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Old August 12 2012, 12:57 PM   #76
Gov Kodos
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I don't have that one. I am planning to get it in hardcover when I come across a copy at a decent price.
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Old August 12 2012, 01:18 PM   #77
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

The telepath arc wasn't too thought out in my mind. Bryon said they'd work to pay their way but all they seem to do is laze around and then resent the idea of working as telepaths for Garibaldi when in reality they don't appear to be capable of doing anything else. And if they were given their own world, who among them would know how to fish or hunt or build? They'd have to rely on the League for all things they'd need to survive at least at first.

And what's worse is that the telepaths are the perfect Start Trek people that JMS has always complained about, it's a closed society and there's no jealousy among them seeing as how Bryon is the only seeing any kind of action, there's peace among them and no conflicts among the group.
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Old August 12 2012, 03:35 PM   #78
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Marjorie Monaghan: I first saw her in the 6-episode wonder "Space Rangers" in the 90s as the ship's elfish pilot. The next thing I remember her in was a short-lived show about rescue EMTs. I wish she'd done more, 'cause I think she's really purdy.
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Old August 12 2012, 04:16 PM   #79
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

The big theme of the telepath story arc is summed up pretty succinctly in the S5 DVD intro: it's about bigotry. It's not really meant to lead to any major 'endgame'. Another thing I noticed - immediately, I might add - about the telepath story is that Byron and his group aren't really a colony; they're a cult. It therefore makes perfect sense that they wouldn't really live up to their end of the agreement Byron made with Sheridan.

Season 5, as JMS says in the DVD intro, is an extended denoument for our characters and the station. The two major story threads - the Byron/telepath stuff and the Centauri/Drakh story - both reflect that sense of wrapping things up and showing the consequences of what happened in Seasons 1 through 4, and I don't think there's inherently anything wrong with that, although others may disagree.

Regarding Lyta, I'm only barely into the start of her arc for the season, but I'm not seeing how JMS supposedly made her the victim of 'character assassination'. She's a rather directionless character, which leads her to make some poor choices, but that's what happens sometimes.
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Old August 13 2012, 06:41 AM   #80
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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.
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Old August 13 2012, 08:33 AM   #81
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Candlelight wrote: View Post
I never liked the fifth season for a couple of reasons; the main
Whoops, never finished it!

The main reason being my two least favourite storylines during the first four seasons were Centauri heavy episodes, or the Telepath story.

...and what does season five comprise mainly of...?
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Old August 13 2012, 08:45 AM   #82
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

teacake wrote: View Post
Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
Byron just irks me, not over the actor whose fine in the job, but the whole telepath thing in season 5. Byron's poor pitiful us routine, the character assassination on Lyta, that telepath issues weren't given the constant fleshing out that even Clark and Earth gov got just make me not care much about Byron. Also, Zack's early summation of Byron being essentially a martyr looking for someplace to happen really summed up the guy. More unlikable cult leader than decent guy is how he came across to me in just about the whole arc.
You should read the psi-corp series, Byron is equally irksome as I recall, though it's fleshed out more. You can see how he ended up like that, though it doesn't make him any more likable.
While I personally never had a problem with it, I think it is fair to say that part of the reason some people don't take to the telepath storyline is because for all the talk of Psi Corps abuses, we never really saw what it was like to grow up in the corps. We never saw the fear, institutional paranoia, implied self hatred and the walls of secrets all hidden under a veneer of wholesome normalcy, so the mundanes won't get upset.

Of course showing all that would have been a whole other show, so there's only so much JMS could do to communicate why these people are the way they are.
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Old August 13 2012, 08:56 AM   #83
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Reverend wrote: View Post
teacake wrote: View Post
Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
Byron just irks me, not over the actor whose fine in the job, but the whole telepath thing in season 5. Byron's poor pitiful us routine, the character assassination on Lyta, that telepath issues weren't given the constant fleshing out that even Clark and Earth gov got just make me not care much about Byron. Also, Zack's early summation of Byron being essentially a martyr looking for someplace to happen really summed up the guy. More unlikable cult leader than decent guy is how he came across to me in just about the whole arc.
You should read the psi-corp series, Byron is equally irksome as I recall, though it's fleshed out more. You can see how he ended up like that, though it doesn't make him any more likable.
While I personally never had a problem with it, I think it is fair to say that part of the reason some people don't take to the telepath storyline is because for all the talk of Psi Corps abuses, we never really saw what it was like to grow up in the corps. We never saw the fear, institutional paranoia, implied self hatred and the walls of secrets all hidden under a veneer of wholesome normalcy, so the mundanes won't get upset.

