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!
5: Learning Curve
There’s a great intro in this one, in which we get some insight into the training of the Rangers, along with some delightful back and forth between Turval of the religious caste and Durhan of the warrior class. Garibaldi and Captain Lochley also have a confrontation, which results in Lochley giving a spirited defense of her position during the civil war.
Delenn then meets with Durhan and Turval to discuss training of the Rangers. It’s a cool scene, in which Delenn urges them to use the great differences amidst the recruits to use the P’ak’ma’ra to be a kind of secret courier service for the Rangers due to their outcast status.
Another main part of the plot is the attempt by Trace, a criminal mastermind, to take over the underworld of Babylon 5. I have to say, my initial thoughts on this underworld aspect was that it’s going to be nothing but a side story for the main episode. And, in a way, it is. Trace is taken in and his momentary rule is over. But the way it plays out is as a foil for the Rangers on station, and as insight into the culture both of the Rangers and the Minbari, allowing us to see their moment of terror. It’s a great character piece for the side characters that are brought along, while also giving us more insight into the overall culture of the Rangers.
Station security and Garibaldi are sort of a side show here, as Garibaldi sets up some telepaths to help with station security and Zack basically just follows orders. They have a great conversation towards the end of the episode. Then, we see Delenn and Sheridan closing out the episode, upset about… something? Did I miss something?
6: Strange Relations
I found the title of this one particularly appropriate in retrospect.
Lyta is apparently getting supplies for the rogue telepaths, but even though it seems she’s trying to sneak them out, she does so with Dr. Franklin’s blessing. Why? Because Dr. Franklin is a decent human being. Byron seems quite thankful, but speaks in what he calls “parables.” The conversation between Byron and Lyta is cut short by some telepathic portent which seems to suggest they’re all in trouble. They identify “Bloodhound” units and say “He’s here,” which I immediately figured had to mean Bester. And of course, there’s the man himself.
This, of course, sets us up for finally seeing a confrontation between Garibaldi and Bester, but it’s short lived. Captain Lochley intervenes by punching Garibaldi and having security haul him off. She presses Sheridan on keeping his own rules, and then later discovers Garibaldi has accessed her top secret personnel files. That leads to a great one liner: “If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em” as she goes to confront Garibaldi. As she does, though, Lyta gets into a psychic confrontation with Bester and his Bloodhounds. Lyta comes out on top, but only for the moment. It buys time for Byron and the others to flee. It’s a suspenseful moment. And then the transition into the Garibaldi/Lochley confrontation gives us two people who are equally salty about the world. And in that latter confrontation, Lochley reveals that she and Sheridan were married!? What!?
Zack Allan is once again the tool of Earth. His morals are something of an enigma. He’s a follower more than a leader. But he occasionally pushes back. I was disappointed to see him helping round up the rogue telepaths. Franklin discusses Delenn’s idea for having him pursue medicine related to aliens with Lochley, and she apparently sees it is a way around the problem. Delenn, apparently full of ideas, floats having G’Kar guard Mollari. G’Kar suddenly accepts the nomination. Lochley holds up the extradition of the telepaths to Earth with a 60 day quarantine period ordered by the Doctor.
So, strange relations indeed: Lochley and Sheridan; Bester and Garibaldi; Lochley and Bester; Lyta and Byron; Byron and Lochley; G’Kar and Mollari; etc. I loved this episode. It had an absolute whirlwind of events in it, and seems to be setting up for something bigger.
And… what a close for the episode. The telepaths apparently like Gothic looking settings, as they stand amidst numerous candles singing “We will all come together in a better place…” It’s a surprisingly joyous moment from people who have, so far, been largely non-emotive. It was moving, far beyond what I expected.
7: Secrets of the Soul
Dr. Franklin is trying to compile a complete list of pathogens/viruses/etc. for the member species of the Alliance, which seems… an extraordinary project. I mean, this is the kind of project that would be a massive team of researchers, and they’re giving it to the main doctor on Babylon 5 who also has to run the station’s medical team? I cannot even imagine this. It does, however, give us some fascinating insights into some of the member species that we haven’t really seen before. For example, the concept of a “geritocracy” governing the Hyach was unexpected. I didn’t expect to so quickly get such a far-reaching look into the Hyach people, and then we see a massive twist. Apparently the Hyach had parallel evolution of two species, and then we see the Hyach killed off the parallel species entirely. And, it turns out, they needed the Hyach-Doh, the parallel species, to keep reproducing and have their species continue. Thus, the Hyach are all dying off because they killed of the Hyach-Doh. Dr. Franklin is upset, to say the least. He points out that they are, in a sense, “accomplice after the fact” to the genocide, because they have hidden and covered up their history. The Hyach let Franklin go, but he says its “not my place to speak for the dead… The only forgiveness can come from the Hyach-Doh. Too bad you killed them all.” It shows the torn moral fabric Franklin. Can he truly hold the modern Hyachs responsible for the killings centuries ago? Or merely hold them responsible for the cover up? I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this storyline.
The other story in this episode is of Byron, Lyta, and Zack. Zack apparently thinks he can control Lyta, and when he tries to do so, she gives him a rude awakening. Meanwhile, after Byron defuses a violent confrontation with nonviolent resistance, he and Lyta kiss. But this is only a little before the rogue telepaths are departing from Babylon 5. After a violent outbreak against one of the telepaths, the rogues begin to take revenge, leading to Byron being arrested. But he’s released after being cleared. In the meantime, however, the small time criminal who harassed and beat one of the telepaths was killed–apparently through telekinesis from the perspective of we viewers, but there’s no proof it was the telepaths. Lyta and Byron get intimate, and in the process, break some of the barriers the Vorlons maybe put in place on Lyta, revealing some huge cloning project of the Vorlons? Maybe? The other telepaths look on as Lyta and Byron’s psychic energy apparently awakens them during their lovemaking. Apparently, what was revealed was that the Vorlons were the ones who created telepaths on all the different worlds, to create, a Byron puts it, “cannon fodder” for their war with the shadows. The revelation is so disturbing to Byron that he decides to force the Alliance to give the telepaths their own world as recompense for their service to the allied worlds against the Shadows.
8: Day of the Dead
Rebo and Zooty seem like a major sideshow in this episode. I’m wondering if Penn Jillette just wanted to be on an episode of Babylon 5. Also, the notion that humor is a universal phenomenon even across species is absurd. Humor isn’t even universal among humans! But the notion of universal humor came from Sheridan, so I’m not sure how seriously we’re supposed to be taking it.
Anyway, the main plot of this episode is centered around the Day of the Dead according to the Brakiri. After ceding part of Babylon 5 to the Brakiri for the sake of their religious observance, it gets taken over by some strange energy field that appears to bring back the dead. It gives us a bit of closure on a few relationships, as well as a coupe character moments.
Honestly, I’m baffled by this episode. It seems entirely out of place. I can’t figure out what was important or not. The line from Kosh seems like it’ll last. The closing line from Zooty is nonsensical. I don’t get it.
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