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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here!
7: The Rules of the Game
We get to see Babylon 5! And it doesn’t bring much happiness for Gideon, as he demands passage to Lorka VII from their ambassador. But they deny passage, despite being part of the treaty that should give them such passage. Lochley, however, finds a workaround to get Gideon a different avenue of approach.
Meanwhile, Max’s ex-wife is being threatened by nefarious forces due to her debts. He offers to pay some amount of the debt, but no more, and she is… a bit upset with him for that. “Make sure that’s engraved on my tombstone!” she yells after him. Yep, but my immediate thought is that Max Eilerson has something else up his sleeve. He’s going to give them whatever amount he wants and then use some corporate bigshot thing or some weird alien technology he found to bludgeon the loan sharks into acquiescence! There’s my prediction at this point in the episode. …That didn’t take long. He meets with Rolf Muller, the loan shark and then, when asked if he’s threatening him, he says “I never threaten…” “take the 50 and go home.” Muller responds by asking for a line back home because he’s apparently going to do, well, something. That something is apparently stealing her cat? I mean, pets are family but I did not expect that to be the counter-move. And then Max just leaves? What!?
Gideon and Lochley continue to try to get permission to get to Lorka VII, which does not seem to be going well. Meanwhile, the relationship between Gideon and Lochley is weird. They each hint at interest in the other. Then they fight about who is more “in a bubble” about not knowing things and people. Gideon convinces Lochley to go out in plainclothes to see if she actually knows what’s happening on the station. The Lorkans, looking on, have their own plans for Lochley, which don’t seem to be good.
Lochley totally schools Gideon on his condescending attempt at, well, explaining to Lochley what her job was. It’s a great moment quickly overshadowed by the Lorkans following them. As they sit to discuss things on and off station, they’re attacked by the Lorkans. Meanwhile, Cynthia–Max’s ex–and Dr. Chambers meet up and talk about Max. It’s unclear why Max sent in the doctor, but seems somewhat clear that’s what’s going on. Their discussion is interrupted by Muller, who pulls a gun to make further threats before Dr. Chambers beats him into fleeing.
Max has the Drazi apprehend Muller as Lochley and Gideon ambush the Lorkans. Also, I was right! Max does use some alien technology that he uses to enforce a rather permanent restraining order on Muller. He also orders Muller to bathe and groom the cat before returning it. It’s a funny moment and a somewhat plausible solution if you don’t think too hard about it. Back with Lochley and Gideon, they go to take a hot shower together after their life threatening situation. Max ends up re-confessing his love to Cynthia (and the cat, and his job!). It’s a character piece I didn’t really expect from him as he reveals additional layers.
The Lorkans reveal that Lorka VII is, instead, a place where the two Lorkan emissaries had been using resources to make huge profits. A third Lorkan is most displeased with them and they say Gideon can come to the planet as a kind of moral temptation for their people and a test of faith.
Honestly, this was just a fun episode all around. Truly, it felt like the best Babylon 5 can have to offer, and it makes me sad the series won’t be continuing for much longer. But, we can enjoy what we do have, and this is just a great episode. It may have just a few too many acts in it, but it’s enjoyable all the way through.
8: Appearances and Other Deceits
A creepy alien is watching the Excalibur, which itself has some people on board to help change its image. Gideon is… not impressed with them. The ship quickly finds some derelict ship full of aliens that apparently killed each other, but they find a tube with a single live alien left. They bring it on board and, somewhat predictably, things go wrong. It looks like the alien dies, but only after it grabs “Janey…” who appears to have been taken over by the alien. She then starts to take over other members of the crew, which does not bode well.
It doesn’t take long before the crew starts to completely get taken over, and it appears as though Eilerson and the alien are in a race to figure out what’s happening. It quickly gets violent, right as Eilerson manages to translate some of the alien languages.
It’s interesting that they seem to bring back the drone-type camera in this episode. I remember it being a thing in the pilot movie for Babylon 5 before basically falling off the map. The special effects budget for this one appears to be much higher than some of the other episodes. The character development continues to ramp up some, as Eilerson realizes a security member sacrificed their life for his. The tension ramps up as the aliens demand a planet to take over in exchange for the crew. Gideon is displeased, to say the least. Once they resolve the crisis, he launches the alien out the airlock and blows it away.
The final scene showing Gideon having to read off a bunch of condolensces even as GIdeon and Chambers talk about the burdens he faces is pretty excellent. It makes me sad that the show only goes on for 5 more episodes after this.
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