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Old July 17th 17, 20:33   #34
vacantlook
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

Survivors

We start by seeing Garibaldi and Ivanova entering the core shuttle. While we’ve had characters on the shuttle before, this is the first time (unless I’m mistaken) that we’ve seen people getting on / getting off the shuttle. And their doing so brings us into the plot: sabotage in advance of the arrival of the Earth Alliance President.

This episode focuses on Garibaldi. I now a lot of people love Garibaldi as a character; to me, he’s okay, but he’s expected. There’s not really anything about him that feels particularly new to me. But he is an example of how common human problems will not go away just because we become a space-faring species. Garibaldi is an alcoholic. It’s a sensitive subject for me, given my family history.

We get a person from a character’s past coming to the station; thankfully, they’re not a former lover, for a change. She’s angry at Garibaldi, and he falls apart. I can’t help not being all that interested in their relationship. Major Kemmer comes in and stomps around. She tries to revive the injured man to get a name from him, and of course the expected answer is Garibaldi. “Why would a dying man lie,” she asks. He’s a man who is in an altered mental state, having just been chemically dragged out of a coma. His word is hardly reliable. That it’s treated as it is annoys me.

Then there’s Cutter, the guy who works under Kemmer. He is not performed with any subtlety whatsoever. Surprise, he’s the villain; except no surprise whatsoever, really.

“You are going to resist, I hope,” Ivanova says to Kemmer when Sinclair orders her off the command deck. It’s moments like these that makes me love Ivanova. “I’m a lieutenant commander in Earthforce, I do not take demands.”

The scene with Londo is nicely revealing about his character too. “I have been in your place. I can feel how you’re pinned,” he tells Garibaldi. Knowing what’s coming, this of course is foreshadowing what Londo will do and how it will impact him. The suspicion and antagonism between Londo and G’Kar isn’t as spotlighted in this episode, but it is there. “They won’t give you death, they’ll just take everything you value and leave you with nothing,” G’Kar tells Garibaldi, also foreshadowing some of his coming experience in the show. I don’t remember having paid as much attention to Londo’s and G’Kar’s parts in this episode before.

What kind of security does Babylon 5 have? Garibaldi leaves n’grath’s quarters, a guard comes around the corner, Garibaldi goes in the other direction, and the guard takes out his ppg and fires at Garibaldi. What law enforcement is that? Oh, look, there’s a person that because of the plot we know is Garibaldi, shoot him?? I mean, there’s little way to identify that it’s Garibaldi; he’s got a breather mask on, as does the guard, so not only is Garibaldi’s face obscured, so too is the guard’s vision. But then, we have a culture here in America now that law enforcement too quickly turn to shooting someone rather than trying to deescalate the situation, so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising. But if that was where it came from in the story, maybe that’d be okay, but it’s not; the guard shoots at him because the plot says Garibaldi needs to be shot at. Not the smoothest writing, for sure.

It’s nice seeing the conspiracy plot arc is still brewing beneath the surface of the story, even if the acting and specifics are clunky. Some anti-alien “pro-Earth” group is trying to undermine President Santiago, who has a more alien-accepting policy position. As ungraceful as much of this episode’s characterization, dialog, and acting is, the anti-alien conspiracy plot is more involved and interesting than the previous one back in “The War Prayer.”

“Holding at T-minus 1,” really writer? Really? Ivanova’s hesitancy to follow through on Garibaldi’s warning is as unrealistic as the clichéd at-the-last-second stopping of the timer.

“Make sure nothing happens to [the President]; we need all the friends we can get,” Garibaldi says. Once again, this episode gives us foreshowing of the coming plot.
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