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.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 4: Episodes 1-4

This guy is the worst! *Imagine the GIF of Jean Ralphio from Parks & Rec singing “The Wooooorsst” 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! 

Season 4: Episodes 1-4

1: The Hour of the Wolf

The various people of the alliance are losing confidence in Babylon 5’s mission and are apparently willing to abandon it. Some justify this by claiming the war is over, but as others argue with them, several admit they don’t think it’s over but that they’d rather pull back to their own planets and try to survive. The B5 mains are left disgusted as the alliance apparently falls apart in front of their eyes. 

We net get an introduction to Emperor Cartagia, who surprises Mollari with his short crest of hair. Apparently this is due to his desire to wander amongst the common people and do whatever he pleases without having others defer to his rank. I’m already getting A Bad Feeling about this guy at the beginning, and every scene in this episode going forward confirms it. He later reveals he is letting the Shadows come to burn the planet. Morden survived–UGH!–and convinced the Emperor that he can get godlike power if he just lets the Shadows hide out on his planet. I’d be asking why the Shadows are so swift to go into hiding. Because the Vorlon are mobilizing? Yes, we’ve seen the Vorlon defeat them, but en masse are the Vorlon really more powerful than the Shadows? (Edit: see below, layers upon layers of space opera going on here!)

Apparently Not-Kosh (the new Vorlon ambassador after Kosh) is using Lyta to walk around among humans, and it looks creepy. Cue up another Bad Feeling. Also, I fricking knew Sheridan was alive! I mean, obviously that kind of got spoiled by the cover of season 4 having his face on it, but I knew it instinctively anyway! YES! But who’s this weird alien?

2: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi? 

The title alone is the question I asked when they were talking about Garibaldi being missing in the previous episode. The weird looking alien starts off extremely cryptically, telling Sheridan he’s dead, and he checks for a pulse, but there is none. Then, the alien goes on to say that Sheridan might be in between moments–life and death. On Station, Dr. Franklin works to help with Delenn’s apparent health problem. 

Meanwhile, G’Kar is working to track down Garibaldi, and the discussion gets heated. But! YES! Enter Marcus to save the day! I did not expect that, but I should have, given how often both G’Kar and Marcus seem to get into brawls. Later, after they go on the run, G’Kar and Marcus talk about how they met. Turns out Marcus followed G’Kar, and he delivers yet another fantastic line: “I heard you were looking for Mr. Garibaldi on the assumption he was in trouble. So I went looking for you… on the assumption you’d probably get into trouble.” They verbally spar, making fun of the Minbari weapon Marcus uses, and then get down to the business of finding Garibaldi. In a touching moment, G’Kar mentions Garibaldi as his friend who wasn’t a Narn, and Marcus talks about how few friends he has and how many have ended up dead. G’Kar gets shot when he’s in hiding! Captured by the Centauri! 

Delenn gets pulled from her stupor by a recording of Sheridan, and she summons the Rangers to “Strike one last blow that will be heard and remembered 1000 years from now.” Back with the Centauri, Mollari is summoned by the Emperor to be presented a gift–and before he even said it I guessed it would be G’Kar. But seeing G’Kar completely in chains and tied to a post was more emotional than I thought it would be. Mollari, though, looks absolutely horrified at first, and maybe a little confused. And now I’m confused by Mollari’s response. Am I possibly right about a redemption arc for Mollari? G’Kar’s words when the Emperor asks–Do you by any chance happen to know where Mr. Garibaldi might be?–are so on point. A quick cut to Garibaldi shows him imprisoned… somewhere? Then it’s back to Mollari, now having an intimate conversation with G’Kar in which he reveals the torturous death G’Kar is going to endure. But Mollari doesn’t want that to happen, and reveals that he sees the Emperor as a “monster” on the throne. Mollari wants G’Kar to kill the Emperor, but G’kar makes Mollari promise to have the Centauri leave Narn if he does so. It seems a massive win-win, and a surprising one–can Mollari really guarantee the promise he made? But maybe G’Kar is just so desperate that he’ll accept even the faintest possibility. 

Sheridan is apparently talking to the one who claims to be the first of the First Ones. The strange alien says Sheridan has a Vorlon inside of him. And also he may be able to bring Sheridan back by “breathing on the embers” of his life. Looks like Sheridan is coming back, and that he did die! 

