Babylon 5 #60: Interludes and Examinations

"You said you wanted to teach me to fight legends, well you're a legend too."
IN THIS ONE... The Vorlons strike a victory against the Shadows, but at the cost of Kosh's life. Londo awaits Adira impatiently. Doc Franklin resigns over stim issues.

REVIEW: That rather passive-sounding title hides the fact a heck of a lot of stuff happens in this episode. Perhaps the opening sequence, with Shadows making runs at non-aligned worlds, is a better herald of what is to come. Since B5's big theme is that we can overcome TOGETHER, these planets have a vested interest in not staying unaligned, but they don't necessarily watch the show. What they need is to see the Shadows defeated to know it's possible. Ironically, the Vorlons, whose whole deal (through Kosh, at least) has been to GET everyone to work together, won't do their part. It has to get physical between Sheridan and Kosh before the latter agrees to send some squid-ships in. His warning, that Sheridan is trading a victory now against help he might have gotten later (his prophesied fatal visit to Z'ha'dum) is misunderstood. Kosh isn't penalizing him, he's predicting his own retaliatory death at the hands of the Shadows. It's a fine sequence, with Kosh given a lot more heart and expression than normal through his visit in Sheridan's dreams in the forms of his recently-seen father. There is admits he was wrong to hold back and passes the baton of leadership before rocking the station with a shocking psychic explosion. Apparently, he'll be replaced so no one knows, so I expect a new "Kosh" to walk around Babylon 5's halls again.

The Shadows also punish Londo, responsible for shutting down lines of communication between them and Centauri Prime. Props to Londo for not showing any fear, but it's a little silly for him to say or think they can't do anything to him, especially with his lady love Adira about to arrive to the station. Predictably, joy turns to fear and then depression as Mr. Morden (no doubt) engineers her death. Morden SAYS it's Lord Refa's doing, and indeed, the poison is damning evidence, but it's really his plan, isn't it? And Londo isn't really taken in by those puppy-dog eyes and "if I'd had Refa's ear, I could have helped" routine, is he? I sure hope he plans to take his revenge on BOTH Refa and Morden. Please say it's so! Though I'm not sure what the bit about Morden buying pills is all about since there's little room for him to poison Adira himself once the ship has docked.

And then's Dr. Franklin's addiction, which is now making him so erratic, he almost gets sued for malpractice. His sponsor Garibaldi to the rescue, but it doesn't make a dent. What DOES make a dent is science, naturally. For Franklin, it is the ultimate convincer. He runs the blood tests himself and the numbers don't lie. That is very consistent characterization for the Doc. He let the problem get so bad, he feels he needs to resign from his position, and comes clean about his reasons to Sheridan. Will he remain a member of the army of light while he gets clean? Will he head off to parts unknown so JMS can expand his story's scope? Will we see Dr. Hobbs again, or some rotating roster of doctors who DON'T work 24-hour shifts? Interlude or not, the episode has gone out of its way to change the status quo once again.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: The Cardassians strike a victory against the Klingons, but at the cost of Garak's life. Quark awaits a dabo girl acquisitively. Dr. Bashir resigns over Raktajino issues. (I'm kidding.)

REWATCHABILITY: High - On the one hand, it feels like a very personal episode where we catch up on everyone's subplots. On the other, it's this big honking game-changer. Well done.


Anonymous said...

Great episode. The argument between Kosh and Sheridan once again points out why Sheridan, especially as portrayed by Boxleitner, really is a treat.

"Impudent." "Up yours!"

I should have seen this coming, though, from that conversation between Delenn and Kosh:

"Kosh, why are you wearing a party hat?"

::whooshgroanwhistlecreak:: "Retiring next week, after four millennia."

Randal said...

Jesus...I didn't get further than "cost of Garak's life" and ran screaming to Memory Beta because I had NO idea what you were talking about. Don't do that again.

Siskoid said...

Getting more brazen after no one made mention of my Star Wars reference yesterday. ;)

LondonKdS said...

The DVD commentary for this episode has the funniest thing I've ever heard on one, when Bruce Boxleitner realises, apparently for the first time ever, that Sheridan's vision of his father was actually a message from the dying Kosh.

Ryan Lohner said...

