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. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me!
Season 4: Episodes 1-4
1: The Hour of the Wolf
The various people of the alliance are losing confidence in Babylon 5’s mission and are apparently willing to abandon it. Some justify this by claiming the war is over, but as others argue with them, several admit they don’t think it’s over but that they’d rather pull back to their own planets and try to survive. The B5 mains are left disgusted as the alliance apparently falls apart in front of their eyes.
We net get an introduction to Emperor Cartagia, who surprises Mollari with his short crest of hair. Apparently this is due to his desire to wander amongst the common people and do whatever he pleases without having others defer to his rank. I’m already getting A Bad Feeling about this guy at the beginning, and every scene in this episode going forward confirms it. He later reveals he is letting the Shadows come to burn the planet. Morden survived–UGH!–and convinced the Emperor that he can get godlike power if he just lets the Shadows hide out on his planet. I’d be asking why the Shadows are so swift to go into hiding. Because the Vorlon are mobilizing? Yes, we’ve seen the Vorlon defeat them, but en masse are the Vorlon really more powerful than the Shadows? (Edit: see below, layers upon layers of space opera going on here!)
Apparently Not-Kosh (the new Vorlon ambassador after Kosh) is using Lyta to walk around among humans, and it looks creepy. Cue up another Bad Feeling. Also, I fricking knew Sheridan was alive! I mean, obviously that kind of got spoiled by the cover of season 4 having his face on it, but I knew it instinctively anyway! YES! But who’s this weird alien?
2: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
The title alone is the question I asked when they were talking about Garibaldi being missing in the previous episode. The weird looking alien starts off extremely cryptically, telling Sheridan he’s dead, and he checks for a pulse, but there is none. Then, the alien goes on to say that Sheridan might be in between moments–life and death. On Station, Dr. Franklin works to help with Delenn’s apparent health problem.
Meanwhile, G’Kar is working to track down Garibaldi, and the discussion gets heated. But! YES! Enter Marcus to save the day! I did not expect that, but I should have, given how often both G’Kar and Marcus seem to get into brawls. Later, after they go on the run, G’Kar and Marcus talk about how they met. Turns out Marcus followed G’Kar, and he delivers yet another fantastic line: “I heard you were looking for Mr. Garibaldi on the assumption he was in trouble. So I went looking for you… on the assumption you’d probably get into trouble.” They verbally spar, making fun of the Minbari weapon Marcus uses, and then get down to the business of finding Garibaldi. In a touching moment, G’Kar mentions Garibaldi as his friend who wasn’t a Narn, and Marcus talks about how few friends he has and how many have ended up dead. G’Kar gets shot when he’s in hiding! Captured by the Centauri!
Delenn gets pulled from her stupor by a recording of Sheridan, and she summons the Rangers to “Strike one last blow that will be heard and remembered 1000 years from now.” Back with the Centauri, Mollari is summoned by the Emperor to be presented a gift–and before he even said it I guessed it would be G’Kar. But seeing G’Kar completely in chains and tied to a post was more emotional than I thought it would be. Mollari, though, looks absolutely horrified at first, and maybe a little confused. And now I’m confused by Mollari’s response. Am I possibly right about a redemption arc for Mollari? G’Kar’s words when the Emperor asks–Do you by any chance happen to know where Mr. Garibaldi might be?–are so on point. A quick cut to Garibaldi shows him imprisoned… somewhere? Then it’s back to Mollari, now having an intimate conversation with G’Kar in which he reveals the torturous death G’Kar is going to endure. But Mollari doesn’t want that to happen, and reveals that he sees the Emperor as a “monster” on the throne. Mollari wants G’Kar to kill the Emperor, but G’kar makes Mollari promise to have the Centauri leave Narn if he does so. It seems a massive win-win, and a surprising one–can Mollari really guarantee the promise he made? But maybe G’Kar is just so desperate that he’ll accept even the faintest possibility.
Sheridan is apparently talking to the one who claims to be the first of the First Ones. The strange alien says Sheridan has a Vorlon inside of him. And also he may be able to bring Sheridan back by “breathing on the embers” of his life. Looks like Sheridan is coming back, and that he did die!
3: The Summoning
I loved the opening with Marcus and Delenn carefully avoiding telling Ivanova that she can’t actually speak Minbari well. G’Kar being dressed in a torturous jester costume in order to be laughed at by the insane Emperor’s court… not so much. It’s awful. And going from there, the scene where the Emperor complains about torturing G’Kar and not having him scream or anything while his hands are covered with blood… it’s just absolutely terrible. Not in the sense of it being bad television, but in the sense of it being so awful to watch and realize what G’Kar is going through. It’s a rather masterful way of building tension without having to show all the blood and gore on the screen. There’s an element of using one’s imagination that can be worse than anything they could have shown.
