kangeiko: (londo/g'kar)
[personal profile] kangeiko
Rather belatedly, I noticed that [personal profile] selenak did an excellent job of eviscerating Den of Geek's terrible list of best Babylon 5 episodes.

So I've decided I'm going to make my own list, with much better criteria. (No Technomages allowed. Shoo.)

I'll start with Season 1.

Season 1

1) Midnight on the Firing Line
I hate to start off agreeing with Den of Geek, but this really is an excellent episode. And not just becauase it's the first episode and therefore we have to start here. Technically, The Gathering is the first episode but that does suffer from a bad case of First Draft Syndrome - the ideas are there, but it hasn't all quite come together yet. By contrast, everyone hits the ground running more or less immediately in Midnight on the Firing Line (arguably Ivanova is the exception, but then she does get some clunky dialogue to cope with). Londo steals the show, of course, being charming and despairing in turns. And it's so important to see him like this - to see his essential goodness, to see his horror and personal loss - to understand the change he goes through. It's also crucial to see G'Kar as the aggressor - and how wonderfully menacing Andreas is in this episode! There is real malicious glee in his eyes when he sees Londo's loss.

The humans are almost lost in comparison to how beautifully those two play off each other. But Talia's arrival is handled well, and her immediate interest in Ivanova is apparent. (She is rebuffed so soundly that you get the feeling she is now determined to get through to Ivanova, somehow!) I also enjoyed Sinclair being sneaky and very competent.

All in all, I really enjoy this episode for the Narn/Centauri conflict, for Sinclair's sneakiness and Garibaldi's expressions, and for the introduction of Ivanova and Talia. And for Vir! Who is adorable.

2) The Parliament of Dreams
I love this episode so much. I may have memorised it. Just a little...

OK, my love for this episode is almost entirely about how ridiculous and hilarious it is, and yet it gives me a real pause at the end. My favourite parts, in no particular order -
- the introduction of Na'Toth! Julie Caitlin Brown was fantastic, and I was crushed when the actress left. She's so strong and wry and opinionated, and I adored immediately. I would 100% read the fanfic of Na'Toth and G'Kar travelling across the universe, being awesome together. And having Na'Toth rescue him periodically.
- G'Kar's panic is wonderful. You forget later on, when he is all enlightened and spiritual, just how petty and quick to jump to conclusions he can be. And yet it's one of his most prevailing character flaws (and one from which Londo also suffers).
- Lennier! I am making heart-eyes right now.
- Catherine Sakai! Also heart-eyes. You know, years ago, I didn't like Catherine, or Sinclair. I have since learned the error of my ways. I love how comfortable they are with each other, even when they are both being awkward.
- Londo is indeed stunning in purple. Delenn is cute for a Minbari. The goddess Li! The Xon! Londo becoming one with the inner self! Yes, I have the entire scene memorised, what of it?
- Delenn and the red fruit of sex! Or possibly of marriage. Listen, I know what you're saying, but this is a canonical possibility that "depending on how seriously anyone took it, someone got married the other day." Which is hashtag blessed, in my view.
- speaking of... how much do I love the final reveal of earth's dominant belief structure? The never-ending line. It makes a lump in my throat. This may be one of the only shows where humanity hasn't all converted to a single religion (BSG) or moved past religion altogether (Star Trek) and I adore that multiplicity.

This is one of the episodes I watch when I like to pretend that Babylon 5 is a happy show where everything is wonderful and nothing is terrible.

And this is an episode I watch where I like to pretend the opposite. Babylon 5 had moments where the day could be saved, but Believers is not one of those days. It still makes me cry. And for different reasons! Sometimes I cry for Dr Franklin, who tried so hard to save a little boy and still lost him to something he does not believe in. Sometimes I cry for the parents of that little boy, who died at a doctor's hands and they had to liberate his shell. And sometimes I cry for Shon, the little boy, who either died when Stephen operated, or when his parents killed his body, but either way died just the same.

I like that this episode challenges the human-centric view. We see souls behaving differently in the B5 universe. Who is to say that this species wasn't right, and their souls did leave if the flesh was broken? And still. How can you not empathise with Franklin, who is trying so hard to save a little boy's life?

Basically I watch this episode to be angry at everything. Great job, show!

4)Signs and Portents
MR MORDEN. And I actually hissed when I saw him on screen.

I won't lie, I never found the Raiders terribly convincing. And Lord Kiro wasn't terribly interesting to me. However, all is forgiven for Mr Morden and Lady Ladira. What criteria did Morden use to decide which species to make friends with? Didn't Kosh notice that the Shadows had already infiltrated Earth and his warning was too late? Why did Delenn's forehead stop glowing in subsequent confrontations with agents of the Shadows? All these questions and many more will not be answered. However, we will see the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon 5. MEEP.

Basically I love this episode for Lady Ladira's vision, and for each Ambassador's reaction to Morden's question.

5) A Voice in the Wilderness
Why would anyone only recommend half of this episode? It is perfect. we get canon proof that Londo is self-sacrificial (I don't remember the exact phrase but I do remember thinking that if we're going around picking saints, shouldn't the capacity for self-sacrifice be one of the main requirements? i.e. the exact thing that the Inquisitor would later look for? Isn't it then possible that in another lie, if Delenn had fallen, it might have been Londo who stepped forward? Listen, I'm going to just think on that for a bit and get even more upset.)

What was I saying? Ah, yes. This episode is a delight. Draal is wonderful, and I spent the entire re-watch shouting DRAAL in capslock so often on skype that my phone now thinks his name can only be in all-caps.

I love how full of life he is. I can imagine Draal and a shy young Delenn, and all of a sudden I need this fic like burning. He's just so - so - portly? Booming? Very much like Londo would have been had he been born Minbari? I made you think of Londo with a bone crest, don't deny it.

Also, Ivanova gets the best lines.

6)Babylon Squared
Do not watch this episode drunk! During the rewatch, I foolishly sat an inebriated [personal profile] rhodanum down to watch it, and afterwards the response was "?????????????????" Which is both fair and appropriate.

I almost didn't put this episode here because actually I find it a bit of a struggle, but I do view it as necessary for following War Without End in S3. And not just following, but enjoying. Watching Babylon Squared and then seeing the flip side makes War Without End that much more awesome, so I feel like... this is a prologue, in some ways? You have to watch this now to get maximum enjoyment later on.

That said, there are moments I did enjoy. Uh... Zathras! I actually always liked Zathras. Everyone was so terribly serious in this episode, having Zathras turn up and be bumbling and silly actually makes me smile. He doesn't mean to be mysterious, he just doesn't make a lot of sense... yet. And I liked Garibaldi (although not the "let me die for a purpose!" version, because NO). And...

OK, I'll confess: the sleeve thing really annoyed me.

7) Chrysalis
This episode makes me so ANGRY. Think about how nice things could have been! Garibaldi doesn't get on Devereaux's trail, the wedding goes ahead, Londo doesn't meet Morden in the Garden, and... OK, maybe nothing would change. President Santiago would still die (and we'd have an undiscovered mole) and the Shadows would still be on the move. What I like about this episode is the inevitability. I think some episodes give the opportunity to turn away from the path, whether light or dark. The Coming of Shadows is one. In the Shadow of Zha'Ha'Dum is another. But some episodes are inevitable, and will always happen - somehow. The things going wrong with Earth - HomeGuard, the infiltration of the Shadows, the rotting of the Psi Corps, the assassination - won't go away if Garibaldi doesn't stumble on them. Sinclair doesn't get to stay. And Londo - Londo does have the option to walk away, but it is too late. The avalanche started a long time ago - and as Kosh says, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
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