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Old July 7th 17, 11:04   #12
vacantlook's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Virginia
Posts: 11,925
Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

The Parliament of Dreams

The introduction of Catherine Sakai. Carolyn Sykes was a pleasant enough character in “The Gathering,” but she along with the three main cast members who didn’t come over for the show had to be replaced. Of all the former lovers come to B5 – which given the nature of the show, I understand why that is how the show would have to deal with a story involving someone’s ex, but it’s a trope that gets used too much on Babylon 5 – Catherine Sakai is my favorite.

She’s interesting all on her own, not just through her connection to another character. She’s been enough of a presence in Sinclair’s life that Garibaldi recognized her on sight. She’s a business woman. A surveyor. Her and Sinclair’s history is extensive. She’s previously promised to stay away from him, apparently. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but your pants are talking to you.” Sinclair is clearly happy to see her from the moment he does.

To be honest, I don’t 100% fully buy the relationship between Sheridan and Delenn; I don’t not buy it, but it feels a bit more staged, and less organic. But pretty much from the first moment, I totally buy the relationship between Sakai and Sinclair. Some might think their banter is too clever, but I think it shows a significant psychological connection between the two. They have shorthand in their dialogue that feels so natural to me.

G’Kar’s song while fixing dinner is fun; I just sung along with him. But alas, he cannot eat due to death threat. This gives us our first real look at Narn culture. They have an organization of assassins. They have some form of governmental body that is organized by “circles.”

Sakai is not the only interesting, strong female character introduced in this episode; we also get Na’Toth. I love her and it sucks that she couldn’t stay in the show. She just flat out tells G’Kar that if she were the assassin, she would have killed him already. That’s a mighty forward thing to say to your new boss. She eventually has to think outside the box in order to save G’Kar, and she gets to kick him. Again, he’s her new boss.

Religion. The Centauri. It’s a party. There’s food, music, and plenty of booze. (I just saw a Narn attending in the background.) It’s not exactly the most pleasant of origins for a celebration: Centauri killing off an entire species. We learn that the Centauri is dominantly a polytheistic culture. Londo’s toast is fantastic. “But in purple, I’m stunning!”

Religion. The Minbari. Delenn is pleased to have her new aid Lennier arrive in time to help her with a display of Minbari dominant religion. Lennier is super passive. He lets slip to us viewers that Delenn is very high ranking in Minbari government. This might be the first time we’ve really gotten some information about how religious Delenn is. The Minbari display is much the opposite of the Centauri. Slow, quiet, and meditative. We get more hints of Valen. We get references to the Earth-Minbari War. We get references to the Minbari’s current governmental structure’s birth (“the nine”). In many ways, the display is very cryptic, much like the Minbari themselves.

Religion. Humanity. The premise has been that each culture is showcasing their dominant religion. This singularizes what they show us and unfortunately makes the aliens look like members of monocultures. And then Sinclair turns around and says forget the dominant religious display (and thus the premise of what they’re all doing), I’m just going to parade a bunch of different Earth religions before everyone. It’s nice. It makes a message. But it also raises the question of if he’s not going to stick to the dominant aspect of the display, then it would have been nice to have previously maybe had something of a point made that the various aliens weren’t anymore monocultural than humans were. I really doubt we’d be that special to be the only species capable of cultural diversity. In the human scene, there are some unfortunate stereotyping/caricaturing of some religions in the clothing used for the actors. And O’Hare mispronounces “Taoist.” I like the music that plays during the scene.

This is my favorite episode out of the first five.
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