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 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.