As has been made clear repeatedly by now, "Screw You Elves" is one of my favorite things to see in fiction, and Sheridan's confrontation with Kosh here is to me the high mark that all such scenes must strive for. It also really helped that I first watched the show in the middle of Lost's run, where it was unbearably frustrating seeing the heroes pass by one chance after another to call the Others on their despicable actions that we're supposed to condone just because one of them once said "We're the good guys." And major props to Bruce Boxleitner, who absolutely sells what had to be an extremely difficult scene. Not only does he have to reach such an emotional high while working opposite a giant suit with little reaction possibility, but he also had to act like he was being psychically assaulted and thrown around.

JMS was very paranoid about Kosh's death scene and how it might not resonate with the audience due to not actually showing the death, so he debuted the first cut at a convention just to make sure. And it worked out, as just about everyone was openly weeping after the lights went back on.

Kosh's encounter suit, nicknamed "the jukebox" early in the show's run, was another major difficulty for just about everyone. It would frequently malfunction, and the poor sap inside had little visual reference so he often bumped into things in the middle of shooting. Plus it couldn't fit through any of the set's doors, requiring tricky editing whenever Kosh had to enter or leave a room. So it was that after shooting this episode, the suit actor came to JMS to make sure they wouldn't be needing it again, then tied it to the back of his pickup truck and drove around the parking lot until it was ripped to shreds, to the massive cheers of the whole crew. Unfortunately, a year later JMS hit on the idea of making the film In the Beginning, for which they now had to rebuild the suit. Hindsight is 20/20.

Doug Hudson said...

It's interesting how much more "human" Kosh became as the season progresses--one gets the sense that he wasn't just following an agenda, but was personally invested in the people he was helping (G'Kar, Sheridan, Delenn). This would make him something of a renegade Vorlon, just as all the other ambassadors / B5 command are renegades in one sense or another.

(quasi-spoiler) Londo doesn't realize Morden was the one beyond Adira's death at this point. But then, he isn't exactly thinking clearly.

That's okay, though, because what he does to Refa in mistaken revenge is fantastic.

LiamKav said...

Other good Sheridan lines:

"For 3 years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work while and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic!"

"Though I'm not sure what the bit about Morden buying pills is all about since there's little room for him to poison Adira himself once the ship has docked."

Isn't Modren just using the pills to bribe the guard to get on the station? He didn't even know about Adira at that point. Morden presumably got another shadow agent to poison her, the bald guy he's seen paying off just after.

Music watch: Just as music from a shadow attack in "The Long Twilight Struggle" got used for the season 3 titles, music during the Vorlon attack on the shadows eventually gets used in the season 4 titles.

"The DVD commentary for this episode has the funniest thing I've ever heard on one, when Bruce Boxleitner realises, apparently for the first time ever, that Sheridan's vision of his father was actually a message from the dying Kosh."

Were the commentaries done all at the same time, or randomly over years? I remember people saying that on the "Coming of Shadows" one, it seemed as if Boxleitner, Doyle and Christian hadn't watched the show in decades. Does this one give the same impression? (I've noticed that Richard Biggs and Ed Wasser are also on it. That's an interesting line up.)

Also, the fact that BB doesn't realise that his dad is Kosh is funny, but it also ties into Kosh's character. Even here, at the end, he's still being emotionally manipulative. He opens his heart to Sheridan, but does it in a way where he can't help but be seen in a positive light.

Madeley said...

A handy side-effect of the Kosh suit's inability to fit through the doors is that due to the editing, he just seems to appear in scenes, with us never really seeing him arrive. It actually subtly adds to the character's unsettling air of mystery.

LondonKdS said...

Yes, it certainly doesn't sound like they've watched the series regularly.

Just in case anyone reading is a slash fan, all the actors spontaneously start making Garibaldi/Franklin subtext jokes during the intervention scene.

LiamKav said...

I think this is a nice point to discuss Franklin's stim addiction. Overall, I think it's been handled quite well. Stims are like alcohol, painkillers, and many other things... they are not bad in and of themselves, they are only an issue when they become a dependency. When the story of a doctor who got addicted to stims is first brought up in the "Quality of Mercy", Franklin doesn't really respond apart from a small sigh, as if he's heard it before. The first time we see him taking them was when he was racing to stop a plague that would wipe out an entire civilisation, so he was arguably justified. And, if things had returned to normal, I imagine that there was every likelihood he woud have stopped. But he we had the Narn/Centauri war, the conspiracy and then breakaway from Earth... constantly stressful situations that stopped him from taking a step back and realising what he was doing. And, like many people addicted to things like alcohol, he had periods where it seemed like nothing was wrong. Some people live like this for years without there ever being a trigger warning.


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