Friday, June 13, 2008

B5 S3 Ep8: Messages From Earth

Into the eye of the Purple-Pink!

Whenever I see the word ‘messages’ I think of songs by OMD, the Bee Gees and ELO. I have no idea why, but to me there is something classic and analogue about the word. I cannot explain it. It just is. Anyway, it's a great word.

So here we are with Babylon 5, Season Three, Episode 8, Messages From Earth [or "I've Just Got To Get A Message To You"]. Great title. Great idea and Director Michael Vejar strikes again! I like this director. What a unique visual style and flair. He does interesting things with the camera and the whole episode, especially on Mars, has that creepy, lonely, dark, moody, ominous quality immersed in orange hues. Pinkish hues are nice, but I really like orange hues. My kids were running for cover. One of them made smart remarks about the old effects and even used the words “green screen.” I was like, “where did you learn that.” Too much Disney channel probably. Anyway, they were still pretty impressed with the White Star and those spindly Shadows vessels. No matter how old some of these effects may be by television standards they justifiably scared the bejesus out of the kiddies who either headed for the hills or forced them to bury their faces in pillows!

The episode kicks off in traditional Babylon 5 fashion with a meal. Bacon and Eggs. “I haven’t seen a fresh chicken egg in three years,” a shocked Garibaldi proclaims. Marcus has managed to surprise Ivanova with the ultimate breakfast dish. What better meal to remind us of Earth then good old-fashioned bacon and eggs.

Elsewhere on the station Marcus is proving his value opening a mighty can of whoop ass to protect a woman from a slough of determined attackers. If I had any doubts about our Shakespearean Ranger Man and his abilities they were vanquished here. Hey there Boo Boo, welcome this one aboard!

On Earth, Senate hearings continue into Santiago’s death while evidence has surfaced on Clarke via his former physician proving his timely absence from Earth Force One may not have been just unfortunate timing. Sheridan and Ivanova listen intently to ISN.

Garibaldi’s soft spot for G’Kar continues as he visits him in station confinement. It’s one of two intimate scenes in the entry. I love the lighting used here on G’Kar’s face and how he falls back into the shadows. Vejar has the cinematic touch indeed.

Two solid turns are delivered via Robert Vaughn as a Nightwatch Security Guard and the beautiful Nancy Stafford as hottie Dr. Mary Kirkish. I got curious. I knew she was a hottie! The actress was formerly Miss Florida in 1976 and had a role on Matlock. I never watched Matlock. It's not science fiction.

Garibaldi has found the person he has been looking for to corroborate his story. His “package” has arrived thanks to Marcus and her name is Dr. Mary Kirkish. Seven years ago Garibaldi saw something. He has kept it under wraps until now. She is an important messenger. Mike Vejar serves up a perfect slow motion sequence with her arrival as she is escorted to the war council room to the sound of thumping percussion. Great stuff pumping up the importance of the episode!

Kirkish worked as an archaeologist for Interplanetary Expedition searching for buried technology [can you say Stargate SG-1?] on other worlds. She has been brought before the council to share her story. While on Mars, sonic probes uncovered something in the Martian soil. That thing they found was a Shadows vessel. I love when Kirkish describes it like the one from the news, the one that looks like it came “straight from hell” [maybe not “straight to hell” but cool enough!]. Kirkish now joins a long list of characters happily expounding the state of the galaxy.

Sheridan points out that back home they’re saying they’ve never seen anything like this. The doctor [of archaeology] confirms they are indeed lying.

She explains only a handful of people know what happened after that discovery. Many have died or gone missing. “Sooner or later they’ll find me and I’ll disappear.” Fortunately for Kirkish, Delenn and Lennier have other plans and will handle her sanctuary on Minbar. In other words, thanks for coming and playing a part on our Babylon 5, we’ll call you if we need you, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Tell Sinclair we said hello. Have a great day.

Before leaving she recalls how one worker touched the entity accidentally and died instantly. Yikes! That can't be good. During the excavation she spent time in a Mars bunker [great atmosphere and eerie coloring in these scenes once again]. Through a lookout she witnessed the arrival of another Shadow vessel that reawakened the other lifting it from Mars, as if summoning it from the bowels of hell through utilization of its devastating purple-pink firepower. The doctors were warned to keep quiet concerning exactly what they witnessed [or else]. All were separated and dispatched to different locations with the intention of maintaining silence.

During that dig, Garibaldi was piloting a shuttle for Mars when he too viewed those same events. He went back to that site to investigate, but all he could uncover was a badge, the dreaded badge of a Psi Corps officer.

Now the bad news, just a few weeks ago Dr. Kirkish was brought to another secret location where yet another vessel had been discovered. This time it’s different. Deeply concerned she tells the group how Earth is planning to dissect the knowledge of their finding to learn from it and use it to Earth advantage perhaps as a weapon against others by bringing it home. Whoever is in charge clearly wants to become more like the Shadows in power. Can you say Morden and Psi Corps? In theory, could Morden and Psi Corps be attempting a double-cross of The Shadows? It feels as though the Earth government is employing a very dangerous game with some very dangerous people.

The dreaded Groupthink model inaction. "I dunno Lennier. What do you think?" "I dunno. Marcus?"
Upon receiving all of this information, Sheridan adjourns the meeting and needs time to think…alone, err….with Delenn…kind of alone. Hmmm….

Elsewhere on the station Nightwatch is becoming more and more like Big Brother. Zack is looking very torn and troubled by the developments, especially when Vaughn smiles it’s like playing “God” a bit. I’d say the power is going to your head a bit there big fella. He’s whipping the troops into a bit of a frenzy. I like Conaway’s sometimes exaggerated “WTF!?” facial expressions. I have to admit I’m enjoying him more than I ever thought I could have as the show has progressed.

