Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 5: Episodes 17-20

Vir getting ready to save the day.

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 episodes for me! 

This one is a bit long. A lot to discuss as the series starts to wrap up!

17: Movements of Fire and Shadow

That escalated quickly. The Drazi and Centauri are blasting each other to pieces in space, apparently. Also, anyone else spot those Firefly-esque ships? On station, Lochley notes that she’s increased security, but Sheridan’s message about the war’s escalation means that Babylon 5 will almost certainly not be neutral any longer. 

Vir works to find out more about the conflict, and back on Centaur, Mollari is taken by some nefarious looking aliens. He’s subjected to some invasive-looking procedure and then awakens in confusion before another alien speaks and says “He will be sufficient.” He then awakens in his cell, apparently from a nightmare? I am confused. Later, G’Kar makes some horrific smell that gets Mollari out of the cell. Mollari meets with the Regent, who seems just about as out of it as usual. And I suddenly remember we had that random scene with him getting an eye or something on his shoulder? What the heck happened to that? Will we find out?

Lyta and Dr. Franklin go to the Drazi homeworld to investigate a lead, paid by Vir. They discover that the Centauri ships had no people on board, and that they had left over Shadow technology on board. These revelations show Sheridan the Alliance was manipulated into war. 

The Regent has apparently sent away all the defensive ships from Centauri, and brought all the enemies of Centauri to the homeworld, ordered by “them.” A huge amount of ships shows up and opens fire on the homeworld at the end of the episode. Things are moving very quickly, and it seems the Shadows–or some other unknown ancient figures–may have been manipulating things all along.

18: The Fall of Centauri Prime

The weird third party that has been intervening on Centauri is somehow linked to the Shadows. They might just be the Shadows? We also get to replay one of the most epic moments Mollari has had on the show as he blew up the island to destroy the Shadows. But these allies of the Shadows have come and taken over the Regency, essentially. They have manipulated the Centauri into war, and they demand a new home. 

The Regent shows his eye, finally, and it is a Keeper–something the Shadow allies put on him to force him into actions they wanted. He says Mollari will become the Emperor, but will still be run by the Shadow-allies. The Keeper extracts itself from the Regent, and he dies. Meanwhile, the Centauri ships are coming back to the planet, ready to fight for revenge. Mollari rouses himself after this and speaks with G’Kar, who notes that he can never forgive the Centauri for what the ydid to his people, “But I can forgive you.” Mollari grips arms with his old rival, in yet another amazing scene between these two, and he walks to face his doom.

The Shadow-ally thing breaks part of itself off to become the Keeper on Mollari–and I’m honestly a bit confused as to why Mollari would accep that in any way. Does he just think he has no option? I don’t get it. Moreover, he seems to almost immediately have no control over the fate of the Centauri, and I am even more confused as to why he’d agree to this action. As he meets with Sheridan, this becomes even more clear. Moments after pleading for Delenn’s life from the Shadow-ally thing, he lies to Sheridan’s face about what he knows. But this is clearly what the Shadow thing was making him do. And again, I find myself asking–why did he choose to accept the “keeper” thing? 

We see Delenn and Lennier alone on their ship, about to be destroyed, when Lennier tells Delenn he loves hear and Delenn says “I know.” But right as they are about to be destroyed, the ships use tractor beams instead of destructive fire. Back on Centauri, Vir finds Mollari to check on him, but is utterly confused by Mollari’s reaction. Mollari then gives a speech that is inflammatory against the Alliance, stating that he will walk alone, and be pushing a new isolationist agenda. He gives this speech as the Shadow-ally looks on in approval. He then dispatches vir to Babylon 5 as ambassador–possibly a ploy to get him out of contact with any Shadow allies? We’ll see how this plays out. 

I have to say I’m saddened to see Mollari under control of these Shadow people. We’ve seen him manipulated, cast aside, imprisoned, and more. But to have him under a kind of mind control is beyond any of these–he’s unable to fight back, and this is perhaps the greatest aspect of Mollari’s personality: his independence. The bell tolls as we see a brief montage of Mollari’s past, and wonder about his future. I hate it and love it all at once. The final scene is Mollari sitting in his throne room, looking disturbed. We’ve seen this before through time travel (not this exact scene, but a similar one), and it’s heart rending to see how it came about. It’s not, as I thought back then, either an invented, non-inevitable scenario that would be avoided or a result of his own machinations. No, it’s due to events entirely outside his control. And that’s… pretty brutal. Mollari! 

