Monday, 10 July 2017

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 1, Episodes 5-6


A5: The Parliament of Dreams
Airdates: 23 February 1994 (US), 13 June 1994 (UK)
Working Title: Carnival!
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jim Johnston
Cast: Catherine Sakai (Julia Nickson), Tu’Pari (Thomas Kopache), Du’Rog (Mark Hendrickson), Narn (Joy Hardin), Guard (Calvin Jung), Pilgrim (Michael McKenzie), Head Waiter (Glenn Robinson), Businessman 1 (Randall Kirby), Businessman 2 (Erich Martin von Hicks), Station One (Marianne Robertson)

Plot:    A week of religious celebration is being held on Babylon 5 where all the different cultures can celebrate their numerous belief systems. Ambassador G’Kar is distracted when an old enemy, Du’Rog, dies and leaves G’Kar something in his will: a promise that an assassin is on his way to Babylon 5 to kill him. Not long after this, G’Kar’s new diplomatic aide, Na’Toth, arrives and reports in to G’Kar, raising G’Kar’s suspicions.

Whilst monitoring the docking bays as hordes of pilgrims arrive on the station, Garibaldi spots and recognises a familiar face: Catherine Sakai, an old girlfriend of Sinclair’s. Sinclair decides to talk to her and they renew their romance. Sakai is now an exploration pilot, using her ship, the Skydancer, to find new worlds ripe for colonisation and mineral exploitation.

Ambassador Delenn greets her new diplomatic aide, Lennier, who arrives from Minbar just in time to help her prepare the Minbari religious ceremony. The ambassadors and command crew attend the Centauri religious ceremony, which involves music, dancing and the consumption of much alcohol. The Minbari ceremony is much more dignified and reserved, though charged with meanings that the non-Minbari present do not understand. Sinclair is bemused to later learn the ceremony is also used as a marriage ritual.

G’Kar hires a bodyguard from local crime lord n’Grath (last seen in episode A2) but the bodyguard is killed. The assassin turns out to be Tu’Pari, the courier who brought Du’Rog’s message from Narn. Tu’Pari captures G’Kar and begins torturing him, since this was part of Du’Rog’s instructions, but Na’Toth turns up and beats him senseless. By the time Tu’Pari recovers the deadline for completing his contract has expired. Worse still, G’Kar has deposited enough money in Tu’Pari’s account to make it look like that Tu’Pari has accepted a bribe. Horror-struck, Tu’Pari flees the station, knowing the Assassin’s Guild will be after him for betraying their honour.

Sinclair, after much deliberating, hits upon a novel way of showing the alien ambassadors humanity’s ideas about faith by introducing them to a representative from each religion on Earth. It’s a long line...


The Arc: The Minbari ceremony is actually more important than it appears, as it re-enacts the founding of the Grey Council by the prophet Valen some 1,000 years ago. It acts as a ceremony of rebirth and renewal, to celebrate the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. The ceremony is planned again for episode C11 but doesn’t actually take place. Similar ceremonies, but with different functions, take place in episodes C19 and TVM1. The importance of the words in the ceremony is made clear in episode C17.

Delenn’s proclamation of “And so it begins,” is repeated, by a different character in different circumstances, in episode A22.

Background: Interestingly, whilst the Minbari and Centauri each have one unified religion, humanity has dozens of different religious faiths (as today). We learn more about Narn religious beliefs, which are also numerous, in episode A12.

The Narn government consists of a government called the Kha’Ri. This is a council-like body consisting of a series of concentric “circles”, with the innermost councils have more power and responsibility. G’Kar is of the Third Circle, as we learn in episode A6. The Kha’Ri does not have a single leader, president or prime minister, as the council was designed to speak with the voice of many, not one, which the Narns perceived to be a weakness of the Centauri imperial system (C20).

The Narn have an assassins’ guild, the Thenta Makur, which is available for use by all. The guild has a strict code of honour, namely that any assassin accepting a bribe not to kill their target will himself be hunted down and executed.

