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Old July 7th 17, 10:36   #13
vacantlook
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

Mind War

This episode was one I have a definitive memory of sitting on the floor of my living room watching one midday Saturday when it first aired.

This is our first episode to really focus on human telepaths. The parts about telepaths in “The Gathering” and “Midnight On The Firing Line” were introductions. This is our first our first step beyond that introduction. And it’s our first direct look at the PsiCorps. We got Ivanova’s story of her mother in MOTFL, but we get the severity of what PsiCorps is in this episode. If we’re inclined to side with Ivanova because of her story, how the PsiCops treat Talia, and Ivanova’s being so immediate in giving her a glass of water suggests to the audience that we shouldn’t dislike Talia for being PsiCorps, but that we should have a problem with the Corps.

The Sinclair/Sakai relationship continues. She’s going to get her own plot this episode, and it’s not connected to Sinclair but to her job and her life. She’s more than just a love interest. We see how she works. And she gets to talk to G’Kar. We’ve had a lot of anger and militancy from G’Kar, but the previous episode and this begin to complicate his character for us. As he eventually tells Sakai, “no one here is exactly what he appears,” and then demonstrates for us himself in this episode. And we get to see the Walkers of Sigma 957. It’s easy to think they’re just some quick thing to be forgotten, but no, they return later in the series and in a big way. G’Kar’s conversations with Sakai in this episode give us our first real taste of how G’Kar is connected to larger cosmic and philosophical thoughts. This is the episode where we truly get our first realization that G’Kar is a very layered character.

Jason Ironheart is one of our major guest characters this episode. What was that I just said in the last review: they over use the trope of the ex coming to B5. Well here is Talia’s lover. (And instructor, which is creepy.) Ironheart is no longer a regular telepath. He’s become telekinetic. A product of PsiCorps experimentation. Turns out the PsiCorps wanted him to be an assassin. The idea of using telekinesis to assassinate someone quietly is something JMS would write in other of his work too.

The PsiCops are freaky. Walter Koenig as Bester is fantastic. The man many had loved as Chekov on Star Trek is now a villain, and he makes everything super uncomfortable. The other PsiCop however sometimes even looks like she’s physically chewing her lines of dialog. Not the best casting there, perhaps.

The human (or close enough) character becoming “something more” is a trope used so frequently it’s tiresome. It’s the necessary destination for this plot, but it doesn’t keep it from feeling cliché. I can’t remember how I felt about it at the time this episode was new though. But it enables Ironheart to give Talia her “gift.” The beginning of her ascent to greater telepathic power. Unfortunately, since Andrea Thompson eventually wanted off the show, she didn’t get to play this part of the plot to its conclusion seasons later.

I like the music in this episode. It has an appropriate amount of creepiness to it.
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