Babylon 5 s2 ep19 - Featured Television 

Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “Divided Loyalties”

By | October 10th, 2019
Posted in Television | % Comments

There is a mole among the crew and it could be anyone, there is romance in the air and it could be wonderful, there are secrets in the shadow and they threaten everyone. 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. The Psi-Corpsian Candidate

In a universe with telepaths, ones who are mostly corralled under a shady, quasi-fascist governmental organization, there was bound to be an episode about sleeper agents. It’s a given! That fact should make this episode pretty standard and boring but, as is the great strength of Babylon 5, the drama within is anything but. Why? Well, because most of it centers around Ivanova and Claudia Christian is the best. There’s also the matter of this being built on the backs of previously established and explored information, specifically Ivanova’s distrust of telepaths.

Why? Well, if the context clues are to be believed, it’s because she may be the mole herself! What a twist that would have been, right? Instead, we get a much more plausible and emotionally difficult reason: she’s a latent telepath and has been hiding it her entire life. This is a huge bombshell for us, recontextualizing her fear and hatred of Psi-Corps. It wasn’t just that she lost her mother, and the deep close emotional connection that literally feeling her love in her mind brought, but she also knew that the same could happen to her if she were found out, something which rightly should be terrifying.

We see this when Lyta scans her and fully reveals to the room that she has telepathic abilities. It’s hard and difficult and painful, an invasion of privacy to the extreme. Claudia Christian’s facial expressions are fantastic and man, that scene just breaks my heart.

2. What’s Eating Lyta Alexander?

I don’t particularly like Lyta Alexander, which I won’t put at the foot of the actress but instead the character. There’s something unhinged about her, wide-eyed, anxious yet spacey. The scene where I noticed it the most was when she was talking to ambassador Kosh. I dunno, it’s petty and probably says something about me but I found the whole thing grating. Even Amis, whose performance I enjoyed the heck out, got to a point where I just couldn’t deal with the over-the-top intensity.

Putting that aside, Lyta makes for an interesting guest, as she left the show after the original pilot movie (which I still have yet to see) but has remained an important part of the lore of the series. Apparently, she was removed from the show and replaced with Talia Winters because of studio meddling (I could not find a primary source on this but I’m sure there’s information out there,) so it’s fitting that her return to the show comes in the Trap Door episode for Talia. Why her actress left the show I also don’t know, I believe it was due to her character not being given enough screen time but, again, no easily found primary sources as the Wikipedia links are all dead and most articles don’t cite their dang information.

. . .What was I saying again? Oh! Yeah. Lyta Alexander and her horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day. Having to pump the password into hundreds of minds? Oof, that’s gotta be a hell of a time.

3. Betrayal, Actually?

Despite Sinclair leaving at the end of season one, Andrea Thompson’s departure as of this episode is the first major trap-door to be opened for the main characters. As with most TV shows, the inclusion of characters is highly dependent on 1) the studio, 2) their schedules, and 3) the desire to remain on the show season after season. To combat this, JMS wrote ways for every major character to leave the show in a natural fashion. Unfortunately, Talia Winters’ departure happened to coincide with them finally making more overt moves towards her and Ivanova’s relationship.

If B5 were to have been made today, well, beyond not knowing if it would’ve been as good — simply because there may have been an insistence on a shinier, cleaner set, robbing must of the aesthetic atmosphere, not to mention needing a whole different cast and a new pool of veteran character actors — this romance would have been more overt and given more time to develop on-screen. It’s one of the biggest failings, I’d say, of these first two seasons and, really, that’s because the plot line ended before it could even begin.

Continued below

Ivanova really gets the short straw this week, between the scan and the loss of Talia who she had finally, finally connected with, in addition to the real bitter pill she has to swallow about all the things Talia’s evil alter-ego said. It’s heartbreaking and Ivanova deserves better.

I do wonder how Ironside missed this programming in Talia, or how the programming missed her telekinetic powers, but maybe it can be chalked up to Ironside knowing and blocking that part from seeing the new powers. . .or it’s a plot point that had to be thrown to the wayside because of the more pressing issue of her leaving.

4. Love, Maybe?

On the more overt tale of romance, Delenn and Sheridan have been making goo-goo eyes at each other for a little while and it’s starting to come to a head. Where do they go from here? I dunno. I’m not particularly interested in this subplot, at least not at the moment. It’ll go somewhere, I’m sure, but for now, it hasn’t grabbed me except to illustrate how silly these two are together.

5. There’s Something About Garibaldi

So, I know I didn’t spend any thoughts really talking about the implications of there being a mole, or about the ways in which this could have been used to reveal information about the station beforehand, but I wanted to quickly bring attention to Garibaldi’s joke at the end because, well, it was funny and is illustrative of a greater question, namely, how one copes through laughter. Garibaldi is always the bearer of bad jokes. He’s corny and silly and often doesn’t think too hard about what he’s saying.

Here, he pretends to be taken over thanks to the code-word. It’s not particularly humorous to anyone in the show, though to us it is, mainly due to Jerry Doyle’s performance. However, Sheridan does crack a small smile, and thus his joke worked; it alleviated the overpowering tension in the room and brought a bit of levity to the situation. Was it 100% appropriate? Probably not. But sometimes we need a little inappropriate humor in tough times to help us get through it.

That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for the third to last episode of the season, things get even more serious, and Sheridan learns some more secrets 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:

Sheridan: You sound like a motorboat.

Delenn: Motorbutt? I do not think I like the sound of that.

//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 wining 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 really needs to update his profile photo again.


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