Guess who’s back, back again. Sher’dan’s back, tell a friend.

3: The Summoning

I loved the opening with Marcus and Delenn carefully avoiding telling Ivanova that she can’t actually speak Minbari well. G’Kar being dressed in a torturous jester costume in order to be laughed at by the insane Emperor’s court… not so much. It’s awful. And going from there, the scene where the Emperor complains about torturing G’Kar and not having him scream or anything while his hands are covered with blood… it’s just absolutely terrible. Not in the sense of it being bad television, but in the sense of it being so awful to watch and realize what G’Kar is going through. It’s a rather masterful way of building tension without having to show all the blood and gore on the screen. There’s an element of using one’s imagination that can be worse than anything they could have shown.

Not-Kosh and Lyta’s relationship seems clearly abusive. She finally pushes back enough to be shown into Not-Kosh’s mind. But while watching the episode, I really doubted Not-Kosh would show her anything. Garibaldi is back and confused. Meanwhile, the awful Emperor–and my Nero comparison continues to seem ever more appropriate–tortures G’Kar into screaming before the final stroke that would kill him with an electric-whip. The Emperor must be destroyed. (Also, as a side note, the 39 lashes are the number traditionally ascribed to Jesus, due to Deuteronomy 25:3. See also 2 Corinthians 11:24, where Paul says he received 40 lashes minus 1 on 5 occasions. A fascinating, and I’m sure intentional, parallel.)

SHERIDAN IS BACK! And just in time to stop a complete rebellion and destruction of the alliance. “We thought you were dead!” “I was. I’m better now.” 100% epic. And then he goes on to pump up the crowd and reunite them with the power of his words right before snuggling Delenn. Kickin’ ass and takin’ names: Sheridan. Lorien is on Babylon 5 now and Garibaldi is supremely unimpressed, which doesn’t surprise me. 

Lyta later reveals that the Vorlons have decided to destroy everything that the Shadows touched, apparently deciding to burn everything in the galaxy in order to try to stop anything having to do with the Shadows continuing to exist in any way. So that seems… bad.

4: Falling Toward Apotheosis 

A Babcom message from Ivanova informed viewers that the Vorlon are blasting more planets, which, as I said above, seems bad. Garibaldi remains skeptical of Sheridan and especially Lorien, while people on Babylon 5 are apparently viewing Sheridan as some kind of savior figure. 

The depth of the Emperor’s insanity continues to be revealed as we see the truth behind the severed heads incident, along with his obsession with becoming a god. He also continues to show parallels with Nero as he wants it to “all end in fire.” Nero, the Roman Emperor, allegedly stage acted while Rome burned (though the common phrase about fiddling while Rome burned is wrong, because fiddles weren’t invented yet), and here Emperor Cartagia (possibly a reference to Carthage, the long-time enemy of Rome? How many layers of depth are going on here) wants to turn the world into a pyre of destruction for what he thinks will be his elevation to godhood. 

Back on B5, the leaders seem to be planning to bring the fight to Not-Kosh, apparently by killing him? Dr. Franklin’s face after this discussion basically reflects my own skepticism. His face says it all: “Uh, how the hell? What? That’s not gonna happen, but you’re really gonna try it?” I truly didn’t expect this to develop in this episode, but we move from the planning to immediately trying to forcibly remove the Vorlon from the station, and it obviously does not go well as Not-Kosh easily defeats the whole security contingent, though apparently without having anyone permanently harmed. And Lyta–I forgot to mention she’s been modified with gills or something?–seems to be in on the game, trying to set up Not-Kosh for some kind of trap. And the trap gets sprung right away in this episode! The slow burn of seasons 1-2-most of 3 is over. It is GO TIME in Babylon 5. And the Not-Kosh creature is a creepy electric apparition. Also, this is unrelated but why the heck is Delenn there? 

OMG did Kosh just go to do battle against Not-Kosh!? They get sucked out into space with some kind of crazy First Ones vortex and go to the Vorlon ship, which explodes? I’m so confused and amazed by what’s happening with the Vorlon. I knew something wasn’t right about them! I didn’t express it, that I can see, in previous reviews but I thought something possibly bad with the Vorlon was going on with how Kosh was. On the flip side, now I sound like I’m siding with Morden in saying the Shadows are to be pitied, which is not at all true.

