Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E12 – Conflicts of Interest

In the twelfth episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, Sheridan, Zack, and Garibaldi clash. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Trigger Warning: For consent and mind control

Honestly, it’s really hard to analyze Garibaldi’s character at this point. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt because I’m clinging to the theory that Psi Crops brainwashed him so that he’d turn against Sheridan. And it’s a remarkably subtle method of subversion if true, but I have no other confirmation here. I know he was kidnapped, something was done to him and he can’t remember it, and ever since he was “returned,” he’s behaved drastically. He’s out of character… sort of? Because there are also moments within “Conflicts of Interest” where he still feels like the same character, but I don’t know??? How am I supposed to do this?

So, let’s start with Garibaldi’s new job. That seems natural. It absolutely comes across as the sort of thing Garibaldi would be good at, that he’d charge people a fair price for (like he does here), and that he’d find happiness in. But his behavior towards Sheridan, his willingness to break the rules, his treatment of Zack… IT’S SO MUCH. And what if I’m wrong about his programming? What if that isn’t what I’m seeing, but rather, this is actually who he is and what he believes? That means he just truly believes that Sheridan loves being like a demigod and doesn’t actually care about the people he’s purporting to save. I just… can’t accept that? It’s too much of a change in too short of time. 

Still, as this episode unfolded, I found myself more and more frustrated over Garibaldi and what he was being manipulated into doing. Y’all, I’ll just state this upfront: I don’t think Lise or Wade was honest about that telepathic genetic thing. At all. I don’t think Lise was genuinely surprised to know that Garibaldi was going to help her, either. The fact that she’s married to someone who is both rich and has connections within Earthgov worries the hell out of me. This is bad, y’all, and I don’t like the thought that Garibaldi is being recruited for something far more insidious than he’s realized. I can’t ignore it, either! What if all these people know that he’s been brainwashed? What if some of them have been brainwashed themselves? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. Thus, this episode becomes a nightmare to watch. How much of what we see on screen is real? How much is the product of what Garibaldi went through? Do I get to talk about how rude Garibaldi was to Lise, as if who she decides to marry is at ALL Garibaldi’s business? I don’t know if that’s him lashing out at her out of guilt and resentment or if it’s part of his mental programming. What the fuck did the Psi Corps do to him???

All of this makes for an uncomfortable experience, and I gotta say: it’s pretty unique. This is not a story that I’m all that used to because often, this sort of twist isn’t revealed until much later, and we generally know why it happened. Here, we know the brainwashing is real, but know none of the details. (Boy, I hope I don’t come to regret saying that.) So it’s like watching someone gleefully walk into a trap. Garibaldi is more than overjoyed to subvert whatever Sheridan wants, even though he would never have done this before he was kidnapped. His intense hatred of Sheridan is also so damn heartbreaking! He insults Zack, too, and the whole thing is just a mess, and going to Mars on top of all of that? To work with someone who most likely wants to end the Mars Resistance? I’ll be damn surprised if Edgars is on the side of the Mars-born, y’all. DAMN SURPRISED. 

Other than this: I’m hoping Sheridan succeeded in his attempt to unite G’Kar and Londo without a war. It’s a neat little thematic moment because so much of the show was about coming together to stop the Shadows. Well, can these same characters do it again before another threat becomes worse? I hope so. I really do! The existence of the new Voice of the Resistance gives me that hope. They’ve lived through a version of this before, and the context is different, but I think they’re prepared to fight off both Earthgov AND the Drakh.

The video for “Conflicts of Interest” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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