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    Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “A Distant Star”

    By | June 27th, 2019
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    What’s out there in the cracks between what we can observe and what we can sense, in the darkness that creeps along the edges of knowledge and historical memory? Is it friend or foe? Or are those categories too limited, and we should be much, much more scared than we are?

    Welcome my friends. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

    Spoilers ahead.

    1. Soylent is a Real Company. I Kid You Not.

    Of all the plots that Dr. Franklin could be featured in, him going on a nutrition kick and creating micromanagey, meal plans for everyone on the crew is not something I ever would have predicted. It’s kind of hilarious how an entire B plot is dedicated to this, more so when you consider that the set up seems perfectly reasonable: Garibaldi has recently come out of a coma, with a blaster wound on his back, and so should be eating more of certain things. It seems fine, and we get a humorous exchange between the two, complete with a lengthy list of foods he cannot eat, which includes every ingredient in his favorite dish.

    It’s a fun aside but I couldn’t help but wonder. . .why was it here? What purpose did it serve? It couldn’t have just been a diversion from the more serious plots, a way of bringing some levity into the episode, could it? Well, for the most part. . .yeah, that’s exactly what it was. At the end of the episode, we get some more insight into Garibaldi and into why this dish is so important to him, and perhaps making Garibaldi & Franklin more connected but beyond that, there isn’t much of consequence accomplished by the plot. But that’s what makes Babylon 5 so fun to watch, these weird plots that are only here to give us a bit of character focus, like Lennier and the motorcycle, and to make the world more mundane, so that the extraordinary is more impactful.

    2. Captain Insecurity

    While I love Bruce Boxleitner’s performance, I can’t help but miss Michael O’Hare’s Sinclair. It doesn’t happen all the time when watching season 2 but I certainly feel it every so often. There was a charm to him that was built up over the course of season one that is now missing from the station, one which the show, to its benefits, isn’t trying to fill, instead crafting new challenges for Sheridan to encounter and new insecurities to watch him struggle with.

    Case and point: Sheridan & Ivanova’s conversation midway through the episode. Sheridan is not a diplomat, this isn’t his type of post and he is both chafing up against it and unsure of if he is good enough for the position. He sees the fiddly parts of the job as overwhelmingly petty and resents having to become a politician. He cannot see how his position as captain of B5 is important and similar to what he had before and it takes a stern conversation with Ivanova to start putting him in his place.

    3. Explorers of Hyperspace

    I’m sorry but I could not stand Captain Maynard or the crew of his ship. There was something. . .deeply wooden about everyone and they almost felt like they should have been a part of the Star Trek universe: fitting seeing as how this episode was the final of three written by D.C. Fontana, a scribe on the original series. But the problems really lay in the acting.

    Maynard wasn’t bad, more so he just felt off, too jolly and spoke too fast, like someone who didn’t quite know their lines and was crazy nervous but was doing a pretty good job of hiding it behind charisma and some stellar ad libbing. The rest of the crew though. . .they scream TV extras, which is a shame because I suspect this was many of their first speaking lines. Oh well, it could always be worse. They could have been forced to sing.

    4. To Everything there is a Season, Turn, Turn, Turn

    My favorite part of this episode, bar none, is the fact that halfway through, the whole thing takes a 180 and goes from the standard “old friend shows up to get the main character to rethink their life/see how much they’ve changed” to a rescue mission. Honestly, there was little telegraphing this other than Maynard’s testimony about how there is something strange out on the rim. But, were you not to have watched this episode before, you would think this is a plot point to be paid off much later and to further help push G’Kar in his conviction about Z’ha’dum.

    Continued below

    I love that because it further sets B5 apart from other TV shows, while also keeping the episode engaging and surprising. From a plot perspective, it also gives us a lot to chew on about how these ships are traveling, how they’re able to appear and disappear, and how dangerous this makes them.

    5. My name is Izuku Midoriya and This is the Story of How I Became the #1 Pilot.

    It may have only taken four episodes but we finally are learning why Keller is in the theme as a main cast member, although it isn’t quite clear in what way he will affect the show going forwards. Of all the main cast member, he and G’Kar are the only ones to have directly seen these mysterious ships, and Keller almost died because of them. He lost his C.O. and narrowly escaped death in hyperspace. He saw something impossible that others don’t seem to be inclined to believe, if G’Kar’s plea back in “Revelations” is any indication. He also has been promoted, which is sure to be conflicting for him, all things considered.

    That’s going to take a toll and if there’s one thing I know about this show, it’s that the ramifications of this event will echo out for a long time to come, in ways small and large.

    That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for a haunting in space, the literal devil, and a kinda creepy relationship that was uncomfortable to watch on the station that wraps humans and aliens in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal . . . all alone in the night.

    This is Elias. Signing out.

    Best Line of the Night:

    Ivanova: “All my life I’ve fought against imperialism. Now, I am the expanding Russian frontier.”

    //TAGS | 2019 Summer TV Binge | Babylon 5

    Elias Rosner

    Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. He can be found on twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his photo to be a hair nicer than before.


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