Thursday, September 25, 2008

B5 S4 Ep1: The Hour Of The Wolf

Garibaldi has always been a big fan of Daffy Duck dating back to Babylon 5, Season One, Episode 1, Midnight On The Firing Line.

It's funny. I went back to Season One to find that scene I remembered featuring Garibaldi busting a gut over his cartoon hero, Daffy Duck. At first I scanned Episode Two, then I went back to Episode One and thank God I did. I thought it would be ashame if I kept searching and all along it was Episode 1. Well, it was indeed. Having scanned those two episodes as briefly as I did, I did catch a glimpse of what many fans have alluded to along the way. Those earlier episodes will have greater meaning when you go back to watch them again. I noticed much in the way of material that obviously meant very little to me at the time of my introduction to the series that were far more significant than I knew. Case in point, we see Kosh in a kind of shower scene and he appears to be a being of light. I didn't pay it much mind then, but it was much more significant seeing it now with all that I know at this point. Further, Londo even makes mention of a date with destiny scheduled to occur in 20 years. It would appear he was having premonitions even then. These are just a few examples. There is much more that escapes my memory but there is much there that is notable indeed. I digress, but here is our hero, Security Cheif Garibaldi, laughing at his hero's antics way back, way back, way back in Episode One, the very episode that launched the Babylon 5 series.

It’s been a hell of a ride thus far. We are now entering Babylon 5, Season Four. It’s been a long time in coming. There are still many unanswered questions and the future remains as bleak as ever, but there are wee slight, glimmers of hope. I think. Let’s see where our journey takes us and especially for me seeing it for the first time. Here we go with Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 1, The Hour Of The Wolf.

Seven days have passed. G’Kar narrates and recaps for us beautifully the events that closed out the final moments of Season Three and Z'Ha'Dum. Andreas Katsulas is pure theatre as we all know. The man can simply act. The man can voice too. He is as eloquent as they come. His narration is by far my favorite with Ivanova's input a close second in previous entries.

G'Kar the poet speaking of Ivanova after mentioning the loss of Mr. Garibaldi: "In a way I think we have also lost Ivanova. It is as though her heart has been pierced and her spirit has poured out through the wound. She blames herself. It is foolish. It is destructive. It is... human."

Following the inconclusive loss of Sheridan, Ivanova walks the station completely without spirit. She is as lost and alone as she's ever been. She is a rudderless ship without her captain and friend. While she has always been very much a strong personality, she also is equally prone to fits of hot emotion and heartache. She is less a leader and more an executioner and without Sheridan she has now been asked to take the fore and helm this thing called Babylon 5.

Londo has relocated to Centauri Prime to assist Emperor Cartagia. On the station, Delenn is a lady in waiting. She too is lost without Sheridan. There has been much impacting the emotional states of the female core upon the station within this epic tale as a result of consequences from the decisions made by Sheridan in Season Three, Episode 22, Z’Ha’Dum.

Meanwhile, The Shadows have paused and there is a pause in the war. There is a dark, somber, funereal tone that permeates every fiber of this entry.

Questions remain, where is Mr. Garibaldi and what has happened to Captain John Sheridan? Of course, our narrator, Andreas Katsulas, says it all much better than me.

The opening credits have been revamped for the new season and are solid with an ensemble effort by the various cast members in narration complemented with music dark in tone. Would we have it any other way?

The season kicks off with a noteworthy, all-star guest cast. Ed Wasser returns as the sinister Morden. Wayne Alexander returns as new character Lorien and Wortham Krimmer serves up a terrific turn as the extreme, flamboyant Emperor Cartagia.

On Babylon 5, Ivanova is pensive and alone in her quarters dealing with the loss of her commanding partner. She is doing her best to work through the losses as only she can.

The Gaim, Drazi and others discuss the odds of going head to head with The Shadows at Z’Ha’Dum and actually returning from there alive. Okay, maybe they have a point. They are arguing with Ivanova defending their preference to leave the alliance and protect their own homeworlds by going it alone.

Lennier informs Delenn, “He did not come again.” Delenn intends to find out why, but to whom was Lennier referring? Could Lennier have been referring to the selfish and shadowy Vorlon?

On the Centauri homeworld, it would appear Emperor Cartagia is quite the prat or spoilt brat. He is an ill-behaved man-child. But there is more to it as we come to learn he has mad delusions of martyrdom. His short, crew cut styled hair is a symbol of his break with traditional mores supplanted by self-reverential and arrogant behavior. The Emperor has plans concerning Londo's relocation.

On Babylon 5, Vir informs Ivanova he has received information from sources close to Londo that Sheridan was seen diving into a great, dark chasm, two miles deep. That’s convenient, I’d love to know how they got that information from a planet crawling with space bugs. Vir believes him to be gone. She is tearful yet again. By the way, Vir is half the man he once was. Literally, I mean it. He must have shed 50 pounds. Stephen Furst looks terrific and he isn’t nearly as rotund as he was in the previous three seasons.

