Monday, July 7, 2008

B5 S3 Ep11: Ceremonies Of Light And Dark

Garibaldi against a most terrifying and vicious enemy- the sardonic wit of Babylon 5's original internal computer voice system complete with terrible accent. It must be destroyed! Wouldn't we all like to do that to a computer?

"Back in black/ I hit the sack/ I've been too long I'm glad to be back!" - AC/DC

It's good to be back to Babylon 5 and it's good to see our heroes dressed in black by the latest episode's end. It is slick look indeed.

Straczynski is always great about continuity. If someone is in a coma- they’re in a coma. If someone is in a cocoon- they're in a cocoon. Okay, maybe that's different. So Garibaldi begins Babylon 5, Season Three, Episode 11, Ceremonies Of Light And Dark [or Back In Black] in a cast as a result of an arm injury during fighting on Babylon 5 at the end of Severed Dreams. So, like I said, we have a cast. On a side note, how Ivanova walked away from her Starfury excursion is nothing but a minor miracle, but that’s how things works out sometimes thank God and that's a fairly accurate reality as well.

Sheridan is an absolutely resolute and firm Captain. I love him. He is principled in a galaxy that has lost its way. He applies right and wrong with conviction and passion. He gets pissed! I love when he gets pissed. He does it and never completely loses his shit when he does. That’s a great quality! Oh and the ladies love him too so he can never do wrong.

Unbeknownst to Sheridan a sniper has him in a gun sight. That makes sense because if Sheridan did know he was in the sight he would get out of the gun sight. Does my logic never cease to astound? A man with a scar prevents the assassin from taking the shot. The last thing he wants is for Sheridan to become a martyr.

Classic Sheridan in command: “Our case remains a just one,” he announces at a somber ceremony honoring the fallen soldiers as caskets float into the calm, dead of space. It is a stirring image and quite powerfully executed. “From the stars we came, to the stars we return, from now until the end of time."

Londo is absolutely smokin' Refa [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] and giving him the business here!
Lord Refa returns to Babylon 5 [played with a touch of sinister panache by William Forward]. It was a great moment when Londo told him it was time for Refa to come to him on Babylon 5. WOW! Talk about throwing your weight around. Londo analyzes the current Centauri military strategy with Refa. Who knew Londo was a master of military intelligence. He questions Refa’s multi-front engagement referring to it as lunacy. Interesting Londo, you didn’t feel that way when you were applying the crushing might of your mystery associates no longer at your disposal. Suddenly Londo is feeling conservative and cautious concerning the overextension of Centauri forces. How convenient. “Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight the war on twelve fronts.” Ouch! Take that Refa! I think he means you Jimmy boy! Refa shrugs, “we can handle it.” Sure, take the “we” [Morden’s associates] out of the equation and maybe you’ll be singing a different tune. Londo questions Refa’s alliance with Morden. Yeah, Londo might be a little familiar with that scenario personally. “Mr. Morden and his associates worry me.” Yeah, that happens Londo when you don’t know a friggin’ thing about them. Londo unfortunately shot first and and is now asking questions later. He fears the Centauri are spreading themselves to thin and leaving Centauri Prime vulnerable to attack should Morden turn on them. WOW! That may be the smartest observation you’ve made in two seasons. The seduction of power has now overcome Refa. Refa is now behaving much as Londo behaved. Overconfident, thirsty for power, hungry for the role of emperor at any cost. Refa is driven by delusions of grandeur as only a true Centauri can be. There is a slight surprise added to the mix when Londo informs Refa he has poisoned him. The cocktail works as part one of a two parter. We learn poison is “always the instrument of choice in the Old Republic.” Londo’s purpose- get to Refa before Refa gets to him. Centauri society, from what I’ve seen, may be a lot like the Roman empire. It is cutthroat and there is no love loss between Centauri. They are more than willing to kill one another or happy to stab one another in the back to get ahead. Nasty bunch of blood suckers [it's fitting they have those vampire-like teeth]! Londo requires Refa’s cooperation and the poison ensures he will do just that. If not, Londo will have one of his boys on Centauri Prime slip part two of the poison cocktail into his drink. It will mix with the previously administered concoction currently in his system and wah-lah, so long Refa! Londo requires Refa disengage with Morden and pull back the Centauri forces. Should Refa fail to comply certain death might be applied. “To your health Lord Refa.” Yes, thank you, so kind of you Londo. Those Centauri, such a sincere lot.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi has entered a series of new passwords into the station computer system. I love how freely they give their passwords to one another. What’s the point of a password if someone else knows it? I love when people I work with need something and they're like, "give me your password," like it's a stick of gum. I know our heroes trust each other implicitly, but it is compromising security a bit. Hey, it's a good thing the Security Chief doesn't know about it. Sheridan: Obsidian. Ivanova: Griffin. Garibaldi: Peek-A-Boo. I wonder what the significance is for each? Anyway, following a system reboot, an obnoxious male voice has replaced the pretty female computer. Artificial intelligence with a ‘wise-guy’ attitude; it doesn’t get much worse. Fortunately Garibaldi is quite annoyed and fortunately for us shoots it with his PPG at the end of the show [one of this installment's highlights].

