"Next! You can start by removing your clothes." "Not without dinner and flowers."
REVIEW: Three distinct threads, only two of which merge into each other, so let's take them one by one. In the main story, Dr. Franklin discovers Lost in Space's June Lockhart (courtesy of Bill Mumy?) is healing people with an alien machine in the decks down below. A natural skeptic, he first dismisses her as a quack and makes it his mission to put an end to her "practice", but then finds he was wrong. The machine works, and Dr. Laura is actually taking years off her own life transferring life force to those in need. Eventually, her own illness is cured when a wounded escaped killer (we'll get to him in due course) forces her to heal him and she reverses the polarity of the neutron flow in self-defense and kills him. It's all perfectly acceptable, if a little predictable, and I like how Franklin is "misusing" medical supplies by opening a clandestine free clinic in the ship's bowels. Even more that he ropes Ivanova into helping. The theme of this thread is that there's a difference between what is legal and what is right, but it's a little heavy-handed. The point is made several times over, and though Lockhart is a charismatic guest star, I don't know what it is about her, but her performance feels like it's from another era of television. The emotions are clear and correct, but her scenes feel old-fashioned because the dialog is delivered so precisely, if that makes any sense. Laura's daughter Janice is fine as a romantic interest for the doctor, but we'll never see her again so, whatever.
If the medical plot, with its point about medical care costs, doesn't make Earth policy in the future look too good, the legal drama of its secondary plot is straight dystopia. In the Babylon 5 universe, humanity doesn't have the death penalty, but judges can sentence dangerous criminals to MIND WIPE! Or as they call it, death of personality, turning people into servile amnesiacs. That's way worse and I don't think Earth society should feel relieved of its guilt just because the person's body doesn't die. The man sentenced to personality death is Karl Mueller, a psychotic serial killer whom Talia must scan as a matter of protocol to make sure something something. If you're going to use a machine, why is this necessary except to unnerve her? The scene inside his mind is properly creepy, but it really feels like this is Talia's thread and that she should "arc" in some way. But nope. She all but disappears from the episode and instead we get treated to Karl's escape - the file on Garibaldi's incompetence is getting thicker by the minute - and death.
And then there's the comedy subplot, with decadent Londo taking straight-laced Lennier to see a strip show, drink (until he hears alcohol makes Minbari psychotic) and gamble. The two of them are a pretty good comic double act, and I like how Londo's only taking him under his wing because he wants to scam him out of his money. Lennier definitely comes out ahead, showing amazing martial arts prowess and an incredible capacity for kindness and honor. The thread puts Minbari and Centauri culture in stark contrast, and yet makes it believable members of each could be friends. Londo's story is disappointing, however. When he hears Lennier is an expert on odds, he takes him to play poker, which isn't so much about odds as it is about bluffing. Blackjack and space craps (or whatever that is) would make more sense. And then the tentacle from Grail's monster is reused as, not Londo's tail, but as one of his sexual organs, which he uses to switch out cards. A massive, filthy dick joke... JMS' trademark "humor" at work. I don't know how this got on television; it's rather disgusting.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Something about Ferengi sexual organs I don't particularly want to discuss.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Actually more watchable than that, but if I'm being honest, The Quality of Mercy comes off by turns as disposable, dumb, preachy and unsatisfying.