We’re back on track with our seventh installment of the Babylon 5 Viewing Club!
The introductory post was here, The Soul Hunter was covered here, and Born to the Purple was covered right here. After that was Infection. Then came The Parliament of Dreams. Following on its heels was Mind War. Last week, RTod covered War Prayer.
This week: And The Sky Full of Stars! You can watch it here.
It’s very difficult to discuss this show without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that), or referring to the pilot; if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
We good? We good! Everybody who has done the watchin’, see you after the cut!
We open with that guy who always plays a bad guy boarding the station and going through security, nodding to Khan’s right-hand man in the gate area, thus cementing that they’re the bad guys and they are up to no good and plots are afoot. Sinclair nods to a crew member in a hallway, who is then accosted by a pair of guys who seem to be enforcers for a station loanshark, to whom the crew member (Benson) is in debt. The enforcers want the money, Lebowski, or they’re going to cut off his johnson (actually, his head). Any guesses on whether or not the crew member will be forced to work with the two guys up to no good? The intro segment ends with the the two conspirators conspiring in a cabin, where their target is revealed to be… Sinclair. Dun dun dun!
Coming back from commercial, co-conspirators are assembling what is probably supposed to be a nefarious device. Cut to Benson (Security, Level II), being interviewed by Sinclair and Garibaldi for gambling in the casino. Benson has a chance to come clean, and doesn’t. Sinclair takes him off duty and starts an official investigation, and sics Garibaldi on playing detective. Back to the conspirators, they need a power supply to finish the nefarious device… getting one through security was apparently a problem. We cut straight to Benson going into a “station personnel only” section of the station. Google Maps couldn’t lay this out clearer, right?
Over to the good doctor, doing a basic physical on Delenn. Nothing’s wrong with her, it’s apparently professional courtesy so that Franklin can familiarize himself (more) with Mimbari anatomy. Not-very-casual conversation reveals that during the Earth-Mimbari War, Franklin destroyed his notes on Mimbaris when Earthforce wanted them to design bioweapons. The good doctor is a man of principle. He asks Delenn what she did during the war, she demurs with, “… a topic for another time” and departs.
Back to Nefarious Planners, they’re receiving the necessary energy pod from Benson, who is selling it to get the money to pay off his debt. I don’t know that paying him off by electronic payment is the greatest idea, guys. The nefarious device, however, is completed.
Cut to obvious dream sequence, Sinclair is leading what looks like a futile attack of fighters. He quotes Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”… and awakens in his room. Nobody responds to his link call… he heads to the bridge, walking through what looks like a completely deserted station, and there’s nobody at the bridge. Nobody responds to a call from the bridge. Earth Central doesn’t reply. The comm device is dead air. The computer reports there is one other life form on board, Sinclair goes to investigate. Nefarious Conspirator Number One, it turns out, is Inceptioning Sinclair. Cut to commercial.
Back from commercial, we’re going to have some quick cuts back and forth.
Delenn is asking Garibaldi where Sinclair is. Apparently he missed an appointment, and hasn’t been seen since last night. Garibaldi is unable to contact him, and heads out to investigate.
Meanwhile, the Inceptioning. Okay, we’re Matrixing instead of Inceptioning.; Nefarious Conspirator Number One informs Sinclair that he’s trapped inside a Matrix with Conspirator, with a long-winded and probably unnecessary description of what’s going on. The Conspirator is in charge. To prove his point, he inflicts pain on Sinclair.
Garibaldi checks on Sinclair’s quarters, finds no sign of him, but finds his link on the bedstand. Garibaldi calls on Ivanova to open a full alert.
Nefarious Conspirator Number One is going through this “Matrixing” to dig into Sinclair’s memories of the Battle of the Line. Apparently Sinclair is missing 24 hours of memories from the engagement (which ended with the Mimbari surrendering on the verge of winning the war). He doesn’t believe Sinclair’s account.
Garibaldi and Ivanova organize a search for the commander.
