Monday, June 24, 2019

Nothing's the Same Anymore: Babylon 5, ''Chrysalis'' (season 1, episode 22)

Well, at long last, we're back on Babylon 5.
We last looked at an episode way back in February, and lest this seem like too lengthy a gap, let me plead innocence: it wasn't my fault this time!

Here's my story, yr. hnr. -- see, I've been watching Babylon 5 in chronological-by-airdate order, but mixed in with a rewatch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and THAT show I've been watching in tandem with the Mission Log podcast.  You've heard all of this before; I'm just restating the facts, judge.
Anyways, Mission Log wrapped its coverage of DS9's second season in February, then took an unannounced hiatus that ended up lasting nearly four months.  So what can I say?  The pace car got a flat tire, judge; we all had to wait.
In some ways, I didn't mind.  Things haven't been great here at the offices of Where No Blog Has Gone Before these past few months; unexpected work issues have made for some long weeks with nowhere near as much leisure time as I'd like, so I question whether I'd even have been able to find time to keep up with blogging up B5 episodes on a weekly basis during the Mission Log hiatus.  Those guys kind of did me a favor by taking four(ish) months off from their regular podcast.
They're back now, though, and so am I ... in my case, wondering whether finding the time for continued Babylon 5 blogging -- and maybe even the season-summary DS9 blogging I've been doing -- is doable.  I'm just not sure it is.  I'm enjoying it, but since my blogging time has been cut severely, can I really afford to spend it on posts like the one you're about to probably skip read?  Man, I just don't know.  Probably not.
In any case, I'm going to defer the decision for now.  Maybe I'll come to one at the end of this post; maybe I'll continue to play it by ear.  Time will tell.
Tonight, on the season finale: while Londo and G'Kar bring yet another diplomatic crisis before the advisory council, Garibaldi stumbles upon an assassination plot that could have far-reaching consequences.
(season 1, episode 22)
airdate:  October 26, 1994
written by:  J. Michael Straczynski
directed by:  Janet Greek
It's worth mentioning that "Chrysalis," the season-one finale, aired more than two months after the penultimate episode of the season.  Why PTEN would have scheduled the episodes that way is a mystery to me.   In any case, it's twenty-five-year-old news, so we need not dwell on it; but I think it's worth bearing in mind that for anyone watching the series live in 1994, this must have been frustrating.  The upside: they'd only have to wait one week until the second-season premiere.  Weird move, guys; weird move.
As season finales go, "Chrysalis" is effective enough.  It brings several of the concerns that have been popping off throughout the season to a head, advancing each; it resolves none of them, but sets the show's characters on paths that, presumably, builds anticipation for the next phase of the series.  I think it works from that standpoint reasonably well.  Some of the production flaws that plague the first season plague its finale, which arguably blunts the impact a bit.  My sense is that if you can't let go of that a bit by the end of the season, the season is probably forever dead to you.
Twenty-five years on, I find it difficult not to succumb to that sort of negativity.  Blogging about the series is having the curious effect of both worsening that tendency and alleviating it: I'm constantly seeing things that just flat-out do not work at all, but I'm also seeing moments where things do work, and work in a way that was (to say the least) uncommon for syndicated sci-fi in 1994.  DS9 was already making moves in that direction, but its feints toward serialization -- certainly at this time -- seem half-hearted and reactionary.  On Babylon 5, they feel considered and weighty; Straczynski and his cast and crew are not always capable of achieving their ambitions, nor do they have a clear line of sight toward knowing quite how to even try -- but that they have those ambitions at all is still a thing worth celebrating.
"Chrysalis" is certainly one of the more successful attempts to this point in the series.  As alluded to earlier, the episode shoves many of its central characters toward points of transformation.  Heck, it's right there in the title: a chrysalis, after all, is a thing from which one emerges very much changed, or from which one emerges not at all.  It is Delenn herself who goes into a literal chrysalis -- as was foreshadowed in "The Quality of Mercy" -- by the end of the episode.  We'll have to wait a few episodes to find out what her emergence brings; I can't quite remember how many, but it's several.
Elsewhere, metaphorical chrysalises are also entered, both by individuals and by entire cultures.  Let's run down the list:

