Saturday, August 1, 2009

B5 S5 Ep15: Darkness Ascending

Lennier pulls a good old-fashioned Millenium Falcon-release-into-the-debris move.

When Season Five began I can tell you that I was honestly looking forward to changing things up. Be careful what you wish for as they say. This hasn't been the sort of change I was looking to see come to fruition. I'm being completely honest. I can only share my personal reaction and how these fifteen entries to date have sat with me. I certainly understand how certain science fiction can be near and dear to one's heart and to hear someone dislike something you value so highly can be a bit of a downer for those out there who place Season Five at the top of their personal favorites. But unfortunately to remain true to the process this has been a disappointing season thus far. Still, there is more ahead. Whether it is more of the same or something stronger is yet to be determined.

That is one helluva BIG gun! Might have been fun seeing a few more of these along the way outside of being mere props. It's certainly symbolic of his predicament I suppose.
We begin Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 15, Darkness Ascending, with a nightmarish sequence. The Zocalo is devastated and laid to waste. It is in ruin with messages abound like "You Failed Me" and "Where Were You?" Sheridan, Franklin, and others are all dead. A bloodied Garibaldi comes face to face with a heavily armed Garibaldi. I suspect the sequence has much to do with Garibaldi's inner demons and his battle with alcoholism. His body is overtaken as he wakes suddenly. He wrestles with his addiction. He finds Lyta is looking over him. Her eyes aglow she tells Garibaldi it is just a dream. Garibaldi sweating jumps up yet again from what was clearly still a dream. At gunpoint he greets a visitor in his room. Lise has returned. So the dream could represent a harbinger of things to come. Garibaldi's future is in his own hands and it could turn ugly if he can't find a way to change.

Lise has returned and wonders why Garibaldi has not returned to her side since he left for Babylon 5. It was suppose to be temporary. She tells him, "You look like hell Michael." Despite her woman's intuition she suggests they have a little physical catching up to do. Garibaldi wisely agrees. He'll deal with those demons later.

Lennier contacts Delenn on a secure channel. Attacks continue to be random on alliance ships. Lennier is picking up coded Centauri transmissions. He is making every effort to decode them. Lennier asks Delenn if Sheridan knows of his covert mission. She tells Lennier he doesn't have a clue. He didn't until he walked in behind her and heard everything she said. Finally, one Delenn secret is out of the box and captured by yonder roving ear. She's normally very good about her secrets.

Lyta is busy advocating for her new telepathic glee club of psycho weenies. She has their backs. She is busy picking up the torch left behind by her former torch Byron. She wants to finish finding her cult outfit of psycho hoodlums [I'm being a bit silly about them I know] their very own planet. She makes efforts to negotiate with a client of Psi Corps for deep space missions before being shot down. Insurance and contractual obligations with Psi Corps are a real problem for many potential would be employers. Boy, is it me or is Lyta's hair really long now? She is a pretty girl. Have I mentioned that? I know. I have. I'm really quite sad. Lyta plans to meet with G'Kar.

Vir and Londo meet to talk about the fact Londo doesn't actually have any meeting scheduled. This is all quite surprising to Londo. Londo reckons the Centauri are not trusted, but then delivers a beauty from the Straczynski script bible. "No one really trusts anyone Vir, it is the natural order of things." Sadly, I sort of agree with that [outside of close friends and family]. "Gambling no longer had any appeal for me." My oh my, Londo has come a long, long way. He is a changed man indeed if we are to believe those words. Ha.

Back in Garibaldi's quarters, somewhat predictably, Lise discovers Garibaldi's little bottled friends. She wants to talk. Garibaldi does not. She's quite upset. Garibaldi blames the Bester card. He feels he has been controlled for too long and is looking to rebel. He says he's in control [but he's not]. Then she demands he not drink while she's on the station. Down the drain his drink of choice goes. Where there is one there's always another tucked away for safe keeping.

Lennier consults with Ranger Montoya. He can only decode three words, "DO NOT REPLY." Lennier suspects the base receiving the message may be mobile. Lennier has a plan that might be able to pick up the transmissions. Meanwhile on Babylon 5 Sheridan recalls White Star 27 for not being informed of its mission. Delenn throws her wifely duties out the window and plays the Ranger professional card trumping she has "discretionary power over their assignments." Delenn concedes to her husband anger, but she tells Sheridan she has faith in Lennier. I sense a touch of the green-eyed monster. She admits, and she may have a point, she was trying to protect President Sheridan. He would be able to claim "deniability" if things/ the mission went south. White Star 27 reports in to Sheridan and Delenn. Montoya informs them Lennier has gone rogue in his mission. Lennier is one determined Minbari Ranger soldier. He wants to find that hidden Centauri base and he is fearless in doing so as always.

G'Kar is visited by Lyta. Lyta offers him access to her genetic code. Obviously we all know the Narn telepaths were wiped out as a security measure to allow for the Shadows return. There is also mention of Lyta's "pleasure threshold." I can't recall the first mention of this, but it was some time ago. If you recall, let me know and I will update the entry with that information. Was it The Gathering? The Narn are one of the few races with no telepaths thanks to The Shadows. Lyta requires money as payment. She also wants five, deep-range starships for transport of her people. Finally, she wants the exchange to be secret. Lyta asks G'Kar to consider the offer an "internal affair." One final point, she toys with G'Kar by telling him she found out about her pleasure threshold. It turns out she does not have a ceiling. WOW! With no limitations, G'Kar looks semi-interested in giving her a test run of his own. He certainly doesn't come across as a sexual character, but he does here and he looks curious. Let's face it, it has been awhile for him.

