The docks are on strike, Earth senate is striking back, and Londo strikes again. Welcome my friends. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.
1. Full Metal Panic
Continuing on from the continual hints of underfunding and understaffing on Babylon 5, “By Any Means Necessary” tackles the topic of labor, unions, and the relation between the interests of the distant with the lives of the workers. It’s an interesting topic, not least of which because this was another one of those episodes that could have been written yesterday. A new budget is approved and, after “careful” consideration of Sinclair’s requests for more funding for the dock workers, the senate found that there was no way to produce more funds for them. The military however. . .
It’s always nice to be reminded that despite the utopian ideals that Babylon 5 the show espouses, it isn’t afraid to portray a future that is neither perfect nor farfetched. It may be a bit outdated (no cellphones or the internet per say) but it takes from the present and extrapolates to the future. What problems persist – cutting corners with substandard parts, overworked and underpaid employees, and then blaming them for the problems – are ones we experienced then and, sadly, are still experiencing now.
2. The Law of Equivalent Exchange
Most of this episode is concerned with the strike and Sinclair’s attempts to avoid escalation. It’s interesting to see the various pieces at play here and what each party wants, needs and can do. Connelly and Sinclair want the same things, but Sinclair’s hands are tied which means so are Connelly’s. The Senate just doesn’t care, only thinking about the military purposes of the station, and they send Zento, who doesn’t want to negotiate in good faith. He would rather break the group than see it win. He’s quite the villain of the week and I’ve got a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him.
3. Lone Narn and Plant
G’kar’s hunt for the G’quan Eth plant is a B-plot that shouldn’t work here. It’s a bit of a detour from the strikes, isn’t particularly dire and it’s G’Kar, the guy who’s been a bit of a schemer this entire season. But his plot is just too damn compelling for me to knock it. Instead of being annoyed every time we’d cut back to him, I wanted to know what was coming next. What would he resort to, to try and get this sacred plant? Just how desperate is he? And what humanity (or narn-i-ness, I guess) can we find in his struggle against Londo, who is both in the right and being a total dick.
It’s nothing extraordinary but it’s does exactly what it should do: entertain, expand on the character, and intersect with the main plot just enough to tie the two together. For this episode, it is about finding peace in conflict. Both are accomplished via loopholes, one in the spirit of the celebration, the other against the spirit of a harsh and unforgiving law.
4. Future Diary
As I said last week, bits and pieces laid out in the first half of the season are beginning to make themselves relevant towards future plot lines and character motivations. Londo’s toying with G’Kar is born out of the invasion of Ragesh 3 from episode one while the senate’s disapproval of Sinclair’s leadership and less militaristic viewpoint has been building for weeks. Things are changing back on Earth, not always for the better. What comes next is going to be an interesting time for sure.
5. Stray Thoughts
Just a couple quick comments on the episode that didn’t quite fit into a neat box.
The Festival of G’quan: I was getting some mad high holiday vibes from G’kar’s singing. I kept expecting him to start singing the Kadesh Shalem or to blow a shofar.
Guest Writer: Yes, this is one of the few episodes not written by J. Michael Straczynski but you wouldn’t know it unless you saw the credits. The writing was smooth and natural, with plenty of laughs and drama.Continued below
Zento’s Face: Zento’s face was very distracting, especially when next to Connelly’s. I can’t remember if we do but I hope we get a lot more of her coming up.
And that about does it for now. Join me again next week for the episode that titles this season, pirates IN SPACE, and Londo’s special relic located 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:
Londo: “You are asking for quite a sacrifice from me! But, in the interest of interstellar peace and friendship. . .Fifty-thousand credits, in cash, in advance.”
G’kar: “That’s an outrage!”
Londo: “Of course it is! The question is, how important is your religious ceremony to you?”