"Meditation shapes us. It makes us strong but keeps us flexible. As fluid as thought itself."
REVIEW: Lennier recently left to go to Ranger school. We now go to that school, but Lennier is nowhere to be seen. Instead, let's follow a kid called Tennier. Damn, that's frustrating. Now, he IS referenced, as his teachers have concerns about his motivation and how he's pushing himself too hard, but Learning Curve is a lot more concerned with people we've never met facing off against people we've never met. This is especially annoying considering that we've just been through an episode about yet more people we've never met. I suppose there is interesting in seeing how Rangers are trained, and we get a lot of zen Minbari philosophy thrown in, and some wit as well, at least from the Religious Caste teacher. Delenn's IDIC solution to integrating other races (specifically the Pak'ma'ra - we learn more about these guys here than in all previous episodes combined) into the Rangers is a cool bit from her, and her grace continues to be one of the series' best elements.
However, it's hard to sustain interest in guest characters when so many of them are stock archetypes - and framing the final fight as an archetypal one only makes one focus on this more - the two rookies are essentially two sides of an argument made manifest. I don't see them as particularly rich characters in their own right. The villain of the piece, Trace, a sort of bargain-basement Colin Farrell, is just as two-dimensional, a bullying thug with delusions of grandeur. He doesn't just get beaten at the end, but humiliated by smug Minbari, in a fight built up to be the proverbial can of whupass (all that talk of terror), but turns out to be JMS making speeches about bullies. Meh. The only good thing about this lame underworld aspect is that N'Grath rates a mention, though he/it is sadly gone from the station and it's this loser who filled the power vacuum. I miss the bug-eyed low-life. If we're supposed to take something away from this exercise, it's that the Minbari don't have it in them to back down, for cultural reasons. And it's easy to take that away from the episode, because Garibaldi insists on hitting it right on the nose. Look, nothing about this is BAD, but because we're essentially dealing with a cast of guest-stars, it's hard to get worked up about it.
Which leaves us with the Lochley story, and Garibaldi's quest to find out why Sheridan would trust her when she didn't fight for the rebellion. If he doesn't know he's being a jerk - implying that he STILL doesn't trust his boy Sheridan - the first clue should have been when people at the commissary applauded Lochley's speech about duty. We're supposed to find her a curious choice as well when Delenn catches her opining that some decision isn't "like" Sheridan. So they have a personal connection, clearly. It wasn't just a case of "looked at your file and thought you'd be good for it". The truth isn't revealed by the end of the episode, but it's something that makes Delenn jealous because she goes to bed angry. (By the way, I am dead tired of seeing the President and his wife in bed together in almost every episode. Let's mix it up a little.) Of course, I DO know what the connection is because among the DVD sets' many sins is the fact the next episode's play menu spoils it. So when I was setting the episode for tomorrow's viewing... Sheesh. Let's hold off on discussion it 'til tomorrow.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low(ish) - What you might call a mercenary story. It really needs more of the regular (or at least, recurring) cast involved in its action.