"Give a dog a bad name, and you can hang him with it."
REVIEW: The first episode not written by JMS since "Knives" in Season 2, I thought Neil Gaiman's script would be a breath of fresh air. It's not. It's like the most pretentious Voyager script ever written. The pseudo-mystical premise, we're told, doesn't need an answer, and I'm fine with that. They do go out of their way to give some, however, though none can completely explain what we see. A festival of the dead, apparently ripped off Mexico's by the Brakiri, takes a chunk of the station through hyperspace (I'm guessing that's why we see a hazy red force field) to their homeworld, where everyone within gets to chat with dead people. Is it a machine? Is it memories? Is it really them? And why don't the Brakiri "buy" a piece of Babylon 5 that only they inhabit, or at least warn people about the transformative experience awaiting them, or maybe invite those interested? It's all very contrived and magical, and I'm not sure I buy it as a Babylon 5 script, despite the existence of "technomagic" in this world. But we do get scenes where Corwyn lets G'Kar sleep in C&C without asking any questions, and Sheridan attacking the walled-off section all by himself making me wonder where Security is.
But say I do buy it. The CHOICE of dead visitors and what they then do doesn't always work. Londo and Adira I get, though they spend all their time having sex, which hardly does much with the characters. Mr. Morden is a strange choice for Lennier - it's not all loved ones, clearly - but a worthy pick, even if Marcus perhaps deserved it more. Would Marcus have had something relevant to tell Lennier, either about being a Ranger or dealing with unrequited love? Maybe. But that would have taken time, and we spend very little of it with this duo as Lennier essentially rides it out. We do get a prophecy about Lennier one day betraying the Rangers. Ominous. Garibaldi gets Dodger, the marine he had a one-night stand with once, and it's certainly nice to see her. He's with Lise now, so it's all pretty tame flirting and reciting Emily Dickinson poems... You see why I call it pretentious. This is what THESE characters want to do with their Day of the Dead? Nonsense. And then there's Lochley, a character we don't know very well, so her visitation is from a character we don't know, an old roommate who apparently O.D.ed well before Lochley ever joined Earthforce. There's nothing wrong with using this device to explore the Captain's character, but I don't much like what we find out. There's one line in there that suggests Lochley was a teen sex worker or possible petty criminal, because she did things that she can't bear to think about. That seems to go against her present character, though her friend's death could certainly have "scared her straight". Except I do hate it when female characters are strapped with this kind of background (or similarly, a history of sexual abuse). It makes me squirm. Plus, Lochley's visit for some reason comes with a message from Kosh (well, that comes out of nowhere), another cryptic prophecy that relates to later events. A long night, returning to the end of the beginning, fine, but why not make Kosh appear to Sheridan over the course of the story? Though several characters get a bit of closure on some chapter in their lives, the episode does little to really transform anyone.
The accidental point the subplot makes is that maybe we shouldn't take any of this seriously. We finally meet Rebo & Zooti - the comedy duo that have been referenced several times now - and they're played by Penn & Teller. I like P&T fine, but they're more humorous magicians than gut-bustingly funny comedians. Rebo & Zooti are even less funny, poaching most of their wit from other sources, like Oscar Wilde. I appreciate that they've studied alien forms of humor and can connect with other races in ways we just don't get, but the stuff they target humans with is very dull too. Like me, Lochley doesn't seem to get it, and ironically, she gets the funniest line in the whole episode: That she thought the whole Brakiri thing was a metaphor. The comedy duo are instead used for over-obvious satire, like wanting to go into politics where the real clowns are, or for portentous mumbo-jumbo like mute Zooti's whispered line, an answer to "why", "because it tells me to", which is obtuse and definitely not worthy of Sheridan walking away with a grin on his face. Ugh.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Suffers from guest-writer syndrome, in that it's not allowed to really say anything important about the characters, and comes off as a dull and irrelevant change of pace. I'd only keep Londo and Lennier's bits.