Nefarious Conspirator gives a nice little bio background on Sinclair, useful for future plot exposition. Sinclair comes back with attitude, saying that Security will already be looking for him. That’s assuming we’re still on the station, sneers NCN1. Another manipulation of the Matrix produces Mitchell, one of Sinclair’s pilots from the Battle of the Line. Sinclair has some flashbacks (there’s a lot of flashbacks in this episode). The Conspirator’s Mitchell argues with Sinclair. More flashback. Sinclair apparently tried a suicide ram on the Mimbari cruiser and then blacked out, the Conspirator believes Sinclair betrayed humanity somehow (ed. note: it’s unclear why Conspirator thinks Sinclair did something nefarious with the Mimbari when the Mimbari could have just won the war and killed all the humans. But then, it’s unclear why some humans today still think Obama’s birth certificate isn’t genuine, so… there’s that). Sinclair loses his temper and manages to hurt the Conspirator, booting him out of the Matrix temporarily… apparently this Matrix deal isn’t entirely one-sided.
Back to the outside world, Delenn is talking with Ivanova about the missing Sinclair. Cut to the two Conspirators, arguing with each other. The search for the commander is approaching their hiding place. Conspirator Number One wants to juice up the drugs and the power on the device to hurry things along. Cut to commercial.
Back from commercial, Garibaldi finds out about Benson getting a big payoff, oh so coincidentally right as Sinclair disappears. Bring him to me!
Cutting back to the Matrix, Conspirator Number One is pushing. Sinclair gets a memory back… he’s surrounded by cloaked figures. Nine of them. Out in the real world, Benson comes into the compartment to be confronted by Conspirator Number Two. He hears a cry from the next chamber, and barges past Two to see Sinclair and One in the Nefarious Device, whereupon Conspirator Two shoots him. Back in the Matrix, One and Sinclair are arguing. One is going to find out what he wants to know, and he’s going to find out now, dammit!
Cut to Garibaldi in a lock chamber, apparently Benson’s body was dumped out an airlock by Two and found by a search team who was checking the local gravity well on the offchance that Sinclair had been killed and his body dumped out the lock. Garibaldi narrows the search to the Red Sector, assuming that the body could not have been carried far (it’s not clear why Two took the effort to dump the body).
Back in the Matrix, One is losing his nut. He thinks that the Mimbari were afraid of Earth’s defenses, and that Sinclair is a fifth columnist. Sinclair confesses he hated Mimbari for years after the war. He can’t explain why they broke off their assault on Earth, though, even though Sinclair believed that Earth would have lost the war. He’s as mystified as One. But further prodding (also, presumably the drugs and device power boost) finally get through and Sinclair has another flashback, where he sees under the hood of one of the nine cloaked figures, and recognizes them. In the real world, he breaks out of the Nefarious Machine and decks Number One, causing some sort of short in the Machine, and then punches out Number Two and takes his gun. He’s delirious and hallucinating, he thinks he’s still on the Mimbari ship. Two comes to, grabs a second blaster, and heads out after Sinclair.
They run into each other in a common area. Two shoots at Jeff, who returns fire, and then Garibaldi comes on scene and shoots Two. Sinclair is still hallucinating, and he shoots at Garibaldi. Delenn comes on the scene, and walks towards Sinclair, telling him that he’s safe. Sinclair flashbacks to the hooded one he remembered seeing in the Matrix, and it is Delenn. He shoots Two, who is standing up in the background, and then passes out.
Sinclair wakes up in medlab. He’s hazy on what happened. Earth Central has repo’d Conspirator Number One, and he’s being shipped back to Earth. There are side comments that he might be part of a secret movement inside the government itself. Franklin wonders what they’d get out of him, as the short-circuiting of the neural net apparently fried One’s noggin. Sinclair and Garibaldi find One about to board a ship to Earth, but questioning One is fruitless, as he’s fried.