  • Garibaldi stumbles upon a plot to assassinate Earth's leader, President Santiago.  He's unsuccessful in preventing it: Santiago dies in an explosion near Jupiter, and Garibaldi is shot in the back by one of his chief security aides (who has obviously been an inside man for whatever forces arranged the assassination).  As the episode ends, Garibaldi is on an operating table, his continued existence hanging by a thread.  
  • Sinclair gets engaged to Catherine Sakai, and also finds out for sure that Delenn knows about whatever it is that happened to him during the Battle of the Line.  Additionally, he seems genuinely energized in his capacity as a de facto ambassador, sharing a conversation with G'Kar that seemingly has a profound impact upon the Narn diplomat.  I think we can also assume that Santiago's death will cause quite a great deal of work for the commander of a station like B5.  We don't see any of that in this episode, but...
  • ...the season finale marks the end of Sinclair's tenure as Commander of Babylon 5.  We won't find that out until the next episode, but sure enough, it's true.  This is also the end of Michael O'Hare's run on the series; accounts vary as to why he was a one-season-and-done star, but whatever the cause, Sinclair/O'Hare will very soon give way to John Sheridan, played by Bruce Boxleitner.  Assuming I continue this series of posts, I'll have quite a lot to say about Sheridan and Boxleitner alike over the course of the next four seasons.
  • Delenn visits Kosh, has a cryptic conversation that resolves her will to embark upon some type of transformation that involves entering a chrysalis, and then actually does so.  She offers to tell Sinclair what actually happened at the Battle of the Line; he is unable to have that conversation due to the related crises of Garibaldi and Santiago.  The chrysalis aspect of this episode is cryptic to the point of annoyance, but it's also tantalizing.  Delenn says that by talking to Sinclair, she is putting both of their lives at risk; the implication is that the risk is worthwhile, which must mean that what she has to say is of colossal significance.  Add in the involvement of the mysterious Kosh, and whatever this chrysalis business is must be a game-changer.  But that's for another episode.
  • Londo is in the midst of losing out to G'Kar in the matter of "negotiations" over Narn military activity in Quadrant 37.  G'Kar says this is for the security of his people, but it's clear that what's actually going on is Narn aggression in the form of boundary-testing chest-beating.  Londo's government orders him to essentially roll over and give G'Kar whatever he wants.  He is on the verge of doing so when he receives a visit from Morden, who makes him an offer: let his associates take care of the problem in Quadrant 37.  Londo is incredulous, but after Morden came through in returning the Eye to him (in "Signs and Portents"), he's maybe not that incredulous.  So he does as Morden suggests, and tells his government that he (Londo) will personally take care of the Quadrant 37 problem.  Speaking of which...
  • Quadrant 37, a pair of shadowy vessels appears out of nowhere, and destroys every Narn ship in the vicinity within mere seconds.  They also destroy the Narn outposts on the surface of whatever planet the outpost orbits orbited.  Ten thousand Narns, dead within moments; a military force sizeable enough to require a full meeting of the advisory council on B5, destroyed utterly.  This is the same uber-power that we saw used in the retrieval of the Eye.  We don't know yet what it is, or where it comes from; but we do see Morden sitting in a room by himself, speaking with two appallingly alien beings that materialize seemingly out of thin air and seem to be leading his actions.  So ... whatever this is, it's probably not good news.  It looks like it for Londo, though, whose fortunes are on the rise big-time within the Centauri government.
  • Considerably less so for G'Kar, who goes in the span of the episode from holding all the power in the Quadrant 37 talks to holding literally none whatsoever.  Quadrant 37 is still there; all the Narns are gone, though, so there's not much left to negotiate in that regard.  But that's not the real transformation G'Kar makes here.  He is visited by Sinclair late one night, and the Commander speaks to him about feeling as if they are all at a crossroads; Sinclair has no idea how right he is, which is either a sign of his remarkable intuition or a portent of too-tidy screenwriting.  I'm able to take it as the former, as that is the arc of the series; if others take it only as the latter, they're probably not wrong.  In any case, you can see the Commander's words working on G'Kar, and he will later -- after the loss of Quadrant 37 -- be seemingly inspired by them to make his own intuitive leap.  He will quickly figure out that the Centauri and the Humans (not to mention most of the other races) would be incapable of mounting such a devastating attack; the Minbari and the Vorlons could, but neither of them have the desire or the motivation.  This means a new player is on the field; "there's someone else out there," he tells Na'Toth ominously.  As the episode ends, he has left the station, having recorded a message for his aide informing her that he has gone off to find out what is really going on here.

