Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S01E15 – Grail

In the fifteenth episode of the first season of Babylon 5, this… happened? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Note: Please make sure to consult the official viewing order for this show to avoid confusion!

This was an odd episode. I feel pretty comfortable stating that, despite that I recognize that the show might revisit some of these stories or characters again, so perhaps that’s why there is so much left to speculation and wonder. Maybe this had to happen to set up something else?

Even if that’s the case, I found most of this episode to be unsatisfying. There are basically two plots unfolding here: Deuce’s manipulation/extortion of Jinxo, which is exacerbated by the presence of a Feeder, and then there’s Aldous Gajic’s quest for the Holy Grail. Which is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds! At the start of “Grail,” it’s played for an awkward sense of humor, which made me think that this was going to be a humorous episode. But that tone more or less disappears as “Grail” attempts to tell the audience about the power of unwavering faith. Perhaps this was a chance for the show to make references to the Minbari religious caste? Because there were moments with Delenn that felt genuinely interesting, particularly when she was talking about the value of Seekers or the existing conflict between the religious and warrior castes. But Aldous’s journey just seems… silly?

And maybe that’s the point. After his family died in a terrible accident, he latched on to an absurd “mission” to give his life meaning, so I suppose that’s what Thomas/Jinxo needed, too. He needed a purpose to help him get past the barriers he’d set by believing in the Babylon Curse. Maybe he should get a purpose he actually believes in, though, rather than someone else’s? That whole end sequence where Thomas was wearing Aldous’s clothes was just UNNERVING. I hope they had been washed before he put them on??? Why did you need to wear the same thing?

Deuce is a one-note antagonist amidst all this, which isn’t a bad thing in episodic television. I have no problem with characters who are just awful people, but he escapes without being held accountable, and no one seems at all concerned with this. That’s despite that Garibaldi spends most of this episode aching to clean out the Downbelow and arrest most of Deuce’s men. Where did that desire go? Why did he just forget it? And I’m just at a loss as to what Deuce’s endgame was for that Feeder. Eventually, he’d run out of people to feed to it, right? What would he do then? 

For me, the tiny details of “Grail” were far more interesting than the bigger ones. Kosh seemed pleased that people were intimidated by them; the Downbelow as a concept is fascinating, since it suggests that lots of people come to Babylon 5 looking for work, but cannot find it. Delenn is a delight as always, and more info on Minbari culture is also welcomed. The same goes for the additional info on the previous four Babylon stations. I was fascinated by all the Ombuds stuff and loved the chance to get to see how the justice system works on the station! But those pieces did not assemble into a coherent, engaging whole, and I can’t say I really liked this one.

The video for “Grail” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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