Of course showing all that would have been a whole other show, so there's only so much JMS could do to communicate why these people are the way they are.
The first telepath underground that Talia and Franklin were helping certainly came across far more sympathetically than Byron's crew.
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Old August 13 2012, 10:57 PM   #84
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

^Sure, but that's because they didn't *do* anything other than hold hands and not want to die, plus we actually got to hear some of what the Psi Corps had done to them.

Byron's lot just swanned around acting like broody teenagers who have just discovered Edgar Allen Poe and the colour black. I can see why some people had difficulty sympathising with them.
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Old August 13 2012, 11:33 PM   #85
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Reverend wrote: View Post
^Sure, but that's because they didn't *do* anything other than hold hands and not want to die, plus we actually got to hear some of what the Psi Corps had done to them.

Byron's lot just swanned around acting like broody teenagers who have just discovered Edgar Allen Poe and the colour black. I can see why some people had difficulty sympathising with them.
That and through Byron's dialogue we got the racist separatism that Psicorp was teaching. Byron, and I think the rest of his gang, were all Corp escapees. The first underground were a lot of folks who'd not joined and were avoiding it all together. They weren't high lighted as a group of supermen, but as a persecuted minority. Byron's group were a batch of the Aryan supermen now calling themselves persecuted, but were (Byron, at least) one of the elite knocked of his high perch and wanted a new place from which to call every one else inferior.
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Old August 14 2012, 12:44 AM   #86
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
That and through Byron's dialogue we got the racist separatism that Psicorp was teaching. Byron, and I think the rest of his gang, were all Corp escapees. The first underground were a lot of folks who'd not joined and were avoiding it all together. They weren't high lighted as a group of supermen, but as a persecuted minority. Byron's group were a batch of the Aryan supermen now calling themselves persecuted, but were (Byron, at least) one of the elite knocked of his high perch and wanted a new place from which to call every one else inferior.
You're mis-remembering, I'm afraid. In "A Race Through Dark Places", Telepath #1 had been experimented on just like Ironheart had been. He says that they made him a P12, maybe even a P13. The woman who talked to Talia had her powers awaken at puberty and was taken into the Corps. She refused a genetic mating two years later. She was drugged and impregnated by the Corps.

Byron doesn't say anything at all about whether the members of his group were in the Corps or not. One of the 'rogues' who didn't barricade themselves talked about "not going back there", though.

JMS never addressed it that I recall, but I thought that it was interesting to note the unconscious bigotry on the parts of both the telepaths and the mundanes.

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Old August 14 2012, 12:54 AM   #87
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

One thing I like is how the issues and evils of racism often pollute and destroy societies in Babylon 5. The Centauri celebrate destroying the Xon, the Markab accelerate their destruction because they view contact with aliens destructive but end up making the plague easier to spread amongst themselves. Almost all the races of Babylon 5 have segments espousing some form of seperatism, while G'Kar's philosophy of being one, and how if we deny the other we deny ourselves, is set up as the moral counter weight to that separatism. Looking then at the genetic herding done by the Vorlons and Shadows, their goals are equally ugly and and should 'get the hell out of our galaxy.'

Thanks for the details about earlier seasons, Jan. For me, the telepath arc was given sympathetic characters that we could view things through in the first few seasons. Also, Talia and Lyta were, while not completely accepted being Psicorp, were not rejected by the crew, either. Byron's group wasn't really given that chance, and most of the speaking was done by him and a lot of his speeches were too self pitying. Having Lyta fall into it and her and the station crew be suddenly on the outs with each other just didn't fly right as a story for me.
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Old August 14 2012, 01:18 AM   #88
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

You mean Lyta being on the outs with the crew? I understand that reaction because the first time around it seemed like she'd really changed suddenly and for no real reason. Next time, though, I watched how she was used over and over again and then just forgotten or treated incredibly shabbily. No wonder that once she ran across Byron who seemed to value her as a person and as a telepath, she drank it up like a plant that had been deprived of sunshine and water.

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Old August 14 2012, 01:48 AM   #89
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
One thing I like is how the issues and evils of racism often pollute and destroy societies in Babylon 5. The Centauri celebrate destroying the Xon, the Markab accelerate their destruction because they view contact with aliens destructive but end up making the plague easier to spread amongst themselves. Almost all the races of Babylon 5 have segments espousing some form of seperatism, while G'Kar's philosophy of being one, and how if we deny the other we deny ourselves, is set up as the moral counter weight to that separatism. Looking then at the genetic herding done by the Vorlons and Shadows, their goals are equally ugly and and should 'get the hell out of our galaxy.'

