Babylon 5: The Wheel of Fire

Babylon 5 ArtworkIt’s hard not to see what’s happening here.  The series is wrapping up and threads are getting tied together.  We’ve been leading here for a while but with the Centauri conflict resolved, we really start to feel the loose ends getting neatly tied up.  We’ve known Franklin would leave at the end of the year and he does seem to have a bit more pep in his step.  Londo is gone, ruling Centauri Prime from a sad and lonely throne.  Sheridan and Delenn will be moving to Minbar.  Not sure if Lennier is still destined to betray the Rangers or if his confession of love was the extent of it, but that might still need a quick wrap up.  And this week, we find out that G’Kar will soon leave and take Lyta as a traveling companion while Garibaldi is heading to Mars to run Edgars Industries.  It’s all very neat.  But there are still some plot threads that need to be examined in all that.

Garibaldi’s drinking is the first up.  It’s an uncomfortable moment when it’s addressed and I think Sheridan’s anger is justifiable, though I credit Delenn for talking him off the ledge, even if we don’t know what was said.  I’m glad his drinking wasn’t brushed under the carpet and forgotten but one wonders if Sheridan realizes the full extent of the problem.  When he was speaking to Garibaldi, he compares what Michael is going through to what Stephen went through “a couple of years ago” (…and I love the continuity in this series).  He says Stephen “damn near died”.  Yeah, and from a personal perspective, that’s terrible because we know Stephen.  Does Sheridan not realize how many thousands died because of Michael’s drinking?  Maybe he hasn’t made the connection or maybe he chooses to ignore it because it’s his friend, and I’m not high and mighty enough to say I wouldn’t do the same, but Stephen nearly lost his one life.  Michael’s drinking may have destroyed a planet!  I don’t think the two are really the same thing here!  Still, I do appreciate that Sheridan does tell Michael that they are still friends.  I think one needs that support while going through such a tough time!

Further illustrating the genius of this series continuity, the scene where Garibaldi is fighting with Lochley is well done too because he learns that she has the same problem as he does: she too is an addict.  We knew this to some extent when we met Zoey in Day of the Dead, but that could have been a phase.  Here, she basically explains the curse her father had and the one she has too, which gives Garibaldi pause.  At the heart of this series, these are good, but flawed people.  What is also quite special is what Lochley says to Michael: “you’re just walking away to see if I’ll follow.”  This echoes Michael’s belief in Shadow Dancing when he said, “Sometimes people walk away because they want to be alone, and sometimes they walk away because they want to see if you care enough to follow them into hell.”  Like Sheridan, Lochley offers to help and again, I love that.  In other news, we also get some “future continuity” by learning than Delenn is pregnant.  We knew she has a child somewhere in the future thanks to Season 3’s War Without End, but to see when it all starts… that’s exciting!

Then we get to Lyta.  She’s become a doomsday weapon (which, ironically, Stephen had speculated about just an episode earlier) and maybe that’s not a bad thing, but it does make you wonder why no one but G’Kar is comfortable around her.  Even Michael seems a bit nervous.  My issue with what happens here is that I don’t see Lyta as the enemy.  She has helped the station more times than, say, Lochley has, and yet they treat her like a criminal.  She helped defeat the Shadows; that was no mean feat.  Yes, she’s funding acts of violence but she’s rebelling against the same people who caused Byron’s death.  (I question if Byron would approve of what she’s doing since he advocated non-violence.  Just sayin’…)   I do agree that Sheridan’s approach was the right one, if a bit heavy handed, because she would have undermined the authority of the station had he not intervened, but Lochley punching her was a bridge too far.  Sheridan may be on the cusp of going to far, but Lochley takes it over the line.  If I were a lawyer, I’d back Lyta in her suit against Lochley.  Still, it’s good that Lyta will go with G’Kar who has found that he can “heal wounds, cure anger”.  Maybe together they will help one another.  Oh, and was I the only one who picked up on Garibaldi’s question to her?  He says, “who… what are you?”  The Vorlon question of choice was always: “who are you?”  Is she really their doomsday weapon?  And if so, what does her future hold?

