Thursday, July 10, 2008

B5 S3 Ep12: Sic Transit Vir

How I love the Gardens. It's like the damn Rainforest Cafe in there if you've ever been to one of those places. A little rain, some thunder, maybe a fish tank, and you're almost home.

I was going to write a quick entry about my experience at Circuit City the other day, but then decided to incorporate it here and just open with a little side story.
So I walk into Circuit City, much against my better judgment to pick up Stargate Atlantis Season Four on DVD. The service is generally terrible and many of the kids working there tend to be less than friendly, less than helpful, in fact I think it may be a prerequisite to have no personality at all when filing an application. Customer satisfaction is no longer the name of the game. But of course they had only one copy of the new DVD Box and it had a big tear/ scratch down the front of the box and a dent across the spine. See ya. No thanks. If I'm buying new I want it to be mint new. I don't want it to look like it's been in the scratch and dent bin for six months at a reduced price. I'm a little anal that way- high standards I guess. However, I did get the X-Files Revelations DVD in preparation for the upcoming film I Want To Believe. Funny thing is it doesn't matter, you know me folks, I'm slow and I probably won't get around to watching it until the movie is well gone from the theatres.
So this tall fellow says "Can I help you?" I said "Yes." The kid was scoring major points with me right off the bat. I proceeded to ask him where the Stargate Atlantis Season Four DVD set was located and he showed me. He actually even made small talk. He said, "Is that series any good? My friend keeps telling me to watch some great science fiction for a change. He always tells me that I watch bad science fiction." You know where this is going. I laughed and I said, "Yeah, it's good. Good effects. Good stories and characters. Yeah, you should definitely check it" [to quote McLovin' from Superbad]. So I have to ask, "Well give me an example of the bad science fiction you like that your friend doesn't." I'm always game to talk about stuff like this and the kid was a real nice kid. He says, "Well I watched Babylon 5 and my friend always makes fun of me." What!? My mouth dropped agape. I said "No WAY! I am watching that right now! I'm on Season Three and your friend is wrong. Pure dead wrong!" Can you imagine? Here I was defending the show I made fun of just months ago. I told him, "You tell your friend that show is not bad and it's arguably better if not just as good and different as Stargate Atlantis. He's so wrong and he probably is basing his decision on watching Season One. Right?" He says, "Exactly, Season One is a bit rough." I said, "Yeah, very rough, you have to push through that one a bit, but it gets better and better." I said, "Man, your friend is so wrong. Good talking to you pal." He was like "Yeah you too." Folks, those Babylon 5 fans are out there. The youngsters just can't get passed those early special effects. They can't see the forest for the trees to get to the meat of the story. Today it's like a bad drug, they need cool special effects first, the story is secondary or they ain't watchin'. That is bad logic people. I almost fell victim to the same. Thanks to people like you and me [now], like the tagline from The X-Files, 'The truth is out there' and we're making sure people hear about it.

Okay, so I digressed a bit there, but that was clearly a musing worth mentioning in relation to our love for Babylon 5. So on we go with the latest installment.
I love the nifty flying saucer in this shot. It’s rare to see your traditional Lost In Space-styled flying saucer in science fiction anymore. I guess they are just far too simple and basic, but I like simple and basic and therefore it was a pleasure to see.

Here we are with Babylon 5, Season Three, Episode 12, Sic Transit Vir. I was torn between calling this entry Sick 'Em Vir! or …

NAKED Ivanova! So I opted for both. Finally! Yes! Yes! Yes! Okay, sorry, got a little carried away with my imagination, because we don’t actually get to see her naked, but we can dream. I was so excited I thought about populating the entire entry with Ivanova pictures, but quickly came to my senses. Ivanova is apparently having dreams in which she is on duty, but naked. Crazy?! I think not. How about you? I have had those kinds of dreams before as well. You walk out the door in only your skivvies and realize you're at school or work or somewhere and for some unknown reason you're completely oblivious to the fact your naked until quite some time later. Oddly enough, sometimes, even the people around me are unaware I'm naked and then when I realize I'm naked I must get clothes on before everyone else realizes it. I mean how could they not notice I'm naked? It's all quite bizarre. What is up with that? Dreams I tell ya.

Back on Centauri Prime, Vir delivers his Minbar reports to the Emperor. Vir is advised to stick with his own analysis, be true to his reports and leave out the Londo embellishments. He is apparently in good standing with the emperor, preferred favor over Londo anyway. Upon departing Vir is told an ill-humored, race joke by a Centauri official concerning a room full of Narn. After Vir leaves we see him enter a room full of Narn. It’s a pretty clever twist. It’s disorienting at first because we aren’t sure exactly what is happening. In retrospect, looking back, Vir is unafraid as he enters and the door closes behind him as we learn the room is indeed full of Narn very much by his design. I'm uncertain if others have aided in Vir's mission here. Was the joke code?

