In the twelfth episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, G’Kar deals with an unexpected consequence of being away from the station, and Garibaldi makes a mistake. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of alcoholism
This really is a show of consequences. It’s one of the major reasons I’m such a big fan of serialized fiction and why I tend to prefer it over standalones. (Says the person who is now working on novels three, four, and five, all of which are… standalones. OKAY, ONE DAY.) There’s something magical in seeing a story develop over a long period of time, and that’s certainly the case with both of the plots that unfold in “The Ragged Edge.” Let’s start with the happier of the two of them.
The Book of G’Kar
This has to be a rewarding show to re-watch, and I know many of you have picked up on things through this project that you’d not noticed before. But just in terms of seeing G’Kar’s journey from the beginning, knowing where he ends up in season 5… that’s gotta be a lot. This episode does a fascinating thing by reminding us of how far G’Kar has come through other characters. In particular, there’s Ta’Lon, but there are all the nameless Narns who want to “worship” G’Kar. Why is that? Why has his book—which he wrote almost entirely for personal reasons—resonated with so many other Narns?
The reasoning for that strikes right at the heart of the struggle for the Narns. They were subjugated and oppressed by the Centauri twice, and when we met G’Kar, he was fiery, angry, and eager for both revenge and attrition. We watched as the world turned its back on the Narns and G’Kar had to fight for his own people. And then… we watched him find peace. We saw how he came to embrace other races, other experiences, and other ways of thinking about life. But G’Kar’s journey is not the journey of the other Narns, many of whom subscribe to older ways of thinking because that’s all they know.
There’s another complication here, though, and it’s important to acknowledge it. This was never what G’Kar wanted. He didn’t want to become “holy” through this experience, and he certainly didn’t want to be worshiped. I’m so impressed with his humility throughout this. How can he guide others when he was lost for so long? How can he even be sure that what these people are listening to are the beliefs and not the believer? Ta’Lon plays a great role in this, since he helps G’Kar realize that while these thoughts are good, there’s nothing wrong with teaching others. It’s a lack of awareness about power that makes cults of personality a thing, and G’Kar seems deeply aware of who he is and what he’s doing.
You Had One Job
Oh, this is going to be hard to watch. And its inevitable that someone is going to find out the truth about what happened on the Drazi homeworld and that Garibaldi is no longer sober. His relapse is amidst a volatile moment in his life, in his mind, and in the political sphere of the Alliance. Even if I understand why there was an impulse to start drinking again, I never felt comfortable with the events unfolding on the screen. And I’m not supposed to, either. Garibaldi makes amateur mistakes on this mission. Well, so does Tafiq. Neither of them should have drunk at all, let alone consume a whole bottle between the two of them. What would this mission have looked like if Tafiq had left earlier to secure transport back to the station? What if Garibaldi had been wide awake when the pilot gave the rendezvous signal? Would Garibaldi have heard the assault in the hallway?
I suppose there’s no real point to playing, “What if?” This happened, and the mission was nearly a complete disaster. Tafiq was murdered by a Drazi, and the pilot was murdered by the Centauri. (Under control of the Drakh? Or ordered to do so by the Regent, who is under the control of the Drakh?) If Garibaldi hadn’t grabbed that button off one of the assassins, then the Alliance would have still been completely in the dark. Granted, they’re still in a tough place, but Garibaldi wasn’t honest with them about what happened at all. What if he messes up another mission and another chance to figure out the Drakh conspiracy? I don’t know!!! But unless he stops hiding his relapse, and unless he starts being more honest, this isn’t going to end well.
Even then, this is still a disaster. Yes, the Alliance is one step closer to discovering the truth, but what they’ve got is so terribly complicated as it is! How can they be sure it’s the Centauri and not some other faction? G’Kar is perfectly sensible about why Londo shouldn’t be told, but even then? How the hell do they navigate this without putting others at risk of assassination? How can they stop the attacks? I DON’T KNOW. I genuinely don’t know what the next move is besides observing, and they definitely need something more proactive than that.
The video for “The Ragged Edge” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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