Wednesday, August 19, 2009

B5 S5 Ep17: Movements Of Fire And Shadow

Bug-eyed aliens with twirling metallic drills- never a good thing. In fact, when you were a kid getting the old tooth filling done, didn't the dentist look a little like this, especially when you got the laughing gas?

Babylon 5 finally found its way for me with Episode 16, And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder. That was a huge high note of the season for me and I hope the series finishes strong with just six episodes remaining. War is breaking out between the Centauri, the Drazi and no doubt others.
We begin with the war sending casualties back to Babylon 5. We also see the return of Tracy Scoggins in one of her most titillating of roles, Narrator. Argh! She is just awful. Centauri are being killed across the station as well. They are obvious targets of vengeance by the other races. Sheridan pays a visit to Lochley and does us all a favor by forcing her to halt her narrative voice over/ reporting. He informs her the Centauri have made a very peculiar tactical maneuver by targeting the jumpgates. Lochley informs Sheridan of the station's alert status. Fighters are on standby and the defense grid is active 24 hours. Sheridan has given the "Go order" to the White Stars indicating Babylon 5 has just given up its neutrality.
And Thunderbirds Are Go! with Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 17, Movements Of Fire And Shadow. It's worth noting our old friend Wayne Alexander returns according to the credits, this time as a bloody Drakh. Damian London is also back. Bringing the Drakh back into the fray is definitely the much needed injection of excitement to the arm this series has needed. I'm definitely elated to see some of the names slated here to stoke the energy that was generated in the last episode leading into this one.
Open up and say "Ahhhh!"
This entry opens with Sheridan discussing a shortage of ships with Delenn. Sheridan proposes a new, Earth-financed, destroyer-class White Star, but asks for Delenn's support by bringing it before the Grey Council for approval. Sheridan is in a precarious situation as he needs Delenn to deliver the request in person to Minbar. To do this she will need to traverse treacherous hyperspace lanes and place her very life in jeopardy.

Elsewhere Vir is visited by Franklin and Lyta. Vir complains the Drazi are not following the proper war protocols or declaration of principles in returning the deceased back to the Centauri. The Centauri are supposedly returning Drazi bodies, but not the Drazi to the Centauri. Vir would like Franklin to put pressure on the races to return the bodies. Lyta could help find out what's going on. Vir thanks Franklin and Lyta, BUT NOT SO FAST. Lyta hasn't complied to go along with the program and given the danger involved is going to need to see a lot more money to get the job done. She is a woman in charge now! You won't be taking advantage of her anymore. She is a PLAYA looking out for numero uno! She likes Steven as she puts it, but she is not on board as a team player. She is a woman with a mission and it's all about her kind and the legacy of Byron at this point. She won't play nice. She has her own selfish needs to fulfill and come hell or high water, or a raging war that might kill everyone involved, she has her agenda and she'll be sticking to it. Vir and Franklin chuckle a bit on how much Lyta has changed. Patricia Tallman has played the part well given the changes in her character over a prolonged period of time. I'd say her one low point was sleeping with stringy haired Byron. Heck, we can't all be perfect.

On Centauri Prime, Londo and G'Kar stew uncomfortably in prison. I love how G'Kar is so flip with his new friend. He is a real card. The sudden, brilliant flash of light about scared the life out of me. I was so stunned my heart leaped from my chest.

Yikes! Three scary dentists or maybe they are the hygienists!
Unconscious Londo is taken from the cell by some old friends that we can recall from waaay back in Season Three, Episode 14, Ship Of Tears. They are some creepy looking X-Files-like dudes. It looks as though experimentation is the order of the day. The prosthetic make-up is pretty good on their creepy, elongated fingers too. We get flashing lights, spinning drills, essentially your frightening little alien abduction scenario on an alien homeworld in alien space on an alien in a very alien series. It's all very alien. Yes, it reminds me of my visits to the dentist as a youngster. When Londo snaps to he is oddly enough, unafraid. He does not scream, but asks quite calmly, "who are you?" Add a delightful, lizard-like alien fellow and a gask mask and the proceedings just keep getting better and better for the viewer and not so much for Londo. The Drakh [or dentist here], I suspect, indicates Londo will be "sufficient." Suddenly he awakens. Londo is back inside his cell with G'Kar who indicates he was in the throws of a nightmare. So did the visitation really happen? Was it a dream? I suspect not, but what did they do to dear Londo?

