[personal profile] eye_of_a_cat


Points Of Departure

Sheridan is new, Delenn is in a cocoon, Garibaldi is in a coma, and the opening credits now come with faces! (Which all feels very 90s now but I would not have minded this for The Wire or Mad Men, I tell you that.)

It's a good move to establish that Ivanova already knows and trusts Sheridan, given that this episode also establishes he was given the command post by an icreasinly xenophobic Earth government as a much less Minbari-friendly alternative to Sinclair. At least, I think? Although Sheridan confused my memory on this by saying he was the last president's choice to replace Sinclair - and we were previously told that Sinclair only got the job because the Minbari partly funded the station and he was the only person they'd agree to. Having the man the Minbari really despise as your fallback option seems a bit odd. So I'm assuming this is just what Sheridan was told after the president's death, and he saw no reason to question it.

So anyway, yes: we get a bit of Sheridan's war backstory with the details of how he destroyed the Minbari Black Star, and why the Minbari hate him for it, which does seem a bit over the top given the circumstances: he mined an asteroid field, sent off a distress signal, and then triggered the mines when the Minbari ship came back to blow them up. This is dishonourable, whereas using someone's SOS signal to locate and destroy them is apparently totally fine. Right.

Ivanova gives Sheridan an actual piece of the Black Star, as a welcome-aboard present and a kind of motivational souvenir. I am... not totally sure this is appropriate? But he seems happy enough about it and it doesn't turn up at some later point as the trigger for a huge diplomatic incident as far as I remember, so all's well that ends well.

Also in Minbari news: We also learn that the Grey Council knew of, but did not approve of, Delenn's chrysalis decision (which makes me wonder how she's perceived by the rest of them at this point even pre-transformation - she's spent two years away from the Council, she turned down the leadership position in favour of staying on Babylon 5, and now she's gone against them on this as well), and that there's a rogue Minbari war cruiser which hasn't returned to Minbar since the war and is now lurking in hyperspace somewhere near the station. And its captain is also angry at Delenn, this time to the point of coming aboard the stations with an apparent plan to kill her. It's unclear exactly whether he really was going to, or whether he always planned to get stopped by security and then commit suicide under Sheridan's custody - Sheridan thinks the Trigati might be there to attack the station because it's under his command, and certainly the ship does send out fighters later and try to lure the Babylon 5 pilots into shooting first, but it could also be that the captain really was there because of Delenn and the station itself is Plan B. Anyway, Sheridan works out that they're being goaded into a fight, and sends a beacon though the jump gate to summon another Minbari ship which disables the Trigati. Trigati then self-destructs with all crew still on board; captain of other ship does not take kindly to Sheridan's thanks for coming to their assistance. They really don't like him.

But, okay, in a wider world-building sense, why don't they protest more over his appointment to the station? They partially funded it and that gave em enough clout to insist on Sinclair before. If Sheridan really was appointed as some kind of "screw you, we'll appoint the person you hate more than anyone so there" gesture by EarthGov, there wouldn't be some kind of comeback to that, in the sense of frontier diplomatic relations and less favourable trading agreements or whatever. A couple of lines thrown in about that would not have gone amiss to my finicky world-building mind.


Revelations

Garibaldi comes out of his coma thanks to Franklin, Sheridan, and season 1's alien healing device, to find that (as Sinclair said at the end of s1) nothing's the same any more: Sinclair's gone, Sheridan's in command, the President's dead, and somebody - somebody who turns out to have been his own second-in-command - shot him in the back. It's unsurprising he's suspicious and gloomy throughut this episode, and most of the next. The Earth-related plot arc in season 1 really is a story of failure in many ways - they almost work out the assassination plot in time, they almost stop it happening, and then they don't and the president dies anyway - and it seems like Garibaldi is the one who really feels that, at a deep personal level.

Apparently if the characters and casting from the pilot had stuck, it was going to be Laurel Takashima, Ivanova's equivalent, who shot Garibaldi. Which would have made for a pretty brutal season finale, albeit a very effective one.

Delenn emerges from the chrysalis, and incidentally declares that her government approves of her transformation, although the previous episode made it clear that they very much do not approve and told her so. Presumably this is Minbari-approved lying-to-protect-another's-honour by some definition, although it's difficult to see how.

Meanwhile, G'Kar sees Shadows for the first time. I hadn't really thought about this much before, but it's a really interesting decision to have him be the one who sees them, and who makes the connections about an ancient enemy his people have encountered before, when in season 1 he was still mostly the playboy ambassador and not the philosophical leader he becomes later on. He is visibly shaken up by the Shadow ships (and the other Narn pilots' sacrifice to let him escape), and by the connection he draws to the ancient enemy of a thousand years before, enough to even bring it up to Londo as a source of concern as if it transcends the problems between the Narn and the Centauri. Londo at least has the decency to look as though his conscience is niggling him, but not for too long.

Meanwhile, it is striking how honest Morden is with Londo, in a way. He doesn't explicitly say that his associates and G'Kar's ancient enemy are one and the same, but he doesn't hide that there's evidently a connection between them. He makes it very, very clear that his associates will do whatever Londo wants in terms of destructive attacks on the Narn, or anyone else really - 'just pick a target'. And of course, he responds to Londo's "Why don't you eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you're at it?" with "One thing at a time, Ambassador". Morden might be their smooth salesman face, but the Shadows don't work by pretending to be something they're not and tricking you with false promises and lies; they just give you whatever you say you want.

Speaking of Shadows, this is the first time we learn of the death of Anna Sheridan on the Icarus (see: Ships, Unwise Name Choices For), and that Sheridan is still torn up over this and missing her. As of course he would be. I always thought it was a shame that her story was resolved in Z'Ha'Dum as if that was its resolution for Sheridan as well; really, your wife doesn't play on your mind at all after something like that? But on the other hand maybe it's just part of who Sheridan is, that he can mark things off in his head as finished and over once there's a big conclusive event in which he takes action, not when things are left unfinished and words are left unsaid.
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eye_of_a_cat

July 2017

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