I love Babylon 5 computer screens and consoles. They are colorful backdrops, fun to look at and appear user-friendly. It's a nice touch throughout the series even if it i colored plastic with a light bulb behind it.
A secret, semi-disturbed arm of the Nightwatch Unit groups and meets on Babylon 5. Their primary target is not Sheridan after all, but rather Delenn. They believe if Delenn is removed from the equation support for Babylon 5 from the Minbari will evaporate. They also plan to tie the murder to Sheridan. The old two-fer trick!

Delenn announces a customary Minbari rebirth ceremony will be held and encourages all to join she and Lennier for the ocassion. It’s a bit of a variation on the Catholic confessional [sort of]. Marcus isn’t all that keen about it and is fairly evasive about taking part. Londo inquires about the ceremony. He scoffs as it doesn’t exactly fit into the concept/mold of Centauri pride. Lennier informs us, “You must tell someone a secret” and “give away something that is of great value to you.” Yeah, giving up things of value generally runs contradictory to the decadent philosophy of the rich Centauri culture replete with material splendor. Unimpressed Londo passes. I would think Lady Morella might count this decision as one of the three remaining opportunities of five first referenced in Point Of No Return. G’Kar, too, is busy, busy, busy with security and believes he lacks a need for rebirth. Marcus enlightens us with a bit of his backstory. He has nothing to offer for the ceremony in his opinion. We learn the Shadows killed his family and his colony. I’d say that leaves him with a bit of a revenge streak and a personal stake in the war. Delenn urges Marcus to let go of his pain and grief. The memories are imprisoning him. She tells him he has not yet forgiven himself for living. Can we cut Marcus’ hair? I'm sure the ladies wouldn't care to see their swashbuckling hero without those lengthy locks.

Later, Delenn meets with a Minbari delegation, but the Nightwatch assassin unit ambushes them. They are held hostage. Boggs leads the unit and demands Babylon 5 fall back under Earth control and rid itself of all alien influence. Marcus is desperately searching for their location.

A deep space, alien love story. I love foreign films.
I love foreign films and subtitles. How about you?

Unfortunately the psycho overseeing the two Minbari captives understands Minbari and their foreign exchange in Minbari cannot protect them.
Marcus attempts to get information in the Down-Below and he may have to crack heads to get it. Yup, enter this bar room filled with cracked heads.

This was a nice sequence. Marcus tells Delenn's comrade, "that's a dangerous promise Lennier" and he makes a significant point about something that seems to be be taken lightly on its surface.

Talk about sharing secrets. Whew! I’m not surprised he shared that secret with Marcus merely for the fact it is easier to share such information sometimes with those not closest to us. I thought Lennier’s expression of his love for Delenn was right on target. I never once felt it was a romantic connection. He was never jealous of Sheridan. His feelings were protective. His relationship was very much like that of a brother and sister and it never felt remotely sexual. But of course there are those brothers and sisters that… well, you know.

Marcus determines Delenn is being held in Level 14.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, with those Minbari Cruisers circling Babylon 5 it's like the ocean deep of space.
By the way, the PPG fights are okay. They are always just okay, but they never wow me into excitement. The sound effects for the guns themselves are weak and fairly underwhelming at best. They are certainly efficient and logical to the needs of the station, just not all that thrilling.

So, one of the crumb bums throws a knife into Delenn’s back as she saves Sheridan! Could this be the end of Delenn? Come on! Get serious! She’s only one of the linchpins to the entire series. Get real! She’ll be fine, just a mere flesh wound.

We are Grey but NOT for long.
Lennier declares the rebirth ceremony cancelled as the window of opportunity has passed according to Minbari custom. With Delenn in medlab, Sheridan brings the ceremony to her. This is a pretty moving segment. I must admit despite genuine feelings that continue to develop between them both I cannot get Anna Sheridan out of my mind since his run in with Morden in In The Shadow Of Z’Ha’Dum. If she is alive this will present a problem. In fact it may well be a real bone of contention. Get it, bone. Seriously, I can’t get Sheridan’s feelings for his wife out of my mind given how strongly he felt as expressed way back in Revelations. They were seriously in love. Those feelings just don’t disappear. They may ease with time but they continue to exist. As sweet as it is I am definitely not a strong advocate for the union of Sheridan and Delenn. In fact, it's all a little bit off for me.

I thought this sequence really was quite a strongpoint for the episode. I especially like when Ivanova tells Delenn "I think I loved Talia." Yeah, we thought so as well. I thought it was notable how they left their uniforms with Delenn [giving up something of great value to them] and shared their secrets with her. It was certainly cathartic, powerful and a rebirth of sorts indeed.

I thought I was watching Firefly with all the Brown shirts [I know they're supposed to be coats, but close enough]. These guys must shop at the same station store. In fact, you wonder if there are a lot of options for clothes on board Babylon 5. Plaid is definitely 'IN' here or black.