Not-Kosh and Lyta’s relationship seems clearly abusive. She finally pushes back enough to be shown into Not-Kosh’s mind. But while watching the episode, I really doubted Not-Kosh would show her anything. Garibaldi is back and confused. Meanwhile, the awful Emperor–and my Nero comparison continues to seem ever more appropriate–tortures G’Kar into screaming before the final stroke that would kill him with an electric-whip. The Emperor must be destroyed. (Also, as a side note, the 39 lashes are the number traditionally ascribed to Jesus, due to Deuteronomy 25:3. See also 2 Corinthians 11:24, where Paul says he received 40 lashes minus 1 on 5 occasions. A fascinating, and I’m sure intentional, parallel.)
SHERIDAN IS BACK! And just in time to stop a complete rebellion and destruction of the alliance. “We thought you were dead!” “I was. I’m better now.” 100% epic. And then he goes on to pump up the crowd and reunite them with the power of his words right before snuggling Delenn. Kickin’ ass and takin’ names: Sheridan. Lorien is on Babylon 5 now and Garibaldi is supremely unimpressed, which doesn’t surprise me.
Lyta later reveals that the Vorlons have decided to destroy everything that the Shadows touched, apparently deciding to burn everything in the galaxy in order to try to stop anything having to do with the Shadows continuing to exist in any way. So that seems… bad.
4: Falling Toward Apotheosis
A Babcom message from Ivanova informed viewers that the Vorlon are blasting more planets, which, as I said above, seems bad. Garibaldi remains skeptical of Sheridan and especially Lorien, while people on Babylon 5 are apparently viewing Sheridan as some kind of savior figure.
The depth of the Emperor’s insanity continues to be revealed as we see the truth behind the severed heads incident, along with his obsession with becoming a god. He also continues to show parallels with Nero as he wants it to “all end in fire.” Nero, the Roman Emperor, allegedly stage acted while Rome burned (though the common phrase about fiddling while Rome burned is wrong, because fiddles weren’t invented yet), and here Emperor Cartagia (possibly a reference to Carthage, the long-time enemy of Rome? How many layers of depth are going on here) wants to turn the world into a pyre of destruction for what he thinks will be his elevation to godhood.
Back on B5, the leaders seem to be planning to bring the fight to Not-Kosh, apparently by killing him? Dr. Franklin’s face after this discussion basically reflects my own skepticism. His face says it all: “Uh, how the hell? What? That’s not gonna happen, but you’re really gonna try it?” I truly didn’t expect this to develop in this episode, but we move from the planning to immediately trying to forcibly remove the Vorlon from the station, and it obviously does not go well as Not-Kosh easily defeats the whole security contingent, though apparently without having anyone permanently harmed. And Lyta–I forgot to mention she’s been modified with gills or something?–seems to be in on the game, trying to set up Not-Kosh for some kind of trap. And the trap gets sprung right away in this episode! The slow burn of seasons 1-2-most of 3 is over. It is GO TIME in Babylon 5. And the Not-Kosh creature is a creepy electric apparition. Also, this is unrelated but why the heck is Delenn there?
OMG did Kosh just go to do battle against Not-Kosh!? They get sucked out into space with some kind of crazy First Ones vortex and go to the Vorlon ship, which explodes? I’m so confused and amazed by what’s happening with the Vorlon. I knew something wasn’t right about them! I didn’t express it, that I can see, in previous reviews but I thought something possibly bad with the Vorlon was going on with how Kosh was. On the flip side, now I sound like I’m siding with Morden in saying the Shadows are to be pitied, which is not at all true.
Mollari tries to convince Emperor Catargia that he must spare some of his people so that he can be worshiped. Redemption arc, begin? Part of his plan also seems to be to free G’Kar to act against the Emperor. Going back to Lorien, Delenn, and Sheridan we learn Sheridan only has till his 60s to live, which is pretty rough on Delenn. But they get engaged!
At this point it’s worth noting how enthralled I’ve become by Londo/Vir/Cartagia’s storyline. Mollari was my favorite character in season 1, but he quickly became a “bad guy,” and I hoped for his redemption. Now, we see him looking on with horror as his people are led by a monster. It’s a fascinating rise, fall, and perhaps rise again that we’re witnessing. It’s so good. Obviously G’Kar is a huge part of this, as well. I am amazed by how they’ve managed to create basically a whole secondary storyline with new characters that is just as compelling as the main plot.
Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.
J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!