Thursday, May 1, 2008

B5 S1 Ep22: Chrysalis [Redux]

A couple of boneheads. I'm sorry I couldn't resist.

This is my final planned look back into Season 1. Just when you thought it was safe to go through a new jumpgate I find myself needing to revisit the past yet again. My third re-review of Season 1 comes in the form of season finale Chrysalis.

It's interesting to go back and see some of the subtext in the performances particularly between Kosh and Delenn. Straczynski weaves much of his story into the exchanges and some of those messages I breezed over the first time around. “Yes. Thank you. Now I will keep the promise. Goodbye. You will not see me again,” Delenn informs Kosh in her pre-cocoon, large-boneheaded state. It resonates with me more to see there is some sort of inextricable bond there between them, something shared and founded in their past. Before undertaking the transformation Delenn tells Sinclair to see her because “there are things you should know,” but that he does not have much time. Sinclair is jarred by visions of his torture by the Minbari.

Elsewhere we have the always amusing and creepy Morden visit the fragile psychological footing of Londo Mollari. Ed Wasser and Peter Jurasik are always a pleasure to watch.

All of the many fascinating setups in Straczynski’s amazing story come to a head here launching the story headlong into Season 2 for the next phase in his visual novel.

I think Sinclair captures precisely what Straczynski began unraveling here. With everyone at a crossroads, characters are given the free will to choose the right path, yet often it is the path to darkness revealed as the road chosen for many of these players and Straczynski unabashedly relishes it. This scene is one of those turning points and one that illustrates how these characters seem unable to avoid their respective destinies despite being given every opportunity to change their course. They are trapped by fate.

Thinking about it, Chrysalis is a perfect title for this final installment of Season 1. Apart from the obvious physical change Delenn enters into setting up changes for the next season there is more here than meets the eye. Londo is also undergoing his own change and it is notable here. With the support of his newfound associates he is beginning to consider embracing the path to power here. Garibaldi is also in a chrysalis of his own [actually comatose but you get the idea]. His body is fighting and the question of survival is at stake for him and how that affects his decisions early in Season 2. G’Kar too has changed. No longer does he present the bellicose-laden rhetoric that informed his character earlier in the season, but rather replaced with a softening of the true G-Kar. There is unrest on Earth signaled with a change in presidential leadership. And in general, Chrysalis marks a significant departure of sorts for the show itself. Big changes were on the horizon. I don’t think I’m reading into this or overanalyzing Straczynski's intentions here too much either. This is surely by intention as I’m finding almost everything in his story is thoughtful by design.

Yes, we feel 'a darkness' in our bones indeed. So the militarized Narn outpost in Quadrant 37 is wiped out by the purple-pink firepower of the black-fingered hands of The Shadows. There are no survivors. “10,000 of our best warriors dead. It’s as if some great hand reached out of space and just erased them,” says a perplexed Na’Toth. It is here we see G’Kar first acknowledge signs of a return by an ancient evil far more powerful than any race.

One of the many well-designed spacecraft created for the Babylon 5 space opera.
The Earth President is assassinated with the explosion of Earth Force 1 and all witness it in horror from Command & Control. Evil forces are at work and it culminates in the swearing in of Morgan William Clark as the new Earth President aboard Earth Force 2.

Sinclair, looking worse for the wear, is visited by Kosh. “And so it begins. You have forgotten something.” The omniscient Kosh alerts Sinclair who runs to Delenn, but he is too late to speak with her. She is now changing and so too is this show.

G’Kar: “This has been a black day for both of us Lt. Commander Ivanova, a black and terrible day.”

G’Kar to Na’Toth: “Tell the commander he was right. We were at a crossroads and there is no going back.

And again Sinclair’s final performance with the final words as the episode closes: “Nothing’s the same anymore.” A dark episode indeed.

Chrysalis: B


Anonymous said...

Some pieces of foreshadowing in earlier season 1 episodes:

Garibaldi to Leanna Kemmers: "Make sure nothing happens to him (Santiago)." (Survivors)

Walker Smith to Garibaldi: "Watch your back!" (TKO)

Watch for Delenn building the Chrysalis machine in her quarters, in several episodes, including And the Sky full of Stars, Signs and Portents, and others.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

WOW! You see, you have pointed out precisely why I will need to go back be one of those who has seen the series at least twice. What do they call us Babylon 5 fanatics? : )