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Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “All Alone in the Night”

By | August 15th, 2019
Posted in Television | % Comments

Midseason is upon us and the season shows no sign of slowing down, nor does it have any stupid, awful, BS cliffhangers before it goes on break for a month and then returns in fits and starts until going out in a blaze of glory in mid-May. . .

What I mean to say is, Sherridan is Lost in Space, the council of nine find itself on The Expanse, and we get the first taste of what may become a true Time Crisis. 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. Strange Case of Ambassador Delenn and the Council of Nine

Ambassador Delenn has been skirting the edges of this plotline for a few episodes now but with this being the midway point of the season, it seems like the best time for Delenn’s change, and disobedience of the council, to come to a head. It’s clear that her meeting was causing her great strain, considering she talked about the council’s decision as if it were a mob boss’s decision whether or not to have an underling go sleep with the fishes. She does not end up in that position. . .but what she learns at the council meeting may have been just a bad.

First, they reject her, snubbing and shunning her at the meeting they called. Watching Delenn struggle against a body she used to be a part of, of a people that used to respect her and treat her with dignity, all because she changed the appearance of the meat prison we are all forced to shamble around in, is heartbreaking. To add insult to injury, we learn that the one chosen to replace her on the council is a corporate, industry insider shill — sorry, I mean of the Warrior caste, whereas she was of the religious caste.

What does it say when your governing body, created to protect the people from tyranny and preserve ideals that are not innate, but must instead be striven for, is co-opted by the hawks and the ones who value a false conception of what makes peoples great, the balance of power being broken in favor of cruelty and anger? Well, it says things are going to get worse before they get better, if ever.

It’s a big theme in B5, how fascism claws itself back to power in peacetime. It’s only going to get more prominent from here on out so I think I’ll leave it at that. It does remind me of this quote from “Death’s End,” the final book in the “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” trilogy,

“So, let me tell you, when humans are lost in space, it takes only five minutes to reach totalitarianism.”
-Cixin Liu


2. The Wrong Planet

I love how, even this far into the future, Baseball has survived but no one realized that playing it on two different planets would fuck with the number. Granted, it’s like comparing stats from 1930 to today and thinking they’re the same, when the equipment is so different and hell, the standards of stadiums and such are totally different too! But that’s the funny part of the human mind, innit? We love our patterns and records and the ability to infuse personal stakes into human feats that have absolutely nothing to do with us.

What was also funny was Dr. Franklin taking up that bet with Ramirez. It’s a terrible bet! All the Mars team has to do is win one game and he’s out 200 credits. What was he thinking?!

. . .Oh, right.

3. Catriona

I’m a little bitter that Ramirez bites the big one. It was clearly telegraphed, sure, he was a red shirt, and season two has shown that the death of soldiers is common, but this one hit poorly. He deserved better and we got this little bit of a connection to him just so his death would feel sadder. However, I’ll contend that the show has done enough heavy lifting as to establishing the price of life and death and they spend the energy to not brush off even a death as “small” as this one.

Continued below

Death in media is often taken for granted and used for shock value or as a motivator for a main character. Here, while it does serve a plot purpose, Ramirez is treated with respect and his death means something. He was given agency and a focus and his loss is a tragedy that Sherridan and others recognize. “Why me?” he asks. Why did I survive and not him? And the answer is luck. . .and plot armor.

4. Kidnapped

Speaking of Sherridan, he was kidnapped, prodded, probed and forced to fight other prisoners this week. It reminded me of an Outer Limits episode crossed with a very janky OG Star Trek episode. Like, there’s the social commentary, the closed set, the weird, weird sci-fi stuff and then there’s the aliens who are literally the greys with giant black eyes. I burst out laughing when I saw that because, well, normally the costuming and makeup is very good but this was decidedly not.

I dunno what they were thinking. Maybe it was all that was on set and they needed something since it would be way too expensive to design something that was going to be on screen for, like, less than a minute. Or maybe they thought it’d be funny and if so, I’m glad they did.

5. The Conspiring Crew

It’s been pretty clear since the season began that there’s something seriously shifty about Earth Gov now. The crew of B5 have known it but now they’re beginning to do something. I think the thing about this development I find the most satisfying, narratively, is how it ties in why Sherridan was appointed to B5 in the wake of Sinclair being sent away. President Clark clearly didn’t want someone like Sinclair again on the station, why else send him away, and as I’ve mentioned a bunch of times before, Sherridan is a very different kind of captain.

However, he’s also similar to Sinclair in the ways that matter and in way that, apparently, no one noticed before his appointment. Because of this, the decision to move forward quietly makes sense, since it’d be easy for the crew to be replaced if wind of an investigation got around. If there’s one thing a corrupt regime hates, it’s an investigation into their dealings and the conclusion that they willfully or otherwise, commited crimes to secure their own petty desire for personal power.

Anyone notice a theme to my bitterness this week? (Apologies, but only for the volume.)

That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for the start of the back half of the season, the war gets more personal, if that’s even possible, and Ivanova is given another unenviable job 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:

Sherridan: What about Ramirez?

Dr. Franklin: He made it back, but we lost him. Radiation poisoning.

Sherridan: . . .It doesn’t make sense, does it?. . . I mean. . .why am I still alive and he. . .he was just a kid. . .It’s not fair.

Dr. Franklin: No, it’s not. . . Death never is.

//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. Co-host of Make Mine Multiversity, a Marvel podcast, after winning the no-prize from the former hosts, co-editor of The Webcomics Weekly, and writer of the Worthy column, he can be found on Twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his profile photo again.


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