Back from the last commercial, Sinclair is in Delenn’s quarters, thanking her for helping him snap out of it. She asks if he remembers anything, and he says no. He’s fibbing, though… he remembers seeing Delenn on the Mimbari ship, at the Battle of the Line. He leaves, and another Mimbari steps out to insist that Sinclair never be allowed to remember. If he does, he tells Delenn Sinclair should be killed. Delenn agrees. Back in his quarters, Sinclair takes a personal log, recapping the unknowns from this episode, and ending with, “What is it they don’t want me to remember? I have to find out. I have to.”
There was an interesting accusation made in this episode that makes me say “huh, okay, maybe…” and that’s the accusation that Sinclair was Manchurian Candidated by the Mimbari in order to sell out Earth without bloodshed.
Just have the Mimbari buy everything, and create committees everywhere with Mimbari on them, and now Mimbari are pretty much running everything and nobody even notices… because, of course, the Mimbari surrendered. The Humans get to think they won and the Mimbari get to reap the fruits of that victory.
Which, if you think about it, would be a pretty decent way to take over the galaxy.
This strategy works better if you don’t start off bombing the shit out of them, though. It requires building trust to work, which is harder to establish after the bombing bit.
But yes, if I’m working on taking over the galaxy… I’m establishing bureaucracies, not sending in warships.
Well, one question still up in the air is whether these particular bad guys are accurate in this particular take on things. Are they paranoid “Earth First”ers? Or would a serious look at how the universe has evolved since the end of the war lead a reasonable person to ask “wait, who surrendered?”
The Bad Guys are wrong on one major detail, the Minbari were not worried about the effort it would take to destroy Earth’s military. Up to the Battle of the Line, humanity had destroyed precisely one Minbari ship.
Does all of humanity know how poorly they were doing in the war, or did the propaganda back home make it look like they were doing a better job than they were?
The whole “Minbari surrender to humans!” probably does more to bolster the “we were kicking their butts!” argument than the “they had us dead to rights!” argument.
At least back home.
You guys are right, the superiority of the Minbari may not be common knowledge, but I think it helps place us on the crazy conspiracy theory vs. plausible hypothesis spectrum.
Major plot developments in this one – we get a few answers, and a lot more questions, about who Sinclair and Delenn are and what their importance was to the Earth-Minbari War and is to Babylon 5. This is further emphasized by Delenn’s conversation with Franklin, which also gives a a good look at the kind of person Franklin is – combined with Sinclair’s description of the war, you can see that Franklin’s choice was between using his medical knowledge for harm and the probably annihilation of humanity, and he went with option B. Highly principled, but he’s got to have burned some bridges with that decision.
The pacing of this show over the series as a whole, though not always within an individual episode, was really good. Questions are raised. Enough are answered now and then to provide satisfaction, so the audience does not feel like they are being jerked around, but then more questions are raised to maintain interest. There are mysteries, but the answers to those mysteries exist. They are not created on the fly like some shows (Twin Peak, Lost).
I never really liked this episode. Guess it’s not enough “space” scenes, but the plot developments are interesting.
I think this was the first episode I watched, back in the day, that made me think, “This show might have something.” We find out a lot more on the Battle of the Line and we figure out that there really is something strange going on with the Minbari. One question is who’s view is right. Sinclair said that Earth was hopelessly outclassed while the Bad Guys said it would have cost the Minbari too much to take Earth. My first reaction is that Sinclair is right, but what if he IS the Manchurian Candidate and those thoughts were programmed into him?
The main thing that bugged me in this show was the end. Why would Delenn calm Sinclair down? And then the whole thing where Garibaldi is a no show in the scene until Jeff collapses.
The Delenn thing seemed kind of strange. It seems like she knew what was going on with Sinclair, and exactly what was in his head. There was also the mysterious figure in her quarters. Was he there in advance? What was his purpose? Coincidence?
The figure in her room I think was a psychic projection. They did that a few times and they always had that triangle on their heads when doing it. Still, they never really explained it from what I could remember.
The more I think about it, the more the way Sinclair acted with Delenn leans toward him being brainwashed. That is why he could not shoot her.
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