Saturday, May 10, 2008

B5 S2 Ep22: The Fall Of Night

"Now I'm free....I'm free fallin'."
I love Boxleitner. I especially love when he's pissed and says things like "straight to hell!" He's one helluva commander! I also love Ivanova as second in command. She kicks ass! She has that steely-eyed resolve. The two are indeed command and control. I love their sack and spine in hitting the Centauri with both barrels to protect Babylon 5 and the Narn vessel at all costs in the season ending installment of Babylon 5's The Fall Of Night.
What's funny about Sheridan's use of the line, "Straight To Hell," is, not only is it where this show feels like it's going, but those same words were uttered by Sheridan in his debut, Points Of Departure, and everything has come full circle here.

So as I immerse myself in this series Christopher Franke’s scores have really been growing on me. Apparently, as many of you already know, he was a member of Tangerine Dream. That makes sense because I’ve heard their music before way back in Ridley Scott’s Legend and his electronica reminds me of those compositions. I thought, as some of you know, the music was pretty horrid at first. It was very cold, serviceable and I just didn’t care much for it, but now I’m really enjoying his suites. His often dark European synthetics match up well with the gritty realities of the Babylon 5 ‘verse. He has a number of light moments that really underscore the tension and drama here. I’ve come to love his input and unique stamp on the project. So many scenes are either quietly complemented by his score or heighten the tension dramatically. Later Sheridan's sequence in the monorail is a great example.

So here we are at the season finale and what a season it has been. I was half-joking last entry when I said I thought we’d see Robert Rusler as Warren Keffer again in the final installment. I thought he might be finished. I really didn't expect him to rear his ugly head again. His general lack of smarts and character development marks him as the inevitably doomed road kill of hyperspace at the hands of those nasty Shadows and their devastating purple-pink firepower. Perhaps attempting to hunt down a giant black spider in space alone in a Starfury was not his brightest life achievement. It shows you how much they thought of his input. Splat! Done! Next!

I must admit folks there is so much happening in Babylon 5 it takes me roughly 2 hours to actually sit through and write down thoughts on each one of these episodes. It is wall to wall jammed with excitement. The Fall Of Night is a humdinger of intrigue and climax as only Babylon 5 can deliver it.

Previously, in Comes The Inquisitor, G’Kar warned the other alien races of potential encroachment on their worlds by the Centauri. The Centauri usurpation of other outposts, outside of the Narn, has begun. “War is spreading.”

So Londo, sporting his classic 'bad guy black' jacket, is clearly out of control. The monster is out of the box, unleashed and beyond reason. The entire region around Centauri is in conflict. The ultimate spin doctor and spin maestro that Londo aspires to be tells Sheridan he is attempting to “stabilize the region” by “establishing a presence.” Uh-huh. Sheridan cannot understand why Londo can’t see everything falling apart. I know how he feels, I just want to beat my head against the wall in frustration. Arggghhh! But, I know it is Straczynski's intention to create one of the world's greatest science fiction-styled Greek tragedies.

Garibaldi nails it a short time later when he informs Sheridan that Londo is not the same guy anymore, he sees fear in his eyes. He is at once angry with him and sympathetic. "Look into his eyes sometime. You can see fast things are moving. For Londo, it’s like being on a wild horse. You don’t want to get thrown off, so you hang on even harder. He’s trapped. You know, half the time, I’m so furious with the guy I could break his neck. The other half, I feel sorry for him."

Meanwhile, Frederick Lantz of Earth’s Ministry Of Peace arrives along with his counterpart Mr. Welles of the Nightwatch unit. Lantz is played exquisitely by Roy Dotrice. Dotrice also appeared in two episodes of Space:1999 including Breakaway. Sheridan assigns Ivanova as their personal liaison. It would seem Earth is finally stepping into the storm that appears to be spreading beyond the Centauri and Narn, but why? Well it turns out Earth has its own agenda [but of course].

Sheridan, elsewhere, has promised an incoming Narn pilot and its surviving heavy cruiser sanctuary. It has jumped to a point on the other side of Epsilon 3 where it remains in hiding. He assures the Narn [Na’Kai] he will protect him while in Babylon 5 airspace.

Mr. Welles propositions Ivanova to become a Nightwatch representative [a.k.a. snitch, stoolie, ratfink]. He urge that it will expedite her future career options. She is incensed and stands by her code of honor by sending him packing. His ovations are made without the informing the Ministry Of Peace.

Sheridan confides in G’Kar of the good news concerning the surviving Narn. G’Kar further learns of Lantz’ visit and requests an audience with the permission granted by Sheridan. G’Kar is over the moon with the news like a kid in a candy store over this new wave of good tidings.

The purpose of the Nightwatch program is becoming clearer. Its intentions are not neutral, but as oversight for Earth Defense interests. Its mission: act as a Big Brother on Babylon 5 and weed out acts of sedition or even those that might be deemed suspicious concerning alien races and their comings and goings on the station [Earthers are not immuned]. I have been tough on Jeff Conaway, but he gives his best turn to date under questioning by Mr. Welles. It’s a good sequence and he plays it well.

Mr. Lantz is meeting with the various ambassadors from the League of Non-Alligned Worlds. Citizen G’Kar requests time, but is bluntly and abruptly turned away and dismissed.

