"Value Judgements" Review

When TNT cancelled Crusade, the crew was just a few weeks away from filming "Value Judgements". This story by Fiona Avery would have featured the return of Walter Koenig as the telepath Alfred Bester.

During the time period between the end of Babylon 5 and the beginning of Crusade, the mounting tensions surrounding telepaths reached a breaking point. However, it does not appear that the conflict escalated into the all-out war between telepaths and mundanes that Lyta Alexander predicted. What is apparent is that the friction between the Psi Corps and the rogue telepaths led by Lyta became a war between telepaths. Lieutenant John Matheson's role in this war is told in the Crusade episode "The Path of Sorrows".

After the Telepath Crisis, Alfred Bester was captured and charged with war crimes including killing mundanes in his role as a Psi Cop before the war and killing rogue telepaths during the war. Since that time he has escaped and become a hunted criminal. However, in the Babylon 5 universe there is no black or white. While Bester still prefers to dress in black, he revels in his ethical greyness.

Bester maintains that history is rewritten by the winner. He is only a war criminal because he lost the war. He could easily accuse his opponents of the same crimes if he had won. Publicly he considers the charges to be slander. In private he confesses nothing to Matheson but admits that he "did what was necessary".

The Excalibur's crew meets Bester on a colony where they have come to inspect an archeological dig. An alien vault is guarded by a door with a telepathic lock. Matheson is not powerful enough to open it, so they seek out the telepath that lives nearby for help.

Matheson is alarmed when they discover Alfred Bester. He is dumbfounded that his crewmates even consider asking the telepath for his help after they learn his identity. Max Eilerson and Dureena Nafeel are willing to overlook Bester's past if he can help with their mission, and Dr. Chambers seems to side with Matheson. This leaves Gideon to make a decision that half his crew won't agree with.

Fiona Avery shows great promise as a scriptwriter as "Value Judgements" is better than her first two Crusade scripts. This script is one that is light on the action and heavy on the dialog, but Avery still manages to make it exciting. She is aided, of course, by the wonderful character of Alfred Bester, which she has mastered perfectly. His implacable righteousness is expertly conveyed in his scenes.

"Value Judgements" also focuses on the Excalibur's telepath, Lieutenant Matheson. His faith is put to the test in this episode. He believes that Bester is guilty, but the words of both Bester and his own crewmates together with Bester's actions challenge what he thinks is true. Part of the ending is marvelously ambiguous and leaves the reader wondering what might have been in store for Matheson and telepaths in general.

Walter Koenig, who played Alfred Bester in twelve episodes of Babylon 5, was terribly disappointed that this episode wasn't filmed. He had memorized his part already, and he has stated several times that this is his favorite Bester script.

Fiona Avery published her script for "Value Judgements" at Bookface.com where it could be read for free. Unfortunately, the site closed in January 2001. She also sells autographed hard copies via Scripts from the Lot.