In the second episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, G’Kar attempts to track down Garibaldi; Sheridan faces two possibilities; Delenn deals with grief. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, brief mention of self harm
Holy shit, WHAT IS THIS SEASON DOING????
Again, I am so intrigued by this notion that as characters learn to accept Sheridan’s death and live beyond it, Sheridan is off… not dying. NOT ACCEPTING HIS OWN DEATH. And I am really interested in seeing how the show is going to deal with his return. It’s something I’ve seen in other shows or books, sure, but this specific context feels so refreshing and exciting. That’s in part because Delenn goes through such a challenge in this episode to accept that she can do anything now that Sheridan is gone. Now, I did appreciate that there was depth to this beyond depicting Delenn’s sorrow as all-encompassing. As Dr. Franklin notes when he seeks Delenn out, the Minbari grieve through fasting. But there’s a complication here: Delenn is part human, so there’s an element of the fast that harms Delenn. And maybe that’s intentional. (It’s certainly a very human reaction to grief.) So, we get a characterization here that’s complicated because Delenn herself is a very complicated person, one whose coping mechanisms and traditions might well be at odds with her body.
It is the DEVASTATING video that Dr. Franklin later finds that snaps Delenn out of it, and WHAT A MESSAGE. I loved that it was a metaphorical image as much as it was very literal for Sheridan. Sometimes, when you’re falling, you might as well try to fly. And Delenn, wracked with guilt and regret—very human emotions, I might add—wrestles with the idea that there is anything left for her to do other than joining Sheridan in the place without Shadows. But it’s not true: she can live. (Which is an interesting parallel to Sheridan’s journey!) She can unite those left behind and strike at the Shadows, despite that the League of Non-Aligned Worlds is mostly in shambles. This loss for her is immense, and she will most certainly change because of it. But it doesn’t mean that she has to give up.
That notion—of hope within an immense darkness—is all over this episode, and it’s there within G’Kar’s attempt to locate Garibaldi. (And what’s interesting is that he’s the only character thus far who has not gotten a glimpse of that bit of light; his situation is pretty damn dire right now.) No matter how impossible it might have seemed, G’Kar still left the station—and his only bit of sanctuary—to find his friend. He does so with a brashness that might be seen as foolish. Seriously, he seems so unconcerned about the ramifications of his actions beyond the search for Garibaldi. But I saw that as a sign of how pure and right he believed this action to be. His was a noble mission, a chance for him to return to Garibaldi the kindness and respect that was paid to him over the past year, especially after G’Kar’s prison sentence. I’ll admit that Marcus’s role was initially quite engaging, but I thought it would have been interesting if Marcus stuck by his side. INITIALLY, I SAY. Because LOOK WHERE THIS GOES. LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS.
It’s a lot, y’all. There’s an obvious tragedy here because G’Kar becomes a pawn for Emperor Cartagia, a gift to be wielded not because Cartagia actually cares for Londo, but because all his acts are extensions of the power he wields. He grants Londo a gift, I believe, because he is able to do so, because it reminds Londo of his power, because it has the outward appearance of being something Londo wants, because in the end, all conquered peoples are nothing but “gifts” to other Centauri. It is a monstrous and horrifying thing to witness, and it may have taken Londo an unnecessarily long time to realize it, but by gods, I believe him. He was genuinely horrified by what he saw, by what Cartagia had done, and by what Cartagia was going to do. It’s a strange thing to admit because this character has so often delighted in or caused the extreme suffering of others, which is why I also can’t ignore how long it has taken for him to be so critical of what the Centauri do.
But he’s at this point, and thus, when he proposes an agreement of sorts to G’Kar, I could both not believe it was happening, but I entirely believed it. It’s a shocking alliance because WHO WOULD HAVE EVER EXPECTED THESE TWO TO EVER BE ON THE SAME SIDE. Y’all, we know the endgame for G’Kar and Londo: they both choke one another to death! So this almost seems an impossibility… except for, after years of struggling against one another, the moment they have a common enemy: the Shadows. This has manifested through Cartagia, of course, and in typical Londo Mollari fashion, Londo can’t seem to understand the nature of the price to be paid, at least not until it is spelled out to him. He only promises G’Kar survival at the end of being ruthlessly tortured for an indeterminable amount of time, believing that since G’Kar is in no position to bargain, he shouldn’t even bother. But G’Kar, shrewd and observant as he tends to be, realizes that his longtime foe is in the same place. So he makes a demand: he will help Londo, but only if the occupation of Narn has ended.
And Londo agrees to it.
I CAN BARELY BELIEVE THIS, BUT THERE YOU GO. Will Londo keep his word? I assume at some point, if the timeline is still the same, Cartagia will be gone, and as I said in the previous review, this seems to be setting up Londo’s ascension. But we don’t have any confirmation that Londo will do as he said. Oh god, what if that is the reason why G’Kar eventually kills him? HELP ME, THIS IS TOO MUCH.
Look, if you’re gonna invoke this trope—a character dying and talking to a mystical, ethereal being that may be able to grant them life again—then by gods, go all the fuck out like this episode does. Y’all, Sheridan actually died. The end. HE IS DEAD. Even if he exists in some otherworld, just a single second away from death, he died when he jumped off that balcony. And because of that, he meets the being who actually lives at the bottom of that chasm! It’s Lorien, your friendly First One, who is the LITERAL First One. LIKE EVER. And right then, as soon as that was revealed, I really didn’t care if I’d seen this trope used before. The context of how it used felt so exciting to me. This was how we got to meet The First One!
I honestly do not feel like this opportunity was wasted at all. Through Lorien, we learn of the First Ones, of the Shadows’s misguided act of “respect” by returning to Z’ha’dum as if they are honoring Lorien. This information is vital to developing the complicated mythology of the show, so I found the scenes between Lorien and Sheridan to be captivating for that reason. But there’s so much more here than that! Like Delenn’s journey, Sheridan must embrace life in order to be granted it again. And like Delenn, Sheridan turns to the one he loves for the guidance he needs to either submit to death or be granted a new life. I’m a cheesy romantic, so I’m all for characters who escape extenuating circumstances because of love, but I don’t even think that’s a good explanation of what happened here. Sheridan had to have something to live for, a reason not to die that was more than just merely wanting not to, for Lorien to even attempt to breathe life back into the “embers.” That reason is given to us with a single name: Delenn. I assume, then, that the last image of the episode is what has become of Sheridan: he’s alive. Impossibly so, yet there he is, with Lorien at his side.
Now what? I HAVE NO IDEA. His reunion with everyone else is gonna destroy me, isn’t it?
Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
It’s bold that this episode title is a line of dialogue that G’Kar rebelliously utters in Emperor Cartagia’s face and not the entire focus of the episode. Indeed, while G’Kar’s search for his friend makes up a portion of the story, we are only given one brief but disturbing scene with Garibaldi. I don’t know where he is being held, but we do have confirmation of who is holding him: the Psi Corps. The Shadows must have dropped Garibaldi off with the Corps, but where? He’s not back on Earth, is he??? HELP.
The video for “What Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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