In the twentieth episode of the third season of Babylon 5, this has EVERYTHING! Romance, the gift of warships, betrayals, betrayals IN THE MIDDLE OF betrayals, discordant scene and musical pairings… and if you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For talk of consent
What the fuck. WHAT THE FUCK.
Let’s start with the least upsetting plot here, which is real easy to point to because it doesn’t involve SOMEONE BEING TORN APART and BEAT TO DEATH. Look, I also need to start off with Sheridan and Delenn because I simply need more time to think about what the hell I just witnessed. This is an episode of contrasts, because as one set of people get something beyond their wildest dreams, so do others, and yet these two outcomes could not be more different. I’m gonna also start by saying that I am so impressed and pleased with how this show continues to address religion in a way that is both challenging and NOT condescending. When multiple religious figures arrive on the station, it’s presented as a normal thing, rather than a sign of impending doom. In truth, there’s long been a connection between resistance movements and religion, and having that front and center here was brilliant. Which isn’t to suggest that there’s nothing to criticize about these organized religions, but rather that I felt this was a refreshing choice that makes a lot of sense for this show. It’s an intensely spiritual narrative, you know?
So, with that in mind, it made sense to me that these organizations were helping the resistance effort. In part, many of them have historically been targeted by fascist movements, too! But this goes beyond just the political; Reverend Dexter provides a very personal bit of guidance to Sheridan, one that is fitting as we head into this finale. There is room for joy and there is room for love in the midst of this war. That’s what I took away from this subplot. And look, I get why Sheridan has moved forward without much of any sort of examination of his personal life or his own health. Why should he? There’s a war to plan and a station to run. But Rev. Dexter provides a reminder of why life is worth preserving in the first place, and why it’s important not to let one’s self become the sole burden of anything. WHICH IS A MESSAGE I COULD STAND TO LEARN, as I personally tend to bottle things up and tell no one about my problems because why would I do that when I could just not do that.
Sheridan is allowed to be in love. And I’ll admit that HUNDREDS OF WARSHIPS might be a strange gift of affection, but that scene totally felt romantic as hell, right? Like, “Here you go, honey! Now let’s go kill some Shadows together!”
UGH THEY’RE SO CUTE TOGETHER, OKAY.
I feel like I need to re-watch this just to appreciate the double cross because WHEN DID LONDO ORGANIZE THIS? At what point did he go to G’Kar and say, “So, buddy, I know we hate each other, but would you love to get revenge on the guy who killed like 6 million of your people?” BECAUSE THAT HAPPENED. And G’Kar made an uneasy alliance with someone he despised because of what it could provide himself and his people: the chance at a violent expression of justice. There’s no joy on G’Kar’s face as this unfolds, at least not in the way I might have anticipated. I think G’Kar must still be conflicted about all this. At what cost did this act of revenge come? Was it worth it to boost Londo’s place?
I don’t really know the internal workings, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a moment to address later on this season or next. Regardless, this power play was a nightmare to watch because I was so, so worried that G’Kar was walking right into a trap. I suppose I shouldn’t have doubted G’Kar; he’s too clever to involve himself in a plot this obvious. Still, this made for a captivating watch, as I didn’t figure out what Londo had done until he showed up to rescue Vir.
The brutality on display, though, is not just the violent murder of Lord Refa, who, frankly, absolutely had this coming to him. That’s the clear contrast, of course, provided by “No Hiding Place Down Here” and the beating. But there’s a callous, careless use of Vir, who is used by Londo, who must go through an invasive, consent-violating brain scan all so Londo can get what he wants.
I imagine there is going to be a huge fallout because of what happened here. “And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place” does not bother to give us a look at the future, aside from Londo’s possible rise in favor with the Emperor. Instead, this episode—including the other plot—is firmly entrenched in the now. This is where these people are; these are the choices that they made.
It’s all a countdown. And there’s very little time left.
The video for “And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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