G’Kar’s previous diplomatic aide, Ko D’ath (who appeared in episode A3), was killed in an airlock accident. G’Kar’s new aide, Na’Toth, is the daughter of a Narn counsellor named Sha’Toth. She was sponsored in her new role by Counsellor Li’Dak of the Fifth Circle, who in turn was once sponsored by Du’Rog.

G’Kar fought in the Narn War of Independence against the Centauri before becoming a member of the Kha’Ri. He served directly on the council for five years, which he considers to have been a stressful time. He was nearly the victim of two previous assassination attempts but survived each time.

The Drazi, one of the League races, celebrate a religious ceremony as the “Sacred Day of Chu’Dag”, using a ceremonial dagger.

Lennier, Delenn’s new aide, is a member of the clan known as the Third Fain of Chu’Domo (not “Chudomo”, as in the subtitles), which has served Minbari society with honour for over 500 years.

Babylon 5 has a dedicated Business Centre in Blue 3. This appears to be both a meeting place and convention centre. Placing it in Blue Sector (which is off limits to unauthorised personnel, apart from the docking bay, customs and Central Corridor leading to the rest of the station) gives it greater security from prying eyes.

Catherine Sakai met Sinclair at the Earthforce Academy and they lived together for a year. Sakai served during the Earth-Minbari War, which came between her and Sinclair’s romance, and she left Earthforce sometime after the conflict.

Sakai knew Carolyn Sykes, Sinclair’s previous girlfriend (who appeared in PM). Sinclair reveals he and Sykes broke up “about a year ago” after he refused to go into business with her (which she asked in PM).

Sinclair has a brother.

Morobuto (2075-2124) was an African philosopher and leader who united several nation-states in Africa into the African Bloc, making it a powerful influence in the Earth Alliance Senate. He was regarded as the Gandhi of his time.

The Centauri used to share Centauri Prime with another sentient race, a race known as the Xon. When the Centauri reached the Xon home continent a genocidal war erupted and the Xon were rendered extinct, allowing the Centauri to dominate their planet and, 500 years later, expand into space. Book NOV13 reveals that the Xon continent is called Xonos. Book NOV18 hints that the Vorlons had a plan in mind for the Xon which was interrupted by the Xon’s extinction. The same book reveals that the Xon were wiped out 1,000 years ago and the triumphant Centauri used the occasion to transform their government from a dominant empire and numerous smaller states into the single unified Centauri Republic.

The Centauri religion consists of a number of major and smaller household gods. These gods include Li, Goddess of Passion; Benzen, God of Food; and Morgoth, God of the Underworld and Protector of Doors.

The Centauri goddess Li, Goddess of Passion, has a number of tentacles emerging from her abdomen. We find out more about these tentacles in episodes A21 and C12. Revelations in these episodes suggest that Li has both male and female Centauri sexual characteristics.

Quantium-40 is a mineral used in jump gate construction. It is extremely rare. “The Hub” is an Earth space station or colony from where exploration and recon missions are launched.

The Antares system has been explored and is part of known space; at 470 light-years, it is quite distant from many of the Babylon 5 worlds, which are located within 75-100 light-years of Earth. However, this is next door compared to the Deneb system, which Sakai is also planning to visit; Deneb is estimated at being around 1,600 light-years from Earth.

References: A waiter in the Fresh Air restaurant is named “David”. This was Straczynski’s tip of the hat to David Strauss, an early B5 fan who invented the term “Quantum-40” on the GEnie bulletin board.

Sinclair is a massive fan of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poetry (to the extent of listening to it on audiobook!), which is quoted extensively in this episode.

G’Kar’s song – written by composer Christopher Franke – is actually an original composition, but Straczynski intended it to be a homage to Gilbert and Sullivan. There is a direct performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan song in episode D9.

The Centauri god Morgoth is probably a reference to the original Dark Lord in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legends of Middle-earth. Morgoth was the fallen god who tried to conquer the world in The Silmarillion before being defeated and cast into the void; the better-known Sauron of The Lord of the Rings was his lieutenant.

