Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E03 – The Summoning

In the third episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, this show will not give me a break. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.

Trigger Warning: For consent and nonconsensual medical procedures, abuse, and torture.

Lord, this was an INTENSE episode. THERE WAS AN EMOTIONAL REUNION AND CUTENESS and all of it was RUINED. Okay, maybe not “ruined,” but… well, let’s talk.

The Scream

This was really hard to watch, and it’s not lost on me the disparity being portrayed here. There’s an exchange in particular that I want to highlight, and it’s entirely possible a later scene will change the meaning of this. I mean… that’s like the perfect way to explain what it’s like to watch this show. Every time you think you understand Babylon 5, something comes along later and makes fun of you for believing you understood it all. ANYWAY. POINT BEING: Londo asks something horrible of G’Kar, but claims he understands what it truly means to do so. And it’s very difficult for me to believe that this is the case. Does he understand? Because while it’s clear that Londo and Vir (particularly Vir) are disturbed by watching Emperor Cartagia’s torture of G’Kar, the fact is that they are witnessing it. G’Kar is experiencing it. And the scenes in which we see the torture happening are absolutely over-the-top terrible and evil, y’all. (Not that there are “less” evil versions of torture, but Cartagia is truly, truly deprived and sadistic; it’s the contrast between what he does and his oddly giddy personality.) 

So there’s a chasm between these two, and while I understand the point Londo makes—they can’t overthrow Cartagia and Narn can’t be freed if G’Kar is dead—it still rings just a little hollow to me. Londo isn’t the one suffering like G’Kar is. Plus, the idea of assassinating Cartagia is just an idea now, a nebulous concept. Exactly how is G’Kar going to help? How much more torture will he have to experience before this plan materializes? This is how G’Kar resists: he refuses to give Cartagia what he wants. And in its own fucked up way, it works. Cartagia is furious that G’Kar won’t react as he wants him to. He wants G’Kar to perform suffering. And in the end, G’Kar does, but… lord. That scream. Is it G’Kar giving Cartagia what he wants? Is his cry a cry of grief at doing just that? Is it just pain? Is it all of the above?

Whew, I don’t know how much more of seeing G’Kar suffer I can take. This was a LOT.

Marcus

Ugh! This was cute! And interrupted just before it was going to progress further! Marcus was totally going to tell Ivanova the truth, y’all, I BELIEVE IT. But I did want to talk about how cool it was that we are given a character like Marcus who is very upfront about not having been in a relationship for his entire life. It was refreshing! You can even see Ivanova struggle with it because… well, who goes that long without one? LOTS OF PEOPLE. Either because there’s no desire for romance or sex, or because a person doesn’t think they’re ready, or because they’re waiting for the right one, or A BILLION OTHER REASONS. So: I dug it. 

Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

Nope, this was too convenient. They just happened to find the ship he was on at the right moment? And a single shot destroyed the whole ship, but not before it sent out an escape pod that only contained Garibaldi and nothing else? And some “program” was activated? And Garibaldi doesn’t remember anything from his time but vague images of being kidnapped and tormented?

NAH. If the Psi Corps really did take him in, then we know that they’re still in league with the Shadows. So I’m guessing that somehow, they “programmed” him into a spy. Which is like… such a nightmare for that character specifically. UGH WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

The Vorlons

Okay, accepting the notion that the Vorlons want order and discipline out of the younger races, I think it’s a little bit easier to understand why the new “Kosh” treats Lyta as they do. It’s still despicable, and it very much looks exactly like an abusive relationship. Clearly, that Vorlon doesn’t care about Lyta and is using her, most likely because they see her as disrespectful, disordered, and lacking discipline. It’s horrifying to watch this entity treat Lyta as they do, and this episode sheds even more light on the ambassador’s behavior. 

Seriously, this… this is a lot. It’s bad enough that Delenn spends a lot of “The Summoning” fighting to get other factions in the League to pledge their ships to the strike on Z’ha’dum. And to her credit, despite still being in the midst of grief, she tries her damnedest. But the deck was stacked against her. Other races were convinced that the Shadows would stay away for another thousand years; others believed that a direct attack would stoke the fire. And in the end, they were more consumed by fear than anything else, and it is real hard to combat that kind of mindset. While all of this is going on, Marcus and Ivanova are out trying to find and recruit more of the First Ones, and this episode felt very… spread out? There was a lot going on here.

AND ALL OF IT HAD TO DO WITH ONE ANOTHER. That ancient conflict that Lorien spoke of has come back, and the Vorlons have been ignoring Delenn because they’d rather take out the Shadows themselves. Which seems cool on the surface! Finally, someone else who has the firepower is willing to join the fight. EXCEPT THEY’RE EXTERMINATING ALL WORLDS WHO WERE TOUCHED BY THE SHADOWS. Like, full on execution of entire planets who were in league with the Shadows. That means… oh god. Earth. Right??? Despite that the majority of people on Earth don’t have anything to do with the Shadows, parts of the government do.

This is gonna get even more messed up, isn’t it? So, now they all have to fight off the Shadows and the Vorlons? CAN THIS SHOW GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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