Saturday, November 1, 2008

B5 S4 Ep7: Epiphanies

This is just one of the amazing moments. I loved the moments of hesitation by Londo just before the two meet face to face. He was reluctant to face the music, but he did it.

While I'm still smarting from what I can only term as a slightly ‘abrupt’ termination to The Shadows War I remain steadfast in my belief the series will continue to be strong. By the way, part of me really does believe the time had come to wrap it up and I’m not sure there is ever a perfect out on any epic story of that magnitude [This is what concerns me about Lost]. Part of me is quite elated to move onto new material, new arcs, new questions, perhaps different angles or consequences concerning the war, new relationships, and the vacuum left by its closure. There are many exciting new possibilities and new potentials. It’s a bit like starting on a new series. Well, as Sheridan put it, it is a "new age."
You just have to love the colors of Babylon 5.
Off we go with Babylon 5, Season 4, Episode 7, Epiphanies. A celebration is underway to underscore the new feeling and vibe of our latest entry. The war is over and this may be the downright happiest I’ve seen any of these folks in ages. It may be the happiest I’ve seen this group since the unexpected promotion of Corwin to lieutenant at the beginning of Season Three, Episode 7, Exogenesis.

The ever-smug Bester [a well-established character palyed with excellence by Walter Koenig] is back definitely maintaining one of the more intriguing and evolving threads. Psi Corps is under orders by President Clark to “shut down” Babylon 5. Earth government can’t have a rogue station rebelling against it out there poisoning the galaxy. With The Shadows apparently gone I wonder how that has impacted Clarke's governing manifest. Has it made adjustments for the loss of their once powerful ally?

The marching orders have been given to Psi Corps, Nightwatch, Earth Force and The Ministry Of Peace, but the question Bester asks is whether everyone is operating on the same page. He won’t be I'm sure. These various agencies sound alot like our own sprawling governmental agencies.

Londo is relocating back to Babylon 5 to lay low for a while and escape the fallout of the Emperor’s death as well as the rollback of their Narn occupation [clearly a sticking point with the Centauri hardliners]. G’Kar, too, has been returned to Babylon 5 for proper medical attention by Dr. Franklin. It’s going to be interesting placing G’Kar and Londo back on the old station with completely new perspectives, political climates and their own internal changes. It should be delectable. I look forward to it.

Looking for the happy inner-self.
This installment is bringing back several arc/points I was looking to explore again straight away and this entry is all the more enticing for it. We are brought back to Garibaldi who is clearly dealing with flashbacks informing his previous interrogation by Psi Corps. By the way, we never did see who was behind that Psi Corps mask Season Four, Episode Two, Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?. Wouldn’t it be something if it were indeed Bester behind the mask? I should think so. Anyway, something is very wrong with Garibaldi’s wiring. It’s clear this is going to end badly in some way to be determined. But then, in the end, I pray Garibaldi rejoins the circle of friends.

Garibaldi received an incoming message made of moving colors indubitably a sinister series of 1s and 0s comprising all those pretty colors. Garibaldi watches and clearly accepts the incoming data transmission. When it is complete he requests the transmission be deleted and erased from all database logs. Smart move when you're working for the bad guys. This is clearly some kind of directive but for what? If not, deep programming is being modified accordingly with said updates.

Suddenly, out of the blue, Garibaldi announces his plans to resign to Sheridan. That is fairly out of character, which goes to the heart of the problem. Garibaldi needs help. It’s a bloody cry for help.
"We're caught in a trap/ I can't walk out/because I love you too much baby" -Suspicious Minds-
Meanwhile, Zack greets Londo and Bester at the station’s entry point. I love when the travelling Elvis unit arrives. They have clearly left the building and have now entered the station.

G’Kar visits Garibaldi and gives him a big old Narn hug. Listen, Garibaldi was there for G’Kar many times when so many had abandoned him. It’s easy to understand why he is so fond of the security chief.

Zack is certainly concerned about his chief. In fact, he seems more affected by his behavior than most have along the way. I think the reaction by many toward him has been a bit ‘ho-hum’ to date. ISN News is reporting an imposed embargo of sorts on Babylon 5. An attempt is being made to choke the station into compliance and treat it as a breakaway entity, disloyal and hostile to Earth Force.

