Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, “Crusade”: Episodes 3-4

You are in pain.

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

3: The Well of Forever

The crystal with coordinates built into it was an awesome idea. Galen shows it off, an artifact that can lead the Excalibur to the Well of Forever. Meanwhile, a telepath is coming aboard to do a deep scan of Lieutenant Matheson–himself a telepath–to check out his security clearance or… something.

The deep scan itself reveals to the telepath that the ship is on the way to the Well of Forever, and he reacts somewhat poorly to the news. As the Excalibur gets closer to the Well of Forever, it encounters some gigantic jellyfish looking creatures which Galen assures them are “barely sentient.” As they try to drift through, one of the creatures grabs the ship and begins, well, mating with it. It’s a moment of some levity during a rather tense situation.

Galen also has apparently taken control of the ship, and he’s unwilling to allow Gideon to turn around once they discover there’s nothing in the space where the Well should be. Ultimately, they do find it and it turns out to be a huge amount of valuable materials. But the Well is apparently a kind of Mausoleum for Technomages and others. And Galen’s insistence on going there was to say goodbye to his love.

Gideon then sets up the adversarial telepath to illegally probe Dureena. He then blackmails the telepath into not blocking Matheson’s promotion. It’s a pretty hardcore moment for Gideon.

The whole episode feels a bit strange to me. Apparently Galen was willing to hijack the Excalibur to say goodbye to his love, and Gideon’s conversation with Galen at the end is surprising. Gideon chooses not to put the offense on the record because he values Galen’s skills. But does that mean the whole trip is off the record? That’s a lot of data to expunge or cover up for a big crew.

4: The Path of Sorrows

Gideon and others find a kind of stasis sphere in some ancient archaeological site. After it appears to interact with Gideon, the Captain insists on bringing it aboard the Excalibur. I had a strong sense of foreboding about this, which was certainly reinforced by the music and lighting surrounding the object in the opening scenes.

This episode has quite a bit of character development, which is great. So far, they’d pretty much all seemed fairly thin characters. We especially got more about Gideon’s background, as we see that he witnessed the destruction of his ship. Then, as he floated in EVA, he watched the ships belonging to the technomages fly past and ignore his distress call… until one came back for him. That one was, of course, Galen.

Later, Gideon wins an “Apocalypse Box” while gambling. It’s a rather ominous scene, as the man he won it from immediately “frees” himself by stepping in front of an air car.

Matheson also gets some flashbacks, letting us see into the heart of the telepath’s compound as he is assigned to help control a rogue telepath, but in the process, he gets used as a dupe to destroy the Psi Corps base. Only this alien in the stasis capsule is able to tell him, and then mysteriously tell Matheson “I FORGIVE YOU.” Right as Matheson leaves, Galen approaches and ominously tells the creature that “I know you.”

Galen reveals that he has done research and believes the creature feeds of the emotions of others because it has none of its own. But the creatre responds to Galen’s accusation arguing that it exists on forgiveness, and then launches Galen into a flashback of his own. His flashback is of his love dying, and as hecomes out of it he says “Damn you” to the alien, then asks “You want me to forgive God?” He doesn’t believe whatsoever in a beyond or an afterlife. His rage leads him to almost kill the alien, but he’s interrupted by Matheson and Gideon.

The incident, however, convinces Gideon to send it back to where it was housed. A haunting shot of Galen riding alone through the Excalibur as Gideon’s voice over says “No way out… no way to go” is one of the best moments so far in the series. After they drop the alien back on its planet, another approaches, being told “YOU ARE IN PAIN” as the alien said to all the others. We’re left with a closing as Galen gets a message that seems to reflect his lover’s words that there is a beyond, and that she’ll send him a message to let him know she was right. But Galen throws the message to the floor before walking away.

This episode has me fired up. So far, I have to admit, I wasn’t fully sold on the series. But with this episode, we have the characterization and wonder that I’ve loved about Babylon 5. There’s depth here far beyond the previous 3 episodes, which were each fine. This episode, however, is something special.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

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, “Crusade”: Episodes 1-2

Space Archaeology: Even Cooler than Archaeology

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

1: War Zone

It’s always exciting starting a new TV series, and I was doubly excited going into this series as a newly minted Babylon 5 fan. Nothing like having more Babylon 5! It quickly becomes apparent in this first episode that special effects is being more heavily utilized. We see a bunch of different locales fairly swiftly, including one of my favorite sci-fi tropes, the future archaeological dig. I was also excited to apparently have a technomage on board from the beginning? They were one of the intriguing side adventures left largely unexplored after the end of Babylon 5’s run.

The stories in this episode seem to open into a bunch of potential paths. There’s the archaeological team of questionable legal status trying to figure out what to do about a crashed alien ship. I enjoyed this little plot. then, there’s Captain Matthew Gideon and his newly assembled crew, including Dureena Nafeel–a thief, Dr. Sarah Chambers, the science nerd (I think? we don’t get a great picture of her yet), and Lieutenant John Matheson, a telepath.

The ship they help crew, the Excalibur, is almost comically huge (more than a mile long, I believe they say). I always wonder about obscenely huge ships in science fiction like this. Where do the resources come from? What makes such huge ships worth the investment when they can’t cover nearly as much space as many smaller ships? It’s a complaint I have a lot, but I’ll bury it for now.

I thought the aliens on the planet where the archaeologists were at were a bit silly looking. Also, the acting seemed more forced than it did on the main Babylon 5 series.

Since watching this first episode I learned that the continuity is strange and the viewing order is all messed up. Oh well, I think I’ll just keep going in the order they have on DVD. I thought this was a decent series opener. I’m interested in watching more, for sure.

2: The Long Road

So there’s a dragon… in SPAAAAACE! I gotta say, I love the idea of a dragon in space. My first impression, though, was that this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in the universe of Babylon 5. Anyway, the dragon appears to only be the, er, biggest of the problems on the planet. There’s any number of other prank-like efforts to thwart mining the planet. That’s a problem, because the planet has some mineral that potentially helps humans fight the Drakh plague.

Anyway, Galen, the technomage, is highly amused by Captain Gideon’s attempts to blend in with the local populace, who are apparently… somewhat displeased by the efforts to strip mine their planet as well. After a mob comes to tell them to get out of town, Alwyn, a local technomage (?) intercedes and saves them. Galen seems even more amused by this, which is interesting to me.

Alwyn is the cause of all the troubles for the mining operation, and he is extremely displeased by how the planet he is trying to serve is being destroyed by the need to be efficient and speedy. (As an aside, Alwyn is also unhappy with the “cowardice” of the technomages for leaving just as the Shadow War was breaking out.)

After the situation escalates into a hostage crisis, the technomages show up. They’re a tad put out. The Earthforce people who try to stop the situation beleive the technomages are only able to create “smoke and mirrors,” and after they fly straight through the Dragon, this seems to be true. But then Galen and Alwyn show up and wreak havoc with some holo-demons Alwyn designed which apparently can interact physically with people. But the situation continues to escalate, until Alwyn decides to take it upon himself to end it all. His preparation of a devastating spell prompts Captain Gideon to use his main gun to stop him. Alwyn appears dead, but he is alive–apparently using himself as a distraction to force Gideon to destroy the mining operation with the Excalibur. It’s a poignant moment when he talks to Galen after this. He sees the “glassed over monument” of the mining pit as a good reminder and warning.

I think this episode has me buying in to the series a lot more than the first episode did. The technomages are awesome. I actually thought about the show Firefly quite a bit during this episode. It felt like an episode of that show, with all the wheeling and dealing and balancing the interests of a big military power with the interests of the locals. It’s a fine episode of television.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

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- “A Call to Arms”

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

A Call to Arms

The story of this movie is fairly straightforward: Sheridan is sent to stop a threat from the Drakh against Earth, even while he and others experience baffling visions to do so. Ultimately, they manage to stop the Drakh planet-killer only to have some Drakh escape and release a plague on Earth.

I think this is the most off-feeling of any of the major Babylon 5 things I’ve experienced so far. The movie just doesn’t feel like Babylon 5 as much as many of the others do. But even that might be a testament to good writing. As viewers, we are almost forced to question the narrative of the movie as we experience insights through what seem to be compromised narrative perspectives. do we trust Sheridan’s visions or are they misleading? What of the other characters who show up with similar visions? Are the Drakh really the primary threat, or is something bigger happening?

Ultimately, these questions are answered, but only after quite a bit of second-guessing on the part of the viewer. The conclusion of the movie also leaves the story very open-ended, leaving me to wonder what happens next. I think what I struggled with most, though, was the kind of off-feeling I had the whole time, as described above. It was hard to get fully invested in the film when I wasn’t entirely sure I trusted it.

Throughout this whole movie, the music is overwhelming. The music is full of major drum beats, repetitions, and a volume that sometimes threatens to drown out the dialogue. It was the first time in watching anything from Babylon 5 that I thought the music was too much. It’s not bad–though it verges on silly at times–it’s just a combination of factors that starts to make it a distraction from the on-screen action.

The end is clearly a setup for the follow-up series, “Crusade.” As a whole, the movie is worth watching for more Babylon 5 but has an open-ended feel I wasn’t expecting. It does at least provide a direction for an answer to what happens with the Drakh, the infamous allies of the Shadows. I’m curious to dive into Crusade, now, and see what happens next.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

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- “The River of Souls”

Anyone else get major Star Trek: Insurrection vibes from this poster?

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

The River of Souls

The Soul Hunters are back! I briefly mentioned them in my Season 1 overview and I always hoped they’d show up again in the series. Now we basically get a whole movie dedicated to learning more about the work they do and, more importantly, what mistakes they might make.

The movie has so much going for it that I love. We’ve got sci-fi archaeology. Archaeology is cool enough as it is, but somehow it’s even cooler when we’re in the future, digging up ancient things. And, of course, there’s a kind of cursed object storyline going on, but then it gets tied into the Soul Hunters, one of the more mysterious groups we’ve run into on the whole series. Compound that with some serious twists–a billion angry aliens, for example–and some humor based around a plot regarding a holographic brothel, and this is a recipe for success.

The revelation of the Soul Hunters making a mistake is probably the most important in the whole movie. It’s a major point and theme of the movie, so far as I can tell. At one point, the Martin Sheen Soul Hunter tells Lochley that “We do not make mistakes…” but Captain Lochley was just told that the people of the planet were not dying, “We were evolving!” This is a hugely subversive look at all the plot of the movie that had come before, and it’s a twist that, frankly, is amazing. It’s a horrifying revelation that also penetrates the mystique of the Soul Hunters to the point where they become more believable as a group.

The tension continues to ratchet up, and the holo-brothel somehow looms large in the main part of the plot instead of staying as a kind of comedy generator. After many Soul Hunters show up and demand B5 returns the stolen orb (which is not even in their possession), the aliens get serious about taking revenge upon those who unwittingly imprisoned them for thousands of years. The Martin Sheen Soul Hunter offers himself as a way to prove to the other Soul Hunters–and the aliens–that it was a genuine mistake and that they need to work together to undo it. The move seems to be a success, though we’re left knowing the solution is being worked on rather than being completed. Honestly, this is a good move, because it means the resolution isn’t cheaply gotten.

The River of Souls” is a great Babylon 5 movie. It has the look and feel of the show, with extensions that make sense. Though it doesn’t answer any of my major looming questions from the end of the series, I didn’t mind so much because the plot was so good. It has humor, intensity, the cast nails their roles, and it brings a wonderful conclusion to tie it all together while not putting too neat a bow on it. I loved this movie.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

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- “Thirdspace”

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

Thirdspace

Here we go! Time to delve the first Babylon 5 movie that takes place after the series! Wait… no it doesn’t. I was all excited to finally get to a movie that might answer some of my unanswered questions, but was somewhat disappointed to find that Thirdspace, instead, took place during the series. I am starting to wonder if any of the movies might answer my post-series questions or if I’ll have to just wait for some of the novels to do that.

