Babylonia!

Note: If you’re new to the book club, links to the previous episodes can be found here. It’s difficult to discuss this show without occasionally wanting to discuss the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that)… or referring to the pilot. If you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please use the “spoiler” functionality in the comment box (thanks to CK for that feature!)  Any plot point from any episode prior to this one, as well as (obviously) this episode itself, will not be considered a spoiler (so beware!).

This week, it’s Season 3, Episode 18: “Walkabout”, recapped by Katherine.

Everyone sitting comfortably? Then onward!

Londo objects to the presence of a Narn heavy cruiser as part of Babylon 5’s defense force, but Garibaldi is unsympathetic, to say the least.  Or issuing implied death threats, to say the most.  Remembering that he and Londo used to be fairly good friends powerfully illustrates one element of what Londo has lost in pursuing his war, occupation, and mass murder against the Narn.

Lyta Alexander arrives on Babylon 5, having heard about Kosh’s death, and asks whether anyone else was present when he died.  Meanwhile, the new Vorlon ambassador comes to the station, and Sheridan goes for a spacewalk to watch the ship arrive.

The new Vorlon ambassador is even more reserved than Kosh initially was – which is saying something.  At the Vorlons’ request, Kosh’s death has been kept a secret known only to the command staff and the Medlab staff who were directly involved.  (Which shows that Lyta has some other connection with Kosh that informed her of his death.) The new ambassador says they are to refer to him as Kosh in private as well as public; when Ivanova objects that Kosh is dead, he says, “We are all Kosh.”  This would indicate that the Vorlons aren’t big on individuality

G’Kar has dinner with the captain of the Narn heavy cruiser, who reports that few Narn capital ships survived the war undamaged, but many were merely disabled and are being repaired.  G’Kar opts for holding back from a counterstrike until the ships have been repaired, and focusing on defending Babylon 5 in the meantime.

Dr. Franklin, who resigned his position as chief medical officer to deal with a stim addiction, has disappeared for the last four days.  Garibadi finds him to ask what’s going on.  Franklin says he’s going on walkabout to find himself – in effect, to gain an understanding of who he is beyond being a doctor.  The idea of a walkabout derives from some aboriginal groups, who say that if you’re separated from yourself, leave everything behind and start walking, and keep walking until you meet yourself.  Garibaldi thinks it sounds nuts.  In a way, though, it addresses the fundamental Vorlon question: Who are you?  Who are you – not your job, your position, your possessions.   Leave all that behind, and who is left?

It also casts a new light on Franklin’s stim addiction.  On the surface, it looked like it came about because he was a dedicated doctor, and couldn’t bear to lose patients by not being around to help them.  Well, and because he was kind of a control freak and unwilling to delegate work and trust other doctors to handle it as well as he could.  This adds another layer: he wanted to be completely absorbed in his job, with no life outside of it, because he had no idea what his life outside his job would be.

Lyta goes to the new Vorlon ambassador, who begins to psychically strangle her.  She apologizes for not being here when Kosh died.  “He wasn’t with me when I left.  Not even a piece of him,” she says.  The Vorlon tells her she has failed, and confirms with her that there was no one else with Kosh when he died.  “He’s gone,” he says.  Which implies that Kosh would not necessarily be gone if someone had been with him when he died.

Lyta goes to see Sheridan and says that everything is fine with the new ambassador, and they’re just taking Kosh’s death hard.  When Sheridan asks her if there is a problem, she hears Kosh’s voice in her head saying the same thing.  Remember that the last person Kosh spoke to before his death was Sheridan – that he appeared in one of Sheridan’s dreams as Sheridan’s father.  So if there is some piece of Kosh remaining, it may be with Sheridan.

Sheridan reports to the anti-Shadow resistance group that the team learned (back in “Ship of Tears”) that telepaths may be able to interfere with the organic tech of Shadow ships and shut down the ships’ central operating systems.  Sheridan proposes testing this idea by taking Lyta on the White Star to engage and destroy a Shadow ship.  He asks for capital ships to come along in case the White Star’s weapons are unable to harm even a crippled Shadow ship.  G’Kar offers to discuss the mission with the captain of the Narn heavy cruiser; Delenn immediately volunteers a Minbari ship.  Ivanova and Garibaldi recommend bringing along some Minbari telepaths as backup in case Lyta by herself isn’t strong enough, and Delenn backs them up; Sheridan opposes this, but is outvoted.

