Tuesday, September 2, 2008

B5 S3 Ep20: And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place

The moment many had been waiting for...

We are entering the final, big three episodes of Babylon 5, Season Three with Episode 20, And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place [or My Pet Rock Never Cried].

Z MINUS 14 DAYS. The countdown has begun moving us closer to the season finale, Z’Ha Dum.

Commander’s personal log, December 7, 2260. Once again, I do enjoy the narration provided by Ivanova. It lends a bit of weight and darkness to an already dark storyline. I like it.

Telepaths are being dispatched to a variety of races that are working within the alliance against The Shadows.

The narration points to Sheridan’s fatigue as a man seemingly locked within at the War Room complete with 5 o’clock shadow to prove it.

Franklin is still on walkabout. I found this thread to be slightly humorous. It’s like, 'get over yourself already'. Please find yourself for the love of God! It’s like, buddy, how much walking can you do on a cylindrical space station. The answer: apparently a lot of walking.

I do believe Brother Theo may be Santa Claus.
Hey, there's ol' Brother Theo! Louis Turenne always lends a great turn to the show. Ivanova refers to him as “annoying” and “comforting.” I’m more inclined to go with the latter or at least a pleasure to have around. She follows that with an observation on G’Kar being much the same way. I’ll admit, I love G’Kar but she has a point. He does possess the ability to be overbearing and have his “annoying” moments. But heck, nobody's perfect! To prove the point he lays it on pretty thick here to Ivanova making a case for an academy award. Check it!

Cut to Londo informing Vir adamantly that G’Kar must be dealt with. The man is a Centauri obsessed to be sure. Vir tries to deflect his desires by making the point that there is a much larger war between races raging. Vir also reminds Londo that G’Kar has asylum on the station. Londo is like a dog with meat and you cannot pull that meat away without a big, old, fat bite out of your hand. Londo has a plan to get G'Kar back to Narn for execution. Get G’Kar off the station and he’s an unprotected sitting duck. Man he is one cold bastard resolute and insistent on getting Citizen G’Kar. G’Kar clearly remains his one loose end it would seem. It's interesting how similiar in their loyalties to their people they are. G'Kar remains Londo's archnemesis, but there’s something about the two of them. It’s like they are ying and yang. They sort of complement each other. Anyway, he tells Vir he wants the plan to become reality.

William Forward returns as Lord Refa and he, like Turenne, is always a terrific guest on Babylon 5. Erick Avari guests as Rabbi Leo Meyers, but I’m not sure why they really needed him unless he plays a role much later. He didn’t have much to offer. Mel Winkler is pretty convincing as Reverend Will Dexter. It's a solid guest cast for the entry just the same.

Sheridan remains steadfast by the War Room as he attempts to make some logic out of the illogical Shadows’ attack pattern. They appear random. The stress of work and the fact he hasn’t slept since Kosh died are shared with Delenn. He's under a lot of stress and may need to get laid.

Londo plants information with Vir to notify G’Kar Na’Toth is still alive and being held captive on the Narn homeworld. This is sure to get him out of the sanctuary provided by the station. The two offer positively brutal but delicious performances.

I just couldn’t imagine Vir doing that to G’Kar given all he has done to save the Narn and sacrificing his own marriage and even more importantly looking into the wounded eyes of G’Kar once before in Season Two, Episode 21, Comes The Inquisitor. Remember that powerful elevator sequence. I’m having a hard time seeing him do that to G'Kar, despite the fact Londo has him essentially against a wall or bent over a barrel, however you look at it.

It is uncovered through Lord Refa’s visit with a Centauri minister that the noble house of of Refa and Mollari are essentially divided and feuding. Apparently the minister is here to get to the bottom of which party is primarily responsible for the schism. Who is the most credible? Or, who is the most masterfully conniving and deceitful and clever in their subjugation of the truth? I put my money on Londo always. Not because I'm smart, but because he's in the opening credits every season. : )

By the way, I had forgotten Stephen Furst played Flounder in the film Animal House [1978]. That is a classic American film! Anyway, Flounder [a.k.a. Vir] goes to visit G’Kar at his quarters and while awkward they speak. We never know what happened behind those closed doors but did he do the right thing? It’s left to our imagination. Vir reports back to Londo ashamed. Londo and Vir argue in the hall in front of Centauri guards. One of the guards exits to the right, presumably loyal to Refa, to inform him of Londo’s plan.

Sheridan, Delenn and Ivanova have dinner with the spiritual leaders who offer them underground data from Earth via data crystal. Wouldn't that be something if we all carried data crystals rather than thumbdrives? Its purpose could be two-fold and serve as jewelry while aiding your work.

