In the third episode of Crusade, Galen directs the crew to a mysterious place, promising answers, and then provides… pretty much the exact opposite? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Crusade.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of death/grief, consent, and abuse.
This is one of those stories that I like in theory, but in execution, it kind of falls flat. Galen is, by design, a mysterious character. I don’t expect him to make sense off the bat, and because he’s a technomage, that means that there’s even less about him that I understand. The technomages are still relatively new to me in my Babylon 5 experience. So, the idea that he’s got his own knowledge that he’s keeping from everyone else fits in with my perception of him. Plus, since I saw “The Path of Sorrows” BEFORE this, I was able to understand Galen a whole lot more than if I had watched this in the DVD order. (Bravo to all those who helped me watch this in this order!) His love for Isabelle motivated him to betray the crew, and I understand why they’re not that pissed at him in the end.
That being said… boy, this still felt disappointing. Like, there’s a part of me that can appreciate someone promising “answers” as long as the “right questions” are asked, and I love that the Well of Forever is pitched as this ridiculous mystery. Then, when they arrive there, Galen technically did not lie about the place; he just didn’t give the crew all the context they needed. Because of that, there’s a lot of great dramatic tension throughout the episode. And I enjoyed that! Generally speaking, I like that Galen does not share his whole self with everyone, because it makes it that much more meaningful when he does open up!
So, again, on paper, this works. Galen takes the crew to the Well of Forever, past GIANT, HORNY JELLYFISH, and they get to see a part of hyperspace that other humans will most likely never, ever get to see. No one knows if Galen is on a wild goose chase or if his promises will come true. Gideon is snarky and irritated throughout the script, and that dynamic works so, so well. It’s a fine contrast to Galen’s giddiness. And thus, upon arriving at the Well of Forever, everyone discovers the real reason he came there: the Well is a giant mausoleum for civilizations that have died, and it exists as a sort of perpetual monument to those who came before. It’s there that Galen returns Isabelle’s ashes (is that what those were???) to the place she was searching for most of her life.
Beautiful? Yes. Emotional? Sure? Does it make sense? I… don’t know. Like… okay, Galen knew she was searching for this place, and he found a rock that told him where it was? But only recently? And is the only reason they could leave was because of the Excalibur’s engines? Because there was that cryptic line about how no one has ever come back from the Well of Forever, but I don’t know if Galen was being literal, or if he was making some clever joke about the fact that it was a mausoleum. So the logistics of this confuse me! I know that Galen’s mysterious, but I worry that this script leaves so much to the imagination that it makes it difficult for the viewer to piece it all together. Wouldn’t Gideon have been interested in this if Galen had just told the truth? Sell it to him by telling him he’ll get to see something no other human has seen! He’d buy that, right?
I think there’s the same problem with Matheson’s arc, too. On paper: REAL FUCKED UP AND CREEPY. In actuality: well, it’s still fucked up and creepy, but the latter half of his story is just a mess. Here, we finally get a sense for what sort of bureaucracy exists in the wake of the closure of the Psi Corps. It’s both loosely defined and incredibly specific, which seems like a massive contradiction, but that’s basically what we get! Telepaths, in essence, must go through audits by other telepaths, who act as watchmen. These audits are deep scans to determine if they’ve broken the rules and regulations of living amongst normals. There’s no real name to the government organization, and we only have a sense of the rules from what Matheson has told us. We learn a bit more about this all from Mr. Jones’s audit and what’s considered acceptable or not, but holy shit, Mr. Jones is real abusive to Matheson! Like, with no hesitation!
Which makes me wonder: who audits them? Won’t someone else discover that Mr. Jones overstepped his boundaries? Are there even boundaries? And if there really aren’t, then the solution to this dilemma won’t even matter. Mr. Jones is basically allowed to do whatever he wants as a part of his job, which seems like a real terrible system that’ll create a lot of oversight and corruption. Was this all just to point out what a hypocrite he is?
You know, I feel like I’ve given this show a respectful attempt, but when it’s not good, it is… not very good. Which sucks because I can see what the writers were attempting for, and I can get a shape of the season from these twelve episodes, but lord, it’s not enough. This has been all over the place in terms of tone and quality, and I wish it were more consistent.
The video for “The Well of Forever” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now OUT! If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.