^ Thanks, Candlelight.
I'm back with four of my last six reviews.
Movements of Fire and Shadow
There is a lot of stuff that this episode has to cover because, for all intents and purposes, it is the pentultimate episode of the second half of the season (with the last four episodes of the season being the 'epilogue to the epilogue' that is S5), but JMS once again manages to juggle all of the balls he's got up in the air - while throwing a few new ones into play as well - with aplomb, once again demonstrating his skills as a writer.
There are two words that I think describe the events of this episode extremely well: escalation and desperation. Lochley's opening log narration really helps sell the idea that as things escalate, people are becoming more desperate, and we see that desperation in full force with Vir reaching out to Franklin and Lyta and Londo needing to get out of his and G'Kar's cell in order to try and get to the bottom of what is happening and why.
Something that JMS has proven he's incredibly good at is making an audience think one thing and then doing something completely different than what might be expected, and he really did this with regards to Lyta's character; it seemed very much as if there wasn't anything else to be done with her story after she made her deal with G'Kar, and JMS brings her back into things by demonstrating that she's more powerful than we thought she was. It's a nice 'character evolution' moment, and leads into the events of Objects in Motion (episode 19) very well.
BTW, I loved that G'Kar's solution to getting Londo out of the cell without going back on his word was to deliberately make himself vomit.
The ending of the episode with the Drazi and Narn ships bombing the heck out of Centauri Prime was pretty surreal, and the perfect way to cap the episode and lead into the next one.
The Fall of Centauri Prime
I said back during my S1 reviews that Born to the Purple was my favorite episode of S1 and one of my favorite B5 episodes in general, but I finally found an episode that surpasses it.
The Fall of Centauri Prime is, quite simply, a masterpiece of storytelling and acting from every single person involved, but particularly Peter Jurasik. As the 'true' finale of Season 5 - at least from a storyline standpoint - the episode does everything that it needs to to wrap up the Centauri arc for the season, but also serves as a springboard to and for the events of the final four episodes, all of which, as I noted above, are basically the 'epilogue to the epilogue' for the season and series.
If, for some reason, you were only able to watch a single episode for each of the main characters of the series, this would be the episode you'd want to watch for the character of Londo. Everything about who he is and the journey he's gone on are summed up by this single episode, from his start as a 'washed up old republican dreaming of better days' to the evolution of his relationship with G'Kar, and Peter Jurasik absolutely knocks things out of the park. The sense of tragedy his performance evokes as Londo slowly pushes everyone who is important in his life away and willingly chooses to make a 'deal with the devil' in accepting a Keeper is incredibly powerful and poignant, and makes for riveting storytelling.
It's become sort of a cliche for a character who holds unrequited love for another character confessing that love because he or she thinks he/she and the character he/she loves are about to die, but what makes this particular instance with Lennier and Delenn work as well as it does is Delenn's reaction. Much was made of this idea that Minbari don't usually lie, but Delenn not only proves that adage wrong, she does so without even missing a beat. You get the sense from Lennier that he knows she's lying, but is so mortified by his 'moment of weakness' that he's willing to let her lie to him just to avoid having to deal with the situation, which is brilliant.
The Wheel of Fire
As the start of the 'epilogue to the epilogue', this episode could've fallen flat on any number of levels in less deft hands, but it not only succeeds, it succeeds with flying colors.
I haven't really mentioned JMS' theatrical background thus far in my reviews, but am doing so now, primarily because, of all of the episodes in the series, this is the one where that background and what it taught JMS about storytelling comes to the fore in full force. This episode is, effectively, a single-act play focusing on the characters of Garibaldi, Lyta, and G'Kar, and everything about it reflects 'theatrical structure'.
I've said before that I love Captain Lochley, and this episode provides yet another example of why. In one fell swoop, we're given an explanation for the stuff that was hinted at and set up in Day of the Dead re: her background AND an explanation for her antagonism with Garibaldi at the beginning of the season. The fact that the two characters are basically 'mirror images' in terms of their problems is great, and Tracy Scoggins really nails the pathos of the scene where she confesses all of this to Garibaldi in the transport tube.
Before I move on to talking about G'Kar, Garibaldi, and Lyta, I wanted to say that I got a major kick out of the beginning of the episode where Lochley basically sets G'Kar up for an ambush by the numerous pilgrims who came to B5 to deify him.
I really like the relationship between Lise and Garibaldi; it feels real and organic, and the way Lochley got Lise to come to the station was brilliant. Garibaldi's conversation with Lyta (I'll get to her in a second) let us see a bit of the 'old' Garibaldi start to re-emerge, which was great. I also liked the scene where we find out exactly what Lyta's counter-proposal was. It is just borderline nefarious enough to be believable, but not so nefarious that it turns Garibaldi into a bad guy.
Talia is still my favorite telepath character from the series, but Lyta is a very close second. I mentioned in the last review that it really seemed as if Lyta's story was over, only for JMS to not only bring her back into the fore, but to twist what we thought we knew into something completely different, which he does in this episode. I loved the reveal that she had been funneling the money G'Kar had agreed to give her to fund a telepath resistance momement against the Psi Corps, and I also loved the way she used her abilities to create a standoff situation with Lochley and Zack. The way Sheridan came in at the last second to defuse the situation was also great; if it were anyone else, I don't think Lyta would've backed down.
Another highlight of the episode for me was the moment where Franklin reveals that Delenn is pregnant. Sheridan's look is priceless. I do wish we would've seen the scene where Delenn finds out, but the ending conversation between them in her quarters does make up for things somewhat. Her teasing Sheridan about staring at her was great, and really led well into the final shot of Londo just sitting on his throne, sad and alone.
Objects in Motion
This episode struck me as being very much the 'bookend' to No Compromises, in that there are a lot of similarities between both episodes, not just in terms of the fact that both deal with assassination attempts, but also because of the characterization moments present in both episodes.
I really liked seeing Number One again, and liked that we got to find out her real name. I love the chemistry between Marjorie Monaghan and Richard Biggs, which made it nice to see them start to rekindle their relationship from the time that Franklin was on Mars.
There are a lot more similarities between G'Kar and Lyta than just what is talked about in this episode, because both are or have been 'lost souls'. This is why G'Kar is the perfect traveling companion for Lyta; he can help her - or at least attempt to help her - reach the end goal of finding her purpose (she's gotten started on the path thanks to Byron, but isn't quite to the end goal yet).
This episode felt very much like the ending of the BSG S4/series finale Daybreak Part II, especially in the scene where G'Kar says goodbye to Sheridan and Delenn. I was reminded very much of the scene in Daybreak on the African hillside where Starbuck says goodbye to Lee without actually saying goodbye. Speaking of G'Kar, I didn't really get the sense that his rejected worshiper was desperate enough to try and kill him, but, in the end, I don't really think the purpose of that particular plot point actually had much to do with G'Kar himself, and more to do with Garibaldi and Lise's storyline, so it all ends up balancing out.
I got a tremendous sense of satisfaction out of Garibaldi outwitting the Edgars Industries board, especially when he brought Number One/Tessa Holloran into the proceedings. You could see the palpable glee in his face knowing that he didn't have to be intimidated by them and their attempt to assassinate him and Lise.
Delenn wanting to walk the entire 5-mile length of B5 was also a great character moment and a highlight of the episode for me.
I'll be back later with reviews of episodes 21 and 22, overall thoughts on the season, and some final thoughts on the entire series as a whole.