In the first episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, changes come to the station. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Oh, god, this season is also going to destroy me, isn’t it?
After the vast majority of storylines were wrapped up last season, I knew that we had at least two remaining threads to address: the oncoming Telepath War and the Drakh War. Still, I love that “No Compromises” opens in a way to give us a sense of how vast this season will be. In just forty-odd minutes, there’s SO MUCH HERE. Let’s discuss!
The most obvious change, and the one that’ll take the most Getting used to, is the arrival and instatement of Elizabeth Lochley as the captain of Babylon 5. I’m sad that Ivanova is not in the opening credits, but I anticipated she’d be gone for some time from the show in one form or another. (For the record, I don’t know any of the background info on casting and whatnot, so please don’t spoil me here. I came to that conclusion about Ivanova because I figured this show would commit to giving her some time away from the station. Generally speaking, that’s what JMS has done when he introduces plots like this.) So, she could come back! In the meantime, this show makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that she isn’t a replacement for Ivanova. Lochley is very different from Ivanova, and there’s some intrigue around her, too. She’s clearly someone comfortable in a position of power in an organized institution like this, and her thing already seems to be efficiency. She wants things to move smoothly!
Which is going to be a challenge for Lochley, because I can’t imagine a more chaotic place in the entire universe than Bablyon 5. Look at what happens on her FIRST DAY on the job! An assassin arrives on the station to threaten Sheridan’s life, and a group of rogue telepaths make contact and seek asylum, hoping to establish a colony. Lochley handles this stuff with thoughtfulness and care, and she’s very much a non-nonsense officer. Does “No Compromises” establish every aspect of her character? No, and I wouldn’t expect it to. In fact, what’s most interesting about her is what’s left unsaid, what’s hinted at, and what we’re left to infer. I admit that I respected that Sheridan didn’t want to know whether Lochley was on his side or Clark’s during the civil war.
But that same question at the end of the episode is far more sinister when it’s coming from Garibaldi and when it’s coupled with the fact that Lochley and the assassin once served together. It could be innocent coincidence, of course, and perhaps that’s what this season will deal with. Perhaps she worked proudly under Clark’s regime, and the ramifications of that will be vital to ongoing events on Babylon 5. How do these people move on? How do they work under someone they disagreed with so greatly?
I ask those questions because, like so much of this show, “No Compromises” is concerned with the notion of what comes after major plot events. Season four dealt heavily with life after the Shadow War, and once the Drakh stuff comes up again, it’ll continue to do so. Conflicts don’t end without ramifications in the real world, and I love that this show accepts that. So, what does Earth look like having survived a civil war? Who is disgusted or enraged that Sheridan and his people won? That’s the space in which the assassin works. His vendetta against Sheridan isn’t just about being a sore loser, though. As far as I could tell from what little detail we’re given on him, he worked under President Clark at a prison, and I believe we’re meant to infer that he enjoyed this. Okay, maybe he didn’t enjoy it, so to speak, but he seemed quite loyal to the old President, and his life wasn’t just ruined. His beliefs were challenged, weren’t they? I suppose this is just conjecture, though. Did he believe in the prison he worked for?
I think he did, and I think the destruction of this whole system enraged the assassin, too. It took away more than just a job from him. Sheridan represents something more than just an inept politician, you know? Look at how dedicated the assassin is to accomplishing his goal. He despised Sheridan and everything he stood for.
Ah, so I didn’t make a specific prediction about the glimpse of the future we saw in “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars.” In that, Garibaldi—who we now know to have accepted a new position in the Interstellar Alliance—tries to reason with telepaths who have taken over the station. Is that Byron and his group of rogue telepaths? Did Sheridan just set things in motion by allowing them to form a colony onboard the station? I genuinely don’t know! I feel like that’s the obvious answer here, but how do we get to that point? Y’all, I know Bester is gonna show up sooner rather than later, and he’s gonna fuck up everything.
I do hope we get to learn more about these telepaths. (Including the ones I am pretty sure are in a relationship???? THEY’RE MORE FRIENDLY THAN SISTERS, Y’ALL. That’s basically that meme of the seal going GAAAAAYYYYYY, okay???) They have a fascinating introduction, and I’m a little mad that Simon had to die. I WANTED TO KNOW MORE! Who was that woman he felt guilty over? Why would you introduce such a great character, only to kill them off like half an hour later??? UGH.
I am excited to see where this goes. I miss Ivanova, but still: this was pretty damn great.
The video for “No Compromises” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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