Sunday, May 25, 2008

B5 S3 Ep3: A Day In The Strife

Just another night on the town, or rather the revolving space tube.

The impressive character exchanges continue. Yes, it's just another day in the life or rather strife to be exact. One of the things I enjoy most about Babylon 5 is the endless interpersonal relationship struggles or friendhsips that happen for better or worse. I guess when you're stuck on a space station with nowhere to run you're going to get that. There were so many splendid little moments in Season Three, Episode Three, A Day In The Strife I began losing count. My video camera was working overtime. We get scene after scene in the day-to-day operations amidst the general chaos of Babylon 5 and the dialogue and drama between characters is flawless. It was yet another pleasure to watch it all unfold.

Unrest is building aboard Babylon 5 following the terror bombings in Convictions. The Transport Pilots Association is up in arms over the delays.

Sheridan greets the arrival of Na’Far, with bodyguard Ta’Lon, who has arrived to replace citizen G’Kar as the new Narn liaison to the newly assembled, Centauri-controlled Narn government. Na’Far is essentially a puppet of the Centauri. His hope is to remove G’Kar and thereby remove the primary influence on the armed Narn resistance.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi meets with Ivanova and informs her that he took a little looksy into Sheridan’s personnel jacket when he first arrived. I love how the good guys are always breaking the rules. I'm actually kidding, but it does seem necessary in this fairly uneven world of political power plays.

I like to know who I’m dealing with and who knew he’d turn out to be okay. According to his files, Sheridan’s a good tactical thinker. He can take an inferior defensive force and turn it into an offensive force capable of taking on a better-equipped enemy. He did it with the Black Star. He did it with the Mars Riots. He’s the one chance we’ve got to make it through this thing alive.”

I’m thinking that’s a fairly vital skill people. Yeah, I'd kinda want Sheridan on my team too.

This is a fairly chilling reminder of the Jekyll and Hyde that is Londo Mollari.

"Captain, I believe I just received a name. Yes sir, it is official. I have confirmation!"

Joshua Cox sports his best haircut to date and actually lands himself a speaking role in one of his meatiest appearances thus far. By the way, it not only talks, but I believe Joshua 'Tech No. 1' Cox has just been promoted in the credits to an official name. He now answers to Corwin.

An alien probe enters Babylon 5 airspace and begins circling the station. It has presented 600+ intelligence questions to the station crew to answer within 24 hours or face annihilation [I remember feeling that way in school]. Yup, just another day in the strife. Theoretically, if the station can return the correct answers they will receive much needed medical technology. If they cannot complete them in time Babylon 5 will be, as Ivanova puts it, hit with a “500,000 megaton weed whacker.” Oh yeah and they cannot simply destroy the probe of course. This is a terrific thread taking Darwin to the next level combining the alien and the technological.

Later, Londo meets with Delenn in an attempt to relocate Vir as a diplomatic envoy to Minbar. It is fascinating to watch Londo try to manipulate Delenn but with little success. Despite Londo’s roller coaster persona he continues to be such a sympathetic figure in no small part to Jurasik’s amazing talent. Still, Delenn is as shrewd as they come and her presence is all thanks to the amazing and beeautiful Mora Furlan. Lesser actresses would have destroyed this character. At the very least they wouldn't have had nearly the presence or range of physical emotion that Furlan can employ. It seems effortless.

Oh! This is another great sequence about friendship and human behavior. This is the beauty of the show. It is Straczynski’s ability to write dialogue that is so true to human nature. I love this exchange between Garibaldi and Dr. Franklin [and man they love to eat together!]. Hey look, I warned you, I told you there were a lot of scenes I just loved.

Over a drink, Ta’Lon meets up with Sheridan. If you recall, Sheridan first saved Ta’Lon from the alien abduction they both survived in All Alone In The Night. Elsewhere, Na’Far meets with G’Kar and the discussion goes less than smooth. Performance perfection continues!

So, following the Garibaldi/ Franklin sequence we witness Dr. Franklin in action. He’s overtired and on edge and reaches for the narcotic that keeps him going. Garibaldi’s words haunt him and ring true as he puts them away. He swore he was not an addict, but as his problems unravel he cannot deny the craving for relief he requires. He inevitably takes the injection to stave off withdrawal.

There is also a scene between Londo and Vir and most notably this line to Vir had me laugh out loud. “You have been promoted. You will earn more money, receive more attention, women may even come to find you attractive…in time.” Viciously funny! Londo is so torn between love for Vir and a desire to remove him from the pressures that continue to build upon his shoulders.

The Narn confront Na’Far in the corridors of Babylon 5 as a traitor and G’Kar intervenes in time to prevent bloodshed. If there is anything G’Kar will not stand for it is Narn-on-Narn violence. G’Kar agrees to return to Narn if it means Narn are left alone.

