Hi, all. I just picked up the first season of Babylon 5 on DVD and am therefore taking the opportunity to re-watch the series (I have to wait til Tuesday to pick up Seasons 2 through 5, though). I wanted a place where I could discuss the series as I commence my rewatch of it, and am starting this thread as a result. I also invite others to comment on and discuss the series along with me. Now, without further ado, here are my thoughts on each of the first four episodes of Babylon 5 Season 1.
Midnight on the Firing Line
Every other time I've attempted to rewatch the series (mainly through online sources), I've started with the original pilot, The Gathering, but I've come to the realization/conclusion that it really isn't needed, at least not so far as S1 and its story arc are concerned.
In fact, I'd make the argument that Midnight on the Firing Line is actually a much better way to have introduced the series and its world to audiences than The Gathering, not just in terms of its plot - which, while fairly simple in comparison to the plot of The Gathering - is also paced much better than The Gathering.
I'd also argue that MotFL handles several of the series' main characters a whole lot better than The Gathering does.
In doing a search to see if there was an existing Babylon 5 discussion thread I could resurrect rather than starting one of my own, I came across a link to a spoiler-free, wikipedia-style listing of those Babylon 5 episodes - by season - which are the most 'essential', as well as an accompanying article discussing things in all of their spoiler-filled detail. While I agree with many, if not all, of the episodes talked about in the article, there is one episode that was excluded from the S1 'essentials' list that I think ought to have been there, and that episode is Soul Hunter.
My reasons for marking Soul Hunter as an 'essential' episode are as follows:
1) It introduces the Minbari belief in the reincarnation of souls
2) It reveals to the audience - and Commander Sinclair - that Delenn bears the title of 'Satai' in addition to the title of Ambassador
3) It introduces us to the idea that souls are, for lack of a better description, 'living things' in a sense
Born to the Purple
Born to the Purple is hands-down my favorite individual episode of Season 1, and one of my favorite episodes of B5 as a whole. Although it isn't what I would consider to be one of the 'essential' episodes of S1, it's nevertheless a 'damn good tale' that gives us a much deeper look into the life of Londo Mollari than either the original pilot - The Gathering - or Midnight on the Firing Line did.
Several years ago, I picked up a 'behind-the-scenes' episode guide book for Season 1, and it says the following about Infection:
The episode doesn't quite do justice to the idea lying at its heart. Sinclair's confrontation with the Nelson Machine spells out the moral of the story and is, perhaps, a bit too-heavy handed.
"I tell you there was a lot of good writing in that, but the trouble is it doesn't really play as well as it might", says Michael O'Haire (Sinclair). "On the page, the writing is good, but in reality, with my experiences with physical danger, when you're involved chasing a madman who's trying to kill everybody, you don't have long epistemological discussions with him where you hold forth and philosophically try to ponder the error of his way. You just try to catch him."
After having rewatched the episode, though, I have to say that I have to disagree with the above sentiments. While it's not among the best episodes of the season, it's certainly not among the worst either, and actually, regardless of how logical Sinclair's confrontation with the Nelson Machine is, works rather well in helping to establish the setting and characters of the series (particularly Franklin and Sinclair) in ways that MotFL, SH, and BttP don't.
I'll be back later with an update covering episodes 5 through 8, but in the meantime, please join me in discussing the first four episodes.