In the tenth episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, the telepaths stage a hunger strike; Sheridan and Delenn try to stop an Alliance civil war; and G’Kar makes a horrifying discovery. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma
THIS SHOW IS FOREVER TOO MUCH.
I know that it’s easier for me to understand the telepaths’ side, but I’m not entirely unsympathetic to what station staff or Sheridan have to deal with because of this situation. At the heart of Byron’s actions here is something similar: he understands that this is a massively difficult situation. Has Lochley been the telepaths’ #1 champion? No, of course not. Earlier in this season, I was a tad worried that maybe Byron had an ulterior motive, that his beliefs were possibly part of some other agenda, but over time, the show has revealed Byron to be just as sincere as he’s always made himself out to be. Which makes this so much more heartbreaking to watch! He truly just wants a homeworld for his people, and I believe him when he says that once they get it, they will all leave everyone alone.
I mean… look, y’all, he sends a message to Lochley, telling her she’ll be safe if she comes to them, and then when she arrives, he basically only wanted to thank her. He wasn’t going to budge on his position, and he knew that this would only make matters more terrible for everyone. I admire his commitment to his cause and to the hunger strike because in it, there is still hope. There is hope that the message he and his people are trying to get across will finally be heard.
Which is precisely why Lochley’s decision to bring in Bester is just so, so bad. This whole situation does feel like a growing tragedy, and Lochley made it worse. (Which is interesting, given that the academics in “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars” blamed Sheridan, not Lochley.) Was she bound by law or protocol? Sure. Does that alleviate my frustrations? No. Bester has a such an unhealthy and terrifying obsession with bringing these people in, and I doubt many of them will survive that process. And after that? Oh, I doubt many of them will survive after being captured. Look what they did to Talia! There is no way these people will have a better life under the Psi Corps. Does Lochley know that?
I… don’t know. I still only have that one bit to go off of—her agreeing to Sheridan’s description of them as “Fascists R Us”—so I can’t quite tell if she’s aware of just how much damage Bester and his bloodhounds will bring to the station and these people. I know I’m speculating on what I think might happen, but I don’t really have any doubt about it. Plus, there are still the telepaths who left Brown Sector to solve matters their own way. The show positions them as part of Byron’s failure, interestingly. He couldn’t convince them to take the non-violent route! Their presence and their actions both complicate this further, especially since they killed people to get what they want. It’s just… such a mess. SUCH A MESS.
My guess—and I predicted this on camera, too—is that Byron is going to give himself up to spare his people. I don’t think Bester is going to go for it, but we’ll see???
I’m being more cautious than I probably need to be about calling this other plot a Drakh one, and after this episode, that doubt is gone. So, accepting that the Drakh are behind the shipping lines attacks, the question is: why? Well, on the one hand, they are having the exact affect that they wanted them to, right? The Alliance nations, each suspecting one another with the faulty evidence, have geared up for a conflict. They’re turning on one another, and the Alliance is on shaky ground. Okay… so why Centauri? Why inhabit their world and use their ships to attack the rest of the Alliance? Is it spite? Because many of these nations were responsible for eradicating the Shadows from Z’ha’dum, and if I recall correctly, there were other species/races who were living there and lost their home when Sheridan destroyed it. So… maybe revenge??? I don’t know??? At the very least, I’m glad Sheridan and Delenn have managed to temporarily quell any civil conflicts here, though they’re quickly running out of time. With the Drakh annihilating others so quickly and with no evidence, how are they ever going to find out the truth?
GOOD GOD, THIS SUBPLOT WAS SO UPSETTING. And while there is a beginning, a middle, and an end, the way its written is far more ambiguous upon inspection. Na’Toth’s story is going to take years to unfold, and JMS isn’t subtle about that. Her rescue is important, but it’s what doesn’t appear onscreen that’s more horrifying. Did she believe she would never be free? Could she hear the sounds of war outside of her cell, and did she believe that the Centauri won the war against Narn? The sheer isolation and loneliness she must have suffered while FORGOTTEN is just… it’s unimaginable. She was collateral damage, imprisoned for cruel and bigoted reasons, and then… forgotten. The title might not be referring to this, but it’s absolutely a tragedy.
I am glad that Londo took G’Kar seriously about rescuing her, and he did so in a way that exploited the biases of the other Centauri. He uses the guard’s military duty to get him to seal up the wing of cells by getting him to believe he’s going to let Na’toth starve to death; then, he uses the embarrassment of others to sneak Na’Toth out right under their noses. I’m less interested in what this means for Londo in terms of his atonement than I am in how this episode is yet another reminder of what he did. There is not an easy, clean path to redemption, particularly not for someone who was directly the cause of or complicit in so much pain and suffering. So, even though Londo is doing the work to be a better person and to uplift other people, he’s still going to deal with the ramifications of his actions for the rest of his life. Did he personally jail Na’Toth? No. But the bombing of Narn… well, he watched it happen. He was part of the machine. And Na’Toth’s tragedy might be over in the literal sense, but as G’Kar says, it’ll take a long time for her to soothe her mind and soul. At least she gets to do that on her home world, too.
The video for “A Tragedy of Telepaths” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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