Mollari tries to convince Emperor Catargia that he must spare some of his people so that he can be worshiped. Redemption arc, begin? Part of his plan also seems to be to free G’Kar to act against the Emperor. Going back to Lorien, Delenn, and Sheridan we learn Sheridan only has till his 60s to live, which is pretty rough on Delenn. But they get engaged! 

At this point it’s worth noting how enthralled I’ve become by Londo/Vir/Cartagia’s storyline. Mollari was my favorite character in season 1, but he quickly became a “bad guy,” and I hoped for his redemption. Now, we see him looking on with horror as his people are led by a monster. It’s a fascinating rise, fall, and perhaps rise again that we’re witnessing. It’s so good. Obviously G’Kar is a huge part of this, as well. I am amazed by how they’ve managed to create basically a whole secondary storyline with new characters that is just as compelling as the main plot.

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 3: Episodes 21-22

Here comes the cavalry.

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 3: Episodes 21-22

21: Shadow Dancing

In which we discover why Delenn dropped the snowglobe.

Alright, so Sheridan figured out that refugees are fleeing to a certain region of space and the Shadows haven’t attacked there. That was in the previous episode. Here, we see the plan to ambush the Shadows coming to fruition. The alliance that B5 people have been trying to create finally pays off as the allied worlds send their forces against the Shadows. They expressed unwillingness to do so because they didn’t know the plan. But they ultimately trust Sheridan and Delenn, which is its own win. Ivanova and Marcus get sent on a mission in which they’re told the chances of survival are 50/50 which made me really uncomfortable. But they both lived! 100/0!  Marcus also tells Ivanova in Minbari that she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but when he translates it for her he makes it into a cryptic greeting. Signs of things to come?

A huge, epic space battle commences when the Shadows get ambushed and they manage to turn back the Shadow fleet, though at great cost. I gotta say that although the special effects don’t stand up super well, they still get the job done, and the battles in space are suitably awesome. I am impressed by what they did with what was probably a smaller budget than shows like Star Trek, which rarely shows anything happening in space battles due to the expense of it. Anyway, I enjoyed the eye feast in this episode.

Meanwhile, Girabaldi has a heartfelt moment wondering whether he did enough to help Dr. Franklin, who, it turns out, probably could use the help. We turn back to Dr. Franklin and see him intervene in a brawl and get stabbed. As he’s bleeding out, he hallucinates himself scolding himself about the decisions he’s made in life and decides he’s going to fight to change himself and the way he makes decisions. Franklin realizes that he was bemoaning what he couldn’t be or wouldn’t be and never took pride in who he was. Presumably, this is a massive change for his character going forward.

Oh, and Anna Sheridan shows up on station, walking in on Delenn observing some Minbari mating ritual of watching over Sheridan. Snow globe, shattered.

22: Z’Ha’Dum

Wait, what? Anna Sheridan is alive? Yeah, that seems like good news, but I was immediately distrustful. Thankfully, John Sheridan is, too. But he’s also pissed at Delenn. Delenn tells him they truly believed that there were only two possibilities for anyone on Z’Ha’Dum (I hope I don’t have to type this place name very much going forward): killed by the Shadows, or enlisted by them. I understand Sheridan was being quite emotional–and for good reason–but it’s hard to watch the scene where he accuses Delenn of lying to him. Like–dude–really? And of course Delenn is only honest so she also reveals that she and Kosh intentionally kept from him the possibility of Anna being alive. And, if Sheridan would just think about it for a moment, he’d realize that the possibility of her being alive was left open, but that it would mean she’s in league with the Shadows.

And of course, that’s what I suspected from the beginning! Definitely didn’t even start to trust Anna, not that the show made too huge an effort to deceive viewers into thinking she’s trustworthy. Sheridan goes along with her trying to get him to Z’Ha’Dum, apparently thinking that he may be able to prevent the fall of Centauri–along with other awful things–if he does go. This, despite clear and repeated warnings that he will die. When he gets there–surprise!–Anna is in cahoots with the Shadows. She and this old dude who calls himself a middleman named Justin try to convince Sheridan that the Shadows are the good guys. A galaxy-wide conspiracy has been going on and he should join them! Sheridan rejects that like the boss that he is and instead programmed a ship to drop a couple super-nukes on ground zero of the Shadows’ re-awakening. Of course, there’s a side effect of literally everyone there dying, including Sheridan!? 

