Thursday, April 24, 2008

B5 S2 Ep19: Divided Loyalties

Babylon 5 continues its strong second season with Divided Loyalties. It's worth noting that I have said very little about Claudia Christian as Ivanova. I have been drawn to the more masculine tensions between the various races and that has been reflected in my entries. Still, Christian has really grown on me over the season. I think the show would not be the same without her place in it. She is both warm and tough as nails and she plays both sides with her steely Russian resolve very well. I particularly enjoyed her performance here and it was a real highlight. [Beware here comes the male in me] She's also strikingly voluptuous, bodacious and I LOVE those hot lips!

Patricia Tallman, as Lyta Alexander, returns. It is her first appearance since the pilot, The Gathering [which I will be watching soon]. She was the first telepath ever assigned to B5. She’s also the only human to ever scan Ambassador Kosh following an attempted assassination on his life, and it has left an indelible mark on her own mind. She left the station following the incident, according to Garibaldi, and was never quite right.

Lyta has arrived to inform Sheridan there is a traitor aboard B5. The traitor is so deeply programmed not even the affected individual would be are aware of her objective. Lyta has the password to scan all personnel aboard B5 and detect the plant. The paranoid Lyta refuses to be alone with anyone. Sheridan rejects her request initially to take it under consideration first. Lyta has escaped Psi Corps en route to Mars. She’s been trying to penetrate Vorlon space. Of course, as the story goes, those who attempt it never return, but she is drawn to the Vorlons since touching Kosh.

I love pouty Ivanova.
Lyta informs the inner circle [Sheridan, Garibaldi, Ivanova and Dr. Franklin] of a sleeper Psi Corps program in development on Mars creating telepaths directly loyal to the Corps. That programmed personality is so deeply submerged it cannot be identified even by a deep scan.

Meanwhile, Ivanova offers Talia Winters accommodations in her quarters while her room is under repair. Talia informs Ivanova that she is the only one she trusts. Is it me or did it seem like their was some form of female chemistry between the two outside of friendship? I thought the body language was pretty intense during a few moments here. I was thinking kiss at one point.

Late at night [isn’t it always night on B5? I think my internal clock would be royally screwed], Lyta is being transferred and the power shuts down as an attempt on taking her life occurs by someone with a PPG. Even as you watch you know what's coming and you know who it is. It's one of the few times on B5 I haven't been surprised. A guard is killed and one injured. Lyta escapes and turns to Delenn for help. Delenn arranges a meeting with the Sheridan four.

Under the pressure of a potential scan, Ivanova is deeply troubled. Her crisis of conscience is revealed when she breaks into Sheridan’s room and awaits his arrival. She informs him of the stunning revelation that she is a low level telepath [P1], thanks to her mother. Her mother trained her to control her powers and to avoid detection by Psi Corps. Ivanova fears she will be discovered. Sheridan does his best to assist Ivanova. I didn't see that coming. I always took Ivanova's guarded, bad attitude towards telepaths as: a]. part of her personality. b]. what they did to her mother. Straczynski did a nice job taking that thread to the next level.

The inner circle reconvenes and reconnects with Lyta whereby Sheridan consents to the scans. Here is that absolutely classic scene featuring none other than our dear Garibaldi to lighten the load.

I laughed out loud. I may have been drinking something at the time and almost spit. ‘The One To Be Pitied’ heard me in the other room and hollered; “There’s something wrong with you.” [Hey, that’s fine you just keep watching those ridiculous, so-called reality shows.] Anyway, Ivanova inevitably must concede to a scan. She ain’t happy and lets Lyta know it. She naturally blocks her at first, but then relents allowing her secret be revealed unhappily to Lyta.

In the end, Talia enters the room and is almost instantly fingered by Lyta as the mole when she sends the password. Talia opens fire, but is restrained by Garibaldi. So much for "love in the afternoon" between Garibaldi and Talia, but that’s okay. The two took their on screen romance off-screen and married in real life. So, Talia reveals herself to be a stone cold assassin, a complete Psi Corps bitch! She was the one who had been programmed from the start [beyond her control]. I suspected as much since she exhibited signs of deception back in Season 2's Spider In The Web. Sheridan remarks how close she was to becoming part of the inner circle. Whew! That was a close one. They were just days away from bringing her in. So that’s all she wrote for Ms. Winters, but she isn’t dead, just in custody remember, so perhaps it's not the last we've seen of her.

Andrea Thompson delivers a nice turn and really lets loose in the part especially in those final minutes. The sequence between Ivanova and Thompson is quite good. Ivanova’s reaction was disturbed and she plays it with genuine affect. Afterall, Ivanova was very reluctant to let down her walls to a telepath and it took her nearly two seasons to do so. The storyline was handled with genuine logic by Straczynski. Her acceptance of Talia was a real step for Ivanova especially given her secret and her make-up. When Talia exhibits her true colors, Ivanova is emotionally betrayed. It’s ironic, because Ivanova’s instinct about her was right all along and it wasn’t until the end when she feels so violated on a number of levels. Ivanova's reaction is one of disappointment in herself as much as it is in Ms. Winters. Good stuff. The wounded Ivanova is precisely why I have grown to love her character. She has definitely supplanted Ms. Winters as the show's new certified hottie in my book!

The secondary thread continues to witness Delenn and Sheridan developing feelings for one another outside of their professional relationship. There is an undeniable attraction between the two characters. I love her smile, but truthfully that head bone may get a bit problematic if things get intimate.

The epilogue sees Lyta visit Kosh one last time in the alien sector. She has kept her knowledge of him locked away and Kosh knows this and reveals himself to her again. Bright light shines down upon her face. It's a bit of heaven for Lyta.

Divided Loyalties: B

Delenn: “I find this notion of the press a fascinating, but sometimes troubling concept.”
Sheridan: “Join the club.”
Sheridan: “Why is it everytime you finally get things calmed down and everything’s going great life decides to kick you in the butt.”
Delenn: "But what?"
Sheridan: "What?"


Anonymous said...

The Talia-Lyta chemistry wasn't your imagination; hadn't Thompson decided to leave the show, the relationship would've been developed further.

The drop-out of Thompson is a good example for Straczynski's "trap door" - approach. For every major character, a "trap door" was planned in case the actor was unwilling/unable to stay. In the case of Talia, it was introduced in "Deathwalker", when the negotations of Kosh hinted at something going on with Talia, and in "The Quality of Mercy", when Talia after scanning the killer said that "terrible things live inside of us".

cheers, and keep the good work going, mandy.

Anonymous said...

I meant the Talia-Susan chemistry wasn't your imagination, of course. Sry.

Erasure said...

The butt conversation is highly amusing every time I watch it. Motorbutt?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Delenn (and also Lennier) is frequently used for comic relief. Like Lennier's station-tour with Londo in "The Quality of Mercy" (including the revelation of details about Centauri anatomy we're not sure we really wished to learn), or Deleen's "bad hair day".


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Cheers as always M! Yeah the comic bits are nice from time to time because it's a pretty heavy show which I love. Motorbutt? I didn't get that when I watched it was funny because it was like where did that come from?
Hard to pick a fave Eraure song, but I'd have to say Chorus [fishes int he sea]...too many to count.