Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E11 – Lines of Communication

In the eleventh episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, the Resistance grows on Mars and on the station, and Delenn investigates new attacks. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Holy shit, welcome to season four! This advances so many plot lines, and I’m getting an even better look at the shape of the remainder of this season. IT’S VERY EXCITING. Let’s talk about all the various stories unfolding here.


Because everything on Mars has happened off-screen or was experienced by the characters while on the station, this plot is a little hard to stomach at times. But I understand why! There hasn’t been a lot of time to explore the Mars Resistance, and Marcus and Dr. Franklin needed to be outsiders here. But it also means that we’re just barely getting the chance to understand what’s actually been happening on Mars, and that’s precisely when these people are asked to follow orders from someone else. I was actually surprised that they agreed to it; I was expecting them to reject Sheridan’s offer. It would have made a lot of sense! The Mars Resistance has been largely ignored and they certainly haven’t gotten much support—material, logistical support, that is—from Sheridan or Babylon 5. And now, there’s two strangers there promising to be allies, telling them how to run their resistance, and asking for obedience. It’s a lot to ask for, isn’t it? Perhaps it wouldn’t have felt that way if there’d been more time spent on this plot. Again, I get why there wasn’t, but it comes off as a tad rushed.

The same goes for the romance between the unnamed head of the Resistance and Dr. Franklin. Though there’s a part of me that thinks that this is intentional. It’s not really about building a romance, so to speak, but in seeking out happiness and pleasure wherever it comes. I’m basing that on Marcus’s lines in this episode, since he is the one who pushes Dr. Franklin to explore the growing attraction he feels towards the Resistance leader. It might feel a bit rushed, but as I remarked on video, it’s actually a great way for the show to further build the friendship between Marcus and Dr. Franklin. I really like what we see here, and I wish we’d seen more of it prior to this season. 

The War Room

Y’all, I would not want to be the one to wake up Ivanova in the middle of the night just because I had an idea. Sheridan is lucky that she didn’t murder him on the spot. However, Sheridan’s total joy over his idea of how to subvert all of Earthgov’s propaganda is pretty damn infectious, isn’t it? And I don’t think it’s a bad idea! There’s something attractive about the notion of plainly stating the truth one a day and being steadfast in that in order to counter all the misinformation. I loved the deliberate references to the French resistance in World War II, too, since it gave me an idea what Sheridan had in mind. I’m very interested to see how Ivanova will deal with becoming the face of the Resistance, though. She really is the perfect person to do this. MORE IVANOVA ALL THE TIME.

The Drakh

There is so much depth to this plot, and I wanted to start at that place while discussing the Drakh plot line because it’s the main reason why this is so exciting to me. This is not simply another war, though the episode directly addresses the exhaustion many of these characters feel after the conclusion of the Shadow War. No, this also highlights the fact that Delenn hasn’t been as attentive to the needs of Minbar, and because of that, a potential civil war has been brewing in the background. That doesn’t mean she’s at fault for it, but there’s a sense here of her guilt over ignoring her duty. For understandable reasons, I should note! The Shadow War was an all-encompassing thing! But the growth of the warrior caste on Minbar is not due to the Shadow War in particular. Indeed, it’s the culmination of SO MANY other plots, and it’s now spilled out into a new one: the appearance of the Drakh.

I’ll assume for the moment that those weird parasite creatures are not from the Drakh, since there hasn’t been direct confirmation of it, and just talk about what I do know for certain about the Drakh. I utterly believe Delenn’s assertion that they were one of the mysterious races who escaped from the destruction of Z’ha’dum, which makes Forell’s story so much more tragic. I wondered if he was under the influence of one of those parasites, but NOPE. He saw the imminent demise of the caste system on Minbar, and he took it upon himself to find allies to fight the warrior caste. Who may not be killing other Minbari directly, but their policies and behaviors are absolutely killing them. So Forell’s intent is incredibly noble! And yet, he’s invited in a DISASTER, a race of aliens who are coldly murdering smaller species in an attempt to become like their masters. (Still operating under the assumption that Delenn is right.) There was a vacuum of power left behind, and the Drakh seem poised to take it over, and the first major inroad they’ve made with the Minbari was because someone was trying to save Minbar. IT’S SO SAD. 

But the Drakh war—I really don’t doubt that it’ll become one, y’all—also has one other layer of meaning to it. The end of this episode is such a great scene because it’s of two leaders, both “touched” by destiny, who must accept that they have to be apart in order to save their respective worlds. Sheridan has to save Earth from Earthgov, and Delenn now has to put Minbar’s caste system back together. It means these two people, deeply in love with one another, must be apart. While that’s a terrible thing, Delenn vocalizes a silver lining: each will be able to be their true self without the distraction of the other. Actually, I’d argue that’s more the case for Sheridan than Delenn, but I do think it works both ways. This read to me as Delenn giving Sheridan permission to be pissed off, to be frightening and intimidating in order to lead the resistance to victory. AND I LOVE IT.

I’m not ready, y’all. 

The video for “Lines of Communication” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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