The cumulative effect of all of this is to kind of push these characters forward in a way from which they cannot regress.  This stuff cannot be forgotten about between episodes, nor will it.

It's the G'Kar/Londo material where Straczynski's plan works best.  We don't really find out anything Sinclair here; nor, truly, about Delenn.  Garibaldi is on the verge of death, but that's a common enough trope on television shows; how many fictional cops have been in that position?  Lots.  With Londo and G'Kar, however, we're getting an approach to television that truly was something different from the vast majority of shows at that time.  Both characters have specific individual moments -- which we will see in the screencaps below -- where the irrevocable nature of their characters arcs shines through in "Chrysalis."  I don't think this episode is a home-run or anything like that, but if you're a fan of these two characters -- and I don't know that it's possible to be a fan of only one -- then this is a pivotal hour.

Let's dive into a mess of screencaps now, and see what else there is to talk about.

The opening scene -- the talks about Quadrant 37 -- are reminiscent of the Ragesh 3 talks in the season premiere ("Midnight on the Firing Line").  Andreas Katsulas plays G'Kar with some of the same bluster that we saw in that and other early episodes, and he does so in a way that makes it possible to look at those early G'Kar moments as a charade the Ambassador himself is playing.  That's not the man's true personality, perhaps; that's an act he is putting on to portray himself and his people as more powerful and more mercenary than they actually wish to be.  Alternatively, this could be masterful late-season acting by Katsulas designed to erase some of the iffier aspects of his early-season performances.  I'm inclined to be skeptical of that, though; this episode was produced midway through the season, for whatever reason, so the performances we are seeing come not at the end of a production cycle but only at its midpoint.  Fascinating!

Similarly, Peter Jurasik seems to be more restrained here than at many other points in the season.  Maybe this is expert direction by Janet Greek; maybe this is Jurasik filming at midpoint with an assumption about where the character will be by season's end.  Hard to say, but I like the result.

Lest I wax this car's hood too much, boy is there a lot of it that doesn't work.  For example, this scene where Petrov (one of Garibaldi's informants) shows up, in the process of bleeding to death.  He staggers through the Zocalo toward Garibaldi.  In a moment not depicted here, one of Garibaldi's security guys sees Petrov first, and then, rather than rush over to him himself, he taps Garibaldi on the arm and points at the guy!  The security on all Babylon stations is awful, though, so this is at least consistent.  But then the scene ends with Petrov gasping "They're going to kill..." and dying just before he can identify WHO "they" are going to kill.  Folks, if you're ever dying and trying to convey some bit of crucial information, choose your word order carefully.  Say "the President's going to be..." instead; people can figure the rest out.

"Kill who?" asks Sinclair, quite reasonably, when he's being told about all of this by Garibaldi.

"I don't know," allows the security chief, " but I'm going to find out."  Cut to:

an ISN report about the tour President Santiago is taking of the various Earth colonies.  He's leaving Mars now, and is headed for Jupiter.  I love this edit.  It's unsubtle, but so what?  I don't think anyone is interested in having it be a plot twist that it is Santiago whose life is on the line; Straczynski wants Garibaldi and Sinclair to be in the dark, not us.  And there's something chilling about seeing news footage of an in-progress goodwill tour that, unbeknownst to those reporting on it (or those taking part in it), has a crosshairs on it and a rifle aimed squarely in its direction.

