Sunday, August 30, 2009

B5 S5 Ep19: The Wheel Of Fire

Come on baby Wheel Of Fire, Come on baby Wheel Of Fire, Try to set the night on fire! I just can't resist singing that Doors' tune every time I see the words, Wheel Of Fire.

We are coming off the creative high point of the season, The Fall Of Centauri Prime, ironically a low point for our man Londo. Can it be topped? Somehow I wouldn't think so. The preceding entry was a real doozy! It packed a wallop of a punch. We shall see how the final four fair, but I suspect a bit of a drop off after the pinnacle of excitement that was episode 18 may be the case.

G'Kar returns to Babylon 5 to be greeted by Lochley. He expresses extreme pity and concern for his friend, Londo Mollari. The cult of personality that is G'Kar is greeted by a horde of Narn waving G'Kar statuettes, photos and chanting his name. It would appear his popularity has grown even greater. As he makes an effort to speak, all drop to their feet in praise of him. He is simply awestruck.

Garibaldi is in his quarters drinking and so he is late yet again for another Babylon 5 meeting engagement. Garibaldi is confusing his facts and becoming a notable liability. Garibaldi is called out by Sheridan regarding his drunken stupor. He appears to be in hot water as all are dismissed from the meeting. We bend over for the Garibaldi spanking and enter Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 19, The Wheel Of Fire [somehow that really didn't sound right]. Delenn and Sheridan discuss Garibaldi in the halls of the station. Sheridan inquires with Garibaldi when it is exactly he began to drink. Garibaldi wants to be fired swiftly if he is to be fired. Garibaldi is not open to conversation with his old friend. Still, he is in dire need of help once again. Sheridan suspected he was drinking again noting a decline in his performance and other tardy arrivals by his right hand man. It would appear Delenn has calmed Sheridan's anger by balancing it with understanding. He is indubitably disappointed in his old friend to be sure. Garibaldi is disappointed in himself for failing his friend and hearing him speak words of disappointment troubles him greatly. Sheridan is not so much disappointed in Garibaldi for his mistakes, but as a friend, because he did not come to him for help and because Sheridan didn't pick up on his cries for help. Situations like this are so hard and helping one's self is a big part of it.

That's pretty moving stuff especially because Sheridan really is a true friend to Garibaldi there.
Dr. Franklin visits G'Kar in his quarters where he is swarmed by Narn fans outside of his room. The Narn hero simply cannot rest. The Narn back home would like G'Kar to return. Dr. Franklin makes this statement: "People love giving power to those they believe don't want it." I have to say that I really don't agree with that statement. I think there are many who should govern that do not want to govern, that is true, but typically those in power want the power. I also think our politicians do not do a good job of hiding their true ambitions, but many are certainly susceptible to the lies.

Unfortunately, there are many who vote who simply don't have a clue and just don't do their homework or don't pay attention to the candidate. President Barack Hussein Obama would not fall into the same camp as G'Kar. I've never seen a leader speak in the first person quite as much as Obama. I digress, but on the whole I have not been impressed by America's current leadership for quite some time and I thought it was fairly obvious going in. I also wasn't thrilled by the previous administration either, but I do tend to air on the side of conservative with Jeffrey Doyle. Obama doesn't come close.

Anyway, as far as that statement by Straczynski goes I'm not sure I agree with it. I believe it was Aristotle who once noted those who should be in power are those who do not want the power or something to that effect. But I think his statement is off. After giving it some thought, I also think his statement conflicts with a truly insightful segment of political commentary he once wrote for Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 16, Exercise Of Vital Powers. Straczynski's political observations can be found here about mid-way through the entry. I remember when I heard his political commentary how razor sharp his thoughts were. His comments resonate today. In fact the views were spoken through the character of William Edgars and he ended up dead as a result. I don't think you can get better proof than death. But his feeling that power is literally handed to people is accurate. Unfortunately it is handed to people unworthy of the office or unworthy of wielding the power. There are far too many examples to prove the point, while I'm certain there are exceptions to the rule. In the end, there are a percentage of people who unwittingly hand over power to people that are charmed by style over substance.

G'Kar: "Why does the universe give us puzzles with no answers?" [Great line]

Dr. Franklin adds to this train of thought thanks to J. Michael Straczynski.

Good stuff. Meanwhile, Lochley is informed there are a number of bombings happening against Psi Corps. The trail leads to Babylon 5 and Lyta.

