Tuesday, July 28, 2009

B5 S5 Ep14: Meditations On The Abyss

Love the colorful image of G'Kar.

It's hard for any series to retain a high level of quality five years on. I consider Lost Season Five and think about how disappointed I am with that series despite its high production values. It's no surprise Battlestar Galactica called it a day after four seasons. So, to see a degradation in quality for any series in its fifth year seems conceivable. I ask you to point to any series that didn't have a drop in quality along its series run somewhere along the way. It's fairly common to lose footing as characters and storylines change and develop in directions that are welcomed as interesting, exciting or fascinating, whilst other directions are quite to the contrary.

That all being said, we launch into Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 14, Meditations On The Abyss looking for a substantial change in quality. Sheridan and Delenn wake in the night as Delenn heads to her quarters for some "papers." Later, Delenn is cloaked in a station bar. She is approached by an impolite customer. She breaks his finger. This is quickly followed by a solid beat down compliments of a much missed and beloved Lennier. More secrets from Sheridan? Hmmm.

Delenn asks Lennier to look into Centauri involvement with the Drazi regarding attacks on the shipping lanes. You see, this storyline is fairly uninteresting coupled with the telepaths storyline [for me], which is why I am fairly disappointed in Season Five. Director Mike Vejar returns to shake up the visual proceedings. This is a promising sign. Lennier asks why Sheridan is not informed. Delenn knows there is danger and she knows his instinct would be to protect her. "He does not know you as well as he should," whispers Lennier. Ouch! Too shay mon ami! Exactly the problem as I've seen it. Lennier has much love for Delenn and understands the conflict Sheridan would have based upon his love for her. Lennier would suffer from the same conflicts out of love for her as well. Delenn asks Lennier to stay awhile. He admits, "it would not be wise." He lets her in on a little secret. During Season Five, Episode 8, Day Of The Dead, during the Brakiri Day Of The Dead, Lennier was visited and informed he would one day betray The Rangers. They both find such a prophecy hard to believe, but will it be one to watch or will this be a loose end thrown into the wind?

Vir also returns for this entry [out from behind the camera], another missed face. There's a funny commentary on fast food with a place in Brown sector dubbed McBari's. He is a big fan of the "golden headbones." Londo and Vir discover a chip in a bag. Londo learns Vir purchased the goods from a Drazi merchant in the Zocalo. Londo proceeds to intentionally talk smack about the Drazi so the chip delivers the information back to them. He tells Vir the Drazi females will mate with any species just to avoid the males of their own kind. Ouch! Ha! That is some serious smack-a-rooni! That's worse than a "your mama" joke. Londo smashes the chip and chalks it up to the nasty and sordid proceedings of politics. Londo indicates Vir will be promoted to ambassador to Babylon 5 when Londo becomes emperor.

Lennier reports to White Star 27 also dubbed the Maria [you'll note the vessel's special marking].

G'Kar is going to receive a matching prosthetic eye. The Drazi informs Sheridan and Delenn that the Drazi shipping lanes were attacked yet again. Sheridan's investigation continues. The Drazi ambassador suspects the Centauri are involved. Sheridan informs there is nothing conclusive to date. Unexpectedly, Londo enters the room and Sheridan informs him it is a private meeting. Londo steps in to inform the Drazi and the rest present that his room was bugged earlier. Tempers are getting heated. I know the allure of alien politics is inevitable in the UN-styled Babylon 5 universe, but what is missing here is a real nasty enemy to play against especially after four solid seasons of Shadows play.

Lennier converses with a fellow Minbari and it is almost adversarial in nature regarding the human ways versus the Minbari ways. Lennier does not bite. He also makes every effort to explain human thinking to his Minbari counterpart. Lennier offers him counsel, but he turns down his offer with some disdain. It's an interesting illustration of cultural differences and the need for understanding.

In one of the more impressive moments for the make-up/ effects department, Franklin removes G'Kar's prosthetic eye. It's a pretty impressive moment. In fact, upon further inspection, it appears Franklin is working on a full, mock-up of G'Kar's head. The head never moves and sounds come from his mouth but again his mouth never moves. That's a first. Franklin also tells G'Kar he is reading his book. He asks about a circular stain in the book. It is a coffee stain left from Garibaldi. It has been reprinted in every book. Franklin hopes to sit in on some of G'Kar's lectures. Again, if I'm not mistaken, that is a full-on, fake G'Kar head in the eye removal frame.

Lennier launches in a cool new ship. It's the first we've seen of this vessel as far as I know. The captain/ Ranger launches Lennier and his fellow Minbari. Oddly, the Maria jumps through a wormhole leaving them in their vessels with only a little more than an hour's worth of oxygen. Lennier reckons they may have received a distress call. The nearest planet is three days a way. They are in a very difficult situation. The two discuss making an effort to stretch out their air supply for two hours. They go into a meditative state. So why were they launching and where were they going? Were they exploring the shipping lanes? Hopefully Lennier will find out very quickly.

G'Kar tells his people they cannot be free unless they learn to laugh at themselves. These are age-old wisdoms. I'm surprised it took G'Kar's book to teach these people such simple truths. He continues to enlighten his people with the light and illumination of his book's wisdom. Truth is "the river." God is "the mouth of the river." The Narn are very impressed. They exit in awe of their master. What then is the land?

In deep space our Minbari heroes are in dire straits with air supplies almost depleted. The Maria returns and saves our two Minbari brethren. Lennier passes the captain's intended test.

On the station Vir confronts the Drazi seller regarding the implant in his goods he purchased earlier. The Drazi calls Vir weak and foolish. I was surprised to find Vir walk away from the fight initially bu then quickly found out why. Vir returns to wreck his market stand. Londo looks on smiling as Vir rubs grapes in the Drazi's face. "Now he is ready to be the ambassador for the Centauri" declares Londo. Ha! Vir has come a long way! He did not disappoint me. I knew he was far less fearless than when we first met him way back in Season One. He was a bit of a shrinking violet or shrew back in the day. He's grown a pair of real stones along the way to complement his compassion.

Lennier and three other Minbari are being put to the test with a firing exercise. The captain has designed the test so that one or some may fail. Lennier takes the challenge with his usual centered grace. Lennier makes his quota of four. There are only thirteen homing devices. Lennier's friend may fail. To make matters worse his young cadet decides he will commit suicide. What a nut! Lennier stops him by dismantling his engines. The sequence is played out and intended to be suspenseful. Quite frankly, it just wasn't and the graphics are fairly weak which don't help matters. When brought before the captain, Lennier protects his fellow comrade, saving face as only a good Minbari can. The captain gives a failing grade to Lennier and his partner is given a neutral grade. Lennier's new teammate is reassigned to a recruitment office. The captain knows what Lennier is made of and appreciates what he did for his partner. The An'la'shok training continues.

Delenn, Sheridan, Zack and Franklin share a meal together. They laugh about Vir's confrontation. Zack tells them all how Londo was like a "proud father" at watching Vir tear the place apart. It is noted Garibaldi is absent from the dinner party because, you guessed it, his descent into the bottle continues.

This is pretty classic. I don't make light of his drinking problem either as someone who has seen it up close. There's a touch of humor in this sad state of affairs.

Meditations On The Abyss: C

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