Back on Centauri Prime, a crispy critter named Morden is awaiting Londo in his quarters.

Londo: “Mr. Morden?”
Morden: “In the flesh, what’s left of it. I’m just a shadow of my former self."

Emperor Cartagia gives new meaning to the Talking Heads.
Morden informs Londo The Shadows will be fanning out from Z’Ha’Dum as he chafes upon his flaking skin [resulting from severe burns exacted upon him by Sheridan in the Season Three finale]. The bad news, one of the allotted locations for their implantation is none other than Centauri Prime. Emperor Cartagia has approved and blessed their arrival. Londo tells him the emperor is mad [so much so the emperor enjoys speaking to several severed heads in the evening of those he decapitated that were disloyal to him]. Apparently fourteen Centauri opposed the decision concerning The Shadows arrival and they have not been heard from since. Morden looks to Mollari as his liaison to the Royal Court and as a continued pawn of The Shadows. Londo refuses to do his bidding. Morden assures him he will. Will he? That is the question to be determined.

On Babylon 5, Delenn pleads with New Kosh, escorted by Lyta, to get involved. She urges him to use his power to aid in determining the fate of Sheridan. Coldly, [well, colder than normal cold even for a Vorlon], New Kosh tells her, “His purpose has been fulfilled. No one returns from Z’Ha’Dum.” Delenn warns she will have no respect in reserve for the vorlon. Her well of good will will be dry. Arrogantly, New Kosh simply turns away and discards Delenn's pleas with his final parting, “respect is irrelevant.” Ouch.

Zack is back and looks sharp with his nifty new haircut. This is one of those special moments between Straczynski's special cast that make it easy for us to love this story.

Do you not absolutely love the wisdom of G’Kar? I just love this Narn!

Straczynski brings us up to speed on yet another connection to an earlier premonition from his epic story. If you recall, and I know you do, Londo had a dream earlier waaaaay back in Season Two, Episode 9, The Coming Of Shadows, where he looked to the blue skies only to see the black Shadows vessels soaring above. At the time we didn’t know what it meant or where this transpired. In fact, for all we knew it was simply a dream attempting to speak to him. Well, apparently, there was much more depth to that moment than we actually knew. The Shadows were coming! The Shadows were coming! They were coming to Centauri Prime to be precise. Londo is there now and so are The Shadows. Yikes! The dream is a nightmare and now it is all too very real. I love how Straczynski continues to tie these moments with the past. Ingenious.

The Coming Of Shadows, looking back, is also notable for being one of the first times we witness Londo's prophecy of becoming the emperor of Centauri Prime and being choked to his death by his once fellow ambassador on Babylon 5, an eye-patched G'Kar. All kinds of stuff happens in that episode looking back. It was also a notably huge turning point in their relationship. Here is that moment from Season Two's The Coming Of Shadows.

With The Shadows now arrived it is a fascinating character study as Londo is indeed a troubled man in conflict. He’s always exhibited signs of being torn in his decisions regarding his associations with The Shadows, but this is a man who is now having a change of heart if ever there was one. The regret fills every pore of his face more than ever. Reversely, the emperor is elated to have the alien occupiers as guests for his own warped intentions on Centauri. The emperor is a selfish, self-destructive juvenile. Londo is now beginning to exhibit signs of the Centauri we once believed him capable of being. He has always been there, but was overshadowed by greed and alien influence. Resistance was futile. I’m beginning to have faith that Londo may right this ship before all is said and done. As for the emperor, he has welcomed The Shadows as gods and he too wants to achieve god-like legend as a martyr to his people. The death of millions of Centauri would be of little to no consequence to reach his desired end. Londo is astonished by the god-complex that stands before him. He is disturbed by the darkness in the emperor’s heart. If there is one thing Londo has always believed it is the thriving success of his people. He has never turned his back on the Centauri. If anything he has always believed in the tradition and glory of Centauri Prime [especially with himself at the helm]. In this he is selfless. He places the Centauri above all else. Destruction of any race surrounding the Centauri to achieve ruling glory is a necessary by-product in particular the Narn. But this is unquestionably a part of the fabric of Centauri civilization as an imperialistic empire.

Cut to Lyta who is connected to New Kosh via an energy stream. “Is there anywhere else you need me to carry you,” she asks looking completely drained and exhausted. This was slightly disturbing. He is indeed a part of her; a parasite of a sort. He is the energy stream.

Lyta looks really run down and ragged after the draining. Is this vorlon a renegade within his own kind? Does he have an agenda different than that of the vorlons? Is it something else entirely?

Londo contacts Vir to ask for his assistance back on Centauri Prime.

