Babylon 5 #128: Each Night I Dream of Home

"You're too young to be having thoughts this old." 

IN THIS ONE... Lochley and Franklin guest-star as a man asks to be infected by the Drakh virus.

REVIEW: JMS can't put all the blame on TNT for the annoying out-of-order broadcast of the episodes, because Each Night features what Gideon calls his first engagement with the Drakh, and War Zone, written later and set chronologically first, ALSO features a fight with the Drakh. But then, there's no way to resolved the continuity, not with Lochley showing up without a reference to her ongoing relationship with Gideon. It almost works - they've met before (a looped line?) and might be acting more professional because there are always crewmen around - but one reference to a "first date" throws that right out the window. Best not to worry about it. I do wonder why Lochley was pulled into this story, however. She gets to do some Starfury action and how Gideon is forced to scoop up her damaged ship without stopping is exciting, but as she's never let in on the secret mission, doesn't even interact with the guest star from Babylon 5, her appearance, drifting in space with no hope of rescue, seems a contrivance just to lay in a mutual attraction between the two captains (in the broadcast order, by then unnecessary). It makes me wonder how she was ever going to be integrated into the series enough for her to merit that opening sequence credit. Not that I mind her being there; I find I like Crusade Lochley more than B5 Lochley.

The other B5 stalwart is Dr. Franklin making a surprise (unless you read the credits) appearance to tell us a lot more about the Drakh virus than we ever knew (and finding out even more). To do so, he must infect a volunteer, a man doing it to be reunited with the woman he loves back on Earth. And even though this David fellow wants this, it weighs heavily on Franklin. Chambers will rescue his soul, somewhat, and I like that by the end, the two doctors can call each other in the middle of the night to chat and share their common burden. Richard Biggs really knocks it out of the park here. You can feel Franklin's despair, hear his voice breaking, and he's skittish about even letting hope into his heart when new information comes to light about the virus. (If it's all nano-machines, can't they EMP this thing?) Since this has to act as a series finale, it ends the show on a note of dim hope. We just have to let Babylon 5 episodes that show the future confirm that the plague was indeed cured in time.

Over the past couple of episodes, Matheson has really grown on me. He's an odd duck who doesn't take things too seriously and keeps the captain's spirits up with snarky comments and zen wisdom. They've got a nice relationship going, and are two peas in a pod when it comes to breaking regulations and finding loopholes. And they have to, what with a stupid Senator on board dispensing information like it's worth its weight in gold. Just goes to show the aliens in the Interstellar Alliance don't have the market cornered when it comes to stupid and selfish politicians. Yes, by all means, let's risk contaminating the vessel that's out there finding a cure. Groan. The characters really do save this script and its contrivances.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN:
The rest of the season as planned is known to us. The major plot threads would have been a) Gideon uncovering an Earth conspiracy related to the events of his stranding back when he was an ensign; b) Dureena getting a lot of play and ending up with a "magic sword"; and c) the Apocalypse Box taking control of Matheson and through him, the ship. The D&D stuff, I can take it or leave it, but Dureena is a worthy character I wouldn't have minded seeing so much of. It also looks like the back half of the season would have deconstructed Matheson and sent him on a dark path; a character definitely on slow burn.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- If I ever watch Crusade again, I'll try to do so in the "preferred" and "uniforms be damned" order to see if the black uniform episodes play better. As it stands, though I was warned away from the Crusade, and it IS a mess, I'm still coming out of it feeling like I wanted to keep following these characters a little - or a lot - longer. Each Night as some strong performances and exciting set pieces, even if the plot is a little dodgy. I can almost say the same of the series in its entirety. I have a fondness for it, or at least, for the pre-retooling version.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You hit it with your Crusade comments. Some dodgy plots, JMS/Studio conflicts and general messiness that could do with a good tidy up (same with any new ambitious series). I think Crusade gets a bad rep because it isn't as good as B5 in its prime.

LiamKav said...

But then, season 1 of Babylon 5 wasn't as good as Babylon 5 in it's prime. Should it be given the same leeway? Or should the fact that they've spent the past 5 years making Babylon 5 mean that they don't have that as an excuse? (Certainly, "Emmissary" and "Caretaker" are far, far better than "Encounter at Farpoint".)

Considering that JMS has had to spend the previous few years dancing around why no-one ever asks their "ace in the hole" for help, I'd have liked it if at the end of this episode he just put up a caption saying "They asked Draal, and he fixed the plague and gave everyone a goatee. Even Lochley. The end."

At least we'll always have Billy Byron, alter-ego of the mighty Captain Marvel.

Siskoid said...

Liam: You took my response to dobablo right out of my mouth. And then added a whole lot of funny to it.

LiamKav said...

I'm just gearing up my snark reading for "Legends of the Rangers", which I've not seen but heard... things about. I'll try and watch it in time for the review. What's your schedule for the remaining B5 bits and bobs?

Siskoid said...

Rangers tomorrow, Over Here Friday, Over There Saturday, then back to Doctor Who for Series 8.

Truth be told, I'm already done with B5. Turned out to be a very productive Remembrance Day for that project.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying Crusade is bad. I agreed with the general summary. I think it is far superior to the first 13 episodes of B5. It was just gets unfairly judged to a higher standard as if it was B5 season 6.

The reason they never asked Draal for help is because it would mean talking the Zathras. You talk, Zathras drive you crazy. You leave, big boom. Either way, it is bad.

LondonKdS said...

One problem I have with Crusade as a whole is that all of the episodes that got made were so extremely stand-alone. People compare it to the first season of B5 in terms of quality, but the first season of B5 at least made it intriguingly clear when it was setting up plots for the future. There's very little in any of the Crusade episodes that makes even one of them seem more than a disposable situation-of-the-week.

Siskoid said...

I'm not sure how obvious that would have been if there'd only been half a season of B5.

And perhaps that's an unfair standard to judge Crusade by anyway. It isn't Babylon 5, nor, I think, is it trying to be. Not an unreasonable expectation, mind you.

Part of the problem is that they're not in the proper order, with pay-offs broadcast sooner than their set-ups. Still, the Apocalypse Box, the conspiracy that left Gideon stranded in space, the slow burn on what happened to the PsiCorps, Dureena's implied journey... I think the seeds were sown the same way B5 teased us with the First Ones, the lost Babylon stations, Londo's premonitions, and Sinclair's missing memories. But because we don't have the endgame, we can't invest in the far-reaching stuff, and can only really assess the one-off stories.

 

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