In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Babylon 5, threats are leveled; the war begins; the war changes. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of addiction, abuse.
Good god, this just keeps getting more and more messed up. How? How is this all happening?
Even if there are things here that are inevitable—like Dr. Franklin’s plot, for instance—this story still manages to take the viewer to unexpected places. I figured that this season would have to deal with Dr. Franklin’s addiction to stims, but I had not even considered this specific ramification. “Interludes and Examinations” leaves us in the lurch. After Garibaldi’s pressure finally gets Dr. Franklin to run the numbers on his bloodwork, the truth is no longer easy to deny or ignore anymore. As someone who dealt with an addiction a long time ago, that one remark from Dr. Franklin was the realest thing in the episode. A lot of addicts I know go through something similar: thinking they have a grasp on what they’re addicted to because they can’t see the whole of it. I certainly couldn’t when I was drinking heavily. I lived moment-to-moment, and a few sips or swallows here and there never seemed to add up.
But they do. And once Dr. Franklin is faced with the reality of his addiction, it is devastating. It’s not JUST the addiction that is harming him; he’s hurting others with his abusive behavior. His outburst in the early parts of this episode is just one of many, and this time, it nearly caused the death of a patient. Which isn’t to say that it wasn’t bad enough that he was verbally abusing people in Medlab; that was horrific, too. Thus, as surprising as it was, I think quitting was Dr. Franklin’s best option here. He needs to remove himself from that environment because it’s that environment that influenced him to start relying so wholly on meds to keep up that sort of schedule. I have no idea what the future is for this character, though. Who takes up as the commanding officer in the Medlab? What is Dr. Franklin’s role in the Shadow War? Will we see much of him in season three?
The Last Chance
I’ve been trying to keep an eye peeled for elements of Lady Morella’s prophecy throughout this show, and I think I’ve spotted one prediction. I believe this might very well be Londo’s last chance, the final path that he could have taken to avoid the “fire” in his future. It feels like such a huge moment, too, since Morden’s very presence comes as the Shadows are now openly attacking races on the outer rim. The war isn’t a secret, and neither is the reason for Morden’s distaste for Londo. The Shadows’ plan to divide and conquer isn’t quite working ever since Londo poisoned Lord Refa, and even worse, no amount of threats seems to work on Londo, either. Their confrontational scene was a huge moment, y’all. Londo was openly rebuking Morden, and he didn’t come across as afraid at all. Maybe he wasn’t as crude as Vir, but he wanted nothing to do with the Shadows. It’s a step, right?
So, I’m struggling a bit with where this goes, and perhaps that’s because I’m an outside party. I felt that Morden’s manipulation of Londo was a bit too obvious. He was clearly upset and menacing when he tried to get Londo to see his way, and I thought it was clear that he was going to retaliate. Indeed, even after Adira’s death, I believed that Morden was going to taunt Londo, to make it clear that he could do what he wanted and take what he wanted if he was defied. Instead, he “tricks” Londo into believing that Lord Refa retaliated by killing Adira, and it seemed a bit rushed to me.
At the same time, what Morden was feeding into was Londo’s sense of pride. So maybe this isn’t the most well-designed manipulation imaginable. Perhaps the point is that it worked because Londo was primed for it to work. Morden knew that deep within Londo was a darkness, a craving for violence, and he provided the most obvious means of dangling a carrot in front of him. Londo had tried to empathize with others and examine his actions, but perhaps, in the end, all he really cared about was himself.
I love that Londo’s plot is contrasted with Sheridan’s refusal to let the Vorlons sit on the sidelines. The decision to have the Vorlons be uncaring beings with a superiority complex continues to be one of the most interesting things about this show, and now we see one of its ends. Ambassador Kosh is dead, and they died fully knowing that they were paying a cost that had to be paid. This episode provides us with some closure and a whole hell of a lot of questions. But I admire that Sheridan gets to be so angry, and I admire that this episode goes so hard on the notion of neutrality or passivity. The Vorlons wanted to wait until the right time, but how can it not be the right time when so many people and races are dying? It’s an even larger version of the question raised in the previous episode around G’Kar. The Vorlons have the means to deliver a definitive blow against the Shadows, but continue to refuse to. Is that a moral decision or a practical one? And do they consider it impossible to act in both moral and political ways at the same time?
There’s been a repeated motif of characters having to “wait” for the right time. Delenn’s a great example of that. Which makes Sheridan perfect for this role. Prophecy or practicality be damned! He sees a solution to the continual suffering of other races and to the lack of motivation the various military forces feel. So he goes for it. He escalates his confrontation with Kosh until Kosh uses some sort of telekinesis power on him, and then HE KEEPS FUCKING GOING. Sheridan refuses to back down!!! Y’all, it’s such an incredible scene, and it’s made even better (and more heartbreaking) once you know why that moment was so difficult for Kosh. Well, I don’t know everything. I still don’t know why Sheridan has to go to Z’ha’dum, and I don’t know why it would have been important for Kosh to be there. And I’ll never know. Kosh’s assassination by Morden and the Shadows is horrifying, y’all! Just like that, a major player is gone from this chessboard, and Kosh knew the price they had to pay the whole time. They knew that getting the other Vorlons involved would cost Kosh their life. And they did it anyway.
THE DREAM, Y’ALL. We knew Kosh could communicate with Sheridan telepathically, and it seems like it was all leading to this. AND WHAT A SCENE. Kosh apologizes to Sheridan, regrets being so afraid that they were inactive, and IT’S ALL TOO MUCH. I just… what the fuck!!!
The video for “Interludes and Examinations” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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