We’re about a week into 2260 and Matters of Honor is preparing us for the conflict that is to come. After the finale last week with Kosh showing himself outside his encounter suit, the forces of light start to grow and we meet the wonderful Marcus who has traveled far to help Sheridan and his army. We also get our first view at one of my favorite ships in Science Fiction: The White Star. Meanwhile Earth is trying to make head or tail of the ship found in hyperspace at the end of the last episode and send a representative to investigate, one Mr. Endawi. Londo is trying to leave Morden and his colleagues behind now that they have beaten the Narn but Morden is going over his head gaining allies in both Earth and Centauri governments. And that’s not the only thing going over Londo’s head: Shadow vessels are too, as we first saw in The Coming of Shadows. He’s remembering these ships while speaking to Mr. Endawi about what was reported on ISN. That dream seems to be quite damning for poor Londo! And Morden demands a planet on the border of Centauri space.
I’ll point out that the depressingly sad episode, Confessions and Lamentations, that took the Markab out of existence also gave us a free jump point to destroy when Sheridan is testing out the White Star. I love this sort of world building. Watching Sheridan defeat another indestructible enemy is marvelously triumphant. And let’s not forget that the ship is called the White Star, considering Sheridan is responsible for destroying the Minbari ship, the Black Star. Since this ship is a gift and provided by the Minbari, is this a form of reconciliation? Why would the Minbari offer this to Sheridan with a name that would clearly annoy members of the Warrior caste? Or is this something only the Religious caste was responsible for?
In this regard, the episode is all setup. Marcus arrives and is a strong ranger capable of being severely injured one minute, only to spring up and go about his business the next. We get a chance to see him using his Minbari fighting skills after a particularly clandestine meeting with Delenn in a bar. The White Star is capable of some impressive maneuvers but just how much can it do? Will G’Kar’s information to Endawi make a difference? How much does Endawi know about what is going on back home? Is it just a ploy to see what those on B5 know? And will G’Kar’s information be of any use to him? And why was the ISN report taken offline?
The episode is full of questions, which is fine for an opening episode. The cast is proving to be coming together more and more. Ivanova proves to be very adept at information gathering too, as she sums up everything Sheridan has going on even as he is about to tell her himself. It’s a great moment and really casts Claudia’s character in great light.
“The day something happens around here and I don’t know about it, worry.”
Lastly, a War Council is created. In business, strategic meetings are the bread and butter that can keep a business alive and Sheridan’s line: “lack of information can kill you” is at the heart of many a company. Sheridan, like Star Trek’s Captain Picard, has created an inner elite council to discuss activities on the Shadows. We will see just how much information they are capable of gathering over the next few weeks. ML
The view from across the pond:
“Well, as answers go, short, to the point, utterly useless and totally consistent with what I’ve come to expect from a Vorlon.”
The form of mild torture that goes by the name of Babylon 5 continues. I can’t quite believe it’s Season 3 and I’m still watching. There should be medals for this kind of staying power. At least the writer is starting to understand some of the ways he has been torturing the viewers and is turning them into humour. We have had two years of being annoyed by Kosh’s irritatingly cryptic answers, and for the first time here he is used simply for a moment of light relief. Mr Riddles has become a comedian.
“I really hate it when you do that.”
Anyway, on with the opening credits, and as usual they couldn’t resist fiddling with the music again. All the main cast now also appear as superimposed mug shots. I feel like the Second Doctor when he says “you’ve had this place redecorated, haven’t you. Don’t like it.” What I do like is the opening chit chat with Ivanova instead of Sheridan, especially this bit:
“The Babylon project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed.”
Doesn’t that just pull the rug out from under our feet, after two seasons of “hope for peace”! It’s a trick that only works once (and presumably we’ll have to listen to it at least another 21 times), but it made me laugh a bit. They should have tried that with Star Trek. “Space: the final frontier. We screwed it up.”
So what else is new here? Gone from the opening credits are Talia, who went bad, Warren, who barely featured in the series before dying tragically in a way that absolutely nobody cared about, and Na’Toth, who was brilliant until she became a different person altogether due to recasting. In their place we have Jeff Conaway as Zack Allen, who we’ve seen before in a supporting role, and Jason Carter as Marcus Cole. This week’s episode revolves around his introduction. He’s a Ranger, he’s heroic, he’s competently acted, and he has a lot of hair. That’s about all we can say so far.
Returning to sneak around some more this week is Morden, and Londo follows up his determination to be the stupidest person in the universe by doing a deal with him, with being the stupidest person in the universe by trying to ditch him. Good luck with that. I liked how Londo’s quarters have changed to reflect his success, packed full of blingy things. He also appears to have a magic television.
“I was wondering what you might know about this ship.”
Endawi then proceeds to show him the footage of the Shadow ship by pressing one button beside the television. That’s a clever TV right there. I have to press many buttons on mine to get it to play what I want, generally with it trying to play what I don’t want first, all accompanied by a selection of swear words. Some things never change though. Londo’s clearly lost the remote.
Morden steers clear of the magic TV and instead conjures up an image of the Milky Way. I was amused to see that being divided up into territorial sections. This isn’t post-war Berlin we’re talking about. I can only assume J. Michael Straczynski didn’t have much of an idea how many stars there are in the Milky Way. Nobody is quite sure, but we’re talking hundreds of billions. The notion of a couple of races of aliens being in charge of all that is ludicrous.
Like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a series set on a space station eventually gets itchy feet. When DS9 really started kicking off and became a series about a war, doing everything the same as B5 but better, the Defiant was introduced as a way to get the main cast off the station and fighting. Babylon 5 does the same thing this week, with Sheridan getting his new toy. He seems awfully excited by the very big monitor screen. It is cool though.
Predictably, we end the episode with Morden moving on to pastures new. Maybe it’s time for Londo to be taken down a peg or two, at last… RP
Babylon 5 remains a valid reflection of the fact that even if peace is the right path for us all, it may not come as easily as we’d hope. In recent events that may potentially lead to World War 3, it’s a very sad realization for SF fans who have praised the futuristic optimism seen in Star Trek to now see the real world today as it is. It may be wishful thinking for most of us to hope for First Contact someday soon to be that spark that humanity needs for a better tomorrow. But it’s the realism for aliens to have their own similar conflicts to get over that can reassure us most of all that we’re not alone in the universe. Hence the dramas for Babylon 5 to improve on that cosmic realism that we originally saw in Star Trek and Dr. Who. 🌎🌏🌍🌌☮️
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