And that’s basically how this season ends!? Are you kidding me, Babylon 5? (Grabs next season’s DVD box set.) 

I want to reflect just a moment here. I don’t know what to think. I haven’t been 100% able to avoid all spoilers, and I have some thoughts. Like the fact that the box for season 4 has Sheridan on the cover, so presumably he’s still alive. So here’s what I’m thinking: I think Sheridan has a kind of death like Neroon did earlier this season–a death to an idea. Like maybe he doesn’t physically die, but he’ll rise from the ashes, having been saved by a Vorlon or something. I don’t know. He just can’t be dead, right? Or maybe there’s some weird time travel thing that will rescue him? I hadn’t thought of that before I sat here trying to figure out how to save him. Then there’s the question of whether the future can actually be changed. Maybe future Delenn wanted him not not go to Z’Ha’Dum because him doing just that is what got them into their predicament. I can’t imagine waiting like a year to get a new season of this to drop. [An insightful reader noted that it was only a week in the U.S. but much longer overseas.] It’s so good and such a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to dive into the next season!

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 3: Episodes 17-20

Heartbreaking scenes- commence.

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 3: Episodes 17-20

Episode 17: War Without End Part 2

Before watching this episode I had a major sinking sensation that Marcus would die. He’s just such perfection that it feels like we don’t deserve him on some metaphysical level. He does not die in the episode, much to my relief. But I still think he will. It’s going to happen, and I’m going to be so angry when it does. (Obviously don’t spoil this for me. I hope I’m wrong.)

Anyway, what we do get from Marcus is a few great one-liners before the other main characters–and Zathras–take over for most of the episode. I was impressed by this episode on basically every level. The time travel elements that aligned with the earlier episode about Babylon 4 are interesting. They succeed because they are highly relevant to the plot. I am trying to figure out if all of these things that we have now had portents of will actually become reality. Are these possible futures? The show seems to suggest that there is but one timeline rather than an infinite number, so we may be seeing a possessed (???) Emperor Mollari at some point. We’re also set up to see Sheridan and Delenn fall much harder for each other… and have a kid? I think I heard that right. And G’Kar is going to lose an eye at some point and turn into some Narn assassin? I gotta admit that sounds awesome.

I also so enjoyed how Zathras was a huge setup for me earlier in the series. I didn’t write about him in my recap of season 1 at all largely because I thought he was some weird, probably insane creature. But here he is, and he’s absolutely integral to the plot. He’s kind of silly, but I loved how the story used him as such a setup and a way to announce the “One” who is apparently a reference to the three-Sheridan, Sinclair, and Delenn. 

Having Sinclair go back and become a Minbari/Human was a great plot point as well. It’s weird, but is consistent with the universe the story has set up so far. So many huge moments, and the action seems like it is just ramping up.

Episode 18: Walkabout 

Okay, we need to talk, Babylon 5. Is there some reason Dr. Franklin consistently gets steamrolled by the universe? This episode was harsh on him, and it’s definitely not the first time that’s happened. Here, we see him walking about the station, apparently looking for some meaning to his life. (I thought when I wrote this that “Walkabout” just meant walking around, but a few episodes later they used the term again and it apparently is a reference to this certain part of the station. The things you learn!) He becomes enthralled by a singer. He falls for her hard within a night, sleeps with her, and then wakes up to her stealing his doctor ID for drugs! Only it’s more complex because when he saves her from what he thought was an overdose, it turns out she has a terminal illness and couldn’t afford pain meds, which is why she stole his ID to get some pain relief. It’s heartbreaking and certainly points to some modern problems with health care system and the awfulness of situations that people find themselves in. Like–how is it that someone in our far future still must struggle with awful health care systems and feel the need to steal just to live her life? It’s awful, and perhaps more than a little on point.

And she’s dying! And there’s nothing Franklin can do, except leave her doing what she wants–bringing joy to the people at Walkabout with her voice. My goodness, the cinematography at the ending with Dr. Franklin walking out, refracted in the glass. Perfection

Meanwhile, in what is probably intended as the main plot of the episode, the new Kosh is on station, and he apparently wants to be called Kosh, so that’s convenient. He is Very Disappointed in You when it comes to Lyta. But she gets a chance to make up for it right away as she gets sent on a mission to fight some Shadows, based on the premise that the Shadows are weak to telepaths. She does quite well, especially when enraged by a memory from Sheridan’s surface thoughts of Kosh’s death. G’Kar shows up to save the day with the remaining Narn fleet after being prodded by Girabaldi to honor his own holy book. It’s a great moment there, too. But Franklin–wow, he needs to avoid tragedy for a bit.