Depending on how one feels about Michael O'Hare (and/or Julia Nickson), one might be invested in the Sinclair/Sakai romance, or one might be eye-rolling bored by it.  I'm a bit of both, leaning toward invested.  I think they're both rather good in this episode, though.

Shortly after this, Sinclair fumbles his way into a marriage proposal.

Catherine obviously figures out what he's doing several beats before he actually pops the question; when he does, she has an answer of "yes" locked and loaded, and does not hesitate before firing it off. Nickson is pretty great here, actually.

This is probably also some of the most genuine emotion O'Hare has shown the entire season.  I think he's actually very good in "Chrysalis."  I like the guy throughout the season; even when he sucks (which is frequently), I like him, mostly because I really like Sinclair as a character.  Despite the fact that he's written out after this episode, I've got a lot more -- a LOT more -- to say about Sinclair if and when our looks at the series continue.  Much of what Sheridan ends up being/doing as a character would almost certainly have been given to Sinclair had O'Hare remained with the show; so in some ways, a discussion of Sheridan IS a discussion of Sinclair.  Anyways, we'll see.

After Catherine says yes, Sinclair turns around, and much of the rest of the scene is played with his back to her.  This is arguably an awkward bit of staging; soap-operaesque and ineffective, one might say.  I'm not the one, though; I like it.  I think it says something about Sinclair.  I think he had to work himself up to ask Catherine to marry him, and I think that in his heart, he thought she was going to say no.  So I think that the sheer relief and joy he is feeling in this moment overwhelms him, and he simply has to turn away for a bit of privacy while his mind reels at his semi-unexpected good fortune.  I think Catherine knows every bit of this.

And I think that if Babylon 5 is ever remade (which it damn well should be), whoever makes it needs to try a little harder to convey some of that onscreen.  It works for me as-is, but I'm reading between a lot of lines to make it happen.

In this scene, we get some riveting dialogue in which Londo mistakes ducks for cats and talks about being "nibbled to death by cats."  I'm not a fan of aliens stumbling over human colloquialisms.  They pull it off occasionally on one of the Star Treks, but mostly it sucks.  It definitely sucks here.  So does Vir.  First-season Vir is just the worst.  Later versions of him aren't that great, either; the joke is that he was Flounder In Space, and the jokes are right, and that's just not a thing I ever needed to see.

The Londo and Vir Power Hour is mercifully interrupted by a call from Morden.  This episode was actually Ed Wasser's first performance in the role; "Signs and Portents" was filmed later.  It doesn't feel like it.  The opposite feels true, if anything.  Wasser is oily, ingratiating, and very effective in "Chrysalis."

Delenn has been building this contraption -- not the chrysalis itself, but a device that will construct it -- throughout the season.  It's kind of dinky-looking, isn't it?  That's true of much of Babylon 5, the props and sets budgets of which could probably have been made by knocking over a Captain D's on a Saturday night.  In the case of this device, that it has any dramatic heft whatsoever is due entirely to Mira Furlan's performance in interacting with it.  She pretends it is powerful and important, and so, to some degree, it becomes that.

Barely, though, if at all.

Garibaldi goes into Downbelow to investigate Petrov's death, and encounters a distinctive Lurker played by Belgian-born actor Gianin Loffler.  Loffler will come back for a fifth-season episode.

All these years, I thought this actor's name was Apesanahkwat.  This is not as ridiculous a claim as it seems; the fifth-season episode in which Loffler appears also includes an appearance by Native American actor Apesanahkwat, and I guess the deal is that I found Loffler to be so odd in both look and mannerism (thought not in a bad way on either score) that I just assumed if there was a guy named Apesanahkwat in the credits, it must be him.  My bad!

Kind of a cool combination of effects and set here.  You'll never see it again.

"My associates believe that you're a person of great potential, trapped in a position where your skills are unseen and unappreciated.  They'd like to change that."

"Yes ... I have heard this before, and I have stopped listening.

