I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. I wrote already about Season 1, but I wanted to break season 2 into a couple posts, because there’s so much to talk about! Here, we’ll discuss season 2, episodes 12-22. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me!
Acts of Sacrifice- “When you have been crushed beneath the wheel for as long as we have, revenge occupies your every waking thought” = G’Kar. That’s a powerful moment in the show, and indeed in the series, so far. Contrasted with Mollari, who is clearly becoming lonely as his actions and those of his people ostracize many others on Babylon 5, the plight of G’Kar is even more pronounced. But is it possible–I don’t know, having never seen the series before–that Mollari will see redemption at some point? The title, could it hint at a future act of sacrifice Mollari must make to abandon the horrors of his people, or at least the hawklike faction that has taken over? Perhaps the title also pokes fun at Ivanova’s own act of sacrifice as she is relentlessly pursued by a creepy alien who sees humans as an ‘inferior’ race but nevertheless wants to mate with one. That side-story was the comedic value for what is otherwise a deeply serious and even disturbing central thread.
Hunter, Prey- Here we see some intrigue on the Earth Alliance front as it turns out the VP wasn’t on the President’s ship when it blew up. Of course, that’s the big reveal here, though we learn some more about the Vorlon (they have weird ships that are alive?) than we did before as well. Sneaking out the fugitive on the ambassador’s ship was fun, though somewhat predictable even from early on in the episode.
There All the Honor Lies- Sheridan is accused of murder, and seeing how they clear him is interesting. I especially enjoyed the scene with Kosh and the “one moment of perfect beauty.” Otherwise, establishing that the Minbari are more complex than they have been presented so far was a big win for the episode and series. I loved the merchandising side-story and the thing at the end with the Sheridan bear was just perfect.
And Now for a Word- I think this might be my favorite episode so far, largely because they so cleverly use the format. The ad with the subliminal messaging “Trust the Psi Corps; The Psi Corps is Your Friend” was so on-point for the series so far and just contributed to the overall cheesiness–intentional–of the episode. You can tell everyone had a ton of fun with this episode, but that doesn’t do justice to just how serious the core plot is, as the Centauri/Narn conflict continues to escalate, centered around Babylon 5. Definitely among the great episodes of the excellent series.
In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum- Sheridan is a bit more hot-headed than our previous commander, as this episode shows. He imprisons a man with very little cause (definitely illegally, at that) because he finds that he may have information about his late wife. Of course, that man happens to also be the weird guy with attachments to the Shadows that Mollari has had so much success–and trouble–with. Morden, the man, is also a danger to everyone, and so many try to intervene, ultimately leading to Sheridan (and we, the viewers) learning more about the history of the universe and the First Ones. The Nightwatch seems like clear scum, but we see Zack, a minor side character, has joined them for some extra money. I don’t imagine that will go well. This episode feels more like set up than anything else. Also, Sheridan saying Girabaldi was right and he was wrong seems like a lie from Sheridan, which makes the latter even more interesting.
Knives- I adored the opening of this one with the Centauri opera. Most of this episode seems like a one-off, but the twist of Mollari taking out his compatriot in order to save his honor was a good twist. Mollari as heel is becoming more and more compelling.
Confessions and Lamentations- Watching this episode in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was tough. The scene with the Minbari meal and Sheridan was fantastic and funny. I was very unprepared for the fact that they basically just blow away an entire civilization in this episode, however. I mean seriously, we just see these Markab just here and there, and suddenly this disease wipes their civilization out. Boom, gone. It’s just a stunning moment in the show. And its overlaid with some idiots at the bar talking about conspiracy theories, which hit so close to home right now as well. “Nothing changes.” That’s right.
Divided Loyalties- Winters is a plant, and I couldn’t believe it. After we saw her betray the Psi Corps in the last round, it turns out she was an agent the whole time and this spells all kinds of nefariousness about the Psi Corps. I loved it.
The Long, Twilight Struggle- Babylon 5 is an unparalleled epic. This episode proves that yet again as we have a totally awesome space battle. Then, we see Mollari, who has continued a dark journey, looking out from the side of a Centuari ship as he oversees the bombardment of the Narn homeworld, blasting it to oblivion. It’s a horrible moment for a character I adored in the first season. Is it possible to have redemption from this? Then, following that, we get a speech from G’Kar that is absolutely fantastic: “No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years . . . we will be free.” Wow.
Comes the Inquisitor- I felt this episode was mostly setup. One of those episodes I may look back on and think it was extremely important, but in the moment it was merely okay. The stakes weren’t super high because it seems a given that our mains will survive the encounter with this random guy from the 1800s. It’s a fine episode but nothing too special.
The Fall of Night- I knew the Nightwatch was garbage! And Zack pays for his alliance with them in guilt, big time. Sheridan gives a Narn vessel sanctuary on Babylon 5 and does what he wants with legal precedence to get away with it, in the end. Sheridan survives an assassination attempt because apparently the Vorlon are angels. The Centauri-Earth alliance begins, somehow, and this seems like an obviously awful thing going forward into the next season. And, at last, we see the Shadows get revealed to the broader galaxy.
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