"Gambling is one of the lesser sins. I've always thought if you're gonna sin you may as well go for one of the really big ones."
REVIEW: By having Garibaldi and Delenn discuss the "death of personality" sentencing of murderers and their subsequent "helpful" personality implants, Gethsemane gives its game away relatively early. Brad Dourif is playing against type (more or less) as a kindly monk interested in alien races' faiths, but he used to be a creepy psychotic killer, the kind of character we might usually see Dourif play. So it's an interesting casting in that sense. And Dourif plays kindly innocence very well; he's someone whose roles I've always felt a lot of compassion for, even when they were outright villains. I remember saying mind wipes were just as bad as the death penalty back when the idea was introduced, and we can compare and contrast the portrayal of the end result in this episode with how the Vorlons "rehabilitated" Jack the Ripper. In both cases, a serial killer was taken off the streets and put to work for a higher purpose. In Jack/Sebastian's case, he remained aware of his sins and was forced to confront them. In Brother Edward's, the sinner isn't aware of his sins and is artificially made to atone for them, which in his opinion when he finds out (and really, in a post-Internet society, how would you avoid seeing your face on a famous criminal?), he believes he can never wash the stain off his soul. In terms of his faith, he has been damned by the "procedure". But his faith wouldn't exist without it. And is Delenn wary of this practice because she believes life is sacred and that life ends with the death of personality, or rather the sin is not expunged from the soul so nothing is resolved? No easy answers here.
Forgiveness is just as hard, and it's one of JMS' more important concerns running through the series. The families of the Black Rose Killer's victims apparently don't believe a mind wipe is justice/vengeance enough (much as Garibaldi opines earlier), so they've sent their own murderer to end the killer's physical being. As if to rid themselves of any guilt, they use dirty tricks (including a Centauri telepath) to make him relive elements of his crimes so he dies knowing what he did, i.e. feeling guilty for what he did. And he lets it happen, atoning for sins untold and unremembered, a mirror of Jesus' own bravery and sacrifice. History repeats at the end when HIS killer is also mind wiped (which seems harsh given the circumstances and that he confessed), and Sheridan can't help bu feel angry at the new "Brother Malcolm". But a stern word from his "parish priest" softens him. Perhaps there's hope, after all. How can we stay angry at a new personality, unless what angers us is the person's dark soul? While the plot seems to tell us this style of execution works to the benefit of society and individual, justice, both human and divine, isn't as satisfied.
The episode also brings back Lyta Alexander, who has spent time on the Vorlon homeworld and now acts as one of their agents. Free of the PsiCorps' rules, she can show, or threaten to show, the full extend of her abilities, which are terrifying. One of the episode's highlights is her brief encounter with Londo, who seems to be perpetually trying to remind people they used to be friends. I think that as an audience, we've stopped empathizing with his loneliness, which is much deserved. Of course, he also wants information from her about the Vorlons, and when invoking old friendships fails, goes so far as to threaten her with exposure to the Corps. She calls his bluff and threatens to implant recurring nightmares into his subconscious, which perhaps does the trick even though one more might not change much to his nightly routine. The final scene, with Lyta appearing to feed Kosh her soul is strange, creepy and unexplained. More to come. I does need to be said that JMS piles on a few too many coincidences in this one, including having Lyta on hand just as the crew needs a telepath who doesn't follow the rules to find Edward. In addition, we have Garibaldi talking about mind wipes just as it becomes relevant, Edward talking about the event from the Gospels he'll get to test later, and Sheridan becoming friends with a man who's about to become the focus of the episode.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Beginning episodes with captains playing chess is an old Star Trek tradition. Brad Dourif would soon play another sympathetic but tortured killer, the Betazoid Maquis Lon Suder, in Star Trek: Voyager.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A good guest-star in Brad Dourif and it asks a lot of pointed questions. The plot is a little clunky, however.