This one is a watershed, kids; B5’s first actual *important,* game-changing episode, though most of us aren’t going to like it
PLAY BY PLAY
There’s an accident in the docking bays when a Narn transport and a defective ship elevator collide. The investigation quickly proves that the defect was caused by contractors using substandard equipment when building B5 in order to come in on-budget. (And even in the future, “Lowest Bidder” gets the job as they specifically point out here) On top of that, the thousand or so dockworkers who load and unload cargo from the ships that visit B5, and refuel them, have been understaffed and under budgeted since day one. Most of them are working double shifts, with less than ten hours off before they have to do it all over again. Triple shifts aren’t uncommon. It’s a hard life, and now, thanks to these privations, people are starting to die.
Making matters worse, B5’s new fiscal year budget (Yeah, they’ve still got those in the future too!) has come out, and the Dockworkers Guild didn’t get any increases. Sinclair struggles to cope with the situation, but it quickly gets out of hand, and it ends up in an illegal strike in a strategically-important defense-related job (B5 is a military outpost, after all). “Illegal” since their contract states they can’t strike under any circumstances. The senate sends in Orrin Zento, a labor negotiator, to mediate the dispute. He makes a sort of token pro-forma half-interested attempt to end the strike, but mostly he condescends and threatens, and it’s fairly obvious (Though never stated) that he *wants* the situation to go bad for some nefarious reason. Sinclair, meanwhile, has been going over the budget and reading all the senate agreements pertaining to the situation.
A riot breaks out, and Zento imposes “The Rush Act,” which everyone is afraid of, and which hasn’t been used in years, but it’s apparently pretty draconian. Sinclair marches right into the middle of the riot, and says “The Rush Act empowers me to end the strike by any means necessary, correct?”
Sinclair: “And I have your complete support in whatever I do?”
Zento: “Yes, of course.”
Sinclair: “Ok, I am hereby allocating 1.2 million credits from Babylon 5’s military budget to be used towards hiring more workers and upgrading our substandard equipment.”
And the strike is over! Zento is furious, and leaves the station. Senator Hidoshi contacts Sinclair to tell him that he’s personally quite pleased with his solution, but also to warn him in no uncertain terms that there were those in the Senate who *wanted* the situation to turn ugly, and Sinclair has now angered a lot of them and made some powerful enemies.
MEANWHILE, that Narn transport was carrying a “G’quon Eth” plant, a rare Narn plant difficult to grow, hard to transport, expensive to own. It is, however, crucial for the most important religious ritual of the Narn year: When the first rays of light strike G’quon mountain on Narn on a set day of the year, they have to offer prayers and sing while putting the seeds or nuts or berries or whatever of the G’quon Eth plant in a holy fire. As the highest ranking member of his faith on B5, it is G’kars’ duty to lead the ceremony and provide the plant. It must happen at the exact same moment the sunlight hits the mountain throughout every Narn community in the galaxy. He made arrangements months ago for one to be shipped out, but it ended up overdue and of course it got destroyed in the crash.
As it happens, Londo has one. The nuts or seeds or berries or whatever evidently have some hallucinogenic qualities, which are quite enjoyable when plunked in an alcoholic beverage. The taunts and torments G’kar in pretty humorous fashion, and G’kar tries various methods to get the plant - including buying it - but Londo has no intention of letting him have it. Ultimately, G’kar complains to mom - Sinclair - but owing to the strike he can’t get to resolving the situation until *after* the prescribed moment for the ceremony. He rules the plant a “Controlled substance” and confiscates it, then gives it to G’kar with instructions to pay Londo for it. G’kar is quite depressed until Sinclair points out that the light which touched G’quon mountain a decade ago will be reaching B5 in several hours, and they can have the ceremony then.
Impressed, G’kar genuinely and effusively thanks him, and rushes off