Episode 19: Grey 17 is Missing 

B5 is trying to recruit telepaths to help fight the Shadows, to somewhat comedic effect. Ivanova is sent to find Dr. Franklin in order to try to recruit from the underground railroad he helped getting telepaths away from Psi Corps. That part of the plot seems like an obvious Big Thing to Come in the future, but for now is mostly tied up here. Dr. Franklin continues to not catch a break as he wanders around Walkabout on withdrawal trying to set himself straight. I really hope they didn’t pick this for his character just because he’s the only main black character so far. As a plot point, though, it is a good character piece and Dr. Franklin continues to be both sympathetic and wow… sad. 

Delenn gets caught up in a power play between castes of the Minbari as one of the Warrior caste guys, Neroon, says she needs to give him leadership of the Rangers or he will stop her at all costs. Delenn is insistent that no one knows about this threat. Lennier twists logic and thinks about who might be able to help. ENTER MARCUS. Once again, best boi is here to defend valor and win at life and everything else. Meanwhile, Girabaldi gets captured by some weird universe-is-us-we-are-the-universe-achieve-perfection-by-being-eaten-by-this-alien cultlike group. Yeah, that’s the description of them. Anyway, he manages to escape. 

We get this awesome juxtaposed scene of Delenn being set up as leader of the Rangers while Marcus and Neroon fight to the death. And my goodness I definitely thought Marcus was dead for sure. Like I said above, I had this strong feeling Marcus is going to die. He’s too perfect in a good way. But he doesn’t die! I was only sitting on the couch for like 5 minutes shocked and enraged by his death before realizing he will, apparently, survive. And he even got another amazing moment out of it because he fights Neroon, knowing he would die, and invoking Valen’s name to protect Delenn. Marcus is the best. The Best. Neroon visits Marcus at the end to tell him what the human fighting for Delenn meant to him, and Marcus once again wins the scene: “The next time you want a revelation, perhaps you could find a way that isn’t quite so uncomfortable.” The man is a legend. He better not die.

Episode 20: “And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place”

Mollari wants to capture G’Kar and have him executed, apparently for political gain. He enlists Vir to help. This is, of course, much to Vir’s chagrin. Meanwhile, a group of religious leaders shows up on station. Apparently they’ve been spying (!?!?) and bring information about what’s going on on Earth back to Babylon 5. Also there’s a peppy Baptist preacher whose first impression is: this guy’s going to be fun. Delenn is being somewhat flirty with Sheridan, which feels odd, but I know this is the direction that’s getting developed. 

The Baptist preacher finds Sheridan and advises him that he needs to be able to unburden himself to others. “After God created Adam he created Eve… because we all need somebody to talk to… Someone to help shoulder the burden.” 

Anyway, back to G’Kar–so he goes based on this tip from Vir to try to find someone. Meanwhile, court drama happens and Refa captures Vir, using a telepath to glean Mollari’s plan from him. He goes to intercept G’Kar himself, but in a fricking triple-cross, it turns out Mollari planned this whole thing as a setup from the beginning! He only let Vir in on enough to get Refa on the rabbit trail, and now has Refa trapped and blames him for the death of 5-6 million Narn before unleashing the Narn on him. G’Kar oversees the beating to death of Refa and walks away like a badass. During this scene, we have insets of the chapel on Babylon 5 having a kind of revival-type worship led by the Baptist preacher. It’s an almost Godfather-esque scene contrasting an intensely religious scene (and a somewhat odd choice on lyrics, though it matches the events as Refa runs looking for a hiding place) with a violent death. Masterful.

Finally, we see that Delenn and the Minbari have been making a bunch more ships for the Rangers so now they have a whole lot of White Star-like ships that are ready for action. Delenn and Sheridan make out, so there’s that. Z Minus 10 Days flashes on screen, and I’m waiting for Zombies to break into Babylon 5. No really, I don’t know if I missed something but I have no idea what this means.

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 3: Episodes 13-16

“No, YOU die first!”