This follow up to the earlier segment is classic and frees Londo to do what he must. Is G'Kar spewin' Spoo? Hmmm.

A meeting is convened with the various generals from the different alien races. Robin Sachs returns as Narn Na'Tok. We quickly see the selfish goals and desires of the races come to the fore. They are clearly not working together as a united front, but as a collection of selfish units and interests concerned merely for their own respective races alone. So much for alliances. Sheridan inquires about Centauri strategy, but that has not become clear. The sovereign races are merely reacting. "We must have our revenge" says a Drazi general. They are ready to bomb civilian targets, which Sheridan will not sanction. Sheridan advocates for surgical strikes only.

Lt Corwin reports to Lochley that a Centauri warship is nearby. Corwin indicates no one is aboard the Centauri vessel. Lochley suspects it is unmanned and set to blow a jumpgate. She orders all starfuries to attack and destroy. Jumpgate struts and structural integrity remain intact. Repair bots are enroute.
Meanwhile the Drazi and Narn form an uneasy alliance to destroy the Centauri.
Delenn reports in to Sheridan. She is en route to the Grey Council with Lennier. Lyta and Franklin are on their mission for Vir. They seek their target through a market that is slightly reminiscent of the cantina scene on Tatooine in Star Wars.
Londo meets with the Minister played by Thomas MacGreevy. MacGreevy really nails his part and does a splendid job complete with his British accent. He is very good and was throughout this episode and the last. He is less than helpful to Londo in his desires to meet with the Regent.
Garibaldi responds to Sheridan's office. He informs him that 30% of the Narn and Drazi fleet are missing. Garibaldi shares his hunch that they are headed to Centauri Prime.
Back on Drazi homeworld, Lyta and Franklin have established their quarters. They meet with a Drazi doctor. He told them, "ew ee ew ah ah, bing-bang, wah-lah wah-lah bing-bang, ew ee ew ah ah, bing-bang, wah-lah wah-lah bing-bang!" My apologies. That was the witch doctor. The Drazi doctor tells them about the mutilated Centauri bodies while Lyta probes and analyzes his thoughts. She asks him "Why are you lying?" Two assassins attempt to kill Franklin and Lyta. Franklin shoots one while Lyta shoots the other, in a manner of speaking. She uses her mind and forces the Drazi's very own hand to shoot himself. It's pretty gnarly, but this is the new and improved Lyta. The doctor tries to leave and Lyta probes deeper. She demands they be taken "there," wherever there is.
The White Stars swarm Babylon 5. Sheridan commands a White Star and takes the fleet to Centauri. Sheridan is back in action along with everyone and everything else. While in hyperspace, Delenn happens upon four Centauri warships. They are fired upon and their White Star is badly damaged and she is left twirling around in hyperspace. That can't be good.
Franklin and Lyta have the Drazi doctor at gunpoint. He takes them to a chamber. Lyta touches an object that looks rather like a large, plastic, black, egg-shaped prop. We are treated to the screeching sounds of the Shadows via her mind. A shot is fired and the Drazi doctor is killed. Lyta and Franklin grab the plastic prop and run.
The Regent is crazy as a loon.
Back on Centauri Prime Londo returns to his room where he finds the Regent. The Regent is sadly a troubled man. He was a bizarre little fellow to begin with when we first met him way back when, but he was merely an odd, little guy. Now he is troubled, bizarre fellow in charge. He informs Londo it is almost his time as the Regent's time is nearing the end.
Franklin and Lyta report to Sheridan regarding the "left-over Shadow technology" discovered on their search of the Drazi planet. Lyta knows the artificial intelligence well. She learned about the organic technology by The Vorlons. It always comes back to The Vorlons and The Shadows does it not? They have left quite a legacy. Apparently the technology controls ships from a good distance, hence the unmanned Centauri vessel. The question is how did the Centauri get the technology and why? By the way, the vid screen technology aboard the White Stars is pretty atrocious. It just looks terrible. Sorry, minor gripe, but I know it's an older show. Still, when I watch Star Trek I still adore the effects and modeling more than ever. Anyway, Franklin offers some ideas, but Lyta hits the nail on the end. She suggests it may be a set up by an outside third party. It's all coming together now, but most importantly, like the episode's title suggests, the imprint and legacy of the Shadows and Vorlons remains and continues to create chaos. What they don't know is the who agents of darkness are behind these events. These were clearly servants of the Shadows. They remain. We give you Sheridan to the rescue.
Meanwhile in hyperspace aboard a short-circuiting and badly damaged White Star, Lennier and Delenn fight for their lives. "This is bad then," says Delenn. "Very bad" replies Lennier. You could say that. It's certainly not good at all.
... still writing.
In his cell on Centauri, G'Kar writes while the Drazi and Narn are enroute. It is interesting to see the ray of light shining down upon G'Kar in his cell. He is a ray of hope. G'Kar for President in 2012. The Regent is talking crazy talk about dying and Londo tries to stop him from that kind of jabber. Still, Londo is told he will be emperor by morning. The Regent talks of "they" and Londo asks "who are they?" "They" have asked The Regent for one final task to be completed. He was to turn off all planetary defenses and send away the fleet. Ohhh boy. I suspect destruction will reign down upon Centauri something fierce. It will all end "In Fire," as our friend Kosh once uttered to then dying Centauri emperor in Season Two, Episode 9, The Coming Of Shadows. This is going to be ugly indeed. A pasty white Londo runs sickened from the mad Regent by what he has just heard. Londo races outside the palace to mutter the word "no," as wormholes open brightly all around Centauri. The end is near.
This looking into the sky thing really needs to stop. Nothing good ever comes of it.
Wow. So many thoughts and images here inform me of past events here on Babylon 5. So many questions about the Drakh and these creatures and what they are doing and why. Londo is "sufficient." What does that mean? I remember when the Vorlons were going to destroy Centauri and Londo back in Season Four, Episode 6, Into The Fire, but pulled out at the last minute as they were recalled. Londo was spared once. Was this end inevitable? Are the servants playing out something that was destined to happen? It's a bit like Londo cheated death and destiny once and here it is again. I don't know. I do know Babylon 5 is back and hitting its stride and finishing strong. With five episodes remaining I still have a good number of questions. What are the Drakh going to achieve here? Are they hoping to supplant the Shadows' place in the galaxy? And, what of the fate of our beloved Londo? Time will tell, but there's not much time left.