Lyta is getting some new items for her bedroom finally now that her dear friend New Kosh is gone. Sheridan needs her assistance with blocking Bester. So Zack has arrived to escort her to the meeting. You have to have some sympathy or empathy for Lyta. She is constantly used and abused. She is a weapon. She’s a storage vessel. You just feel like she’s been put through the ringer and no one gives a good damn. She expresses her frustration to Zack and it's understandably palpable. She is also concerned that Psi Corps may try to reel her in. Zack assures her there is no way the Captain would allow it. Why would he? She’s far too valuable a resource for Babylon 5.

Zack offers up a little personal Greased Lighting for Lyta.
It was sweet of old Kenickie [a la Grease] to offer up some pizza and a bit of a social call to her during an off work hour. It was nice, but again you could look at it like Zack is simply looking to wet his whistle. He apparently has his own needs to fulfill and once again she’s the tool for that outlet. Granted, I’m being skeptical and perhaps something nice will develop out of it. Lyta seemed a bit weirded out by his pizza offer though. I think she was thinking he was looking for the overnight connection. Uh-huh.

Now, for the moment I had been waiting for but did not expect to see here in this entry. Londo and G’Kar finally meet unexpectedly, under new terms, new arrangements and back on the neutrality of the station where we were first introduced to them ages ago. The moment their eyes met I immediately paused the episode overjoyed with anticipatory excitement. Oh boy, how will it go I wondered? All of the possibilities flashed before me and I hesitated to hit ‘play.’ Would it be awkward? Would they connect in a way that opened up a possibility of friendship? Being the changed individuals they now are, I wondered if forgiveness would be the order of the day? Would they be able to start anew? Will the rivalry fill their hearts with hatred and anger once again? Londo's initial hesitation was much like my own. I was uneasy about the meeting, but thrilled. I press play.

HOLY TOLEDO! Whoa mama! That did not go at all as I expected. Straczynski strikes again and shakes up any normalcy of expectation. First of all, Londo was the last alien in the galaxy I would expect to say NOTHING. I mean he said nothing at all. What? Secondly, G’Kar was the last alien in the galaxy I expected to react in the way he reacted. I never expected him to take the tact he took based upon his enlightenment [even he has often touted]. I expected him to be, well, forgiving. I’m not saying he should be, but I thought that’s where it might go. Once again my expectations are blown out of the sky by a Straczynski temporal shift. What next!? Wow.

Bester protests Lyta’s presence at a meeting of what is essentially the War Council. Of course Bester can’t have a “blip” there, as she will foil his plans to detect pertinent information that might help his cause [whatever that cause might be]. We’re never quite sure where Bester’s loyalties lie or of his intentions. Earlier in the entry he seems fairly contemptuous even toward his Psi Corps superior who is giving him orders. If I was his superior I would have slapped his arrogant ass. Well, not his ass, but you know what I mean. He’s just a creepy, self-serving telepath. Speaking of which, I love the crazy cool telepathic Bester-cam [or Bester-vision] in this sequence. This was a completely new idea and new touch. The shift in color and camera speed and angle really gives the sensation of a telepathic probe and mental entry. Excellent.

Lyta manages to keep out Bester indicating she is much more powerful than a low level P5. Those Vorlons have really amped up her capabilities. She is far more impressive than we knew. Her knowing smile was beautiful. She’s quite a striking redhead. By the way, I had kind of forgotten about all of the Psi Corps telepaths first introduced to Babylon 5 in cryogenic chambers in Season Three, Episode 14, Ship Of Tears. Apparently those same suspended animation tubes are still aboard the station. I had assumed they were shipped back to Earth. I had assumed wrong. There’s no question the station has a helluva large storage capacity. So Sheridan gives Bester his word they will indeed go to Z’Ha’Dum together to find out more regarding the very technology that might aid his lover Carolyn Sanderson and the others. Bester doesn’t care about anyone or anything except Carolyn and that is the one person that allows us a glimpse of any humanity he might have inside. It’s the one thing that gives us some connection to him. For Sheridan’s help, Bester will give him more information on Earth’s plans for Phase II.