Sheridan has informed Delenn of his intentions [not those intentions]. Together they will take the White Star to Ganymede and stop the implementation of the Earth plan by destroying the Shadows vessel. White Star GO! The slow pan to Boxleitner in the Captain’s chair was a real nice touch. Classic Vejar! Delenn accompanies the Captain. Their bond and resolve is strengthening and there is definitely a comfort there for Sheridan having her by his side.

So Nighwatch is drawing up lists of those to be arrested and nearly anyone is a suspect as Vaughn stirs up the security staff. I like that Zack is still asking questions. He clearly is trying to figure out which side he’s on and navigate the minefield of issues. At a nightwatch meeting things begin to unravel as an officer asks, “does anyone in this room know where the Captain is?” How’s that for loyalty? Wow. Here's a clue. It's none of your damn business and shut the F up!

The White Star continues its journey to Mars. Lennier recommends that Sheridan rest. Lennier is such a voice of reason and wisdom. It’s interesting to see the Minbari [religious caste of course] stand at attention for Sheridan as he walks by. It must be surreal for Starkiller given his Black Star history. Those Minbari pilots are so funny navigating from those mobile chairs; they even smile later on. So Sheridan heads off to get some rest. Those Minbari beds look comfy. NOT! Delenn looked kind of seductive too. This is a sweet sequence with Sheridan sharing a bit of his past with her about his father. You gotta love Dads.

Ivanova looks terrific with her hair down. She is clearly struggling with events as they unfold and this scene really amplifies her frustration and her inability to have a hand in controlling the outcome as she lashes out at Marcus who’s on the receiving end of her wrath. Marcus is a solid, caring character for taking it as well. He knows she needs to release her tension and absorbs it for her without fighting back.

An interesting point is learned about the Shadows vessels and how they operate. A living creature enters the vessel and merges with it to take control and engage the craft. Earth has sent its own pilot and Delenn is troubled that the merging will be too hasty. Apparently, any life force has a shot at merging with one of these very curious Shadows vessels.

Don’t you just love the sound effects applied to the Shadows ships? It's like there's a hint of Toho, perhaps a nod to Godzilla or Monster Zero in there? It may be unintentional but at least that’s how it sounded as it screeched and released its purple-pink rage on the Mars research station after liftoff. I was half-expecting to see Ghidorah appear. The White Star fires a volley upon the craft and the results are “negligible.” Those moving Mibari chairs are particularly strange, but cool, and it was interesting how the ship’s firepower increased the closer they moved together. One more shot takes off an arm and pisses the enemy off. The White Star is pursued by The Shadow craft as Sheridan lures it into the gravitational pull of Jupiter. The White Star flips 180 degrees and pulls away from Jupiter's strain. The Shadows ship cannot pull out and is pulled back further toward the surface of the planet disintegrating. Interesting that the organic nature of the Shadows vessel did not have the strength to beat Vorlon-Minbari propulsion technology. And how about Captain Sheridan's laid back, brown, leather jacket look. What's up with that?

Just when our fearless heroes thought it was safe to head back into space, the Agamemnon arrives and fires upon them. Sheridan refuses to fire upon one of his own. Of course, it’s also the very ship he once captained [if I'm remembering that correctly]. He also refuses to surrender or it could spell the end of their mission as the “chosen ones.” The future would be Z'Ha'Doomed! Delenn suggests opening a jump point despite being dangerously close to the Jupiter surface. Lennier advises against it. The results could be catastrophic. In other words, they could all just explode. The White Star has not been fully tested on many fronts but continues to astonish and amaze therefore we definitely have to do it! If they played it safe it wouldn't make good television to be sure. Our heroes escape and remain unidentified in the process.

Later, ISN reports that an unknown alien ship destroyed the research station. The Earth powers continue to spin it to their advantage. The Agamemnon is reported to have destroyed the ship. Sheridan shakes his head in disbelief of the report. Yup, that's intergalactic politics for you.

Nightwatch urges Zack to begin probing the Security Chief. Zack is very much a pawn caught between his friendship to Garibaldi and the pressures of fulfilling his duties within the Nightwatch or "fire and flood" as Vir once said to Londo. The question is will he make the right choice? I'm hoping YES.

In the final moments, ISN reports Earth is now under martial law. YEs. Things are looking up as Babylon 5 ends with yet another happy ending.

Classic lines:

Lennier: “If I were holding anything back I would tell you.

Messages From Earth: A-


Havremunken said...

Damnit, you just caused me to fire up the projector, subwoofer and all so I can watch this and the next two in all their glory. Sure, some of the CGI is aged, but parts of it looks stunning too!

And to get your B5 nerd certificate, you need about 6 months of Delenn saying "In Valen's name.. It's awake!" as your computer startup sound. :P

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

hahaha! It's true, this one really is a visual feast! Yeah, I have a little further to go to get my fill of "In Valen's Name." She cracks me up when she says that! A computer startup with In Valen's Name.....that's good. How about "straight to hell!" That would be good too.

Anonymous said...

I think the destruction of the Shadow vessel was more due to the unanticipated turn of the White Star, and a lack of intelligent piloting (the ship was, after all, insane), than superior propulsion power of the White Star. I don't think this would have worked with a properly prepared Shadow vessel.

The Agamemnon was indeed Sheridan's old ship. And Delenn didn't mere "suggest" to open a jump point, she plain and simple took over command in Sheridan's stead :)


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Boy, that's a great point M! You're right we don't know who is piloting that Shadow vessel or whether or not they even know what the hell they are doing. Obviously Delenn points that out and clearly Sheridan uses that learning curve to their advantage. Delenn definitely proves she can sack it up as a hu-min whenever she needs to step it up. She got serious fight and then she softens you with that smile demonstrating what a lday she is.