Thursday, July 2, 2009

B5 S5 Ep11: Phoenix Rising

No really, you first. I insist.

We kind of pick up where we left off at the end of Season Five, Episode 10, A Tragedy Of Telepaths. Bester appears to be at the heart of the entry. I know why Season Five has been problematic for me. You may recollect some time ago during one of the entries I mentioned something to the effect of not really enjoying the whole telepath/ Psi Corps thread. With this being a large part or bulk of Season Five thus far I have been fairly disengaged from the material. The plot thread of Byron and the teeps [sound like a pop group] just isn't doing it for me. It's a bit like dating someone that you really don't want to be with all that much, but you stay with them anyway and in the end you know it's going to end badly. It's just not an exciting thread for me. Therein lies the problem with me for this season. With that being said, I persist with my long Babylon 5 strolls.
Bester is rallying the troops in preparation to take down Byron and company. Bloodhound units are tracking down rogue telepaths. Some rogues are trapping the hunters and they are eliminated like the hunted they are to send a message back to Bester. Bester rationalizes Psi Corps as necessary to at once control telepaths and protect normals alike. He has such a big heart and such noble goals. Every race needs to control the telepaths. He makes it sound good to Lochley as the deft politician that he is. As the elevator doors open Bester and Lochley are treated to the sight of one of Bester's own pinned dead to the wall with the words "FREE BYRON!" scrolled above. Silly. So here we go with Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 11, Phoenix Rising, and the crazy antics of those unruly, at large, telepaths.
Byron pleads with Sheridan to remove Psi Corps from the station. Bester tells Sheridan that Byron never keeps a promise. They obviously know one another. Lyta would like to know what Bester meant. My re-evaluation continues on Tracey Scoggins. She may be more wooden to me than Michael O'Hare. I like him more. There is something about this season to be sure that just isn't settling in. Sheridan's role is definitely lessened. There is far too much damn Byron. Byron - you my friend are no Marcus replacement!
Bester goes to his quarters and Garibaldi is waiting there for him with a PPG. He is a smug bastard, but Koenig is a high point in the season amidst a rather bland group of teeps. This is a nice follow-up to the Garibaldi/ Bester storyline.

So why not plant a bomb and allow that to do the dirty work on Bester? Well, I suppose the Asimov covers it. Isaac Asimov [1920-1992] was a Russian writer of science fiction. I, Robot [1950] is one of his most famous to me.
Lyta pursues Byron on his connection to Bester. It turns out Byron grew up in the Psi Corps as a P-12. He was Bester's protege. He essentially shadowed Bester's activities. Byron learned just how vicious and unmerciful Bester could be. His actions were that of a dark man. Byron was forced to kill mundanes once at Bester's request and very much against his own will. He wanted no part of it. He left Psi Corps and never looked back.
I suspect Jeff Doyle is a man of fairly good height.
Elsewhere we have a little hand-to-hand combat action happening on the station between Psi Corps and the rogue teeps. It's about damn time! It is brief though. I always wanted some one on one action with those Shadows thing-a-ma-bobs. We almost got it with Season Three, Episode 22, Z'Ha'Dum. So, the violence leads to medlab where Garibaldi is speaking with Franklin about neuroblocks. The rogues enter and Garibaldi gets the tar kicked out of him but goes down fighting. Our teep friends now have hostages and Garibaldi and Franklin are first in line to be executed. Demands for reparations and a homeworld heighten.

Byron asks Lyta for help in order to reach medlab. Franklin tries to intervene and one of the teeps takes a shot at his head. He ducks [see photo]. Boy that was close! Now there's a moment in medlab where Garibaldi is tossed into a computer monitor and a TV screen with snow on it. I immediately recalled the scene where he was murdered in Season Four, Episode 22, The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars. I believe Garibaldi was killed referencing the Telepath War. Are we in the middle of THE Telepath War? I don't mean to sound clueless, but I was just thinking it was going to be bigger for some reason. This certainly makes sense despite feeling more like Telepath Skirmish. The teeps utilize Peter who was wounded back in Season Five, Episode 7, Secrets Of The Soul, to keep security at bay. He flips his head around alot to get objects to fly. Still, he is weak and Franklin tries to stop them, which draws their initial PPG ire.

Lochley: "And if Garibaldi is killed?"