Sheridan learns the Nightwatch associates are feeding information back to Mr. Welles. Lantz arrives in Command & Control demanding to know why fighters are being trained to fight Centauri. Sheridan advises that it would be wise for station pilots to be prepared for any event. Oddly, Lantz demands such maneuvers cease and desist. They could jeopardize his “mission.” What mission? Everyone thought you were here for an analysis of the Centauri dilemma. As it turns out, the real reason for the Ministry’s visit is to sign a Non-Aggression Treaty with the Centauri. Well isn't that just swell. It's the first step to establishing an Earth-Centauri alliance for peace. I believe another way of looking at that is called turning a blind eye and implementing appeasement as they did in Europe with the Nazis. “They’ll never bother us.” Sheridan and Ivanova are stunned. There is a female mole in Command & Control who is sabotaging Sheridan’s authority and just intentions.

The situation is becoming untenable. To ease the tension and stress Ivanova presents a gift to Sheridan. She has brought him a piece of shrapnel from the Minbari Black Star that he took down. She reminds him it has been said no one could take out a Minbari War Cruiser. She assures him Sheridan Starkiller did and that the gift is a symbol that “the impossible is possible.”

Matters grow worse when the mole informs Mr. Welles of the hidden Narn War Cruiser. It isn’t long before Londo is notified thanks to the Ministry’s agenda. A Centauri Battle Cruiser arrives through the jumpgate and tensions are at their pinnacle. Sheridan assures the Narn of his word to protect him while in Babylon 5 jurisdiction. I had that sinking feeling for G’Kar again and was praying like a Narn to G'Quan that Na’Kai would survive.
Later, Mr. Lantz returns to Command & Control in protest and is quickly escorted off the bridge. Sheridan launches the Starfuries to scatter and cover the Narn warship. Londo is informed the Narn cruiser will be safely escorted to the jumpgate out of Babylon 5 airspace. Londo is cut off by Sheridan via Bab Com and he is none too happy to see his newfound authority dismissed and taken to task. Babylon 5 activates its newly installed defense grid. Sooweet action! The Centauri fires upon the Narn and Babylon 5 simultaneously and the battle is on! Babylon 5 and the Starfuries retaliate with their own firepower. The Centauri ship is inadvertently destroyed and the Narn ship makes it to the jumpgate. I’m secretly hoping that Narn ship is able to play a role in the Narn revenge and come back and kick some major hiney. This a great scene between Boxleitner and Dotrice.

Sheridan must stand before the council ordered to apologize and his mirror rehearsal is brilliant.

I apologize. I’m sorry. I’m sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I’m sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fly around a station filled with a quarter million civilians including your own people. And I’m sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell. As with everything else, it’s the thought that counts.” We never actually see the real apology.
Sheridan is enroute to the council meeting being held in the Zen Gardens, but is followed by a Centauri onto the monorail transport train that runs through the center of Babylon 5. On the next stop the train empties and he spots an active bomb on board. He overrides the doors while moving and jumps from the train. Sheridan falls into the weightless center of Babylon 5 [I wasn’t sure about how that was possible, but I was willing to suspend belief because it was bloody bleepin’ cool] as the train explodes behind him. Delenn turns to Kosh and a being of light emerges from the encounter suit. The god-like being takes an appearance unique to each race, as they look skyward. Sheridan takes the being’s hand and inquires, “Kosh?” as the form nods in the affirmative.
Later Delenn meets with Sheridan. She knows The Shadows will discover the actions of Kosh and will be fearful of the Vorlons. Still, she does not feel the Vorlons would truly act against The Shadows, but believes it to be enough to keep the dark forces at bay for a time.
Drazi ambassador: “And you Ambassador Mollari – what did you see?"
Londo: “Nothing. I saw nothing."
"He has revealed himself to those who understand," informs Delenn. So there you have it Londo. You are in such deep shit!
The whole androgenous-Being-O-Light-man-boy-with-supple-lips-and-whitehot-glow-upon-bald-head thing was just a leeetle bit beeezarre, but man I loved it! So strange and yet so unexpected! Can you imagine a faith so universal that the being or god everyone looked upon was in their own image. Is Straczynski telling us something here? Safe to say Yes!
It is the end of Earth Year 2259. The Centauri are expanding their empire with the newly formed Earth-Centauri Treaty. The Nightwatch are incarcerating people aboard Babylon 5 suspected of seditious acts against Earth. Freedoms are being removed. War is upon Babylon 5. Yup, just another happy, uplifting entry in the world of Babylon 5. Ya gotta love it!
Babylon 5 once “the last best hope for peace” is now “the last best hope for victory.” Yes another change is in the air for Season 3.
And, of course, as we mentioned earlier, dum dum, one-chromosome-short Keffer takes on The Shadows in hyperspace just long enough to record some footage for the news services before he bites it from the Babylon 5 opening credit roll. Yeah he definitely didn’t get developed. I was not saddened at his explosive demise. I also was not sad to see Mary Kay Adams go as Na'Toth, the replacement of Julie Caitlin-Brown. In fact, I had completely forgotten about her along the way the season was so good. G'Kar was so good going it solo I just spaced it regarding his assistant. Anyway, with the footage now on intergalactic television I guess the whole Shadows thing is definitely out of the bag at this point.
Classic exchanges:
Sheridan: “I want all our fighters put through training exercises three times a week from now on…
Ivanova: “I’ll see to it personally. And if they don’t get any better I’ll start issuing live ammo. That should have a very inspirational affect.”
The Fall Of Night: A-
Whew! What a season for Babylon 5.


Anonymous said...

Concerning our god-like Kosh, note what Sheridan said about the Vorlons having manipulated us, and might I remind you of "Deathwalker" and "Inquisitor".

Yeah, JMS is telling us something here ...


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I hear whay you're saying. It's almost like programming is involved by the Vorlons. I'll be listening for the clues. "You have always been here." Hmmm...