Back in Black and Dressed To Kill!
Love the fancy black uniforms! They are sharp or at least sharper than the previous dull grey. I can see why Jeff Conaway wasn't all that jazzed about grey when he came on board the show and voiced his opinion to Straczynski. Perhaps it’s just seeing something new, I don’t know, but I love the symbolic break with the Earth government by switching to the new sharp dressed attire. Smart. I think I enjoyed the last 5 minutes of this episode most. This was a slight side step from the normally strong entries for me.

Ceremonies Of Light And Dark: C


Anonymous said...

So, I hope you enjoyed your vacation :) ... those pics from the Everglades are great!

As to the episode: To me, there is a difference between Londo and Refa. Londo at least cares for his people, he's a patriot. Refa, by contrast, cares for no-one but himself. Delenn's idea of pressuring people into the rebirth ceremony isn't her wisest step, I think. There's no way she'll reach Londo at this point (and really, she should know that) and as for G'kar, he's had his rebirth experience in Dust to Dust (of course, she couldn't know that). Point being, people can't be forced into reconsideration.

You're very perceptive in things Lennier and Anna Sheridan.

Couple of notes: As I understood it, they gave the passwords only because they were about to be replaced.
The "obnoxious voice" of the artificial personality belongs to Harlan Ellison.

Yeah, the new uniforms are cool - finally a show with the good guys wearing black! :)

Let's see what's ahead ... two episodes more or less on the standalone side, until we get back into the major arc.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hey M
Good to hear from u.
The glades were good...real nice. Glad you liked the pictures. I clicked on a few of them off the blog itself. I didn't realize how BIG and clear and detailed they would come up on a separate window. It looks as though the camera is capturing the shots in Large high resolution. Nice.

Thanks for straigtening me out on Londo. I must admit I know you're right and I think I was being a bit harsh on him. I still know he has heart. He does exhibit care for his people. He definitely got caught up in the power trip with Morden in the beginning, but we can all quickly recall how torn he was on taking that path. Still, he does show little regard for races outside of his own.

Glad to hear I'm paying attention on the Lennier and Sheridan tips.

You make a great point about G'Kar already undergoing his own rebirth. All in all, outside of the rebirth ceremony, people can't be forced into doing anything they don't want to right? They have free will and they will use it. So, well said on that.

Harlan Ellison huh? Well, I'm glad he won't be going into voice overs.

And the good guys wearing black a-ha! That's perfect. Another Straczynski twist eh? I like it. I didn't think of it like that, but that is so him.

Given your love for subtle meanings I wonder if you nticed my use of the grey letter colors for the Blog Header over the black uniforms saying goodbye to the old dull grey. ;) Talk to you soon.

Havremunken said...

Hey - good to have you back!

In agreement with M here as usual, just wanted to let you in on a little "bug" in this episode and the last (Severed Dreams was the first big WHOA! episode for me) - Yep, Garibaldi was injured in Severed Dreams. So was Jerry Doyle the actor - for real! You can see it in the scene where Zack helps him sit down after the big fight with the earth invaders - when he drops his helmet, his arm bends in a very unnatural way (according to jms, hard to see it without knowing it).

HOWEVER, and here comes the bug - take a look at the final few scenes of Severed Dreams. Notice something about Garibaldi's injury?

You were not the only one. :)

The only point with this is to show that they didn't shoot the scenes in sequence. ;)

Oh, and one of the cooler moments in this episode had to be when you realize the knife hit Delenn, and you see the rage in Sheridan's eyes as he gets ready to shred this guy into individual molecules. As you point out, when he gets angry, he does it fo'real!

Keep it up. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks H! Good to hear from you again.

You guys are the best. Now you've got me putting my Severed Dreams episode back in...I gotta check it out. My memory is a little fuzzy after swimming away from alligators for two weeks.

I've tried making out that bending arm and it's hard to make out but I think I see it happen.

Yeah, I'm with you, I love ANGRY Sheridan. His hair gets a little mussed up too sometimes when he's mad. He almost goes all Bill Bixby. You wouldn't like it when he gets angry.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Okay H. Now I see what you mean about being out of sequence. Doyle goes from wounded arm to limping leg with can in Severed Dreams and then back to wounded arm at the beginning of Ceremonies Of Light And Dark.

Woe that's a pretty big transitional difference. Heck I'm not surprised I didn't notice it. I totally miss stuff like that.

By the way, I just went to
You see, I never search the web for anything because I don't want to run into anything, but this site you gave us is great. I had no idea he was doing radio and an independent conservative. I knew I always liked that Jeff Doyle!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way, have you listened to Jerry Doyle's program and if so is it any good? I think you have to pay for it.

Havremunken said...

It was very easy to miss - it seems most of us don't remember every detail, and when we see Garibaldi is injured, we just remember - "Yeah, he DID get hurt, didn't he?"

There's another one of those in the pilot, but it isn't important enough to go into details before you get to your first complete rewatch of the entire series. :)

I knew Doyle was into politics (the line "Slightly to the right of Attilla the Hun" in one episode isn't entirely by coincidence), but I didn't know he had a radio talk show. He seems like a bright enough guy, maybe I'll check it out. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I agree on Doyle. Just seeing his rapid fire dialogue on the show he seems like a natural fit for talk radio....I'm with you. I'd like to check it out some time.