Babylon 5–Season 2, Episode 11: All Alone in the Night

You have no way of knowing without me telling you, but I have not yet watched last night’s Lost and continue to be not watching it so I can write about this episode. Because I’m writing, I’m not doing dishes or folding laundry, but I sort of have a good excuse for that–Filly and Fella are out on the patio playing, and I can see and hear them through the window which feels enough like supervising them (I don’t want them to fall over the wall or open the gate) but I can’t quite go so far as stand in the kitchen and fuss with cleaning, which would be too distracting to watch them closely. For example, I am right now this minute watching Fella drag over a patio chair footstool and make like he’s going to climb on top of the playhouse roof. There are many potential problems with this scenario. Fortunately, it’s Fella doing that and not Filly. He has better ears for hearing the word “no” with and is less interested in taking risks and making gambles.

I’ll ramble a little longer, because there’s not a lot of plot to go over for this episode. This is the part of the program where I admit to having seen every episode of Kyle XY, which is basically Lost for preteen girls. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and there are very odd character decisions, and this that and the other thing, but it’s held my attention throughout. I know it’s going to be canceled. It’s OK. I’m not even sure I could explain the plot to you, but I was cruising the IMDb message boards for the show (cruising said boards is usually pointless; I have no explanation for that behavior), which took me to the page for the actress April Matson (she plays Kyle’s foster sister Lori) and stumbled on this funny thread:

Reminds me of a young Claudia Christian

OMG!!1!!!!1!1 as the kids like to say. Check it out:

April Matson

April Matson

Claudia Christian

Claudia Christian

And then this!

Stockard Channing

Stockard Channing

Wow. Just… wow.

People also say she looks like Kira Reed, and I was going to check, and then there were sexual content warnings on the Google links about the pages with her name on it, and I just don’t feel like clicking through. I’ll let the skeevy pervs spearhead that mission. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but all that effort about proving you’re eighteen and then the ads you get for a while after hitting those pages… meh.

So onto the show!

It really is light on plot. Sheridan is itching to see get outside and gets himself captured and then rescued, and Delenn loses her council status but gets to stay as ambassador, and Lennier puts his professional future on the line to support her. It’s an important show because of its heavy symbolism, foreshadowing, and mythos (as the nerds like to say).

“I’ll be in and out in an hour,” says Sheridan with sparkling white teeth. “What could go wrong?”

I actually burst out laughing when I heard that line. I think I was supposed to. Let’s just leave it at things went wrong.

So the Delenn stuff was personally traumatic for her, but it also foreshadows that the priestly caste will lose political council power to the warrior caste. Considering that there’s already been one war between the Humans and the Minbari, and that it was ended for a priestly castes reason that the warrior caste considered pointless and arbitrary, obviously they’re going to try to pick right back up where they left off. Delenn gets to be ambassador, still, but only because her leaders frankly don’t care what she does anymore or what happens to Human/Minbari relations. Sure, let the outcast sit as ambassador! She’s a freak anyway with all that glossy, flowing hair. Humans will glom onto her as having more power than she actually has, and the Minbari will probably dismiss everything she says. That will, well, cause some problems, to be vague and obvious. Lennier throwing his lot in with hers says a lot about him, and he probably represents the Minbari individuals who do not want war and do not hate humans. No planet of people can be entirely of one mind. To sum up: Warrior caste has evil plans, the Council has been shown weak by capitulating, and if a war does get started, it won’t have enough civilian backing to be particularly successful. Meanwhile, Delenn has been thrown all alone into the night by her friends (save one).

Sheridan has been caught all alone in the night, too, by some random roving ship that picks up hapless people and makes them kill each other. It’s part Roman Circus and part “The Most Dangerous Game.” (SPOILER ALERT: It’s people.) So he wakes up, strapped down on a table and watching this mechanical probe thing come out of the ceiling and all his worst alien abduction nightmares probably come true, including the one where they implant something in your brain.

Four Prongs of Terror

Four Prongs of Terror

I mean, Dude. It even looks like an anus.

Insidious Orifice

Insidious Orifice

Then suddenly this Narn comes in brandishing weapons and he gets embroiled in a fight to the death. It’s the bug tentacle thing attached to their heads that are telling them to fight each other, and Sheridan refuses to hurt the other guy and then they both free themselves from that thing and the Narn is very hurt, but they decide to try to escape. (It takes longer, we presume, than an hour.) Meanwhile, loyal pilot risks his own life to put the word out, Delenn helps them track down this ship, and a rescue is enacted. They arrive too late, it appears, but Sheridan and the Narn guy are savvy and leave in an escape pod, and get saved. Boom. Roasted.

So it’s all very exciting, but it’s pretty straightforward storytelling, unless you notice that the episode name is “All Alone in the Night,” which is a majorly emphasized phrase in the introduction to the show. “All Alone in the Night” in the opening credits monologue describes Babylon 5 station, and this is reinforced to viewers every single episode. So really this isn’t an episode about Sheridan at all (although he makes a dashing figure who hasn’t gone soft with his desk job), but rather the space station. And the alien ship that kidnaps people to make them fight each other really isn’t an alien ship, but rather that icky dark evilness that lurks at the borders of charted space and in hyperspace, that has probably already picked up the Centauri race and infected it with some idea that they can win this unjustified battle against their neighbors. I’m positive that Londo’s posse has made arrangements with a yet unknown player in this game. The Vorlon who appears to Sheridan as if in a dream with something very important to say is the mysterious force that compels people to reflect upon and carefully plan their own actions, and anticipate the consequences. I’m not sure right now if they stand in for God or for the human conscience or some sort of Jungian collective wisdom, but all facetiousness aside, that was a genuinely spooky moment.

“Why are you here?” Sheridan asks Kosh. (It’s a reasonable question.)
“We were never away. For the first time your mind is quiet enough to hear me,” Kosh answers.
“Why am I here?” Sheridan continues.
“You have always been here,” Kosh asserts.

I think I could spend another thousand words on that exchange alone, but I won’t. But if Sheridan is the voice of Humanity, or sentience, or life in general, and Kosh is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, this is a very comforting and hopeful and prophetic exchange. Sheridan is isolated, Babylon 5 station is all alone, but no one is alone. Help and guidance are always available if you take a moment to listen. Then we get into themes of great cycles of life (most recently made famous by Battlestar Galactica’s “all of this has happened before” mantra). Even though some suspected dark force that has been foretold can swoop down and pick people off, cooperation can save everyone (it is Delenn the Minbari who provides the key piece of information that saves this human and that Narn). It’s very Eastern, and the scene stands out in my head as the first one that is distinctly so mystical… way beyond that life force exchanging machine that the doctor had lying around for a while.

Words like “always” and “never” lead me to believe that there will be some sort of happy ending, and that no particular race will be driven to extinction by the end of the show. Extinction avoidance is always a plus.

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