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Old August 13 2012, 06:41 AM   #80
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Location: West Haven, UT, USA
Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I'm back. I once again apologize for the double-post, but I need to get my thoughts on the next batch of eps written down before I forget what I wanted to say about them.

Learning Curve
I said this before, but I really like Lochley as a character. She's different enough from any of the other EF officers we've gotten previously that she's able to bring a new perspective to things, and the fact that she didn't support the rebellion against Clark gives her some added levels of character that make for an interesting counterpoint to what we've seen in the past. Her prickly relationship with Garibaldi is very well played by both Jerry Doyle and Tracy Scoggins, and you can just feel the tension between the two of them permeating every single scene they're in together.

I have to admit that the 'moradum' turned out to be something completely other than what I thought it was going to be, and I really liked the fact that JMS played against expectation by making it what it was. Turval, Durhan, Rastenn, and Tannier are really interesting characters who I wouldn't mind seeing more of.

The ending with Sheridan telling Delenn about his previous marriage to Lochley really works well, primarily because of the fact that you don't actually find out what he told her until the following episode, and really drives home the fact that these two have a real relationship that isn't going to run smoothly all the time.

Strange Relations
I think this might be my favorite episode of the season thus far because it really starts to set up the building blocks for one of the season's two points of conflict: Byron's group going from being a benign cult to a threat to the station, setting up the events of the next episode really well. It also once again furthers the evolving relationship between Londo and G'Kar, once again moving these two further down the road towards the scene we saw in War without End concerning the end of Londo's life.

G'Kar's reaction to Delenn's proposal that he take up the duties of being Londo's bodyguard was priceless, and, as I noted above, really helps to evolve the relationship between him and Londo. Londo's reaction was more subdued than I was expecting, yet didn't feel out-of-character in the least.

Another reason I liked this episode as much as I did is because it really gives Captain Lochley an opportunity to assert herself in her role as station commander. The way she was able to maneuver things so that she wasn't going against Sheridan's promise of sanctuary to Byron and his group yet didn't have to make herself an enemy of Bester was brilliantly played and really helped sell the idea that she really was the best choice to take over command of B5 and that Sheridan knew exactly what he was doing when he hand-picked her.

I also liked the scene between her and Garibaldi where she explains exactly why Sheridan picked her; although it resolved the immediate tension between them, you also get the feeling that things aren't entirely resolved and that there are going to be other confrontations between them. The ending of the episode where she realizes that she forgot to tell security to let Garibaldi go was also great.

Secrets of the Soul
This episode could very well be considered a direct sequel to/continuation of last week's episode - in terms of the Byron/telepath story - and an indirect sequel of sorts to Believers and Confessions and Lamentations.

Robin Atkin Downes, the actor they hired to play Byron, really reminds me a lot of James Callis. I see a lot of similarities between the characters of Byron and Gaius Baltar, particularly the Baltar of BSG Season 4, and this episode really drives those similarities home. This episode also really marks the 'turning point' for the Byron/telepath storyline, both as a whole and in terms of Lyta's involvement in that storyline.

Patricia Tallman does an excellent job in this episode of making Lyta's actions both believable and understandable, and you can really see her start to let herself go and finally start to believe that she's finally found a place and a direction after spending so much of her time on the station thus far being somewhat directionless and basically being tossed around by the waves of fate.

Like I said above, this episode struck me very much as being an indirect sequel of sorts to Believers and Confessions and Lamentations. As in both of those episodes, Dr. Franklin is faced with a 'morality crisis' and has to figure out what to do about it, which helps strengthen his character and gives him something to do that is more in keeping with the character as he'd been established in Seasons 1, 2, and 3.

Day of the Dead
Even though this episode wasn't written by JMS, it still manages to really take the things that he's so incredibly good at - using the characters to advance the story he's telling and make what seems like a standalone episode have incredible significance - and not only do the same thing, but do it just as well, if not better.

I love the conceit behind the episode's driving arc of certain characters being visited by the dead; it's a very Dickensian story point and also works incredibly well as a vehicle for exploring certain characters and giving us insights into them that we might've not gotten any other way. This is especially true with regards to Captain Lochley, as the things she talked about with her dead friend Zoe really made me want to know more about her background and who she was before she met Sheridan.

The only thing that puzzled me about the episode was Lennier being visited by Morden; it seemed rather random and arbitrary given that the two of them had little to no interaction with one another.

I also liked Penn and Teller's appearance and role in the episode as Rebo and Zooty; they reminded me a lot of Patton Oswalt's character from Caprica, Baxter Sarno, especially when they're talking to Delenn and Sheridan about how they feel that their comedy doesn't serve any real purpose.

There are also a lot of similarities and parallels between this episode and the Season 7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Conversations with Dead People, to the point that I'd say that B5 actually got there first and did as good of a job, if not better, in using the conceit of that episode to advance storylines and expand on characters.

The ending scene with Lochley and Sheridan once the 'Day of the Dead' is over is something I really wasn't expecting, but took the episode from great to awesome in one fell swoop. The look on Sheridan's face in that scene was priceless, and Bruce played things perfectly.


This will probably put me in the minority, but I really think Season 5, thus far anyway, is the best season of the series; it's not really what you'd expect given the way Season 4 ends, but it still works anyway and actually manages to keep you guessing as to what's going to happen next. It definitely could've fallen apart in the hands of somebody who was a lesser storyteller, but JMS manages to make it all work and make it work well.
Starbuck: We're all friendlies. So, let's just... be friendly.
"There is no 'supposed to be.' It's an adaptation, a word that literally means change. Why bother making a new version if it doesn't offer a fresh approach?" - Christopher L. Bennett
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