Babylon 5 #25: Revelations

"The one deserts his post without any explanation, the other takes the most breathtakingly inconvenient moment possible to explore new career options--like becoming a butterfly!"
IN THIS ONE... Sheridan gets a visit from his sister. G'Kar discovers the Shadows have retaken their old worlds. Garibaldi wakes up from his coma and fingers his assailant. And Delenn comes out of her cocoon a Minbari-human hybrid.

REVIEW: There's a difference between what's operatic and what's melodramatic, and unfortunately, Sheridan's story thread crosses right over into the latter in this episode. The point is wants to make is that Sheridan lost his wife Anna a couple years ago and blames himself for her death. And JMS makes that point over and over again before his sister finally gives him the email she got from Anna and frees Sheridan of his guilt. It either takes too long (geez, sis, why sit on this all episode long?) or too little time (we find out about this whole thing in the same episode it's resolved, so we can hardly be said to care). The love they shared was true and the way they each describe it, epic, but Sheridan comes off as whiny in the wake of her death and the story exposition he has to get through doesn't flow naturally. Does letting go of the guilt finally allows him to let go of the woman? Unclear, but he does seem rather taken with the new Delenn. Of course, this is all going to get very complicated in due course.

Speaking of Delenn, if you were M.I.A. in the season opener, you're back by this point. Delenn takes longest, having gone through a transformation into a "bridge" between humanity and the Minbari, a rather more extreme version of what Sinclair is doing as an ambassador on her homeworld. I'm sure Mira Furlan appreciated the lighter make-up. I don't dislike it, though it always made me wonder how the hair and coral crown physically worked. More plot-intensive is Garibaldi's awakening, healed thanks to the machine from The Quality of Mercy. With Talia's help, he remembers his boy Jack shot him in the back, though it's a bit of a cheat to say Jack was Garibaldi's protege like that. It's true that if Takashima had been the traitor as originally intended, the shock would have been greater and the wound deeper. As is, Jack is caught by Welch (Garibaldi's one unimpeachable man) and gets a little bit of what he deserves, and his use of the Village salute from the Prisoner tags him as a PsiCorps agent, NOT Homeguard. When PsiCorps-backed president Clark quickly orders Sheridan to put Jack and all the evidence on a transport, it's clear he'll escape his promised "spacing" (so while there's no death penalty for civilian murderers, a court-martial for treason does?). And that's how it goes down. CONSPIRACY!

The other conspiracy involves Londo and the Shadows, and while the Centauri ambassador seemed to find the death toll disturbing, he's quick to give Morden the information he needs to ambush a Narn attack on the Shadow-held planet Za'ha'dum (how very Tolkien). This might raise G'Kar's suspicions the next time he thinks of running right into his enemy's arms as if a greater threat might make them allies. If only Morgen hadn't gotten to him first. G'Kar the action hero is far more naive than G'Kar the diplomat. Now with everyone back on the station, talks and feuds can begin again (as apparently leaving things in the hands of an aide doesn't cut it; we shall note here a change of actress for Na'Toth, who feels like a different and weaker person). Perhaps that'll whet G'Kar's blunted powers of intrigue.

At the start of its contemporaneous season, Deep Space Nine also has a mole in the recurring cast - Michael Eddington, also a security officer - who would go on to betray the heroes to the Maquis, DS9's equivalent(ish) of the Homeguard.

- Take away the strident Sheridan plot and I'll glady raise the score, as I can't debate the importance of the episode's events to the greater story.


LiamKav said...


I think your autocorrect might be stuck. :)

Ryan Lohner said...

JMS admits upfront in the script volumes that the Sheridan material here doesn't really work. If Sinclair had stayed, the plan was to have Carolyn/Catherine mysteriously be killed shortly after their marriage on a voyage to the rim of known space, so it was probably a smart move to not try to rush through another romance to get to this point, moving it to Sheridan's backstory instead. Unfortunately, he still rushed it by sticking the whole thing into just Sheridan's second episode, using his sister as a blatant exposition fairy.

The original plan with Garibaldi was that Franklin would discover a way to adjust Deathwalker's serum so that it could be used safely, but then JMS decided the healing device his delirious mind had invented while writing The Quality of Mercy would work better in this role. Also, Jerry Doyle loves to joke that these first two episodes are his favorites of the series, as he got a full paycheck to mostly lie on his back.