Lyta does not have time for your nonsense any more.

19: The Wheel of Fire

G’Kar is back on Babylon 5? Why isn’t he with Mollari!? And Lochley comes to meet him, which surprises him. There’s also a massive crowd of Narn chanting his name, with statues of him to lift above their heads. Lochley only came along to enjoy G’Kar’s bafflement! Yes! And as he starts talking, “I–” they all kneel and become instantly silent! I laughed out loud at that, for real! 

Garibaldi is caught flat-footed and drunk at a meeting by Sheridan, Delenn, and more. It’s such an utterly human moment, and it’s heart-rending. Sheridan pulls Garibaldi aside for a one-on-one and both notes his own complicity in ignoring some of the warning signs while acknowledging the strain on Garibaldi. But then, he says he’s not angry with Garibaldi–he’s “very disappointed.” The quintessential, awful statement that basically anyone wants to avoid. “I didn’t say I was disappointed in you because of your failure” Sheridan says. He notes that he’s disappointed that Garibaldi didn’t come to him straightaway and ask for help, or reach out to others for help. He suspends Garibaldi immediately until whenever it takes. Briefly, I thought about how that might impact his ability to pay rent–something we saw Lyta struggle with for a bit. But of course there’s a lot more going on than that for Garibaldi, and such problems don’t usually get raised on shows like this. It would be pretty awesome if we lived in a world in which losing your job didn’t automatically mean losing your ability to live in your home. I digress, though, because this scene was one of the more emotionally impactful scenes on a show full of them. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking.

Dr. Franklin goes to meet with G’Kar, getting handed a figurine of the Narn along the way, and he talks to G’Kar about the latter’s greater popularity, as well as questions of God. Then, Lochley goes to talk to Garibaldi about his alcoholism. It doesn’t really go well at first, but then she reveals that she also struggles with alcoholism. She tells him that he’s not alone, and what he does with that from there is up to him. It’s a tough love moment, but one that offers some hope. Lochley goes to arrest Lyta on some charges, but Lyta does “not choose to be arrested,” and shows an impressive amount of telepathic powers. Her Vorlon enhancements make her seem invincible, but Sheridan shows up. “You’re not the only one touched by Vorlons,” he says, and helps get her arrested. 

Lochley, meanwhile, sent a message to Lise with Garibaldi’s name, saying “I need you,” which brought her running. It’s a touching moment, if a bit manipulative. Lise offers Garibaldi a chance to help run one of the biggest corporations on Mars with her, which sets him off after… something? Meanwhile, Delenn is pregnant. Yep! Sprung that one on us quickly! I guess I should have been expecting it at some point, given what we saw earlier in the series, and the way this series seems to play with time travel, prophecy, and the like. 

Garibaldi offers Lyta a trade–use the corporation Lise controls to help drop charges against Lyta in exchange for her removing the mental block on him, which he thinks is at least partially responsible for his own problems. But Lyta changes the deal, and we see G’Kar overhearing Garibaldi cutting a deal with Lochley. This is getting to be a highly complex deal. But G’Kar steps in and offers to go “out there” with Lyta and explore with her. Later, we see Lyta’s actual deal with Garibaldi–they make a secret account to use against the Psi Corps while leaving the neural block in so that it can motivate him. But she says she’ll come back in 2 years and fight Bester with him. Garibaldi says the deal has to include her telling him what the Vorlons did to her, and she finally reveals that she’s essentially one of the “big weapons” type telepaths the Vorlons made. She’s the “telepathic equivalent of a doomsday weapon.”  

