Sunday, November 23, 2008

B5 S4 Ep11: Lines Of Communication

I really appreciate this shot of Lennier. He is livid with Forell and would happily kick his ass for his complete idiocy. Billy Mumy can play geek and warrior on a dime. He is so religious and warrior caste all rolled up into one. Doesn't he look like he'd take his ass out with one shot to the bonehead? WHAMMO! Delenn is totally concurring.

J. Michael Straczynski has certainly been generous in resolving plot points and threads while unafraid to create new ones. Things have been running a little flat for me of late personally with the exception of The Keeper storyline. Until now.

Sheridan continues to be a glutton for punishment as Ivanova points out. He continues to sadistically watch those truly awful propaganda updates via ISN News that continue to degrade his reputation and character. ISN continues to demonize Babylon 5 as a whole in the process. Sheridan is very protective of the "old girl" and is none too crazy about her treatement. He insists he is gathering “intelligence.” I'm sure he'll be sticking it up their rears the first chance he gets.

Franklin reports into Babylon 5 via code to update Sheridan that all is going according to plan. “Lost lamb to big bad wolf. Do not respond.” What's up with the lamb and wolf analogies? That's funny.

Marcus reports an explosion has occurred at the Red Planet Hotel. It is reported as a terrorist attack by the Mars resistance.

Delenn’s Minbari brethren inform her of attacks on transport ships by an unidentified alien fleet. All of this and more make for a fairly exciting installment. Onward march with Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 11, Lines Of Communication [formerly A New Pain In The Drakh]. On the station Sheridan worries for Delenn’s safety as she intends to get to the bottom of these unprovoked attacks occurring in the shipping lanes of space.

Back on Mars it turns out resistance fighter Phillipe set the bomb off at the hotel. He is the former lover of the extremely hot El Numero Uno [more commonly referred to as Number One]. She is indeed deserving of the title. The two get in a heated argument regarding their lack of communication. She is red hot over the decision to set off the explosion. There were ten civilian casualties as part of the collateral damage. They are indeed hurting their cause and their perception back home. I thought it was interesting how Straczynski plays with perceptions of 'terrorism' and 'freedom fighters'. Which one is it?

ISN continues to slander Sheridan back on Earth. He catches the broadcast. I love the “up yours.” I love seeing him talk back to the TV. I talk back to the TV all the time. Whether I’m watching sports or science fiction I get hot and start blasting my TV. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? HOW COULD YOU DROP THAT!?" I even talk back to my car radio sometimes when I’m driving. I get so ticked off at some of the crap I hear on radio I’ll just start talking back. Sometimes you just get caught in the moment. I'm far more vocal at home and a little more subtle int he car. I do yell at other drivers when they go through yield signs and such. That's something my grandmother taught me. I’m sure you have those moments.

I love those reaction shots. The facial expressions are so loaded with emotion. It speaks volumes about the man and how his gears are always turning to come up with solutions.

Sheridan rushes to see Ivanova eager to share his ideas with her. He has a plan. This exchange between Ivanova and Sheridan was pretty cute and very natural. She is definitely his closest confidant. She looks pretty damn sexy to boot.

The director should have panned that camera down a bit. Come on indulge me. Let’s face it, if you’re a guy that would have been nice. Claudia Christian is a voluptuous and sexy woman deserving of an occasional body shot in the nighty. I know. I’m a dog. Hey, I’m a red-blooded male and she looks about as fine here as I’ve seen her in this series. She is totally adorable here.

Sheridan has a plan to inject Ivanova into a new role as a kind of communications director via a refurbished War Room. She will be “the voice of the resistance.” The face of the resistance won’t be too shabby either. Where are these resistance fighters on TV? All I see is grizzled beards and big guns.

Piloting the White Star, Delenn seeks to find the face of this new enemy. Minbar is facing its own troubles as castes continue to squabble unable to find consensus without the guidance of the now defunct Grey Council. The council was a balanced, equal voice of reason for all. Rumors are abound the warrior caste has been pushing the religious caste to the fringe parts of Minbar in forced exile.

Disneyworld has made it to Mars.
On Mars, Franklin and Marcus meet with the resistance. Franklin informs them of a coalition taking shape to strike against Clark. Are you with us? He assures them Sheridan supports their independence from Earth if the resistance joins their cause. They are dubious. That happens when you’re living in tunnels and working underground.
I couldn't help but imagine Delenn thinking here: 'Are you out of your fucking mind?'
Delenn arrives with her fleet of White Stars in the sector under question. She makes contact with the enemy vessels. This episode will certainly go down as the first appearance of the dreaded Drakh. I’ve heard of this group and they will become the alien, enemy focus of Crusade if I’m not mistaken. They sound pretty nasty. As it turns out one of Delenn’s own, Forell, has established contact with this new enemy [do these numb skulls ever learn?]. He holds her at laser point and demands she hears what the dreaded Drakh have to offer. How about pain, suffering and certain death for starters. What do you think? Forell is indeed in the running for one of Babylon 5's supreme bonehead awards. He's definitely right up there.