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 3: Episodes 13-16

13: A Late Delivery from Avalon

Some guy shows up on Babylon 5 claiming to be King Arthur. Yes, the King Arthur. Of course he’s not… though at one point in the episode I genuinely expected him to be the guy. It wouldn’t be totally out of line for the show to have done that. Anyway, basically he has some depression/etc. that seems to have caused him to go into this illusion, paralleling his own actions which set off the Earth-Minbari war with King Arthur’s own tragic story. Ultimately, Delenn comes along to save him after he’s confronted with his real history, and in his nightmare she becomes the Lady of the Lake, to whom he gives Excalibur, thus making some kind of forgiveness/amends for the war. 

There’s also this side story with Girabaldi and the post office. It appears to be the humorous thread, which often happens in the show during particularly serious episodes. Accompanying the strange main story, though, Girabaldi’s frustration with trying to get out of paying too much (in his opinion) for his package just seems to increase the oddness. Also, can we please, PLEASE keep the post office around so that hundreds of years in the future we’re still able to send packages anywhere on Earth without having to pay exorbitant fees? Fund the post office! 

I am sitting here writing about this episode and trying to figure it out. I’ve already seen how important some of these strange episodes or seeming side stories are in the series, but I can’t figure out how a guy who thinks he’s King Arthur can play into it, especially with how it’s all tied up. Maybe this was a one off. I guess I’ll find out.

14: Ship of Tears

First of all, the news channel being taken over by the awful leaders of earth was totally predictable, and having them become a propaganda machine also seemed like something I expected. That didn’t make it uninteresting to see, however. Wait–BESTER is here!? 

Yes, Bester has arrived at Babylon 5 and he’s apparently going to help them. I didn’t believe it for a second, and none of the characters did either. I loved how he shows up and Sheridan is basically like “I’m going to stay out of sight and also be ready to blow you up at all times with my space-fighter.” Anyway, can we talk about how often senior staff are flying around in dinky fighters? Is this the Babylon 5 equivalent of the captain going on an away mission? I think so. 

Normals are obsolete… the future belongs to the telepaths. Well–at least you know where you stand with Bester, right?

The scene where Delenn et al. finally tell G’Kar about essentially sacrificing his people for the sake of all so that the Shadows might be defeated is fantastic. G’Kar is acted brilliantly, and his reactions are utterly believable as he cycles through various stages. “Some must be sacrificed if all are to be saved.” “That one sentence is the greatest burden I have ever known.” G’Kar is a damned philosopher, and one with much more wisdom than many. 

Anyway, Bester basically tricks the B5 crew into helping him rescue a telepath and then the telepath goes nuts and melds with the space station to become a final boss in a video game. (Okay, this last part is a joke, but that’s definitely what she looked like.) Anyway, the crew manages to stop her, and Bester reveals he will help Babylon 5 at any cost if they save her because she’s the only woman he’s ever loved. Seems kind of like a big deal, but as I write this having watched episode 15/16 I realize nothing has come of it yet? I can’t wait to see what happens. Also, Bester is an awesome villain. I am excited that I managed to track down the books that are about the Psi Corps. Can’t wait to read those once I finish watching the series.

Girabaldi manages to break his character enough to figure out that the Shadows are scared of telepaths, which I’m sure won’t be important at all in the future. Yes, that’s sarcasm. Apparently the Shadows killed all the Narn telepaths to try to protect themselves. I wonder if G’Kar will be able to scrounge up some telepaths somewhere in the future.

15: Interludes and Examinations

I liked the opening of this one as Ivanova’s voice over is contrasted with the events happening on screen that seem to contradict her and show that there are far more dangers on the station than even she realizes. Sheridan realizes as he talks with Delenn and tries to enlist other non-aligned people to join the fight against the Shadows that they need a signature victory to point to in order to convince others that they have a change of defeating the Shadows. To do that, Sheridan confronts Kosh and goads him into revealing that he’s not all that unemotional after all. Kosh then convinces the Vorlon to attack the Shadows and they get their signature victory. But, we saw earlier that Morden, the weird human who is with the Shadows, snuck on board with some mini-Shadows. They kill Kosh, but not before Kosh contacts Sheridan in a dream and shares some vital information with him. 

Meanwhile, a side plot that seems almost a main plot features Girabaldi confronting Doctor Franklin about his increasing drug problem, which ultimately leads to Franklin stepping down to get himself into shape.