Lochley visits Garibaldi in his quarters. He reckons she is stopping by to gloat over his suspension. She points out he has control over his future. He thanks her for the "fortune cookie wisdom." He is a trip! She tells him she understands alluding to the fact she may have had an alcohol problem. Hot-headed Garibaldi wants to know how on Earth [or at least on Babylon 5] she could possibly understand his problem. She calls him angry. This is probably one of the stronger moments I've seen to date featuring Lochley. Garibaldi comes down off the high horse for one of her stronger performances.

At first it was seeming a little preachy for me, but the scene just got better and better thankfully. So, as it turns out, Lochley and Garibaldi have more in common than we knew and they knew.
Later, Zack and Lochley prepare an arrest of Lyta who is meeting with a known freelance weapons runner. When confronted, Lyta inquires if she is under arrest and what the charge is. "Aiding and abetting terrorist activities," informs Zack [go easy Zack old boy she may use your PPG against you]. Lochley indicates Lyta doesn't have much of an option until Lyta starts tapping her fingers on the table. A chorus of finger tapping ensues across the Zocalo as Lyta is clearly surrounded by telepathic supporters from all sorts of races using hand power. She slaps her hand to the table indicating she is "tired of being pushed around." So, hand slapping across the Zocalo ensues as things intensify. I was beginning to think the telepaths were going to start dancing a la Riverdance or Lord Of The Dance next. That was not to be I'm afraid. Lyta indicates she chooses not to be arrested and in so many words and actions lets Zack and Lochley know they should not screw with her one iota. She's looking for a little gratitude, a little thanks, a little respect. Lochley looks to Zack who is in a kind of trance. "You cannot stop someone whose been touched by Vorlons." Enter the whirring charge of a PPG and another fellow touched by the Vorlons in the form of master Sheridan. He has the PPG to her head. "Let them go or I'll blow the back of your skull off." WOW! He means it too. Zack is released. Patricia Tallman is so good in her supporting role, but I am saddened by how far she has fallen in my mind [Hey! Get out of there! Leave My Mind Alone!- Whew, that was a close one]. The scene is worth watching especially for the right hook by Lochley.

Lochley means business and I am a little surprised by her hard line. Well, on second thought, Lyta's actions have been against Psi Corps whom Lochley seems to have a pretty decent connection. Anyhow, I'm a bit bummed to see the place Lyta had to go in this series, because I really did enjoy her character. It's not that I don't enjoy her character still, I do, but I liked her more when she was more likable if you will. It's interesting when you look back at this point at these tremendous characters arcs for so many. Twists and turns, highs and lows have been a trademark of the series for G'Kar, Londo, Lyta, Garibaldi, Sheridan, Vir to name some of the big ones.
Garibaldi meets up with Lochley in the station halls. He is clearly open to a new connection with Lochley given their previous conversation. He even extends an apology to her and some thanks. It's a pretty cool moment for Garibaldi. Lise Hampton shows up after receiving word that Garibaldi needed some help. The kind of help she's going to offer you just can't buy. Well, yes, actually, you could buy it, but that would be a risky proposition for many reasons I suspect. Nevermind. How my mind wanders.

Sheridan is definitely disappointed in Lyta. Franklin gives a number of reasons why she's not who she once was. "She's pissed." "Massively," declares Sheridan. Sheridan is certain something pushed her over the edge. "Bastards!" hollers Delenn as she walks into the room. She has been hanging with the Earthers far too long and this is meant to illustrate it albeit it seemed a little forced on Mira Furlan's part. The Narn race is threatening a boycott until G'Kar comes home. Delenn faints.

Garibaldi grovels with Lise about how he messed up and how he needs to sober up. Lise wonders if he'll leave Babylon 5 at the end of the year. This is a sweet exchange.

Shouldn't Lise have a better handle on Edgars' industries if she's in charge? I mean, not wanting to know your own business isn't exactly a good way to approach your troubles. Garibaldi has a brainstorm about the corporation and "killing two teeps with one stone."

I think we've all had that initial deer in the headlights moment for a split second when we heard the news. Havremunken? Joking. It is an ever so slight moment before turning to full elation. It's kind of a Holy Shit moment! You know you'll be a father and you'll be in charge and life as you know it is about, oh, nine months away from ending and so the countdown starts. As a result, you smile hysterically with joy and fear all rolled up into one. It's all good, but just beautifully frightening.

Franklin is in medlab and informs Sheridan Delenn is putting alot of stress on herself. As a Minbari-human hybrid things will work differently. She is pregnant. Sheridan indicates if he had to choose between the survival of the mother or the child he would choose Delenn. He puts Franklin on notice. He wants both if it can happen, but it is sweet and loving that he is worried about her survival. Having said that, if she does have their baby we'll have to do some math here. Lorien saved Sheridan's life following his leap into the abyss in Season Three, Episode 22, Z'Ha'Dum. We learned in Season Four, Episode 4, Falling Toward Apotheosis, that Lorien extended his life for approximately twenty years. I'm not exactly sure how much time has transpired since then until now. We know Sheridan will not likely live past the child's adult age of 19, perhaps younger I believe. That's kind of sad.