I know I'm perseverating on this, but Babylon 5 is so like a whale with those Blue Minbari goldfish? It is such a visual feast for the eyes. By the way, where is the White Star going?

Sheridan accurately, no doubt, psychoanalyzes Susan’s dreams as being steeped in a sense of vulnerability and instability. He notes that it is clearly symbolic of their current status on Babylon 5 and the station’s role in the much larger political climate. Paging Dr. Sheridan- damn that’s good John!

Elsewhere, Londo has a bit of a wee beastie bug problem. His room appears to be the recipient of an alien bug infestation. They must have come through with the cargo or the luggage. His absolute dread and unhealthy fear of bugs is a comical touch in this entry. Meanwhile Vir returns to Babylon 5 and arrives at Londo’s quarters.

Remember that School House Rock theme. I can here it playing in Londo's quarters: "The most important person in the world to you is you and you hardly even know you." How fitting.
Londo: “And how are things at the Royal Court?”
Vir: “You know collusion, politicking, scheming, innuendo, gossip, same old thing.”
Londo: “Good. Good.”

Vir is introduced to his beautiful, petite wife to be, Lyndisty, a delightful, seductive yet devilish turn from Armen Thomas.

Lyndisty: “Ambassador Mollari told me everything about you.”
Londo: “Oh, don’t worry Vir. I only told her the good parts. It was a very short conversation.”
Ouch! Nice. WOW! With friends like that who needs enemies Vir? Londo loves to belittle everything around him to pump up his own prestige. Speaking of which, is it customary to hang a self-portrait in your own quarters? It has to be the height of vanity to be sure.
His vanity knows no bounds. MINE are this BIG! [He does have several large bugs you know.]
I loved his comments about the bugs in his room. “I swear they are evolving right before my eyes. If you see something this big with eight legs coming your way let me know I have to kill it before it develops language skills.”

Sheridan invites Delenn to a candlelight dinner in his quarters. There seems to be a lot of action there lately, albeit not always desired. Sheridan prepares Delenn a flavorless dish of Flarn. It is essentially God awful illustrated by the old ‘look over there at that picture’ trick. As kids we pulled that trick often with the folks and quickly dispensed with food we weren't crazy about to the family dog who was always waiting by our knees happy for the scraps. Tink 'the blink' was well-trained and together we cleaned our plates. It was always quiet and there was never any evidence left behind. So, anyway, Sheridan turns his head away from the table while Delenn applies salt and pepper to aid in the taste.

Sgt. Allan visits Ivanova at Command & Control and notes some inconsistencies concerning the Narn and reports indicating they are deceased. It was at this point I began to realize we had a little Schindler named Vir on board Babylon 5 doing his best to save the Narn anyway he possibly could [a la Schindler’s List].

I believe he may be about to eat her face.
As far as Vir goes, he may be a noble Centauri, a rare Centauri looking to do the right thing, but a ladies’ man he is not. Lyndisky is a charming little package of hotness- searing bald hotness at least. I love his waddle-like walk and his general discomfort around her. He is definitely a virgin, but such a likeable guy. She offers him nights filled with an “anarchy of pleasure.” Yes! Now that is my kind of anarchy. Where are these Centauri women on Earth when you need them? Later, a knife-wielding Narn attacks Vir and Lyndisky. Vir is accused of murder. Why? Sgt. Allan and his PPG subdue the Narn and Vir is perceived a brave protector to his future ladylove. Vir has got it goin' on baby! Vir turns to Ivanova for advice on the opposite sex. It's interesting to note Ivanova’s own discomfort and her acknowledgement that “every woman is different.” That much we are certain. This is good stuff.

Leave it to Ivanova her timing is always impeccable. There are loads of great sexual undercurrents on Babylon 5. Oh and then there's this almost moment. I was so on the fence regarding 'the moment'. [It's like the damn Love Boat here! Love Babylon if you will!]
I wanted it to happen, but then I didn’t want it to happen. If it happened I would have been disappointed it happened and then sad that I could no longer want it to happen. The fact that it didn’t happen allowed for me to still want it to happen. I wanted that more [sort of]. I think. I'm not sure I'm feelin' it between these two. I think chemistry is there but not loads of it, therefore I'm not all that desirous to see it transpire.

