Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 4: Episodes 13-16

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! 

Babylon 5, Season 4: Episodes 13-16

13: Rumors, Bargains and Lies

I enjoyed the opening with the mix of humor about Sheridan missing Delenn while also making some plans for how to (not) convince various worlds to go along with plans to clamp down on various problems. The conversation between Delenn and Neroon was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the back to back uses of “After a fashion” by Delenn regarding a compliment and trust in Neroon. I’m honestly surprised that we see the Minbari homeworld so quickly embroiled in conflict, though. Sheridan’s conversation with an alien about the use of White Star ships with the Centauri is also masterful, along with having the touch of humor that I’ve enjoyed so much in B5 so far. The follow-up conversation with Mollari and the alien is another example of this. And again, Dr. Franklin piles it on. The writers of Babylon 5 truly use humor to great effect, essentially embracing the somewhat campy nature of the show while never fully degrading into anything but space opera. It’s fantastic.

Delenn’s manipulation of her own caste was another great moment in this episode that is full of them. Lennier must survive! Though, let’s be real, I’d trade basically anyone’s life if Marcus gets to survive. And, of course, Lennier recovers enough from being poisoned to… wait WHAT!? Neroon is a traitorous snake!? Okay, call me gullible but I did not see that coming. 

14: Moments of Transition

Garibaldi is enlisted by William Edgars to smuggle more items to Babylon 5. Zack confronts him about it, but Garibaldi is unimpressed by his points and gaslights the heck outta Zack. Neroon appears to be having some kind of second thoughts about his betrayal. Meanwhile, Bester is back on station, and being a cynical butthole as normal. He works to enlist Lyta’s… body? He wants to know what the Vorlons did to her, and tries to sell it as a contribution to all telepaths, but we as viewers know he’s garbage and that the Psi Corps would 100% use it for humans only, especially those humans who serve the corrupt and probably evil government. Of course, somewhat predictably Lyta immediately faces additional hardship, leading one to wonder if she won’t give in to Bester.

Delenn uses her subtle manipulation of the religious caste to turn the tables on the warrior caste and appeal to Valen and the traditions of the Minbari to force their hand. Neroon steps up when push comes to shove and challenges Shakiri on his apparent fear of death. Then, Neroon steps in to save Delenn at the last moment, taking the massive trial of the Minbari to the death, eventually being burned into nothing as he calls on the Minbari to listen to Delenn. I truly teared up at this moment. What an incredible, beautiful, spiritual moment.

Bester celebrates Garibaldi’s actions as Garibaldi fires Lyta shortly after hiring her due to a command from WIlliam Edgars. I am still trying to put together what all of these intertwining threads are supposed to add together to become. The episode ends with Ivanova and Sheridan planning a retributive strike on Earth forces after the Earth forces commit a heinous war crime. Time for some action. 

I think this brings me to between 5-10 times that I’ve cried either joyfully or with other emotions during the show. It may be the greatest show ever.

15: No Surrender, No Retreat

Sheridan has had enough garbage from various factions among the peoples on Babylon 5. He has decided to nullify many of the agreements and seek to fight back against Earth to end the anti-alien propaganda and leanings once and for all. I liked that they addressed the question of possibly false orders being given to the Babylon 5 forces… and of course Ivanova’s one liner was great: “Trust Ivanova, trust yourself… anybody else? Shoot ’em!”

We finally get another one-on-one between Mollari and G’Kar, and it was fantastic. Mollari ultimately goes on a rant about how he tried to do whatever was right for his world. “I am a patriot!” says Mollari. But he says it is because of this that he made choices that endangered both his world and G’Kar’s. He made terrible choices, attempting to do what was best for his people. He shares with G’Kar some future plans, and the work he’s going to try to do for his people going forward. “I hope to do better,” he said. He offers the gesture of a drink as a returned favor, noting that he and G’Kar can have something in common “besides hatred” and a drink to the humans. But G’Kar silently turns the gesture down, pouring the drink back into Mollari’s flask. Mollari departs in disappointment. It’s a powerful, character-building moment for both of them. 

