"Just don't give away the home world!"
REVIEW: A more political episode, this one is really about kindness. Londo has fallen in love with a slave girl with a heart of gold (played by Latin beauty Fabiana Undenio, which you might recognize from Austin Powers), and can't even get angry at her when it turns out she's manipulating him into giving up state secrets (not the mind proooooobe?! sorry couldn't resist) because his feelings are genuine. And she really does have a heart of gold, and doesn't like what she has to do on behalf of her master. It's really rather sweet. Jurasik imbues Londo with a huge amount of pathos, and shows us a man bending under crushing loneliness who, for a fleeting moment, let himself believe his relationship with Adira was real, knowing she probably wasn't (at the very least, she was only attracted to his money). As disappointment gave way to embarrassment about the stolen files, he never blamed her, and surprisingly, even put her life before his own career. Speaks to the depth of the character, but there's also a statement made about Centauri culture. Londo would not have been in this situation had he been stronger, and his weakness is part and parcel of his species current decadence. Drinking, picking up exotic dancers, lavishing them with expensive gifts, and status be damned! Meanwhile, Vir is playing with his Gameboy at the negotiations table, and it's revealed the Centauri have slaves!
While the A-plot is all about Londo's romance and efforts to save the girl and recover his secrets, the B-plot involves Garibaldi tracking transmissions made through the super-secret Gold Channels. A bit of a head scratcher, and the kind of techno-plot used as filler on various Trek series, it eventually rewards you by ALSO being about kindness. It seems Ivanova was contacting Earth on the sly to speak to her dying, and formerly estranged, father. The kindness is hers for reaching out, her father's for admitting his mistakes, and Garibaldi's for looking the other way. And it's a sequence that showed why I love Ivanova so much already. She's so stern and dry all the time, that when she breaks down, lets emotion wet her eyes, I turn into a moist towelette myself. I want to reach out and hug her. If plots can't always be interwoven, they can at least work together thematically. But I was worried there for a second.
And though it's a melancholy episode, there is some fun to be had. The episode is bookended by comedy, whether that's G'Kar getting caught relaxing with the enemy by his new chief of staff, a real battleaxe who spits at people (Narn females are SCARY), or his finding out he inadvertently helped save the Centauri Republic from a nasty Fall. Each ambassador passing the buck to their aides, using the same line (quoted above) is pretty amusing too, especially given the irony of Londo making that statement. I love a good con, so seeing the evil Trakis gets cheated out of everything by Londo with the help of Sinclair and Talia certainly tickled my fancy (AND Sinclair getting the compromise he wants for his treaty in the process). Plus, an appearance by N'Grath, some gorgeous costumes (except for the goons right out of a 90s cop show), and the show opening on a song! Good production values. This is the first script not credited to JMS, but you'd hardly notice. Cartoon writer Lawrence G. DiTillio WAS B5's story editor, after all. He should know his stuff, and does.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Don't fall in love with the Dabo girls!
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - It sounds like I'm always giving the episodes rave reviews, but it's my natural reaction to rich writing. A "Medium" for B5 means it's all quite watchable, but that I'm still waiting for it to become more than alt-DS9.