I really like how the show gradually raises the stakes on the Shadows simply by featuring more of their ships each time we see them. There was one in Signs in Portents, two in Chrysalis, and now three, albeit smaller and apparently more vulnerable ones. Also, with G'Kar's mention of how long they've been around, think back to where we've seen something similar to those ships before: the Ikarran super soldiers from Infection, which is now clearly leftover Shadow tech from the last time they showed up. This is the kind of thing you can pull off when you plan ahead.

Caitlin Brown didn't have the same immediate revulsion of her heavy make-up as her predecessor Mary Woronov, but as the first season went on she did start to worry that the prosthetics might start to have a permanent effect on her face (a particular concern for actors). So we have one of the few times when JMS didn't make a completely new character and simply recast a role, but unfortunately Mary Kay Adams is a complete dud, showing none of Brown's strength and gravitas and coming across like a cheerleader playing dress-up. Though like several other actors, Brown would later return to the show playing a human.

LiamKav said...

I've read that "gradual increase in the number of Shadow vessels seen" fact before. But watching Crysalis, I'm pretty sure that I can see 4 vessels on screen at once. Look at the shot where they shoot the starbase while the planet is in the background. You've got one big Shadow vessel shooting the space station, two in front of the planet, and another on the left of the screen and further away.

(Yeah, I know JMS said that only two attacked the installation. He's wrong, unless he meant that two attacked the planet and two attacked the space station.)

LiamKav said...

Also, after your comments yesterday, Siskoid, about Delenn's improved makeup, I should point out that Londo's hair has much improved from "Midnight on the Firing Line". With his growing power, his actually has an in-story reason, as well.

(I never noticed Delenn's improved season 2 make-up for her pure Minbari form, but you're right, she does look a lot prettier. That means she actually get 5 versions of her make-up.

1. Androgynous The Gathering version.
2. Season 1 pure Minbari
3. Season 2+ pure Minbari
4. Season 2 half human/half Minbari
5. Season 3+ half human/half Minbari

It seems to take them a few goes to get things right. I don't recall G'Kar's makeup ever changing, but I could be wrong about that.

Siskoid said...

Londo even gets his 'do styled by Vir in the next episode!

Siskoid said...

Oh and as for G'Kar, it does change between The Gathering and the first ep.

LiamKav said...

Couple more thoughts:

1. Delenn says that she has undertaken the transformation with "the blessing of [her] government". That's not quite true according to everyone's reaction in season 1 and "Points of Departure". It's not yet established though whether she's lying, or merely slightly deluded as to how much her homeworld appreciates what she's done.

2. Withouth spoiling anything, I think the approach with Anna was the best of a bad bunch. We can't afford to waste another season getting a character to where Catherine was at the end of season 1, and it would have probably been obvious that they were repeating themselves. Comments made my JMS indicated that he had the season 3 finale was already roughly planned out by this time, and two seasons wasn't enough to get all the main characters in place. So, yeah, 20 minutes of hurried backstory, but at least it got it all established and out of the way. And I'm still slightly touched by Sheridan's goodbye at the end.

3. The cliche of "they took all the evidence and then disappeared" doesn't work in a futuristic setting, or really at any point after floppy disks were created. Even in 1994, people would have made a copy of the data rather than sending the original.

4. Sheridan's "it gets cold up here sometimes, doesn't it?" comment to Ivanova is one of the first hints that he's a bit more clued up than the first two episodes would lead us to believe. Neither of them can completely trust each other yet, but they are gradually feeling each other out.

5. For some reason, Delenn's stages of transformation go Minbari -> Crysalis -> Emperor Palpatine -> Human/Minbari hybrid.

Siskoid said...

(2) So here's the thing about the "plan" (as opposed to a more improvisational style, as in BSG)... Because it was all planned out, when things started falling apart, JMS wasn't able to let anything go. He adjusted, but those adjustments are awkward, forced. Had he been more of an improviser, he might have been better able to kill his darlings and dump the [spoiler] wife storyline.

LiamKav said...

True. On the other hand, he don't know everything he was forced to adapt because we don't 100% know the original story. It's easy to look back know with the knowledge of what's to come and see the similarities in Anna and Catherine's position, but at the time it completely passed me by.

Likewise, while the change from Sinclair is Sheridan is abrupt, it's impressive that it works as well as it does, especially if Sleeping in Light was him "adapting". Likewise, it's amazing how well World Without End works. But we'll get there...

In terms of other adaptions, it does mean that some things are set up that aren't really resolved *cough*Ironheart*cough* But that's also more realistic. And there are other cases where he set something up (Deathwalker formula), then came up with something else (alien healing device) and used that instead.

So, sometimes he hit and it worked, sometimes it failed. I'll let him off for this. But not the comedy.


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