Meet a man infinitely creepier than Franklin was last week, the three wives of Londo Mollari, and Delenn learning more and more about the little (and big) things that make being human. . .well. . .interesting. 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.
1. The Merry Wives of Windsor
I’m not 100% sure how to approach the A-plot of this episode. On the surface, it’s a pretty standard mash-up of western wife archetypes — the shrew, the seductress, and the gold digger — as filtered through a sci-fi lens. . .and through Londo. Meaning, it parrots a pretty misogynistic approach to marriage and wives, which, considering the Centauri Republic is very patriarchal, is unsurprising, predicating the whole conflict of the episode on 1) who will Londo choose and 2) pitting these women against each other in a quest to retain a man they don’t care about at all. It’s uncomfortable but, to the episode’s credit, it positions us to sympathize not with Londo, which is what other stories may have done, but instead to see this from the wives’ perspectives.
They all dislike Londo and have personal motivations for why they want, or don’t want, to remain married to him. Daggair wants to continue the life she’s accustomed to and to continue climbing the social ladder. Mariel wants to be free of Londo to pursue others but wants to retain the fortune and prestige. Timov hates who Londo has become and doesn’t want to have any part of him any more.
What does this say, then, about how the show presents each of these women? At first, we are positioned to dislike them all. Daggair is deeply fake, Timov is rude and pompous, and Mariel is unfaithful and chases power. By the end, only Timov really gets the attention necessary to complicate those simplifications. Are we then to say that Daggair and Mariel are somehow more “villainous” for their choice of motivations?
That’s one reading of ending but I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Timov is the “winner,” and thus the “correct” one, because she isn’t fake, not because of her choices. She doesn’t hide behind false smiles or plots. She wears her contempt on her sleeve and will not perform for Londo and it is that genuineness that the show is holding up as a worthy trait. That even when love is not present, honesty is the thing that holds a marriage together.
2. All’s Well that Ends Well
I could say a lot more about Timov, and about the ending. About how her comments that Londo has changed belies a love that may have once been there on both ends, and Londo’s misogyny being a result the years shaping the worst parts of his ego. About how she’s strong and, at the end, there isn’t a magical moment of love or tenderness or even reconciliation, which I really appreciated. Instead, I spent most of the episode trying to figure out where I’d seen that actress before.
Turns out, she was on a more recent show that I think some of you might be familiar with: Legends of Tomorrow. That’s right. Jane Carr is also our good friend, and Fairy Godmother, Tabitha. I love these kinds of connections between shows.
3. The Tempest
Stoner is a deeply uncomfortable character but an all too familiar one. Despite not having telepathy or empathic abilities in reality, Stoner is indicative of the kind of possessive, manipulative and abusive ex that shows up again at the worst possible moment. He’s a sleazeball and the highlight of this episode was watching him get clocked. I don’t have much else to say about him than that, because, well, he’s just so creepy. Euch.
I will say that the way the episode overlaps the A & B plots was clever and gave a reason for Stoner’s appearance on the ship, beyond the long-term plot setups (Psi-Corps’s abuses of power and secret projects) and to further the personal arc of Talia. But, again, I really could have done without him. *euch*Continued below
4. Much Ado About Nothing
I cannot explain to you my bafflement at “Soul Mates’” decision to have Ivanova and Delenn’s C-plot be, well, dealing with Delenn’s hair. One the one hand, it gives us a look into how Delenn is adjusting to her changes as well as the unexpected challenges that comes from having no frame of reference for her new body. On the other hand, it’s unwieldy hair, the framing is comedic, and we aren’t given much access to the bonding or the conversations the two have.
It’s a missed opportunity, for the most part, and with the punchline to the plot being obviously written by a guy, one that I wish was better explored. Nevertheless, it is funny and Ivanova’s face of “Oh no, now I have to explain periods to an alien diplomat?” is priceless, especially because this is probably not how she expected her time on B5 to go.
5. Love’s Labor Lost
One important bit of revelation this episode has comes in the form of Talia’s growing distrust of Psi-Corps. Last week, Sherridan asked Ivanova if Talia could be trusted. Ivanova, slightly flustered, expressed her reservations that, while yes she could be trusted, she was still fiercely loyal to Psi-Corps. That seems to be changing and He-Who-Should-Be-Spaced’s connections to the secrets of the Corps is just one more piece of that.
What will come of this? Will it lead to a showdown between the Corps and B5, with Talia caught in the middle? Or will she become a spy for one or the other? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for, perhaps, some answers to those questions, Earthforce resentment, and the return of our dear Anton Checkov 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 Lines of the Night:
1. Timov: “The secret of our marriage’s success, Londo, is our lack of communication.”
2. Dr. Franklin: “Ambassador, do you mind if I make one personal observation?”
Londo: “No, not at all.”
Dr. Franklin: “Stick it.”