Lennier falls in love with a motorcycle, Ivanova is pestered by Bester-lite, and Sinclair’s command is challenged. 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. Lennier X Motorcycle
The trope of a future society revisiting, reconstructing, and reinterpreting “modern” symbols, technologies, and culture is so much fun and, honestly, ages better than it has any right to. It’s telling of the ways in which we conceive of the past and how meaning is assigned throughout time. We have a cultural touchstone as to what these items are and what they mean in the present day (see Doctor Who’s line of playing the Earth classic “Toxic”) but the characters do not, which makes the dissonance hilarious, despite the fact that, well, that’s exactly how we treat objects of culture that are hundreds or thousands of years old. There’s reverence, nostalgia and learned about symbolism that may or may not be true but is certainly assigned backwards in time.
Also, Lennier is basically obsessed with rebuilding a motorcycle and, unknowingly, stealing the joy of a good puzzle away from Garibaldi. It’s absurd and kind of weird but in an episode with other quite serious plot-threads, it’s a welcome respite.
2. The Haunting of Ivanova
Ivanova’s hatred of the Psi-corp is well-documented by this point in the show. It runs deep and so it’s no surprise that we end up getting a wonderful, eerie dream sequence that’s something straight out of a David Lynch movie. It’s a visual representation that’s certainly been the most effective way of conveying her trauma so far. We understood it before but now we get to experience it, to see it, to feel it. It’s a pain that runs deep, only heightened by the revelation that her mother used to share her thoughts and feelings telepathically with Susan. If you could feel the love another had for you, only to have it ripped away, wouldn’t you want to preserve it against the ones who took it from you?
3. Bester is the Worst
Bester is a shadow player at best in this episode but when his meddling, Checkov-y fingerprints are found all over the investigation into Sinclair’s leadership of Babylon 5, it’s no surprise. It also makes Mr. Grey’s change of heart near the end and actual convictions a surprise. Talia Winters we know and understand to have a conscience, to be at odds with the worst of Psi Corps’ attitudes and practices, whereas Mr. Grey was simply an antagonist and a creepy one at that. His constant appearances near Ivanova was unsettling to say the least and nothing about his performance screamed “decent fellow.” But as the episode progressed, we see that he’s just a bumbler and his belief in the Corps had twisted his sense of personal space and privacy. It doesn’t excuse his actions but it does help provide an arc for the episode.
4. The Trial of Jeffrey Sinclair
Man, Sinclair is put through the ringer this week. He has to pull out all the stops, look up all the bylaws and loopholes and really play the system in order to get Benzine off his back. It’s quite tense watching Benzine slowly erode the power Sinclair has while Sinclair desperately tries to keep things under control. The episodic nature of season 1 also allows for this kind of episode to feel like another culmination of previous events while also fleshing the world out. It shows that there is a continuity beyond simply the growth of characters or the return of old ones. Every event matters. Every event has weight, big and small, and they all have lasting consequences, both seen and unseen.
5. BAR FIGHT! BAR FIGHT!
Ivanova gets major league drunk and starts a bar fight, which Garibaldi has to break up. There’s something so comical about this scene and yet it’s tragic at the same time. It’s Ivanova’s lowest point in the episode but it’s just so out of character for her, to get in a loud bar fight. But, then again, she was being harangued by a bunch of assholes and they deserved to get a swift kick in the teeth. It’s a scene that, while not having much of a larger impact on the episode, remains one of my favorite parts of the episode.Continued below
That about does it for now. Join me again next week for the parade of a Minbari War Chief, a missing body, and Sinclair being forced to relive some of his war memories 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:
Garibaldi: “If I knew who God was, I’d thank her.”