Garibaldi visits Lyta in her cell. Now, he offers his help to her. She fries the vid cam in her cell with her mind so they can talk openly. You know Lyta is so holding back her powers. She could crush that station and she is actually a very good soul, because she is keeping her powers in check out of the general safety of everyone around her while making every attempt possible within reasonable parameters to get what she can for her peeps the teeps. Ultimately she is a good egg. Garibaldi asks if she can eradicate his neural block placed within his head by Bester. If she can do it, he can get the charges dropped against her through Edgars Industries. He tells her she would have to leave Babylon 5. She indicates it wouldn't be enough. She suspects he is looking for revenge on Bester, but he insists he is trying to regain control over his life. She offers a counter proposal. You do feel for Garibaldi's predicament. He is essentially a prisoner in his own mind.

Later, Garibaldi meets with Lochley, but not behind closed doors and G'Kar inadvertently overhears the conversation. He hears Garibaldi complain about their current predicament thanks to G'Kar giving Lyta alot of money so that the Narn could get telepath DNA. It's a little odd that G'Kar was eavesdropping with no reason to do so initially. G'Kar enters the room indicating he has overheard only the last portion of their conversation. G'Kar does not enjoy his iconic status. G'Kar indicates he cannot stay or go home in his current status. He despises his god-like status and he knows if he stays the Narn will continue to disrupt operations on Babylon 5. He likens his situation to that of Lyta. G'Kar indicates he will go away "out there" with much to discover. He wants the message of "one" to endure, but the iconic status of his statue to be crushed. G'Kar feels he can help Lyta with her troubles too. You see, Aristotle would like the one called G'Kar. By the way, doesn't G'Kar have a thing for Lyta? Travelling with her might have its fringe benefits. Giddy-up!

Things are changing on Babylon 5. Many of the characters appear to be preparing to vacate the station by moving on to new stations in their own lives. Garibaldi begins thinking about the deal he made with Lyta in the cell. Lyta wants two accounts- One for show and the other account is the money bank to hurt Psi Corps. It would be the answer to hurting Bester indirectly since the neural block won't allow Garibaldi to hurt him directly. So I'm thinking, I guess Lyta can't remove the neural block until Garibaldi asks why she won't remove it. She calls it "a great motivator." Boy, she has learned from the best of them. Garibaldi is indeed ever the prisoner. It's interesting because he, not unlike Lyta, simply cannot be free. The two are prime examples of being mentally enslaved to certain interest groups. It's a fascinating conundrum and the politics played between the two make alot of sense. It's like real life power plays. She informs Garibaldi she will check back with Garibaldi in two years time. If he has completed his part she will remove the block to free Garibaldi so that he may contend with Bester. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall that day? Lyta will deal with the corps. Garibaldi eventually asks Lyta how she has become greater than a P12? How has she become the strongest telepath he has ever seen. What did the Vorlons do to Lyta? "Who, what are you?" Lyta talks of "small," "medium" and "big" weapons in war alluding perhaps to the atom bombs of World War II. She is the telepathic equivalent of a "thermo nuclear device, a doomsday weapon." Lyta smiling and confirming that precise status. Now that's extraordinary power and confirmation that she is in complete control of what could easily be the end of all things Babylon 5 as we know it.

Sheridan and Delenn are at rest in their quarters pondering Londo's new role as emperor. Sheridan suspects he is still celebrating his coronation. Delenn hopes it is so, but is dubious in her heart. An image of Londo enters the screen as he sits lonely upon his throne. His world is tragic. This was a great follow-up to the previous installment and loaded to the hilt with character drama. It only took seventeen episodes to find his groove, but I believe Straczynski has finally done it and in a nick of time. There was no real drop off in quality here from the previous entry.

The Wheel Of Fire: B+


Havremunken said...

Deer in the headlights? You bet! :D I was actually well prepared when I found out. We were pretty sure my girlfriend was pregnant, but I asked her to delay taking the pregnancy test until Friday that week. Then right before we took it, I proposed to her; The idea being that no matter what the test showed, I wanted her to know I wanted HER. I think it worked. ;) Kinda like Sheridan in this episode, in a way, but not really.

Since your review of the next episode came up before I could post this, I'll jump there now. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

That's a nice story. Well, sounds like a solid foundation with true intentions. She can't ask for more than that. Best of luck. That is a really nice way of doing it.