Saturday, June 13, 2009

B5 S5 Ep8: Day Of The Dead

Reunited and it feels soooo good. Reunited 'cause we understood. There's one perfect fit. And, Sugar, this one is it. We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited hey, hey.

It is a night that comes every two hundred years, the Day of the Dead, signalled by a comet. Penn and Teller arrive on the station. Oh brother. They are Rebo and Zooty. I'm not so sure this is a good thing. I never did get Penn and Teller or many other comic teams for that matter. On the upside, Lennier has arrived aboard the station in a rare appearance thus far this season.

Let us proceed forward with the comic antics, or so I'm told, of Rebo and Zooty aboard Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 9, Day Of The Dead. Rebo and Zooty appear to have perfected the art of comedy as a universal language in speaking to any race or religion. Expect much fun to be had by all. It is notable the entry was written by comic book writer Neil Gaiman. This of course being the rare exception to the consistent work of J. Michael Straczynski as writer for every entry throughout much of the series. Season Five has lacked much of the quality that remained a constant from Season Two through Season Four.

It was notable Scoggins hair was particularly unruly and large in this episode, nearly retro-80s. The Brakiri are in the process of an exchange with Captain Lochley when G'Kar barges in on the meeting in an effort to stop the proceedings.

One of the Brakiri explains to Garibaldi that the comet represents the death of all Brakiri. This is all very brakuliar. It is especially curious when G'Kar requests passage to sleep in C&C from Lt. Corwin. He wants to be far away from the Brakiri. Lt. Corwin says "looks like a quiet night." G'Kar insists "looks can be deceptive." The latter quote has certainly been one of Straczynski's operating rules throughout the series on what the viewers may perceive one way despite being another. G'Kar must have some history and knowledge of the Brakiri to be so suspect. Red lights begin to appear on various parts of the station.

Londo is in his quarters making conversation regarding the day of the dead with the late emperor of Centauri. Things begin to go strangely awry for various parties within the Brakiri sector. In an unexpected move Adira returns [and the actress who played her] appearing before Londo. I was mildly stunned to see her return. I never thought she would grace us again with her presence since she ended up in a body bag in Season Three, Episode 15, Interludes And Examinations. I assumed they were unable to land the services of the actress. Londo is overjoyed by her presence. Londo is easily prepared to give it all away to have her back. Can you blame him?
In Garibaldi's quarters he is awakened by the sound of the shower running and the presence of a woman. You'll recall testosterone-drive Dodger who ended up dead on the battlefield waaaay back from the groundpounders episode [Season Two, Episode 10, Gropos].
Lochley is visited by a girl named Zoe. She apologizes for killing herself. This is clearly a day of visitation by the dead indeed. I suspected it would be. It's like the ghosts of Christmas past have come home to haunt our station cast.
Now I get it, only the Minbari were the ones who ever actually understood the humor of Penn & Teller. Of course, it all makes perfect sense now.
Lt. Corwin contacts Sheridan to indicate something is missing. Unfortunately a whole area of Babylon 5 is cordoned off for the Brakiri ritual of the dead. Anyone within that area appears to receive odd visitations. The funny thing is we never really cared about the groundpounder girl so it didn't mean much seeing her. Zoe who? I understand she's there to develop Lochley's character, but it just seemed a little forced and pointless in the end. Sheridan throws something at the red wall of light and the physical item simply bounces back at him off of the electrical field. No one shall enter with things under way.
Morden: In not nearly as nefarious mode.
Elsewhere Lennier is visited by the most interesting of all visitors- none other than Mr. "what do you want" Morden, but why? Oh and he does have his head. You'll recall he kind of lost his head in Season Four, Episode 6, Into The Fire.

Still, not sure why Morden is visiting Lennier? Lennier is told by Morden he will betray the An'la'shok. He is told he will die soon enough too. Unless there is some significance to this visit it just adds up to an episode that really wasn't adding up for me. There is not much rhyme or reason to why he would know this information or why he would appear to Lennier. It's a bit of a head scratcher.
Meanwhile G'Kar rests comfortably in C&C and now I can see why. Zoe is still catching up with Lochley.
The Voluptuous, fully babe-o-matic Adira. Yeah, I could dream about her too.
It all feels a little forced. Garibaldi is catching up with Dodger the groundpounder. I don't get it. Lise's ex-husband not available? Londo is getting tuned-up by Adira. That's not so bad and certainly the most sensible of the lot. Now of all the visitations I would have to say his is by far the best and the one I would enjoy the most myself. I always had a thing for Adira. She's like Sinead O'Connor for cryin' out loud. She's bald and hot! Okay she's hotter than Sinead but you know what I mean. Sinead was fairly hot before she went all banana head on the world. How about a Melissa Gilbert visitation of Sheridan? That might have been good. The problem I have on the whole is the story thread is spread out across too many people with very little impact on the whole. Had we had a full on Gilbert/ Boxleitner entry it might have been interesting. Focusing on one story, maybe two would have been better. Four was too much and merely skims the surface of the related cross-section of stories.

