Babylon 5 s2 ep2 - Featured Television 

Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “Revelations”

By | June 13th, 2019
Posted in Television | % Comments

The main cast is (mostly) back, the mystery of Delenn’s cocoon is (mostly) solved, and we learn (a little) about the mysterious ships from season one. 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. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly

Explaining G’Kar’s absence from the show last week, Babylon 5 takes the time to resew the seeds of the greater mystery of the show and the strange, deadly ships that we’ve seen a few times thus far. Their identity is still shrouded in darkness but now we know a few more things than before, like the approximate age of them, and the danger that they potentially face.

This is an episode that would not have worked in season one, not only because it relies on Londo to have made his deal with Morden already, but also because we needed to have an understanding of G’Kar and his relationship to Londo and the others to truly feel the depths of his worries. It’s also a testament to how far his characterization has come since the first episode, where he more easily fit into the category of “conniving antagonist.”

Because of this change, when he arrives back to Babylon 5, shaken and talking about allying with Londo, we know it is serious. The scene is made all the more tense by the ironic distance employed between the two, seeing as how Londo is becoming heavily involved in the other side of the equation. We are seeing the start of his fall and all we can do is hope that he has enough conscience left to stop before it is too late.

2. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end

The bulk of the episode is dedicated to establishing more of Commander Sheridan’s backstory in the form of his dead wife Anna. It feels a bit rushed, which isn’t surprising considering he was introduced last episode in order to replace Commander Sheridan, whom we’d already spent an entire season with. It does allow for a different plot point to sneak in, that of the Icarus (it feels like an important detail) but its primary purpose is to kick into high gear the types of plots that would have been done earlier and slower, had they the time.

There is something to be said about the “dead wife as plot device,” and worth pointing out, as it oftentimes comes across as a lazy way to establish pathos and is another example of women being used as props rather than characters. Here, however, it doesn’t feel like that. Or, it’s more complicated.

For one, there is clearly care given to Anna as a character, despite her appearing on screen once, during a recording. Then, there’s how we learn about her. It’s all through Sheridan’s eyes, filtered by his regrets. And so, the picture we get prior to the recording is shallow, as Sheridan has constructed a narrative in order to cope with her loss, placing the blame on himself because he knows that what he was doing, absorbed by his work, was not healthy for their relationship. I don’t love how the ending absolves him of this aspect, despite it still being true and the regret of him not saying “I love you” remaining, but that was not the point of the moment. The point was that not everything is about him, and that to truly remember the whole of a person, you have to be cognizant of that.

In a more plot centered reading, it’s also the moment where he gains new information that recontextualizes his regret into a positive. It takes the burden off fault off of him and abstracts it so he can move on in the ways that matter. It’s not a perfect backstory but it was an effective one at connecting us more to Sheridan and giving us a glimpse into his personal life prior to becoming the B5 commander. It also gave Boxleitner the opportunity to act outside the regular range of the commander, which was nice to see and got me teary-eyed.

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. . .I won’t forgive it for constantly hitting us over the head with the exposition stick about it being 2 years though. GOD, was that annoying.

“Did you know the last time I drank Orange Juice like this?”

Yes, John, it was-

“It was two years ago when. . .”

3. And the Lord hastened with the evil and brought it upon us

Last season, I talked about the CGI of the show pretty often. Most of the time it was in negative terms but I always tried to take into account the age of the show and how groundbreaking this was for the time. This season, everything seems to be utilized a lot better, with the artists clearly having a greater understanding of the assets and how to make them work for the show. But the real star of the show, as always, are the mysterious ships from beyond the rim. (Yes, I know what they’re called but the show has not supplied names as of yet.)

I love, love, love these designs. They’re eerie and unlike any of the other ships we see and in this episode, we got to see a different design. It seems to be the design of a smaller fighter and the milky, shifting checkerboard pattern sticks out beautifully. It’s creative, mood-fitting, and cool to look at. Basically, everything you want out of your mysterious, deeply otherworldly antagonists.

And that isn’t even talking about Morden and his creepy creepy smile.

4. And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one will be cut off, and he will be no more

Remember how last week I said John Sheridan was a force of friction for the show? We start to see that in full this week with the awakening of Garibaldi. At first, it doesn’t seem all that different from if Sinclair was still around. We get the return of the life draining machine, a piece that makes me appreciate the continuity of the show all the more, and Doctor Franklin’s oddly amped asking of Sheridan to perform the procedure, followed by Sheridan helping to operate the machine.

Sure, his reasoning for helping work the machine wasn’t the same as it would’ve been for Sinclair but it works all the same, and Dr. Franklin acts the same. Where it really gets different is when Garibaldi awakens; his first words to Sheridan are “I don’t know you.” Four simple words but they carry a heavy weight. Unlike before, where the trust ran deep, Garibaldi no longer has that implicit trust in the person running the show, which will almost certainly be causing future problems. I cannot wait to see how.

5. And my colors changed upon me

Cocoon! Cocoon! Cocoon!

I know, I could be talking about the plot with the VP, now P, and the fantastic ways in which the show simulates what it feels like to experience large scale political change (for the worse) as it happens vs studying it in a book, where time is condensed and you chronicle event to event, ignoring what the empty space between felt like while living it, how uncertainty creeps in, how silence reigns and takes over, and how the big picture isn’t seen until it’s often too late.

Instead, I wanna talk about the cocoon because I absolutely love how we just kind of took it in stride that Delenn would go into a chrysalis without any idea of what it meant or why or how it seemed to be a highly unusual decision. But, now it’s gone and Delenn is back into the fold with a new form. She has HAIR and EYEBROWS!

As with many of the non-human characters, actor changes and costume designs were often influenced by the uncomfortability and difficulty of putting on the costumes and make-up every single day. It’s why Julie Caitlin Brown did not return as Na’Toth for season 2, why Londo’s hair is the way it is, and why Delenn’s form changed as drastically as it did. Two of the three of those worked out fantastically, as Londo’s poofy hair suits the character and I really dig the new look for Delenn, although I also love all the Minbari designs.

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It’s a shame the reveal, and thus the struggle mid-episode with the cracked, lizard skin, was undermined by the intro but in the long run, it doesn’t really matter all that much. What matters more is the meaning behind her transformation and what it symbolizes. There is a bit of apocrypha that also Delenn was originally going to be trans but the studio nixed it. I want to comment more on that but I don’t think I would be able to offer any more insight into how that decision would be read in the context of the show, not being trans myself. So I will leave that for others to comment on and analyze.

On a different note, do you think she’ll keep the cocoon as a memento?

That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for strange elections, geometric shadows, and techno-mages 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:

Commander Sheridan: “I just didn’t want her to go without telling her I love her. . .one last time.”


//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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