Movements Of Fire And Shadow: B


Erasure25 said...

To quote JMS regarding the next episode:

This is a devastating episode, by the much happens in this that it's kinda staggering, actually.
Of the final 5, this one, and the last two, are my favorites. And I like 'em all.

I'm eager, even giddy, to read about your reactions to the final episodes...

Havremunken said...

If ever there was a "To be continued"-episode... :)

The video relay from Drazi-world to Sheridan was problematic because of distance and hyperspace. Or something. We've seen better video transmissions elsewhere in the show. ;)

But I think we definately got a Crowning Moment of Awesome (kinda like River Tam in Serenity when she slaughtered all the Reavers) for Lyta when she had the drazi shoot himself. After all, a telepath has to be pretty powerful to force someone to actively kill themselves. Sure, they can easily plant wrong information about the surroundings into peoples brains in order to trick people, but this is different. You can see that he is trying to stop it, but she is horribly powerful and hands him his drazi *ss on a plate.

Finally, I can't help but feel for Londo here. His long life of douche is finally catching up to him, apparently. And of course when he understands the consequences of the actions of the mad regent.. well, it's painful to watch, even more painful to rewatch!

On the home stretch now, keep up the good work. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks guys. Looking forward to the final five. So, Erasure25, are you referring to the final two episodes I haven't seen yet or the last two?

H! Love the Reavers sequence you mentioned. It's certainly one of those amazing and unforgettable sci-fi moments. Your comments about Lyta are spot on. Good point. She must indeed be very powerful to pull that off. "drazi *ss on a plate." Ha! I really do feel for Londo. Londo has had a life that in many ways he was a servant to. Sometimes you feel like he never had a chance to be free from all of the expectations and protocols of the Centauri. You get the sense he would have liked to be free a bit to enjoy life especially with that that little Centauri pop tart he fell in love with that was killed.

Cheers to you both!