The Centauri ceremony of feasting and purging is a direct reference to the Roman Republic/Roman Empire, which also inspires a lot of elements of Centauri society (such as slavery, the fuzzy Emperor/Senate relationship and the mix of civilisation and cruelty).

We don’t learn anything about the Narn religion, partially for time but also because Straczynski knew that Narn religious beliefs would play a big role in episode A12.

The Australian Aboriginal representative is called “Mr. Blacksmith”, likely a nod to The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally (filmed in 1978) about a half-caste Aborigine who is ill-treated until he gains revenge.

The line-up of Earth religions at the end of the episode contains the following named belief systems: atheism, Roman Catholicism, Zed Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Oglale Sioux, Greek Orthodox, Ebo tribal, Yupik Otho (Inuit), Jivaro, Bantu, Taoism, Australian Aboriginal, Shinto, Maori and Hindu (amongst many others).

Unanswered Questions: Did the Thenta Makur catch up with Tu’Pari in the end?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: The fight sequence where Na’Toth breaks G’Kar’s restraints was filmed before Caitlin Brown was cast, so a stunt double was used. Brown was intent that her face should be visible during this sequence, so she filmed some coverage by herself, punching and kicking towards the camera to provide elements to be edited into the fight. Despite the best efforts of the actress, director and editor, she is very clearly not in the same shot as the rest of the fight scenes.

Behind the Scenes: This was the eighth episode of the series to be filmed, and the first to be filmed after the first-produced episode, A4, was completed in its entirety. This allowed Straczynski to start writing to the actors’ performances, rather than what he just imagined they’d be from the page.

This is the first episode to feature Caitlin Brown as Na’Toth and Bill Mumy as Lennier, completing the cast line-up from the opening credit sequence.

Caitlin Brown was hired at the last minute; after Mary Woronov quit and Straczynski decided to create a new character, the first choice had a claustrophobic breakdown in the makeup and left the set in tears. Brown was hired the same day after producer Douglas Netter made some emergency phone calls to casting agents.

Brown felt the trial-by-fire casting was invigorating, but got a bit too enthusiastic in the fight scenes and kicked the camera over.

On Bill Mumy’s first day on set he ad-libbed his first scene with Mira Furlan: when she asks him what is going back at home, he replied “Beatlemania is back!” He repeated these ad-libs in later takes, replacing the line with “Well, we just got Pizza Hut and cable” in an effort to make Furlan laugh. Since the scene cut just before he added another line, it’s unclear if the final take had one of these improvisations in it.

The scene with G’Kar singing to his dinner was complicated by the crawfish slipping off his plate. Hence his ad-lib of “Stay put!” when the com signal comes through.

Michael O’Hare and Julia Nickson spent a lot of rehearsal time trying to sell their characters relationship and developed a good rapport for the romantic scenes.

The Centauri celebration scene had Peter Jurasik jumping on the table, which was not rehearsed: the startled reactions of the other castmembers are genuine.

The Centauri orgy scene was cut for broadcast in Malaysia, apparently due to cultural sensitivities about portraying drunken behaviour.

A scene was filmed for this episode where Sinclair ruminates on Ambassador Kosh’s poisoning. When this episode ran long and episode A7 ran short, Straczynski moved the scene over. Given that Kosh appears in episode A7, this also made more sense narratively.

The final scene with all the representatives from Earth’s different religions involved 160 extras. Some of the extras were really who they appeared to be and others were actors: the Jewish rabbi was actually a biker covered in tattoos. Michael O’Hare tried to memorise the names but found it quite difficult, so ad-libbed some of them on the spot.

This was the first episode of Babylon 5 which Straczynski felt worked on all levels, having been disheartened by how A4 turned out. He was relieved that it was this episode that executives from Warner Brothers came down to watch filming, and they had a very positive reaction.

This episode won the 1994 Emmy Award for Best Make-Up.