Another side plot has Londo awaiting Adira, his love from season 1, in great anticipation. But she arrives dead, because she was poisoned. Londo thinks it’s one of his Centauri rivals and agrees to enlist Morden for more aid in fighting his own, now private, battle. But it’s clear that Morden is the one who did it.

Kosh is dead! Londo’s love is dead! Londo is convinced to rejoin with the Shadows to fight! Everything is terrible! 

This episode has so many hugely important things happen in it–to the point where it’s hard to know where to even begin. I do wonder now about the huge popularity I’ve seen in fan circles of Kosh. I’m not naysaying that–people like who they like, and that’s fine. I’m just trying to understand why he’s so popular. Sure, he was useful and all, but he largely just seems enigmatic and then dies before he can really become anything more than a strange character you don’t know much about. Maybe he isn’t actually dead? I don’t know, but I imagine this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Vorlon. 

16: War Without End Part 1

The Minbari planet is gorgeous. That’s my takeaway from this episode.

Anyway, Sinclair shows up again, which is pretty exciting to me, because I quite enjoyed him as a character in the first season. He’s been assembling the Rangers and helping to run them. He gets a package from 900 years ago addressed to him, which is alarming, to say the least. Turns out there’s time travel in Babylon 5!? What? 

The rest of the episode is a series of discussions revealing many major plot points, like how Babylon 4 was sent into the past and instrumental in defeating the Shadows, and how Zathras, whom we’ve met before and I dismissed as a weird one off character, is apparently much more important than I thought. And Delenn has some cryptic talk about how they need to be the grey between the star and people or something. I didn’t get it, but it felt important. Maybe something to do with the Grey Council? I don’t know. So anyway, it turns out our main characters need to go through a time paradox so they can do something that’s already happened in order to allow the present to not be destroyed by the Shadows, which seems an important enough task that they risk everything. But oh wait, we lost Sinclair in time somewhere, which wasn’t supposed to happen according to Delenn. Delenn seems to be the one to trust here, except that she messed up big time, so I’m not even sure what to think any more.

We do finally get to have Marcus talking a little bit again. Please have every episode be about Marcus from now on. Oh, and Emperor Londo in some parallel universe manages to get a hold of Sheridan unstuck in time. That seems bad. 

Also time travel? Is this a constant thing in Babylon 5 now? Don’t tell me.

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 3: Episodes 9-12

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 3: Episodes 9-12

9: Point of No Return
A huge amount of plot happens in this episode. Reflecting on it after the fact, I am honestly surprised this much fit into approximately 42-44 minutes. Yet, as has happened consistently so far, at no point did the plot feel horribly rushed or bloated. It worked extremely well. Anyway, to the episode. First, we have Mollari editing what Vir is saying about his visit to the Minbari. I loved this little portrait scene, because it shows the contrast in their characters quite well. Then, we get the Night Watch is being authorized to take over Babylon 5. I know that “this is like the Nazis” gets thrown around a lot, but this is actually extremely similar to how the Nazis took over Germany, utilizing tragedies and misinformation to continue to seize more and more power. I’m sure this is intentional, as well. I read quite a bit of history of WW2 due to a deep interest in the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed at Hitler’s specific orders. I couldn’t help but see many parallels here, and the closeness of the ties suggests at least some research went in to paralleling some aspects of the rise of the Nazis. It’s a fascinating, sci-fi portrayal of how power can go wrong so quickly.

Can we pause for a moment and think about the number of people from Star Trek on this show? We’ve got Bester, played by Walter Koenig. It was a bit jarring to be like: “Hey, is that Chekov?” when he first showed up, but he nails his role here so far. Now, we have Lady Morella, some kind of Centauri Prophet, who is Lwaxana Troi–Majel Barrett. Side note: as a kid, I could not stand Lwaxana Troi, but when I re-watched TNG/DS9 in order as an adult she grew on me. Majel Barrett had more dimension acting than I picked up as a kid, and she shows it here. Side note 2, I love that Bester is Afred Bester and is clearly named after the science fiction author of the same name and spelling. I haven’t read a ton of Bester (I think The Demolished Man might be the only book I’ve read of his, but I want to read more now.

