"No 'boom' today, 'boom' tomorrow. There is always a 'boom' tomorrow. What? Someone need to keep some perspective around here. Sooner or Later... Boom!"
REVIEW: While getting David Warner is always a good thing (though I don't think he's ever said no to a genre TV show), you really have to pair him up with a member of the regular cast for it to mean something. Instead, the other half of his holy man character's double act is Tom Booker's ne'er-do-well Jinxo, and I'm sorry, but I just don't care about one-off characters and their quests or bids at redemption. It's like we're watching a completely different show taking place in the margins of the same universe. Maybe if it these events had more impact on the Babylon 5 world, but they really don't. Aldous Gajic's quest for the Holy Grail is an odd anachronism, unrelated as far as I know to the greater story arc. And Jinxo's contention that he has the Babylon 5 "curse" and caused the destruction/disappearance of the first four stations (highlighting how budgetarily dubious the last decade has been) fails to drum up any real tension at episode's end.
Through them, very little is revealed about the other characters, with the possible exception of the Minbari. We find out they have two ruling castes, warrior and religious, which hardly ever agree on anything (and it's terrible when they do). That they respect "true seekers" like Gajic, and that Delenn considers Sinclair one such person. He looks down on Gajic's hopeless quest, but is it that far from his own? Is universal peace just another Holy Grail? We also get to see how the station's justice system works, but the idea that goons can just grab a judge (or Ombuds) outside his chambers is patently ridiculous and shows Garibaldi to be completely incompetent. Protection racketeer Deuce (and his other brother Deuce) can't be that powerful, can he? After all, the brain-wiping cephalopod Na'ka'leen has only been helping out for 6 months. That action plot must've been brain-wiped itself because it's really badly put together. The idea of impersonating Kosh was a good one, and the creature, especially when it's just a tentacle, is satisfyingly terrifying, but then it all devolves into a shoot-out where Aldous gets one in the arm and dies, after showing some unexplained power over the creature, and Jinxo suddenly turning hero after a lifetime of cowardice... Ugh.
In the (fruitful) comments on one of these reviews, there's been some talk of JMS' comedic skills, or rather, of his contention that his sense of humor is so developed, whatever he finds funny, others would find dangerously hilarious. Though the script is by Christie "Jem" Marx, JMS has taken credit for a couple of comedy bits in this episode, so let's see. The first is the court scene where a human seeks damages from a Gray alien whose grandfather may or may not have abducted HIS grandfather. Amusing and clever, bordering on silly world-breaking, but dangerously hilarious? Then there's Jinxo shrugging off his curse only to board a ship called the Marie Celeste. My sides are literally splitting. Not. Twisted irony that unfortunately makes you ask questions like "who would name their ship after a naval tragedy?". So even if he's not directly responsible for the "cute" end scene with Garibaldi, Londo and Vir with the comedy music, etc., well, it doesn't exactly clash with the rest of the hilarity on show. I don't even see a reason to pretend Babylon 5 can be funny.
REWATCHABILITY: Low - With its focus on all the wrong things and stories that are largely irrelevant to anything we might care about, Grail is a waste of its principal guest actor and of the viewer's time.