerfully that the probability of this combination of cards is approximately five thousand to one against. The other players fold, and as Lennier adds the chips to his already substantial mound, Londo tells him to stop doing that - Lennier could be winning ten times more if he'd just keep quiet.
Franklin enters Laura's office as she heals a woman. While she and the woman are hooked up to the alien machine, Franklin pulls out a portable scanner and points it at Laura. The alien treatment only lasts a moment, and the woman leaves, claiming she feels much better.
After offering his apologies to Laura, Franklin notes that her lifesigns dropped 15 percent while she was hooked up to the machine. She says she knows, that that's how the machine works - it takes life energy from one person and transfers it to another. It was designed as a form of capital punishment for criminals; they gave up their lives to heal terminally ill people. But it can be used at partial strength so it doesn't immediately kill the donor.
Franklin complains that it's still killing her, if only gradually. Laura says it doesn't matter. She has Lake's syndrome, and has maybe three years left to life. Time enough to figure out how the machine works, possibly figure out how to modify it such that it doesn't hurt the donor. Franklin deduces that Janice doesn't know how the device works, or even if it works. Laura confirms that; if Janice knew the machine was killing her, she'd force her to stop. She promises to give the machine to Franklin if something happens to her, but asks him for his word that he won't tell Janice about it.
Janice arrives as Franklin leaves. He offers to treat her to dinner if she wants to take a break sometime.
Garibaldi finds Talia in the Garden. She tells him she scanned Mueller well enough to do a comparison scan after the brainwipe. She says Mueller's mind is inhuman, more so than any of the aliens she's had contact with. As Garibaldi leaves, she adds, "You once said you'd bet good money he'd killed before. You would not have lost."
Back at the gaming table, Londo clears his throat loudly and adjusts his clothing. Something underneath the fabric begins to move. As people examine their cards, a tentacle reaches up from beneath the table and snatches the top card from the deck. Seconds later, Londo switches it for a card from his hand, and the tentacle puts that card on the deck.
Garibaldi and a few guards lead Mueller away. As they reach the transport tube, Mueller overpowers the security guard in the car, grabs a gun, and is inside before anyone can stop him. Garibaldi manages to shoot him in the arm as the doors close, then orders C&C to stop the elevator car immediately. Mueller pries the doors open and stumbles onto a different floor; nobody is around, and he runs off, clutching his injured arm.
Londo tries to snatch another card, but one of the other players inadvertently puts a pitcher of icewater down on the tentacle as it lifts a card from the deck. "Is it cold in here all of a sudden, or is it just me?" Londo asks. The tentacle struggles to pull itself out from under the pitcher as Londo looks increasingly uncomfortable. One of the other players notices what's going on and lifts the water; the tentacle snaps under the table, hitting Londo. Several of the other players stand up and accuse Londo of cheating. They knock over the table and advance. Lennier lays two of them out cold with an expert punch and a flying kick, but by now the other people in the club are closing in. "This... is not good," Lennier says, taking a defensive stance.
In medlab, Franklin patches up the security guard who Mueller attacked. He calls his clinic, warning them to be on the lookout for a man with a PPG wound, then heads to Laura's office to warn her.
When he arrives, he finds that Mueller is already there, and has a gun to Janice's head. Laura is in the middle of treating him. Franklin tries to intervene, but Mueller shoots at him, warning him to stay back or the next shot won't miss.
Convinced that he'll kill Janice anyway when the treatment is finished, Laura hits a control on the machine. Suddenly, Mueller writhes in pain, drops the gun and collapses to the floor. "That's Lake's syndrome," she tells him, describing its agonizing symptoms in detail. "You'll never hurt anyone again." Mueller stops moving, and Franklin, after a quick examination, says he's dead.
Later, Laura is cleared of any wrongdoing by Ombuds Wellington; she acted in self-defense. But she must turn the alien device over to station personnel for study. As the courtroom clears out, Garibaldi tells Laura she did the right thing. Janice agrees, but Laura is still haunted by the fact that she has taken a life, in violation of her oath as a doctor. "I did the necessary thing," she tells Janice. "That is not always the same as the right thing."
Ivanova catches up with Garibaldi as he leaves the courtroom and tells him they've identified the two suspects who started the fight in Dark Star.
Sinclair tries to get Londo and Lennier to tell him what happened at the club. Lennier takes full responsibility, claiming that the argument started because he misunderstood the rules. Sinclair doesn't believe a word of that, but can't press further thanks to diplomatic privilege.
After Sinclair leaves, Londo thanks Lennier. Lennier asks what the part of Londo that reached for the cards was. Londo whispers the answer to him, and, when Lennier stares at him in disbelief, picks up a nearby statuette, a figurine with six long tentacles protruding from her midriff. "It's true," Londo says. "Yes! Here: Li, goddess of passion. A synthesis of male and female Centauri. Did you think these were just decorations?" Lennier leaves in a hurry.
Laura and Janice drop the alien machine off in medlab. Franklin says he'll study it. Perhaps it can still be used to heal; volunteers could donate a little of their life energy the way people once donated blood. Laura tells him she's leaving, going out to the stars to redeem herself, to try to find a way to make up for what she's done.
"Is that dinner invitation still open?" Janice asks as she leaves.
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