In the seventh episode of the third season of Babylon 5, Marcus discovers a strange group after one of his friends goes missing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, body horror.
This was an odd one. I liked the idea of it, but there were a couple issues that prevented it from feeling as huge or thrilling as much of the rest of this season has felt. Marcus operates in a weird space within the show because he isn’t around as often as the other characters, so I don’t have a great sense of who he is. This episode casts him more as a humorous character more than anything else, but it’s a little different than what I expected of him. I associate him with the Rangers, but what else do I know about Marcus? What’s his general personality? His quirks? His dislikes? I almost feel like this version of Marcus should have been what we saw first; it was more complete to me.
There’s a greater issue here, though: Duncan. It’s hard to care about a character that’s introduced in the very episode they go through such a massive metamorphosis. We get one scene with Duncan prior to his involvement with the Vindrizi, and all that establishes is that he’s old, he’s struggling with his business, that he’s sick, and that he doesn’t like doctors. It’s a means to an end; when Duncan goes missing, it motivates Marcus to delve further into this bizarre mystery that’s unfolding on the station. But there’s no sense of the grandeur of Duncan’s decision. It’s all on the surface. And I’m guessing that’s also because Marcus doesn’t know these people all that well, either. Isn’t there that line that explains that most of these folks were part of his desire to build a better network of contacts? So his relationship with these people might be friendly and jovial, but it’s not all that deep, is it?
So it’s hard to get into the emotional aspect of this, and that made it harder to connect to a story that is admittedly pretty cool. Look, I assumed this was a cult at work. HOW COULD I NOT. It seemed so obvious to me! These people were operating in secret, they were putting these disgusting creatures into people’s bodies despite the harm they caused, and they seemed ready to harm Dr. Franklin and Marcus once the two of them discovered the group. Classic signs of some horrible cult, right? But with just one shift in perspective and context, the Vindrizi go from being predators or murderers to a race desperate for survival—but not so desperate that they violate the consent of those they need to inhabit. They’re a parasitic race that enters willing bodies, then records their experiences inside those bodies to keep a history intact. (That being said, I wasn’t sure if PAST hosts also consented? Was that cleared up?) So, everyone involved knew what they were getting into and, furthermore, was delighted by the chance to have the Vindrizi give them a purpose, one that would also allow the Vindrizi to live.
Pretty cool, right? I like the idea, but I wish the execution delighted me more. The reveal comes so late that we don’t get to spend much time what it’s like for a human to have a Vindrizi living with them. Plus, I couldn’t feel close to these characters! I don’t really know them.
The romantic subplot was fun, I won’t lie. I don’t always like miscommunication as a plot device, but for fueling comedy, it is a joy. I was glad we got a little time with Lt. Corwin, and I was hoping that the group would be able to add another to their fold, but alas. This was a realistic turn of events, at least since it’s impossible that everyone would be compatible to join the resistance. It sucks, no doubt, and it’ll make their jobs just a little bit harder. And I got to learn that Ivanova is a sucker for roses!
The video for “Exogensis” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff