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

This is… ominous.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

13: The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father

I do not like the look of that title. 

This episode is a unique one in the overall series. For one, gives us a glimpse of the Psi Corps’s headquarters. It initially seems to be a day in the life of Bester. Of course, it doesn’t stay that mundane (sorry, I had to use the word!), if one could call any day in Bester’s lifeby that word. A murder investigation quickly takes Bester’s time and takes him to Babylon 5.

The murderer, apparently a Jonathan Harris, is a telepath who can apparently shatter minds if he manages to get to someone without defenses up. He flees to Babylon 5, and after a confrontation over gambling, we see that Harris’s mind is apparently itself possibly split into different personalities. But the plot thickens even more, as we see someone else is following Harris–an unknown quantity who even kills one of Bester’s colleagues. There’s a lot of detective work going on this episode, and several murders. Chen, one of the two other telepaths traveling with Bester, ends up dead as well. 

Eventually, Bester’s deductions and station security manage to combine to find and capture Harris. On the way home, Lauren Ashley, the other telepath with Bester, asks to deal with the “mundane.” Bester agrees, and we see the mundane floating through space, having been shoved out of an airlock. It’s a chilling moment, especially when we get back to Bester and Ashley and see Bester’s approval alongside her hero worship. 

14: Meditations on the Abyss

Delenn sneaks out of her quarters and gets in a… bar fight? She meets with Lennier after he intervenes in the fight. It turns out that she thinks there is more to the attacks happening on the border than she’s even revealed to others. She wants Lennier to investigate and is hiding it from Sheridan because she thinks he won’t send Lennier even if he’s the best one for the job. Lennier reveals that his own Day of the Dead vision told him that he would betray the Rangers, something that is clearly bothering him. Delenn doubts it, but there’s an interesting thread hanging out there.

Meanwhile, Vir! I thought this scene was hilarious as Mollari discovers a bug and then makes a number of colorful comments about the Drazi. But the Drazi seem to be in up to their elbows in everything nefarious. Mollari tells Vir that Vir will be the ambassador once Mollari departs. Mollari’s later stomping on the Drazi ambassador in public is a delight as well. But then Vir confronts the Drazi retailer who bugged the merchandise and, when pressed, comes back with a sword and destroys the guy’s stand. It was an intense moment that certainly shows a change in Vir I didn’t anticipate. But, as has been the case in pretty much every instance of change in a character, I don’t think it’s horribly out of character. This is a real change to a character, not just a convenient plot point that goes against Vir as an established personality.

Captain Enrique Montoya–the cadance and the way he says it echoes “I am Inigo Montoya…” from “The Princess Bride.” I don’t know if this is an intentional reference or not. He’s pretty fricking hardcore, too. He puts Lennier and a Ranger companion through a test without their knowledge as they start to run low on air. He lectures Lennier’s companion on the importance of various virtues for the Rangers. But later, we see Lennier get his what for as well in a turnabout test. Ranger training would be something I would wash out of very quickly. 

Dr. Franklin replaces G’Kar’s eye with one that matches, and also tells him he’s been reading his holy book. Franklin asks to come to one of G’Kar’s talks, and looks, well, at least amused by the insights of G’Kar. The episode ends with a great summary dinner among some of the senior staff… and then a scene showing Garibaldi in a drunken stupor. 

15: Darkness Ascending

Garibaldi dreams and then welcomes Lise into his cabin; Lyta works to sell the rogue telepaths’ services in order to try to find a new homeworld; Lennier and Delenn continue investigating while Sheridan starts to get suspicious; everyone’s cancelling appointments with the Centauri, which flags Mollari’s radar for strange diplomatic behavior. Just another day on Babylon 5. 

Lise is… unimpressed when she finds a half empty bottle of liquor in Garibaldi’s apartment. After a fight, she urges him to prove that he’s in charge of himself regarding alcohol, and he dumps the liquor down the sink. I’m hoping this will lead to a permanent fix. Meanwhile, Lennier has already (!?) rebelled against the Rangers because he wants to continue investigating the attacks. Oh, and Lyta goes to G’Kar to offer her genetic material of as many telepaths as she has access to as a trade for money, starships, and secrecy. Numerous double entendres ensue on the latter one, by the way. Just another day on Babylon 5, right?

…And on Garibaldi’s date with Lise, he spikes his coffee with liquor. Lennier records an attack (this makes me wonder if this counts as his rebellion or not). G’Kar agrees to Lyta’s terms, so the Narn and rogue telepaths will be working together to an extent.

The episode ends with Garibaldi urging Lise to leave because he believes the Alliance will be at war with the Centauri. The recording from Lennier shows Centauri ships attacking the innocent trade vessels. But, as was pointed out earlier, the Narn have access to some Centauri vessels. There’s got to be more going on here.

16: And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder

The Alliance meets sans the Centauri, over Mollari’s protest. Delenn and Sheridan say they have proof the Centauri Republic specifically carried out the attacks. But I wonder how they came to that conclusion simply from seeing Centauri ships. Of course, they then present a bunch of evidence to that effect. We see the evidence being handed to Vir and Mollari as the individuals testify to the gathered Alliance personnel. It’s pretty conclusive, and Mollari and Vir start to doubt the alleged disinformation campaign the homeworld is pushing as the real culprits behind the campaign. But this doesn’t stop Mollari from doubling down when he goes before the Counsel and delivers to them a categorical denial and ultimatum. 

This results in the Counsel telling Mollari that as he leaves the station to go back to Centauri and try to sort things out, he will not be allowed back. The Counsel is “satisfied” with the evidence that the Centauri committed the great crimes against the Alliance peoples. Surprisingly, G’Kar insists on going back to the Centauri homeworld with Mollari, but decides to do so without Mollari’s immediate knowledge. Meanwhile, Zack Allan discovers Garibaldi is an alcoholic as well, and after a stern talking to, helps him get presentable to go talk to Sheridan. 

Later, however, Garibaldi sleeps through a transmission from a White Star with extremely important information regarding the attacks on the freighters. This happens right as the first major conflict between an Alliance member–the Drazi–and the Centauri comes to a head with shots fired. The situation escalates quickly on station, as people of the various Alliance worlds. Then, Sheridan absolutely loses his crap on the gathered delegates and screams at them about how they wanted a war and have now gotten one. 

On Centauri, Mollari and G’Kar get locked in prison as Mollari protests the Regent’s actions. As an aside, Sheridan’s outfit in the scene where he sees Delenn praying is quite… something. I think it’s just a night robe but wow, somebody got carried away with their pattern! 

Anyway, things seem pretty grim right now. I want to pause and just make a few predictions, because it’s fun. 

  1. I think Mollari and G’Kar are going to bust out of prison.
  2. I think Lennier’s “rebellion” hasn’t actually happened yet, and may involve finding out something regarding the Centauri/Alliance war buildup.
  3. Lochley will, at some point, have a hugely necessary piece in the action. She’s barely even shown up in the last several episodes, so I think she’ll have a big part sometime.

Anyway, only 8 episodes left to find out!

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.

“Invincible” – Getting hooked on a new superhero show (Episode 1 Chat)

PLEASE don’t SPOIL events later in this series! I’ve only seen the first episode and will try to watch the rest ASAP.

Anyway, I just watched the first episode of “Invincible” on Prime Video. I actually watched it twice because after seeing it I wanted to share it with other people and my wife and I watched it later the same day I saw it the first time! What an absolutely fantastic hook in that first episode!

I saw the ads on Amazon and thought oh well, just another superhero show. But then someone whose opinion I think pretty highly of retweeted something positive about the show and I thought I’d give it a try. One episode wouldn’t really be that big a time sink if I didn’t like it.

The show starts off and yeah, it seems like a somewhat generic superhero story. Some security guys standing around shooting the breeze outside the White House. Some heartfelt dialogue between the two (I mean, it actually really hooked me in right away with the story of the stepson coming back), and then bam! Time for action as some clone (?) brothers show up to wreck the White House. Then we have a bunch of heroes show up, and they work together like the Justice League. They’re definitely not the Justice League, right? They have similar outfits, traits, and abilities, but this is all part of the setup for you, the viewer.

There’s some other dude with them who seems way stronger and more powerful, and you quickly learn that he’s his own superhero Omni-Man and the others are the Guardians of the Globe. Again, still feels like standard superhero fare. Omni-Man is definitely not Superman, but he’s from some far off planet where everyone has superpowers and looks like humans. Anyway, he has a son and a wife who’s a “normal” human. The son is waiting for his powers to manifest. It seems like we’ve got a kind of coming-of-age superhero storyline tagged on, right?

That’s how the rest of the episode seems to run. And then there’s a massive, enormous twist.

Huge SPOILERS for episode 1 follow.

We see all the Guardians of the Globe having some great character pieces, enough to hook me even more onto them as characters, even if they really are… er, aren’t stand-ins for the Justice League. But then they all get summoned to headquarters and no one summoned them but Omni-Man shows up and literally tears them all to pieces in the bloodiest fashion possible. Wait, what!? He’s a good guy! He seems a somewhat distracted dad trying to figure things out! But what the heck? Why did he just murder all the good guys? It’s a stunning twist, and watching the show the second time I wonder what it has to do with him saying that he wasn’t ready for his son to get superpowers and how maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t. Maybe that has something to do with what he does to the Guardians? What’s the bigger story? I don’t know, but you better believe I’ll be diving back into the show to find out.

I’m dying to talk about it with other people. Tell me your thoughts on episode 1 here! I can’t wait to watch more. I almost want to just buy all the comics and go!

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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 9-12

The best relationship on the show… maybe.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

9: In the Kingdom of the Blind

The opening reveals that there are apparently some highly trained attacks being perpetuated against the allied worlds. Then, we get to travel with Mollari and G’Kar back to the Centauri homeworld as G’Kar checks on the situation back home. It’s clear there’s a huge amount of political intrigue coming here, as we witness the murder of an advisor of Mollari fairly early in the episode. Meanwhile, the sanity of the regent is in question. Later, an assassination attempt on Mollari is foiled by both G’Kar’s work as a bodyguard and a mysterious bug-like alien. 

Back on station, Byron continues to press his case for a homeworld for telepaths. I’m honestly surprised by how vehemently Sheridan opposes the idea. But Byron plays the trump card: the telepaths have essentially gathered all the secrets from all the major players on station and plan to reveal them if their demands are not acceded to. But the situation quickly escalates as some violence erupts against the telepaths, and some telepaths fight back. Byron continues to preach non-violent resistance and meets even more opposition.

The end of this episode is full of unresolved threads, which makes me want to jump into the next episode immediately! The telepaths’ nonresistance is met with threats of violent force. The regent gets attacked by an unknown force. Freighters continue to get destroyed. 

10: A Tragedy of Telepaths

The title of this alone has me going in pretty worried about how the rest of this showdown with the telepaths is going to play out. The ominous voice over from Lochley didn’t exactly assuage my fears, either. This is especially true when she calls Bester. 

G’Kar and Mollari discover that at least some Narn have remained imprisoned. G’Kar’s reaction is so in character. He demands the release of the Narn, and threatens Mollari if he doesn’t do something. Mollari’s protests that he can’t because he’s not emperor yet may hold water for the Centauri, but G’Kar was having none of it and I wouldn’t have either. However, Mollari comes up with a plan and sneaks the Narn off of Centauri. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rogue telepaths and Byron’s demands. When Lochley comes and speaks with Byron, he notes that the telepaths were created to combat the Shadows and now that the war is over, they deserve compensation. It makes me think about reparations, a hot button topic if ever there was one. But to me, it doesn’t seem like the telepaths are entirely or obviously wrong here. If it’s true that they were created in order to fight the Shadows, the fact that they essentially helped win the war through (in some sense) forced circumstances suggest that there is a debt that should be paid to them. And if that reasoning follows, then it seems like real-world applications of that same reasoning could apply. 

Anyway, Bester continues to only care about telepaths, and he brings his own people on board Babylon 5 to try to settle the standoff, and it’s all kinds of ominous. 

11: Phoenix Rising

We finally get more of the backstory between Byron and Bester! And it’s a riveting, if somewhat predictable plotline. Byron committed an atrocity at Bester’s orders. Then, he left. He dedicated himself to pacifism from then on. Bester and Garibaldi also have a showdown, but it just leads to Garibaldi discovering that he has a mental block–cleverly named an “Asimov” after Asimov’s rules of robotics–against harming Bester. But just as Garibaldi seeks Dr. Franklin’s aid on the psychic block, the splinter group of telepaths takes over the sick bay, capturing Franklin, Garibaldi, and others. This splinter group of rogue telepaths threatens to execute hostages–very much against Byron’s wishes.

The situation prompts Byron to action, and he intervenes just in time to save Garibaldi’s life. But he does so only by killing one of the rogue telepaths. He then contacts Lochley with a way to end the standoff. However, when it comes to the transfer of those who caused violence, Bester jumps in and tries to take all the telepaths for himself. Byron refuses to go, leading to another shootout, and Byron decides he is done. He urges Lyta to leave, and then immolates himself and other other rogue telepaths in a chemical spill and flame. 

I honestly found myself thinking like Bester here! “I don’t understand at all” (or something to that effect). Why did Byron decide that it was better to kill himself than to continue a standoff or try to let the B5 personnel and Bester fight over jurisdiction longer? I don’t understand. 

Byron apparently telepathically sent Lyta numerous contacts, safe houses, etc. before he died. So it’s not a totally hopeless end. The episode ends with Garibaldi staring into a drink. I wonder what will happen to him next. And that’s worth considering–because Garibaldi, the man in consummate control of his life–has been in a spiral of having things happen to him rather than because of him. It’s certainly a fertile place for more plot, and I hope we get some closure between him and Bester, or at least for him. 

12: The Ragged Edge

“I have always said this about you [G’Kar]: Nothing improves your company like the lack of it.” – Mollari 

These two are one of the best dynamic duos in television. I don’t care about your wrong opinions; this is a fact. Whether it’s their early rivalry which causes hilarity, the later, deep emotional catastrophe of their relationship, or their period now as they work together, it’s all excellent. Now, G’Kar finds that the book he’s been writing for the whole series (and presumably before) has been disseminated into the general population of the Narn, and they have essentially turned it into a new holy text, with him as a new saint. Honestly, not a surprising direction. He initialyl resists, until a warrior friend of him convinces him to be the leader he doesn’t want to be. 

Garibaldi, meanwhile, goes on a secret mission to the Drazi world to investigate the attacks on freighters. He runs into an old friend, Tafiq, whom I liked almost immediately. But… it was nice knowing Tafiq for about two seconds. I hope he shows up in the novels at some point! I honestly have to laugh a little because I thought Tafiq was truly awesome and then he just gets blown away. Garibaldi gets caught flat-footed multiple times in this episode, too, which is unusual. Back on Babylon 5, Garibaldi is convinced that the attacks on the freighters go well beyond the Drazi and others. Then we have Mollari pop in on the briefing and reveal that these others were apparently some kind of Centauri, but Sheridan et al. hide this information from Mollari. 

G’Kar is almost immediately embroiled in a controversy of interpreting his words. He notes that his words about distrusting Centauri were written when he was at a different stage, but his followers insist that because the book was inspired by “the universe,” it must be holy and therefore without error. G’Kar then humorously corrects the student. Yet it is important to note that he doesn’t dispute it being inspired. Here I want to point out a tangent again which is that though J. Michael Straczynski, the writer of Babylon 5, is an atheist, he has remarkable depth when it comes to discussing religion. I’m certain that the care with which this scene was conveyed was on purpose. Straczynski deftly notes the difficulty with divergent interpretations and even apparent contradictions in a supposed holy book, but he doesn’t insist that there can be no resolution of these difficulties. 

The episode ends with Dr. Franklin telling Sheridan that he’s leaving the station due to a major promotion, and Garibaldi apparently drinking himself into a stupor. The clear intent seems to be that Garibaldi may be relapsing into alcoholism, and it’s a tough scene as he sleeps through Franklin calling him to tell him about his decision to leave. 

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 5-8

Yes, now bow. Good! Now to the right!

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

5: Learning Curve

There’s a great intro in this one, in which we get some insight into the training of the Rangers, along with some delightful back and forth between Turval of the religious caste and Durhan of the warrior class. Garibaldi and Captain Lochley also have a confrontation, which results in Lochley giving a spirited defense of her position during the civil war.

Delenn then meets with Durhan and Turval to discuss training of the Rangers. It’s a cool scene, in which Delenn urges them to use the great differences amidst the recruits to use the P’ak’ma’ra to be a kind of secret courier service for the Rangers due to their outcast status.

Another main part of the plot is the attempt by Trace, a criminal mastermind, to take over the underworld of Babylon 5. I have to say, my initial thoughts on this underworld aspect was that it’s going to be nothing but a side story for the main episode. And, in a way, it is. Trace is taken in and his momentary rule is over. But the way it plays out is as a foil for the Rangers on station, and as insight into the culture both of the Rangers and the Minbari, allowing us to see their moment of terror. It’s a great character piece for the side characters that are brought along, while also giving us more insight into the overall culture of the Rangers.

Station security and Garibaldi are sort of a side show here, as Garibaldi sets up some telepaths to help with station security and Zack basically just follows orders. They have a great conversation towards the end of the episode. Then, we see Delenn and Sheridan closing out the episode, upset about… something? Did I miss something?

6: Strange Relations

I found the title of this one particularly appropriate in retrospect. 

Lyta is apparently getting supplies for the rogue telepaths, but even though it seems she’s trying to sneak them out, she does so with Dr. Franklin’s blessing. Why? Because Dr. Franklin is a decent human being. Byron seems quite thankful, but speaks in what he calls “parables.” The conversation between Byron and Lyta is cut short by some telepathic portent which seems to suggest they’re all in trouble. They identify “Bloodhound” units and say “He’s here,” which I immediately figured had to mean Bester. And of course, there’s the man himself. 

This, of course, sets us up for finally seeing a confrontation between Garibaldi and Bester, but it’s short lived. Captain Lochley intervenes by punching Garibaldi and having security haul him off. She presses Sheridan on keeping his own rules, and then later discovers Garibaldi has accessed her top secret personnel files. That leads to a great one liner: “If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em” as she goes to confront Garibaldi. As she does, though, Lyta gets into a psychic confrontation with Bester and his Bloodhounds. Lyta comes out on top, but only for the moment. It buys time for Byron and the others to flee. It’s a suspenseful moment. And then the transition into the Garibaldi/Lochley confrontation gives us two people who are equally salty about the world. And in that latter confrontation, Lochley reveals that she and Sheridan were married!? What!? 

Zack Allan is once again the tool of Earth. His morals are something of an enigma. He’s a follower more than a leader. But he occasionally pushes back. I was disappointed to see him helping round up the rogue telepaths. Franklin discusses Delenn’s idea for having him pursue medicine related to aliens with Lochley, and she apparently sees it is a way around the problem. Delenn, apparently full of ideas, floats having G’Kar guard Mollari. G’Kar suddenly accepts the nomination. Lochley holds up the extradition of the telepaths to Earth with a 60 day quarantine period ordered by the Doctor. 

So, strange relations indeed: Lochley and Sheridan; Bester and Garibaldi; Lochley and Bester; Lyta and Byron; Byron and Lochley; G’Kar and Mollari; etc. I loved this episode. It had an absolute whirlwind of events in it, and seems to be setting up for something bigger. 

And… what a close for the episode. The telepaths apparently like Gothic looking settings, as they stand amidst numerous candles singing “We will all come together in a better place…” It’s a surprisingly joyous moment from people who have, so far, been largely non-emotive. It was moving, far beyond what I expected. 

7: Secrets of the Soul

Dr. Franklin is trying to compile a complete list of pathogens/viruses/etc. for the member species of the Alliance, which seems… an extraordinary project. I mean, this is the kind of project that would be a massive team of researchers, and they’re giving it to the main doctor on Babylon 5 who also has to run the station’s medical team? I cannot even imagine this. It does, however, give us some fascinating insights into some of the member species that we haven’t really seen before. For example, the concept of a “geritocracy” governing the Hyach was unexpected. I didn’t expect to so quickly get such a far-reaching look into the Hyach people, and then we see a massive twist. Apparently the Hyach had parallel evolution of two species, and then we see the Hyach killed off the parallel species entirely. And, it turns out, they needed the Hyach-Doh, the parallel species, to keep reproducing and have their species continue. Thus, the Hyach are all dying off because they killed of the Hyach-Doh. Dr. Franklin is upset, to say the least. He points out that they are, in a sense, “accomplice after the fact” to the genocide, because they have hidden and covered up their history. The Hyach let Franklin go, but he says its “not my place to speak for the dead… The only forgiveness can come from the Hyach-Doh. Too bad you killed them all.” It shows the torn moral fabric Franklin. Can he truly hold the modern Hyachs responsible for the killings centuries ago? Or merely hold them responsible for the cover up? I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this storyline. 

The other story in this episode is of Byron, Lyta, and Zack. Zack apparently thinks he can control Lyta, and when he tries to do so, she gives him a rude awakening. Meanwhile, after Byron defuses a violent confrontation with nonviolent resistance, he and Lyta kiss. But this is only a little before the rogue telepaths are departing from Babylon 5. After a violent outbreak against one of the telepaths, the rogues begin to take revenge, leading to Byron being arrested. But he’s released after being cleared. In the meantime, however, the small time criminal who harassed and beat one of the telepaths was killed–apparently through telekinesis from the perspective of we viewers, but there’s no proof it was the telepaths. Lyta and Byron get intimate, and in the process, break some of the barriers the Vorlons maybe put in place on Lyta, revealing some huge cloning project of the Vorlons? Maybe? The other telepaths look on as Lyta and Byron’s psychic energy apparently awakens them during their lovemaking. Apparently, what was revealed was that the Vorlons were the ones who created telepaths on all the different worlds, to create, a Byron puts it, “cannon fodder” for their war with the shadows. The revelation is so disturbing to Byron that he decides to force the Alliance to give the telepaths their own world as recompense for their service to the allied worlds against the Shadows.

8: Day of the Dead

Rebo and Zooty seem like a major sideshow in this episode. I’m wondering if Penn Jillette just wanted to be on an episode of Babylon 5. Also, the notion that humor is a universal phenomenon even across species is absurd. Humor isn’t even universal among humans! But the notion of universal humor came from Sheridan, so I’m not sure how seriously we’re supposed to be taking it. 

Anyway, the main plot of this episode is centered around the Day of the Dead according to the Brakiri. After ceding part of Babylon 5 to the Brakiri for the sake of their religious observance, it gets taken over by some strange energy field that appears to bring back the dead. It gives us a bit of closure on a few relationships, as well as a coupe character moments. 

Honestly, I’m baffled by this episode. It seems entirely out of place. I can’t figure out what was important or not. The line from Kosh seems like it’ll last. The closing line from Zooty is nonsensical. I don’t get it.

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 1-4

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 5: Episodes 1-4

1: No Compromises

A new commander is on station, again. Sheridan and the new Captain Elizabeth Lochley have a brief discussion about the station and what leadership of it entails. Lochley notes as Sheridan leaves that he didn’t ask which side she was in in the recent conflict, and Sheridan just notes that she’s right. His priorities are clearly much more on healing and moving on as President of the Alliance than having anything to do with Babylon 5.

Not long after, Lochley is approached by someone naming himself Byron (a reference to Lord Byron?) who appears to have some mysterious power. Byron asks Lochley to meet him later. She does, but not on her own. She discovers that Byron is apparently a kind of rogue telepath who is seeking a place to call home for himself and many others of his kind. Meanwhile, a mysterious murder and threat against Sheridan occur as a guy who looks like the broker for the Shadows (kind of) walks around. Turns out he’s there to try to kill Sheridan before he manages to be sworn in as the President of the Alliance. 

After failing in his attempt to kill Sheridan the first time, the man manages to steal a fighter to come back around for a second attempt. G’Kar speaks eloquently on the rights of those in the Alliance and the many faiths represented by the Alliance as well even as the fighter pulls up behind Sheridan. Girabaldi saves the day in his own fighter. G’Kar summarily swears Sheridan in in a humorous moment that helps break the tension some in the meantime. 

The episode closes with Girabaldi coming back to speak with Lochley about the events while also introducing himself as the new head of covert intelligence for the Alliance. Lochley tells him she was on the “side of Earth” when it came to the near civil war. It’s an ominous start to a new era on Babylon 5. 

2: The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari

Delenn learns that Lennier has requested a permanent transfer back home. Londo Mollari is trying to bring some excellent liquor past security, but he falls down insensate once he drinks it. Please tell me we’re not losing both Londo and Marcus within just a few episodes! Lennier tells Delenn that he feels unneeded at this point–clearly a bit jealous of Delenn and Sheridan’s relationship. But he explains that he’s uncomfortable now. He does everything to suggest (but does not say) that he’s going off to join the Rangers in hopes of Delenn falling in love with him.

Mollari apparently had a heart attack. He wasn’t poisoned, but his survival is in great doubt. Delenn telepathically communicates with him (I think?) enough to set him off on a dream journey. Throughout this dream sequence, he is visited by other main characters. Vir tells him in his dream that his problem is himself–his heart can no longer bear the weight of his conscience. G’Kar then confronts him with his own guilt over teh destruction of the Narn, repeating time and again “You said nothing.” Suddenly we see Mollari placed on the whipping post that G’Kar himself endured, and it is G’Kar counting the lashes. In the “real world,” Dr. Franklin and others work desperately to save Mollari’s life. Mollari also cries out just as G’Kar did. Finally, Mollari firmly states that he does not want to die. The G’Kar figure continues to press Mollari for “just one word.” Finally, we see that Mollari’s problem is he cannot deal with the guilt and cannot bring himself to apologize for his actions. He breaks down, bitterly weeping as he yells “I’m sorry!” 

Mollari wakes, and the first person he sees is G’Kar. He says “I’m sorry” to G’Kar, and the Narn smiles, turns, and walks away. We close with Lennier leaving B5. For me, this central story of Mollari’s dream and coming to realize he must repent is extremely powerful. I was initially worried we’d be seeing some silly flashback montage like Star Trek: TNG’s “Shades of Grey” (my review of that debacle). But instead, we get flashbacks, yes, but with new material added and the struggle of Mollari to grow past himself. It’s a wonderful moment, even if it does drag towards the beginning. The payoff is great. 

3: The Paragon of Animals

Sheridan and others attempt to get the members of the Alliance to sign onto a Declaration of Principles. There’s utter chaos over the debate, and Girabaldi privately weighs in to Sheridan saying that he thinks there needs to be more force behind the alliance anyway. Then, we skip over to some people in a dire situation who voice their opinion that the only hope is the Rangers. 

Girabaldi goes to find Byron because he’s managed to sell the main Alliance members to reach out the the telepaths. He quickly gets that meeting, but then Byron summarily dismisses Girabaldi without even allowing him to make an argument, because he’s already heard it all through his mind. Immediately after this, a White Star ship shows up at B5 with a horribly injured Ranger on board. Delenn pushes to use a telepath to discover what the Ranger was doing, and Lyta reads his memories to see the Enfili desperately hoping to join the Alliance in order to get its aid and survive. From this point, I’m already thinking the Drazi are more involved than they’re letting on–it wouldn’t make sense for any people to be totally uninterested in raids on border nations that are close to their own. And we’ve seen so far that Babylon 5 usually has a reason for things that don’t make sense.

Girabaldi convinces Lyta to go talk to the telepaths and G’Kar drops off his draft of the Declaration of Principles for Sheridan. It’s a beautiful statement that ultimately culminates in the notion that “we are one.” Byron confronts Lyta’s doubts about being a telepath head-on, but frees her to think more of herself while also agreeing to provide some help to the alliance because Lyta does want that help. And, here we go–the Drazi have some huge nefarious plan to destroy the White Star fleet and attempt to throw off any possible interference from the greater Alliance. Sheridan’s thank you to Lyta, even as an afterthought, clearly has a big impact on her. She’s becoming a more interesting character, which I’m totally on board for. Also, can we talk about how much the Rangers miss Marcus!? *Silently weeping.*

The confrontation with the Drazi among all the other members of the alliance is a great, masterful stroke. I loved it. We see them all rushing to sign the Declaration of Principles as Lyta looks on, apparently pleased at the great good she’s done. The tension-breaking humor of having G’Kar come in and bring another Declaration as he rushes off to get everyone to sign the new one was another great scene. Lyta goes to speak with Byron, and Sheridan agrees to work with the telepaths. I hope this means more great things and not some more nefarious plotting!

These guys are awesome.

4: A View from the Gallery

Throughout this episode we keep getting insights from some kind of maintenance team on Babylon 5 and from the beginning I suspected there’d be something much more important going on with them. 

Dr. Franklin has a great conversation about why he cares about trying to save whatever lives he can save. Once again, it ties back into his father. Seeing his father saved by a doctor, regardless of which side he was on, is what inspired him to become a doctor. As someone who’s experienced recent loss of a close relative, this scene was extremely poignant. I love how frequently Dr. Franklin talks about his dad. And then there’s the clincher at the end–the doctor who helped his father was shot and killed by his own side for being a traitor. Incredible. 

One of the battles in the episode has one of the maintenance guys fixing the station even as the battle is going on, and the lackadaisical way he goes about it in the middle of a warzone is just so endearing. I loved it. Also, bugs eating wiring is a major sci-fi trope, isn’t it? Then, Girabaldi is torn up one side and down another by  Lochley, who is suddenly showing a lot more character than I thought she might have. 

Then the maintenance guys crawl through a warzone and meet up with the rogue telepaths. They then have a number of cryptic conversations with the telepaths before Byron basically puts Bo in the cockpit of a fighter after he says it “matters to him.” Apparently Bo appreciated the experience, but it’s hard to tell where it went from there. Going along with that, we see a conversation between G’Kar and Mollari that is absolutely delightful as Mollari complains about the universe having it in for him as G’Kar relates his own struggles with the Centauri bombing his homeworld. Then we see another hugely touching moment between them as G’Kar tells Mollari “You did not grow up, you grew old.” Their dynamic is so perfect.

The final battle culminates in the White Star fleet saving the day even as our erstwhile maintenance workers watch and talk about the impact of everything on themselves and the station. At the end, we see Mack and Bo being greeted by Delenn as she and Sheridan walk past. This episode was so heartwarming and wholesome and I love it so much. 

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 4: Episodes 21-22

She thinks she’s winning here.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 4: Episodes 21-22

21: Rising Star
Ivanova sits in the medlab mourning Marcus in some of the most emotionally wrenching scenes in the entire series. I don’t know what to say. I am devastated. 

Back on Earth, Bester meets up with Sheridan in an attempt to find out about his lover and whether Sheridan sacrificed her for the sake of the battle. Sheridan angrily torches Bester’s motivations, but then reveals that Carolyn is still on Babylon 5. Sheridan also notes that Girabaldi is finishing personal business before he almost certainly will be coming after Bester. And we immediately get a quick scene showing us what Girabaldi is up to–tracking down Lise. 

The interim President and Sheridan then have a conversation in which she basically forces him into two extremely poor options, either forcing him from command or bringing him up on a stacked jury for court martial. Sheridan says he will resign after the options are laid out. Sheridan, when he is given the chance to speak after  taking the deal, resigns only after stating that he loves Earth and that he is doing it for amnesty. I am sure there will be more to this. 

G’Kar then follows up Sheridan’s brief speech with his bombshell that the League of Non-Aligned Worlds voted to dissolve and create its own, new alliance. Delenn explains that the Rangers will now be the ones guarding the safety and peace of the alliance worlds, as a White Stars fleet overflies the Presidential palace. 

I knew it! Sheridan is the President of the new Alliance! I love this so much. It’s so fantastic. Oh my goodness what a fantastic scene when Sheridan gets to leave and see his dad. It’s absolutely beautiful. The scene shortly after with Mollari and G’Kar is another perfect scene in a series of fantastic scenes. I adore this show, so, so much. And the artificial eye missing from G’Kar? A bit creepy but also… so on character. 

Babylon 5 Endures! Triumphant!

22: The Deconstruction of Falling Stars

So I read that Babylon 5 got cancelled about halfway through season 4, so they decided to wrap up the series in that season, tying off loose ends much more quickly than may otherwise have happened. But then towards the end, the network decided to renew the series for a 5th season after all. This meant that, apparently, they had to come up with more story for the upcoming season. This episode, it seems, is a way to lay the groundwork for that next season.

We see many news stories, talking heads, people debating the use of the Rangers after the fact, discussing Sheridan’s legacy, and more. The whole thing is presented in a series of cuts which is apparently someone watching all of these in a row. We finally see some insight into what’s happening as we see someone is trying to re-write history. They’re [unsure who “they” are here] using “goodfacts” as opposed to “realfacts” 500 years later, attempting to justify breaking out of the alliance in order to set up a preemptive strike and attack. But a holographic Girabaldi manages to hack the system and stop it just in time. Then, we jump forward another 500 years and see some monks talking about the events that happened in the interim. Earth has lost quite a bit of technology and no longer do humans ply the stars. Sheridan and others have become myths.

Finally, something like a million (!?) years after the events of the main series, we see someone sending all of these sequences off to “New Earth.” The episode ends with Delenn waking up next to Sheridan as they discuss whether they’ll be remembered in a a hundred or a thousand years. Delenn assures Sheridan history will take care of itself and they settle in together. End of season 4, one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever seen. 

I honestly enjoyed it quite a bit, and despite some people saying they really don’t like season 5, I’m looking forward to diving in and seeing what happens next. 

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 4: Episodes 17-20

Well, this is awkward.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 4: Episodes 17-20

17: The Face of the Enemy
Garibaldi is clearly feeling it with his upcoming betrayal of Sheridan. Sheridan, meanwhile, discovers that the President is telling Earth Force people that they’ll all be killed and replaced by Minbari if they don’t surrender. But one of Sheridan’s allies talks some of the Earth Force down while his old ship shows up. Sheridan is too trusting, in my opinion, as he decides to go over to his old ship. Meanwhile, Franklin and Lyta go to meet up with Mars resistance forces. 

Garibaldi does ultimately seem to go the distance and tranquilizes Sheridan in the middle of a bar after he used his dad as bait to bring him in. And here we have a disturbingly poignant psuedo fight scene as Sheridan attempts to fight off those sent to apprehend him as music goes on hauntingly in the background. This scene is one of the more powerful in the show so far, as we see Garibaldi juxtaposed against Sheridan getting beaten by Earth Force brutes. Then, a news story of his capture is played over scenes of Sheridan being beaten by his captors. As Garibaldi’s betrayal ramps into high gear, he learns of Edgars’s plan to fully control telepaths by forcing them to take a drug. And then we see Garibaldi taking a tooth out that sends a signal to Bester!? 

I just need to pause for a moment and truly reflect on this! The whole plot was brought about by Bester, who set Garibaldi up as a kind of inside man, to spy for him. And then Bester, once he gets the information he needs from Girabaldi, apparently releases Garibaldi from his psychic trap. But the whole thing was set up, in a way, by the Shadows themselves, since they targeted the telepaths and tried to trap them between enemies. Bester releases Garibaldi and leaves him in abject sorrow. He’s believed to be a traitor by everyone.

18: Intersections in Real Time

Sheridan is tortured and questions in some of the more excruciating scenes in the show. It’s not terribly graphic, but since we’ve become so invested in Sheridan as a character, it becomes horrible just to not know whether he’s going to get through it alive. The lengthy sequences also remind me of the scenes with Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Chain of Command, Part II.” In fact, the whole episode is quite similar to that show. I’m not suggesting they’re copying with Babylon 5 by any means, just that that TNG episode is among the best in all of TNG, and Babylon 5 takes the idea of an episode (or two) of interrogation and moves it into one entire episode in which we watch them trying to break Sheridan down. 

“The truth is fluid,” says Sheridan’s tormentor. “My task is to make you desire to believe differently.” Going on, the episode shows this man use any number of tricks on Sheridan to torture him mentally and physically. It’s got al lkinds of shades of 1984 as well, especially when the man leaves with a track on repeat talking about how to be released. Finally, they offer Sheridan “one last chance,” to confess to his “crimes,” which he denies. He’s carried down the hall with an overlay of words from the Bible while he sees a vision of Delenn in the distance. It’s unclear where the words or vision came from. 

He gets taken to another room, but he sees a robed and masked figure, who turns out to be the alien that he saw taken away and killed. Is it a vision again? Everything is unclear as the episode ends leaving Sheridan with a new tormentor. This is one of the most visceral episodes of the entire series so far, and I was left desperately wanting to watch the next one. Of course, before I could do so, I had to go to work! 

19: Between the Darkness and the Light

[I wrote the reactions here in real time, so be ready for the twist.]

The episode begins with a scene we as viewers know immediately is wrong–Sheridan back talking to Dr. Franklin, apparently unharmed. Right away, we see that the awful people set up by the President to interrogate Sheridan have been drugging him in an attempt to get information from him. On the flip side, Garibaldi is captured by the Mars resistance forces and interrogated by them. Lyta and Franklin manage to manage to convince “Number One” of the resistance that Garibaldi is in fact telling the truth by using Lyta’s telepathic abilities. 

Also, excuse me a massive fanboy squeal here, because we have a redemption arc for Mollari! It’s not much at this point, but Mollari works with G’Kar to unite the allied worlds to agree to work together for the sake of Sheridan. Ivanova and Marcus work to try to get away from an apparent ambush set up by Earthforce [edit: I just found out it’s Earthforce, apparently, and there’s no way I’m going to go back and edit all my uses of Earth Force, so here’s where I start getting it right] destroyers while Garibaldi, Dr. Franklin, and Number One also work to try to rescue Sheridan. 

And in that rescue, we have one of the greatest one-liners in the whole series from one of the Earthforce guards: “I don’t watch TV. It’s a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.” Garibaldi: “I couldn’t agree more.” Absolutely epic. The thing that makes this even more awesome is how much it fits with our current narrative in which the alleged liberal media elite are purported to be controlling all information/media. It’s a great tongue-in-cheek moment that is probably timeless. 

Ivanova thanks Marcus for the compliment he gave her many moons ago since she’s now learned enough Minbari to know what he actually said. But the Earthforce destroyers also have Shadow technology all of a sudden, so it initially looks quite bleak. And it is… so bleak. The White Stars fleet manages to destroy the Earthforce fleet, but only with critical injuries to Ivanova. 

Delenn and Sheridan are reunited and it’s beautiful. 

Wait… wait a second. Wait!? Ivanova!? No! No! That’s not okay! Damn! Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that just happened. 

NO! NOT OKAY!

20: Endgame

Ivanova’s not dead yet. Are they toying with my feelings? And worse–those of Marcus!? 

Anyway, the final attack is being prepped, as Garibaldi (whose recovery is remarkable) leads a scout mission on Mars for the attack while the Alliance ships get ready to strike from space. Earthfroce has apparently decided to set up one of Sheridan’s old teachers as his rival for one of these final battles. Meanwhile, Marcus tries to find a way to save Ivanova. I’m also writing this episode reaction real-time and I just remembered a solution and I’m not happy about it. Remember that weird machine that could transfer life force from one person to another? I bet Marcus is going to find it and transfer his life to Ivanova, sacrificing himself for her. He’s too good! I can feel this is going to happen. Please, no! Great, and then he finds out about the alien healing device, just as I predicted. I’m… not happy about this. 

And there he goes, flying off, his vivid blue eyes foreshadowing what I’ve already guessed will happen. I knew from the beginning he’d die! I said so! 

Anyway, back on Earth, the awful President Clark kills himself, but only after deciding to go down in flames, arming the defense grid and taking whatever casualties he can with him, specifically, though, he’s turned the defensive systems towards Earth in order to take as much of Earth as possible with himself. Sheridan pushes the fleet to the limit in order to try to save as many people of Earth as he can. Sheridan’s old commander saves his life, destroying the last platform just before Sheridan’s ship would have rammed it to destroy it. 

After a beautiful scene with ISN coming back online, we have… the scene I’ve been dreading for more than an entire season. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but I did know. Marcus looks at Ivanova’s body and says “I love you,” as he closes his eyes. 

Damn.