Thanks for the details about earlier seasons, Jan. For me, the telepath arc was given sympathetic characters that we could view things through in the first few seasons. Also, Talia and Lyta were, while not completely accepted being Psicorp, were not rejected by the crew, either. Byron's group wasn't really given that chance, and most of the speaking was done by him and a lot of his speeches were too self pitying. Having Lyta fall into it and her and the station crew be suddenly on the outs with each other just didn't fly right as a story for me.
The only two people Lyta 'fell out' with were Garibaldi and Zack; although she interacted with others, they were the only two with whom she actually developed true relationships, and the only reason she even had any type of relationship at all with Garibaldi was because she'd developed it during her first tenure aboard the station (making her relationship with Zack the only significant thing she was able to cultivate for herself in the nearly two years since her return prior to falling in with Byron); the majority of her time back aboard the station the second time around was spent being relied upon as a 'tool' or 'pawn'; Kosh and Ulkesh used her as a carrier vessel because they'd modified her specifically for that purpose (thus taking any control she might've had over her own life away from her), and Sheridan and Franklin relied on her to act as the 'switch' for activating the telepaths that Sheridan used to help liberate Earth because she was the only person available to help, again taking any control she might've had over her own life away from her. By the time Byron comes along, she's spent the better part of two years being used (exactly as she herself says) and, by falling in with him and his lot, she's finally able to get some control over her own life back.

Lyta really doesn't have much of a character arc in Seasons 3 and 4, so Season 5 is really the first time since her initial appearance in The Gathering that JMS is able to truly focus on her and give her some actual character development instead of her being just a human tool whose sole purpose is to act at the whim and behest of others.
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Old August 14 2012, 11:51 PM   #90
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Again with the double-posting (sorry).

In the Kingdom of the Blind
I really wish I knew the title reference for this ep, because it's neat and I'd like to know where it came from.

Although we don't have much, if any, information about Byron's backstory at this stage, this episode really conveys this sense that there's something personal driving his insistence on dealing with things in a non-violent fashion, which adds to his character and, for me, makes him even more interesting than he already was. There've been some comments up-thread that he and the rest of his fellow telepaths weren't sympathetic, but I have to disagree. I think Byron is plenty sympathetic, even if he and his group get themselves into an extremely untenable situation by trying to force the issue of a Homeworld of their own.

With the telepath story ramping up, JMS needed to introduce another major crisis in order to keep the story momentum going, and that's exactly what he does with regards to unknown raiders attacking ISA member world shipping lines.

I loved actually getting to see the very scenario that Londo described when Delenn told him about the plan to send G'Kar back to Centauri Prime with him as his bodyguard play itself out. The reactions of various denizens of the Centauri Royal Court were great, as was G'Kar's response to their uncomfortableness. You could see the undisguised glee in his face as Vitelli and others glared at him and whispered behind his and Londo's backs.

I find myself really wanting to know why the Drakh want to keep Londo alive, although I'm also wondering why Londo didn't see the silouhette of the Drakh that saved his life because, despite the darkness of the corridor, he was close enough to have been able to get at least a vague glimpse at the creature.

This is the episode where we finally see for ourselves a good majority of what Londo tells Sheridan and Delenn in War without End concerning the Keepers, which I thought was neat because it gives just enough away for astute audiences to start drawing connections, but doesn't give everything away quite yet, leaving some questions unanswered.

A Tragedy of Telepaths
There is nothing so dangerous as a man or a group with an agenda or a cause, and this episode really drives that point home. Every one of the characters that has a major role to play in it has an agenda or cause of some kind, from Byron and his group to Londo and G'Kar.

Byron's little goodbye speech to Lochley was really well-acted by both Tracy Scoggins and Robin Atkin Downes, and you could see her attitude starting to shift just a bit even though, by this point, she's already 'called in the hounds', as it were, by contacting Bester and the Psi Cops.

I loved the interaction in this episode between Londo and G'Kar; it's good that their road to the point where they can call each other 'old friends' isn't smooth, and you can really see that G'Kar is so outraged by the thought of Na'Toth being locked up and forgotten that he's almost ready to go back on his word to protect Londo. Londo, to his credit, takes everything in stride, and, in perhaps the best indicator we've gotten to date of just how much he's changed and just how noble he truly is, doesn't flinch at all in the face of G'Kar's outrage and agrees to do everything that is within his power to get G'Kar the outcome he wants even if he can't do things the easy way and simply order her release.