The first sortie by the Babylon 5 closes the jaws of a trap around some Earth Force destroyers, giving Sheridan the chance to talk to them from a position of strength. He appeals to their conscience, and in the case of some, succeeds. As Sheridan tries to convince captains from Earth to join him as an ally, G’Kar approaches Mollari at the bar and takes a drink side-by-side with him. G’Kar says he will sign his name on a joint statement with Mollari, “But not on the same page.” Yet another powerful moment between these two. Mollari’s series of expressions as G’Kar departs is a masterful play, too. Two captains end up joining with Sheridan. 

And apparently Garibaldi is leaving for Mars… for good? I doubt it.

16: The Exercise of Vital Powers

Garibaldi goes to Mars to meet with William Edgars, and we finally get a kind of noir-style look into Garibaldi’s mental state at this point. He seems paranoid about Sheridan, in particular. One wonders who did this to him and how they did it. The room he ends up in on Mars seems to look just a little similar to the room we saw in his flashbacks of his captivity and (apparent) mental reconditioning. I wonder if there’s some broader plot with Edgar setting Garibaldi up as a tool for himself instead of simply taking advantage of a situation that fell into his lap. Honestly, reflecting on this after watching the episode I’m becoming even more convinced that this might be the case. 

Meanwhile, back on the station, Lyta has some success where Dr. Franklin does not as she manages to penetrate the fog of some of the telepath victims of the Shadows. As Franklin works towards Sheridan’s goal of helping the telepaths, Edgars is apparently performing his own experiments with some kind of horrible drug that they discover “works” for sure. But all we see so far is some people who look like living corpses dying in what seems like isolation.

Garibaldi decides to go in with Edgars, and the latter demands that Garibaldi bring Sheridan to him. Garibaldi agrees to get Sheridan and bring him to Edgars. And Garibaldi agrees to do so by going after Sheridan’s father, which is a serious ramping up of Garibaldi’s betrayal. Is he just doing what he’s programmed to do? I’m honestly getting really confused about this. We just get a noir-like close to the episode as Garibaldi rides across Mars once again. It’s brutal. 

Links

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!

SDG.

4 thoughts on “Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 4: Episodes 13-16

  1. socrates17 says:

    There’s a reason why you didn’t see it coming. A poorer writer would have used Neroon’s betrayal as a plot coupon, regardless of whether or not it made sense. It is a tribute to JMS’s writing that when Neroon looked to betray Delenn at the end of episode 4:13, when I saw that ep. 1st run, I confidently said “No”. That went against everything we knew about the Neroon from earlier encounters. I had SUCH faith in the quality of the characterization in the writing that I was dead certain that it was a scheme hatched between Delenn and Neroon. And I was right. He knew Shakiri would cave, and confronting him had been the plan all along..

    There’s a certain irony here. Neroon didn’t betray Delenn, but members of the religious caste did. They had no faith in her. Lennier’s rebuke was brilliant, showing that he had a better understanding of what was going on than we might have thought. He admired Delenn, but he also saw her realistically.

    The Londo/G’Kar scenes in 4:15 simply sizzled. There’s a reason why I think they’re the best written and acted couple since Augustus & Livia in I, Claudius.

    I’m a lot older than you are, so it was jarring to see Efrem Zimbalist Jr. not playing FBI Inspector Lewis Erskine, from the series that ran from the late ’60s to the early ’70s. He was great as William Edgars, though, once the shock wore off.

    The greatest series of all time is The Prisoner, followed by Danger Man, followed by The Avengers, if we omit the season with Tara King. I put Babylon 5 as 4th, and the first US show.

  2. Great write-up, as always. I’d just like to point out (just in case you haven’t noticed it yet) that most of “Babylon 5”, and actually all of Seasons 3 and 4, was written exclusively by J. Michael Straczinsky. Which to me is also one of the main reasons why the show is so good. It’s the vision of a singular mind, instead of multiple writers pulling the show in different directions.

  3. […] Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 4: Episodes 13-16– One of the single greatest moments in television happens with Delenn taking on her caste.  […]

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