Babylon 5–Season 2, Episode 17: Knives

If you are starting to wonder whether I have anything better to do than sit at my laptop and watch television and then blog about said television all day, the answer is no. No, I do not. I am loving my kitchen remodel, but it’s keeping me stuck at home (stuck is perhaps too negative a term), on hand to let people in and out and answer questions, but too distracted to do work for money. I balanced my checkbook already, and removing the hotlinks that I put in this blog before I learned that it was rude to have them gets pretty boring pretty fast. Why not write? I enjoy writing, and I definitely like watching B5, and even though the aforementioned episode was a little slow, the half of if that advanced the story arc was very good.

I’m just going to skip over all the Sheridan hallucination stuff and pretend it didn’t happen. It turned out to be a go-nowhere situation that maybe served the purpose of reminding viewers that there was that time slip/warp thing with Sector 14 that involved the Babylon 4 station, and really nothing else. OK, the vision of watching the Icarus ship explode reminded us that Sheridan’s wife died because of that monster on that planet, so that will probably come up again soon, too. It actually annoyed me when Sheridan started having those visions and those headaches, because I thought we were in for another round of morals and lessons by Kosh the Vorlon, but that wasn’t it. I can’t decide if a go-nowhere resolution (it was an alien in his brain that left no traces and did no damage!) is less annoying than a repeat of psychic training would have been. Remember that episode of Lost with Hurley finding the van? It was an adorable little episode when you were watching it the first time, but the second time, when you are reviewing that season before the next season started it, and you already knew that it would go nowhere, you just don’t want to bother. That’s what I am feeling right now, but only about the Sheridan stuff. Because this was Londo’s episode, and I wish we could have seen more of him, without padding.

Londo! I can’t make up my mind about him, which is a testament to the character or the actor, or the writers, or all of it. I hate him, I think–especially because of these flashes of conscience we see. I know he appreciates Vir, and I’m glad Vir is confident enough now to openly speak to Londo about his behavior, and to wantonly judge and implore and generally try to interfere with his plans, and it says a lot about Londo that he lets Vir keep harping on these points. But why Londo has just given himself up to Fate, or The Machine, or Greed, or whatever it is that he feels hopelessly entangled by, when it is so clear now that his choices are not requirements and war is not inevitable, is a mystery that bears watching.

If there was any doubt in my mind that perhaps the Narn were unreliable narrators and perhaps manipulating the sentiments of all observers to cast the Centauri as villains, it’s gone. The appearance of Londo’s friend Urza demonstrates that the ruling class of the Centauri is not a monolithic, arrogant, hostile crowd hell-bent on empire and galactic domination. Considering that Urza really had no knowledge of Londo’s involvement in this palace coup, I believe that when he says no one really wants another war he means most Centauri really don’t want another war. Vir is no longer just some lone opponent of evil–he is the desperate mouthpiece of a planet trying to get through to the one person who can halt this chain of events. I’m pondering whether that makes Vir more or less heroic; it makes him less of a victim, in a way, and less of an angel figure, and it makes the whole situation seem much, much more tragic somehow. Good is being trampled by evil, but also the will of an entire people is being trampled by the intrigues of a few.

The fight to the death as a strategy to put Londo in a position to help his friend was genuinely suspenseful. I knew Londo wouldn’t die, but I didn’t know how it would actually resolve. I liked watching the people in the background of the party, too, because I like what goes on with the extras in this show for some reason. And the Centauri men’s hairstyle fascinates me; all the bald women’s heads are strangely beautiful, too. We didn’t really need to learn about that particular tradition of Centauri House Dueling, and I can’t imagine how it would come up again, but it shows that Londo is aware of subtlety, and obligation, and the bonds of friendship, and has a sense of pride, and it makes it even more perplexing that he’s being so stubborn about this war thing. I am probably more interested in him right now than anything else on the show. Well, him and G’Kar. Of course, this mystery will likely be directly tied to the mystery of what lurks in the shadows and the hinterlands, and the evil thing that ate up the late Mrs. Sheridan’s science ship, so it’s a package deal. I can dig. So even if the Londo story didn’t really advance the story arc either, it was still worth it to see him as a character and it invested me even more in this story. I keep remembering now that he’s the guy who narrated the pilot/movie that starts off the whole show, and that means he’s around at the end of it all to tell the sad, sorry tale. Or inspiring, heroic tale. That makes him narratively the most important character of the story. We’d call him Ishmael if he didn’t already have a name.

I’ll have to think about how PsiCorp factors into all this. Earth Government feels like just a puppet of the PsiCorps, so I can throw them out of my calculations. PsiCorps, Centauri schemers, evil beyond comprehension, the persecuted Narn, and the Minbari/Vorlon freedom fighting alliance all add up to a space station placed precisely at the epicenter of disaster.

I have high hopes for the rest of Season 2; it’s got some very good titles coming up. And because I doubt that Hulu will scrounge up season 3 just in time for me to watch it (although that’s what happened with my Buffy viewing), it looks like I’ve got some reserving to do at the library. The county branch has everything on DVD. Thank you, taxpayers of San Diego!

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