I'm back with thoughts on episodes 13 through 17. I'm not feeling well right now, though, so this post may be more scattered than the others.
Signs and Portents
I watched this episode with the accompanying available commentary from JMS, and, while he doesn't offer too many insights into the episode itself, he does mention something that I hadn't considered with regards to Morden's recurring question to each of the ambassadors; the question itself gives as much insight into each of the characters as their answers to it do, and it's fairly significant that, of each of the characters, Londo is the one who answers it satisfactorily enough to gain the favor of Morden's benefactors. Londo's actions in this episode, both in answering Morden's question as well as in what he does in terms of helping to acquire the Eye, really dovetail incredibly well with the way he's portrayed in episodes like BttP and TWP, although his actions here are driven more overtly by ambition than his actions in either of those other two episodes.
I had a hard time deciding if TKO deserved to be considered an 'essential' episode or not, but watching it did make me realize that I can't really figure out why it seems to get the flack that it does. It reminded me very much of the nuBSG episode Unfinished Business, although it's less ambitious in its conceptual intent than that episode. I did like the way it focused on Ivanova finall letting herself forgive her father and grieve for him, which felt to me very much like a reflection of Unfinished Business' subplot involving Kara and Lee.
Grail isn't an 'essential' episode for the season, but it nevertheless contributes in some fairly substantial ways to the overall story arc of the season, particularly in terms of the way that it portrays Delenn's character; the insight she offers in terms of Aldous Gajic's quest and beliefs could be equally applied to Sinclair, and fit rather well in terms of what happens in Babylon Squared as it concerns him (Sinclair). The episode's 'B' plot involving the Nakaleen Feeder is something that hadn't really made a whole lot of sense to me previously, but that became a lot clearer this time around, especially with regards to how it fed (no pun intended) into the insight we get into Kosh's character (I love the fact that he's glad the mystery surrounding him makes people nervous).
It is fairly inevitable that, in any ongoing series, there will be at least one episode that serves as a veritable 'clip show', and Eyes more than fits the bill as being such for S1. The interesting thing about the episode, though, is that it doesn't function like a typical 'clip show' in that there aren't any actual physical 'clips' used to recap what's happened thus far; it's all done through the dialogue and the interactions between various characters, which makes it fairly unique in terms of its function as a 'clip show'. The insight it offers into the Psi Corps and Susan Ivanova's character also makes it an extremely good episode, as well as a very neat counterpart, thematically, to Legacies.
As I've previously mentioned, I absolutely love Talia Winters' character, and, after her being absent from the show since Deathwalker, it was great to see her return, and return in a very prominent role. Her interactions with both Ivanova and Alisa are great, and there's even a point in the episode where said interactions start to hint at the eventual romantic relationship that develops between her and Ivanova. Alisa's storyline also dovetails extremely nicely with the plot involving Delenn, Neroon, and the 'honor guard' ceremony for Bramner, not only because of how the two plots eventually intertwine, but also because they both reflect a similar theme. Delenn's actions in the episode also dovetail rather neatly with what happens a few episodes down the line in Chrysalis (more on that later).
A Voice in the Wilderness, Parts 1 and 2
In the interest of saving time, I'm combining these two episodes into a single whole and will be commenting on them as such.
AVitW is, I believe, the first multi-part episode of Season 1 (if you don't count The Gathering), and, as such, it has a lot to do in terms of justifying the decision to split it in half. Thankfully, it more than adequately does so, and, in the process, manages to give us a LOT of insight into the characters of Sinclair, Delenn, and Londo. There's a lot of parallels that one can draw between what Londo says in TWP and the actions he takes here, with said actions being an example of him 'loosening his shoes and remembering how to dance'. Delenn's comments about owing Londo a favor are also enigmatic enough to be intriguing, but also hint somewhat at the actions she'll take in Chrysalis (and the actions she takes in Babylon Squared).
I have to start out these comments by admitting that the events of this episode play out completely differently than how I remembered them and how I had been planning on retelling them in my reboot fanfiction project. Having said that, the episode is extremely well-written and paced, with just enough mystery and humor scattered throughout to keep you guessing as to what's going to happen next. The reveal of an older Sinclair being 'The One' doesn't quite have as much narrative OOMPH as it might've had it not come completely out of nowhere and been foreshadowed a bit (albeit subtly), but it nonetheless works and makes for a nice counterpoint to the final scene of the younger Sinclair and Garibaldi in the shuttle heading back to B5.
I'll be back with reviews of/thoughts on episodes 21 and 22, but, in the meantime, I'd like to leave off by asking a question about something that I started thinking about after viewing Eyes and Legacies. In Eyes, there's a point at which Harriman Grey probes Susan's mind and makes mention of Talia Winters, but, within the context of the story of Eyes itself, said mention seems a bit out of place. However, it ceases to be out of place if you consider the possibility of swapping the 'chronological' order of Eyes and Legacies, with Legacies coming first and Eyes second. Does anyone know if these two particular episodes were meant to be swapped in terms of their chronology?