Earth Force is currently stationed in Sector 49. The Black Omega Squadron is being dispatched to set up Sheridan. The elite fighter unit will wipe out the Earth Force unit to frame Babylon 5 and Sheridan to make it look like Sheridan has ordered the assault. President Clark hopes to gain back public opinion into his court. The security contingent has no idea what is in play. They will be sitting ducks. The special effects have really come along way. I'm generally very pleased with how swell they look in Season Four. It serves up some of the finest and most complex to date, which of course stands to reason.

As Garibaldi prepares to leave Babylon 5 Zack registers his complaints concerning his departure. He tells him he is making a mistake. Garibaldi gives him the big ‘making mistakes’ speech and everyone’s entitled to make them. I’m all screwed up on Garibaldi. One second he seems fine and plays himself as if he hasn’t skipped a beat since his detention and other times he flips a bizarre, out-of-character switch. I know things will inevitably come to a conclusion on this storyline. In the meantime, his status is troubling to me. I’m pleased his colleagues and friends are finally starting to get it about Garibaldi and sensing all is not right in Garibaldi world.

While on the White Star, Delenn and Sheridan do a lot of talking and then lay on the BIG KISSY SMOOCHEROO! “We’re old souls, deal with it!”

The Black Omegas arrive at Sector 49 to engage the Earth Force security patrol. There’s one small change to the perfect plan. Ivanova and company in the form of Alpha Squadron arrive in starfury transport to wipe out Black Omega.

Security: “Damn people, you just saved our butts. Where the hell d’you come from?”

Ivanova: “Babylon 5.”

Security: “I thought you were supposed to be the bad guys here.”

Ivanova: “Well, let’s just say the reports of our disloyalty have been greatly exaggerated.” You tell 'em!

Bester connects with Lyta when the time is right aboard the White Star. He is clearly taken by Lyta’s extraordinary telepathic abilities. He wants to know more about her and pulls the company card or party line with “Corps is Mother, Corps is Father.”

Ba Da Bing Ba Da Boom! There goes Z'Ha'Dum!
The White Star arrives in Z’Ha’Dum airspace only to discover a fleet of ships exiting through another wormhole. Delenn calls them “dark servants” of The Shadows. We never find out who they were, at least not yet. Lyta isn’t picking anything up from the planet and Sheridan’s instincts kick in. The planet is about to blow and he has the ship pull the old “getting-the-hell-out-of-here” maneuver again. The planet explodes and Bester is in shock.

Later, Zack escorts Bester to the holding room of the cryogenic-encased telepaths where Carolyn is being held. He’s left alone to speak with his love. Black Omega is apparently his creation. Anyway, this is a pretty good bit and Walter Koenig proves once again he was a solid selection to play the part of Bester.

What or who is the ace in the hole? Garibaldi would be the logical conclusion as the ace in the hole on its face, but given Straczynski’s record I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s something about Bester that is quite tragic and when he tells his girl, “I miss you,” you feel for him, despite his cheatin' heart. You feel for that creepy creep of a creep. If he is a creation of the Vorlons there is something slightly victim-like about those circumstances for any telepath. I think there is a sense of being trapped in an existence one never asked to own. He is simply a product of that experiment. I think I have that correct.

This is one of the entry’s final moments between Sheridan and Lyta. It's quite powerful. Lyta’s loyalties have been mixed up and misguided for quite some time and yet again there is the feeling she is as much a victim of the war as anyone. She’s a genuine casualty and while she has survived it she is as lost as anyone could be. Sheridan’s character really pushes the envelope here. Like many Straczynski moments you would think Sheridan will go one way when he in fact goes another exhibiting little empathy for Lyta. Again, Straczynski plays with our expectations. Sheridan is hard-core here, but I think he sets aside the personal and plays the commander role. If there’s one thing he cannot afford is surprises and he makes certain she gets that! Perhaps it's tough love, but it's required from time to time.