G’Kar approaches Garibaldi for his help. G’Kar needs to be smuggled to Homeworld and he needs a ship. You know Garibaldi likes his boy G’Kar. These are my two favorite characters.

Meanwhile, Vir is kidnapped and questioned in a dark room by Lord Refa. Refa extracts the information via telepath.

Classic dialogue from the Reverend who meets with Sheridan:
The legs get funny when you get older. You’re sitting they wanna’ stand. You stand they wanna’ lay down. You lay down they wanna’ go for a walk.”

Sheridan shares his burdens with the reverend in confidence. The reverend suggests sharing the responsibility with someone so as not shoulder it all alone. He tells Sheridan how “she” loves him. For a moment, since it was not explicitly mentioned, I thought what if the “she” he was referring to was Ivanova. But that just cannot be. It makes no sense in the traditional scheme of things, but Ivanova does care about Sheridan deeply. Sheridan sort of snaps at the reverend in defense of Delenn ensuring he does not add additional stress to her plate.


G’Kar is now in a bunker on Narn Homeworld. The skies are filled with ash and red in tone as particles float through the battle-weary Narn atmosphere. Unbeknownst to G’Kar, Refa readies to take him down with the information he has obtained. I thought the coloring around the Narn bunkers looked suspiciously reminiscent of that found on Mars in Season Three, Episode 8, Messages From Earth. It certainly stands to reason that Narn is essentially a dustbowl at this point to be sure.

Delenn reviews the MASSIVE War Room data map and agrees there is no pattern concerning The Shadows’ attacks at first glance. Upon further review on a computer grid, Sheridan and Delenn realize there is an area completely unmolested by The Shadows at the center. Could they be intentionally sending a message to races in the hopes of lulling them into a false sense of security? Could a safe area be drawing them to certain doom? Sheridan and Delenn believe the alleged safe haven will be dealt a lethal blow when the population within it builds great enough to make it a trap. I really didn’t understand Straczynski’s use of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in comparing the situation through Sheridan. I was thrown off slightly as he attempted to illustrate his point with those examples. The data is isolated to determine a major offensive is nearing. “The only way to beat them is to think like them,” says Sheridan to Delenn. She, of course, misunderstands what he is saying and a short bit of cutesy comedy ensues resulting from it. Sheridan tells her “that’s what I’d do.” The scene is played for cute but to be honest, given that kind of monumental discovery, and what's at stake, I didn’t feel it was good timing for funny. That's just me.

Londo rescues Vir. Meanwhile down on Narn Homeworld.

Refa: “You’ve just taken your final step as a free Narn.” Gadzooks! I was definitely nervous about this.

Then the story throws me a complete and utter curveball that I never saw coming. Refa tells the Centauri guards to move on G’Kar. No action is taken and he asks what they are waiting for. G’Kar presents the transmission in his possession, which is a holographic message from Londo. Londo informs Refa the guards are loyal to him and makes it clear to him his life will end because Refa took from him “that which I loved.” WOW! Big mistake Refa! You trumped G’Kar in Londo's priority manual. He must REALLY HATE you! I was stunned. What a powerful, tremendous revenge tale. Now, things get even more interesting when Londo pins the annihilation of the Narn race on Refa. Is that true? No and Yes, kind of. An argument can be made both ways. So is he lying? Yes and no and he masterfully manipulates the situation to his benefit. The final minutes here are fascinating and I kept imagining what G’Kar might be thinking. Potentially I think G'Kar was clearly willing to make Refa a fall guy to save two thousand Narn as promised by Londo. G'Kar has had no no reason to love any Centauri up to this point. That was clearly a valued exchange to him and I believe it was a personal decision in the best interest of his people not to know the truth. Maybe, in fact, he knew the truth but was willing to turn a blind eye and not ask too many questions given Refa’s questionable anti-Narn character. So Londo personally assigns blame regarding the deaths of millions of Narns to Refa. I thought, ‘you bastard!’ That’s a pretty sweet political move Mr. Londo. Londo ensures not only that Refa dies through this but that his family too is brutally shamed. Never forget, not unlike Londo, G'Kar wants his people free!

So Long Refa. We hardly knew ya. U will be missed.
G’Kar gives his final approval but to keep his head attached for identification. Ewwww. Seeing Refa attempt to run in slow motion, while intercutting to the gospel service aboard Babylon 5 was effective directorial, story execution genius. Lennier reminds me of the damn Saturday Night Live Church Lady singing in those pews.

Here is a powerful excerpt reflecting the title taken from that well-written gospel number:

"There's no hiding place down here. Ya know I went to the rock to hide my face, but the rock cried out no hiding place... you know the sinners gonna' be runnin'...their gonna' run to the rocks and the mountains, but their prayers will be too late. You know they forgot about Jesus...but they'll be running tryin' to find a hidin' place when it comes their time to die."

