Babylon 5 Hub

Don’t mind us, just making an incredibly addicting space opera TV show.

I have been watching and enjoying Babylon 5 so much. I’ve had so much fun talking to longtime fans about the show, too. I realized as I have been watching the series and collecting the books and comic books that I’m planning this for the long haul. So I decided to make this post to be a kind of hub page to point to for all Babylon 5-related posts. Please do not post any SPOILERS on this page.

Plans For This Page

Many readers have already told me how much they enjoy my reflections on the episodes as I’ve been watching the series. I decided to trim the amount of episodes per reflection so I could talk more about them, because the show is so fantastic. Truly, I love it. Since starting the series, I have gone and grabbed all of the official canon novels, as well as the comic books online. I’ve gotten some related works, like a couple books about the whole series. I’m contemplating just gathering all the novels so that I have them because my collection feels incomplete without every single one. Basically, I’m obsessed. It’s a show that is basically captures what I want in a TV series as a huge sci-fi fan. I don’t have enough superlatives. 

Anyway, this page will collect links for all my B5 related content. For now, I’m on my first watch of the whole series, but I plan to re-watch it, read novels/comic books/related books, and give you all reviews and discussion as I go. I’m very excited for this, and hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

TV Series Reflections

Watching it for the First Time Reviews

Babylon 5: Season 1 Signs and Portents– My review of the first season, as I enthusiastically begin my first-ever watch of the show. I highlight some favorite episodes and share some thoughts on where I think it might go. From what other fans have told me, some of the my opinions (i.e. my thoughts on “Believers”) are off of the norm. I especially am surprised by how many people say they think Season 1 is weak. I adored it. I can already tell you season 2 is better, but for me, Season 1 was 5-star television already. 

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 2: Episodes 1-11– I split season 2 into two posts, and this is the first. Several episodes in this part of the series blew me away. GROPOS hit me hard with a relative’s health. Other episodes were impactful in other ways. It was fantastic.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 2: Episodes 12-22 The last half of season 2 has some huge reveals and some episodes that have perhaps even greater impact than when first filmed. Watching “Confessions and Lamentations” during the global COVID-19 Pandemic was surreal. “And Now For a Word” is just great television all around. Once again, a number of fantastic episodes, and I loved writing about them and hearing fans’ reflections on them, too.

Re-Watch Reflections

=Pending finishing the series=

In-Depth Episode Review(s)

“Passing Through Gethsemane” – Babylon 5 and the Fragility of Humanity– I talk about the major religious themes in this fascinating piece of art. It may be the first time that TV has ever touched me on such a spiritual level.

Novel Reviews

=Pending Finishing the Series=

Comic Book Reviews

=Pending Finishing the Series=

Related Works Reviews

=Pending Finishing the Series=

Watching Babylon 5 for the first time- Season 2: Episodes 12-22

My Feels Exactly

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.

Just a well-adjusted, normal family!

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.

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.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 2: Episodes 1-11

It’s new guy!

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 1-11. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 2, part 1

Points of Departure: I honestly did not at all expect that we’d be getting an actual replacement for Sinclair. Sure, they said he was getting moved, but I figured something would happen that would bring him back. At first, I assumed Sheridan would be a placeholder for an episode or, at most, three episodes. But as this first episode went along, it was clear how much development they were squeezing into Sheridan’s character already, complete with a stirring introductory speech and several other moments with the established characters. It became clear he wouldn’t be a temporary member of the cast. It would be really annoying to have such a pivotal character replaced, normally, but the writing for this episode sold Sheridan for me right away. He seems great, and I look forward to seeing the depth they give him. 

Revelations: There’s some scary ships out in unknown space, which I suspect are the darkness that all of the hints in the first season have been hinting about. G’Kar is somehow turning out to not be the worst–he seemed very one-dimensional/bad guy for basically all of the first season but is becoming much more sympathetic now as Londo Mollari is turning out to be much worse than suggested by his initial blustering personality. Londo is probably still my favorite character, though. More plot development for Sheridan, with his sister showing up and talking about his late wife.