Sheridan's gamble of putting White Stars out there to serve as 'watchdogs' was neat and well-intentioned, even if it ended up exacerbating tensions rather than easing them. As good of a soldier as Sheridan was, I think I like his arc in Season 5 the best because he really does make an excellent political figure.

I want to revisit that scene in Brown Sector between Byron and Lochley; as noted earlier, you can really see her attitude towards Byron and his group changing as he says goodbye to her, which adds a lot of additional emotional weight to the situation once the escalation of violence by the telepaths who walked out on Byron before he and the rest of his group sealed themselves inside Brown Sector forces her to actually rely on Bester, since you get this sense after her little chat with Byron that she might've been regretting her decision to ask for help (or at least I did).

Phoenix Rising
There is nothing so dangerous as a person or a group of people with an agenda or a cause, and this episode is proof positive of that. Every single person who has a major role to play in it has an agenda or a cause that is driving their actions, from Lochley and Sheridan's desire to end the crisis to Garibaldi's attempt to kill Bester to Byron's desire to atone for the atrocities he was forced to commit as a Psi Cop.

Speaking of which, I really liked the scene where he tells Lyta his history and why Bester has such a personal vested interest in apprehending him. It was a really powerful scene that was perfectly acted by both Robin Atkin Downes and Patricia Tallman.

There was bound to be a point at which Bester's smarminess and inflated sense of his own self-importance was going to come back and bite him and others in the butt, and there's therefore a bit of grim satisfaction in actually getting to see it happen.

It was great to see JMS finally reveal the exact circumstances of the telepath hostage situation he teased in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, and the part of the episode where Byron makes it into the Medlab and shoots Thomas is really powerful. I loved the solution he came up with to resolve the entire situation, but, in typical fashion, nothing ever runs smoothly, and Bester, as I mentioned above, finally pushes one button too far.

Byron's decision to kill himself and the rest of those responsible for the violence was really powerful and made me sad because you can truly see the despair in his face as he makes the decision and tells Lyta to walk to safety.

I knew that Garibaldi's alcoholism was going to rear its ugly head thanks to the S5 introduction, but wasn't quite sure whether or not it would make sense, and I'm happy to say that JMS proved me wrong. There's something kind of perversely funny in the fact that Bester knew exactly what he'd eventually want to do and made sure that he couldn't, because it only makes the mistakes that Bester ends up making with regards to the Byron situation work even better. I loved the scene between Bester and Sheridan where you can, for the first time, truly see the humanity in the character as he realizes that, this time, he went too far and, in the process, killed any shred of goodwill he might've had with anybody aboard B5. It's too bad that he doesn't end up learning from the situation and letting it change him for the beter, though.

The Ragged Edge
As one storyline ends, another begins. This episode was the perfect way to kickstart the second half of the season, arc-wise.

The character stuff in this episode was excellent. From Garibaldi slowly sliding back into the bottle to G'Kar discovering that Ta'Lon and others have turned him into a religious figure, this episode had a lot of great character-building moments for everybody. I loved the way that G'Kar dealt with the question of just how much of the content of the 'Book of G'Kar' is and should be regarded as set-in-stone gospel; there's just something hilarious about the mental image of G'Kar slamming a book on someone's head, and it's great that we actually don't see it happen.

I loved the scene where Londo provides the key to the whole mystery surrounding the attacks on Alliance member world shipping lanes. The decision to keep him out of the loop afterwards was really well-played by all of those involved, especially since you just know that, at some point, it's going to backfire on them somehow.

I really liked the scene between Sheridan and Franklin where Franklin essentially tenders his resignation as head of Medlab and a member of B5's crew. I liked the references to Dr. Kyle and the revelation that his (Kyle's) position on B5 was meant to be finite from the beginning because it helps provide some context to the character's departure and the changes that were made to things between the shooting of The Gathering and the shooting and airing of Midnight on the Firing Line.

In closing, I want to update my 'essentials' list:
No Compromises
The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
The Paragon of Animals
Learning Curve
Strange Relations
Secrets of the Soul
Day of the Dead
In the Kingdom of the Blind
A Tragedy of Telepaths
Phoenix Rising
The Ragged Edge

I still stand by what I said earlier about S5 being the best of the series, and am really interested to see how the rest of the story plays itself out.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of episodes 13 through 16.
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