Now rested, Lyta visits Ivanova and there is a brief reference to the title of the episode. The Hour Of The Wolf refers to the period between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M. when you just can’t sleep. Lyta informs Ivanova that Sheridan let Kosh inside his mind. They were linked just like she herself was linked to Kosh for a time. Lyta believes she could sense Sheridan if they somehow got close enough to Z’Ha’Dum because Kosh is down there with him [or within him] no doubt. Ivanova knows there is more to what Lyta is telling her and Lyta confirms it by nodding in agreement, but without elaborating. Ivanova is so knackered and wiped out she doesn’t even care to know. She’s just pleased she can help. Ivanova confirms if they go to Z’Ha’Dum they will go alone and no one will be there to rescue them should it all go to shit. This is indeed an atmospheric episode for all the characters on Babylon 5. There is a nightmarish quality to the proceedings.

So the White Star launches and as they close in on the planet where all fear to tread, Z'Ha'Dum, Lyta’s eyes turn pitch black. She reaches into the darkness scanning for Sheridan on the planet below. You have to love those Lyta close-ups. “The Eye is looking for us,” she proclaims. The Eye senses their presence. It’s the Eye from Ivanova’s first encounter while inside the Great Machine on Epsilon 3 from Season Three, Episode 5, Voices Of Authority. The Eye is extremely dangerous and has a way of hypnotizing its prey. I'm not sure of all of its capabilities but it certainly is powerfully hypnotic. The female triad is overwhelmed by the enemy willing the team to enter Z’Ha’Dum airspace and land the ship there. Fortunately, it’s the little boy power from bonehead Lennier who saves them all. He wisely pre-programmed the ship to return to Babylon 5 should danger threaten the White Star. The group manages to escape Z’Ha’Dum and the trance established by the evil Eye.

Girl Power! Babylon 5's answer to the Spice Girls.

Ivanova: “Lennier get us the hell out of here.”
Lennier: “Initiating, getting-the-hell-out-of-here maneuver.” [Lennier gets the great one-liners.]

Cut to the bowels of Z’Ha’Dum and we see a small figure stumbling shrouded by a blanket. We cannot quite make the figure out, but we know it’s our fearless hero Sheridan.

Back on Centauri Prime, Londo fills Vir in on their current little emperor problem. “I need a friend Vir and I need a patriot, and you are both, will you help me please?” WOW! Vir finally gets his due, and the devil is beginning to turn. This is a huge moment for the pride of Londo. His character changes here, right before our eyes, reaching out for the first time for help, acknowledging Vir’s goodness and strength and indirectly admitting he may have made mistakes along the way by actually suggesting he needs Vir and he needs help. This is a monumental turn for Season Four. What a crossroads for Londo. To see him reach out to someone and rightly to Vir [a potential emperor no less] is a big moment in the character's growth indeed. Vir, as always, is happy to oblige. He informs Vir of a pretty big plan in the form of the emperor's assassination.

The White Star has returned to B5 and Ivanova continues to come to terms with the loss of her Captain. Her feelings for him run deep and she is sincere in her loneliness despite her inner strength. If there’s one thing we learn from this episode in my opinion, it is that some are intended to lead and others to follow. Some are excellent implementers confident in their abilities to execute a commander's orders. I feel Ivanova is best as second-in-command. I can relate to her comfort in that and when it comes right down to it, is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so.

Down on Z’Ha’Dum Sheridan sits by a fire. It must be cool down there. He is visited by an alien life form to be named Lorien [only indicated as such by the opening credits at this point]. “Why am I alive?” inquires Sheridan. My only guess is because "you are the hand" my friend.

Season Four cast includes:

Bruce Boxleitner [Captain John Sheridan]
Claudia Christian [Commander Susan Ivanova]
Jerry Doyle [Security Chief Michael Garibaldi]
Mira Furlan [Delenn]
Richard Biggs [Dr. Stephen Franklin]
Bill Mumy [Lennier]
Jason Carter [Marcus Cole]
Stephen Furst [Vir Cotto]
Jeff Conaway [Zack Allan]
Patricia Tallman [Lyta Alexander]
Andreas Katsulas [G’Kar]
Peter Jurasik [Londo Mollari]

The Hour Of The Wolf: B


Anonymous said...

[I]"On Babylon 5, Vir informs Ivanova he has received information from sources close to Londo that Sheridan was seen diving into a great, dark chasm, two miles deep. That’s convenient, I’d love to know how they got that information from a planet crawling with space bugs." [/i]

Well, sources close to Londo, and a little bit later we find Morden on Centauri Prime, telling Londo that "my associates told me I'll be better soon."

I don't think Susan is destined to be the second-in-command, she's simply still too young at that point. According to timeline, she must be 30 in "the hour of the wolf" (Sheridan ought to be around 45).


Anonymous said...