I don't know who wrote this piece, but it's damn good and sung brilliantly by the congregation. It really pulls together the dark nature of many of these characters and speaks volumes about the choices they're making. So the Narn pummel Refa to his death. I must admit I will miss infrequent guest William Forward. He was definitely one of my favorite recurring characters. He was so deliciously conniving.

It's funny, I was trying to make sense of the title apart from the gospel number's association with it and then it started to make sense. And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place clearly alludes to the barren, dusty rock that has become Narn. It is a red-tinged wasteland of dust and rubble thanks to the carpet bombing of the planet by the merciless Centauri. It's one gigantic, lifeless rock and there is no place to hide indeed for anyone on this once thriving planet. I also got to thinking how ironic it was G'Kar and Londo were allied together essentially standing on G'Kar's planet. Londo bears much responsibility for getting them to this place. Still, could this be the seeding of a detente of sorts between the two? Could this be a warming in their relationship? Will a page turn in a new direction for Season Four? Intriguing. this was a pretty neat turning point.

Londo meets with the Centauri Minister and presents a crystal found on Refa [planted by G’Kar] that was perceived to have aided in the Narn resistance to assure Refa’s shame. Londo is wickedly fiendish in this episode and does a genuine hatchet job on Refa. He manipulates the situation masterfully. I was a little surprised. I thought it was tremendous political theatre, back door dealing, betrayal, backstabbing, murder, et cetera. It seemed a little out of Londo’s realm of attainment, but he proved himself to be a survivor. Why not mix the poison with that other poison cocktail he had planted in Refa’s system? Would that not have been easier? Still, this is fairly complex and a hell of a lot more fun to watch. Londo speaks with Vir who is furious he was used. Londo knew Refa used telepaths and couldn’t tell him the real truth.

Elsewhere, Delenn takes Sheridan on a magic White Star ride to introduce him to the newly created fleet of White Star vessels. The fleet will be piloted by The Rangers to fight The Shadows. Yee Haw! How can I thank you Delenn. Howsa 'bout layin’ a big fat smacker on my lips! The two lip-lock for the BIG ONE! It’s a well-lit BIG ‘OL FATTY FAT KISS! Whoa! Mama! It’s an intergalactic French kiss of epic proportions!

[The end credits note Wayne Alexander of Comes The Inquisitor fame played the part of a Narn named G’Dan]. Cool.

So this episode really had my mind in a pretzel, but then when I stopped trying to overcomplicate matters it became crystal clear. This is how my train of thought ran. How did G’Kar get this transmission into his hands? How did this plan come to fruition? Clearly the whole idea of Na’Toth, who went suspiciously absent in Season Two, was nothing more than a red herring. It threw me off the trail. G’Kar clearly went to Narn knowing she wasn’t there. Vir told him something behind those closed doors. Did Vir set him up to die? Will his conversation with G’Kar come back to haunt Vir later? I should think it might. Was I missing the obvious? Then it dawns on me, freakin’ Londo must have intervened and actually gone to see G’Kar to strike some kind of deal, some sort of temporary partnership, a bargain as only he can. In fact, he may have spoken with G'Kar prior to speaking with Vir, which means G'Kar may have been even more disappointeded by Vir's actions when he arrived at his quarters. I mean G'Kar looked visibly disgusted or troubled by Vir's arrival. G'Kar may or may not have understood the kind of pressure Vir was under. Could this all be referencing some of the “unfinished business” foretold in Season Three, Episode 17, War Without End Part Two? This was clearly some sort of cease fire between the two character actor titans given the win-win nature of the proposition for both G’Kar and Londo. The Narn benefited immensely from this decision. Londo, too, gets his revenge. He clealry must have gone to him. It has to be love and revenge trumped his rivalry with longstanding nemesis G’Kar. Wow! I had more questions than answers at the end of this one. These two characters are just wonderful and two of thebest ever written for science fiction.

This one ended very strong indeed.

And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place: B
[The G’Kar/Londo/Vir/Refa thread was stronger especially in the end: B+ there]


Unknown said...

Yep, Londo and G'Kar had arranged most of this before Vir even heard about it. One of the things Londo would probably have made very clear is that he would do whatever it took to have Vir deliver the info - both of them know he's not that kind of Centauri. So when Vir came to G'Kar, more or less a broken wimp, G'Kar would know that Londo had found some compelling enough arguments to persuade Vir.

This episode really threw me off as well, and it gives you a new respect for Londo as the slick politician and evil mastermind. And I am as always very happy that jms doesn't stick simple, one-dimensional one-trick badguys in our faces. There's always more to them.

Finally, I must say that the whole happy choir/Refa being beat into Centauri juice thing was kind of disturbing, but what a way to go.. :)

Anonymous said...

