Sunday, September 28, 2008

B5 S4 Ep2: Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?

Where's Garibaldi? There he is- on the floor there at the feet of Psi Corps. Uh-Oh.

The second installment for Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 2, Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?, opens with a great pan across B5. It is the year 2261.

Our story opens with a recap of events from the tongue of Dr. Franklin via his personal log. You my friend are no G’Kar in the narration department. Lennier reports there is a problem with Delenn to Dr. Franklin. It would appear she is suffering through a depression of sorts without Sheridan by her side, in much the same manner as Ivanova.

Meanwhile, deep at the core of Z’Ha’Dum, Sheridan awakens. Lorien tells him there is no way off the planet and from the sounds [and looks] of it Lorien came to terms with that fact long ago. He is clearly a castaway of sorts, perhaps a prisoner. Straczynski loves to utilize the fine theatrical work of Wayne Alexander [here as Lorien], previously Sebastian [a.k.a. Jack The Ripper] in Season Two, Episode 21, Comes The Inquisitor, as his vehicle for serving up moral and philosophical questions or puzzles. His words are thought provoking to say the least. “Which came first the word or the thought behind the word?” Right. I’m going with ‘thought’ as an answer. I find that question far less difficult to analyze than the classic conundrum, ‘which came first the chicken or the egg?’ I am stumped by that one every time. It pains me to decide. Just when I think it’s the chicken I correct myself with egg and then when I’m certain it’s the egg I’m thrown into self-doubt and go back to my original answer- the chicken. Without the chicken there is no egg, but then the chicken had to come from the egg, just as the egg had to come…. Arggghhh! It’s enough to make one go absolutely mad.

Meanwhile, G’Kar has taken to searching for Mr. Garibaldi in a disco on a white planet [I’m not sure if we’re ever told of the planet’s name, if so I missed it]. Citizen G’Kar approaches a man named Isaac for information. An abandoned Starfury was located drifting in Sector 87 and G’Kar is determined to find his old friend. He hand carries a part from the Starfury complete with serial number. You gotta love serial numbers. You can find anything with a serial number, but the funny thing is do we ever actually right down serial numbers to anything we own? No. Music equipment. Computers. We just don't bother. Anyhow, the part is a match to the craft piloted by “a friend of mine, name is Michael Garibaldi.” It’s been two weeks now since his station colleague went missing. G’Kar applies classic G’Kar pressure as only the narn can.

A brawl ensues filled with fisticuffs flying. G’Kar is backed by Marcus who has apparently followed him down to the planet to ensure his safety. The two are heavily outnumbered and quickly make haste in their escape from the melee. Interestingly the barkeep was keeping an eye on G’Kar. Marcus looks more like a ranger than ever and a bit of a dashing swashbuckler with his newly shorn, tidied-up locks. I had complained of his unruly hair in the past that left women swooning for him, but it would appear they have registered my complaints here. This is much better. Previously I could envision him rolling out from a smoke-filled van onto a fast food parking lot with Jeff Spicoli. No longer.

Marcus and G’Kar are wanted men and G’Kar cannot make heads or tails of it given the trivial nature of their altercation. Something doesn’t smell right.

Back in the bar, the bartender is perusing a photo lineup of an assorted cast of characters with soldiers that look like Beefeater rejects from outside the Tower Of London. Apparently there is a fairly handsome reward for G’Kar captured dead or alive.

On Babylon 5, Dr. Franklin sorts through Sheridan’s personal belongings and invites Delenn to join him. She watches a film clip from Sheridan’s personal log in which he privately declares love for Minbari Delenn despite having fought the Minbari in the past. He is surprised by the irony as he has fallen for one from the very race that was once his enemy.

Watching Marcus and G’Kar slum it on the white planet in search of Garibaldi is terrific. They look like unhappy campers literally out camping. Marcus and G’Kar do get hold of Isaac once more before G’Kar is inevitably captured [apparently worth more money alive] and Marcus heads back to Babylon 5. G’Kar puts up a good fight before being neutralized and subdued with a stun weapon. I liked that cool knuckle-wielding stun weapon. Sweet! I liked it better than the PPG. Still I do like the sound effect for the PPG when it is activated. It's just kind of puny looking.

Meanwhile, back on Babylon 5, the rangers meet via their fleet of White Stars. Delenn informs them of preparations to strike Z’Ha’Dum in 7 days, or said another way, Z Minus 7 Days. It looks like the plan is to enact offense before The Shadows regroup and they're forced on defense.

