Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E14 – Moments of Transition

In the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, Lyta, Bester, and Garibaldi clash; Delenn makes a fateful decision. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent

Holy shit, SO MUCH HAPPENED? THIS IS ALL SO UPSETTING AND SHOCKING? How is there another season??? How? 

Jobless

I still remain impressed that Babylon 5 addresses so many of the logistical challenges of living within a capitalist system. And lord, there’s a huge one here: being a freedom fighter doesn’t fucking pay. Lyta’s aimlessness, now that she doesn’t work for the Vorlons, takes center stage as she tries to get a freelance job, only to discover that being rogue has more or less prevented her from getting one. It’s a terrible predicament to be in because, as most of us probably know, being desperate for money is one of the worst experiences you can go through. She doesn’t officially work for the station; she can’t get an outside job; she refuses to work for the Corps again.

Which brings us to Bester, who arrives on Babylon 5 to execute a clever and devastating con on Lyta by dangling a horrible proposition in front of her, then manipulating events so that she’d be more willing to accept it. Well, I should note that in part, the station inadvertently helped push Lyta that way after Zack had to ask her to demote her quarters to smaller ones. And that’s the horrible nature of this system. Yes, the station is saving money, and yes, from their end, they’re just doing what they need to continue operating. But Lyta is the cost, and it’s so tragic to watch this. Of course, I have to place most of the blame on Bester, who sought out someone when they were vulnerable; he taunted her; he teased her; and then he scanned Garibaldi’s mind to set in motion another series of events that would eventually end in Lyta’s desperation reaching rock bottom.

I feel like this is a very subtle confirmation that William Edgars is working for, or at least supporting, the Psi Corps? He’s rich, he’s certainly not in favor of the resistance, so that’s not exactly a leap. But Bester pushed Lyta towards Garibaldi, who then offered Lyta a temporary job, only to have Edgars conveniently find out that Garibaldi hired a telepath. Thus, Garibaldi rescinded the offer and his relationship with Lyta was now in shambles. Y’all, Bester literally says he wanted to turn Garibaldi against all his friends. That’s already happened with the command staff; his relationship with Zack is the worst it has ever been; and now he’s ruined the last friendship he had. WHY??? Why isolated Garibaldi? If the Psi Corps is behind his mental re-programming, then what’s the endgame here? What are they using him for? To cause chaos? Because THAT is certainly working. UGH EVERYTHING IS SO COMPLICATED. I need to know what’s going on!

Double Cross

Well, FUCK. I was right!!! There was an ulterior motive in “Rumors, Bargains & Lies,” and both Delenn and Neroon planned something. BUT I WAS TRICKED TWICE, Y’ALL. TWICE. Oh, but it made it worth it, y’all. The shock of watching Delenn’s plan unfold was breathtaking, and this is EASILY one of my favorite Minbari plots on the whole show. Now, I realize we haven’t seen a whole lot of this civil war; indeed, season four is a very cramped season that’s got like eight billion arcs that are all unfolding at once. But I’m enjoying the breakneck pace, and when you’ve got emotional moments like this??? Look, this plot is YEARS old at this point. Neroon’s competitive nature and his cultural conflict have helped shape our perception of Minbar, so that makes this a huge moment in the ongoing story. 

Truthfully, I had no clue where this was going. Shakiri was THE WORST, but at least I was proven right about Neroon’s discomfort with him. The man represented everything the Minbari didn’t believe! He was willing to kill other Minbari; he despised the religious caste; he did not value life unless it was his own; and he COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THE WORKER CASTE. (Well, to an extent, the religious caste did, too, but more on that in a second.) He wanted his own caste to rule Minbar in a manner that reminded me of the Centauri. War was meant to progress the Minbari people at the expense of others. Yet the religious caste could not fight off the warriors. How was that possible? They were stronger and had leveled most of the capital city, and Shakiri was ready to sacrifice THE WHOLE PLACE just to win this war. How do you beat someone like that, who believes that tradition is meant to be wielded like a weapon?

As Delenn demonstrates, you beat them at their own game. The whole Starfire Wheel sequence was just… A LOT. Truly the MOST. I’m still reeling from it because of what an incredible display of dedication it was, first on the part of Delenn, who demonstrated to everyone that she was willing to die for her caste and her people. And it’s such a bold move because she and Neroon knew that in the end, Shakiri was a coward. They knew he’d never survive something so pure, so intentional, so selfless. 

BUT THEN DELENN CHANGED THE PLAN AND SHE WAS WILLING TO GIVE UP HER LIFE FOR MINBAR AND NEROON RESCUED HER AND CHANGED CASTES JUST BEFORE THE STARFIRE WHEEL BURNED HIM AWAY. I just!!!!!! What the fuck!!!!! The character growth! The drama! How is this show real! But even after this, there’s still one huge surprise. Delenn actually gets to carry out the instructions she gave to Lennier in case she died, and WHAT A SHOCK. The Grey Council is reformed, but the majority of the seats are given to the worker caste, the middle group who was forgotten and who had to be the collateral damage in the wars between the religious and warrior castes. She didn’t even give herself a place on the council. Because this isn’t about Delenn! It’s not about her having power; it’s about what is best for Minbar.

HELP.

War

And as one war ends, another begins. The final scene of this episode is horrifying and overwhelming. Earth Alliance have murdered tens of thousands of civilians and refugees, it’s been caught on camera, and the time has come. The resistance cannot sit by and let this happen anymore. I don’t know if what’s at the end of “Moments of Transition” counts as an official declaration of war against Earth, but holy shit. It feels like it. Y’all, they’re going to war against their home planet??!?!?!?!?

The video for “Moments of Transition” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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