The Geometry of Shadows: Okay this was a very silly episode but had some moments. Loved the green/purple thing throughout. Is it silly? Yes, but I especially liked the reaction of the leader when Ivanova tries to calm them down (you’re just doing it for a flag?) “You do same thing for flag for honor!” (something like that). Definitely hinted at the way many people today hold an almost worshipful stance towards the flag. Not trying to get too off track here but it really bothers me that people are more upset by perceived mistreatment of the flag than they are by the fact that people are starving to death or dying because they can’t afford healthcare in our country. The technomages are actually way cooler than I thought they’d be, and the shenanigans with Mollari trying to get in touch with them was fun. What an ominous note, towards the end: Technomage Elric: “The sound of billions of people calling your name” Mollari: “My followers?” Elric: “Your victims.” 

A Distant Star: The most memorable part of this episode for me was Sheridan’s rant where he talks about how opposable thumbs are overrated because if our primate ancestors would have known about politicians, they would have stayed up in the trees. Funny moment for Sheridan there, though I can’t tell if they were trying to play it off as serious. Otherwise the episode dragged a bit for me. The Minbari are worried about Delenn’s change to being a human, but I don’t know why this is a surprise: if some human turned into a cocoon and came out an alien I’d be pretty concerned. Is this a normal thing for Minbari? They don’t really say. 

The Long Dark: Some creepy creature is released on Babylon 5 which turns out to be a reality even though initially it seemed like the ravings of a madman. A few nods to the problems of PTSD and our lack of care for those who go through such situations were appreciated, but this episode is one that felt more like setup than anything else.

A Spider in the Web: Loved this one. I guess I’d kind of thought the Mars thing was just throwing some worldbuilding out there into the void, but it turns out it may have a much bigger impact. Mind control, murder, cover ups, plots, wider intra-human conflict! Everything about this episode hinted at bigger things to come. 

Soul Mates: Mollari tries to figure out which wife he is going to keep, and some hilarity ensues. I definitely called the standoffish one right at the beginning, though. I loved the conclusion from Mollari: “I’ll always know where I stand with you.” I was touched. Delenn’s interactions with Ivanova were kind of fun, too.

A Race Through Dark Places: Babylon 5 as a hub for getting rogue/unknown psychics away from Psi Corps was a cool idea. I’d be sure of all kinds of black market type stuff happening at such a station, and it was fun to see one aspect of this. I also loved the way they thwarted Bester from Psi Corps with the mass deception featuring Talia. Talia’s decision to side with the rogues was great, especially after they made it seem for just a second that she’d gone with Psi Corps. 

The Coming of Shadows: The Cenauri Republic’s Emperor comes to Babylon 5 over G’Kar’s protests. Sheridan pointed out that it wasn’t this Emperor that did all the wrongs to G’Kar’s people, but G’Kar cannot relent. He plans to assassinate the Emperor, only to be thwarted when the Emperor has a heart attack or something similar as he’s at an official event. Then, G’Kar is told the Emperor’s last words to himself about how he wanted to say he was sorry in order to try to stop future conflict. G’Kar is touched by it to the point that he seeks out Mollari for a drink. Unbeknownst to him, Mollari has partnered with the mysterious people who have enabled some serious attacks on the Narn before, and even as G’Kar tries to celebrate a new friendship with Mollari, news comes that the Narn have lost millions of lives in an apparent attack from the Centauri Republic, itself now coalescing around hawklike leadership. G’Kar has to be restrained from physically assaulting Mollari and finally collapses, weeping for his people. The Centauri Republic experiences a kind of coup as well. Fantastic episode.  

GROPOS: Babylon 5 becomes a staging area for Earth Alliance soldiers on their way for a secret attack on rebels. Garibaldi falls for one of the soldiers and after some convolutions, it is clear it is very mutual. Meanwhile, the commander of the forces is Stephen’s (the doctor’s) father, and they have some serious issues to work out. I was not ready for the incredible emotional weight of the scenes between Stephen and his father, including the part about how the thing Stephen always needed to say was that he loved his father. It ripped my guts out and tears were streaming down my face. It was a real emotional hit. The end of the episode was also tough, as we see the side characters we grew to like through the episode–the Ground Pounders (GROPOS), end up dead in the battle. Ouch.