On Mars, Franklin is exemplifying real leadership and genuine fight. You’ll never have to worry about this character saying “Damn it John, I’m a station doctor not a freedom fighter!” He has been impressive here. Number One requests Franklin join her for a little dinner and maybe a little bit more. Sweet Jesus! Marcus gets guard duty while Franklin gets a little lovin’ Mars-style. Nothing like making the very best of your journey to Mars as business slash pleasure. Franklin gets it done. Marcus says it best. “Touch passion when it comes your way Steven…it’s rare enough as it is. Don’t walk away when it calls you by name.” Beautifully put as always by the eloquent romantic that is Marcus. Put more succinctly and to the point, "hot dog, jumpin' frog, get it on brother!"

On the White Star Delenn asks a simple question, who the hell are the Drakh? Forell calls them “friends.” Uh-yeah. I don’t think so. Come on. Friends who like to bomb and kill whenever they please. Hmm…nice friends. It sounds awfully familiar.

The Drakh emissary was extremely cool. The latex rubber suit was disguised cleverly by the fact the creature kind of vibrates its ass through the White Star. The vibrating effect was a nice touch. It was definitely original. I can’t recall the last time we were introduced to a villain with quite this kind of bounce and originality. Two thumbs up! So it turns out Forell has taken actions into his own hands in Delenn’s absence. He is concerned the warrior caste is getting too big for its own britches and the Drakh can help keep that group in check. Yeah, that’ll work like a hole in the head. So, the Drakh will help the religious caste. Uh-huh. They’re kind of like alien bodyguards. Huh!? Are you a fucking idiot? Does that emissary creature with its scary skull like face look like a face you can trust? Why in the name of the galaxy and all that’s holy [you are the religious caste] would you possibly turn to these creeps? They don't look like the religious type apart from the cloaks, but then that lends a kind of grim reaper vibe. Yeah, like I said, you're crazy!

Forell insists, “We must have allies even if we do not use them.” Ahem! That sounds awfully familiar folks. Can you say Londo and Morden with The Shadows? The whole thing just stinks and Delenn knows it’s rotten to the core. She's thinking, ‘You are a freakin’ retard!’ Forell continues, “They’ve offered us protection in exchange for allowing them to move into several deserted worlds along our borders.” I've heard that before. Man, who says history doesn’t repeat? This is not going well. Lennier and Delenn are seething with rational, level [bone]-headed disgust. It is strikingly familiar to the events Babylon 5 just finished cleaning up. It is clear the Minbari are about to have their hands full. Oh boy.

Forell: “The Drakh want peaceful relations. They want only a place to have for their own…” [If you believe that eskimo I've got a refrigerator to sell you.]

Lennier: “…because they have just lost their home.” [You see this is why he's Lennier and we like him.]

Z’Ha’Dum! WOW! The Drakh were [at least] one of the "dark servants" leaving Z’Ha’Dum airspace just before the planet exploded. Son of a gun! That’s pretty scary. They are a distinctly eerie bunch of beings. Delenn tells the Drakh emissary she will make her decision in 7 days. Yeah, you better come packin’ a lot of nuclear heat and fleet firepower if you plan on tackling these bad boys. Delenn knows she needs to nips these bastards in the bud. She’s not really considering the emissary’s offer. She’s placating the situation to get his ass off the White Star. The Drakh’s hideous sounding voice was hard to make out but I think it said, “don’t say no” or “you will say no.” I’m uncertain. I couldn’t make out his parting word[s]. I hit rewind like 10 times and I think it said “Delenn” indicating it knew who she was. Bueller? Anyone? Nevertheless, that Drakh was creepy cool.

Delenn is frightened but courageous. She has to act fast thanks to her moronic brother Forell. I don’t think I’ve seen a character act with such poor judgment in quite some time. So the Drakh are ready to supplant The Shadows. Obviously, it doesn’t take long for any of these entities to attempt filling a power vacuum.

Lennier cracks you up with his one-liners. He knows a little something about warrior caste flight training videos, because HE WAS ONE once! He is immensely protective and loyal to Delenn. I like how he stood his ground almost in front of Delenn to protect her from that Drakh emissary earlier. His little folded hand and bow salute is way too cute and funny to boot.

What follows this exchange is a death-defying escape that is one of the most exciting and thrilling of the series. I really liked the strategy of the sequence too. The characters really have to use their smarts. I’m reminded of the instances when Sheridan and company had to escape the Shadows’ vessels in the past. My heart was pounding and I was on the edge of my seat yelling at the screen, “Go, go, go!” I told you I yell at my TV. The thrill ride causes the White Star to take some damage. Of the White Star’s seven vessel fleet one is destroyed. They pull off some rather extraordinary maneuvers to reach peak acceleration to escape. I’ll say this, those Drakh ships are pretty fast. They’re like little horseflies. I hate when horseflies divebomb your head when you’re outside on a hot summer's day. They suck too!

