Babylon 5

Season 1 Episode 15

TKO

4
Aired Monday 7:00 PM May 25, 1994 on

Episode Recap

A rabbi and a young man, Walker Smith, arrive on the station.

Nearby, one alien is selling stolen "slappers" from Medlab to another alien. Garibaldi interrupts them, decking one when it tries to run. As he arrests the other, the first one comes at him from behind with a knife. Before it can reach Garibaldi, Walker Smith knocks it out with one punch. "One of these days, Garibaldi," Smith says, "you're gonna learn to watch your back."

Garibaldi and Smith knew each other years before. Smith, it seems, dropped out of circulation, earning enough money for a boxing license. Later, he was involved in a scandal. He promises to tell Garibaldi the real story later, after he settles in.

They meet at a bar later that day and reminisce about the past. Smith is surprised that Garibaldi has taken to drinking water instead of alcohol.

Ivanova is reading when she receives a visit from the rabbi. It is Rabbi Koslov, or "Uncle Yossel" as Ivanova used to call him. He has come to deliver her father's legacy, entrusted to him shortly before Ivanova's father died (cf. "Born to the Purple".) He had intended to give it to her at the funeral, but she didn't show up. "The station was in a crisis at the time," she explains. "I couldn't get away."

Koslov says he understands - as her father would have. He asks Ivanova if she has sat shiva for her father. She says no. He offers to sit with her, but she refuses. She has duties, and besides, it's been so long that there's hardly any point.

Garibaldi and Smith talk about the scandal. Smith was a rising star in the boxing world. He was scheduled to fight the champ, and wouldn't agree to lose when pressed by some of the monied interests in the boxing federation. So they set him up, planting evidence that made him look like he was using drugs, creating a media circus that eliminated any chance of his career continuing. Now he has come to Babylon 5 to regain his fame by fighting in the Mutai - an alien blood match that has never been entered by a human. Garibaldi tries to dissuade him, citing the deaths and numerous injuries of aliens in the Mutai, but Smith is adamant.

Rabbi Koslov visits Sinclair and tells him of Ivanova's father's death, seeking to get Sinclair to grant leave so she can sit shiva. Ivanova, apparently, had kept her father's death to herself. That doesn't surprise Koslov, who says that after Ivanova's mother and brother died, Ivanova and her father had a falling-out. Sinclair says Ivanova can have as much time as she needs.

That evening, Ivanova and Koslov dine in the Garden. They reminisce about old times. Ivanova says she had invited her father to visit Babylon 5, but he wouldn't come; he believed humans had no right to be in space until they learned to live in peace at home. When Koslov mentions that he saw Sinclair, Ivanova is furious. "My father always tried to control my life," she says, in tears. "I don't need anyone to take his place now that he's gone." She storms away.

Smith and Garibaldi visit a training area where several aliens are practicing for the Mutai. Smith announces that he's looking for the Muta-Do, who is in charge of the contest. An alien tells Smith to leave, then knocks him flat on his back when he protests. The alien, it turns out, was the Muta-Do himself, and he tells Smith that humans are not allowed to fight in the Mutai.

Smith and Garibaldi chat about the Mutai. "They may be snakeheads to you," Garibaldi says, "but the Mutai means something to them." Smith leaves, disgusted.

In the corridor, an alien named Caliban tells Smith that there is another way to get into the Mutai. "But it will require respect, and great courage." Smith is very interested.

Sinclair calls Ivanova into his office and offers her leave. She refuses, claiming that her emotions are her own to deal with as she sees fit. As she returns to her post, Sinclair cautions her to make sure she knows what she's really feeling.

Smith tells Garibaldi that he's giving up and going home, maybe even hanging up his gloves for good. But before he leaves, he wants to see what he missed. He has two passes ("ducks") to the evening's match, featuring the Sho-Rin, the champion of the Mutai.

They attend the fight. The Sho-Rin, Gyor, makes short work of his challenger. When the fight is over, the Muta-Do faces the crowd. "Who will challenge such a one?" he asks. Smith steps forward and makes his challenge; Gyor accepts, and the fight is set for three cycles hence. As Smith leaves the room, an alien warns him to stay out of the Mutai; humans have stuck their noses into enough alien business already.

Ivanova apologizes to Koslov. He gives her her father's legacy: an antique samovar, owned by the Ivanov family since the time of the tsars. Koslov tries once more to get Ivanova to sit shiva, but she refuses. It's not that she's stopped being a Jew, she says, but that her father was never there for her, not even after her mother and brother died and she needed him the most. And she can't forgive him for that.

Smith trains with the help of Garibaldi and Caliban.

Later, Koslov is on his way off the station when Ivanova comes to say goodbye. As he's about to board his ship, she remembers her father's last words and calls out to Koslov. She has decided to sit shiva.

In the training area, Smith continues to prepare for the fight. "Has he got a chance?" Garibaldi asks Caliban. Caliban considers for a moment. "He will fight bravely."

Later, Garibaldi and Smith eat dinner. Garibaldi tells Smith there's still time to back out of it. Smith says that Gyor's skill isn't a reason to back away: "To be the best, you have to fight the best."

Ivanova asks Sinclair for leave, which he grants. He offers to sit shiva with her as her friend.

In front of a small gathering, Koslov speaks of Andrei Ivanov. He was a scholar, and above all a man of peace. Ivanova recalls a time when she was a child. Kasharev, a neo-Communist author and a childhood idol of Ivanova's, was reading from one of his books in St. Petersburg. She convinced her father to take her to the reading. Afterward, she asked Kasharev a question she'd been formulating for weeks. Kasharev dismissed it out of hand, prompting her father to give him a creative verbal lashing. Later, he told her it had been a good question.

The Mutai begins. Smith and Gyor pummel each other. At first it looks like Gyor will win easily, but Smith comes back with a vengeance. When it seems he might have a chance, the alien who complained about Smith's participation earlier takes out a small blowgun and readies a dart. Garibaldi grabs it just as the alien is about to shoot.

Ivanova reads a Jewish prayer in English for Sinclair's benefit. Tears flow as she releases her pent-up grief over her father's death.

The Mutai continues. Both Gyor and Smith are just about worn out, but they keep at each other until both collapse to the floor, exhausted. The Muta-Do declares the match a draw.

After saying farewell to Ivanova and Sinclair, Koslov leaves the station. Smith departs, but not before Gyor and the Muta-Do catch up with him in the departure lounge. Humans, the Muta-Do says, are now free to fight in the Mutai. With a parting compliment from Garibaldi, Smith boards his ship home.
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