All Alone in the Night: I thought this was by far the slowest moving episode of the season so far. Delenn struggles to find her path among her people, now as an outcast, while Sheridan is abducted and forced to fight. It’s a fine enough episode, with some possible steps setting things up for later, but it just doesn’t move along very much. It was fine, but nothing super special. 

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.

Babylon 5: Season 1- Signs and Portents

Don’t mind us, just making an incredibly addicting space opera TV show.

Babylon 5 has been recommended to me a number of times by other science fiction fans. It came out when I was young enough that it probably would have been well beyond me. So, it’s taken a while for me to get into it since I didn’t grow up on it and, let’s be honest, the special effects haven’t aged well at all. It makes the show seem very cheesy at times, and it’s also clear at points that it is over-acted. The CG is extremely out of date. So I wasn’t sure if I could get into it. But, when a flash sale happened on Amazon and I had some Christmas money, I grabbed the whole series at a bargain price and decided to finally check it out. I need to talk about season one, now. There will be spoilers for this season only. Please DO NOT SPOIL any later seasons!

Signs and Portents

I did not expect, at all, the total mixture of feelings that this show has made me feel. I laughed, I cried… I got involved. It’s fantastic television of the absolute highest order. I just finished season 1 and let me tell you, I have feelings about it. The characters are fascinating (though I gotta say, I’m still not 100% sold on the casting of Garibaldi–the guy just doesn’t look the part they try to have him play as a relentlessly tough guy). I absolutely love Ambassador Mollari, for example. He’s a walking trope, but what a way to play it! They flesh him out so that you don’t mind him, and his humor is just spot on.  The music is just phenomenal, by the way.

Also, can we talk about how this is basically just a space opera novel series as a TV show? I mean seriously how is this show not even more revered than it is?

I want to talk about some of the episodes, too. First, “Believers.” What the hell, Babylon 5? Why you gotta do me like that? Just thinking about that episode pains me. It seems like a not-so-subtle look at Jehovah’s Witness beliefs about blood transfusions and refusing care based on that, but they somehow make it almost sympathetic by having the doctor be so damned uncaring about other people’s beliefs. Then, they gotta turn around and plunge the knife in and twist it. I was not ready for that! Not at all!

“Deathwalker” was another great episode. “You are not ready for immortality” – Ambassador Kosh, laying down the law on humans. Or should I saw the Law? I don’t know. It was awesome.

“Born to the Purple” was fantastic character development for Ambassador Mollari, but holy crap was I not ready, again, for the feels I’d have when Garibaldi finally tracked down what was going on with Ivanova. It made Ivanova much more interesting–she had initially seemed very one dimensional to me, but now she’s a hardass with heart and I love it.

“Soul Hunter” was awesome for its turnabout on the villain narrative. Just a fantastic bit of storytelling there.

Also what the hell is going on here?

And all throughout this season, there are, yes, “Signs and Portents” that show something bigger is happening. The finale is just fantastic. Now it’s time for me to go watch more of this fantastic series!

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.

 

Star Trek: DS9 Season 5 “Body Parts” and “Broken Link”

Quark faces his greatest dilemma yet.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Body Parts”

Synopsis

Quark is back getting a checkup on Ferenginar and discovers he has a rare disease that will kill him. Obviously, the thing to do is sell off his desiccated remains in advance in order to pay his debt. He accepts an offer on them only to discover that the diagnosis was mistaken and he’s not dying, but the buyer, Brust from the Ferengi Commerce Authority, still wants to collect his dead body. Quark is stuck between violating a contract–and thus the Rules of Acquisition–and living or killing himself. In desperation, he hires Garak to kill him, but dreams that the First Grand Nagus tells him the Rules don’t have to be followed in every case. He breaks his contract, thus leading Brust to liquidate his assets. But then Quark discovers the friendship of others on the station, who all pitch in to get his business back up and running.

