Babylonia!

Our long-delayed fourth installment of the Babylon 5 Viewing Club is finally here (pause for crickets)!

The introductory post was here, The Soul Hunter was covered here, and Born to the Purple was covered right here.

This week: Infection! You can watch it here, and the Wikipedia synopis is here.

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!

Some more political background, here at the beginning. Even Lloyd’s of London thought the station was going to be toast. Another case of Sinclair being off playing fighter-jockey. Garibaldi makes inappropriate comments. I know the writers are trying to make him “likeable rogue”, but he keeps coming off as “skeevy”.

Quarantine on the station looks woefully low-security. One guy between an incoming ship and the general population of the station?

The good doctor’s archeologist friend gives us some meta-world exposition. Biotechnology is pretty limited, for the human civilization. Maybe the Mimbari have biotech, but the humans don’t, at least not sophisticated biotech (from the standpoint of 2013, B5’s human population seems behind the curve when it comes to technology). Space archeology relationship with B5’s earth civilization sounds a little bit like the world of Ridley Scott’s “Weyland Corporation”.

Ah, we find out that Garibaldi has a history of being a screwup. This is a huge surprise!

The alien bio-weapon-person-hybrid storyline reminds me a bit of the neutronium planet-eating carrot from Star Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine”. Turns out these superweapons destroyed their own civilization because of a programming loophole. Ah, the hubris of weapons developers.

Sinclair goes Full Kirk, and tricks the monster with a straight-up Nomad logic bomb.

Personal aside: the first time we saw this episode, a couple of friends abandoned this series as just a Star Trek, the original series ripoff. The parallels between some of the episodes and the some of the themes played out in ST:TOS don’t end with this episode, but I’ve always thought this is because a lot of the themes in ST:TOS are pretty much timeless science fiction themes, and the B5 treatment of a lot of those themes often comes from a different angle. End aside.

We have a nice little Garibaldi-Sinclair moment towards the end.

Garibaldi: “I think they’re looking for something worth dyin’ for, because it’s easier than lookin’ for something worth living for.”

Sinclair: “I don’t have an answer for you, and I think that maybe I should”.

Earthforce Defense, Bioweapons Division confiscates the alien artifacts. Will this turn out like Alien3?

In our last scene, we have the long-delayed interview between the reporter and the Commander. On behalf of a growing movement of Earthers, she asks him, “Is this all worth it, or should we pull back and keep to ourselves?” Sinclair offers in return a defense of the space station’s mission that pretty much defines the philosophy of the show… eventually, the Sun is going to blow up and take Earth, and all of Earth’s memories of all of its civilization, with it. Unless we go to the stars.

16 thoughts on “Babylonia!

  1. Yeah, I found this to be the weakest of the episodes we’ve watched so far.

    The stuff I found interesting was stuff like “customs” and “how easy it is to get past customs” and “law enforcement relies on criminals being dumb even in the future”.

      • Then again, maybe that’s something that the writers wanted us to notice. “Holy crap, people are inept in the future. I mean, like, *EVERYWHERE*.”

        Remember the scene in “A History Of Violence”?

        *HOW DO YOU (mess) THAT UP? HOW DO YOU (mess) THAT UP?*

        Well, we see, quite often, people (mess)ing up.

      • (a) I think the doctor is kind of boring because I suspect that the people who wrote the series think that actual geeks like to identify with the heroes but also like having their own boring selves reflected in the show to play off of. That’s coming out as word salad, but I have an honest-to-goodness idea in there. Maybe I’ll flesh it out later.

        (b) Now I need to go watch that scene again.

  2. Yes, this was not a one of the better episodes. I think the thing I like about it the most is the conversation between Garibaldi and Sinclair at the end. It probably is not, but I always looked at that as a slap against Star Trek and an attempt to show B5 is different.

    A couple things to take from this episode is Earth is doing anything it can to make better weapons. They are even condoning murder. Does that give you a warm and fuzzy for were that may go?

  3. This episode wasn’t all that great – I liked Garibaldi’s first scene, but the show can be overly blatant with its chosen moral themes, and that certainly shows up in this episode. Station security is definitely ridiculously lax, seen from the perspective of the post-9/11 world. On the flip side, I like that Sheridan’s quite reckless disregard for his own safety despite his position as Commander of the station has been brought up, meaning that it’s actually part of the plot and not just a way of raising tension.

    And biotech is cool, even when it looks amazingly like “stuff we found in the props department”.

  4. I hate this episode. In my opinion, unless I am forgetting something, it is the worst episode of the series. I ended up watching it twice for our book club, because my first time through I got distracted and did not pay any attention.

    I really like the premise, but the dialogue and everything else was just so heavy-handed and preachy. It almost felt like a “Very Special Episode.”

    The customs guy was an idiot. You suspect someone is smuggling something, and you announce your concern, but you do not take precautions? Maybe Garibaldi will take some steps to tighten things up.

    The alien weapon, after realizing what they had done, asks The Great Maker for forgiveness. This is the same term Londo uses. Have we heard this term from any of the other races?

    When do we finally meet Lennier? I did not realize it took so long for him to show up.

  5. B5 Scrolls is a nifty site with a lot of behind the scenes pictures, interviews, etc. It focuses heavily on the visual effects side of things. Some of it could be considered somewhat spoilerish, for various reasons, so if you have not seen the entire series, you may want to bookmark it for now.

    http://www.themadgoner.com/B5/B5Scrolls/B5Scrolls.htm

  6. Yep, not the best episode. The doc’s role only gets interesting much later in the story arc, and only around a certain event in year 3 or 4, we he’s on Mars with another guy. Then there was that whole “walkabout” fiasco. Ugh.

    Hope that wasn’t a spoiler!

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