Babylon 5–Intersections in Real Time (1997)   2 comments

This is what ISN calls humane treatment.


At the end of the second season the Vorlons sent an inquisitor, actually Jack the Ripper, to determine if Sheridan and Delenn were the proper leaders of the coming war against the Shadows and other forces of darkness.  Among the questions the inquisitor posed was whether Sheridan was willing to die alone for the cause.  In this episode, a one-set piece with just a few cast members, Sheridan faces that possibility.

The First Interrogator at Work

Earth Force’s interrogation techniques are not pretty.  They involve pain devices, food poisoning, drugging (to distort the victim’s sense of reality), subtle questioning, and in-your-face demands.  In the case of Captain Sheridan, the main goal is to break him psychologically so that he will lie, recant his civil war, state that he has been under alien influence, and become a loyal supporter of President Clark.  If he refuses to cooperate, he will die and Earth Force will fabricate a video of him recanting.

The interrogator knows that this torture produces lies, and this does not disturb him.  He serves the Clark Administration, and this is his job, which he does without any qualms.

A Nearly-Broken Drazi

Our hero summons the inner strength to resist all attempts to break him, though. And Sheridan encourages a nearly-broken Drazi, who has begun to confess falsely to conspiring with Sheridan, Ivanova, and an Earth Senator (whose only “crime” is annoying President Clark) to resist.  Yet the Drazi succumbs to the insidious pressures, and becomes a party to Sheridan’s further interrogation.

The Second Interrogator

The first interrogator does not break Sheridan, so a second man takes his place and begins questioning anew.

Here, according to the original plan, the fourth season would have ended.  Yet the Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN), which aired Babylon 5, was nearing the end of its life, so series creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short) had to conclude his story lines and film the series finale. At the last minute, however, Turner Network Television (TNT) picked up the series for the fifth and final season.

JMS has a background in theater, and Intersections in Real Time reflects this fact strongly.  There is one set, which is frequently dark, and the furniture is minimal.  The action is all in the dialogue, eyes, and body language.  The result is a disturbing and well-acted episode.

I conclude by quoting lyrics by Doris Plenn, circa 1950, during the second Red Scare, known otherwise as McCarthyism.  This is appropriate because of the echoes of McCarthyism in this episode:

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing.

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?



All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

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