Babylon 5: Legacies

b5D. C. Fontana is back again, this time with Legacies, a Minbari specific episode.  (Where, oh where, are our JMS stories?  They’re coming!)  In this, a dead Minbari is brought to the station but the body goes missing, causing tensions to rise.  Meanwhile a young telepath finds her self in need of a home.  The two plots coincide and the telepath helps identify where the missing body is… or was.  This is a rare instance where the two plots actually meet at the end.  Often, the subplot is unrelated and used as a mild distraction (like the Ninja motorcycle of the previous episode).

But Legacies give us more information about the Battle of the Line: the Grey Council ordered the surrender to the consternation of the Warrior caste.  One member of the warrior caste even committed suicide when ordered to surrender.  We also learn that the death of their leader, Dukhat, was at the heart of the matter.  This will be made clear later.  A rift is growing in Minbari society and it has to do with the humans.  Once again, as per the non-JMS episodes, there’s not a lot that can be spoken about because the larger arc isn’t built up.  There is significance to things that are built on later, like the gun ports being open and the role Neroon plays in things to come, but this story is largely a mystery of a missing body and the tension that it causes.  Neroon actually says some very ironic things but it becomes ironic later and that requires a bit of memory.

The subplot with Alisa, the young telepath, gives us more information about the other races but it’s nice that she is given a choice of where she wants to go.  Going with the Minbari seems a decent option but one has to wonder if there’s more to it than we’re lead to believe.  I ask specifically because Delenn could detect the intrusion into her thoughts when Alisa found out about the body so one wonders if Delenn has ulterior motives.  Maybe all is forgiven because things turned out well and Delenn was able to pass the missing body off to a “religious mystery” but the Minbari never tell anyone the whole truth!  Not to mention, just how gullible are the other castes that they would buy a “religious mystery” for the disappearance of a body?

I love a good prophesy and the hint of a “chrysalis” is interesting too because it’s the stage of going from caterpillar to butterfly.  As we are nearing the season finale, it’s safe to share that the title of said finale is Chrysalis, but typically characters don’t know that.  So does this mean something else?  Is something going to change?  Or is it “a saying”, like “there is a hole in your mind”?    Since this is an episode written by someone else, perhaps it is just another blind alley, but in Babylon 5, I’ve found far too many “blind alleys” that have actually lead somewhere.   ML

The view from across the pond:

“Is there any particular reason you’re interested in this case?”
“Yes.”

That’s the way to answer a nosey doctor.   In other words, “mind your own business”.  After yet another outing for that same old flashback to the war, we’re into a plot that is a poor relative of a murder mystery.  It’s a who-took-the-body mystery.  I wonder if Delenn is deliberately cracking a joke when she says “this is a grave offence, Commander.”

This is yet another episode that is pretty lightweight, but the paper-thin plot does allow for a bit of fun with Garibaldi visiting the Ood (ok, “carrion eaters” – I think they have some unpronounceable name too, one of those names with apostrophes and no capital letters that sci-fi shows love).  There are two plots which eventually intersect, and that makes a nice change.  Too many B5 episodes so far have had an A plot and a B plot, but they might as well be A and Z plots because they never come within a light year of intersecting with one another.  This is different, and makes for a bit more of a coherent episode than usual, with telepathy used to solve the mystery (not that it is a terribly interesting mystery in the first place).  But wait… where’s Billy Mumy… again?  I mean, this is a Minbari episode!

Babylon 5, Season 1.  Running time 17 hours approximately.  Bill Mumy’s screen time: 3 minutes approximately.  Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he’s a fun actor so it would be nice to actually see him on screen from time to time.

G’Kar is also frustratingly absent this week (frustratingly because he’s hands-down the best character in this whole thing by a mile), but his substitute is brought on the pitch: Na’Toth.  Alisa looks into her mind and it is “cold” and “terrible”; I have to question whether this show is selling us a xenophobic message.  It comes uncomfortably close to telling us the Narn are inherently evil, especially as Na’Toth seems to be nicer than the average Narn, so if she’s “cold” then most Narn are very “cold” indeed.  This can be an issue with sci-fi in general, but I was hoping for better from B5.  To a certain extent every alien race in sci-fi tends to be sold to us as inferior to humans or unpleasant in some way, and so far it’s looking like B5 isn’t going to be much of an exception to that old sci-fi rule.  Even lovely Delenn is hiding some shady dealings, and is apparently able to convince a supposedly intelligent race that a missing body has some mystic explanation.

By the way, I’ve literally only this week noticed that the Minbari ears are down in their necks.  That must break some kind of a record for being unobservant.  But now I can’t look at anything else when I see them on screen.  Oh well.

Getting back to the story, I think the psychic storyline with Alisa raises an interesting point about the character of Talia, who is largely redundant and always annoying.  Talia is a psychic but doesn’t use her powers unless circumstances are exceptional, so is therefore useless in this kind of a mystery plot.  Instead the writer brings in a telepath who doesn’t yet play by the rules, and she sees the truth in Delenn’s mind.  But what is the point of Talia then, other than to be an irritating character we don’t like (at least, I don’t), if another character has to be brought in to fulfil what should be her role in the plot?

The points I have raised here make a summary appropriate at this point.

Characters who are working and functioning well within the storylines: Sinclair, Ivanova, Garibaldi, Delenn, G’Kar, Londo.

Characters who need to be written out: Franklin, who committed such a breach of ethics a few weeks back that I can barely even look at him, and Talia Winters, who is a character who fails to function on any basic level.

Characters who are fun, and I like them, but so far merely function as substitutes for other characters: Vir (substitute Londo), Na’Toth (substitute G’Kar) and Lennier (substitute Delenn).

This whole shambles needs tightening up, and soon.   RP

About Roger Pocock

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyard.blog Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Babylon 5, Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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