Thursday, May 28, 2009

B5 S5 Ep5: Learning Curve

Ah yes, the infamous cold shoulder. Delenn looks awfully familiar strikingly close to The One To Be Pitied there.

I wonder what possibilities might exist for a reimagined, rebooted, Babylon 5? With Battlestar Galactica over and Star Trek a success you can't help but be curious about the potential with today's state-of-the-art effects.
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This season has been a bit of a slow down over Season Four. Let's face it, this series has always been a literary type work, but Season Five has not had the strongest writing out of the gate.

Here we go with Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 5 [that's a lot of Fives], Learning Curve. We begin with Ranger training by a Minbari religious master named Turval. The training is provided by the religious caste. There is a friendly exchange of differing ideas by a representative of the warrior caste to the religious caste teacher. "My inner voice was smiling," says one of the Ranger students called Tannier. "No one has an inner voice that smiles," replies the warrior caste Minbari called Durhan. The religious caste Minbari student tells him "I do." The warrior member indicates he would expect that from the religious caste. The warrior caste is comprised of some fairly sizable dickheads!
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Meanwhile on Babylon 5 a thug-like fellow is positioning himself as a power player on Babylon 5. As the entry begins Durhan, Turval, Tannier and Restenn all report to Babylon 5 to meet Delenn. In the food court Lochley, Zack and Garibaldi break bread together. What begins as a pleasant exchange clearly spirals into a heated one. Garibaldi broaches the subject of taking sides and implies she was on the "other" side during the civil war. Lochley believes there are more than two sides.

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She's good. She's real good. You can't help but feel Garibaldi has met his match in her. She hops into one of the elevators with a deep breath and bumps into President Sheridan whom she discusses the incident with regarding Garibaldi. Perhaps Lochley has met her match as she indicates here.

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So, folks are turning up dead around the station by PPG blasts, three to date. The thug gives instructions to his henchmen to take out Zack because he's sniffing too close to their digs. A fellow from the Down Below approaches the scumbag thug to back off Zack. It may bring unwanted attention.
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Durhan and Turval discuss the An'la'shok with Delenn and the vast, growing membership from the various races. The Pak'ma'ra are somewhat problematic with their penchant for eating the dead. Delenn suggests using the shunned Pak'ma'ra as couriers. Their presence is often discarded by other races. They could serve the function well with an almost stealth-like service given the disdain many races apparently harbor for them. Later, Turval speaks of Lennier's reckless nature as a Ranger trainee. His actions are almost atonement-like as they were for the late Marcus.
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Garibaldi meets with some of the station guests that are our resident telepaths. He indicates to them they would be used for information gathering when needed. As the telepaths depart they have said not a single word and Garibaldi levels a quick dig. "Next time, try to contain your enthusiasm for the job." Garibaldi wants Zack to pull a security jacket on Lochley. The man never relents.
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This is a great line and reply after Garibaldi asks for info on Lochley.
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Zack: "You really got a bug up your butt about her, don't you? I mean, did it ever occcur to you that just because someone doesn't agree with you that doesn't mean they're the enemy."
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Garibaldi: "No."
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Zack heads to Brown level to get a tip from a tipster [makes sense]. Apparently the tipster has setup Zack so our thug friends can kill him. The woman doesn't like the plan as she learns Zack will be killed. A struggle ensues and our two rookie Ranger boys hear the scream. Tannier says they must go. Rastenn does not want to get involved. Tannier heads off. Tannier saves the woman but the thugs give him a slight beating. Nice of Rastenn to back up his partner. The Ranger boys head off to perform a Minbari/ Ranger practice dubbed "the application of terror." Sounds effective enough.
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Delenn meets with Captain Lochley. Delenn informs Lochley the jurisdiction over this issue will be handled by The Rangers. Lochley objects. She tells Delenn she is pulling rank. Lochley calls the usurpation of her authority an act of revenge. Delenn says that is not the case. It is about "terror." Delenn tells Lochley Tannier must face those that hurt him. He must face down those who have power over him. He will stand alone. "In the end Captain, we all stand alone." So we are hoping for a good old Tannier fistfest. It's a bit like coming-of-age for the Minbari and a rite of passage. It reminds me of those elementary to high school rituals of survival we've all had to face or endure.
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In sick bay, Tannier heals. Rastenn speaks of his cowardice to Turval. Turval tells him he needs to heal but that the truth is good. "You were afraid of dying without reason." Turval gives him a good talking to. There is significance in "doing each right thing." He tells him, "We create the meaning in our lives. It does not exist independently." "Living each moment as if it were your last," - yes I like this Minbari's philosophy.
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Security is cleared from Brown level and the power is cut. One by one the men are picked off by Tannier. They have screwed with the wrong Minbari. He's like a stealth assassin as the men go down. The quick edits of Tannier essentially appearing from out of nowhere and wacking the wackers one by one is kind of laughable. It looks a little silly. I mean come on really. Everyone is literally taken out, something like 8 guys with the one head thug remaining. The thug is surrounded by the Minbari [what happened to standing alone?]. He is going to be taught a very severe lesson. It's a duel to the death. While the battle rages, Turval is off on the sidelines heckling the pathetic fellow. It's hysterical. He's calling him a coward, brainless and a bully. It's great. Wouldn't we all like to have our own support group during tough times. He's even compared to a Pak'ma'ra. So much for embracing diversity. Tannier just out of medlab is still triumphant. Tannier is a quality Ranger, a class act. Nevertheless, he may have been given big kudos for handling his enemy, but the enemy wasn't really a significant factor. He wasn't impressive as an adversary. He was, after all, a mere thug. Where's a decent baddie when you need one? Anyway, the key is not giving into the terror.
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It's nice to see Durhan and Turval getting along so well despite being from different castes. Things appear to be going well between the groups. You know you're going to have problems getting the Minbari to work with other races when they don't even care for one another at times.
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Zack tells Garibaldi he's like the Minbari, relentless.