Oh yeah, and Keiko’s baby is transferred to Major Kira due to an incident on a runabout. No biggy.

Commentary

The main plot of this with Quark is everything good Ferengi plots have been on DS9. It has scenes of Ferenginar, it has the Rules of Acquisition featuring large, and it has humor and reality mixed together in compelling ways. There is no question from Quark’s character right now that he would act the way he does, choosing to hire someone to kill him rather than violate a contract, and the resolution, while being somewhat deus ex machina, is also hilarious and somehow suitable at the same time. The writers then throw in the whole station coming together and showing Quark how valued he is, adding a heaping helping of sentimentality on top of what was already an emotional porridge pot. I loved it.

That subplot, though. Totally random, though I suspect it is due to a real life pregnancy and having the show go on! It will certainly make for some interesting family dynamics with the O’Briens!

Grade: A “Once again, the Ferengi plots manage to be consistently entertaining, funny, and relevant throughout. This one was touching, tongue-in-cheek, and a kind of commentary on the dangers of wealth all at once.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I thought it was a fun view into Ferengi commerce and culture. It also had some good character development for Quark in particular.”

“Broken Link”

Synopsis

Odo gets sick and must fight to maintain a solid form. The crew of DS9 agrees to try to seek a cure for his illness. In doing so, they bring him to the homeworld of the Founders after a brief meeting with a female Founder who manages to stabilize him for the moment through linking together. As the only Changeling to ever kill another of his kind, he is to be judged by the Founders on the homeworld. He agrees and they proceed to the planet. There, Garak attempts to kill all the Founders from the Defiant but is stopped by Worf. Meanwhile, Odo is judged to be cut off from the Great Link and also made permanently human–his ability to shapeshift stripped from him as punishment.

Commentary

There is so much going on here, whether it is the implications for the Cardassian-Dominion conflict (or indeed, the wider conflict between Quadrants), Odo’s character development, or Garak’s character. The frankness that the Founders say they will defeat the Cardassians is alarming and pushed Garak to the edge, but it is also somewhat disturbing to see the quickness with which he turns to genocide as the only option in the battle.

For Odo, the implications run even more deeply, as perhaps the central part of his self-identity is stripped from him. Ironically, he almost gets what he wants–to blend in with humans–only to have his nose left as it was so he will always stand out as a reminder of how he has been cast out. It’s a poignant moment and a punishment that is made understandable through the words of the Founders, though they mostly interact as a big blob-sea. It’s impressive writing and directing to make it happen.

Grade: A- “A tough episode with many implications for the seasons to come. Odo is quickly becoming one of the most sympathetic characters in the series.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “Pretty epic big-picture plot development.”

Links

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “To the Death” and “The Quickening”

All the feels.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“To the Death”

Synopsis

Renegade Jem’Hadar are trying to open up a gateway that will allow them to get to anywhere they like. Sisko must team up with Weyoun and a group of loyal Jem’Hadar to stop them. As they try to integrate the crews for the mission, it doesn’t go well. Worf, in particular, is targeted by the Jem’Hadar in tests of strength. When the disobedience comes to a front, the Jem’Hadar first kills the instigator, and demands Sisko do the same to Worf. When Sisko refuses, the Jem’Hadar threatens to kill Sisko. On the actual mission, Sisko ends up saving the First, showing him something of Starfleet’s own way of living. They manage to destroy the Gateway and the Jem’Hadar part with the Starfleet people after executing Weyoun for questioning their loyalty.

Commentary

“To the Death” is a complex, action-packed episode that shows just how intense DS9 episodes can get. The stakes are super high, and believable because we don’t know enough about the Jem’Hadar to doubt it. The integration of crews is a stretch but could be seen as Starfleet being Starfleet and not being aggressive about their enemies. I like the escalation of threat throughout the episode. We know there’s no way these two groups can be together without conflict, but the way it escalates is great. I especially like Worf being center of attention for the Jem’Hadar, because it plays to so many narratives happening around both Klingons and Jem’Hadar.

