Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S03E18 – Walkabout

In the eighteenth episode of the third season of Babylon 5, Dr. Franklin journeys while Sheridan gambles. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of addiction, overdoses.

This was a weird one? I’m trying to get a grasp on Dr. Franklin’s story here, and I feel like maybe I missed the point? Actually, let’s start there since I had asked where Dr. Franklin was during recent events. “Walkabout” confirms that the was on the station the entire time, that he’d just taken a leave of absence after resigning his position. Since then, he’s… walked? I understand the notion of a walkabout, but I still can’t ignore how certain this episode’s script is that the Aboriginal people just… gave up this custom? Well, it sounds like the Foundationalists just “adopted” it, which sounds suspiciously like appropriation. On top of that, what Dr. Franklin participates in here doesn’t feel like a ceremony at all. He just wanders through the station until he finds a woman he’s attracted to, and then… I don’t really know? (I will say that I figured out where I know the actress playing Cailyn from. She’s Wallace’s mom on Veronica Mars!!!) 

See, I thought this was leading to the “conversation,” the one Dr. Franklin explained in his conversation with Garibaldi. He was going to talk to someone until he no longer had words, and then he’d discover how he became “separated” from himself. Instead, this becomes a story about Dr. Franklin’s compulsion to save someone from their own predicament while completely not understanding their predicament at all. So… was this supposed to be about mortality? Terminal illnesses? Dr. Franklin being aimless? I don’t really know! Did anyone grow or change here? I can fully admit to not really getting this at all. Maybe the point was that Dr. Franklin’s road to recovery can’t involve other people? 

Anyway, the main plot is pretty damn great, and it’s also a much-needed dose of hope. Definitively, we are shown how the Shadows’ ships can be destroyed. And while it still requires a fairly intense effort, it’s possible! THEY DESTROYED TWO SHIPS. But wrapped up in Sheridan’s experiment is one hell of a weird plot thread concerning Ambassador Kosh’s death and their replacement by… someone. I admit to being mystified by this notion of Kosh leaving a piece behind, as I’m not sure how that’s possible? It would explain why Kosh had a telepathic connection to Sheridan, but why leave a piece behind? Why is this such a big deal to the Vorlons? What exactly happened between Lyta and the Vorlons, and why is she so secretive about it? 

So, while I don’t expect an answer to this any time soon (I’M ADJUSTING TO THIS SHOW, OKAY. This is what it keeps doing to me!), it added a neat texture to the story. The Vorlons remain mysterious, but at least we’re getting a better sense of who they are. As Lyta puts it, their grief and confusion is more palpable than it otherwise would be, in part because of Kosh’s death. But their continued role in the Shadow War is distant and judgmental, even if Kosh’s decision to get the Vorlons more involved was a step in the right direction. There’s an interesting parallel here, then, in the choice that G’Kar initially makes—to agree with the captain of the G’Tok and not support Sheridan—since it’s about inaction and pragmatism. I understood why Na’Kal didn’t want to get involved! The Narn have few warships left after the Centauri destroyed most of their forces. This could have been too risky for them. But that risk is essential now! Not only that, but Sheridan risked the safety of his own people to save the G’Tok, too, so why not return the favor? Why not commit to a risk because it’s the right thing to do? 

I suppose I might also be a bit harsher on this episode because the last two episodes were So Much. Still, there are important elements established here, so even if this won’t make a list of favorites for me, I can appreciate much of what it was trying to do.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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