Doctor Franklin is confronted with another clash of cultures, Delenn and Sheridan grow closer over a feast, and the spectre of death looms heavy over the station. 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.
1. Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my innards burn
Let’s begin on the strangely placed comic relief scene, because it’s the least heavy and I feel OK cracking jokes at it. Remember how a few episodes ago Delenn and Sheridan shared a dinner together? Well, that bit has returned, only with the Minbari treating the human and coming off of Rosh Hashanah, I can’t help but feel bad for Sheridan. It would be like someone who has never been to a single Jewish function suddenly going to a Rosh Hashanah service. They’d be so lost! Bored too. Also terrified of making a mistake and accidentally being rude.
Despite this scene being tonally dissonant with the A-plot, even though that is how life works in times of great upheaval, the mundane and the extraordinary live hand in hand, I still get a kick out of it. Poor Lennier. He deserves better, although they really should have warned Sheridan beforehand since the stakes are so dire. Two days of cooking and if one thing goes wrong he’s gotta do it again? Woof. At least the flarn came out well.
2. Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches!
Speaking of people getting shut down by Sheridan, Keffer has been performing searches on his own time for the mysterious ship he saw in hyperspace. While we know, both via the magic of TV, and from Sheridan and Delenn’s conversation two weeks ago, that it’s a ship from the shadows and if it weren’t, Sheridan shutting down Keffer’s searches for it cements it.
It’s a small scene but checking in on what Keffer has been doing, and bringing a bit of tension between him and Sheridan, is a good development that can simmer in the background for a while. It’s clear Keffer doesn’t want to give it up, he’ll just have to get more creative in the future.
It also gives us an amazing line from Ivanova that, *chef’s hand kiss,* is just perfect.
3. Though I cry out and plead, He shuts out my prayer.
At first, I thought we would have another situation similar to that season one episode, where the family refuses to save their child, but instead, we get an even more topical episode. The doctor, while stand-offish at the start, soon opens up and by episode’s end, he had wormed his way into being one of the best guest stars we’ve had thus far. Jim Norton does a killer job as Dr. Lazarenn, struggling with the instructions he was given from his fearful and prideful government, himself full of fear as to what might happen were he to say anything. He’s a compelling character and him and Doctor Franklin get some fantastic moments together.
I was also afraid that they were trying to make this an analog to the AIDS crisis and how governmental moratoriums on language (not allowed to say any sexual fluids or even blood, just bodily fluids, which gave rise to the myth of HIV being spread via spit) and cultural scapegoating killed millions, destroyed public awareness as to how to actually prevent the spread, and stopped research until it was too late. Thankfully, Dr. Franklin name drops it, placing this not as an analog but instead as a new occurrence of an old social ill, one we’re experiencing once again with climate data here in the US. To quote Doctor Franklin, “Nothing changes.”
4. They have heard how I sigh, and there is none to comfort me
Back to Delenn and Lennier, they get to participate in a very major way in the A-plot as well. They go to comfort the people who have entered the isolation zone, a noble gesture and one that is in line with their upbringing as religious caste members. It gives us an in into the zone and also sets up some of the most gut-wrenching scenes of the episode. When Delenn and Lennier are searching for the child’s mom, we’re optimistic but also worried that, maybe, she died already. Thankfully she isn’t and the two are reunited.Continued below
Then the child stumbles and we get a close-up on Delenn’s increasingly distraught face.
And then we see no more until Dr. Franklin arrives with the cure.
5. O how has the city that was once so populous remained lonely!
This was a deeply tense episode. Aside from the few jokey moments that break the tone, JMS and the crew creates this encroaching sense of doom that culminates in, first, the death of Dr. Lazarenn, which broke my heart. Even though it gave Dr. Franklin the data he needed to craft the start of a cure, it was a heavy sacrifice. . .one that, ultimately, was futile. The Markab’s in the chamber all succumbed to the plague, as did everyone on their homeworld and the colonies.
The whole species, gone. It’s a horrible way to end an episode, and I mean that not with a quality judgement attached. The episode is lovingly crafted and built for maximum impact, which makes the reveal and Delenn’s sobbing in to Sheridan, as well as the ending scene, all the more painful to watch. It’s powerful and even seeing the death flags earlier in the episode, I was stunned. What a way to begin the final five.
That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for the return of a character I don’t know, spy shenanigans, and a big reveal 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: “Yes. There’s also something in here. The something in here is me giving you an order. If there’s some part of that sentence that you don’t understand I’ll explain it over the next four months. Where you’ll be watching Zeta Squadron go on missions without you.”