Later before bed, Delenn asks Sheridan why Lochley said "it's not like him" regarding Sheridan's decision to handle the Rangers. Delenn is troubled by this. It didn't really strike me as much of anything at the time it was mentioned, but apparently there was more to it. Delenn certainly read more into it. In fact, I think it was shoehorned into the entry a bit at that moment and really didn't flow well enough for me to pick up on it. Obviously it was meant to be more of a revelation than I felt it was. She gives Sheridan the cold shoulder. Looks like he's in the doghouse for not having told Delenn of his previous relationship with Lochley, at least that's how I took it. It would appear Anna may not have been the only "other woman." Still, why is Delenn so damned offended by Sheridan's omission. She is the master of deceit and concealment. She rarely tells the full story on anything. She is quick to omit on a host of issues often. Can you say hypocrite? Ah, wedded bliss.
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Learning Curve: C+

5 comments:

aris-tgd said...

I have to admit, this is my least favorite of the Season 5 episodes.

Have I mentioned the JMS-losing-his-entire-season-5-outline story yet? That's the big reason the writing falls down so often in the beginning of this season.

JMS really doesn't want to do more with the B5 universe unless he can get a major motion picture. And who knows? He's got some cred, now.

There is some B5 out there with current CGI--the Lost Tales direct-to-DVD shorts. They're definitely worth picking up when you've finished the rest of the series.

Lessee... oh, it's spelled "pak'ma'ra". Oh, and my fanwanking as to why Delenn is so annoyed with Sheridan is I'm sure that there's a ritual you're supposed to do if your partner has had previous partners, and him not being forthright means that they did the ritual wrong. You know those Minbari and their rituals!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Ah yes, the rituals....completely terrific point. Many, many rituals. Still, the Minbari are a pain in the rear. Everything must conform to their ways and they don't even get along with each other half the time [the castes].

Yes, I believe M mentioned that about the scripts. This season is quite weak so far. Funny how LOST Season 5 has been just as weak. Perhaps Babylon 5 got caught in a time loop and Straczynski scripts got swept away with those of the LOST writers.

Seriously. I feel for the guy. It's not good having to recreate something you worked so hard for in the first place. It's like all of the wind simply gets sucked from your sails. His show definitely suffered from the loss.

I will definitely watch The Lost Tales as well. Thanks.

Thanks for the spelling correction too. Hope all is well.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way, hope all is going well out there for our new father Havremunken! I'm sure sleep depreivation is in full effect at this point. We're thinking of you out there buddy.

aris-tgd said...

Season 5 of B5 really does pick up again in the second half of the season, though. I'm always pleasantly surprised when I do a watch-through and I get to the later episodes, since the first half makes such a strong negative impression and then WOW.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Yes, a negative impression of the season thus far is a great way to put it I'm afraid. There's something off about the whole thing. I can't put my finger on it in some respects, but I do think the loss of Straczynski's scripts must have a large part to do with it.