Welcome to, in my humble opinion, the best season of television ever produced.

Of course, I haven't seen new BSG, which I hear is also kinda good. ;) But still!

Anonymous said...

Stephen Furst (Vir) suffers from type II Diabetes and lost 80lb between Season 3 and Season 4 of Babylon 5. The weight loss was never explained within the show, but it is pretty obvious.
That is why you find Vir "half the man he was". ;o)


SFF said...


I got ya on that point about the "sources". In fact, I actually meant to write something along those lines and somehow forgot to do so, but your input wasn't lost on me.
And great point about Ivanova. I really didn't cut her slack concerning her age. You're absolutely positively correct. She is quite young [and impressive] in comparison to the more seasoned Sheridan.

aris-tgd- high praise my friend. "best season of television" WOW. Well, I have no doubt it will be a quality affair. I watched Knight Rider the other night and well, I don'ty believe someone actually sat down to write characters.

Ly- interesting about Furst. I have to say, despite the fact he'd lost lots of weight, it wasn't something I needed to know an explanation for. I was perfectly fine with it. I sort of just chalked it up to a man who was looking to get a little healthier, but obviously he has his own personal reasons as well.

Unknown said...

I see that you're further along with S4 than we might have expected.. ;) So I guess you know how many of the mysteries play out already.

That being said, in retrospect, I think that the drama of our favourite B5 chicks giving up on Sheridan would have had a greater impact if they had moved the revelation of him being "alive" to episode 2; That is just a personal opinion, of course.

Other than that, yeah, Ivanova is definately working on coming into her own; But the loss of Sheridan and Garibaldi in the first episode was naturally a hard one for her. The losses of her parents ++, plus that xenophobic ex of hers in season 1, have previously underlined that she has a hard time letting go when people die; She is a very strong person, but she relies heavily on her friendships with her colleagues - when people disappear from her life suddenly, she has to deal. And every time such a wound is created, it goes a little deeper. Poor Susechka. ;)

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, it's really a horrible situation for Susan. It's not like she's supposed to command the station in a situation like when Sinclair left. There is the Shadow war, they have declared independence from their own government, and Clark is up against them. Not only Sheridan, but also Garibaldi is gone, Sinclair is gone, General Hague is dead. There is absolutely no-one from her own people to share the responsibility with, as far as I can see. Delenn is a outcast from her own people, Kosh is gone and Ulkesh - no-one knows what to make of him.


Unknown said...

M, agreed again. She is basically alone;

Her family is gone. The stuff with her mother is of course very central to her character - not just that she is a latent telepath, hating the psi corps for what they did to her, but the whole deal about losing her mother at that tender age in the first place. She obviously had a hard time dealing with her father's death as we saw, plus our dear fanatic will get some more background on family matters during "In the Beginning".

In her professional life, her two closest friends and colleagues with any command experience are suddenly gone, in addition as M points out, Sinclair is on his Jesus-mission and Hauge is dead.

In her personal life, she basically has noone. Sure, Marcus is making a serious effort, but based on the above, it is possible to see why she keeps him at a distance.

So all is not well in Susanland at the start of season 4. Healing a broken heart is hard enough the first time. When it is broken over and over.. I'm hoping our ranger friend can help. ;)

SFF said...

Hey Havremunken. ;)

It's hard work assembling these entries let me tell you. I'm catching a lot of heat. Spending too much time on the ol' blog. As I had mentioned some time ago way back in Season 2 [I think] in the comments I run staggered about 2-3 episodes. It kind of goes as follows: Viewing. Writing. Photo-taking. Editing Deleting Photos. Video Clipping. Assembling entry. Proofreading [I try not to give you guys garbage]. Ughh. So I'm working on editing Episode 2-4 for the next week or so. Not to mention I've been having a few technical problems with Blogger of late. That hasn't helped. So I have a few balls in the air to keep this thing going. I'm like a juggler. But giving you guys a quality entry versus my cursory attempts at such shows like Fringe is important given the love everyone here has for the show. Not to mention I too find this show far more hefty in scope and quality than just about anything else I've watched of late. It deserves attention.

Having said that, I don't think I know too many mysteries yet. I agree with you on the Ep 2 part for impact.

Great point about poor Susechka [from M too]. : ) She really is quite hardened due to all of the losses. She is a tough cookie indeed. I'm still thinking about her age. I was definitely not keeping that in perspective when I watched it.

SFF said...

By the way, did I mention this is fun. ;) Because it is.

I got to thinking about all of the strain and stress on her at the moment and you all make a great argument. She is under tremendous pressure with no one to turn to. No one can back her up. My life is a bit like that at the moment with work. I'll tell you, I wouldn't want to be in her shows. Good Lord!

Life is stressful at times.

SFF said...

I meant Susan's shoes, not shows, shoes. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. I hate when I do that.