Garibaldi is not so keen on G’Kar’s decision. Like many of us, Garibaldi has a soft spot for the lizard guy and like everyone else, he knows he will be killed if he returns to his homeworld.

So, like I said, there were so many powerful meetings in this episode I began to lose count. In fact, I need to buy two new batteries for the camera.

Oh God, here’s another. When G’Kar attempts to leave his brethren but they stop him with a little love. Show him the love!

Furthermore, the Narn not only managed to keep G’Kar in their camp, but gained another in Ta’Lon. It is noted by G’Quan that an unsheathed sword must draw blood before being coveted again. He honors the word and cuts his own hand experiencing the pain required for freedom. It’s pure damn poetry people I tell you!

In fact, this is poetry that is also beautifully real. When Garibaldi reconnects with Dr. Franklin he apologizes to him for being presumptuous about a potential addiction. It is so sincere and then, ashamed, Franklin lies to his friend unable to exhibit weakness or let anyone know it. JMS is keepin' it REAL! We make mistakes. We have frailties. We suffer consequences. Straczynski lays it all out. These are people like you and me. And when Vir walks off Babylon 5 so bloody REAL! I couldn’t believe it! I was like NO WAY! You can’t go! Come back! Bloody hell Londo- stop him ya bastard! What’s wrong with you?! What an ass! Really amazing stuff.

Classic exchange between Sheridan and Ivanova:

S: “If that thing blows at least it’ll save me from one more annoying conversation.”
I: “Always finding the good in every situation.”
S: “Absolutely! If I didn’t I might end up like you.”
I: “Hey, what’s that suppose to mean… I swear if we live through this somebody’s gonna’ find their automatic shower preferences reprogrammed for ice water."

Ivanova can be tough as nails, but deep down she's a big ol' softy and an absolute sweetheart! Come on, look at that face!

A Day In The Strife: B


Anonymous said...

The everyday scenes are the reason I like Strife better than Convictions, it's just the subplot with the probe that bugs me a bit. Still, Sheridan and Ivanova in the transport guild meeting are great :)

On Franklin: More foreshadowing in Season 1 remember Doctor Laura Rosen in The Quality of Mercy, who lost her license due to an addiction to stims?

On Vir: Vir's stay on Minbar is another case of accomodating real life necessities in scripts - actor Steven Fuerst had another project offered at the time and asked for a break.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

M! I think you hit it on the head as to why it is so difficult to grade a show with one black and white stroke of the keyboard pen. Some threads are exceptional while another may be just okay. I tend to lean to the positive based on at least one strong thread. I had said earlier that is why it is impossible to really grade a Season worth of episodes. I mean, you can do it, and come up with an average, but look how hard it is on one show alone. The ordinary everyday stuff is great! The probe segment is not quite as good but I do like how they transfer the information out to the craft away from B5. Did not know that about Furst. It's amazing how much they need to roll with the punches! At least they know how to work on the fly, build it into the story and keep things interesting!

Anonymous said...

In another show, a character like Vir would have just disappeared for a few episodes without much explanation; in B5 Vir is assigned to another project, just like his actor. When reading up on the production in a second round, you'll find it quite entertaining how many scenes and events have sort of a second level of meaning on which real-life stuff happening is woven in.

JMS is extremely flexible at improvising and adjusting the overall plan to accomodate for real-life incidents - and often for the benefit of the story. I've just recently come to realy appreciate how good he actually is, when we learned about the original plan for B5 (what B5 would have looked like if Michael O'Hare had stayed). For spoiler reasons, I can't elaborate, but when you've finished watching the series, I'll provide you with a link.


PS: Are you aware of the script book project ( They have a deadline June 30th 2008, after that they won't be available any longer. I'm not trying to market them, this is just to make sure you know about the situation.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Wow M! Cool link. I didn't know about it. Here is my question. Have you seen any of these volumes and if so are they worth purchasing? Sound very interesting especially with the intros, but I need your input before making a move on them! Have you seen them? Thank you for the head's up.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way, when I am done I am definitely interested in knowing about the B5/O'Hare scenario. I love What Ifs!

Anonymous said...

Difficult question about the scripts. I haven't bought them, I'd say it's mostly a thing for real hardcore fans who are keen to know every detail on the show, and for aspiring screenwriters. I'm sure the introductions are interesting, but as I'm not a screenwriter, I'm not that interested in owning 92 B5 scripts. I understand that there's a 30 day no-question-guarantee to return them if you don't like them, so if you consider it, that may be an option to see for yourself.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks for all your thoughts on the scripts M. If anyone has seen them let us know your thoughts. Cheers.