The politics of Earth start to catch up to Sinclair, a weapon based in eugenics is unleashed, and the corporations rear their ugly head. 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. Fighting in the 90s
For all the flack I give Supergirl, it usually knows how to shoot and choreograph action to make it feel solid and intense. Most of modern TV does, greatly helped by the use of shaky cam, a million edits, and CGI, but I digress. I bring this up because Babylon 5’s fight scenes don’t. The tread that fine line between goofy and awkward, much like Star Trek. Watching them now, I wasn’t engaged in the actual stakes of the fight but I was still engaged. I laughed, I had fun and that’s all that really matters for these scenes.
There were only a couple moments where the action bored me. They were near the end of the episode, during Sinclair’s luring of Tular to the docking bay. The slowness of this episode was made very apparent in those scenes.
2. Deja Vu
Tular, the organic weapon, should be an interesting monster of the week. He looks like the Juggernaut if the Juggernaut were a bug, he’s got a backstory that’s open for some good social commentary, and is literally a series of living weapons that take over a person and convert them into a killing machine! What we got was an admirable but rote presentation of the same tropes that such a story would present. There isn’t a lot new done with this plot and, as I said above, the slow pacing really hurts the episode.
It never leans far enough into the shadows to scare and doesn’t provide enough action to be driving. This is a Stephen focused episode too so we keep cutting back to him and his morally dubious old friend. There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting for things to happen but those things don’t further Stephen’s character much. They show us where he stands, they show us he’s got a conscience, but beyond that, it’s mostly him sitting and expositing about the weapons. It works but it’s nothing spectacular.
Heck, we don’t even get an infection as the title promised. Only one person is assimilated and even that isn’t played up to the extent it should. The parallels are there – breaking quarantine on mysterious items from a long dead world, one person is patient zero, shows signs of infection that slowly worsen but they hide it, suddenly getting worse and physically transforming – but the rest, the actual infection, never happens. Maybe that was for the best.
3. Gas, Gas, Gas
Sinclair being called out on his death wish is a great, small moment of characterization for Garabaldi and Sinclair. We’ve been given the evidence of it through multiple episodes and, while initially it didn’t seem all that out of the ordinary, having Garabaldi vocalize it reframes these earlier actions. I like how it wasn’t telegraphed as a, this is a problem, but instead stewed in the background and only someone who knows Sinclair for a long time, would have picked up on it.
It also builds the world a bit, giving us an opportunity to interrogate the motivations of characters, new and old. The effects of the Earth-Minbari war are being revealed a little at a time and that’s good. It’s just a shame we got these in this, so far, weakest episode.
4. Love & Money
I want to jump back to the archaeologist’s motivations for a second because, while they’re very true to life, they’re also super shallow. All the villain of the week’s motivations have been kind of shallow so far but this one especially. We don’t really know enough about him, his connection to Dr. Franklin is tenuous at best, and he spends most of the episode deflecting comments and acting shifty.
This is not fault of the actor, he’s great, but it is a problem. The dots don’t quite connect and he isn’t interesting enough for me to forgive him. He does provide some talking points that really could have been delved into deeper. The underfunding of academic institutions and research. The increasing role of corporations in such endeavors and the corrupting influence the profit only mindset produces. Yet it’s not explored enough and is overshadowed by Tular the bug man and the destructive ideology that built him. Heartless by design, he completes that ritual by tearing out his own heart in repentance.Continued below
5. Save Me
Garibaldi’s main role this week is to stall the reporter from approaching Sinclair to comment on the election, I think. I can’t remember what exactly but it has to do with Earth and seems like a follow up to episode 1. This B-plot give us some great lines and builds on both Garibaldi and Sinclair’s characters in a natural way, which I really like. It also would not have worked had Jerry Doyle not fully slipped into his role by this point.
He embodies Garibaldi and this episode gave us many sides to him. We’ve got snarky Garibaldi, who’s trying to keep the reporter away from Sinclair. We’ve got defensive Garibaldi, hiding something traumatic in his past, something that probably got him sent to the same outpost as Sinclair. We’ve also got Security Chief Garibaldi, leading his officers into battle against Tular and his chest brain. There’s also the seeds of Garabaldi’s own arc this season planted here. I can’t wait to see how they blossom.
That about does it for now. Join me again next week for dreams, G’Kar and something real strange going on, 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.