Monday, November 30, 2015

Babylon 5: And the Sky Full of Stars

Egads! I just realized it's been more than a year since my last B5 post. Not coincidentally, my previous review appeared just prior to our big move. I've watched more episodes since then, just not written them up. I'll try to rectify that.

I am re-watching the entire Babylon 5 television series. I had not seen a single episode since B5 completed its tumultuous run. Does J. Michael Straczynski still have the touch? Come along and find out.

In Valen's Name: Two paranoid, xenophobic conspiracy theorists from Earth, going by the monikers "Knight One" and Knight Two," arrive on Babylon 5 and promptly abduct Commander Sinclair and connect him to a kind of neural virtual reality simulator. Through it, Knight Two is able to confront Sinclair in a deserted simulation of Babylon 5 and force the Commander to relive the Battle of the Line. The Knights are convinced Sinclair's "missing time" during the battle contains proof that Sinclair is actually a Minbari agent working to destroy Earth Alliance from the inside. Through various plot twists, Sinclair's resistance to the machine breaks down and he finds himself leading his squadron on a disastrous attack against the Minbari fleet. His Star Fury damaged, he tries to ram the nearest cruiser but is captured and taken aboard where he is tortured and taken before the Grey Council. There's he demands "What do you want?" and pulls the hood off one of the council members... and seed Delenn. The shock of seeing her allows him to break free of the neural device and overcomes his captors. Hallucinating, he see station personnel as Minbari and tries to fight them, but Delenn intervenes and talks him down. Sinclair pretends to remember nothing, but privately vows to discover what the Minbari were doing with him and Delenn's mysterious role.

What Jayme Says: Not the greatest episode, but it does stand out in the series and hints at much, much bigger story lines to come. It address some questions first raised during "The Gathering" which hadn't received much attention and casual viewers may have forgotten about. In some series, such big questions are posed and never touched on again (*cough* X-Files *cough* Lost *cough*). Namely, the initial mystery surrounding Sinclair, "There's a hole in your mind." Lost time, alien abduction, etc. Sinclair certainly didn't have an easy go of it, not as a Minbari prisoner, and not as a captive of the Knights. And Delenn is finally, unambiguously connected with such shenanigans, although we've suspected this for some time. The point's driven home once again just how badly Earth's defenses were defeated by the Minbari, and no hint of why that alien race abruptly surrendered is given. Answers aren't given, but the questions are given clearer context and viewers are promised they won't be left hanging indefinitely. Also, the dysfunctional, unpleasant nature of Earth politics are reenforced--something that is repeated and amplified in future episodes.

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