As it turns out Vir is utilizing a ghost name to transfer Narn off Centauri Prime for better health care and attention off world. He is saving them from the brutality of his own people and potentially death. Ivanova meets with Sheridan in Londo’s quarters to confront Vir. All 2,000 Narn are listed as dead who were transferred. Since Vir is a walking target by the Narn it is assumed their deaths are resulting by his actions. Vir exclaims, “They’re not dead!” Vir altered the records so they could not be traced. They were being sent to other places to be helped. Vir is Schindler and his only regret is that he didn’t save more. Londo is disgusted by his actions. Vir turns to Lyndisky only to find she, too, is a racist. His heart is quietly broken. Vir is disturbed and troubled by her hatred for the Narn. She is a package of sweetness and smiles, but underneath it all the product of her rearing on Centauri [she is the whole nurture argument at work]. She views the Narn as nothing more than mice to be exterminated. To prove it, she has a surprise for good-natured Vir.

Lyndisky has bound a Narn in her quarters. He attempted to kill her. She has kept him alive so that Vir could have the honor of killing the Narn as acceptance into her family. Now we know the truth. It was Lyndisky that was truly the target of the Narn as the daughter to a family of Narn herding murderers. Her family has played a key role in the destruction of the Narn. They have attempted to weed out, in particular, aggressive Narn from the gene pool. Gee, that’s funny, if you’re cornered, herded or caged; I’m thinking anything or anyone might get aggressive. The Narn that lies before them is an escapee from a village her family purified. As the new head of the household, Lyndisky hands Vir the knife. She assures him it gets easier and easier. Damn that little cutie is a cold-blooded Narn assassin, but then there's that whole "anarchy of pleasure" thing she's got going.

Later Londo informs Vir he has done his best to cover up the “unfortunate incident,” maybe less on behalf of Vir and more to avoid any personal shame given his associations with him. Londo believes the Minbari influence has been unhealthy and he has relocated Vir back to Babylon 5 permanently. Vir's marriage has been postponed. Londo recommends he go kiss her ass essentially. As he says goodbye to her, like a schoolboy, he is intoxicated by her touch and beauty and remains hopeful he can work it out despite her flaws and maybe work out that "anarchy of pleasure." Hell, it's incentive. Heck if Democrats and Republicans, Tory and Labor, and so on can marry and live in harmony, what’s the death of a few Narn among would be lovers?

Londo: “She’s a good woman, a true Centauri.”
Vir: “That she is.”

Look, I know I'm hard on Londo and some are defensive of his true motives, but he's not exactly deserving of a break at the moment. His disdain for the Narn and his general selfish attitude is unbecoming. That being said I savor his screen time and he's a fascinating character that I do feel has much potential for redemption.

Ivanova has aided Vir and the station by utilizing Sheridan’s face to establish a phony Centauri personnel file for one Abrahamo Lincolni. It’s fitting they should use former President Abraham Lincoln’s name as the man behind the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862-63 and the freeing of slaves during the American Civil War. The Narn need some help indeed. Ivanova’s creation of the file has fulfilled her need for an additional mission in her role aboard Babylon 5.

With or without clothes she still looks fabulous [and damn those lips!]
Sic Transit Vir: B-


Anonymous said...

Not much to say about this one ... it's a bit over the top, Londo's fighting epic battle with bugs, Sheridan's kitchen mess, Vir seeking out Susan for sexual advisory, and Lydisty makes Lady Macbeth look like a balanced person... but it was about time for a bit of silliness, I suppose.

JMS on the title: "Yes, it's sort of a double pun in that respect...thus passes the man (=sic transit Vir), which can have many meanings, also entering manhood, or dying, or going away, or the more Vir transitioning, or going...lots of variations."


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

You said it M! This one was broderline B territory. It was marginal. I did like the Ivanova scene though. Silly good, yeah, that about sums it up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, OTOH it's good to know that there's still room for silliness in JMS' otherwise often quite dark and scary imagination.

I liked Sheridan's psychoanalysis - or rather psycho-babble? If Trek uses techno-babble, in B5 you occasionally have psycho-babble instead :)


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

That's so true...well Sheridan delivered it convincingly indeed just as Scotty did on Star Trek with the Techno babble. : )

Anonymous said...

To actually see Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova) naked, you have to see the Playboy photo shoot. She said in the interview that she wanted to show that "regular" women were beautiful too. Thing is, she doesn't realize that on the beauty scale, she is way above "regular" or average. She gets at minimum a 7 with at least one additional point for geek creds.

SFF said...

I cannot argue with that assessment one iota Anonymous. I mean come on Claudia, you're beautiful.