Familiar Faces: Julia Nickson (sometimes credited as Julia Nickson-Soul from her marriage to Starsky and Hutch star David Soul, which had just ended when this episode was shot) is a Singapore-American actress with credits in films such as Rambo: First Blood, Part II and TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation (appearing as an Enterprise helm officer in the first season episode The Arsenal of Freedom). She also had a recurring role on Walker, Texas Ranger.

Caitlin Brown – sometimes credited as Julie Caitlin Brown – is a Californian actress who began her career with performances on stage in plays and musicals. Shortly before being cast on Babylon 5, she played a role as a mercenary in the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Gambit. She replaced Mary Woronov as Ko D’ath after the latter developed a severe reaction to the makeup used to create the character. Ironically, Brown also began to develop skin issues with the makeup, but only after shooting several episodes, which contributed to her decision not to return for the second season.

Bill Mumy began his Hollywood career as a child, becoming best-known for his role as Will Robinson on 1960s sci-fi series Lost in Space, as well as working in voiceovers for animation. Something of a Renaissance Man, he also wrote and directed scripts and wrote comic books, as well as becoming an accomplished musician, producing both solo material and performing as part of duo Barnes and Barnes. At the same time that he worked on Babylon 5, he created his own space opera TV show alongside B5 co-writer Peter David, called Space Cases. During his time on Babylon 5, Mumy also formed the music group “The Be-Five”, alongside Claudia Christian, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas (with Patricia Tallman on backing vocals). They recorded one album, Trying to Forget, released in 1998.

Thomas Kopache is an American actor with extensive television experience. He is best-known for playing Bob Slatterly on The West Wing and for extensive credits on Star Trek, playing Kira Taban (Kira Nerys’s father) on two episodes of Deep Space Nine, two different characters on The Next Generation, a Starfleet officer in the movie Generations and additional roles on Voyager and Enterprise. He also appears in the movie No Country For Old Men. In 2017 he gained newfound fame as the “Catheter Cowboy”, a character who initially appears to presenting an infomercial about catheter pain and treatment but then makes non-sequitur speeches about health care reform and the nuclear triad. John Oliver of the HBO show Last Week Tonight created the character and aired his infomercials on Fox News in an attempt to catch the attention of American President Donald Trump.

Review: The first episode of Babylon 5 which fires on all thrusters, with a surprisingly non-embarrassing (and quite grown-up) relationship drama and a tremendous storyline focusing on G’Kar, Na’Toth and Tu’Pari, which is by turns funny and dramatic. From the first few episodes it was clear that Peter Jurasik and Mira Furlan were the dramatic heavyweights on the show, with Andreas Katsulas being a bit behind them in gravitas. Not anymore. Katsulas nails his character and the storyline with charisma, humour, grit and depth. Michael O’Hare also turns in one of his best performances, apparently a result of many hours of rehearsal with Julia Nickson to sell their relationship. Overall, a winner with a final scene that is both Star Trek in philosophical tone but doing something that Star Trek (which shied away from whether humans still believed in a god or not in their 23rd Century) never could do. ****

Tu’Pari: “You are to know fear, you are to know pain and then you are to die.”

A6: Mind War
Airdates: 2 March 1994 (US), 20 June 1994 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Cast: Bester (Walter Koenig), Jason Ironheart (William Allan Young), Kelsey (Felicity Waterman), Catherine Sakai (Julia Nickson), Starfury Pilot (Don Dowe), Guest Liason (Elisa Pensler Gabrielli), Narn Captain (Michael McKenzie), Businessman (Kevin Page), Security Guard (Mark S. Porro), Security Aide (Macaulay Bruton), Station One (Marianne Robertson)

Plot:    A Black Omega Starfury wing is destroyed by a strange energy emission from a fleeing cargo ship. A few hours later the cargo ship comes out of hyperspace near Babylon 5 and docks with the station. The occupant, a Psi Corps telepath named Jason Ironheart, takes quarters on board. Within a few more hours a Psi Corps shuttle has docked carrying Psi Cops Bester and Kelsey. They inform Sinclair that Ironheart is a rogue telepath whose telepathic powers have been increased in an experiment and he is now a danger to himself and all around him. They suspect he will take refuge on Babylon 5 because Talia Winters is a former student. They perform a telepathic scan on Talia and confirm she hasn’t seen him. Afterwards, Talia confides in Sinclair that she and Ironheart were lovers as well as tutor and student.

