Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E04 – Falling Toward Apotheosis

In the fourth episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, everything keeps happening, and everything is too much. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.

Trigger Warning: For genocide and warfare, torture, nonconsensual medical procedures

Why is everything progressing so quickly??? What is this season doing? We’re just four episodes in and I feel like we’re on the eve of a season finale BUT NOPE. Eighteen more episodes left?!?!?! HELP ME.

Garibaldi

So, maybe my theory isn’t very good? Granted, I didn’t have quite as much information as I do here, but something is clearly wrong with Garibaldi, and I DON’T LIKE IT. Here, though, it’s not Garibaldi’s flashes of memory that shed more light on his predicament. We’ve already seen those images. We know that he was probably tortured and had something done to him. But it’s his emotional state that feels more important than anything else. I don’t really have a theory beyond that, though. I mean… I guess he could still be a Psi Corps spy? But why the intense irritation at everything? Why does he seem to distrust Sheridan on sight? Are these symptoms of what was forced upon him? I DON’T GET IT. 

Advancement

It’s hard not to feel like the main plot is barreling ahead when the Vorlons go from destroying one planet with their planetkiller ship in the previous episode to DESTROYING SO MANY THAT IVANOVA IS GIVING UPDATES EVERY TWENTY MINUTES. How many planets were obliterated in “Falling Toward Apotheosis”? Six? Seven? How many refugee centers were targeted and swiftly eliminated? It’s horrifying to even think about the sheer scope and size of this kind of extermination, this sort of genocide by association. And it’s all happening so fucking fast. Gods, what about the strike on Z’ha’dum? Remember when that was the main concern this season? That was ONE WHOLE FUCKING EPISODE AGO. How? How is this happening? 

I will say: it’s not surprising, at least not in hindsight. We knew how the Vorlons viewed all the other races in a very direct way. Kosh was the perfect example of that, but at least Kosh didn’t feel like this Vorlon. Distant, superior, and mysterious, yes, but Kosh’s replacement was actively terrible, and clearly, Lyta knew that this arrangement was wrong. After all she’d done to dedicate herself to the Vorlons, it’s understandable that she felt betrayed by what’s happened and what is currently happening. She was used! I don’t doubt that at all! 

Apotheosis

And as one god falls, another arises… sort of. It’s also not surprising—especially given the details of how he returned—that Sheridan is being viewed as godlike. We’ve heard it over and over again over the past three seasons: no one returns from Z’ha’dum. And yet, right as one of the Drazi is proclaiming this to be the reason no one should attack the Shadows directly, in waltzes Sheridan, claiming to have died on Z’ha’dum and come back. Resurrections are popular in religious mythmaking for a reason: they toy with the impossible, with the divine, with the very issue of mortality. So, Sheridan becomes a figure, a sign that perhaps it is spiritually destined that these people unite against the Shadows. At the very least, it does inspire hope in many of these peoples and cultures, and that’s probably why Lorien is trying to encourage Sheridan to use it. 

But isn’t that exactly what the Vorlons did? Until this episode, the only thing we’d ever seen of a Vorlon “body” was what they wanted people to see. And it’s clear that Vorlons have influenced tons of civilizations through religion and godhood. (Which makes Emperor Cartagia’s story increasingly apt; it’s clear that this show is now spending a season, or at least part of one, addressing the concept of godhood.) I get the feeling that Sheridan has no interest in taking a similar path. Indeed, there’s a fascinating subtext to what happens here. Obviously, there’s the logistical nightmare of having a Vorlon ambassador on a station that is destined to be a target. But Vorlons have appeared as angels to humans, and so, there’s a tiny element of this that feels like Sheridan killing these “gods.” Well, making an attempt to, that is. It’s the ultimate rejection, and it has to happen. No longer can these beings or entities invade the lives of others, decide what is best with them, and then toss them out once they’re done with them. 

Thus, there’s a synchronicity between the fight with the Vorlons and Londo’s fight with Emperor Cartagia. That’s a rejection of godhood, too, though this is more about Londo stopping Cartagia from achieving it. This episode spells out exactly what Cartagia is willing to do to gain that: the destruction of himself and Centauri Prime. I admit, I thought I had Cartagia figured out, and CLEARLY I DID NOT. It makes so much sense that he would be that delusional, but STILL. It’s so fucking ridiculous and horrifying. Apotheosis from mass death? HI, NO THANKS.

So, clearly Londo has some sort of endgame planned here. There’s a reason he’s trying to get Cartagia to Narn, and it’s most likely going to involve G’Kar. It’s not Cartagia’s home turf, yes, so that’s probably intentional. But what then? Is G’Kar actually going to be put on trial? The plan works on the surface because it’s clearly a manipulation of Cartagia’s delusions of grandeur, but once on Narn? I have no clue what comes after that.

EXCEPT G’KAR’S EYE BEING PLUCKED OUT. Oh god, that’s… two prophecies? The path of fire, the one who cannot see… SHIT. Morella was right, wasn’t she????

Falling

There’s a catch. THERE ALWAYS IS. And I remarked this on video, but I do appreciate that if there is a price to be paid, the show generally commits to it. Sheridan being brought back to life was not without a price to be paid, and oh shit, this was a LOT. Sheridan’s execution of the plan to kill the Vorlon (or expel them??? I can’t tell if the Vorlon and Kosh died here or not) revealed a terrible secret: Lorien only bought Sheridan another twenty years of life. Also, in case this wasn’t clear: Did Sheridan die again in this episode??? Is that what we just witnessed??? And if Lorien was not there to replenish his lifeforce, Sheridan would have died? AGAIN???

That being said: Wow, I was really bracing myself for Sheridan to tell Delenn that he had like a week or a month left to live. Which isn’t to diminish how sad this was! But I expected a lot less. Anyway: ENGAGED. THEY GOT ENGAGED. I loved the confusion on Delenn’s face when she was handed that box. Of course she wouldn’t really know what this tradition was. AHHHH A NICE THING HAPPENED AND NOTHING FOLLOWED IT UP AND RUINED IT. Finally!!!

(I hope I don’t regret typing that.)

The video for “Falling Toward Apotheosis” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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