We are officially well beyond the half way point of Babylon 5, Season Five and it has been less than thrilling to be blunt. In fact, my boy wonder asked me if I thought it was boring. My response was quite simply, "as a matter of fact, yes, it has been less than enthralling." I'm sorry to say it, but I must be honest here. It simply hasn't had the tension, the excitement, the suspense, the build that previous installments have offered. It has been Babylon 5-lite. Perhaps there was some wear on writer J. Michael Straczynski over the four year span or it had something to do with his lost scripting. I don't know. It simply hasn't been as good as the previous four seasons, and yes I am referring to Season One as well to boot. Season One was better than this. Even with all of Season One's troubles getting things going, it was definitely more engaging than the episodes I've seen here in Season Five thus far. I remember being on one of the science-fiction mailing lists and seeing the random comment from one of the posts. The person wrote something to the effect that 'Babylon 5, Season Five should never have been made'. While brutally honest, I can understand such a take. Still, it's not over and I do have a way to go and I don't have all the facts.
Having said all that I am about to run headlong into one of my favorite storylines [NOT!], the Psi Corps. To quote Charlie Brown, "Good grief!" We shall see. Here we go with Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 13, The Corps Is Mother, The Corps Is Father [and hopefully, The Corps Is Not Boring]. It is notable that our boy, who has been noticeably absent in front of the camera, Stephen Furst, is back in the director's chair. Grumble, grumble. 'Robble, robble, robble' [tribute to the Hamburglar].
They are a creative bunch, those telepaths.
We kick things off at Psi Corps central where the hallways are littered/ populated with brainwashing signs and techniques like OBEY, TRUST THE CORPS, PROTECT THE FAMILY or THE CORPS IS MOTHER, THE CORPS IS FATHER. Nice. A couple of newbie interns are greeted by Bester who is revered as a bit of a hero. With heroes like these who needs Heroes. Bester plays it funny with the two interns. Actually, he thinks he's funny, but he is most definitely not funny. He is quite dour. He's a bit of a Debbie Downer. "Reports of our depression have been vastly exaggerated." Really, have they Bester? Bester is about as unfunny as they come. He's pathetic. He's an elitist who is full of himself. He's his own greatest fan.
Love those killer special effects!
It would appear we are going into an entry that will explore or flesh out Psi Corps in greater detail. It would appear this is an entry for Psi Corps fans. Bester takes his trainees on rounds to view the variety of training exercises. They witness some spidery-like tentacles in a deep scan exercises complete with staggering special effects, staggeringly bad, but they give you the idea of the mind games in play.
Elsewhere, a member of Psi Corps is found murdered due to blunt force trauma. It appears a student has gone rogue and killed the fellow Psi Corps member. The killer is a P10 and must be found.
An eager Psi Corps beaver!
Later, we find Bester resting in a rare moment of down time. His pretty little trainee visits him in his quarters. I would have to use my Psi powers to keep her interested in staying in my quarters for the evening. So, I'm thinking to myself, this girl looks so familiar and I look up the actress' name, Dana Barron, and it turns out I have seen her before. Barron played Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation  waaaaaay back. She is a cutie. She's matured into a very attractive babe! Please excuse my shaking of the camera. I had a major itch on my ankle and it was KILLING ME! My arms had tired and I simply couldn't reshoot the clip.
So we learn Bester was taken in by The Corps when his parents were killed when he was just one month old. WOW! She wants to stay at his place. Maybe he is playing with her mind. Let's face it, Bester's no prize and she's ready to de-robe and offer her Vacation package ways to him. Dang! ENH! Wrong! Bester says his heart is already taken. You might say, what a good guy telepath, but he's not. He's still a jerk. Why would she offer her Vacation special to him like that? Ugh. You'll recall he has a girl on the side as he cheats on his wife. He's obviously in love with her and he could have cheated again, but he really loves Carolyn. So he could have cheated on the girl he cheated with behind his wife's back. Yeah, great guy.
Bester is informed the killer, Jonathan Harris, has escaped to Babylon 5. Like the Minbari, the Psi Corps is all about perception and they want no one to know about their internal matters. The head of the unit calls it a "family matter." Bester is given the inside scoop regarding their rogue family member. He was being trained in attack probes, which means he can effectively disrupt other telepaths. He's a "mindshredder!" Good God seriously! This is when sci-fi crosses a bit of a line and becomes a touch of silly funny. I just kind of found it humorous. Nevertheless, something has gone wrong with Harris' training.
Part two of the installment sees events and characters relocate to Babylon 5. Bester and his two trainees arrive on the station. Harris is there as well. Zack is the first to greet Bester and he is not welcome. In fact, he tells Zack one of their own Psi Corps cops has been killed by another Psi Corps member and Zack responds with, "... And this is bad because...." Ouch! You get 'em Zackadoodle!
Harris gets involved in a conflict on the station and gets angry whereby he shreds a poor fellow's mind.
Later, Bester passes off something to one of the Drazi. Bester tells his teep trainees to stand guard, but the male trainee is a bit overzealous and tries to take the initiative to claim the target for himself. The girl from Vacation protests that he is violating Bester's direct orders. If he's not careful he'll end up with shredded cheeseburger brains. After entering the room he trips and falls over a dead body and scream like a little girly teep.
Bester's protege and potential bunk mate.
So basically dead bodies are turning up at the hands of our rogue teep friend Harris. Franklin discovers the fallen are being murdered "from the inside out." That's what mindshredders DO! Duh!Bester says the murders are at the hands of a P12, not a P10. Upon exiting medlab, Bester tells his little intern teeps "this could be bad, this could be very bad." Bester warns Chen, the wee male training teep, not to engage Harris. I suspect Chen is too stupid, to hold back. He'll be dead in the next five minutes. Chen is onto something and tries calling Bester before he is stabbed by someone and killed. Well, he died like I thought he would, just not by Harris like I suspected.
Ah, the old, close-up camera only trick.
As it turns out the video monitors have captured Chen's death, but for whatever reason the range isn't enough to capture the killer's face. Okay. Sure. But we do get a tattoo on the hand. What is this, a close-up only camera? The killer is working with Harris to make money. Harris just wants enough to get away from the station. The killer likes the business transaction portion of their relationship.
Bester is still working with Vacation girl to find Harris. They review a video that captures Harris enraged and yelling "he said let it go." Harris is both a P10 and a P12 because they missed the fact that Harris has a multiple personality. Nice twist. Not really. Bester is putting it all together. Vacation girl is quite amused by all of the investigative work. I swear she's ready to drop her clothes and get to it with Bester boy. No question about it.
A shootout ensues and Harris reverts back to another personality. An interesting premise on paper, but not as exciting in the execution. And so ends another exciting Psi Corps mission installment. Once again our epilogue sees Vacation girl offering Bester a back rub. She is ready to rub anything and everything on his little Chekov body. Dang! Makes me wish I was a teep.
Lauren, the Vacation girl teep-in-training, wannabe-with-Bester assassin implements her first cold-blooded, anti-mundane assignment and blows the on-board mundane out of the airlock dispatching with any need for paperwork or non-teep issues. She is endearing herself to Bester very nicely as she proves her killer instinct to him. Perhaps he will reconsider enjoying a romp in the hay with her after all. Move over Carolyn. Anyway, Furst delivers a fairly uninteresting episode in direction and the story was once again weak in comparison to Straczynski's earlier work in the first four seasons. Sorry, but this isn't cutting the mustard.
The Corps Is Mother, The Corps Is Father: C