Anyway, because of my initial disappointment with the timeline of the movie, I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I probably should have. The movie does answer some questions about the Vorlons, which makes it worth watching. The Vorlons made a gate to try to “contact the gods” in a way, getting to Thirdspace. But it turns out that those aliens in Thirdspace are not, shall we say, benevolent.

It turns out the Thirdspace aliens have come before and the Vorlon had to desperately fight them or risk the destruction of all life in the known universe or something. The Thirdspace aliens use telepathy to take control of a bunch of people and aliens and start a massive battle before Sheridan blows them back to where they came from with a nuke.

I have to say, I didn’t particularly enjoy the attempts at horror-like elements in the movie. It’s hard to take seriously a threat that could destroy all life in the universe when we basically know it’s not actually a threat, given the series continued. That makes this story not work as well as it should, and the sense of impending doom that was attempted didn’t have the right feel to it. Maybe if I watched it all as it came out, I would have felt differently.

“Thirdspace” is a fine movie, and I enjoyed getting more background on the Vorlon, especially. It was worth the watch, but still doesn’t quite do enough to satiate my appetite for more Babylon 5.

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.

Reading the Babylon 5 Novels: “Voices” by John Vornholt

Having finally watched Babylon 5 for the first time (check out my posts for that series at my Babylon 5 Hub), I decided to dive into the novels. I’ll be reading them largely in publication order and reviewing them individually as we go along. Please do not spoil later books for me. There will be SPOILERS for the book reviewed going forward.

Voices by John Vornholt

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure initially if I would be buying all the Babylon 5 novels or if I’d just try to read the ones that are officially considered “canon.” I figured I may as well get them all, because I loved the series so much. Voices is part of the first batch of Babylon 5 novels that was released, and only a few of these first 9 novels are considered “canon.” Voices is not one of those novels. I’m not one who gets all tied up in insisting upon only canon matters (I enjoyed the hell out of a lot of the now-“Legends” Star Wars novels and reviewed… a lot of them). But I want the in-universe books to make sense and be fun.

Voices did each of those… at times. The core of the plot is that some bomb goes off as Alfred Bester, the awful telepath we know and love to hate from the series, is planning a convention on Mars. Instead, because of this bombing, the convention of telepaths gets moved at the last second to Babylon 5, much to the chagrin of Girabaldi and Ivanova in particular. This is set in the time when Talia Winters was still on station, so she gets caught up in the mess, especially when another bomb goes off–this time on B5.

The first half of the novel is honestly great. It reads just like another episode of Babylon 5 set within that time period. You can truly see the characters on screen doing everything described, and it makes sense. I especially loved Girabaldi being flustered at having the whole Psi Corps convention dumped into his lap for security. It was spot-on for the handling of him as a character.

The second half of the novel is, however, not great. Suddenly, characters go off in ways that are totally different from what you’d expect from their established personas. Talia Winters, in particular, loses much of her mystique and calm characterization. Girabaldi becomes much more whiney and less decisive than it seems he should be. Even the Psi Corps people seem to lose their way, acting strangely complacent towards station security at times, and going absolutely wild at other points. The plot goes a bit off the rails as well, as we get several larger threats introduced and dismissed seemingly with ease.

What I was left with, then, was a feeling of disappointment. The promising beginning of the book didn’t get the expected payoff. I did enjoy spending more time with the characters I’d come to know and love, but then they started to act in unbelievable ways. There’s also a few gaffes, such as saying the surface of Mars is 200-300 degrees when the temperature on Mars rarely even approaches 0 from below. It’s not a huge deal–Babylon 5 is space opera and not hard science fiction–but it was enough of a blip that it distracted me. Thanks to The Babylon File (volume 1), I read that Vornholt said that the novel “could have benefited from a few more days of research” (383). It probably could have also benefited from a bit more editing to jettison several unnecessary threats and focus on the main plot.

Voices is an okay work of tie-in fiction, but it violates one of the cardinal rulse of such fiction: it loses the feel of the on-screen characters readers have come to love. I’d be curious to know what other Babylon 5 fans thought of the book.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates.)

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: “In the Beginning” – the TV movie

Hello Darkness, my old friend.

