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 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.