Earth megacorporation Universal Terraform offer Catherine Sakai an impressive amount of money to investigate a remote world named Sigma 957. A long-range probe confirms the planet possesses sizeable amounts of duridium, a by-product of quantium-40, an element essential in jump gate construction. Sakai takes the commission, but Ambassador G’Kar refuses her permission to survey the planet, which is located in Narn-claimed (though not occupied) space. G’Kar claims that odd things happen near Sigma 957 and ships which go there tend not to return. Sakai is annoyed, thinking the Narns are just prevaricating to keep the planet for themselves, although their resources are insufficient to mine it. She goes around G’Kar to her own contacts in the Kha’Ri and sets out for the planet.

Ironheart contacts Talia and tells her that Psi Corps is performing illegal experiments to increase their own power. Their goal is to create a telekinetic so powerful he can kill people with just a thought. Ironheart’s powers are now running out of control. Ironheart makes a deal with Sinclair, exchanging safe passage to his ship in return for leaving the station. Psi Corps can deal with him outside. The Psi Cops ambush Ironheart en route to the docking bay and he kills Kelsey and knocks out Bester. He boards his ship and heads towards the jump gate, but a massive energy surge sees Ironheart transform into a higher being. He departs from this reality, leaving a ‘little gift’ for Talia beforehand. Bester is annoyed by Sinclair’s handling of the situation, but agrees it is better than Ironheart is out of the picture, although he’d prefer it if he were dead. Bester returns to Earth whilst Talia suspects that Ironheart has somehow increased her own telekinetic abilities, which used to be virtually non-existent.

Sakai arrives at Sigma 957 and begins surveying the planet but suddenly a massive energy storm heralds the arrival of an alien vessel of colossal power. The alien ship doesn’t even notice Sakai’s ship, just passing through before apparently leaping into hyperspace again, but the energy storm drains Sakai’s ship of power and sends it on a crash course towards Sigma 957. Two Narn fighters arrive and rescue her ship, returning her to Babylon 5. G’Kar sent the fighters to rescue her, since he knew she would get into trouble by herself. When asked why, he replies “Why not?”

The Arc: Talia Winters’ newfound abilities come into play in episode B7. Bester crops up again in episodes B7, C6, C14, D7, D14, D17, D21, E6, E10, E11 and E13. Episode B7 (A Race Through Dark Places) is, very consciously, a sequel to this episode.

The aliens at Sigma 957 are seen again in episodes C5 and D6. We learn a major clue about who they might be in episode B17.

Garibaldi has a second-in-command in this episode who crops up again in episodes A8, A12, A16, A22 and B2. We learn in B2 that his name is Jack. He seems to respect the Psi Corps, referring to them as “VIPs”.

We find out later, in episode C14, that the Black Omega Starfuries seen at the start of the episode are an elite military unit belonging to Psi Corps.

According to Jason Ironheart, Psi Corps is starting to influence political events back home, taking more power for themselves. This is reflected in episodes A8, A22, B2, B11, B19 and C6.

Sinclair mentions that he has to make some cuts to the construction guild budget, prefiguring the events of episode A12.

Background: Psi Corps is the only authorised regulatory organisation for human telepaths. They have massive powers over human telepaths and are free to treat them in ways which ‘mundanes’ would find intolerable (not to mention illegal). Psi Corps rate telepaths on a ‘P’ scale, with P1 as the lowest. Talia, like Lyta Alexander before her (PM), is a P5. Psi Cops have to be P12 (the maximum strength detected in humans). One in 1,000 humans is a telepath. One in 10,000 telepaths is a true telekinetic and half of them are clinically insane. Assuming a population of seven billion humans on Earth (given current population trends predict the human race’s population peaking at around 10 billion circa 2100 and gradually declining after that point), that means that there are seven million telepaths and 700 telekinetics, only 350 of whom are rational.

