In the twenty-first and penultimate episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, the station is at rest. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
How is there another episode?
It’s amazing to me how much I’m into the ways in which this episode tells a story without telling it. If this was the final episode of the show, I would have been pretty damn satisfied. While there is one big action sequence in the middle of it—and by “big,” I actually mean “completely devastating”—this ending felt so quiet. And it’s a bold move for a show that went out with a season that combined two major arcs, a whole of tragedy, and which kept its five-season plot moving at a rather fast pace since season two. But as I said in the previous review, this is an introspective set of final episodes, and I love that it digs in to who these characters are after spending so much time moving: through the station, through their lives, through multiple wars, through personal tragedy and loss, through victory and growth.
They’re settling down elsewhere. They are now objects at rest.
Which does not suggest that there will not be strife or movement in the future, and we actually know that’s not the case. Because of “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars” and “War Without End,” we know what future chapters will hold. JMS gave us those pieces, and this final arc places in the necessary pieces into their places. Is it the full puzzle? No. But it’s enough. It’s enough to be able to see a portrait of horror in the Drakh and the Keepers, to show us how Delenn and Sheridan end up where they are in “War Without End.”
There are other portraits painted by this episode. Dr. Franklin leaves the station in this episode, but not before handing the reins over to Dr. Hobbes, a character who we haven’t seen a whole lot of, but one who is distinctive enough that the potential is there. We know that she is one of the only characters who ever went toe-to-toe with Dr. Franklin, and she’s a perfect replacement for him. She’ll fight for what’s right, and she’s worked in practically every environment in the station. With Garibaldi gone and now in charge of Edgars’ Industries, Tessa steps up as the head of intelligence, and we get the tiniest glimpse of what she’ll be like. Thorough. Brilliant. Fierce.
She is just part of the procession of torches passed along to the new command staff of Babylon 5. Zach Allen, Lochley, and Corwin all remain behind, and the three of them comprise the longest-running members of the team, which is strange to think about. They’re joined by Dr. Hobbes and Ta’Lon, the replacement that G’Kar designated before he left the station, too. AND ISN’T TA’LON A PERFECT FIT, Y’ALL??? I love that G’Kar deliberately references his own starting point on Babylon 5 and how fitting it is that someone as loyal, dedicated, and smart as Ta’Lon is in place to advocate for the Narn people. And that’s what I love about how this transition took place. I felt like the show earned this. This new crew deserved to be there. They weren’t just random characters, but ones who had all influenced the stories told over the course of the show!
It’s with this that Babylon 5 becomes part of a new chapter, and that chapter is left behind. With this, though, the transition to the next chapter for Delenn and Sheridan still has to take place. They leave Babylon 5 and Sheridan salutes the crew as he departs, and then their White Star flies DIRECTLY INTO MY HEART AND EXPLODES. Because… what the fuck? Look, it’s not like I’m surprised by Lennier having intense feelings for Delenn. That’s not even subtext, and you couldn’t even argue it ever was. It has been explicitly discussed on the show!!! But at no point did I anticipate what happened here. That’s not to suggest it doesn’t make sense or that it’s out of character. I want to talk about that, though, because I do understand the impulse to say it is. I kind think that’s the point? It’s not as if Lennier planned for a long time to sabotage Delenn’s relationship with Sheridan. Delenn says something later in the episode about how a momentary decision is something that Lennier will have to contend with for the rest of his life. And that’s true! I think he made a split-second decision, one that was dark and terrible and immensely fucked up. it’s why I had the reaction that I did! It’s just such an awful decision to make, and yes, he did realize how bad it was a minute later. But at that point, it was too late! Sheridan survived, and he knew exactly what Lennier had done.
I appreciate, too, that the show doesn’t make Sheridan trust Lennier or forgive him. That’s a completely separate journey. And I understood why Delenn, of all people, wanted to empathize with someone who had done something so terrible. From her perspective, her entire life just got upended in a matter of five minutes. She’s losing a friend, too!
But this journey is going to be a complicated one. Lennier has to figure out who he is going to be in the wake of it, and he has to earn forgiveness. That framing is so important, too. People don’t deserve forgiveness. They have to earn it! But lord, y’all, what a twist. I kinda still don’t know what to do with it? There’s no glimpse of Lennier in any of the future storylines we’ve seen, so I don’t know what’s going to happen to him.
I think, however, that I can piece together what happens with Delenn, Sheridan, and Londo. HI, JESUS, LONDO’S WHOLE APPEARANCE HERE IS JUST AS DEVASTATING. Knowing that he’s under control of a Keeper made this a million times worse. He asked for alcohol. HE WAS SO HOPEFUL THAT SHERIDAN HAD BROUGHT SOME. Was he eager to stage a little rebellion, to get drunk and reveal the truth of what was happening to his friends? I’m so crushed by the last third of this episode because you can see the longing on Londo’s face. Peter Jurasik gives a performance that’s subtle and gut-wrenching, and as complicated as my feelings are on his character, I have no doubt that I’ll miss getting stories about Londo.
So, anyway: that Keeper in Londo’s gift is what kickstarts the events we saw in the future, right??? I’m sure you could also debate how everything fits together, though I imagine a second viewing of this show helps to fit it all into a whole. I’m realizing, too, that I don’t need to know everything. I had a sense that I did in the run up to this, but I care more about closure for the characters than every plot line. It is much more fitting to me that the final scene in “Objects at Rest” is off Sheridan’s monologue to his unborn son than scenes from the future involving other stories. It works way better! There’s a beautiful summary of Babylon 5 as a whole in that monologue. People are complicated. The world is complicated. Life is going to be messy and strange. Some folks in your life will stick by you the whole time; others might betray you; others will come in and out of your time in this world. But Sheridan’s message is ultimately of love: he will love whoever his son chooses to be.
I will probably have a lot of thoughts about Babylon 5 as a whole once I get done with this finale. Whatever this finale will actually be!!! I STILL DON’T KNOW. Is there anything left to wrap up??? What have y’all done to me???
The video for “Objects at Rest” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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