I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me!
Babylon 5, Season 5: Episodes 1-4
1: No Compromises
A new commander is on station, again. Sheridan and the new Captain Elizabeth Lochley have a brief discussion about the station and what leadership of it entails. Lochley notes as Sheridan leaves that he didn’t ask which side she was in in the recent conflict, and Sheridan just notes that she’s right. His priorities are clearly much more on healing and moving on as President of the Alliance than having anything to do with Babylon 5.
Not long after, Lochley is approached by someone naming himself Byron (a reference to Lord Byron?) who appears to have some mysterious power. Byron asks Lochley to meet him later. She does, but not on her own. She discovers that Byron is apparently a kind of rogue telepath who is seeking a place to call home for himself and many others of his kind. Meanwhile, a mysterious murder and threat against Sheridan occur as a guy who looks like the broker for the Shadows (kind of) walks around. Turns out he’s there to try to kill Sheridan before he manages to be sworn in as the President of the Alliance.
After failing in his attempt to kill Sheridan the first time, the man manages to steal a fighter to come back around for a second attempt. G’Kar speaks eloquently on the rights of those in the Alliance and the many faiths represented by the Alliance as well even as the fighter pulls up behind Sheridan. Girabaldi saves the day in his own fighter. G’Kar summarily swears Sheridan in in a humorous moment that helps break the tension some in the meantime.
The episode closes with Girabaldi coming back to speak with Lochley about the events while also introducing himself as the new head of covert intelligence for the Alliance. Lochley tells him she was on the “side of Earth” when it came to the near civil war. It’s an ominous start to a new era on Babylon 5.
2: The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
Delenn learns that Lennier has requested a permanent transfer back home. Londo Mollari is trying to bring some excellent liquor past security, but he falls down insensate once he drinks it. Please tell me we’re not losing both Londo and Marcus within just a few episodes! Lennier tells Delenn that he feels unneeded at this point–clearly a bit jealous of Delenn and Sheridan’s relationship. But he explains that he’s uncomfortable now. He does everything to suggest (but does not say) that he’s going off to join the Rangers in hopes of Delenn falling in love with him.
Mollari apparently had a heart attack. He wasn’t poisoned, but his survival is in great doubt. Delenn telepathically communicates with him (I think?) enough to set him off on a dream journey. Throughout this dream sequence, he is visited by other main characters. Vir tells him in his dream that his problem is himself–his heart can no longer bear the weight of his conscience. G’Kar then confronts him with his own guilt over teh destruction of the Narn, repeating time and again “You said nothing.” Suddenly we see Mollari placed on the whipping post that G’Kar himself endured, and it is G’Kar counting the lashes. In the “real world,” Dr. Franklin and others work desperately to save Mollari’s life. Mollari also cries out just as G’Kar did. Finally, Mollari firmly states that he does not want to die. The G’Kar figure continues to press Mollari for “just one word.” Finally, we see that Mollari’s problem is he cannot deal with the guilt and cannot bring himself to apologize for his actions. He breaks down, bitterly weeping as he yells “I’m sorry!”
Mollari wakes, and the first person he sees is G’Kar. He says “I’m sorry” to G’Kar, and the Narn smiles, turns, and walks away. We close with Lennier leaving B5. For me, this central story of Mollari’s dream and coming to realize he must repent is extremely powerful. I was initially worried we’d be seeing some silly flashback montage like Star Trek: TNG’s “Shades of Grey” (my review of that debacle). But instead, we get flashbacks, yes, but with new material added and the struggle of Mollari to grow past himself. It’s a wonderful moment, even if it does drag towards the beginning. The payoff is great.
3: The Paragon of Animals
Sheridan and others attempt to get the members of the Alliance to sign onto a Declaration of Principles. There’s utter chaos over the debate, and Girabaldi privately weighs in to Sheridan saying that he thinks there needs to be more force behind the alliance anyway. Then, we skip over to some people in a dire situation who voice their opinion that the only hope is the Rangers.