Having Weyoun get killed was really surprising, too. It’s a fascinating look at how the Jem’Hadar operate that they were so upset by his questioning of their loyalty that they would go to such an extreme rejoinder. Overall, this is a great episode with lots of adventure. It scores lower on the “believable” aspects, but that’s fine, it’s Star Trek.

Grade: A- “Intense and heavy-hitting, it’s a thrilling episode all the way through.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It wasn’t particularly memorable, but I liked it.”

“The Quickening”

Synopsis

Kira, Dax, and Bashir get to a plant where they discover the local populace has been punished by the Dominion by being inflicted with a disease that manifests as black lesions working across their bodies until one day it kills them. Bashir is desperate to help, especially when he discovers the local doctor basically just euthanizes people as they request it due to the pain of the disease. However, when it turns out his medical equipment is actually hastening the onset of the disease, Bashir loses the trust of the people. When all seems lost, he manages to demonstrate that his treatment, though ineffective on the disease itself, actually acts as a vaccine and can deliver the next generation from the illness. The episode closes with Bashir still finding cures ineffective, longing to cure the people and Sisko telling him that the next generation will be the hope for the people.

Commentary

Bashir… is… awesome. I already loved him, but this episode was one long Bashir love-fest of showing the range of his emotions, skills, and the depth of his concern for others. The plot is basic, yes, but it serves as a fantastic setup so that we can see what Bashir will do when confronted with what seems like an unbeatable scenario. And he does win! But only kind of. And he’s distraught, and it is bittersweet, and it is beautiful and I love it.

There’s a kind of horrifying hope built into the episode. You as a viewer just know that Bashir will succeed, such that when he doesn’t, it is especially crushing. And seeing him also crushed is poignant and raw. It’s true that Bashir did save the people, but what of everyone alive now? They just have to last… and give the next generation hope. Powerful.

Grade: A+ “Heart-rending but hopeful, ‘The Quickening’ is a fantastic episode not just of DS9 but of television generally.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was sad, but great.”

Links

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

“Samurai Jack” – Review of Season 1

I watched Samurai Jack when I was a kid and absolutely adored it. In fact, my family watched it together for at least the first season. But after that, sports and other things caught up to me and, like many kids, I couldn’t keep track of when a show was supposed to be on, so I didn’t watch all of it. Then, I later found out it never truly finished and was sad. But after that, they came back and finished off the series with a 5th season, and I was all in on watching it all. I used some Christmas money a year or two ago to grab the complete series and have been watching it while working out. I just finished Season 1 and wanted to share my thoughts and hopefully hear your own on this great series. There will be SPOILERS for season 1 in this post.

The Premise

Samurai Jack watched his country get destroyed by the evil Aku, an extremely powerful sorceror who had been banished for many years. This time around, after much training, Samurai Jack brings Aku to the brink of defeat, only to be tricked by the wicked creature and sent far into the future–a future in which Aku rules everything with an iron fist. The question in the show is–can Jack get back to the past and stop Aku’s evil before it happens?

Review of Season 1

Season 1 is filled with fantastic episodes and absolutely stunning beauty. The first episode, “The Beginning” has a lengthy montage of scenes showing Samurai Jack training with many different traditions around the world. There is no dialogue, just beautiful scenery and music. It’s stunning.

The fourth episode is another major highlight. In “Jack, the Woolies, and the Chritchellites,” Jack is welcomed by the Chritchellites, who appear to be a somewhat rude but otherwise harmless species. They use creatures called the Woolies to get around and do basically all of the work. But one of the Woolies reaches out to Jack in its pain and fear, seeing someone who might help their plight. It turns out the Critchellites have been using the achievements of the Woolies, and they have been oppressing the Woolies ever since. Jack joins forces with the Woolies to free them from the wicked Critchellites and send them away.