Garibaldi and Lise have dinner at the Fresh Air Restaurant. Apparently the last time he actually went to dine there was with Ivanova and Sinclair over Sinclair's engagement to Catherine Sakai way back at the end of Season One. Lise asks Garibaldi how Sheridan reacted when Garibaldi told him... told him what? Well, we're about to find out, assuming it is that she wants him to leave the station. Garibaldi is evasive. This was an intense moment. It's good.

White Star 27 reports in. No Lennier. 36 hour air supply. It's been 48 hours. Meanwhile Lennier wakes to find a ship approaching. He enters stealth mode. He gasps and prepares his vessel for attachment to the Centauri vessel. He'll need to do so to survive. Attached his small vessel immediately connects refreshing Lennier's depleted oxygen supply. I'm not quite sure how that was achieved so quickly. It looked like a drill might have entered the Centauri warship's hull, but that would seem odd and perhaps detectable. Would it not? A jumppoint opens and off Lennier goes with the Centauri warcraft.

On the station, in bed, Sheridan makes attempts to apologize to Delenn. All she can think about is Lennier. She believes there is no way he is dead. She has faith, because faith manages right?

Vir wakes Londo with a message from homeworld. Londo is informed by his people that Sheridan may be fabricating evidence to frame the Centauri or that the Narn may be somehow involved. All of this stinks and feels like history may be repeating itself. I hope I'm wrong, but history does repeat and I will be dismayed to see the great progress established by Londo and G'Kar somehow evaporate for my eyes. The Centauri mention it could be "the first step towards war." That is bad indeed.

In G'Kar's quarters, he agrees to Lyta's terms. You can see how much of these secret dealings could be misconstrued. G'Kar might easily look as though he is leveraging telepaths for some kind of new Narn war machine. Surprisingly, Lyta turns down the offer, especially when G'Kar adds one additional criteria. He wants her to listen in on the other ambassadors from time to time. You see, this is where it all goes wrong. Son of a bitch! What the hell is he thinking!? This is not the new G'Kar damn it! So she's like no way Jose. She stands prideful. She feels this violates her sense of decency. SHITE! DAMN! I was conned and played like a fool. I just found out it was a big SHAM! Son of a bitch! Straczynski got me again. It turns out G'Kar was testing her to see how far she would go and he is very pleased by her response. The deal is done.

As jumpgate opens Lennier monitors all frequencies and records all transmissions. Drazi ships are wiped out and Lennier has a front row seat attached to the Centauri warship. Lennier commands his vessel with another voice-activated command. He tells the craft to detach with the next jump. All video and audio records have been recorded. Lennier has sent a distress signal for rescue.

Sheridan informs Delenn that Lennier is alive proving Sheridan's belief wrong. She cries with great joy and pain. Londo asks if she is okay and she hugs Londo. This was a troubling moment of things to come. It felt very sad, but faith did manage and maybe it will manage again.

Lennier greets Delenn on Babylon 5 and Sheridan is indeed pleased to see him. He is given a good old-fashioned 'attaboy' by Sheridan. "We live for the one. We die for the one," as Lennier declares those immortal words. He gives over the video evidence to President Sheridan. Sheridan is disturbed. Garibaldi is summoned by Sheridan. "We're going to need you like we've never needed you before." Sheridan wants the key players in his quarters. The haunting words of Garibaldi's nightmare in the beginning here have to be haunting him and ringing over and over in his mind. It's like his good friend is saying 'don't fail me.'

Vir tells Londo Sheridan has called a council meeting and everyone is invited in the morning except Londo. Conspiracy theories are in full play in Londo's head.

In Garibaldi's quarters, Garibaldi tells Lise to leave the station. He tells her he never should have gone to that restaurant. Something bad always happens when he eats there. A-ha! Out of concern for her safety he wants her gone. Michael tells her "by this time tomorrow, we're gonna be at war with the Centauri." Bloody hell. Here we go again!

Well, for the first time in Season Five, I felt as though I was watching Babylon 5, the real Babylon 5. This was the show that grabbed me through many an episode. Yes, it's true. It felt like the real deal, not some carbon copy weirdo, bizarro universe version of what I had enjoyed for four seasons only to find I was kicked upside the head and thrown into some kind of strange alternate reality with characters I used to love and some freak ones like Byron. This was the stuff I had enjoyed all along. This was a return to form. I really liked the mystery, the questions, the setup, the plotline. It was as if Babylon 5 was finally finding its footing again. It's also interesting that the move away from the Psi Corps stuff toward Londo and company also made it all the more appealing for me. This was a solid Babylon 5 entry.

Darkness Ascending: B-


Anonymous said...

Finding its footing is exactly right. From here, it gets better. Then it gets better again. There's just a few mushy spots between here and the end, but in general, I think you'll find that it's a very good ride indeed.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Sounds good. It seems very promising.