Babylon 5–No Compromises (1998)   1 comment

Title Card for the Fifth Season of Babylon 5

(SIXTY-EIGHTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Each season of Babylon 5 covers a different calendar year and carries a collective title.  Consider the following:

Season 1 (1994), set in 2258:  Signs and Portents

Season 2 (1994-1995), set in 2259:  The Coming of Shadows

Season 3 (1995-1996), set in 2260:  Point of No Return

Season 4 (1996-1997), set in 2261:  No Surrender, No Retreat

Season 5 (1998), set in 2262:  The Wheel of Fire

Within each season is an episode with the same title as that season.

Season 5 tells the story of the difficult first year of the Interstellar Alliance, as well as the continuing fallout from the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War.  Here the reference to the Greek mythical wheel of fire, or a series of negative consequences flowing from one decision, comes into play.  Newly-minted President John Sheridan has to deal with his own wheel of fire, but the most torturous experience is that of Londo Mollari.  This concept of the wheel of fire befits Babylon 5 well, for this is a series about actions and their consequences–frequently unpleasant ones, regardless of why one chose that action.

Now let us proceed to episode itself.

Captain Elizabeth Lochley, the New Commanding Officer of Babylon 5

John Sheridan, the former commanding officer of Babylon 5, is the new President of the Interstellar Alliance, with temporary headquarters at Babylon 5.  His second-in-command, Susan Ivanova, has left the station to command a new destroyer on its shakedown cruise.  Captain Elizabeth Lochley of Earth Force arrives to fill the vacuum.  Sheridan has selected her for the job, and he knows her, based on his comment, “It is good to see you again.”

Sheridan’s immediate concern is getting himself inaugurated.  At Sheridan’s request, G’Kar drafts the oath of office and begins work on the declaration of principles.  Our hero has much cause for concern, for someone is sending him death threats.

Major Clemens

As we learn during the episode, the would-be assassin is Major Clemens, a skilled infiltrator and a wanted war criminal.  Clemens, who had,  tortured many people at President Clark’s behest on the Beta IX colony, blames Sheridan for ruining his life.  He kills a Ranger at the beginning of the episode and deposits the corpse near the station –to send a message, he says.  Then Clemens steals a Starfury fighter craft and confronts Sheridan during an attempt at the inauguration ceremony:

Fortunately, Michael Garibaldi flies another Starfury fighter craft, which he uses to haul the Clemens-occupied craft away, so that Sheridan-loyal pilots can destroy the Starfury with Clemens inside it.

Byron

Captain Lochley has to deal with this situation and more.  She has to handle renegade telepaths, too.  Byron and his band of escaped telepaths seek to establish a colony on Babylon 5, still not a formal part of the Earth Alliance.  So, they hope, they will be free from Psi Corps interference.   The telepaths are nonviolent and willing to earn their keep, Byron insists.  Among Byron’s followers is Simon, a young man:

Simon chooses not to speak because of a trauma he has not explained fully to anyone.  He is, anyhow, quite sweet, for he sends telepathic flowers to anyone he likes.  He sends telepathic flowers to Captain Lochley.  Simon gives his life saving that of Captain Sheridan, a fact which influences Sheridan’s decision to permit the telepaths to form a colony on the station, overriding Captain Lochley’s denial of that request.

I wish to avoid giving away too much too soon, so I choose my words carefully:  LOCHLEY WAS CORRECT.  I have almost completed watching the fifth season episodes again, and I am deep enough into the season to carry a fresh memory of the unintended negative consequences which flow from Sheridan’s kindhearted and understandable decision.

Captain Lochley is a no-nonsense person with whom Garibaldi clashes immediately.  She wonders why he won’t wear a uniform, and he wants to know which side she was on during the civil war.  All she says is that she was on the side of Earth; who wasn’t?  Nevertheless, Sheridan trusts Lochley, and that fact speaks volumes.

Dramatic structure has five stages:  exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.  Babylon 5 manifests all these stages; the fifth season is the denouement.  Some viewers have criticized the final season, especially in the context of the rather intense fourth season.  Yet series creator J. Michael Straczynski had to transfer the planned beginning of the fifth season into the end of the fourth season because of the near certainty that there would be no fifth season.  So, yes, the fifth season gets off to a slow start and is quieter that the third and fourth seasons, but it contains fine drama.  It is well worth watching, except for the Day of the Dead episode.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 17, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 17, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

One response to “Babylon 5–No Compromises (1998)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2262) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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