The very next episode, “Jack in Space,” has a delightfully retro feel. It’s like Jack meets the Jetsons, and he trains as an astronaut to defend a group of renegade spacers who promise to help him shift back in time. Unfortunately, Jack gets to a point where he must choose between their escape and his own ends, and Jack chooses to save his newfound friends. He watches his hope for going back to the past fly away, but he has accomplished another good in the here and now. Frankly, this is a recurring theme of the whole series so far–Jack is forced to choose between his own fight with Aku and saving or helping people now. Time and again, he chooses to help those in need now. But is that the best choice? Should he instead commit everything to going back to the past and stopping all the evil before it gets the chance to begin? The show is short on dialogue so it, at least in this season, doesn’t tell us much about what will happen. But it’s interesting to wonder about the ethical situation Jack is in.

This is probably fine. – From “Jack Under the Sea”

“Jack and the Warrior Woman” is another fantastic episode with great music, wonderful art, and a predictable but fun plot twist. Jack appears to be falling for the Warrior Woman on their quest together to claim a jewel, but it turns out the woman is in fact Aku, who has manipulated Jack in aiding him in his nefarious gains. In “Jack and the Three Blind Archers,” Jack faces a formidable, seemingly impossible foe, but he manages to defeat them only to discover they’ve been cursed by the very wishing well Jack sought to use to get back home. Instead of using a wish to get back to the past, he defeats the well itself, breaking the curse. “Jack Under the Sea” has stunning vistas of the underwater realms, and features more moral dilemmas both for Jack and the people of the ocean. “Jack and the Lava Monster” sees Jack’s inner peace tested like never before (okay, well maybe in “Jack vs. Mad Jack”) as he is forced to battle a Viking Warrior’s trapped soul. The scene of release for the warrior is emotionally impactful in ways you would not expect from a cartoon. “Jack and the Gangsters” is a funny take on a kind of mob scene with Jack.

The other episodes I haven’t mentioned are good as well, though maybe not quite as good. Overall, Season 1 is stunning viewing, though occasionally repetitive. The art blew me away time and again, but there were a few other times where it felt like the same background rehashed with robots getting slashed to bits. Nevertheless, I would rate this season very highly. It’s fantastic viewing, and great for working out to!

Links

Television– Read all my posts on television series.

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “The Muse” and “For the Cause”

Are they lying to each other, too?

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“The Muse”

Synopsis

Jake gets seduced by a brain eating alien who uses his creative energy for nefarious purposes while inspiring him to great heights of writing. Lwaxana Troi wants to have her own child, but the customs of the father means she may not, so Odo intervenes and marries her, convincing all present of his genuine feelings for Troi in the process. Jake is saved at the last moment by his father, and his writing career feels like it may take more work.

Commentary

This is one of those episodes that definitely feels like the writers had two ideas, neither of which would make an episode on their own, so they awkwardly packed two half-episodes of TV together into one. It’s no secret that Lwaxana is not my favorite, but she has gotten a pretty heartfelt character overhaul on DS9 and seems like a real person rather than a ludicrous caricature. Her interactions with Odo feel genuine, and they’re often hilarious due to Odo’s proper way of acting and Lwaxana’s, well, being Lwaxana.

The Jake storyline I enjoyed much less. It felt like a monster-of-the-week episode with a twist that makes it feel like Jake is less creative than I may otherwise have thought him. He says he feels like he cheated to get what he began on his novel, but Benjamin Sisko points out that he couldn’t have written it without having it within him. Nevertheless, it does feel as someone watching it that some of his capacity as a writer was stripped away by having the alien be the only way to inspire him to the loftiest heights. Kind of a letdown, to be honest.

Grade: B- “Weird but heartfelt. Not a bad episode, but not great either. Troi did well, though, and Odo was delightfully awkward.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “A clearly memorable episode with interesting sci-fi elements and character development.”

“For the Cause”

Synopsis

Garak tries to figure out the intentinos of Gul Dukat’s half-Bajoran daughter, Tora Ziyal. He thinks she may be set up to kill him but she denies it and they ultimately begin a relationship centered around learning about Cardassia. Meanwhile, Captain Sisko is confronted with the possibility that his girlfriend, Kasidy Yates, is working for the Maquis. Evidence continues to mount and he launches an investigation, which ultimately leads to her capture and imprisonment in the brig for collusion with the Maquis.

