Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S04E16 – The Exercise of Vital Powers

In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, Garibaldi seeks out his employer, and Dr. Franklin learns a terrible truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of non-consensual medical procedures, brainwashing.

Oh my god, I keep being SO WRONG about this season. OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I thought I had Edgars figured out, but his allegiances are the complete opposite of my suspicions. UGH, this show is too much!

The Telepaths

There is so much information kept from me, and I am furious about it, but this one feels so devastating. Dr. Franklin and Lyta make real headway into helping all the telepaths rescued from the Shadows, thanks to Lyta’s ability. And like I said on video, I think Dr. Franklin realized how silly it was that he’d never considered using a telepath to treat the telepaths. It’s brilliant!!! It also sheds light on part of what these people have dealt with, how their minds are in these constant loops that desire something to do. Lyta is able to get through to one of them, but lord, there’s such a horrifying ramification of that. The one telepath who is able to speak questions themselves: Who are they now? What’s their purpose? These people were “designed” by the Shadows for one purpose, so how can they exist outside of that? It’s such a deeply fucked up notion, y’all. 

Which makes the unshared secret of Sheridan’s plan so daunting to me. What is he right about? Why is Dr. Franklin so floored by what Sheridan tells him??? I don’t like it, IT’S DEEPLY UPSETTING TO ME. Why would it cause Dr. Franklin to reflect on the nature of Sheridan post-Z’ha’dum??? This is… not going to be good. I imagine Sheridan wants them for some sort of fight against Clark? But what would that be? 

William Edgars

Y’all, I truly thought Edgars was working with the Psi Corps. I assumed that Bester had told Edgars about Lyta working for Garibaldi! I mean, he still could have? It just could have been through less-than-direct means. But because I made this very wrong assumption about what he was doing, this episode knocked me the fuck out. This is so much more complicated than I thought, but it also means that I literally do not understand the endgame for Garibaldi’s brainwashing. He’s now volunteered to work for someone who, I am guessing, has designed a means of eliminating telepaths. That’s the research he’s done, right? So, then it’s possible that maybe Bester wanted Garibaldi in place to spy on Edgars? But that doesn’t explain everything that came before this! Why did Bester want Garibaldi to ruin all his relationships with the Babylon 5 staff? It seems like a complicated way to get Garibaldi to Mars, right? 

This whole thing is an emotional mess on top of being a logistical one, too. Garibaldi is around his ex, he’s feeling particularly volatile about her and her new husband, and he’s not that shy about it. That scene in his quarters where he tries to win her back in some small way is just so unfortunate. But I get it! He’s adrift in his own lift, back on Mars, and he’s about to agree to something for Edgars. He’s in exactly the sort of space that would make someone look back on their past like this. Is that part of his manipulation, too? I honestly don’t fucking know! It could be! I trust practically nothing I’m seeing on the screen because so much of it feels like an obfuscation. Does Edgars truly believe he’s doing a good thing here? Or is there some other ulterior motive I haven’t figured out?

What I am confident about, however, is perhaps the most distressing part of this. I have to constantly remind myself that Garibaldi has been brainwashed and that what he’s set up to do at the end of this episode has a 99% likelihood of being part of that brainwashing. I am eager to find out the details, but he continues to appear to have brainwashed to dislike and distrust Sheridan at the very least. Perhaps he distrusts all the others by default. So when Edgars dangles the carrot of more information about his anti-telepath agenda, it’s got to be the only reason why Garibaldi would ever agree to turn Sheridan over to Clark. At least, that’s what I’m choosing to believe rather than the alternative: this has nothing to do with what Psi Corps did to him and it’s his own choice. 

Y’all, this is too much. I need to know. What is Edgars developing? What was done to Garibaldi? What is Bester’s endgame? What did Sheridan ask of Franklin???

The video for “The Exercise of Vital Powers” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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