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Old August 7 2012, 10:10 AM   #48
DigificWriter
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Location: West Haven, UT, USA
Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Even though I said I was only going to review through episode 19, I changed my mind and decided to review episode 20 as well.

Interludes and Examinations
Just when it seems as if JMS can't possibly shake things up any further, he turns around and shakes things up further. As much as the Messages from Earth arc (MfE, PoNR, SD, and CoLaD) marked a turning point for both the season and series, so too does Interludes and Examinations, and the changes it brings are just as monumental. Not only does Kosh willingly condemn himself to death to give Sheridan what he needs, Franklin's stim addiction story also comes to a head, launching him on a new journey.

JMS once again proves his prowess as a writer by also bringing things to a head as it concerns Londo and Refa, setting the stage for what is ultimately one of the smoothest, if not entirely moral, schemes ever to appear in fiction (and which occurs in episode 20), one which, if you think about it, dovetails incredibly well with something that is shown in episode 17 but that was mentioned all the way back in the very first episode of the series, MotFL.

War without End, Parts 1 and 2
I'm going to talk about both of these episodes as a single whole for the sake of simplicity.

It is the mark of a truly gifted writer to be able to take a story that you think you already know and completely redefine it while at the same time ostensibly continuing it, and that is exactly what JMS does with the two-part War without End.

Over the course of two incredible hours, he not only completely redefines what we thought we knew about the mystery and circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Babylon 4, but also completely redefines not only the nature of an event first described, as I mentioned above, in MotFL, but also the character of Londo Mollari and his relationship with G'Kar. He also plays completely with audience expectations by finally giving us the first kiss between Sheridan and Delenn, but under circumstances and in a context that is completely unexpected.

He also brilliantly sets the table for future storylines by teasing us with a few details of what is yet to come but without telling us quite how what is yet to happen will happen.

Walkabout
Walkabout is another one of those episodes that is both simultaneously arc-centric and standalone. It is arc-centric in that it introduces us to Kosh's replacement, Ulkesh, and furthers the plot thread introduced in Ship of Tears, and standalone in terms of its 'b' plot involving Franklin.

Cailyn James is an interesting one-off guest character, and her interaction with Franklin offers an opportunity to delve into his character in new ways, while the plot involving Sheridan, Lyta, G'Kar, and the Minbari telepaths helps provide crucial advancement of the season's overall storyline while also advancing the development of character for all three.

Grey 17 is Missing
Like Walkabout, Grey 17 is Missing is an episode that is simultaneously standalone and arc-centric, and brings just as much to the table in terms of story advancement and character development.

The episode's 'a' plot not only resolves a lingering plot thread from War without End, it also provides new character development for Delenn, Marcus, Lennier, and a returning Neroon. Neroon and Lennier in particular stand out because their actions and confessions in this ep shine bold new light on their characters.

I have to confess that I do not recall having previously been aware of the dissolution of the Grey Council and wads thus caught off guard by said mention in this episode, but having it no longer exist creates the perfect opportunity and excuse to give Delenn a new set of responsibilities by having her succeed Sinclair as the head of the Rangers, and also provides an opportunity for Marcus to once again prove his nobility and all-around awesomeness. I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but Marcus happens to be my second favorite B5 character behind Londo, and this ep once again lets him shine. Jason Carter's delivery of the character's parting shot at Neroon is pure gold, and perfectly encapsulates who Marcus is.

And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
Londo Mollari is one smooth criminal. His actions in this episode represent, as I said earlier, one of the smoothest schemes I think I have ever seen in all of fiction, bringing his rivalry with Lord Refa to glorious conclusion and, I believe, sowing the seeds for the circumstances of Londo's own death as seen in War without End and first alluded to, as previously mentioned, in MotFL.

The rest of the episode also provides an opportunity to revisit both the character of Brother Theo and touch on and remind the audience of the civil unrest and chaos back on Earth, but also furthers the growing romance between Sheridan and Delenn and sets the stage for one of the most satisfying yet completely untelegraphed moments of the series in Delenn's first proper liplock on Sheridan, which serves as and is a great counterpoint to their kiss in WwE.

***

As I close this post, I figured I ought to update my 'essentials' list:
Matters of Honor
Voices of Authority
Dust to Dust
Exogenesis
Messages from Earth
Point of No Return
Severed Dreams
Ceremonies of Light and Dark
A Late Delivery from Avalon
Ship of Tears (which I mistakenly forgot to include before)
Interludes and Examinations
War without End, Part One
War without End, Part Two
Walkabout
Grey 17 is Missing
And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
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Last edited by DigificWriter; August 7 2012 at 10:56 PM.
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