Commentary

My synopsis is much, much less complex than the workings of the episode (just check out the plot summary here). Basically, we’ve got a character piece, but one that is for four different characters: Yates, Sisko, Garak, and Ziyal. They each, remarkably, get enough time on screen for us to feel the emotional impact of the events for every character involved. That said, the episode’s pacing and scene changes are quite jarring, and as a viewer I felt jerked from one scene to the next, sometimes violently. It also felt as though they wanted to introduce more complexity to Yates as a character by having her involved in the Maquis while not doing the groundwork to make this plausible. Yeah, it does make her a more complex character, but it also makes her somewhat less believable.

Grade: A- “A convoluted but emotionally impactful episode both for Garak and Sisko/Yates.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was interesting, but it didn’t seem consistent with the character they’ve developed for Yates so far.”

Links

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “Hard Time” and “Shattered Mirror”

Poignant scene.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Hard Time”

Synopsis

The episode opens with O’Brien being taken out of what seems like some kind of unconscious state. It turns out he was convicted of espionage on a rather unfriendly planet and the sentence was a kind of mental imprisonment which only lasted a short while in “real” time, but gave O’Brien the experiences of two decades of imprisonment. Back on DS9, O’Brien must deal with the torments of the mental imprisonment–experiences he felt were real. He finds himself sleeping on the floor for comfort, startling both Keiko and Molly. After one especially scary moment, in which his PTSD has become acute, he rushes to a weapons locker to end it all. Bashir, who has been treating O’Brien throughout, manages to stop him just in time and talk him down. O’Brien admits he killed his cellmate over a few pieces of bread in his mental imprisonment. He thinks he is a monster. Bashir disagrees, saying he would not regret it if he were a monster, and finds a treatment that begins to work.

Commentary

I can’t say enough about how excellent this episode is. Seriously. First of all, it’s about as bleak as you can possibly get, and I love me some bleak episodes of Star Trek. But seriously–a society that sentences you to this kind of mental imprisonment and breaks you intentionally over the course of a few days? Wow. That is… wow.

O’Brien and Bashir truly shine throughout this episode. As a viewer, you can’t help but feel a deep sense of foreboding–something is deeply wrong with O’Brien, and we know what it is, but how will it manifest. Will he get better? And in the end, though Bashir is able to find a way to treat O’Brien, he’ll never be better. He has been permanently changed and scarred by what was inflicted upon him. It has been done. This episode gives us something that doesn’t always happen in Star Trek–long lasting, life-impacted effects on a character we have known for a long time.

Grade: A+ “A truly human piece of television which forces viewers to think on things like mass incarceration while also bonding deeply with Bashir and O’Brien in ways they hadn’t before. Truly, a magnificent episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A *sad face* “You know it’s good, because if it weren’t a Star Trek episode, it would be Oscar bait.”

“Shattered Mirror”

Synopsis

The Mirror Universe Jennifer Sisko kidnaps Jake Sisko in order to lure Benjamin Sisko, and it works. Once there, Mirror O’Brien convinces Benjamin Sisko to help repair the Defiant. They go to fight against the Cardassian-Bajor Alliance and chaos ensues, leading to several mirror-deaths, including the death of Jennifer Sisko (again!) and mirror Nog. Jake is left to mourn his mother… kind of.

Commentary

Okay, so here we have an episode where almost nothing matters in the “real world.” The problem with the Mirror Universe, across the board, is that as a viewer you have close to certainty that the “real” characters will all survive, and that it doesn’t particularly matter to you what happens in the Mirror Universe because it’s just a kind of parallel universe. There are a lot of books from Star Trek about the Mirror Universe, so maybe reading those would get you invested, but on the show, it seems like an excuse for the writers to do whatever they want to the characters. That in itself is a cool concept, but it makes it so I as a viewer have even lest investment: they aren’t the real thing, so of course Kira could be allied with Cardassia and be happy about it. But that doesn’t jive with what we know about Kira whatsoever.