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

In the Beginning

The first scene opens, and we see an older Mollari! This instantly makes me hopeful that this movie may answer some of my left over questions from the series. In particular, I want to know about the Shadow ally and whether Mollari ever escapes it. And he tells a story to two young Centauri children, which of course features a younger… Mollari! Time to sit back and enjoy this ride! 

What a ride it is! We get an enormous amount of backstory for the whole series. I was thrilled to see that we might be getting insight into the Earth-Minbari War. We see Mollari chastising the humans for their audacity to confront the Minbari. We witness Delenn’s discussion with the Gray Council. The outbreak of the Earth-Minbari War is a major part of the movie. And it gives us a lot of background into what our favorite characters were doing way back when. Including Ivanova! And G’Kar! Seeing G’Kar as an arms dealer is excellent. He’s doing it to help his people, of course, as it seems he’s done everything. And Dr. Franklin, already an expert on alien biology, apparently, gets arrested for refusing to use his knowledge to help kill Minbari. 

One of the best scenes is when Mollari is voicing over the near-end of the war: “In the end, they didn’t run out of courage–they ran out of time.” The scenes going past during this voice over are well-done and beautiful at times. Most of the rest of the scenes are things we already know with a bit of expansion. 

Mollari intersperses comments throughout. At one point,  we witness his condemnation of the arrogance of humans, then we see him blaming himself for the war. But the format made me worry that I wouldn’t be getting any answers to my most pressing question after all: what happens to Mollari after the series!?

The end gives us a quick peek at an earlier point in the series, in which we saw old Mollari confronting our heroes–Delenn and Sheridan. Mollari toasts them as he apparently gets into a drunken stupor to placate the Shadow Keeper. And that’s the end! we don’t find out more here! But it’s a tantalizing look. I wonder if I’ll have to wait to go through the books before I find the main answer I’m looking for. 

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 Retrospective After Finishing the Series- I have questions

I already miss this crew.

I finished watching the main Babylon 5 series, and reviewed the whole series along the way. I adored it. It has grown into my favorite TV show of all time. But, having finished the finale, I have some questions to ask before diving into the offshoots, movies, comics, and novels. There will be SPOILERS for the whole main series in this post, but please don’t spoil ANY offshoot series, movies, comics, or novels here.

Vorlon are Angels? Wha-?

Remember that episode where we found out the Vorlon are literally angels? Remember how basically nothing happened with that after we saw the angelic Vorlon save Sheridan’s life? I’d love to know more about the Vorlon. So many fans seem to love them, but to me, they are opportunists who manipulated the history of other species for hundreds or thousands of years just for their own ends. What makes them such fan favorites? Is it the enigmatic nature of them? Is it just that we don’t know about them, and that makes them fascinating? 

Mollari- What the hell?

Okay, I honestly have to say this is the one that upsets me the most about the whole series. What the heck happens to Mollari and the Centauri between the second to last episode and the finale (and beyond)? We see Mollari sneak a Keeper into Sheridan and Delenn’s possession, and then we just lose that plot thread? Please tell me it gets resolved somewhere! I do recall that in one of the episodes Mollari seems to be drinking to drive off some inner demons–perhaps that’s to stop the Keeper from intervening at a certain point? I don’t know.

G’Kar?

Speaking of future Mollari–wasn’t G’Kar with him in that time traveling scene? And if so, what does that mean for where G’Kar ends up? Where does he go with Lyta? What do they discover, and how does that inform his life going forward? Does he continue to be a religious icon for his people? 

Girabaldi and Lyta- what next?

Will there be war against the Psi Corps? And if so, how will that play out? If anyone can do it, I would think Lyta and Girabaldi would be the ones able to do so. Remember–Lyta was apparently turned into a kind of nuclear telepath option by the Vorlon, which makes her extremely powerful and dangerous to any of her enemies. Her experience with Byron changed her, as well, but she’s clearly not following his pacifistic path. At a guess, I would say the Psi Corps trilogy of books that I got will probably deal with this. 

