"They say he aged backwards. That was how he was able to foretell the future - by remembering it! Which means he came from the future! Maybe he had Arthur form the Round Table by remembering us! We're forming one of our own, after all. Which makes you Percival. I'm Galahad, him being sinless and all. Sheridan is Arthur. Ivanova, perhaps Gawain. I think we both know who Mordred is. So the question is - who is Morgana le Fay?"
REVIEW: Are they now handing obvious turkeys to maverick director Michael Vejar hoping he can pretty them up? Because despite some very interesting dream sequences - the diffuse black and white is a cool look I haven't really seen before - Vejar certainly can't save a story that's altogether too obsessed with symbolism. Marcus' explanation of the Ranger pin, representing the coming together of Minbari and human souls into a greater whole so they can defeat the forces of evil. This idea is represented in the main plot, about a soldier with PTSD who comes to Babylon 5 to realign his mind and soul and come out healed, with a new purpose. And it's in Sheridan's plan to ally with the Non-Aligned worlds so they can share the station's defense duties. There's an old lady who wants to be reunited with a stolen picture frame. And I bet Garibaldi's war with the Post Office is really about being reunited with his food package. I'm being a little facetious, but sometimes, you can hit a theme too hard.
But of course, the real problem is the main story's forceful superimposition of Arthurian myth on the Babylon 5 story. It's not just the sword-in-the-5 logo, folks. A man who believes he's King Arthur comes aboard, and no matter how mentally ill he appears to be, no one ever, ever takes his sword away from him. Now, he is played by Michael York so he does have presence, but I can't for the life of me make myself care about his character and the Arthurian references he keeps making. It's even a little grating that Marcus entertains the possibility he's the "real" King Arthur kept on ice by the Vorlons like they did Jack the Ripper. For a literate (actually read: pretentious quotation machine) man, he's rather obtuse to believe it when one of the first things "Arthur" tells him is that Lancelot is dead. Lancelot was a French implant whose existence in even the historical basis for these myths is even more dubious. So a very specific delusion that acts as psycho-symbolism for the poor guy's trauma/PTSD, somehow drawing a tenuous link between Arthur feeling responsible for the death of some of his knights and this soldier's belief that he started the Earth-Minbari war by following an order to fire on a Minbari vessel. If he'd at least been the Prometheus' captain, but no. It seems incredibly grandiose for a simple gunnery sergeant. I don't buy the delusion, I don't buy its cause, and I don't buy its cure, a rather glib answer to what had become catatonia(!). That G'Kar would respond to this madman and let himself be inspired by his assumed nobility, THAT I buy. It's a bit of a stretch that "Arthur" would then join the Narn resistance, but the race really does go in for the operatic. For G'Kar, a deluded King Arthur is probably the most "Narn" human he is ever likely to meet.
The story line seems a throwback to an earlier season when we might have cared more about healing the scars of the Earth-Minbari war. At this point, with Sheridan and Delenn making goo-goo eyes at each other, it's a little redundant and unnecessary to require Delenn to play the "Lady of the Lake" and give him the forgiveness he craves. So I'm left wondering if the whole point of this was to introduce the idea of Babylon 5 as Camelot, or if Marcus' final speech is rather meant as a parody of fan theories. JMS' symbol is so strident, it almost has to be the former, a way to INFLAME fan theory mongering, not disarm it. So are Marcus' Arthurian correspondences some kind of decoder ring for the way things will turn out? Kosh as Merlin makes sense, but are the Vorlons really living in reverse? Will Marcus ascend to heaven like Galahad? Will Franklin/Percival fail to ask the right question that would have healed an injured king? Sheridan is an obvious King Arthur, which would make Delenn Guinevere, but is there a Lancelot? (You might also say Sinclair was Arthur, and Lancelot is Sheridan, his heroic "replacement".) Is the White Star Excalibur? Most certainly, Marcus' unanswered question about Morgana Le Fey refers to Sheridan's wife. Who does he think Mordred is? Londo, consorting with the forces of evil? And what about Ivanova as Gawain? Fiercely loyal, but a compassionate defender of women... yeah, it works. But is there a Green Knight for her to fight down the line? See what happens when you lace your story in symbolism? This. While Marcus is good at saying who's who - he should write Facebook quizzes - it's probably all it is (I remain spoiler-free). It gets you thinking, and probably drawing parallels that were unintended. If it WAS all intended, then JMS probably shouldn't reveal as much.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The Arthuriana is both tedious and pretentious, and the story a throwback to earlier times (in more ways than one).