There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be.

And you accept it.

Or you kill yourself.

Or you stop looking into mirrors."

I don't think it's giving much away to suggest that we have not seen the last of the relationship between Londo and Morden.  In fact, it's just getting started.  This scene is not its beginning -- that came in "Signs and Portents" -- but it does represent the true point of no return.  For Londo, a threshold has been crossed; a barrier has been breached.  A soul has been sold.

We move now into a scene that works nowhere near as well for me.

What happens is this: Delenn (who I love) goes to Kosh (who I love), and has a scene (which I do not love, or even like) in which she says that she has doubts and needs to be reassured, and then, offscreen, he opens up Marcellus Wallace's briefcase and shows her what's inside it, and then she leaves.  "You will not see me again as I am now," she says to Kosh.  Sure, whatever.

Thing is, even if you know the whole series and know what's ostensibly going on here, it doesn't make that much sense.  Or maybe it does and it's just lost in somewhat awkward staging.  I dunno, man; but I'm not a fan of this scene.

Or this one:

This turns out to be the guy Garibaldi suspects of Petrov's murder.  He seems like the sort of guy who'd play a villain in a Chuck Norris movie; and not one of the good ones, either.

After that, Londo tells Vir to call the Centauri government and tell them that he will personally handle the problem with Quadrant 37.  Vir implies that he must be drunk; Londo -- quite humanely (Jurasik is great in this scene) -- reassures Vir that he is perfectly sober.  Then he, seemingly reflexively, goes to pour himself a drink.  His brain realizes what his hands have been doing; he takes a look at the drink and pours it back into the jug from whence it came.  Here again is an unsubtle, but entirely effective, moment.  We've been seeing Londo drink himself under the table -- sometimes while literally on top of a table -- throughout the season.  He's been a buffoon, a laughingstock; he's been eye-roll-inducing "comedy" at times.  But Londo is so much more than that underneath.  By the end of this episode, he'll have realized that; and he'll wish he hadn't.  But we, as viewers, are very glad he did; this is where the real story of Londo Mollari begins, and it's not a moment too soon.  The ridiculous hair and the crazy accent never go away; but we now begin to see a character of depth beneath them.

And now, perhaps the most crucial scene of the episode:

I'm a sucker for accidental screencap effects like this.  This isn't a particularly good one, but still.  Anyways, Sinclair has come to visit G'Kar in the middle of the night to try to talk him into giving the Centauri some breathing room in Quadrant 37.  G'Kar refuses, not in an unkindly manner; "We have to keep pushing forward," he explains.

"G'Kar," says Sinclair, "you once told me that before the Centauri came, Narn was an agrarian world, a peaceful world.  In order to be free, you had to learn to fight; no one questions that.  But you've overcompensated; you're like abused children who've grown big enough to do the same thing to someone else, as if that'll somehow balance the scales.  It won't.  If you let your anger cloud your judgment, it'll destroy you."

"We know what we're doing," G'Kar says uncertainly.  "Anything else, Commander?"

"Just that I've had this feeling lately that we're standing at a crossroads ... and I don't like where we're going.  but there's still time to choose another path.  You can be part of that process, G'Kar.  Choose wisely; not just for the Centauri, but for the good of your own people as well."

"We all do what we have to do," replies G'Kar resignedly.  "It is late; please go now."

This is a remarkable scene not merely because of how good O'Hare and Katsulas are in it, but because it mirrors -- and openly refers to -- a scene from earlier in the season in which G'Kar did indeed give Sinclair a bit of history about the Narn struggle against the Centauri.  This was in "Midnight on the Firing Line," and between that and the contentious nature of these men's relationship in "The Gathering," it is nearly inconceivable that they could share a scene like this one -- in which one man is challenging the other, but it comes off as friendly and inspiring rather than confrontational.