Back on Centauri Prime, Londo is awakened from his slumber to report to the emperor immediately where he is given a gift. We all saw it coming. Enter G’Kar in shackles. G’Kar is pinned to a harness and wood and despite Straczynski's allignment to atheism there did seem like an allusion to the crucifixion sans nails of Jesus Christ. The emperor directs a question to G’Kar, “do you have anything to say?” The last and sole remaining free member of narn’s ruling body, known as the Kha’Ri [I had to look that one up for spelling], has now been captured. G’Kar struggles, but loyally expresses his singular goal and mission, “do you by any chance happen to know where Mr. Garibaldi might be?” I couldn’t help but imagine those words resonating within Londo. Not only did he seem to be visibly shaken by G’Kar’s fate before him, but also the fact G’Kar steadfastly expressed concern for someone other than himself must have moved Londo. It was a moving tribute to G'Kar's heart. Londo seemed deeply concerned regarding G'Kar's fate. There's so much going on in Londo's face. It's hard to tell. Peter Jrasik is a tremendous actor.

Londo is transitioning into something greater before our very eyes. Is the future changing before us since Sheridan defied all premonitions by setting foot on Z’Ha’Dum? Londo is clearly moving to right some monumental wrongs here. He is making amends through his actions toward Morden and through his expressions of worry. You can see the gears spinning in his head plotting and scheming to make things right. With this we see the future changing.

We cut to a room where Garibaldi is imprisoned with a single chair. A male voice questions Garibaldi and he resists lashing out violently. Smoke fills the room and a gas-masked agent enters the room. It appears to be Psi Corps.

Londo visits G’Kar in what may be one of the most powerful, beautifully performed sequences of the series. This ranks up there with my previous favorite, the Sheridan and Kosh sequence from Season Three, Episode 15, Interludes & Examinations. Remember, I also love just about any of the Londo-G’Kar exchanges from the past three seasons. There are so moments that come to mind [it's getting hard to rolodex them all in my mind] and of course the elevator sequence between G’Kar and Vir from Season Two, Episode 21 [again], Comes The Inquisitor, is one of those sterling moments that tug at the old heart strings. This is simply incredible work that must be added to the long pantheon of great moments from Babylon 5.

Is the hair standing on your back? Those are two truly stunning performers at the top of their game. They know how to deliver dialogue and even when they are saying so little they say so much. WOW! It’s a truly symbolic moment and a lovely one at that when the light shines into the cell upon G’Kar’s face as he lays on the floor following his negotiation with Londo to free his enslaved people. There is such power throughout that scene.

This image continues projecting from Sheridan's mind. It's a headscratcher.
Elsewhere, on Z’Ha’Dum, we discover Lorien is THEEE First One! So, was he captured and held imprisoned there by The Shadows all this time? Do they know he is still there? He clearly saved Sheridan. “Did you know you have a Vorlon inside of you? Well, a piece of one.” Of course we always had a sense this was the case. This wasn’t earth-shattering news, but it does confirm our suspicions. The Vorlons are an intriguing race. They almost seem parasitic in nature. They seemingly need humans to fuel their existence, yet it would seem humans are essentially being used, especially based upon the actions of New Kosh toward Lyta. Anyway, Lorien indicates both Sheridan and Kosh are alike in their fear of letting go of life. Yeah, I could see where that might be a hard thing to do. As someone who enjoys air I can relate to that. He tells Sheridan he is caught in between, “not embracing life, your fleeing death,” unable to move forward. Could this be the reference to the dream of Garibaldi, “the man in between is searching for you.” Could it be a reference to Kosh or to Lorien? Hmmm. Lorien urges Sheridan that he must let go and surrender to death. Okay. Lorien- could you be any more inspirational? I’d be like, ‘why would I want to listen to you since you haven’t exactly gotten yourself out of this dungeon in what seems like years.’ He asks Sheridan if he has anything worth living for… oh, just a little woman named Delenn.

There are many interesting changes and new currents at play already within Season Four.
Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?: B+

[and since this is partly G'Kar's search, you can actually here these very words spoken from his mouth as only he can say it.]


Unknown said...

About some of the prophesies..

"You are the hand" was already decoded by Delenn - "You have two hands, do you not? Each equal, yet opposite?" (or something like that, haven't seen it in years) - Sheridan was the hand, Anna was the other hand.