Resolving the Questions

The good news is that I still have several movies to watch, as well as the single season of the offshoot show “Crusade” to help ansqer these questions. I’ll also be reading the books, several of which were written after the series concluded. Presumably, some of these will answer the questions that remain. I certainly hope they will, anyway, because some of these questions are burning to get answered. If not, I honestly think I’ll probably go looking for some fanfic somewhere to help wrap up some of the plots in my head. I’ve not read a lot of fanfiction, but I did read some to help wrap up the Star Wars expanded universe, for example. 

Anyway, I look forward to exploring these questions with you going forward!

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 5: Episodes 21-22 (SERIES FINALE)

Surely, just a harmless gift from a friend right? Oh gosh… oh no! Oh my!

We made it! I never thought when I started watching Babylon 5 that it would turn from a show I had mild curiosity about into my favorite show of all time. Right around season 2, I already thought it might become my all-time favorite show. By the end of season 3, I knew it would have to be hugely messed up to not become my favorite show, and I started buying all the novels, comics, and random memorabilia I could find and afford. I started writing posts after season 1, and discussed the whole season in my first-ever post about the series. After splitting season 2 into two posts, I realized how much fun it was to analyze and discuss each episode, and started doing deeper reviews. I’m so glad to have had you all along the ride. Be aware: after I finish this first watch-through, the plan is to watch all the movies, the offshoots, read the books and comics, read books about the show, and re-watch the whole series, leaving reviews on here for each one as I go. There is so much more discussion coming, so keep checking in on the Babylon 5 Hub, and let me know what you think as we continue! Here, I’ll say, please DON’T SPOIL any books, movies, etc. for me or anyone else on this or previous posts in the series! 

Here we go, the discussion ending my first-ever watch of the entire series of Babylon 5! Once again, thanks for coming along on this journey with me, and I can’t wait to keep talking about the show, books, movies, and more with you.

21: Objects at Rest

This place “kind of grows on you.” – Summary of my thoughts about this whole series. My heart is full as I get towards the end. It’s perfection.

G’Kar leaves a message for Ta’Lon encouraging him to take up leadership of the Narn, as he also offers a number of beautiful pieces of advice. Dr. Franklin does something similar for his successor, noting that one has to be a generalist to be on Babylon 5. Lennier comes to speak with Delenn, and whistfully looks on at the photograph of Sheridan and Delenn together. Holloran briefs Sheridan on a number of problems and intelligence pieces. But Holloran will be staying behind on Babylon 5 to use it as a “hotbed of information,” as it is. Girabaldi offers the “troublemakers” at Edgars Industries a salary increase as well as numerous new aspects of their job, and Dr. Franklin departs in a solitary looking flyer to go take on his position. 

Sheridan and Delenn’s “secret” departure is broken on ISN, and they are forced into speaking. Sheridan defers to Delenn, which is somewhat hilarious. “Our souls are a part of this place… and we will pass this way again.” Yes! We love you, Babylon 5. I’m tearing up watching this part. The crowd parts to let them through, as they watch the statespeople of Babylon 5 leave. Zack says good bye in perfect fashion for him. Sheridan turns the ship around to finally look back at Babylon 5, his home for so many events and years. Lchochley salutes as Sheridan returns it, and they depart for the Minbari homeworld. 

Sheridan goes for a walk around the ship but gets caught up in a coolant leak. Lennier sees him, but doesn’t open the door, leaving Sheridan, apparently, to die! This is the betrayal! He goes back to help after his conscience catches up to him, but only after Sheridan has already saved himself and the Ranger or Minbari who was alongside. Sheridan glares at Lennier, who flees when Delenn asks what happened. 

The one thing that continued to irk me: what is happening with Mollari? Is he just going to be left to his isolationism and helping the Shadow-ally people for the rest of his life?