I find it utterly annoying how Londo treats Vir. So he uses Vir because he thinks Vir isn't "important enough" to be killed. What if he's wrong? And there's no problem with having Vir mind-raped - it's not like he didn't see it coming?

I wonder how much is true of his reasoning about Refa's plans playing both sides against the middle by using the Narn resistance movement as a tool.


Unknown said...

Yes, Londo *is* evil. In norwegian, we have an expression (which is probably just translated from another (unknown to me) expression), "Everyone is closest to themselves" or so. Sure, if Londo can avoid hurting Vir, go for it. If not.. well, he was probably a necessary casualty. Londo cares about Londo. And he is probably a bit vary about Vir, considering the prophesies about their emperor-situation. While Londo has his good sides, he is who he is, and he is not the type to put awkward underling-friendships before his ambitions. ;)

From the perspective of where our dear fanatic is currently in the story - as Refa is dead now, its hard to say if what Londo says has even a nugget of truth to it. In this case, he was actually guilty of using the Narn resistance himself to attack a high-ranking Centauri. The minister in this story was probably highly suspicious of the info from Londo, but he didn't have any alternative sources of information on the situation than the one Londo orchestrated for him.

Refa was probably up to similar amounts of no good, but it's kinda hard to find out now. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, as much as I'd love to slap Londo for his treatment of Vir, I still think he's morally superior to Refa. Londo at least does care for his people, Refa only cares for himself.

Our fanatic, as usual, is quite perceptive re: Franklin (amongst other things).

And fanatic, it won't be the last appearance of our fav guest actor Wayne Alexander; just a few more episodes, and you'll see more of him.


Unknown said...

Agreed - Londo is a bad man, but he is OUR bad man. As bad as this sounds, at every step of the way, you can understand why someone in his position would do as he does, even if you do not agree with him. Sympathy for the devil (if not literally) is another place where jms shines. For some reason we care about Londo. He is mean, vindictive and selfish - yet we're happy for him when he is happy, and feel his pain when he is crushed (wrt. Adira for instance).

This is of course not only because of the writing. Peter Jurasik is an amazing actor, and it is a shame that more people don't get to enjoy his screen time with Andreas Katsulas. They just had something..

TFKoP said...

And the song that closes out the episode is just so awesome. And I'm not even into gospel...


ps see yah in a couple of weekends... ;-)

SFF said...

WOW! What a conversation. This is precisely what this episode did for me too. It just gets you thinking about the intricacy of each character and the politics in play. What a tremendous episode. I really liked it alot. So many great points made. You are so right about the chemistry between Jurasik and Katsulas. Guys, it is literally one of my very favorite things about this show. It's like poetry on screen watching them both interact. Straczynski landed some major major talent in those two individuals. I wonder how he pulled it off.

I thought y'all had interesting perspectives on Londo and both G'Kar and Londo are equally tough to analyze because they are so complex. I have to say there is something about this fairly BAD man that is also GOOD. Therein lies the oxymoron that is Londo. I like to think he can change through these dark days and somehow be salvaged. Time will tell. I look forward to the coming episodes.

Great point about G'Kar knowing how to manipulate the situation and G'Kar being prepared for it. You see Havremunken there's so much Straczynski leaves to our imagination. And M, I'm feelin ya on the whole treatment of Vir thing. It's amazing because Vir really sees the good in Londo or that combined with the fact he is an entirely forgiving person no matter what his brother Centauri puts him through. Man, so many thoughtful commentaries here I must go back and read just as soon as I get back from clapping and singing at the local church. : )

Unknown said...

Perhaps thoughtful in the way that us seen-it-alls have to keep in mind that there is a difference between what we know about Londo, and what you currently know about him, at this point in the series. :)

But all of this builds him towards his fate, and like most of Babylon 5, when you watch it again (which you will), it will not only make sense, you will see so much more clearly the foresight and planning of jms. Londo's story is for me one of the most compelling parts of all of B5. His journey from start to end is difficult, full of mistakes and very moving, filled with victories and defeats, and Jurasik masterfully takes him all the way.

And Londo may surprise you yet. Maybe even in ways you wouldn't think you'd be surprised. :)

SFF said...

Sounds like there's going to be some great writing and performances ahead. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

There are also some interesting new characters, two of them Centauri, ahead of you. One of them isn't actually that new; you've already met him, but I don't think you ever mentioned him: Centauri Senator Virini. He was in The Quality of Mercy and Sic Transit Vir. Watch out for him.


SFF said...

Cool M!

Unknown said...

Oh, sorry for the misunderstanding. There will be no more great writing or performances, sorry.


SFF said...

ha ha! I guess I'll have to re-watch Galactica 1980 for the quality stuff then.