We had a short breather last episode, if you can call Neroon pounding Marcus to a bloody pulp either short or a breather. Last episode was setup. This episode is just as much setup, but also a huge payoff (with another type of setup of its own!).
Sheridan is assembling his fleet to take on the Shadows. Telepaths are being distributed across the ships to give them the best fighting chance. On top of the war preparations, Brother Theo has some friends over from Earth who are more than meets the eye. The stress is clearly getting to John and some of the people around him take some steps to address the issue.
In the meantime, Londo has some stress of his own. It seems the emperor has had enough with the feud between Londo and Refa. A Minister has arrived to determine which House to support and put the feud to rest. Londo is not particularly worried, though, and assures the Minister that the issue will be resolved shortly to everyone’s satisfaction. Ok, well not everyone.
The two stories intersect in one of the most macabre and chilling scenes of the series. The elegance of it is probably one of the most disturbing parts.
No shrubberies. No coconuts. And certainly, no watery tarts.
But this is still one heck of a King Arthur story. And a satisfying thump they made!
What do you expect, though, when you combine the talents of Mira Furlan, Andreas Katsulas, and Jason Carter with the amazing Michael York. You cannot have that many top notch stage actors on a script without something amazing happening.
Michael sells it so well, you not only wonder if his character really is King Arthur, but you actually hope he is. That isn’t so far fetched, considering the extent to which the Vorlons have tampered with human history. The chemistry he has with Andreas/G’Kar is great. We see a hopeful side of Marcus that is particularly moving. We also have one of the most powerful moment in the series with Michael and Mira. Not a word was spoken. When you have actors that good, you don’t need words.
You think after the last three episodes President Clark might be a bit honked off at Sheridan & Co.? Nightwatch can’t be all that happy, either. I guess some people have no sense of humor. Go figure.
After all the crisis, Delenn decides to take matters into her own hands by having the rebirth ceremony. Yeah, we saw part of that in Season 1, as well. Though this time, there aren’t any possible weddings happening. Yet. Unfortunately, Nightwatch decides to express their displeasure with Sheridan by going after Delenn. I suppose, those three Minbari warships hovering in the background might have something to do with that.
Anyway, it does seem that Sheridan has had enough. He makes that rather clear in the end. We also have a few secrets revealed. Some of them will have an impact on the future of the story. Overall, this episode slows down the pace a bit after the roller-coaster we’ve been on. Pay particular attention to G’Kar. We will be contrasting him now with him in the future.
[A special “Thank you,” to listener Big Brother (@back2babylon5 on Twitter) for letting me know the link wasn’t in the post. We should be fixed now.]
“Be somewhere else.”
Probably one of the strongest lines in science fiction television. Raw power and an absolute willingness to use it. We’ve seen some of the flirty or feminine Delenn lately, so we might have forgotten she was a member of the Grey Council – and the chosen of Dukat – for a reason.
But that’s just one of many “wham” points for this episode. All the tension we’ve been seeing build with the Earth Alliance explodes today. Clark forces the hand of Sheridan with a result I don’t think he expects. Hard decisions are made, but are they really that hard when you don’t have anything else to lose?
The moralities of command. Free press. Just war. The price of even a just war. All this and more are the focus of this episode of Babylon 5. Raul, Jim, and JP have a fascinating and extended conversation about this and more on this fan favorite episode that also won the 1997 Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
Raul and Jim are quite wrong in this episode. JP Harvey is NOT a guest. As of this episode he joins the podcast are our third host of the show and we are all much better for it.
Joining JP in our exalted guest list is the appearance of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. With those two, can it get any better? Well, yes it can. We also get the ever popular Marshall Teague back as Ta’Lon. OH! And Maggie is back!
A cast like this can only mean that we are in for a very special episode. This is the second part of the mid-season trilogy that changes the course of the show. After the events of last week, we find President Clark forced to make his move to consolidate power. That means bad things for Babylon 5 as the Nightwatch infiltration reaches a climax. Zach will have to find his way out from that spot between a rock and a hard place.
Londo is also having something of an existential crisis, so he pull in a bit of existential help. The outcome isn’t quite … well … it’s not what he hopes, but it is what he fears. He gets several puzzles added to his confusion with his answers. Of course. Vir also gets a few surprises along the way.
G’Kar explains his epiphany and why he is no longer what we saw in the beginning of the show. He also has a solution for a lot of the crew’s problems.
The madness continues. Like Jim and Raul have said, Season 2 just never stops. This week, Vir makes a return from his new ambassadorial post on Minbar. He appears to be going native just a bit. Hardly a surprise, of course, but you cannot help but wonder if that isn’t going to get him in trouble somewhere down the line.
Oh, and did I mention our favorite “villain” is back? Bester makes a return to Babylon 5 except that this time he is the Good Guy. Or is he? Well, he is chasing down a black market drug operation that is peddling something called Dust. This drug gives anyone with the recessive gene for telepathy that ability for a short time. It allows what is effectively a telepathic rape of another. It’s also highly addictive and extremely dangerous. So he has to be on our “side” this time, right?
I do have to give Bester credit for being right about one thing; he and Garibaldi do make a good team.
If this episode gives you a feeling that things are starting to ramp up, you wouldn’t be wrong.
We get several bits from the past becoming important now. Remember Draal? Remember the trouble Katherine Sakai got into at Sigma 957? Remember this little problem with the Shadows in the midst of all this Earth Alliance intrigue? Actually, let’s include the Earth Alliance intrigue, too.
Did you know those were related?
The audience isn’t the only one to notice something is up. Zack is noticing. G’kar is noticing. It seems with the sending of a Political Officer, that President Clark is noticing. And they all seem to want some answers.
This is absolutely a “Wham!” episode. There’s a lot happening. The arc is advanced in a big way. Little threads from the past – some planted back in S1 – are pulled together into the main story.
JMS describes this episode as a day where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. That’s a pretty good description. Vir’s having a bad day; Londo gets him a promotion. G’Kar isn’t doing much better; his replacement has arrived. And Sheridan? His day is so bad dealing with the guilds that the station getting blown up seems to be an option for improvement. Delenn seems to be the only one where things are going good. She’s getting a new ambassador to Minbar from the Centauri. Yep, that actually is a good thing. At least for her.
I know what those days are like. Bet you do, too.
This episode is also Straczynski’s tribute to Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker series. Great classic SciFi I’d encourage everyone to read. At least give the original set of short stories a try.
This is one of the very few episodes that does not actually advance the main arc this year. That is, there is little to do at all with the Shadow War. That said, we do see a peek inside several of the characters; especially Sheridan, Londo, and G’kar.
Sheridan might be command rank, but he’s not above rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. His “I’ll fix it myself” attitude can almost be messianic at times. Hmmm… Foreshadowing? In the case of Londo and G’kar, it’s more of a looking back rather than a looking ahead. Both characters are about to undergo some big changes and having them trapped together gives us a very clear picture of where they are now and where they were in the past. This is especially true with G’kar.
And? And, we get some Narn singing. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Jim threatened Raul with great bodily harm if he tried to turn it into a sing-along.
Londo finally figures it out. His “associates” are far too dangerous to be around. Unfortunately he has figured it out far too late. The Narn-Centauri War reaches its final stage with some of the most poignant boom of the series. One scene in particular is just an incredible example of film-making. Yet, in spite of his repugnance of it, when the final time comes, Londo seems to embrace his fate and the evil associated with it.
As Londo grows away from the light, we begin to see the steps of G’Kar growing into the light. True, they are first steps, but we see the pettiness beginning to be stripped.
As dark as the episode is, we do have some lighter moments. One favorite character is back and we hear another mentioned. If you think this might be a clue; yes, it is.
For any other series this would be an amazing season finale. Guess what? There are still two more episodes to go and the just keep getting better.