In the eleventh episode of the second season of Babylon 5, this show continues to get more and more fucked up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of torture, nonconsensual medical procedures
Can I have a break. PLEASE. THIS IS SO MUCH HAPPENING IN JUST ONE WEEK OKAY.
But seriously, can we just talk about all the ways in which this title aptly fits the very, very different plots spread out over the course of this episode?
I’m interested in knowing something in a future episode: why was Delenn’s transformation necessary? I have a vague sense of why, of course; given what’s happening with Minbari souls, this bridge that she’s formed with her body feels like a deliberate step toward understanding this development. So it’s not so much that Delenn has changed at all, though that still plays into the Grey Council’s rejection of her. This was supposed to happen, but the Grey Council is more upset that Delenn did not wait until a later point. What point would have been ideal? Would the Grey Council have reacted as they did here if she’d waited until then?
I can’t tell, but given other events, I feel like it’s still an important thing to note. Maybe it’s not that consequential of an issue in the long run. There’s still the undeniable influence of the oncoming war; maybe that takeover of the warrior caste was just as inevitable. It’s hard to pick apart the pieces because there are so many of them that are a mystery to me or are half-explained. But what was clear to me was how isolating and lonely this entire process was. Delenn is alone in the night after this… well, not entirely. The tragedy is still there, though. She’s been kicked out of the Grey Council, and not one of her friends or colleagues comes to her aid or defends her as Neroon, her replacement, berates and insults her. It’s such an upsetting scene, y’all, because these people were willing to abandon their friend without a single word. That’s awful.
I’m thankful, then, that she has Lennier. As dark as this show is getting, there are still these pockets of hope and lightness. And that’s what he is to her, and I LOVE IT.
Oh god, this plot seems slightly disposable at first, but it’s not, is it? First of all, the Strieb seemed rather typical in terms of science fiction stories. We’ve seen it before, right? A species experiments on various other species by kidnapping them and running them through multiple torturous experiments. There’s no sense to it all beyond the scientific results that they get, and from the perspective of the victims, it’s all a nightmare. In that sense, that’s Sheridan’s loneliness. He’s all alone in this terrible situation, at least until he manages to ally with that unnamed Narn.
But is he alone? What the fuck is that weird connection he had with Ambassador Kosh??? HI, CAN THEY COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER THROUGH DREAMS OR SOMETHING??? What was all that about? Also, y’all, I feel like I might be reading too much into this, but the design of the Streib suggest something immensely horrifying. They looked like GREY ALIENS. Like, stereotypical aliens who visited Earth and—you guessed it—kidnapped people to run nonconsensual medical procedures on them. Did this show just validate those experiences??? WHAT THE FUCK.
Then there’s the more tragic interpretation of the title: that’s Ramirez’s contribution to the episode. He’s the only survivor left behind after the Streib’s attack, and, while tumbling through space, all alone, he makes the decision to risk his own life just to inform Babylon 5 what has happened. I do feel some type of way about the fact that one of the only Latinx people I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi narrative sacrificed himself just fifteen minutes after he showed up. (Seriously, why aren’t there more Latinx folks in space? MORE PLEASE.) So, yeah, I’M REAL SAD.
But there’s another interpretation of the title, and it’s both a grim development in the show’s mythology and yet another brief flash of hope. (And I love that the show seems to consistently develop these things in tandem.) The audience knows that President Santiago was assassinated, or at least we can pretty confidently assume as much given the other events in the season one finale. However, there was still so much mystery surrounding President Clark’s ascension. I certainly didn’t believe that he just “conveniently” happened to fall ill and avoid dying, and the policies that he’s been pushing since the start of the season made it obvious that there was some regressive, terrifying shit that they had planned.
General Hague’s presence initially worried me because he had previously told Sheridan to keep an eye on Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Dr. Franklin. So, I thought Hague was leading to some sort of moment in which he would ask Sheridan to undermine Babylon 5, to fall in line with the more militaristic and Earth-centric view of the galaxy that President Clark wanted. Instead, the subversion is set into place: there is a secret group of people within the Earth government who believe that Clark and his colleagues are leading the world into a dark, dark place. And lord, that’s such a fascinating thing to happen in light of the creation of the Rangers. There’s so much happening here just below the surface, and it’s percolating. Forming. Spreading its influence and its presence. And I mean that from all sides. The Centauri Empire. The Shadows. Morden. Earth Force. Psi Corps. The Rangers. This new secret coalition. This show is setting up so much in terms of players and factions and sides. And I feel confident in saying that the writers are probably going to address everything. Babylon 5 has become deeply and darkly serialized, and I’M SCARED FOR WHERE IT’S ALL GOING.
The video for “All Alone in the Night” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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