And… there he is! He says he was playing to the audience when it came to his cold attitude towards Delenn and Sheridan last time–a way to fire his people up for rebuilding. But as he sits at dinner with them, the Shadow creature seems to take over, in part, and Delenn possibly senses it. She leaves the dinner, though, to take a message from Lennier, who explains that he is hoping no longer to earn her love, but her forgiveness. As Sheridan and Delenn depart, Mollari assures them that they will always be his friends no matter what. He can’t–physically cannot–seem to share the pain and tribulation that he’s going through. We see him looking on as the ship departs, being praised by the Keeper and Shadow ally. The Keeper says “We await the passage of years… we are very patient.” Oh! And the gift that Mollari gave to Delenn and Sheridan has its own Keeper! I should have known! I did know! And I missed it. Somehow I wasn’t hugely suspcious. I’m so hoping they manage to stop it right now, turn around, and save Mollari! Come on! We can’t have the series end without this being tied up! 

Sheridan delivers a lengthy monologue to his future child while we see the people of Babylon 5 dispersed across space. It’s a lovely moment, but I can’t help but keep wondering: what about Centauri? What about the Keeper thing right in that urn! It’s right there! Will I have to wait for the books to wrap it up? I hope we get closure on this last major thread before the very end.

I thought I had time to dive into the last episode right away after this one, but I didn’t! So, I endured a somewhat agonizing wait for the last episode.

Rude.

22: Sleeping in Light

This is it! The Finale! 

We see all the series regulars hanging out in various places–I especially love the Dr. Franklin/Garibaldi friendship as a major thing 20 years later–and getting a certain type of envelope delivered by a Ranger. This, after Sheridan tells Delenn he is dying, because he was only granted a certain number of years on his resurrection-ish. Throughout, we get tantalizing hints of how the universe has developed in 20 years, with Vir as Emperor, and Londo a no-show, apparently? Ivanova is a general, off doing Earthforce things. 

Much of the episode is spent between Sheridan and Delenn, as one might expect, given that they’re essentially saying goodbye forever. They return to Babylon 5, and Sheridan is told that the station has “become sort of redundant.” He takes it in stride–the station and Sheridan are tied together, he assumes. And interspersed with this we see Lorien’s words: “one day, he will simply… stop.” 

Sheridan flies to Coriana 6, where he meets again with Lorien, and a bright light shines as he closes his eyes. Ivanova’s voice over tells us that they found his ship but his body was never seen again. Some Minbari apparently believe he’ll return one day, but she never saw him again. The assembled crew disperse from Babylon 5 as the crew shuts it down, and they fly away together as Babylon 5 is demolished. We hear Ivanova again. This time, she tells us Babylon 5 was the last of the stations, and that there was never another. The station changed the future by showing all the Alliance peoples that they have to care for each other, and that true strength comes from unlikely places. (I’m paraphrasing her here.) “Mostly though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us” she says. Delenn always watched the sun come up until the day she died, and apparently she’d occasionally see Sheridan sitting next to her. And that, after some flyovers showing the cast and crew quickly, is that. And I’m crying again.

The Finale was good, but really it felt like the last 3 episodes added up to a finale. Together, they make up a wonderful goodbye to the characters I’ve grown to love over 5 seasons.  I can’t say how much I loved this experience.

I will miss you, Babylon 5, but the good news is I can always come back. And, it’s clear that some of the canon novels will be covering the few threads left standing–and beyond. And I still have the movies. In particular, I want to find out about the following: Garibaldi vs. Psi Corps (possibly the premise for the Psi Corps trilogy?); What the hell happens with Mollari and the Keeper/Shadow things (possibly one of the movies or the Centauri trilogy of books?); where does G’Kar go with Lyta, and what happens? These are huge questions, but even if the main series were all we had, I’d be satisfied. It’s a beautiful, incredible experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best series that has ever been made. I’m a massive sicence fiction fan, and I’ve watched a lot of sci-fi, but this outstrips them all. My heart is full, and I love this series. The characters are amazing, and the story is amazing, and everything is amazing.

Thank you for coming along on this amazing journey. And it’s not over! Next, I’ll be watching the movies, Crusade, and reading the books and comics. Several of the books are considered “canon,” and I’m sure we’ll see a few of the questions I have left getting answered. I also plan to read and review several related works and rewatch the series with some insights from having seen it once before (and some read-along books, too!). Again, thank you! Let’s continue, together, talking even more about Babylon 5!

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 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. 

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.