Bester: "Zack gets his room."
The question is posed regarding negotiation with the teeps as being tantamount to negotiating with terrorists. It's a notable analogies like this that make science fiction so great.

Lyta and Byron use their psychic capabilities to find a way into medlab. As I'm watching this I'm thinking, who out there actually ranks Season Five among the very best of the series? Seriously. It's not that good. It's really not. It's sorely lacking.

One of the more interesting moments is the scene with a bloodied Garibaldi that transports us back to Season Four finale. The thing is this. Garibaldi never died. Byron steps in and shoots one of his fellow rogue telepaths. He is clearly troubled by his action and having had to make the choice he makes, but Garibaldi never died.

Meanwhile Sheridan reflects on the longevity of Garibaldi's career on the station. He is the longest serving crew member. It was funny to hear him mention how he joined with Sinclair. It all seems like ancient history at this point, so very long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Of course with Sinclair being Valen now it is a bit like that. I've been writing about Babylon 5 now going over a year of my life.

Byron reports back in to Lochley and Sheridan. He is making every effort to bring this whole thing under control. Byron simply demands Psi Corps is out of the picture. This is a demand that is certainly easier said than done knowing Bester. Still this is what Sheridan and Lochley promise. Bester is none too pleased jurisdiction is usurped by Sheridan and Lochley, but he has lost official control of the situation.

Ah, the pawing and fawning of the cult of weirdo. Good grief.
The telepaths reconvene in Brown Sector for more singing and pawing and fawning over one another. It is a truly strange, little cult of lovers. It's so bizarre it makes me want to hurl over its sheer goofiness. Bester has other plans and is unmolested by their unique molestations toward one another. He touches a metal wall and reaches out to Byron via the mind. Bester reaches out to Byron. He's never going to cave to Bester. Bester tells him, "don't go off with strangers Byron. Don't talk to strangers." I always wondered what Rick Springfield was singing about in his tune Don't Talk To Strangers. Now I know. Kidding. That song pre-dates Babylon 5 anyway. I know I should be ashamed. Don't hate me. You were young once too.

Corps Is Mother, Corps Is Father. Bester plays the family teep card with Byron regarding the corps. Bester is not getting what he wants and he is planning a full on assault to get the teeps back in his fold.
Way too much vino there fella.
As the transfer of teeps proceeds, Bester and his people show and the situation quickly dissolves into gunfire. Now the weird thing is Byron flips an internal switch and suddenly he can't fight for his principles any longer. He indicates it's just too late and too much blood has been spilled. The whole out is a bit of a crock, a bit of a jolt, because he'd been sticking by his principles without wavering once and all of a sudden he throws everything right out the window and it's like huh? 'What you talkin' 'bout Willis?'

Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye!
Byron tells Lyta to walk away. WHO IS BYRON? The poet of course. So we get loads of Byron poetry as he bids farewell to his willow Lyta. Good Lord. Byron points his PPG at a chemical spill and the whole group ignites into a suicidal ball of flame. It was all entirely predictable and you knew he was going to use that spill to go out in a blaze of glory. They end it as the cult they always were. About the only thing missing was a comet and some Nike sneakers. No tears here I'm afraid.

Sheridan approaches Bester to see if he's satisfied now. Bester appears mildly shattered by the final result of the showdown or is it merely a classic Bester performance. I suspect Bester sees the mundanes as the enemy and the teeps should be united for a common purpose. So will Byron be the martyr?

In the end it turns out Lyta has all of Byron's memories. REMEMBER BYRON a sign reads and she now touches each of the teeps to carry on the calling of Byron's heart. She whispers REMEMBER BYRON to each teep as they pass and it's like she's giving communion out at church. Keerrraaazzzy! Byron's mission will live on through Lyta. More pawing to come.

Garibaldi is back in his quarters and it turns out Psi Corps' headquarters was bombed and the words REMEMBER BYRON are left as a message. There are certainly teep factions about that are dividing any hope for a common cause. They aren't much for slogans really. Keep it simple stupid as they say. FREE BYRON. REMEMBER BYRON. I'm thinking they kinda, like, loved Byron. It does appear a martyr he will be. Anyway, Garibaldi has a drink and the fact he is feeling very vulnerable and out of control thanks to Bester may be devolving into a situation with his old demons once again. It's not easy staying on that wagon I'm sure. Ding Dong the Byron's gone! Now we can get down to business.

Phoenix Rising: C

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