The captain of the Narn heavy cruiser opposes sending it on a “fool’s errand”.  He’s seen the records of the ship’s last fight against a Shadow vessel and thinks it has no chance of defeating one, and that the Narn’s few remaining resources cannot be wasted in such a mission.  The White Star departs on its mission with Lyta onboard.

In Downbelow, Franklin sits down to have a drink and listen to an attractive singer.  They flirt; her name’s Catelyn.  She looks at Franklin through the prism of her glass, saying she’s looking at his soul, but all she sees is pieces.  She likes, him though, and they spend the night.  Franklin feels that she should have a better life, and offers to help her financially; she says she’s fine, but asks for metazine, a presecription narcotic that she says helps her sleep.  Franklin, edgy about the subject, tells her she would sleep better if she drank less, and takes her glass away; he says he can’t get her the drugs.

G’Kar is woken up in the middle of the night by Garibaldi, who yells at him for not sending the Narn ship on the mission  Slightly unfair, in my opinion, as no one was in any hurry to look out for the Narn during the war, and G’Kar has given a lot more in the way of resources than he’s gotten so far, when the Narn are – of any of the species opposing the Shadows – the ones with the least resources available to give.  He tells G’Kar that he needs to give the order for the ship to go, even if the captain doesn’t want to, and even if it might not come back, because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the job of a commander to send people to fight even if they don’t want to go.

On the White Star, Lyta asks Sheridan how he knew Kosh had died.  Sheridan says he woke up from a dream and knew that Kosh had died, and that Kosh had touched his mind in that way once before.  He asks why Lyta wants to know, and she says she’s just feeling guilty for not being there.

The White Star and the Minbari cruiser engage the Shadow ship.  Lyta falls to the floor in pain at first when she tries to attack it.  When Sheridan touches her she sees Kosh’s death and gets a new burst of determination. With a furious, “Burn, you bastards,” she stops the Shadow ship in its tracks, though the effort causes her to start bleeding from her eye.  The White Star pours all its power into firing on the Shadow ship, and destroys it – the first destruction of a Shadow ship using conventional firepower (the previous two victories involved a collapsing jumpgate and the gravity well of Jupiter).  However, Lyta says she thinks the ship got off a distress call before it was destroyed, and the White Star can’t jump for another ten minutes because of the power it poured into destroying the Shadow ship.  Four more Shadow ships jump in from hyperspace, but so does a Minbari ship with three telepaths on board, and they successfully paralyze three of the four Shadow ships.  Lyta is too worn out to handle the fourth.  Just as the Shadow ship is about to destroy the White Star, the Narn cruiser jumps in from hyperspace and fires on the Shadow ship; the combination of its firepower with the White Star’s successfully destroys the Shadow ship before it can fire.  G’Kar brings not only the heavy cruiser, but additional Narn ships as well, and the three remaining Shadow ships escape.  “They ran,” says Lennier in wonder.  And Lyta hear’s Kosh’s voice: “And so it begins.”

Catelyn takes Franklin’s ID card while he’s sleeping.  He wakes up and finds her passed out on the floor, with metazine in her hand.  In Medlab she’s put on a metazine drip – she needed it as medicine for a terminal illness, not as an addiction, and she couldn’t afford it any more.  Franklin was projecting his own problems onto her, and that nearly killed her prematurely.  She’s only got about six months to live.  She says that, with the time she’s got left, she wants her singing to provide some comfort and hope for the people in Downbelow.

On her return to the station, Lyta goes to the new Vorlon ambassador and says that it’s possible that someone else has a piece of Kosh, clearly having understood Sheridan’s dream as more important than simply a farewell.

Catelyn recovers and goes back to singing, and the last shot we see is Franklin reflected many times in a drinking glass, still not having found himself.


Guest Author

Katherine is a Christian with a particular interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international development, peace, and social justice issues. She has a master's degree in International Affairs and lives in Canada.

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5 thoughts on “Babylonia!

    • I don’t find his storyline here especially compelling compared with what’s going on, but I think the show deals with it pretty effectively by having the bulk of the episodes be about larger things. This one may be called “Walkabout”, but its primary plotline is the tide starting to turn in the Shadow War, with the alliance using telepaths to finally be able to go head-to-head with Shadow ships and win.

      The nice thing about a show with a lot of different plotlines is that you can pretty much always find at least one that interests you.

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      • I thought he moved from being a boring character to an interesting character (remember the one where the kid died?) to being a boring character again in this arc.

        I hope he becomes an interesting character again.

        The problem with relying on telepathic powers to defeat CGI enemies is that the acting involved all rely on making straining faces. This is a tough tightrope to walk. Tough to the point where I’ve never seen it successfully pulled off.

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