Mark Watches ‘Babylon 5’: S05E14 – Meditations on the Abyss

In the fourteenth episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, Lennier is sent on a secret mission that becomes something else; G’Kar and Dr. Franklin bond; Garibaldi descends. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of alcholism

You know, this episode didn’t go where I thought it would, but I liked it. I admit to being drowsy when I watched this, so I do wonder if that affected my sense of the pacing of the story. Still, even thinking about it now and how the story beats unfolded, this is a much more introspective episode than an action-based one. Which is okay! It explores interesting things in G’Kar and Lennier. I suppose part of why I anticipated something more intense is because of the opening. Delenn’s secretive, late-night meeting with Lennier was so evocative and emotional, y’all! And it came right after she broke the finger of a dude who wouldn’t stop harassing her! (DIRECT ACTION.) The premise given to me was upsetting, too. Delenn wanted Lennier to sit on the Centauri border and obtain evidence that the Centauri were involved in the attacks on shopping lines. The audience knows the truth, and the imagery would be damning. But I still don’t know if those ships are piloted by Drakhs, or Drakh-controlled Centauri, or what! So, on the one hand, I was eager for the Alliance to start putting this together; I was also agonizing over it because there was no way Lennier would get the whole story just from observing. 

But Lennier learns nothing because this episode is not about the Centauri. It’s a strange choice, especially at this point in the season, where there aren’t many episodes left, and the Alliance still doesn’t actually know what’s going on. While onboard a White Star, Lennier works with Captain Montoya (played wonderfully by Richard Yniguez!) and is partnered with Findell. Findell is nothing like Lennier, and I admit I did like seeing them paired together. It’s a neat way of showing us that all Rangers aren’t automatically emotionless warriors, but rather that real people, who have complicated, emotional motivations, join this group. And as we see with Findell, some people join because they feel a duty to, not a desire. Obligation doesn’t erase fear, and it doesn’t always make for a solid motivation to do a lot of things. At least not to join the Rangers, you know?

But I’m still a little perplexed about the focus of this plot. Lennier is basically in training here, and I understand why that happens, but he’s well-suited for the test that Captain Montaya sets up. So this ends up being less about Lennier as a student and instead, it’s about Findell. Does Lennier learn anything here? Is there space for him to grow as a Ranger? Not really, and I’m sure this is one of the reasons this episode just felt off to me. I can understand taking Lennier down a different path than the Centauri plot, but once this script does that, it gives the real story to a character I suspect we’ll never see again. It’s… weird! I don’t know how else to describe it! Mind you, I didn’t dislike it. We got to see Lennier coaching someone else! It was all part of a secret mission for Delenn! But it mostly left me feeling off-base, as if a wrong turn had been somewhere and I didn’t quite know where we were heading.

On the complete opposite of the emotional spectrum, G’KAR’S STORY MADE ME SO HAPPY. I love that this was how the show brought up Dr. Franklin’s religious beliefs, and in doing so, they were able to stretch across an apparent divide to show us how much Dr. Franklin respects G’Kar and what he’s doing. And for what it’s worth, it’s mesmerizing watching G’Kar do his thing. He’s got an undeniable energy and charisma when he’s talking (thanks to Andreas Katsulas, of course), and it’s a beautiful follow-up to last week’s episode. He’s still a bit unsure, and he doesn’t always know where a conversation is leading him. (Which is perhaps an unintentional parallel to this experience, since I didn’t know where this story was going.) But he’s so sincere. He tries so hard! And damn, y’all, listen to how he handles questions, how he relates his beliefs through powerful metaphors… UGH, HE’S SO GREAT. 

Garibaldi is… not in a great place. The opposite of great. THIS IS FURTHER THAN I THOUGHT THIS WAS GONNA GO. Oh my god? This is now into a binge, and it’s upsetting??? I’ll say that the very last time I ever had any alcohol, it was during a binge. I honestly lost time. There are a couple days in that that I’ll probably never remember, and that’s what scared me into never drinking again. There’s no one narrative for alcoholism, though, and there’s a very real chance that Garibaldi will just… keep drinking. And at this rate, he’ll be discovered, and that’s not gonna be pretty either. I just feel so bad for him, y’all, because this is not an easy thing to go through. SOMEONE GIVE GARIBALDI THE HELP HE NEEDS. 

The video for “Meditations on the Abyss” can be downloaded here for $0.99. 

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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