In the twentieth episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, the endgame is unleashed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For consent, nonconsensual medical procedures, suicide.
Holy shit, they did it. THEY DID IT.
There’s so much going on here, and I’m impressed that even amidst the action-oriented plot, there’s still time for a lot of character drama, too. But this really is about how the show has set up stories for years and must now deliver on them. So how does that work? Are they satisfying? There’s just one thread here that I both want addressed and expect the show will talk about in some capacity, either in these two remaining episodes or in the following season:
This is a momentous episode, and it also deliberately contains an uncomfortable truth within it. Sheridan ordered Dr. Franklin to use the Shadow-altered telepaths for his advantage. And I even understand the logic! They can’t be healed without technology that’s ON Earth, so taking back their home from Clark and his forces is integral to their future. Thus, using the telepaths without their sense is the only practical path towards a solution. But I appreciate that the show doesn’t sugarcoat this. It may give us a reason, but it’s still a stain on an otherwise noble attempt to save Earth and harm as few people as possible. Still: people were harmed. Some of those telepaths died. But I don’t feel like Sheridan (or the show, for that matte) is going to ignore this, and I have faith that it’ll be addressed in some form. They won this civil war, but what’s the cost going to be? Who is collateral damage? And look, this show just spent almost ALL of season four asking those questions about the end of the Shadow War, so I’m really excited to see what’s going to come in the wake of this.
I can’t ignore that the Resistance took back Mars with very few casualties, which is a surreal thing to think about, given how intense and violent this fight is. I loved the presence of General Lefcourt, too, because it gave us insight into how some of these military leaders felt. Granted, it wasn’t the first time; JMS has given us multiple scenes of people in the Earth fleet grappling with the moral and military obligations they had. But while the Resistance is planning to take back Mars, there were still people who saw these people as nothing but criminals, as those who had betrayed their duty to their military service. Yet the show positions Sheridan and the resistance as the heroes, and that fascinates me! The military science fiction element of this show exists within a long tradition of a genre that often doesn’t value resistance efforts like this, so I admit to feeling pleased about the liberation of Mars because of this.
There’s a part of me that’s furious that Clark isn’t going to have to face accountability onscreen, but the show designed it that way. For a villain who has such far-reaching affects on Babylon 5, we actually got very few scenes of him onscreen. He barely spoke any lines, and even here, he scribbles out a horrifying message before ending his own life. As was always the case, Clark insulated himself. As he rose to power, he surrounded himself with people who would protect him: first, from suspicion that he’d organized the assassination of President Santiago. Then, they protected him as he assembled a fascist government, began to act out his beliefs, and actively ruined/ended lives. His alliance with the Psi Corps and the Shadows was part of that. If he could escape blame or the ramifications of his actions, he would do it. It’s also why the propaganda of the ISN worked so well! Look how effectively it manipulated people into looking everywhere but their home planet.
Which is why I was both immensely upset and completely believing the fact that Clark would turn Earth’s defense grid against Earth. It’s the perfect end for him, isn’t it? If he can’t have Earth—and this was always about possession, about Clark at the center of a “perfect” world in which he remained at the top—then no one could have it. Of course he never actually cared about Earth’s safety! This was never about that! So I’m curious—and I stated this on camera—what the reaction is going to be from his most loyal constituents and followers. The man undeniably tried to destroy the whole fucking planet. He doesn’t give a shit about Earth! But I’m worried that some folks are too far gone, too far indoctrinated, to ever change their minds about Sheridan and aliens. God, what will Earth become?
HEY, LET’S ALSO TAKE A MOMENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SHERIDAN WAS WILLING TO DIE TO TAKE OUT THAT FINAL DEFENSE SATELLITE. Y’all, it’s the perfect contrast: What were each of these men willing to die for? Clark died for himself; Sheridan nearly died for all of Earth. Whew, that image of the Agamemnon coming out of the fire… IT’S SO MUCH.
Jesus, what an arc. And I feel like the show basically told us that Marcus, in love with Susan Ivanova for a long time, would be willing to do anything for her. It’s a strange relationship, too, because it’s not like either of them ever made a move beyond flirtations or declarations. Yet I don’t doubt that Marcus had a deep, burning desire for Susan. I believed that she also loved him, though perhaps not with the same intensity or at the same level. Which… lord, how is she going to react to all of this when she regains consciousness to find out that Marcus died to save her? That he literally gave her his life force so she could live on? I already know she’s gonna be pissed, y’all.
The video for “Endgame” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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