So I guess what I’m saying is the Mirror Universe’s strength is also its downfall–it allows for characters to act very differently from expectations, but it also means you aren’t invested in it. Where the writers made you get somewhat invested in this episode is by having the loss to Jake and Benjamin Sisko occur, again. It’s maybe a cheap shot, but it does at least get some interest because that’s a real world impact.  A tough sell, in my opinion, but not necessarily done poorly.

Grade: B- “Convoluted and a bit silly, but it is interesting to see how the writers play with characters when they can effectively do whatever they want. Also, poor Jake.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It’s not very memorable, but I feel done with the Mirror Universe. It is played out.”

Links

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “Accession” and “Rules of Engagement”

Skeptical? Thoughtful? Devious? I don’t know, it’s just the first picture that popped up for the episode.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Accession”

Synopsis

Akorem Laan, a Bajoran poet from 200 years ago, shows up out of the wormhole and claims to be the Emissary, arguing he ought to supplant Sisko. Additionally, he advocates for a return to the caste system, which would mean Bajor could not join the Federation as the Federation does not allow for any discrimination of that kind. Tensions escalate and cross-caste murder is occurred, prompting Sisko–along with a vision–to challenge Laan’s claim to be the Emissary. They go into the wormhole to ask the Prophets, who say that Sisko is the chosen Emissary and Laan’s presence was to return Sisko to his mission. Laan is returned to his own time with no memory of the events, and Bajor’s movement for the caste system is abolished once again.

Commentary

Anything involving the Prophets is weird. They just don’t seem to interact with reality the same way we do. What would be a reasonable way to remind Sisko that he is the chosen Emissary? Maybe, I don’t know, give visions to more people of him as Emissary? Send him another Kai who will affirm it? Nah, let’s shoot a poet into the future and have him try to integrate the caste system again, thus making Sisko angry enough to challenge him to a Wormhole showdown. Seems reasonable.

The prophets are just odd. I always wonder when they show up about how they chose to portray them as weird facsimiles of people that are known to the person they’re interacting with. This is supposed to be comforting but seems really creepy instead. Hey–here are all your friends and family talking to you but uttering complete nonsense or things that you don’t understand!

Anyway, the central drama of this does help build up the Bajoran culture more, too, especially with the reference to the caste system and the willingness of some to jump on board and not others. I wonder how our society might react to something similar.

Grade:  B “It is always weird to see the Prophets and try to figure out what, exactly, they are. But it’s also confusing. I like that Sisko got re-affirmed as Emissary.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “Rejecting old religious ways of dividing people in favor of new religious ways–not bad!”

“Rules of Engagement”

Synopsis

Worf is accused of destroying a transport full of Klingons, allegedly murdering more than 400 Klingons just because he thought they were another attacker. With Odo’s help, Worf is cleared of the alleged wrongdoing, as the names of those killed were the same names as those killed in an accident elsewhere. Worf is off the hook, but Sisko tells him he ought to have identified his target before attacking.

Commentary

I thought this was a strange episode. Perhaps it is intended to show how far the Klingons have fallen, but it seemed very odd for Klingons to be involved in this kind of setup. It seems dishonorable, and that’s something the Klingons care deeply about. On the flip side, they seem to have a serious dislike of Worf, who they want to get rid of desperately. I am just not sure how to reconcile it all.

I did enjoy Odo’s investigation and how he once again helps Worf. Their initial relation to each other was negative, but they’ve helped each other out–mostly Odo helping Worf. And, of course, there’s a trial type scenario in Star Trek again, which seems to be a strength of the whole franchise. Every time there’s a trial of any sort, the episode tends to be at least good if not sensational (eg. The Measure of a Man). 

Grade: B- “It feels out of character for Klingons to do this kind of subterfuge, but I enjoyed seeing the investigation.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Basically any Worf-centered episode is good with me.”

Links

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!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.