Black Omega is an elite Starfury squadron assigned to Psi Corps. It is piloted by telepaths and interfaces with the Earthforce military structure, but answers to Psi Corps.

According to Straczynski, a lot of telepaths are in the bracket P1-P2, with mild empathic powers. These people are often employed by Psi Corps but lack the skills for proper scans. P10-12 are quite rare.

Telepaths as powerful as Bester can project thoughts into the minds of non-telepaths.

Universal Terraform is an Earth Alliance megacorporation with tremendous resources and capital. Despite its gargantuan size and influence, it plays no role in the main ongoing storyline. Duridium is an easily-detectable by-product of the rare element quantium-40, which is essential to jump gate construction. Finding a reliable source of quantium-40 is an easy way for independent merchants and traders to get rich.

The Earth exploration division is currently six months behind schedule on jump gate construction due to a shortage of quantium-40.

The Narn starfighters we see regularly in the series are known as Frazi-class heavy fighters.

A room on Babylon 5 costs 500 credits a week. No wonder so many people live in Downbelow.

Individual ships have emergency tachyon transmitters, allowing them to send real-time mayday signals to all ships in range. However, these require significant power to operate, which may not be possible if the ship’s power systems are damaged (as with the Skydancer in this episode).

The Narns (and presumably other races) know of the existence of alien races and forces in the galaxy which are considerably more ancient than any of the younger races and have no interest in them at all.

According to Straczynski, the Narns built the jump gate in the Sigma 957 system (which has four prongs, like Earth Alliance ones) to exploit the system’s mineral resources. When they discovered the Walkers, they declared all travel to the planet off-limits, but since the planet is contested space they have some difficulty in enforcing the prohibition. The route from Babylon 5 to Sigma 957 involves passing gate beacons 147, 27 and 15B.

The Narn Regime maintains the Outer Sector Fighter Unit, a rapid-response team which can send fighters to outlying sectors relatively rapidly in the event of an emergency. Captain Sh’Drog is a senior flight officer in this unit.

Whilst Londo’s authority on Babylon 5 is limited – his government gives him a very limited stipend as per PM and regard the posting as something of a joke – G’Kar has much more authority. He is a senior member of the Kha’Ri and can requisition two fighters at a moment’s notice to go on a dangerous mission. The Narn clearly take Babylon 5 and its possible benefits very seriously.

References: Bester gives Sinclair a strange salute when he leaves B5 and says, “Be seeing you,”. It is used again to taunt Garibaldi with something he cannot prove in episode B2. The saying is, obviously, a homage to the British fantasy series The Prisoner.

The name “Alfred Bester” is a nod of the hat to the famous science fiction author, who wrote The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man, two of Straczynski’s favourite SF novels.

Skydancer (Sakai’s ship) is an original name, not a reference to either the Sky Dancers anime series (Straczynski noted at the time he was not a fan of Japanese animation) or the Dark Tranquillity metal album.

Ivanova quotes the Roman satirist Juvenal, who wrote “Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”, most commonly translated as “Who watches the watchmen?”

“Psi Cops” was intended as bit of a play on words on “CSI Cops”.

Unanswered Questions: What happened to Jason Ironheart, and what was the fate of his “little gift” for Talia Winters?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: As identified by Andy Lane in his essential Babylon File, serotonin and acetylcholine do not have any DNA and hence cannot “mutate” in the way meant here by Jason Ironheart.

Originally you could see the stars through Ironheart’s ship at the start of the episode, but this was fixed for later broadcasts.

Behind the Scenes: This was the tenth episode of Babylon 5 filmed. It was filmed after And the Sky Full of Stars (A8) and was planned to follow it, explaining Sinclair’s irritation with someone else poking around in his head in this episode.

The episode was brought forwards because Warner Brothers was extremely happy with it, particularly the high production values for such a low budget.

