Babylon 5 #79: Conflicts of Interest

"You can kill us, bomb our colonies, destroy our ships, murder innocent civilians, but you cannot kill the truth...and the truth is back in business."
IN THIS ONE... Garibaldi is hired as a bodyguard for old girlfriend Lise Hampton. The Voice of the Resistance goes online.

REVIEW: Starting with Garibaldi, the private dick with the heart of gold, is supposed to make us care about his story, I guess, but I just can't plug into it. Part of it is that the Wade character looks like Martin Short and really doesn't seem to be advancing the rebellion against Sheridan plot as he seemed to promise. Instead, he's using Garibaldi to runs security for a smuggling operation. Just how this fits into his mysterious PsiCorps programming, I don't know. They've got PCs running after them, guns blazing, but the item retrieved, a telepath plague, will allegedly be used to cure the disease, not weaponize it. There's obviously something happening we're not privy to, but the episode does little to clarify it. The return of Lise, Garibaldi's "one that got away", brings with it clichéed melodrama and cheesy lines. Will she complete her arc as the femme fatale with a rich husband; or is that TOO cliché? Garibaldi has some clever tricks to use against his telepathic pursuers, and his going to Mars by the end is welcome (Marcus and Franklin are back much too quickly), but characters' motivations are either unknown or diverge from those previously established. The Zack vs. Garibaldi conflict had potential, and I like the moment where Zack feels betrayed and finally acts on it, but it basically amounts to a guilt trip and then security not really showing up except to witness an over-the-top cyanide capsule moment.

Equally tedious is an overlong comedy scene between Ivanova and Zathras, but not the same Zathras, oh the lols. It's smurf-talk and Ivanova once again reduced to grimacing through her irritation, a joke I no longer find amusing. The result is that Epsilon III will generate the boosting power necessary for the Voice of the Resistance to be broadcast, though I do hope that doesn't relegate Ivanova to talking at the screen for the remainder of the season. Sheridan's pretty irritated too, especially without Delenn there to provide sanctuary, and when he's not shouting at Garibaldi, he's pulling his hair out trying to recreate the great alliance that needs to be his legacy. Neither Londo nor G'Kar (who have been absent too long, time for them to get new arcs) will let the White Star fleet patrol their frontiers to keep Shadow agents off bordering worlds, because it would be a sign of weakness. Did G'Kar unlearn his lessons about the greater good? With Londo, there's less of a surprise.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - A lackluster A-plot and some tedious scenes besides. The action isn't bad, but we're kept in the dark about what's really going on, so it's hard to care.

4 comments:

Ryan Lohner said...

I find Mark Schneider to look uncannily like Campbell Scott, myself. Probably comes from being a huge fan of The Spanish Prisoner. The character has potential, but he shlurs all his s'hes like Sean Connery on a bad day, and I don't get the feeling it's a natural speech impediment so it just ends up annoying.

The whole duct sequence comes from JMS overhearing that Jerry Doyle is claustrophobic, and given his love of using real bits of the actors' personalities to add to their performance, he immediately jotted down on a napkin "Shove Garibaldi into an air duct at the first opportunity." And even with only three sides of the ducts actually existing, he zoomed out of the thing at the end of every take and you can definitely feel his discomfort. Another bit not noted in the review is the weird moment where Garibaldi spots the Psi-Corps agent but just sits there not shooting, and the agent in turn simply lets him go. At this point there's a bunch of random pieces to this story that don't seem to fit together, and if this was Joss Whedon I'd definitely be worried at this point, but even on first viewing I was confident JMS knew where he was going with all this.

I like the Ivanova/Zathras scene myself, and it largely comes down to what I said earlier about the success of comedy largely being down to the actors. In a four minute long single take, Christian and Choate nail every one of their lines, and Choate does a quite impressive job of doing the same kind of personality as the B4 Zathras while still clearly making this one a separate character.

Ryan Lohner said...

Also, the episode features Garibaldi watching Duck Amuck, the classic Looney Tunes short where Daffy is tormented by a sadistic godlike animator. Hmm...

LiamKav said...

One thing that frustrated me at the time and continues to annoy me on this rewatch is when talking about Garibaldi, everyone keeps saying "he's been funny ever since he got back" or "when he got back he couldn't wait to get back on the job", as if he'd just been on a skiing holiday. He disappeared! While the station was surrounded by Shadow vessels! Then you found him in an escape pod jettisoned from a ship that blew itself up moments later! Are you not going to investigate any of this? You've dealt with the Shadows, you haven't started against Earth yet... you've got the time. At least ask Lyta if she can do a covert scan, or something.

Also, the whole situation is being written as Sheridan vs Garibaldi. What about Franklin, the guy he had multiple dinners with and who bonded over their addiction issues? What about Susan, who's been a friend of his for 4 years? Haven't either of them tried to have a talk with them? (And, seriously, how butthurt is Garibaldi when Zack takes his gun away? He should have been expecting that for weeks. Instead, we get "at least it wouldn't have come from you". Suck it up, man.)

The Duck Amuck cartoon proves one thing... at least Garibaldi owns some DVDs. That's at least one thing he has over Sheridan. Also, as a fan of classic WB animation, he should be thrilled when he gets a call from Batman's butler at the end of the episode.

'The whole duct sequence comes from JMS overhearing that Jerry Doyle is claustrophobic, and given his love of using real bits of the actors' personalities to add to their performance, he immediately jotted down on a napkin "Shove Garibaldi into an air duct at the first opportunity."'

Jesus Christ! Stop being a psychopath, Joe!

"What about Epsilon 3?" is rapidly becoming Franklin's go-to answer for everything. I hope he's not planning on getting married anytime soon. I can't imaging his wife loving getting married while Draal stands by overacting.

I also quite like the Ivanova/Zathras scene. The humour is nice enough and the "single-take" aspect is impressive. Bit annoying it begins on a fade in though so that the whole thing is done in blurry-o-vision. It also reminds me of one of my friends, who's Malaysian-Chinese. He claimed that him and his 3 sisters all had the same name. When we asked how his family called for him when they wanted him specifically, he said they just referred to him as "boy". (We also found out that they have different middle names, and he was just being obtuse/funny. Still, it makes Facebook navigating a nightmare.)

FACT ALERT: This is Lise's third appearence, after "Babylon Squared" (also featuring Zathras) and "A Voice in the Wilderness" (also featuring Epsilon 3).

Cradok said...

I've always figured that Garibaldi was going to rag out Zack no matter what. Zack does it himself, he should have sent a grunt so he at least wouldn't be doing it himself. Zack sends a grunt, he didn't respect him enough to come himself.

 

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