Girabaldi goes to find Byron because he’s managed to sell the main Alliance members to reach out the the telepaths. He quickly gets that meeting, but then Byron summarily dismisses Girabaldi without even allowing him to make an argument, because he’s already heard it all through his mind. Immediately after this, a White Star ship shows up at B5 with a horribly injured Ranger on board. Delenn pushes to use a telepath to discover what the Ranger was doing, and Lyta reads his memories to see the Enfili desperately hoping to join the Alliance in order to get its aid and survive. From this point, I’m already thinking the Drazi are more involved than they’re letting on–it wouldn’t make sense for any people to be totally uninterested in raids on border nations that are close to their own. And we’ve seen so far that Babylon 5 usually has a reason for things that don’t make sense.
Girabaldi convinces Lyta to go talk to the telepaths and G’Kar drops off his draft of the Declaration of Principles for Sheridan. It’s a beautiful statement that ultimately culminates in the notion that “we are one.” Byron confronts Lyta’s doubts about being a telepath head-on, but frees her to think more of herself while also agreeing to provide some help to the alliance because Lyta does want that help. And, here we go–the Drazi have some huge nefarious plan to destroy the White Star fleet and attempt to throw off any possible interference from the greater Alliance. Sheridan’s thank you to Lyta, even as an afterthought, clearly has a big impact on her. She’s becoming a more interesting character, which I’m totally on board for. Also, can we talk about how much the Rangers miss Marcus!? *Silently weeping.*
The confrontation with the Drazi among all the other members of the alliance is a great, masterful stroke. I loved it. We see them all rushing to sign the Declaration of Principles as Lyta looks on, apparently pleased at the great good she’s done. The tension-breaking humor of having G’Kar come in and bring another Declaration as he rushes off to get everyone to sign the new one was another great scene. Lyta goes to speak with Byron, and Sheridan agrees to work with the telepaths. I hope this means more great things and not some more nefarious plotting!
These guys are awesome.
4: A View from the Gallery
Throughout this episode we keep getting insights from some kind of maintenance team on Babylon 5 and from the beginning I suspected there’d be something much more important going on with them.
Dr. Franklin has a great conversation about why he cares about trying to save whatever lives he can save. Once again, it ties back into his father. Seeing his father saved by a doctor, regardless of which side he was on, is what inspired him to become a doctor. As someone who’s experienced recent loss of a close relative, this scene was extremely poignant. I love how frequently Dr. Franklin talks about his dad. And then there’s the clincher at the end–the doctor who helped his father was shot and killed by his own side for being a traitor. Incredible.
One of the battles in the episode has one of the maintenance guys fixing the station even as the battle is going on, and the lackadaisical way he goes about it in the middle of a warzone is just so endearing. I loved it. Also, bugs eating wiring is a major sci-fi trope, isn’t it? Then, Girabaldi is torn up one side and down another by Lochley, who is suddenly showing a lot more character than I thought she might have.
Then the maintenance guys crawl through a warzone and meet up with the rogue telepaths. They then have a number of cryptic conversations with the telepaths before Byron basically puts Bo in the cockpit of a fighter after he says it “matters to him.” Apparently Bo appreciated the experience, but it’s hard to tell where it went from there. Going along with that, we see a conversation between G’Kar and Mollari that is absolutely delightful as Mollari complains about the universe having it in for him as G’Kar relates his own struggles with the Centauri bombing his homeworld. Then we see another hugely touching moment between them as G’Kar tells Mollari “You did not grow up, you grew old.” Their dynamic is so perfect.
The final battle culminates in the White Star fleet saving the day even as our erstwhile maintenance workers watch and talk about the impact of everything on themselves and the station. At the end, we see Mack and Bo being greeted by Delenn as she and Sheridan walk past. This episode was so heartwarming and wholesome and I love it so much.
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