Now, Lochley contacts Sheridan from twenty-seven light years away as the Day of the Dead is coming to an end. When it's all over she calls the religious exercise a metaphor. Huh? She doesn't seem the type much into metaphors, but she is one to ensure laws are followed and proper protocols met.
So Lochley's sale of a square mile of the space station to the Brakiri for their religious holiday of the dead is a smashing success despite being a bit like haunted Love Boat. Where the hell is Susan Ivanova when you need her? Rebo and Zooty, I mean Penn and Teller - NOT funny! They never were funny. That's why they aren't around anymore. Are they? Didn't Londo just love Rebo and Zooty? Perhaps he would have enjoyed them here but they never bring the characters within the same airspace. What exactly was the point of Rebo & Zooty?
"I know we're no longer together but did I mention I always loved your 80s heavy metal power rock hairdo?" / "No." / "Well, I should have."
In the final moments, Lochley indicates her need for a little mystery once in awhile. She also has a message for Sheridan from Kosh. "When the long night comes return to the end of the beginning." Yup, that's Kosh alright. Hmm, could we be seeing something come full circle? Sheridan says thank you and appears to actually understand the message. They were united as one once, a singular entity. Still, these entities of the dead seemed to appear to the people who are within the Brakiri religious zone so why would Kosh appear to Lochley and give a message to Sheridan? Sorry, I'm not buying it. I know it happened but it really didn't make sense. It was another bit of shoehorning.

G'Kar seems mildly regretful of his choice to sit out the exercise of the dead. I thought there might be a bit more to the reasoning behind G'Kar's decision to stay outside the Brakiri zone. It was a bit of a let down.
Finally we do see Londo with Rebo and Zooty. I knew he loved those guys. He has that wacky sense of humor to go along with theirs. The always silent and quiet Zooty [or is it Rebo?] whispers the words "because it tells me to" into Sheridan's ear. Perhaps it is his heart that tells him to keep quiet. Okay friends feel free to enlighten me to the greatness behind this entry because I just ain't seein' it.
You know my distaste for this episode is fairy logical. It is notable that it was written by Neil Gaiman and I felt he failed to capture the essence of the characters, the heart, the truth and the flow of these people. I felt that came across and I know he's like a comic book writing god. I suspect it must have been an honor for his pen to guest on the show, but it fell flat. It must have been a potentially welcomed relief for Straczynski in an effort to get his writing house in order for the remainder of the season. I don't know, but it's possible given the fact scripts had gone missing. It would be the only episode in all of Season 5 not written by J. Michael Straczynski. He would write all the others including two with Harlan Ellison [A View From The Gallery worked for me]. This one does not work well enough. This was yet another disjointed affair and like most of Season Five I am feeling a bit awkward about the proceedings.

Day Of The Dead: D for DEAD ON ARRIVAL [okay, maybe a bit harsh, but on average doesn't hold up to anything from the previous seasons]


aris-tgd said...

It's really weird to me that you disliked this episode so much, because it was always one of my favorite early-S5 episodes (and all right, that's not setting the bar too high. It's this one and The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari for me until after Phoenix Rising.)

I can't speak to all your criticisms, but JMS has specifically said that Reebo and Zooty weren't supposed to be instantly funny. They're like LOLcats. Like "All Your Base." Like "Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse ME!" Like... I dunno, any other memetic joke which is funny at the time. I'm not saying that this episode was funnier when it aired, it's supposed to be a representation of seeing that kind of humor from the outside. If you'll notice, Lochley doesn't find them funny, either. Or, yknow, "Okay, kind of amusing, but why are these people LAUGHING like this?"

Anyway, I generally look on the visitations as allowing the characters to look at aspects of their personalities that they don't often take into consideration--for Lochley and Garibaldi, Zoe and Dodger are people who represent loss of control, lack of responsibility, as well as being people they didn't get to properly say goodbye to. Morden was a perfect servant--a servant of evil, perhaps, but he served the Shadows possibly more honorably than Lennier is serving the Anla'shok, seeing as Lennier joined up to impress a girl. And Adira makes Londo reassess his entire station in life. Also, y'know, Adira.

Oh, and Kosh didn't appear to Lochley, she got the message from Zoe from Kosh. Bit of transdimensional "telephone."

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Always great insights offered here in the comments section. So much that I miss or just don't see. Still, it doesn't change how I received the entry. But I did love reading your input on it.

I liked your thought on the Morden appearance and perhaps Londo never had closure with Adira. And of course, Adira. ;)

Rex said...

Londo wasn't a fan of Rebo and Zooty. He told Sheridan he didn't get them, didn't understand why humans found them so funny. Sheridan loved them and gave Londo a zoot-zoot on his way out of Londo's quarters (earlier episode). Maybe by the time Day of the Dead aired, Londo had come to appreciate them. Frankly, I don't get Rebo and Zooty either. They are no funnier than Penn and Teller and I don't get them either.

SFF said...

LOL. Agreed.