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Old July 30 2012, 04:53 PM   #19
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
The Parliament of Dreams
I didn't include this episode in my list of S1 'essentials', but, after watching it in its entirety, I realized that I should have, primarily because of two things: 1) the conversation between Delenn and Lennier; and 2) it marks the first appearance of Catherine Sakai.
This is most definitely an essential episode and a damned good one ("Midnight on the Firing Line" is a solid episode, but "The Parliament of Dreams" might be the first great Babylon 5 episode).

Even were it not an 'essential', though, the episode would still be worth watching because it gives us some major insight into G'Kar's character as well as into the mindset of the Narn Regime as a whole, since three of the major characters featured in it are of that race.
This insight, I think, allows us to see the motivation that lead to G'Kar becoming Londo's bodyguard in Season 5.

Mind War
Every once in a while, a series will introduce a character who sticks in your consciousness and won't go away, even if they're not a particularly pleasant individual. Alfred Bester - as brought to delicious life by Walter Koenig - is one such character, and is one of the reasons that Mind War is such a fantastic episode. Koenig's performance makes you want to both hate Bester and secretly root for him at the same time, and it's very easy to see why JMS and Co. continually brought him back from time to time.
Bester really symbolizes a major theme of Babylon 5, which is how doing what you think is right can end up being very costly. Bester really fits as a great villain because he never views himself as such. He truly thinks everything he does is for some greater good and can justify any heinous act he does.

Another reason that Mind War is so fantastic is because of its focus on Talia Winters. Rewatching this episode made me realize that, of the two main telepath characters introduced over the course of the series, she is by far my favorite. It is a bit of a shame that the plot thread introduced in the episode concerning her telekenetic abilities was dropped when Andrea Thompson left the series, but that's life sometimes.
Interesting, because overall, (even considering her choice in early Season 5 to support Byron), I prefer Lyta.

The episode's 'B' plot involving Catherine Sakai is also really great, and gives us a lot of insight into G'Kar's character, showing that there's much more to him than meets the eye.
I love the "B" plot so much. After episodes showing G'Kar to be violent, greedy (especially the scene between him and Delenn in "The Gathering"), and swarmy, we get our first glimpse of a more spiritual and cooperative G'Kar. What he does in this episode may be the first real action we see that doesn't appear to be a part of a grander plan to further his cause. It also sets him up as more aware of what's going on in the greater universe than pretty much anyone else (though we later find out that Kosh and Delenn know more, they were just hiding what they knew).

I can't quite see the Centauri coming to Catherine's aid, for some reason. And I can see both Kosh and Delenn letting Catherine die to continue hiding their true knowledge. Kosh couldn't act to save her because of the message it would send to the Walkers of Sigma-957 of a Vorlon getting involved in the plight of a single human. Delenn, also would not want to reveal her hand, either.

The War Prayer
I said that I'd talk about why I consider this episode to be one of the S1 'essentials', and so I will. On the surface, this episode seems to be a bit of a standalone episode, but when you look at it in the long run, it does a number of things that ultimately prove to be rather crucial not only to the rest of S1, but also to the rest of the series. The first thing it does is establish Home Guard and the growing anti-alien sentiment on Earth (which ties in rather well with the events of the next episode [more on that in a bit]; the second thing it does is establish Londo's more sentimental side, which is something that comes back into play much later on. The episode also allows Vir to really shine for the first time by giving him a chance to stand up to Londo and speak his mind.
I think it also sets up Londo. "My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance" really sums him up, nicely, though the events in "Born to the Purple," show that every once in a while, his shoes loosen and he remembers a few steps.

I hadn't thought about the similarities between Soul Hunter and Believers before, but, now that you've pointed things out, I can definitely see the correlation. I also think there's a neat parallel to be drawn between Soul Hunter's storyline and the religious beliefs portions of The Parliament of Dreams.
These episodes really sum up nicely the Minbari beliefs and lead into the reveal in the beginning of season 2 about how Minbari souls seem to diminish each generation and how the lost souls may be going to the humans.

BTW, my memory is fuzzy on what exactly it is that BttP introduces and that is followed up on later, so could you give me a refresher? (don't worry about spoilers)
That Adira plans to come back, which leads to Morden poisoning her, which leads to Mollari going back to Morden after breaking things off in the beginning of season 3. This leads to Lord Refa's death in a plot where we see Londo and G'Kar working together, which, of course leads to G'Kar becoming his bodyguard in season 5. It also leads to the revelation that it was Morden and not Refa who killed Adira, which leads to Londo's decision to kill Morden (allowing Vir's wish to be fulfilled). That, of course, leads, in part, to Centauri Prime being spared destruction at the hands of the Vorlons, but also seals its fate as the Drakh come to exact revenge.
"When I reach for the edge of the universe, I do it knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery, there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves." --Neil deGrasse Tyson
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