The man in the middle is looking for you - remember back to Z'ha'dum, Justin referred to himself as sort of a middle-man.. Eh? :)

And yeah, you're in the middle of some of the best Londo/G'Kar stuff right now. I loved them to death in S1-3, but in S4 and S5 they really get to shine! :)

SFF said...

Yeah, the dynamic is really terrific between G'Kar and Londo. Really loving it. This episode brings out some of their best.

Interesting about the man in the middle...that makes sense.

Oh and could the being of light holding up Sheridan in that image be Kosh?

Cheers as always.

Anonymous said...

SciFi-Fanatic wrote:
Okay. Lorien- could you be any more inspirational? I’d be like, ‘why would I want to listen to you since you haven’t exactly gotten yourself out of this dungeon in what seems like years.’
Who said, Lorien is a prisoner there?
Why do you believe, he could not get himself out of this dungeon? ;o)

Never forget, things are rarely what they seem to be...


SFF said...

Ahhh Ly always there to keep me in check.

Unknown said...

It could also be that the light thingy holding Sheridan is what is really going on... and everything going on in the cave is some sort of metaphorical, philosophical dream where the goal is to allow Sheridan to completely let go of his old life.. in preparation for something. :)

In S2E22 we saw Kosh as he wanted us to see him. As you now know, the true form of the Vorlons is a bit different. Lorien, having lived since the dawn of time, has probably evolved into his very own energy-form himself.. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the scene pretty much implies that the energy being is the true appearance of Lorien.

And no, the Vorlons don't "need" the humans, at least not in parasitic sense. They've been around for much longer than our own species.


Unknown said...

Indeedio - the vorlons don't need us as such; They can break off pieces of their conscience (sp?) and leave them inside other races, however.

Also, they created telepaths in a number of races, so maybe they need us for that. ;)

SFF said...

Splendid points H & M.

I'm not just saying this, but I did have a semi-revelation this morning thinking about that energy as being something to the effect of Lorien after mistakenly thinking it was Kosh. So yes, well said H! That whole situation down on Z'Ha'Dum is some sort of spiritual crossing or something. Anyway it is deeper than it appears in much the same way Ly said the same earlier. Things aren't always as they seem. But I agree with M & H that Lorien may have evolved and is presenting himself as such. He is certainly powerful enough to still remain alive so there's no reason to believe he couldn't do some other pretty amazing things to mask his true appearance.

And I suppose the Vorlons don't need us. That may be a poor word choice. Perhaps it is more like they enjoy using us. That's better.

We're like Star Wars figures for the Vorlons.

Unknown said...

Good going on the revelation front! :)

Also notice that the energy thingie kept asking these questions. We already know the Vorlon question (ironically posed by Lorien in Jack the Ripper form), "Who are you?", and how that pretty much describes their whole philosophy.

And then there was that pesky Morden walking around the station in the middle of season one - "What do you want?" was his question, also very compatible with the Shadow philosophy as set forth at Z'ha'dum.

Plus there are a few others it keeps asking.. It is very much a matter of philosophical perspective, isn't it...? Who is to say what is really right?

SFF said...

Well, exactly that's just it. It's a struggle. I kept thinking since Z'Ha'Dum no matter what I still believe The Shadows to be evil incarnate. I'm willing to cut some slack to The Vorlons. But the more this thing goes, the more I'm beginning to dislike both of them.

Unknown said...

Of course, it is easy to think of the Shadows as evil; From their perspective, it is pretty much applied darwinism. They start fights and love it when conflict brings the best to the front and leave the weaker races to the obscurity of history.

However, to look at it from another perspective, darwinism does not describe conscious action; It describes the natural order of things, the way things HAPPEN; Social darwinism or what the nazis did is something completely different, where you're forcing the issue, you're actually MAKING the strongest fight the weakest (and not by fair rules, either), so from "our" perspective it isn't hard to justify the "Evil" label.

Just one of many reasons to love this show.. the primary conflict is grounded in *philosophy*, not some one-dimensional villain that wants to do evil for the sake of evil.

SFF said...

Your last line took the words right out of my mouth. It is impressive and certainly proof of the kind of thought that went into this epic. I don't think I've seen alien races or villians with such three-dimensional characterization. It certainly stands to reason that if an advanced race existed out there they could indeed look hideous but have much grander schemes in mind. Great stuff.