We've seen what I think serves as the bridge between the two episodes: the effort Sinclair takes in "By Any Means Necessary" to honor G'Kar's spiritual needs.  That might feel as if it's the b-plot of an average episode, and in some ways it is; but looking at it again in light of this conversation in "chrysalis" (and, especially, where it arguably leads afterward), it's clear that that b-plot is really rather pivotal.  You can't skip that episode without missing that subplot; and if you miss that subplot, you're missing a crucial building block for where G'Kar goes over the course of the series.

In some ways, that's what makes the first season so frustrating.  It's not that great, but it's also got essential moments strewn about it; I don't agree with people who recommend skipping it.  I think if you're going to skip it, you may as well skip the whole series; it takes some gritted teeth to power through at times, but my personal feeling is that the investment pays off.  Your mileage may vary.

A rare moment of happiness as Jeff and Catherine announce their engagement.

Cut to...

This mysterious vessel is so dark that you can barely see it; if it weren't firing a bolt of pure death, it'd be basically invisible.

The Narns at Quadrant 37 never had a chance, poor bastards.

Garibaldi has located a stash of equipment his suspect (who has since escaped) had brought aboard.

In examining the equipment while talking to his aide, Garibaldi ascertains that it is intended to jam the frequencies of the President's ship.  To be honest, I'm unsure how any of this makes sense; the President's ship is at Io, so what good is jamming equipment on Babylon 5 going to be to an assassination plot?  Let's just pretend it makes sense.

Garibaldi, who is on his way to brief Sinclair, runs into some old pals in the corridors.

He's ready for that.

He's a lot less ready for being shot in the back... his aide, no less!  This guy has presumably been one of the major antagonistic hands behind the scenes throughout the season, such as when the first attempt was planned against Santiago.


Sinclair is expecting Garibaldi, who is overdue and cannot be reached; he gets Delenn instead.

She's got some shit to tell him, boy; oh man, does she.

He's got no time to hear it, though.  This part of the plot works okay for me on the surface, but beyond that, it's contrived as hell.  And that's okay, I guess; all story is contrivance of a sort, so I can roll with it.  It's just that... 
Well, I'm not going to give away what Delenn wants to tell Sinclair here.  The information comes out later -- some of it much later -- as part of Delenn's plotline, so I'll keep it to myself for now.  Suffice it to say, it's important.
In fact, it's so important that it doesn't really wash for me that Delenn would let Sinclair walk out of this room before she's told him what she has to tell him.  All he says to her is "We can't find Garibaldi."  Dude, so what?!?  Given what she's there to tell him, it kind of wouldn't matter if he'd said Garibaldi was being nibbled to death by cats.  That shit can wait; this shit here cannot, not if Delenn is about to go into a chrysalis from which she may well not emerge.
We'll come back to this later.
It doesn't screencap very well, but Garibaldi's attempts to crawl for his life to a lift and to help is fairly well-done.  Good score in this scene, too.

That said, why didn't one of the baddies just cut his throat after shooting him?  If you're killing a guy who could foil your Presidential assination attempt, you are well-advised to cut motherfucking throats, y'all.  Don't assume your marks are going to bleed out; ensure it.

Relatively speaking, this is perhaps the final peaceful moment of G'Kar's life; he does not know about Quadrant 37 yet.

Na'Toth, of course, wakes him and tells him about the ten thousand Narn deaths.  "It's as if some great hand reached out of space and just ... erased them," she says.

G'Kar is incredulous, but quickly comes to the correct conclusion: this can only have been done by someone of whom they are otherwise unaware.  "There's someone else out there, Na'Toth," he says.  Katsulas is great here; in the whole episode, but especially here.

Garibaldi, on the verge of death, manages to let Sinclair know that President Santiago is in danger.

It's too late, though; the moment is essentially at hand.  I'm still not sure what the guys on the station had to do with any of it, but fine, whatever.

(Nice effects in this scene.  B5's first-season effects catch a lot of crap, but I think a lot of them still look good.)

For 1994 audiences, this would have evoked thoughts of President Kennedy's assassination.  Probably not a mistake, that.

Later, Ivanova meets with G'Kar and Na'Toth aboard a transport tube.