Anyway, I adored the part of this episode where Girabaldi absolutely lost it on the Night Watch, literally flipping tables and getting arrested. It’s a great scene that’s absolutely on point for his character, and the actor they chose has grown on me with scenes like this. G’Kar’s realization that working with the humans seemed like a major point, but we already get the payoff in this episode as the Narn are brought in to combat the Night Watch. Zack Allan hits a turning point in this episode, and I loved that he went with the good guys. I also liked how much ambiguity there was until we finally saw which side he picked. I hope he continues to get developed. I’m not a huge fan of him, but I think there’s room for dynamic growth. 

Morella reveals some kind of prophecy that Mollari will be Emperor, but that Vir will also be Emperor once Mollari dies. I’m not sure how to take this because so far prophetic type things have been basic certainties on the show. But Vir? Really? We’ll see. 

Anyway, ultimately the good guys take the station back after some early morning antics trapping the Night Watch, but this will surely have broader implications for Earth-B5 relations. This episode has way more in it, but I think I hit the major points I wanted to discuss. I loved this one. Heck, I love them all, but this one was particularly great.

10: Severed Dreams
The opener for this one has Mollari complaining loudly about the Narn as security and then having to wait hours because of a “technical difficulty” due to the “inefficient” Narn. I loved it. Good humor, and continues to show Mollari as a jerk. I truly hope he gets a redemptive arc of some sort, because I adored him in season 1. Some Minbari person brings a bunch more info about how the Shadows are making war happen far away. I’m sure that will become important probably but for now it seemed  a sidenote because EARTH FORCE IS BOMBING MARS! Yeah, so I guess I did not anticipate at all the huge amount of political intrigue this show would have. Early on in the show when Earth was mentioned I kind of just wrote it off as background noise, but now we see how important that was. It’s great to see the development here, and the rumblings we’ve seen made it so it wasn’t totally suspension of disbelief-defying. Also, the interrupted news broadcast was a great way to do this as a reveal. Time and again the right choices were made by whoever was running the show to make it dramatic and impactful.

Okay, so now we already have Earth Force showing up to challenge Babylon 5 with some rebellious ships assisting B5, and this battle scene was totally awesome. There’s a huge contrast in special effects with similar shows at the time, with the obvious comparison being Star Trek Deep Space Nine (which I love). These haven’t dated super great, but the excitement is all still there, and this was a fantastic, dramatic, huge epic space battle, which we almost never get to see in cinema or TV. Huge kudos for this great scene. 

Oh yeah, and the Minbari show up to save the day. No biggy. I’m sure that won’t be important (he says sarcastically). Loved it.

11: Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Deporting Night Watch! *Metal music plays in background because this scene is totally awesome.*

We have some assassination attempts, some kidnapping, and some intrigue for the main plot as Delenn gets captured. Lennier and Delenn have an interesting conversation about prophecy given my thoughts on prophecy with Vir above. We’ll see how this all plays out. Mollari has a good line in this episode too, as he plays with Centauri politics: “Why should I listen to you?” asks Refa. “Because I have poisoned your drink!” says Mollari. Loved this moment. I want to see Mollari develop more, and this may be the start of something for him. 

Night Watch people who stayed behind have kidnapped Delenn and it is time to UNLEASH MARCUS, possibly my new favorite character. I basically love everything about him, especially his accent. No, but seriously, he delivers one of the best one-liners in the show so far: “They [the Minbari who trained Marcus] said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger.”
“And?” asks Lennier.
Raising hands to scene of violence, Marcus says, “I’m not repressed any more.”
It’s a laugh out loud moment for me, but it shows some possibility for more background on Marcus as well. I hope he stays around the rest of the series, because he’s awesome in every way. Anyway, they rescue Delenn. New uniforms for the crew. Marcus/10. 

12: Sic Transit Vir
In which we discover Vir is a great human being… well, a great person, anyway. So in his travels, he’s been apparently diverting Narn who were going to be killed through forced labor in order to save them by hiding them as “dead.” This was revealed as Mollari was in the process of praising him for mass murder. Is Mollari truly this despicable, or is he playing a long game? Time will tell! Mollari also set up an arranged marriage for Vir to Drusella, who is… something else. She fights a Narn and ties him up for Vir to kill at one point. I wonder how her character is going to shape Vir. Overall, this episode seemed like a drawn out way to give Vir a plot arc. It was okay, but it dragged at points. 

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.