I'm diggin' those space-age Babylon 5 pizza boxes.
I think I appreciate Sheridan’s motives as tough as he was on Lyta. He has lives hanging in the balance and he can’t afford to put people in harm’s way because Lyta has some kind of covert personal agenda or a hair across her ass. Any kind of jeopardy to his crew is going to override his personal feelings. On any other day you know Sheridan would put his arm around Lyta. If she has information affecting the group he needs to know. So Lyta is absolutely leveled by Sheridan and I think in some way she understands why. I think she knows she had it coming. She also knows she is a powerful telepathic weapon indeed. Fortunately, Zack stumbles in as Sheridan leaves and lifts her spirits with a tasty Babylon 5 pizza special. I wonder if they have Papa Gino’s Pizza up there? Yummy.

Later, Sheridan is back to asking the important, pressing questions like where were the agents of The Shadows going? Who were the agents? What did they remove from Z’Ha’Dum? These are excellent inquiries given their potentially affecting nature on the safety of Babylon 5.

Hell, I'd be absolutely terrified too!
The epilogue sees the unsettling final moments unfold down on Centauri Prime? The possibly gay minister [played brilliantly by Damian London by the way] awakens from a nightmare. Only, it’s not a nightmare, it’s real. That one-eyed Keeper creature thing is attached to his neck and shoulder. WHOA! That was awesome. That freaked me right out. He goes to the mirror and pulls his shirt back only to be horrified by what he finds. I LOVED THIS EPISODE. I mean, what are those things? Where did they come from? Did the Vorlons leave a drop shipment before vacating Centauri airspace? Are they controlled by something much larger? Do they have legs to get around like those spidery critters in Alien? I know they have a single eye. That is a crazy ass monster-thing. They are one of the craziest creatures I’ve ever seen.

Yup! They're baaaack!
Epiphanies is an apt title for the installment. There are so many moments to underscore the meaning behind it. We have an opening celebration. We have the arrival of the Keepers. We have Garibaldi coming to terms with a new understanding of where he needs to go [however manufactured]. We have Lyta and others discovering her powers and their supernatural potential. In many ways the entry closes out the concept of understanding [addressed in last episode's Into The Fire] and these new currents as facilitated by the end of The Shadows War or Great War.

I was thinking about the prophecies alluded to in Season Three, Episode 17, War Without End Part Two. We now have the one-eyed semi-purple people eaters attached to the Centauri first alluded to in the aforementioned episode front and center. Could Londo be heading into a nest of troubles as predicted on Centauri Prime? Will G’Kar follow Londo to homeworld to strangle him? Could history repeat itself yet again with the seeds of another Londo/G'Kar Cold War? Will Delenn and Sheridan’s big kiss continue to consummate their relationship and lead to the birth of their love child? Could these prophecies become a reality? It seems like the wheels are in motion. Trouble is brewing once again. Stay tuned, same Babylon time, same Babylon channel.
Whew! What a terrific entry in this series. This one is filled with loads of dramatic power between characters and new developments. Did I seem worried following the last episode things might fall apart for the series or slow down? If I gave that impression I stand before you corrected. There is nothing to worry about here. This is tightly executed scripting at its best.

Epiphanies: A-


Anonymous said...

Don't you think it would've been a tad unbelievable if G'Kar simply forgave Londo, who was responsible for the destruction of his homeworld and by now still hasn't shown any sign of remorse?

As for Lyta and Sheridan, I can't help the suspicion that some sort of siblings competition thing is going on here. Those two were the only ones who carried Kosh. He needs her, but he's clearly wary as he knows he can't control her and is not sure about her loyalities.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hey M! Good to see you . Hope all is well. You make a great point. That's why you keep me in check. It's not that I thought he was going to forgive him with a 'throw your arms around Londo' type forgiveness. What I mean to say is, I thought he would leave a crack open in the door. I thought he would show him he was willing to forgive. I may not have articulated my thought in that way but I was definitely thinking he was going to keep the option open. It was non-existent.

I hadn't thought of that angle. Interesting they both carried Kosh and perhaps both, too, have changed to some degree. We do have an impact on each other's lives whether we like it or not.