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Subj: Babylon 5: Season Two [OLD SPOILERS]
Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 at 03:24:17 pm EDT (Viewed 242 times)
Babylon 5 - Season Two (1994-1995)
Here we go again. B5 commander Sinclair has been written out for behind-the-scenes reasons we talked about last time. He's been reassigned off-camera and B5 is left without a commander until John Sheridan arrives. I said that Michael O'Hare (as Sinclair) was a bit like John Wayne in his acting; I think Bruce Boxleitner (as Sheridan) is more like Tom Cruise. Slick, polished, always with a plastic smile. He has more charisma than O'Hare and can do intensity but there are times he seems, I hate to say it, a little phony? But maybe that's just the character trying to put on a good face for everyone he deals with.
Delenn comes out of her cocoon and is now half-Minbari, half-Human. I'm sure Bill Mumy (Lennier) was jealous she got to wear a less severe alien makeup. The story says that she morphed in order to bridge the gap between Minbari and Human but it will make her an outcast among her own race and lose her seat on the Grey Council.
There are two ongoing stories that play behind the scenes. One is political unrest among the Humans: B5 is losing the support of Earthgov, the last president of Earth was probably assassinated by his successor, and Earth's colony on Mars has rebelled against Earth and is now being quelled forcefully. The other is the coming of the Shadows, hinted at in Season 1 and this time it plays out mostly through the Centauri's enslavement of the Narns.
Londo and G'Kar are somewhat reversed in their screen time. Last season Londo was on a lot and G'Kar was used sparingly. Here, Londo vanishes for long stretches of time and is barely there when he does appear. His deal with the Shadows last season to reclaim one Narn outpost that had escaped from Centauri rule has prompted a new Centauri Emperor who declares open war on the Narn and decimates their military and civilian population. Londo has little reaction on the surface. As they bomb the Narn homeworld to complete their conquest, Londo just stares out the window. Does he regret his actions? Have they gone too far? Or is he happy that the Centrauri are winning again? Probably a mixture of both. Last season he waxed nostalgic at length about the glory days of his empire, now he doesn't have much to say. G'Kar on the other hand finds himself carrying the torch for his rapidly diminishing species, having to swallow his anger in order to maintain what's left, and he gets a lot more to do.
In the middle of all this, Sheridan becomes aware of Mr. Morden, the Shadows' represatitve on B5 that only Londo knew about before. When he finally gets his hands on Morden, Delenn and Kosh tell him to let the man go. Apparently they've known about the Shadows for some time and want to play it close to the vest. I'm not sure if that was wise or not.
Then there's Talia and the telepaths. After defending the telepaths to Ivanova who hates them for what happened to her mother, Talia ends up turning on them too, I guess. Some of these episodes come out of nowhere. Bester returns looking for an underground railroad of escaped telepaths, it turns out to be run by the good Dr. Franklin but this is hardly ever mentioned again. Talia lies to protect them and I guess turns on Psi Corps? When we see her later in the season she and Ivanova have become friends, one of the few good pieces of character development here, and I take it they are lovers now too? It wasn't stated too explicitly but this was the '90s, that wasn't really a thing yet. Then suddenly we find out that Talia is a sleeper agent who turns against them all and they just let her go. Didn't she kill someone? It was a rushed exit, I can only guess it was done for production reasons as well. Too bad her mental upgrade to super-duper telepath powers from season one was forgotten. Or will it be referenced later? Also, Ivanova is revealed to be a telepath also. Was this so she can take Talia's place in any future storylines? They already brought Lyta back.
Oh, and Keffer. This guy gets added to the main cast roster, at least in the opening credits, but only appears in 3 or 4 episodes. I guess I predicted his arc incorrectly. In an early episode as they rescue a ship stranded in hyperspace they find something lurking in that void, which is the Shadows of course. The episode ends with the ship rescued but Keffer is lost in the void. Then he suddenly reappears. I assumed this sudden reappearance would mean he was somehow corrupted by the Shadows and would become a sleeper agent but that doesn't happen. Instead about 15 episodes later we see him again and he's simply trying to find the thing hiding in hyperspace still, and finally does.
And then we see Kosh's true form, I guess, as he rescues Sheridan from an assassination attempt. Interesting.
It all looks very good on paper, but there's something missing. Hard to put my finger on it. This show is very okay, but it's not blowing me away. The production, the dialogue, maybe it's the acting or the pacing, something seems off. I think the overall plot is interesting. There will be an occasional moment that's really good, be it acting or writing. For all the production shortcomings, I have to say the alien makeup is excellent. There was an episode with like 30 Narn extras all made up and that is an extensive makeup and it's very well done.
I was suprised sometimes by how little the characters react. Maybe there's nothing to be done. They believe Earth's president was assassinated, but they can't do anything. One of B5's members, the Centauri, openly declare war on another member, the Narn, and nobody does anything. They don't even seem that mad about it until it has gone on for several episodes. Wouldn't B5 kick the Centauri out? Wouldn't anybody defend the Narn with their space fleets? They don't even apply sanctions to the Centauri. Earthgov's response makes sense later, when we learn they are in bed with the Centauri, but what about Sheridan? He doesn't agree with Earth most of the time. After G'Kar's entire population has been wiped out but for a handful of survivors, Sheridan pledges to help him in the future. Why didn't he pledge his help when it would have mattered? By the end of the season it occurs to me that both Earth and the Centauri have had their leaders replaced and they are probably both working for the Shadows, does this occur to the characters? These people should all be coming apart at the seams but they are still able to function normally on a day-to-day basis.