So Farwell Forell is killed by falling debris when Delenn’s White Star takes a hit. So sad to see you go. He pleads ignorant with his final dying words. “I did not know.” Dumb. Sorry, but ‘I didn’t know’ is not a good defense for anything. You will lose. I’m glad to see he won’t be impacting any further missions. It appears he won't be getting the bonehead award either. I’m sorry to sound so heartless, but I am so tired of stupid people standing behind the moron defense. If you are going to impact your planet, your country, your people, you should know what the hell you’re doing! If you’re going to step on your dick with that kind of carelessness you deserve to be under falling debris. Okay I feel better now.

What I didn’t expect or see coming was Delenn’s reaction to the attack. With her ship damaged and loss of life incurred Delenn takes a page out of Sheridan's book and fastens and zips!

She totally rocks! She kicks big time ass in this entry. I don’t think I've liked her character as much as I liked her character in this episode. Lennier is like, ‘let’s take her back to Babylon 5’ and she’s like, ‘no friggin’ way, not a chance in hell. We’re going back in!’ Hell no. We won't go. She's got some Drakh scum to wipe out. Pure determination!

Delenn comes back through those wormholes and catches the Drakh off guard big time. The element of surprise is key everytime. I loved it. Delenn and friends open up a major can of whoop ass on the Drakh fighters. The mothership attempts to escape. This is one of those classic in-the-heat-of-battle-comedic exchanges.

Lennier: “The Drakh mothership is heading for the jumpgate.”

Delenn: “How fast?"

Lennier: “Fast.”

Delenn: “Be faster!”

She has got some seriously steely resolve. She is tough as nails and being a Minbari she must have really tough, bony hard nails! Earlier in the episode she tells Sheridan, “Never forget who I was, what I am, and what I can do.” And how! Amen to that. She bears those words out.
It was really hard to get this shot but doesn't this scene in the episode just kick it!
Before the mothership can depart, Delenn’s White Star positions itself between the Drakh and the jumpgate with a full flip. Delenn does everything but spit chewing tobacco into a spittoon to show she's tough. “End this.” What a phrase! With those words the White Star unleashes firepower hell on the Drakh mama ship and blows it to smithereens destroying their new enemy. Fantastic stuff. Following the battle Lennier points out the fact they have a new problem at home.

I had a newfound respect for Delenn after this installment. I’m not sure why. It’s not like she was tougher than she has been already. She’s certainly been strong before. I think it was in the way she carried herself. She was more assured and confident than ever. She carried herself like a genuine leader. Her performance somehow resonated with me. She didn’t play it conservative at all. She never retreated and she never gave up. She did everything [as she has in the past coming to Babylon 5's aid] but wear a cowboy hat and a six shooter. This woman can command a ship! What is up with that!?

Delenn returns to Babylon 5 and the loving arms of Sheridan and informs him she’ll be leaving to deal with her Minbari caste problem back home. Caste warfare could result in a civil war. Apparently the Minbari have seen this type of thing between castes before. Her character was just really attractive to me in this one. Of course she's all soft and girlie with Sheridan here sans her chewing tobacco.

Meanwhile on Mars, Dr. Franklin has his hands full with heaping gobs of Number One or as once touted in the film Weird Science [I believe], “mouthwatering scoops of flesh.” Lucky fellow. Meanwhile Marcus is left playing with his own stick so to speak.
Lines Of Communication: B+


Havremunken said...

Just to combine a few of the themes from your post..

Many a time have I been stuck behind some asshat on the freeway who has moved into the fast lane and isn't about to speed up or move out - I'm just one White Star primary weapon short of going "End this!" and cleaning up the road, with the spirit of Delenn in mind at these situations.

Oh, and the Drakh emissary (who wasn't himself a Drakh) didn't know who he was dealing with - until someone said Delenn's name. He knew of Delenn, and as soon as he got back, they knew their arch enemy had unwittingly walked straight into their midst. Hilarity ensues.

Anyway, there are a few times when Delenn shows her strength in a jaw-droppingly awesome way. Severed Dreams is one, this another. There are a few times to come as well. And you still have the best part of this season to go (IMHO). :)

Anonymous said...

As I read in an interview with Mira Furlan, she had her problems with Delenn being at once a strong leader and "soft and girlie" in private. She felt Delenn shouldn't be so flirtatious; it seems like she thought it would diminish her character. JMS wouldn't give in. I'm a fan of Mira, but I have to disagree with her here, and I'm glad she didn't get it her way. I think that the contrast between the sweet private side and the steely leader side of Delenn is precisely what makes the character so unique.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Havremunken- ha! hysterical. yeah, end this! I've been there too. Interesting. Good point. Emissary [def noun]- a person or agent [secret agent] sent on a specific mission. I definitely automatically inferred the creature representin' to be a Drakh. My apologies. I stand corrected and I thank you. Though, I suppose, the creature could have been a Drakh and an emissary at the same time. Thanks for clearing that up. Good to know. I look forward to remainder.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

M! I always enjoy your analysis and take on the material. I would say this about Mira Furlan, she is good at switching gears and pulling it off naturally.

I was watching a bit of Lost the other day and got caught up in an episode in which she stars and she is so good at playing Danielle Rousseau you forget its the same actress who played Delenn. She's quite a talent.