Installment 13 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. Then, RTod covered War Prayer. After that, Sky Full of Stars, then Dman recapped Death Walker! Jaybird hit The Believers. Followed by Survivors, then Dman recapped By Any Means Necessary. Last week, the marquee episode of the season, Signs and Portents! If you’re not caught up, this episode is chock full o’ plot arc. You should watch it here.
This week, TKO! It’s not available at the WB, but you can read the Wikipedia summary 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! Let’s get to the recap!
A Rabbi and Mr. Smith arrive at the station, the rabbi mutters a Russian exclamation of surprise at some of his surroundings, establishing that he’s Russian and not as sophisticated as some visitors to the station. Garibaldi witnesses an illegal deal for “slappers” and when he’s breaking up the transaction, Mr. (Walker) Smith shows up and helps out. Garibaldi and Smith are buddies, Smith is an ex-boxer who was apparently/allegedly railroaded? He doesn’t box any more. There’s a wisecrack and we cut to the intro credits.
Back from the credits, Garibaldi is meeting his buddy Walker for burgers and a drink, although Garibaldi is sticking to water. Fat is chewed. Cut to Ivanova in her cabin giggling over a book (yes, Ivanova! Giggling!) when there’s a ding at the door and our Rabbi Koslov shows up, to talk about the death of Ivanova’s father back in Born to the Purple. There’s a bit of an uncomfortable exchange, as Rabbi Koslov wants Ivanova to sit shiva and she appears reluctant, due to “duties”. He doesn’t make a big issue about it, but guesses as to whether this comes up again?
Back to Garibaldi and Walker, Walker claims he was framed for drugs to get him away from taking a title shot. He’s come to Babylon 5 to make a name for himself as the first human to win a Mutai, which is apparently
MMO MMA-for-aliens. Garibaldi isn’t enthused, but we cut before there can be any more discussion.
Rabbi Koslov is visiting Sinclair, where he tells the Commander of the death of Ivanova’s father, which she has kept on the QT. The good Rabbi is worried about Ivanova, and would like Sinclair to give her leave to perform her religious obligations/duties/family goodbyes. Sinclair, of course, acquiesces. Koslov says he’ll tell Ivanova at dinner. Off to dinner, where the Rabbi tries some exotic dishes and tries to play makeup-between-estranged-father-and-daughter. Ivanova gets upset that he’s meddling, and leaves dinner.
Cut to a dojo, and we have Garibaldi and Walker coming in, to get the classic Kung-Fu Movie treatment… Walker wants a bout, and the dojo master doesn’t want any Earthers in his ring. Walker gets cold-cocked and dismissed. Out in the corridors, one of the Mutai dojo fighters finds Walker and suggests that he can help Walker get a bout, if he treats the event with respect. The two go off to shenanigans.
Meanwhile, in Sinclair’s office, he offers condolences to Ivanova on the death of her father. We can immediately guess that there might be some meddling about to occur, here, too… Sinclair, however, might be able to get away with it…? Well, he’s willing to play “I’m your commanding officer, so shut up and do it because I’m your friend and I might order you off duty”, but Ivanova sticks firm… “these are my feelings, and it’s my choice when or how to express them”. Sinclair decides to stick with the buddy card and not the commander card and allows her to return to duty, but suggests that she think hard on it.
Back to Walker and Garibaldi. Walker says he’s giving up on the Mutai idea, maybe quitting fighting altogether, and invites Garibaldi to a bout. Garibaldi agrees to go. At the fight, the undercard is short and sweet, and then the main event comes on. The local champ gets rid of the challenger about as quick as Mike Tyson used to get rid of challengers back in the day. By tradition, there’s an open challenge opportunity, and Walker jumps in to take it. The challenge is accepted. In three cycles, the Mutai will take place. Not all of the crowd are keen.
Cut over to Rabbi Koslov visiting Ivanova in her quarters again. She apologies for storming out of dinner, he apologies for meddling, and brings out her family’s samovar. He’ll be leaving in the morning, unless she’s changed her mind about sitting shiva. Ivanova feels compelled to explain that she’s not giving up being a Jew, and she explains her problems with her father. A confessional. She cannot forgive her father for abandoning her. Koslov replies, “Then the tragedy is greater than I thought. Without forgiveness you cannot mourn, and without mourning you cannot let go of the pain.” Ivanova goes off to duties holding back tears.
Meanwhile, Walker and Garibaldi, showing up at the dojo for training in Mutai formalities.
Ivanova is seeing Rabbi Koslov off. She has a flashback from Born to the Purple, of her father admitting his failure and asking for forgiveness. She cracks, and asks Koslov to stay. He agrees.
Back to the dojo, Walker wins a training bout. Garibaldi takes him to dinner, and Walker’s made interstellar news. Garibaldi and Walker discuss Garibaldi’s misgivings, and Walker does a pretty good mini-speech explaining the philosophy of the fighter. It’s not about going into fights you know you can win, it’s about challenging the best, win or lose. I’ll part the recap here and cover the rest of the Ivanova subplot in the next section, sticking to the Walker storyline, even though they cut back and forth pretty rapidly. Garibaldi does a Burgess Meredith impression, Walker is pumped up, and we get to the fight. The fight opens with the champ getting in early licks, including a couple of Rocky-style haymakers that really should end the fight outright. Walker rallies and actually gets the champ down to one knee, there’s a few headbutts and one of the bystanders pulls out a weapon apparently to attack Walker to preserve the integrity of the sport (i.e., get rid of the human), but Garibaldi stops him before he can shoot. Walker gets in a few more good blows and puts the champ down to a knee again. The champ rallies. They do a halfway decent job of showing lots of blood, but the fight ends an awful lot like Rocky, with the two fighters trading off right crosses to the other guys’ jaw (any one of which would knock you cold), then they both collapse simultaneously to the mat. The dojo master calls the fight a draw. The champ halts the crowd chanting his name, and yells out “Smith”, and everybody cheers for Rocky. Cut to leaving the station, Walker is greeted by the champ and the dojo master and told he’s officially a member of the Mutari and come back to fight any time.
Ivanova asks Sinclair if she can take him up on his offer of leave, he agrees and asks if he can attend. We cut to the Rabbi offering what this Irish semi-Catholic recognizes as a eulogy, the Jewish members of the commentariat can offer a better critique into the depiction than I can, certainly. Ivanova tells papa stories. After a cut, she thanks everyone for coming, and offers a closing prayer in English so that Sinclair can understand. She breaks down and Rabbi Koslov and Sinclair move in to offer support. Cut to leaving the station, Ivanova says goodbye to the Rabbi and asks to go back on duty.