"My condolences on the death of your President.  This has been a black day for both of us, Lieutenant Commander Ivanova; a black and terrible day."  He continues, "Though our two races have had our troubles, I wish you luck in your own quest for justice.  May the guilty be found and punished."  Cut to:

We've seen a handful of other meaningful edits from a line of dialogue to a different shot that pays that dialogue off.  This one is devastatingly effective.  G'Kar is wishing for Earth Force to find the culprits behind Santiago's assassination, but he's speaking with passion informed by the Narn losses at Quadrant 37.  Londo has nothing whatsoever to do with Santiago, but emotionally, this edit works because it pays off G'Kar's emotion.  Great stuff.
And this, by the way, is the Londo we'll see for ... well, for quite some time to come.  A man sickened by his own actions; a man who is, for all practical purposes, alone in the universe.  He tells Morden that he expected some sort of negotiation, diplomatic intervention of some variety; not stone-cold murder.

"Ten thousand...!  In cold blood!"

"Tn thousand, a hundred thousand, a million; what's the difference?" Morden asks, showing the true face behind the mask.

"Ambassador, your name is being spoken at the highest levels of the Centauri government.  They don't know how you did it; they don't care.  They credit you with saving them from another embarrassment without starting a war in the process.  They've noticed you, Ambassador ... which was the point of the exercise.  I hear they have great plans."

"And so it begins...

You have forgotten something."  Nice double meaning from Kosh there.

Sinclair rushes to Delenn's quarters, but he is too late.

She has entered the chrysalis.

"She is changing," Lennier says.  "Into what?" Sinclair asks.  "I don't know," Lennier answers.

Na'Toth enters G'Kar's quarters; doing so triggers a recorded message from the Ambassador, who says he has suspicions about the devastation of Quadrant 37, and has gone to homeworld to investigate them.  (Oh, by the way...?  This is the end for Julie Caitlin Brown as Na'Toth; the role is recast for the second season.  Not well, either; it worked out so poorly that the character was essentially written out of existence.  Pity; I like Na'Toth quite a lot.)

"Tell the Commander he was right; we were at a crossroads, and there is no going back."

"Expect me when you see me," he says (in a fucking incredibly line-reading from Katsulas, who has officially entered the ripping-scenes-to-shreds phase of his run on this series).

Londo's guilt is allowed to be poured somewhat into worry over Garibaldi.  This works nicely thanks to the friendship the two of them built up over the season.

Nice push-in on this prick here.  He's obviously there to finish the job if he gets half an opportunity; but thanks to his position and ostensible closeness to Michael, his presence would not be questioned for even a second.  Some of the episode doesn't work; this bit here works very, very well.

What the hell are those goddamn things?!?  They're Morden's "associates," of course.  "Yes, I think he's ready," Morden says to them, referring to Londo; "perfect for our needs."  Good lord, after what's happened this episode, what could those needs possibly be that the destruction of Quadrant 37 was basically a test?  Bad times ahead, that's all I'll say.

"Nothing's the same anymore," says Sinclair, who doesn't know how right he is.  For one thing, Sinclair go bye-bye after this episode; naturally, Catherine Sakai go bye-bye with him.  We'll talk about both of them again in relation to something that happens in the third season; a rather significant development involving Sheridan and his ex-wife is something I am 99.999% certain was intended to be achieved using Sinclair and Sakai.  I love it as-is, but with the two originally-intended players, I think it would have been even better.

Thus ends the first season of Babylon 5.
It's an...
I was about to say it's an inconsistent first season; but that's not really true, is it?  In honesty, it's fairly consistently bad.  But I think enough of the story works that it's worth the effort.  It gets us to the second season, at least; and the second season is a substantial improvement.  So I remember it, at least; I hope I'm not allowing nostalgia cloud my memory of it.
And with that, I've decided: these posts will continue, in some form.  I may have to whittle them down significantly.  I may even have to resort to season-encompassing posts with capsule reviews of each episode.  But whatever the case, I'm going to keep pressing ahead. 
We'll see where it goes!

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