Our long-delayed third installment of the Babylon 5 Viewing Club is finally here (pause for crickets)!
It’s very difficult to discuss this show without discussing 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 rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
We good? We good! Everybody who has done the watchin’, see you after the cut!
We’ve got two running plot threads this episode: Londo and Adira, and Garibaldi’s unknowing pursuit of Ivanova, who is illicitly using the Gold Channel communications network without authorization.
Quote of the episode, by Londo: “We Centauri live our lives for appearances… positions, status, title… these are the things by which we define ourselves. But when I look past the mask I am forced to wear, I see only emptiness.”
Let’s start with the Garibaldi/Ivanova plot thread, because it’s a little clunky and it is really only about Garibaldi and Ivanova. Ivanova is using the Gold Channel to talk to her father, who is terminally ill at home. Ivanova, as second in command, could certainly wrangle use of the channel officially by just asking Sinclair. From what we’ve seen of the station commander so far, it seems unlikely he’d turn her down. Ivanova, however, undoubtedly regards her private matter as private, giving us some more insight as to where and how she’ll bend rules (something we already knew from the first episode). One expects that at some point in the series, Ivanova might utter a “In Soviet Russia…” joke.
Story note: a third of the way through the episode, we see Garibaldi reading a newspaper, a charming anachronism (“Universe Today”, for the less-sharp-eyed). Garabaldi utters a phrase familiar to all sports fans, “Lousy (Home Team)”. Garabaldi is unfortunately a Dodger fan, which is too bad. However, the Dodgers suck in the future, so that’s kind of awesome.
The Londo and Adira plot thread introduces us to a number of interesting worldbuilding things, simultaneously.
- Production note: Takis is familiar, is he not? B5 does find neat walk-on actors.
- Ko’Dath, G’Kar’s new (unwelcome) aide.
- Londo doesn’t take his diplomatic duties seriously, again, as evidenced by his failure to appear at the Narn-Centauri negotiations.
- Londo, however, does have a strong sense of duty to his home government, in spite of the fact that we already know he doesn’t like it.
- Londo’s Purple Files – and presumably the Purple Files of any ranking Centauri – contain some serious dirt.
- Suggestive drugs and technology enable enhanced interrogation.
- Sinclair’s first duty is to the mission of the station, and he’s willing to manipulate the ambassadors (well, at least G’Kar) to sustain that.
- Slavery is legal in the setting; or to be precise, Centauri have legalized slavery, and it is recognized as a matter of interstellar law, and slave papers are binding on B5.
- N’Grath isn’t just willing to be involved in a plot to assassinate an ambassador, he’s okay with taking jobs that might lead to the death of the commander of the station. Dude’s hard core.
- Ms. Winters is willing to bend PsiCorp rules, but not break them. But PsiCorp rules are seemingly not terribly hard to bend pretty far.
- Londo’s got a mean right cross.
See you next week, with “Infection”!