I can’t believe the show is ending (has ended, will end again for me when I watch it a fifth or sixth time) but it’s been a great run – possibly better than any of my previous outings because this time, we looked closely at every episode.  Oh, we’ve still got two more regular episodes and then a finale, but this is the first episode that really made me feel like the end was nigh.   It will be interesting to see what more we learn about our friends in the last few episodes but for right now, I just want to know where I can get a statue of G’Kar for my office.   ML

The view from across the pond:

It feels like we are tying up loose ends now and that’s a bit of a disappointment. A war with telepaths has been teased forever, and it looks like we are not going to get that, or at least if we are it’s going to be a rushed affair. A big showdown with the Psi Corps could, and should, have been the focus of an entire season, and it looked like we were heading that way with the Byron storyline earlier in the year.

Instead, things have been brought down to much more of a personal level, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Lyta has become a fascinating character, able to control everyone around her and also capable of telekenesis. Interestingly, Sheridan is immune because she is “not the only one who’s been touched by the Vorlons”. We have had hints about Sheridan since he survived the Planet of the Unnecessary Apostrophes, and I suspect hints like this might be all we will ever get. Unless the last couple of episodes are packed full of resolutions to long-standing mysteries, it looks like JMS has got a bit Lost. The frustrating thing is that I can see we are going to end this with so much untapped potential. Anyone who has watched Buffy will know how mindblowingly amazing a storyline where one of the main characters becomes a superbitch can be. We had a taste of that with Lyta, but as she says she’s a “doomsday weapon”; imagine if this storyline followed the path of Willow in Buffy. Lyta would take her revenge by wiping out the Psi Corps… and then not know when or how to stop. It could be Babylon 5 vs the Apocalypse. Although there’s still time for that to happen it would be ridiculously rushed, and somehow I think the series is winding down and limping away instead. I hope I’m wrong about that.

Much of the episode was given over the Garibaldi’s alcoholism, and it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel for him, or at least he can see the tunnel now. The cat’s out of the bag at last, and Sheridan’s meeting with Garibaldi about it was a hugely emotional moment, with Sheridan expressing his disappointment (not a word a friend ever wants to hear) and Garibaldi welling up at the end. When Sheridan says “I suspected”, it made me wonder how long for? Could he really have put Garibaldi in such a key position in the war with the Centauri, knowing he was an alcoholic? This has been the season of Sheridan the Idiot, and Sheridan the Warmonger, but is he really such a wolf in sheep’s clothing that he would do that to his friend? Garibaldi ended up causing untold deaths because he went on a bender and fell asleep on the job. If Sheridan was aware of that, it’s probably the nastiest thing he has ever done, and he’s no friend to Garibaldi. But then again, he has been “touched by the Vorlons”. Maybe, like the servants of the Shadows, the Vorlons have left some of their puppets behind…

The showdown between Sheridan and Garibaldi was not the only powerful emotional moment this week. We also had Lochley’s heart-to-heart with Garibaldi, in her position as somebody who really understands what he is going through, and we had the announcement of Delenn’s pregnancy. The look on Sheridan’s face was priceless when he was told the news. Then we had G’Kar’s disappointment with the cult of personality growing up around him, and Franklin’s perspective on the subject:

“Can God create a puzzle so difficult, a riddle so complex, that even he can’t solve? What if that’s us?”

I like that idea. But G’Kar does solve his problem. He can’t go home and he can’t stay, so he chooses to go away, and Lyta is in the same boat, so they are heading off into the sunset. And it’s all starting to become a bit melancholy:

“It just doesn’t seem like this place is going to be the same any more.”

Everyone’s heading off to pastures new, and it looks like Lochley and Zack are the only ones who will remain on the station. It’s all starting to feel a little bit frustrating. This isn’t going to be all wrapped up, is it. I’m getting that sinking feeling that we’re going to be left wanting more, a lot more, and we’re not going to get it.   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, Reviews, Science Fiction, Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Babylon 5: The Wheel of Fire

  1. scifimike70 says:

    If you can’t go home and you can’t stay where you’ve been, and are therefore faced with an ensuing adventure of heading out into the unknown, there’s a natural sense of optimism when it’s described as ‘heading off into the sunset’. I can envision myself settling for that if I were in that situation. It’s nice that Babylon 5’s finale can be open-ended in certain respects.

    Thank you both for your reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ShiraDest says:

    ” I love the continuity in this series”
    Me, too!

    I had more comments, but I need to run, so will have to make them later,sorry guys.

    Like

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