Talia Winters returns, conspiracies abound, and a few characters are more than meets the eye. 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. By the Power of Telepathy
It’s been a while since Talia has played a major role in an episode. Actually, I think this is the first of the season, which for a core character is wild. But, then again, this was the perfect episode to bring her back into prominence. We get some more backstory for her and the start of a new mystery that is tied only to her. Plus, the show uses Sheridan’s status as the newbie to craft a bit of distrust between her and the crew. Nothing too drastic but I like when characters keep secrets in intelligent or in-character ways. (See my love of “Outer Darkness,” whose entire premise is based around a ship of liars with their own agendas. Also space magic and death.)
But what I was reminded of most this week was how much I missed Talia Winters’ strange, strange telepathy faces. I can’t be the only one who notices how ridiculous they are. I mean it’s no more silly than Abel Horn or Amis’ performances but the constant use of close-ups on her pained face makes me laugh more than it was intended. I guess telepathy turns you into a perpetual <:0 face. And considering she’s the only one we see with any regularity, I don’t have a wide enough sample size to say if this is consistent across the universe or just with her.
2. Psi-Corps, Organization of Powers
We knew Psi-corps was dirty. We’ve known ever since Bester née Checkov graced B5 with his presence and proceeded to make life difficult for the crew. What’s different now is that there’s an even deeper conspiracy afoot within the organization. I dunno how I feel about the framing but for as long as there have been political organizations, there have been secretive factions vying for control, be it via soft power or more direct, hard power, especially in dictatorships, monarchies, and empires. While little is known about Bureau 13 at the moment, it’s clear that whoever they are, they’re bad news and also very good at subterfuge.
They also are certainly tied to the deaths of President Santiago in some way. I’m not sure how, yet, and the show hasn’t given us much to work with beyond the Senate looking for easy scapegoats and asking Sheridan to drop the case, to the fact that it’s been implied that the former VP may have had prior knowledge of the assassination attempt and did nothing to prevent it. Maybe I’m conflating two different storylines: the growing rise of xenophobia via the Earth First/Homeguard and the secret MK-Ultra style organization within Earth Gov. Either way, though, it’s bad news for all involved.
3. For the Freedom of Mars
The other plot, intertwined with the psi-corps shenanigans, is that of Martian independence. This is another one of those long term storylines that neither begins nor ends this week, placing us inside the action instead. After the riots last season, we’re now seeing the seeds of Martian independence really taking root, both the fanatical and the restrained.
Free Mars and the Provisional Martian Government are at odds, despite wanting the same things. It’s fairly unsubtle but, then again, life isn’t always subtle. Holding a mirror to reality, this isn’t too far off from the way revolutions and independence movements occur, especially when there have been systemic abuses of power.
However, under all of that is the manipulation of Earth Gov and the proxy, propaganda war they’re playing. It’s an inclusion that, I think, a lesser story would avoid, because it complicates the narrative in ways that makes Free Mars, ostensibly the “bad guys,” more sympathetic and more in the right. Earth doesn’t want peaceful freedom for Mars, they want power and control and to do that, they’ll feed the fanatics in secret, manipulate them into causing violence and then turn around and publicly denounce them, instigating a war that they themselves fueled. Even so, the core idea of Babylon 5 is that diplomacy remains the best solution for creating something that will last. That the only thing war solves is that it kills everyone except the ones who wanted it most.Continued below
4. San Diego and the Wastelands of the Universe
What’s JMS got against San Diego? I can’t remember if it was referenced in previous episodes (turns out it was way back in episode one) but, at some point in B5’s history, San Diego was reduced to a nuclear(?) wasteland and we get our first glimpse of it this week. I honestly forgot about that detail and, for some reason, it cracks me up. Why San Diego? What made that the target of your ire? There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason, and I don’t think it really matters beyond being an excellent place for a secret base.
And yes, I know Lawrence DiTillio wrote this episode but the detail predates his script.
5. From Earth – With DEATH!
Man, two weeks in a row where the guest of the week just eats up that scenery. On top of that, nearly every scene Abel Horn is in is just so extra. I mean, take his introduction! The hand breaking out of a cargo container and slowly opening it up. Or when he’s talking to the psychedelic computer interface, which, I’m honestly surprised no one noticed. Or, and these are the big ones, every time the computer in his brain comes into conflict with the memories he had before his death. He even blows up at the end after being shot! How ridiculous is that?!
I couldn’t take him seriously, which is fine, until the end when he starts going full creepo-murder happy and ends up dying, not for his cause, but for his own twisted hatred.
That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for Londo family drama, some more Talia focused subplots, and Delenn, who is having a mighty bad hair day 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: “So then my pop says to the guy, ‘Fifty credits for a salami? I could’ve killed you for 20.’”