In the ninth episode of the third season of Babylon 5, the time has arrived. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For police brutality
This is all moving so quickly, y’all, but I have to remind myself that at one time, it didn’t. This sudden change in the pacing of the larger story was earned. Since season one, this show has been hinting at a growing chasm on Earth. The backlash was introduced with Home Guard, and then everything was set further in motion once President Santiago was assassinated. So, this conflict has been seeded for a long time, and it’s been slowly boiling to the surface.
And now it’s exploded.
I admire the way that “Point of No Return” not only exemplifies that title, but this episode manages to convey a sense of chaos that felt so very real. So real, I should note, that during the riot sequence, I nearly flashed back to when I was in a riot over a decade ago. You can look up the 2007 Macarthur Park Rallies to get a sense of what happened, but at that time, I’d been at Buzznet for maybe a year and was living next door to the old offices. (It was the most beautiful commute of all time, I DEEPLY MISS THAT REALITY.) There are enough articles and first-person accounts online about that day, and I should warn you that much of it is intensely violent and possibly triggering; I can’t even research that stuff for very long because of how fucked up it gets me. Suffice to say: there was a tipping point that day. And I can see now just how many interpretations of the episode’s title there are, but I’m going to address the one specific to the riot. There comes a point in which there IS no return, in which choices are made that cause the inevitable.
Thinking back to the Macarthur Park Rallies, there was a point, and it’s one I’ll never forget. I believe to this very day, the LAPD maintains that they announced loudly and clearly that the rally was an unlawful assembly, but I was on the northwestern part of the park (north of Wilshire), and none of us heard anything. Well, we heard nothing until we heard gunfire, and then we saw people pouring in our direction, and that was the point of no return. There’s a terror that comes from seeing the wave hit, and there’s a moment like that in this episode, a split-second before the fight becomes a full-on riot, and it was chilling to watch that happen on the show. But this whole episode is truly unnerving, y’all, particularly since we see this fascist coup unfold in less than a day. The security team is all fired if they aren’t part of Night Watch, martial law is declared on the station, and President Clark’s supporters gain the power and authority that they’ve craved.
Is it believable? Absolutely. And I don’t just mean that in a real-world sense! Again, this has been slowly built over the course of multiple episodes. So, the question becomes: How the hell does the resistance stop all this? General Hague is on the run and can’t face down Earthgov forces by himself. If Sheridan shows his hand too early, everyone will get reported, and the secret alliance could be destroyed. How, then? How do you fight against a force that has such strict, terrifying rules?
You beat them at their own game. I’m so in love with how this show has, multiple times, featured someone manipulating the rules to their favor. Sinclair did it in the workers’ rights episode, Sheridan LOVES this technique, and here, Sheridan realizes the clue General Smits left about the chain of command.
It’s not a solution so much as a reprieve, though, and I expect the next episode will pick up where this one did. The Night Watch members may not have immediate power, but they’re still on the station. Are they just going to wait around for orders?
But there are two other significant plots within “Point of No Return” that also apply to the title. I want to talk about G’Kar first, as I’m enamored with where his character is being taken. There’s a mistaken belief that being a pacifist or a passive person means you don’t know how to fight or that you just let the world happen around you. G’Kar’s revelation, spurred by Kosh’s involvement, has helped him realize what sacrifice means. It doesn’t mean the literal sacrifice of the Narn, but rather a sacrifice of their pride and their desire for revenge. It’s about refocusing their energy for the war to come with the Shadows, and we see the first step of that refocus: volunteering to be part of Babylon 5’s security staff in the interim. And if this is the start of G’Kar’s new philosophy, I honestly can’t wait to see what comes next.
I suppose the same goes for Londo and Vir, but for a very different reason. G’Kar’s story gives me hope that these people can beat back the Shadows. But the prophecy that Londo asks for from Lady Morella doesn’t just confirm what we saw in Londo’s dream. It gives us a roadmap we’ve not had before. Of note—and there’s a lot of important information in what Morella says—is the fact that Londo has ALREADY FAILED to take two possible paths away from the “fire” that awaits him at the end of his life. (Any guesses as to what those are? I think it’s his first meeting with Morden and then asking Morden to take care of that one Narn colony/listening post.) He’s got one chance left, but only if he pays attention to three important signs. There’s an eye that cannot see, someone who is already dead, and then Londo surrendering to what he most fears, even though he knows it will destroy him? Oh, and he’ll be emperor. 100%. He’s already on that path. BUT SO WILL VIR??? And one of them will ascend to that role only after the other dies? WHY IS THIS SHOW DOING THIS TO ME. I don’t doubt for a second that we’ll see all of these things in some way or another, but lord. This was a LOT. It’s fundamentally changed the relationship between Vir and Londo, right? How can they ever trust one another again?
The video for “Point of No Return” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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