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.
Alliances of mutual survival can be fickle things. Especially when they are being driven by politics rather than the military that are having to actually do the fighting. Sheridan is learning that lesson the hard way as he tries to forge his alliance to fight the Shadows. He turns to Kosh for help and is will to pay the personal price for it. If you know what is meant by, “The Hero’s Journey,” this is that episode.
While this is going on, Londo is taking a journey of his own. A much darker journey that will lead him to embrace the darkness that continues to pursue him. While Sheridan’s journey is that of a hero, Londo’s is one of tragedy. This interlude for him marks the shift towards that tragedy.
Examinations is the best way to describe Franklin’s interlude in this episode. His stim problem that has been growing through the series finally catches up with him. He responds, of course, in typical “Franklin” fashion. Raul isn’t as sympathetic to him as some think he should be, and promises to be coming back to his thoughts there soon.
Over all, this is an incredibly arc-dense episode, so sit back, clear your head, and enjoy.
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.
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 isn’t a Gremlins podcast, but it should have been. We were plagued with recording issues, but wow! Troy is damn good. I’ve said for years, a good editor is worth his weight in gold and this episode is proof.
But about Babylon 5… That this episode includes the name Zha’ Ha’ Dum, you might expect this to be a major arc episode. You would be right. This was the second episode that was up for the Hugo.
In this episode we get an idea of just how far Sheridan is willing to go to achieve an objective. Morden is not only back, but he’s apprehended and John isn’t going to let him go without some real answers. Finally, after a season-and-a-half, we finally get the background we have been after. And while we don’t see what is inside the encounter suit, we do learn what the Vorlons are.
One of the most priceless Vir moments also occurs in this episode. Will we get a payoff for the effort? We’ll just have to wait and see. A big part of Franklin’s story is set up, as well, though it will take until late season 3 to climax. We also get our first introduction to the Nightwatch. Hmm… wonder where that is going to go?