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 4: Episodes 13-16

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 4: Episodes 13-16

13: Rumors, Bargains and Lies

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

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

14: Moments of Transition

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

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

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

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

15: No Surrender, No Retreat

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

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

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

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

16: The Exercise of Vital Powers

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

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

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

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 4: Episodes 9-12

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

9: Atonement

I enjoyed the opening with Zack Allan here clearly missing Garibaldi. I can’t wait to see what happens with Garibaldi and how he’ll come back. Like Zack, I think it’s just a matter of when, not if. G’Kar gets an eye which can see outside of his skull independently, and I suspect that will be important later! And, guess who’s here!? It’s Marcus, baby! And he’s acting as a bodyguard for the Doc, which can only end well. As they prepare to go, Dr. Franklin stops to tell Sheridan he’s willing to look into the disappearance of Sheridan’s’ father. It’s a touching moment, especially when one thinks about Dr. Franklin’s own father and the issues that we’ve seen there. I think it takes on extra meaning because of that, and Franklin is basically just trying to say what he thinks is important. 

Delenn goes back to Minbari to face some kind of inquiry into her sex life and dreams, which is both weird but also not unexpected. As we see these flashbacks, we discover Delenn was the deciding vote in going to war against the humans in the Earth-Minbari war. We also find that the Minbari have had human DNA in them for some time. The Minbari leadership is apparently trying to cover this fact up, due to some awful xenophobia about purity. Delenn is unimpressed by the appeal to keep it a secret. 

And we leave the episode with Marcus singing, which immediately jumps this episode into the top episodes of all time. He even continues over the credits!

10: Racing Mars

Marcus and Dr. Franklin continue to Mars, picking up an ally (??) along the way. Their cover is apparently as a married couple on honeymoon, a story to which Marcus takes with gusto, of course! Meanwhile, Garibaldi and Sheridan get into a shouting match over Garibaldi’s interview with ISN. Ivanova, back on station, is trying to enlist black market smugglers to bring supplies into the station. It sounds like a sweet deal–they’ll fix the ships, they’ll pay well, and they’ll excuse various past ills. 

On Mars, the erstwhile ally turns out to have betrayed Marcus and Dr. Franklin, probably because of some creepy mind control creature. Garibaldi is getting recruited by some strange unknown group that is trying to paint Sheridan as mentally disturbed, which seems… bad. 

Overall, this episode feels mostly like a setup, introducing a slew of new characters and contact with existing but heretofore background factions. We’ll see where it goes.

Also, I’m still wanting to know what the heck that eyeball on the Centauri’s shoulder was. 

11: Lines of Communication

Sheridan has a revelation while watching ISN to try to counter the propaganda from Earth with its own “voice of the resistance.” Marcus and Dr. Franklin try to spur cooperation between Babylon 5 and the resistance on Mars, while Delenn goes out on an expedition. Team Marcus seems relatively successful, and a potential relationship between Dr. Franklin and the leader of the Mars resistance is raised by Marcus.

The Drakh, with whom Delenn is coerced into speaking in person by another Minbari, apparently are deeply involved in the inter-caste conflict between the Minbari. The Drakh have rather interesting costumes and some sort of phase-shift effect or something. Delenn is forced by Forell, whose family was lost to the elements due to Warrior caste unpleasantries. But the complexity shifts up, as the Drakh react poorly to it being Delenn to whom they are speaking due to their own service to the Shadows and her victory over them. So was this a setup by the Drakh, who seemed to not know who she was at first? Or was it actually the beginning of a potentially larger conflict within the Minbari castes. 

Either way, Delenn is supremely unimpressed by the Drakh’s treachery, and she turns her fleet around to fire on the Drakh and destroys all of their ships. She then goes back to B5 and tells SHeridan she has to go home for a while to help figure things out. Sheridan comments that he’s sure “Stephen has his hands full…” and the scene switches to Marcus playing with his Minbari staff (not a euphemism!) and overhearing what sounds like some physical pleasure happening with Stephen and “Number One” (I forget her name, if she’s given one yet).

Zathras is back with all of his witty dialogue!

12: Conflicts of Interest

Garibaldi is doing some good things in Downbelow. His newfound friends seem to be… not so friendly, though. After Sheridan orders Zack to get Garibaldi’s inenticard and other things–including his weapon(s)–from him, Garibaldi indicates to his “friends” he is willing to go up against security. 

Ivanova finds Zathras and is very confused. I am very excited by this, though, because Zathras is entertaining, if confusing. Garibaldi is the contact for Lise–his ex! She and Garibaldi get some privacy to talk things out a bit, and she explains what’s happened since we last saw her. She tells a story of injustice at the hands of Martian courts and estrangement from her first husband. She’s remarried since to a wealthy man who is now paying for Garibaldi’s undercover op. 

Sheridan tries to enlist the help of Mollari and G’Kar to help fight the raids along the borders of the Non-Aligned worlds. Each objects, but Sheridan reasons that if they can both allow the White Star fleet and the Rangers to patrol the borders of their empires, they can help usher in an era of peace. 

Garibaldi gets involved in some fighting and discovers his security clearance has been cancelled. And we get a scene similar to the endless Jeffries Tubes in Star Trek as Garibaldi directs his friends down a duct while awaiting to trap his enemies. But as Garibaldi waits in ambush, he realizes the other faction (I’m starting to get confused by how this is all playing out) must have a telepath to read where they’re going. The security forces on Babylon 5 manage to intercept the others, who commit suicide once stopped. Sheridan gives Garibaldi another lecture before the latter heads back to his apartment and deletes a message from Lise because he decides “it’s over.” I wonder if it really is over. She’s shown up a couple times now–are they teasing something? Her husband offers to hire Garibaldi, and he expresses interest. This seems to point towards more involvement, not less.

The first episode of news as run by Ivanova says, basically, that the truth will out! I certainly hope so.

Also, I’m left with this episode still wondering what the heck happened to Garibaldi? Why is he acting this way? And–why is there an eye on that Centauri’s shoulder?

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 4: Episodes 5-8

“This episode seems like a series finale.”
“Yeah, I’m confused, too.”

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 4: Episodes 5-8

5: The Long Night 

Londo’s planning is apparently accelerating as he’s gathered a bunch of Centauri together plainly voicing his plan to rid them of Emperor Cartagia while he’s vulnerable outside of court.  Sheridan exhorts Ivanova to find more of the First Ones in order to help fight the battle/stop the Shadow/Vorlon war. She reveals her own innermost fears in a touching moment, and Sheridan gives her backing that she asks for.

I just want to pause here and say I didn’t expect this. Yeah, the Shadows were fore, er, -shadowed as a major enemy even in season 1, but the Vorlon always seemed some powerful, probably protectorate type of people who, at worst, wouldn’t back the humans in the war. Now they’re major players, but not on the side of the humans nor with the Shadows but as a major antagonist themselves. It’s a surprising development. It shows, too, how deep the show is. A generic space opera, this is not. It’s got far more depth than I ever expected. 

Mollari runs to G’Kar to make last-minute adjustments to the plan and this makes me realize there’s a lot more going on here, because Mollari tells G’Kar not to directly harm the Emperor because otherwise he won’t be free and his family will be harmed. Mollari insists his people will take care of things. So what is G’Kar supposed to do? Again, layers of subtlety that aren’t expected in a show like this on the surface. Moving on, the plan goes somewhat differently from planned. Did G’Kar actually break super reinforced chains? Vir ends up killing the Emperor because the Emperor was fighting with Mollari. 