20: Objects in Motion

Number One shows up on station, and she has a name! Tessa Hollorand. Dr. Franklin meets her as she comes on board, and she immediately goes to warn Garibaldi (who’s going through a detox from the alcohol) and Lise that someone’s going to try to kill them. Meanwhile, G’Kar meets with Lyta and discusses his proposal to travel the stars with G’Kar. “We are all the sum of our tears,” he says, in another beautiful line. Later, he’s confronted by one of his legions of followers, who demands that G’Kar teach him instead of leaving. During the confrontation, G’Kar tells him to go home, snaps the statue of himself in half, and walks away as the acolyte calls after him. At a guess, in the moment, I figured this student might go violent and try to kill G’Kar for shattering his dreams. Meanwhile, Zack and Sheridan propose using G’Kar’s sending ceremony as a cover for getting Garibaldi’s would-be killer to show him- or herself. And, there it is! At the ceremony, they capture Garibaldi’s would-be assassin, but G’Kar’s angry would-be acolyte tries to kill him, and in the process of saving G’Kar, the bullet is redirected and hits Lise. 

This does not, shall we say, ingratiate the would-be killer to Garibaldi. Garibaldi takes the assassin (not the acolyte, about whom he cares little) to Lyta and leverages their partnership to get the telepath to extract the one who sent him. It was the Edgars Industries board of directors, which was something of a surprise–tension on Mars is not going away. Back in the sickbay, Lise finally awakens. Garibaldi has a minister ready to get them married “before the universe throws anything else at us.” And then, he confronts the Board, dropping a surprising amount of blackmail-able information on them, while introducing Hollorand as the new chief of intelligence for the Alliance. 

Garibaldi shares an extremely heartfelt goodbye with Delenn and Sheridan as he leaves for Mars. My heart! It aches. 


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4 thoughts on “Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 5: Episodes 17-20

  1. Very interesting to read, as always! 🙂 Just a few clarifications:

    The Drakh were old allies of the Shadows. They were introduced in “Lines of Communication”, where Delenn fought them off. The mask was a little different, and they dropped the weird time distortion effect that was shown there, but it’s the same race.

    Concerning the keeper: It seems you missed a vital point of information. The Drakh took a page out of Londo’s playbook, and planted fusion bombs all over Centauri Prime – just as Londo once did on the island, which he then blew up. That’s why he condedes, and lets himself get taken (and controlled) by the Keeper. BTW, just as a reminder: The regent wasn’t the only time we saw one, Captain Jack (who was the contact of Marcus and Franklin when they visited the Mars resistance) was also controlled by one of them.

    As for “It’s due to events entirely outside his control.”: Yes and no. True, he had no part in the recent attacks – but ultimately, it’s all a consequence of his reply to Mr. Morden in “Signs and Portents”. That’s where he took the first step on that road, and this now is where it – and getting in league with the Shadows – took him. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, especially given his later redemption; nevertheless, he ultimately brought this on himself.

    Oh, and one last thing: It’s Garibaldi 😉

    • J.W. Wartick says:

      So many small things I missed earlier that turn into such big things later! One of the very big reasons I’m going to do a re-watch once I’m through everything else. I thought I’d corrected all my Garibaldi-s, but apparently I hadn’t Ugh. Thanks for pointing it out… again.

      Fair enough on the point with Mollari–I guess I sympathize with him and this scene seemed like it was one of the few things that he hadn’t truly brought on himself. But you’re right, even here we have a larger consequence of Mollari’s actions.

  2. […] Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 5, Episodes 17-20– Garibaldi gets some relief! But then leaves for Mars… Also, Centauri Prime falls. Some fantastic television here! […]

  3. socrates17 says:

    cornholio1980 beat me to the punch with the explanations about the Drakh.

    You haven’t mentioned it, so I assume that you never saw the TV movie In the Beginning? Despite the fact that it aired just before season 5, it would have given clarity to puzzles dating at least back to season 3, if not earlier. This is a testimony to how tightly JMS plotted. Even when faced by a major disruption, like thinking the series was over prematurely when PTEN cancelled it and then it being picked up by TNT, he hit the ground running.

    And speaking of TNT, when they were running it for the first time there was a gap of literally months for the NCAA Champion games. I think it was that. My knowledge of any sport except soccer is dismal. And, as you’ve just seen, episode 17 ending on a major cliffhanger. To say that I was annoyed would be a major understatement.

    I have to confess, if I didn’t mention it before, to a serious crush on Lyta. I’ve always had a thing for strong women (Mrs. Peel, Modesty Blaise, Wonder Woman, Xena, Buffy) and the scene where she takes over the minds of everyone in the cafeteria until Sheridan stops her (I think episode 18) is wonderful.

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