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Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “Hunter, Prey”

By | August 29th, 2019
Posted in Television | % Comments

A doctor is on the run from a corrupt administration, the B5 crew does their damnedest to give them the runaround, and Kosh’s ship is really weird y’all. 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. Franklin and Jacob’s Bodacious Doctoring

As season two moves into its second half, the greater plots and narratives begin to take on more of a presence in the episodes. In “Hunter, Prey,” that takes the form of Doctor Jacobs and his data crystal of doom. And by doom I mean, it has the medical records that act as proof that the president was lying about being sick, and got off the ship intentionally. Whether he simply knew about the assassination plot or was more involved in it, we don’t know nor is that proof here, but what this reveals is that President Clark was illicitly placed into his position of power thanks to the interference of an outside party.

This is something we’ve suspected for a good half season but it’s nice to have it confirmed. Well, not nice, but you know what I mean. But back to Jacobs.

The doctor is an interesting guest character because he spends most of the episode running from one damsel situation to the next, his valuable data crystal stolen by one of the recurring lurkers on the ship that whose name I am totally blanking on, before eventually ending up unconscious in a ship that looks like it’s made of lime Jell-O. [Future Elias here: His name is Max. He’s got those stupid Max Headroom glasses and he has never shown up before, nor will he show up again. Poor Max.]

He is the definition of a Macguffin and I kind of love it? The (late) actor, who you may know as Soctrates from the most righteous of movies Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, does a great job of selling the character’s terror and complete ineptitude at escaping, mostly because he’s a doctor and is only on the run because he’s an honest person in a dishonest administration. But beyond that, he’s not particularly compelling. Unlike other guests, his purpose is to transparently forward the plot, to show us where all our characters stand and how they will use their power to maneuver the systems in place in order to do the right thing. It’s effective, but it doesn’t make for the most compelling 42 minutes when coming off the previous two episodes.

Alternatively, he’s a marginally less silly version of Eric Andre here.

2. Corridors of Pinging

I had a few more thoughts on President Clark and the trajectory that plotline is going, as well as they ways in which it does, and more importantly does not, reflect our current world but honestly, I talk about that every week, and at this point, even I’m getting tired of hearing myself talk about it. I know? Imagine me getting tired of my own voice (or writings, in this case.) Madness! Instead, let’s talk about discount Willem Dafoe! Yup, that’s all I know him as. I think his name is Zack Allen and is played by the late Jeff Conaway (one day I’ll get to talking about how many main cast members have died since the show ended because it is a not insignificant amount and they all were not that old.) This week, he’s walking around with a device that goes ping and trying to find a doctor but not trying too hard to find the doctor.

You’ve seen this character around but, unlike Keffer, he doesn’t get credit status because he’s really just a recurring side- character. But that is what I love about him! He’s a familiar face beyond the main cast and his presence, just like the other head security officer, makes the place feel alive and populated with people and not props, unlike some other shows I review. . . Briana Venzkus ended upon S.H.I.E.L.D. so I’m only marginally OK.

What was I saying? Right, discount Will Dafoe. He’s always a delight when he’s on screen and I cannot wait to see more of him in future episodes.

Continued below

3. The Clairvoyant

Kosh has been a mystery ever since episode one and while he remains just as mysterious now as then, we’re getting to know the Vorlon a little bit more thanks to his interactions with Sheridan. We see (hear?) him get angry for the first time, thanks to Sheridan unintentionally asking him Morden’s favorite question. I’m all for this. Kosh’s mysterious aloofness was starting to get a little, not stale but. . .predictable, and gaining access to the creature beneath the encounter suit, even if it is just a cryptic as ever, is a step in the right direction. It feels like he is finally going to be a more active member of the show, which is both an electrifying and terrifying prospect because of what it means for the characters.

4. Angry Cranston: Beyond Downtown

Outside of Kosh & the doctor’s plotline, there really isn’t all that much going on in the episode to discuss. Like I said earlier, this was an OK episode, though by season one standards it is fantastic, and I found myself drifting more than I would have liked. Cranston, the general sent to oversee the investigation is stock general without much of the nuance of General Franklin, and is just there to be a foil for the B5 crew.

He’s gruff and angry and angling to find Jacobs but takes too long to realize he’s being given the runaround. My favorite of those moments has to be when Sheridan sends Cranston’s soldiers to “Downtown” aka the sealed off areas by the stations sewers, essentially. It’s always satisfying to see a character outsmart another. There’s a reason Loki and Anansi and all the other tricksters throughout the ages resonate with people.

5. Flight of the Navigator

OK, so, I was going to talk about the wonderful friendship Garibaldi and Franklin have but instead I need to talk about the Vorlon’s ship because I LOVE this thing. As I said last week, the designs of the ships, as rendered by the CG artists, are amazing and highly reflective of the cultures that designed them. SO, seeing this Vorlon ship for the first time is a huge reveal masked as a bit of background, flavor text & as set up for the ultimate out at the end of the episode. And yes, we have technically seen a Vorlon ship before, way back in the season 1 episode with Deathbringer, the lady who had a philosopher’s stone, but that was more of a giant warship than a personal transport vessel and we got to see so little of it.

In “Hunter, Prey,” it’s brought to our attention that Kosh’s ship is 1) possibly sentient, 2) organic(!!!!), and 3) gives you nightmares if you spend too much time near it. It produces a space gun out of the goopy, stretchy, Rorschach-esque exterior and later cocoons Jacobs in its membrane for fuck’s sake! This ship is SO COOL. . . and probably haunted. Eh, the last haunted ship was taken over by Satan. I’m sure this one is more tame.

That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for another set-up, a quick lesson in Minbari culture, and a gift shop 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: “Say we’re having. . .mechanical problems.”

Ivanova: “That they’ll believe.”

//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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