Babylon 5 #121: Ruling from the Tomb

"Captain Gideon, 'security' happens to be my middle name." "That's all well and good, but just in case your last name is 'breach' it won't hurt for me to double-check."
IN THIS ONE... While a religious terror threat on a medical conference looms, there's romance in the air for Gideon and Lochley, and for Dureena and Max.

REVIEW: Peter David wrote this one and threw in a lot of his trademark humor, much of which concerns sex between the characters. Sometimes it goes a bit too far - we didn't really need to know Sheridan's favorite position, did we? - but seeing various characters let their hair down, flirt and do the occasional spit take is a damn sight more entertaining the details of the plot. My edit would leave out the conference and terrorism, and just stick to the character stuff. Lochley makes the first of three appearances on the series, even though she's in the credits sequence (I guess she's the Na'Toth of the group), and because she has the same rank as Gideon, it's hard to see how she would ever be able to stick around permanently. In fact, the two captains cross sabers early on because they're "too similar", although we do know one is a stickler for the rules and the other is an inveterate cheat. But once they call a truce and let their mutual attraction run its course, things get more interesting. I'd like to see these two as an Earthforce power couple, crossing paths when they can, but they keep it light for now, and David's cracking script certainly helps establish their chemistry.

The other subplot is set up as a silly love (well, lust) triangle, silly because Dureena really isn't interested in, nor impressed by, Trace and Max. It doesn't stop them from fighting over her. All they manage to do is make fools of themselves, whether it's Max getting rolled on the streets of Mars and needing her to bail him out, or Trace getting too drunk to dance. Because yes, there's a dance number, and perhaps Max has what it takes to sweep her off her feet. He's an unlikeable scoundrel, but does show some charm. Maybe his attraction to her is what kept him from betraying her tribe's location in the previous episode, eh? Kudos to director John Copeland for effectively cutting between the dance and Trace getting assaulted outside the bar, two deadly tangos, so to speak.

The plot, about a mad priest from a doomsday cult called Sacred Omega, who hears the voice of Joan of Arc telling him to commit murder and terrorist acts, is much weaker. I feel like every time we hear one of her sermons in voice-over, the episode just STOPS. The priest is called Sabot - so of course he's a saboteur (groan) - while more interesting than a lot of B5/Crusade psychos, is just a little dull. The way he's stopped, with Gideon hijacking the podium and telling people humanity will be dead inside of a month to clear the room, "what he wanted to hear", is completely nuts. Seems like it would have created more of a panic, and there was no way for him to know it would work. Worse, the whole situation being orchestrated by a religious zealot has everyone talking religion, whether it's called for or not, and while I like Gideon saying God has five years to prove himself (accepting that perhaps it will take a miracle to find a cure, or if David is poking fun at JMS, to make Crusade last that long), that he's asked at all feels forced. For a world created by an atheist, religion sure is on every character's mind! Throw in a limp climactic fire fight and a terrible Martian cop who never really gets her comeuppance, and you're quickly longing for Gideon and Lochley to immediately get a second date.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The "dates" are fun and light, but unfortunately, the plot is boring hogwash.


Ryan Lohner said...

I've often wished more shows would do "light" romances that we're not supposed to see as this grand epic thing, but just two people letting off steam once in a while, which sounds like what they were going for here. It would have been interesting to see where that went.

I had no idea Lochley was on the show. During the last days of B5, quite a few of the actors asked if they could be part of Crusade, to which JMS replied that it wouldn't be as a regular since the show needed to be its own thing, but he'd definitely try to get smaller roles for some of them. But Lochley was already such a small part of B5 that she probably would have been helped quite a bit with a larger role on the new show (think Miles O'Brien on TNG compared to DS9). What could have been...

LondonKdS said...

This episode left me with the strong suspicion that Sabot's "voices" would eventually have been revealed to have been telepathically or technologically created, and that this was our first hint of the show's real bad guys other than the Drakh.

Siskoid said...

That would have made it more interesting. Alas.


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