Walter Koenig was originally cast as Knight One in And the Sky Full of Stars. He had a heart operation, so was replaced with Patrick McGoohan of The Prisoner. McGoohan then dropped out due to a scheduling conflict and was replaced by Christopher Neame. Koenig recovered more quickly than expected and was able to shoot Mind War four weeks after the scheduled filming of And the Sky Full of Stars.

The fact that Ivanova comforts Talia after the invasive scan and Talia gives her a look of thanks was deliberately written into the script by Straczynski.

Andrea Thompson was so impressed by the script that she sent Joe Straczynski coffee and chocolates after filming was completed.

During the concluding battle in the Blue Sector corridor, a ceiling support beam comes crashing down. It was supposed to be solid metal but was actually made of styrofoam, as proven when Michael O’Hare stepped right through it. A replacement had to be quickly sourced to re-shoot the sequence.

Rather than build a whole new model, the Skydancer is the standard Earth Alliance shuttle with two cylinders from other cargo ship designs bolted to the side.

Mind War can be seen as previewing Straczynski’s much more recent Netflix drama Sense8; the ability of the telepaths to interface with one another, share each other’s feelings etc is clearly an early version of the sensate abilities in the later show. Babylon 5 shows the dark side of such intimate mental contact, whilst Sense8 shows (mostly) the more positive benefits of such a contact.

Familiar Faces: Walter Koenig, is, of course, famed for playing the role of Lt. Pavel Chekov in the second and third seasons of the original Star Trek, as well as seven of the feature films and several fan productions. Straczynski was a fan of Koenig’s work and befriended him in the 1980s. Straczynski’s hiring of Koenig was both to give him a meatier role than Chekov and to interest more Star Trek fans into watching the show.

Felicity Waterman is an English access who worked extensively in Hollywood in the 1990s, particularly the soap opera Knots Landing and the drama series Penascola: Wings of Gold.

William Allen Young is best-known for the roles he's taken on since B5: Frank Mitchell on Moesha and two different recuring roles on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami. He currently plays Dr. Guthrie on Code Black.

Review: A mixed bag of an episode. Walter Koenig plays against type and does it well, and the Psi Corps are a really creepy and interesting organisation (if played a bit too much as black hats a bit too early). Andreas Thompson gives a generally good performance and all the stuff with Sakai, G’Kar and Sigma 957 is really good. On the other hand, there’s a lot of howl-inducing lines which fail to land (Talia’s speech on telepaths making love is cringe-inducing) and the Garden CGI is still not really up to the job, being extremely distracting whenever it is used. Still, the episode does its intended job of setting up Psi Corps and foreshadowing later developments in the telepath arc. ***½

G’Kar: “Let me pass on to you the one thing I've learned about this place. No-one here is exactly what he appears. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair. And not me.”

G’Kar: “There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless, and if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants and we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know, we’ve tried. And we’ve learned we can try to stay out from underfoot or be stepped on.”

G’Kar: “Whatever they are, Miss Sakai, they walk near Sigma 957 and they must walk there alone.”

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1 comment:

Bronk said...

"Mind War" is definitely my least favorite Babylon 5 episode, because it repeats the annoying trope where someone evolves into a more powerful being, but then leaves everyone behind... they couldn't possibly stay and help out with all the terrible things happening to the main cast.

(I should have realized that this would have it's own tvtropes page, although the other egregious one for me, from Earth: Final Conflict, isn't on there.)

What's worse is that there wasn't even an attempt to explain it, like in the Star Trek episode 'True Q' (the Q Continuum wouldn't let her stay) or an entire season of Stargate SG1, where Daniel ascends and gets mired in a political stalemate with similarly ascended beings (at least he manages to help out a bit).

In this case, there's no reason Ironheart couldn't have showed up at the end to lend a hand.

It's interesting to see that although Ironheart might have been a throwaway character, the rest of the show had a lot going for it despite that. I'm already appreciating these extended recaps, and the background as well!