The council of allied worlds decides to send a suicide mission into Shadow space to try to set a trap. It’s kind of a strange moment as Sheridan asks the captain if he’s married. One wonders about all the rest of the crew of the 5 total ships being sent in. The Narn try to make G’Kar into a new emperor, which he roundly refuses. Instead, he tries to lead the people towards renewal. But other voices of the Narn demand vengeance and war. Seems like this is another major plot that may unfold. 

6: Into the Fire

Ivanova works to continue to get the First Ones in order to try to fight the war against the Shadows and/or Vorlons. Meanwhile, Sheridan and Delenn work with Lennier to lead a huge strike force against the baddies. Marcus and Lyta, meanwhile, set up some nukes around on asteroids, presumably as some kind of minefield?. Back on Centauri, chaos reigns but the newly minted Prime Minister Mollari seems to be establishing order.

Lorien and Ivanova’s conversation about the First Ones, particularly his variety of First Ones, is revealing. He talks about the universe making short lived peoples. His own people nourished and helped other races of peoples. But he also talks about how his people as a group have lived so long that they’ve left behind joy, hope, and love because of how transitory it is. Humans and other peoples whose lives are brief “can imagine that love is eternal.” He tells Ivanova to embrace that illusion as a gift. I can’t decide if this is horrifically ominous or simply cynical.

Finally getting the truth behind Mollari’s love’s murder. Morden killed his love, and Mollari went to Morden. Mollari absolutely loses it. It’s a startlingly genuine and well-acted scene as Mollari comes to grips with the fact that he went down the path he embarked on due to a vile deception. He was played, as he says. And he does not wait around to exact his vengeance. He has his guards kill the shadows that accompany Morden. Morden says Mollari is insane, and Mollari responds: “On any other day, you would be wrong. Today? Today is a very different day.” OMG HE BLEW UP AN ISLAND! OMG. That was EPIC! I admit I was extraordinarily surprised that Mollari didn’t have Morden killed. But I was even more surprised when, later, he  has Vir go check on the last of the Shdow’s influence. His head is on a pike, and Vir is able to wave at Morden’s lifeless eyes, just as he said earlier. Mollari is definitely climbing back into my favorites on the series.

I’m trying to figure out why Sheridan used the nukes to blow up the Shadows and Vorlon instead of just letting them blow each other to pieces. Why not just mop up whoever was left? Apparently it’s because he’s acting in dfense of a planet of innocents that the Vorlon are planning to destroy due to Shadow influences. Sheridan calls in the First Ones, against Delenn’s advice, because he thinks with his heart instead of his head at times. 

The scene with both Sheridan and Delenn being tested by the Vorlons and Shadows independently is fantastic. The Shadows see themselves as pushing evolution–and Delenn calls them on their ideology. The Shadows happily grant that it’s about ideology. Meanwhile, the Vorlons try to claim a moral high ground, attempting to manipulate without revealing their own deceptions. Both Sheridan and Delenn reject the reasoning of these First Ones and their false dichotomies. I have to admit I’m shocked by the revelations here, that the Vorlons were basically using everyone else for their proxy war against the Shadows. In a way, the Shadows have been telling the truth the whole time. And now the Shadows and Vorlon just… leave? 

Lorien leaves Delenn and Sheridan with words that they must guide others to greatness and to move “beyond the rim” in some sort of higher plane of existence. Vir and Mollari celebrate a brief, wonderful moment of success. Delenn and Sheridan reflect on the apparent end of a terrible war. Delenn suggests they can make their own legends and future, and it’s a simply fantastic moment. It feels like the end of the series, to be honest, and yet there’s still 1 2/3 seasons left!?

Literally my face watching this.

7: Epiphanies

Somehow I knew it would be the awful Earth government that would be causing trouble after the Shadow War was ended. I wonder what the Earthers were doing during the time Babylon 5 was out there, I don’t know, uniting multiple alien species into an alliance that defeated the First Ones. The surprises keep coming at a breakneck pace in this episode, though. Bester seemingly gets sent to destroy B5; Mollari’s back on station; Garibaldi resigns after some weird light show thing appears to activate some memory buried in him, and Elvis impersonators are still a thing in the future. The speed with which some of these developments play out is surprising, as it is in the most of the season so far. However, the writing is so good and the acting is well done enough to maintain the sense of reality it all has, such that even at a seemingly rushed pace, it is enjoyable. 

Bester: “Haven’t we learned by now to trust each other?” Sheridan: “No. Sit down.” I loved this confrontation over Lyta. It had elements of humor to it, along with a sense of possibly bigger things going on. I don’t think Lyta’s done being developed, especially after the early comment she makes about no one being interested in hanging out with her. After a disastrous attempt to check out Z’ha’dum which apparently sets off a trap that blows up the planet, he checks in on his love in the cryo chamber. Sheridan outs Lyta as a pretty powerful telepath who apparently set off the trap herself. Zach enters immediately after Sheridan leaves and in what is possibly his best moment on the show so far, offers Lyta a pizza and help. 

Wait, what the HELL is that eye on the court person’s shoulder doing there!? What!?

8: The Illusion of Truth

I started this episode with the thought that “I better find out what the heck is that eye on that court guy’s shoulder.” Keep that in mind.

There’s a renegade news agency come to Babylon 5 to try to tell the “real story” of what’s going on. Lennier gets roped into showing them around the station. Shortly into the episode, though, it appears there may be something more nefarious going on with these news folks. Not only do we seem to see the cameras taking pictures at somewhat odd moments, but also the way the reporter guy pushes questions on Sheridan/Delenn. They’re questions that are structured to drive wedges between people. 

Garibaldi is out and about causing trouble still. We also get some insights into his flashbacks when he sees a picture of a creepy alien and has a flashback with a voice saying “You work for no one but us.” 

And then we get the actual news story. A remarkable example of disinformation. That seems an understatement, but the way this is done in the show is masterful. Calling in the expert psychologist to analyze Sheridan and others. The painting of everything in a nefarious light seems 100% on brand for what’s going on on Earth. They use Garibaldi to play up fears about Sheridan. Along with that, they play on the cryogenic chambers to create a completely fabricated storyline about what’s happening on Babylon 5. The whole thing is pretty awful and honestly raises some questions about how easy it was to create a compelling counter-narrative painting Babylon 5 as some kind of alien factory for producing weapons. What does this mean about some of our own news? How careful should we be of disinformation ourselves? These are questions worth asking, especially in this age of information. Track down your sources, see who’s telling you what, try to discern why they might spin stories that way. Most importantly: never reduce yourself to one outlet for news/media consumption. 

I’m left wondering one thing above basically everything else, though. What the hell is that eye doing on that guy’s shoulder!? 

Link

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.