Welcome back to the Babylon 5 Season Two Book Club!
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.
Everyone sitting comfortably? Then onward!
Season Two, Episode 3: “The Geometry of Shadows”.
We open with Garibaldi and Franklin in medlab. The scanner doesn’t look like it’s as cold as a stethoscope, but otherwise it seems like a pretty normal doctor-grumpy-patient scene. Franklin tells Garibaldi that he’ll probably be cleared for work in a couple of days, Garibaldi grumps about not trusting Sinclair’s replacement. Maybe you should chat with your buddy Ivanova before expressing doubts about the chain of command to the doctor, G-money? Ah, he’s upset that he wasn’t paranoid enough and got shot by his second in command, and his confidence is shot. Be careful, this way lies madness!
We cut to Londo’s quarters, he’s getting a hairdo from Vir while Centauri-visitor Refa gives us a recap of the outcome of last episode’s Shadow-Lando alliance. Refa wants to know how Londo pulled off the Narn loss, Londo gives a good Evil Genius Chuckle. He might have some nice qualities, our Londo, but he’s clearly enjoying being a Mover and Shaker (perhaps this is the something Mr. Morden was looking for, eh?) Refa is discussing regime change, and wants to know if Londo is in. Personal power probably wouldn’t be enough to grab Londo (I’ll give him that much credit), but Refa hits the same weak spot Morden did: a chance to replace the weak emperor Londo despises and restore the Centauri to their “rightful place” in the galaxy gets a toast from the Ambassador.
Off to elsewhere in the station, a bunch of lizardzombie looking aliens get into what looks like a staged brawl. Wild west bar fight scene ensues. Security guard calls for backup, and we cut to the intro reel.
Back from commercial, Londo is seeing Refa off the station. From the dialogue, we’ve got ourselves a bona fide conspiracy, and Londo is in up to his armpits so far. Londo spies a Technomage, and we get some plot exposition through Vir’s expressed ignorance (another quality guest appearance, Michael Ansara). They rarely travel, and seeing one is supposedly a bad omen… there’s not one, but three. Triple whammy.
Off to Sheridan and Ivaonva discussing the lizardzombie fight, turns out they’re called the Drazi and this is a five-year recurring event, basically their version of elections. Sheridan decides to sic Ivanova on them, as a diplomat, as a reward for a promotion to Commander. Ivanova is nearly giddy from the promotion until Sheridan leaves and it really dawns on her that he just gave her a diplomatic job. Sadhorns.
Short cut: not three Technomages, but at least four. Some sort of meeting?
Back from short cut, Vir has found Londo in a bar. He’s been looking everywhere for him, there’s a delegation to see (protip to Vir: you check the bars, you’ll probably find Londo without having to look everywhere else). Londo asks Vir if he believes in Fate, Vir goes off on a long description of Fate (spoiler: abobql yvfgraf gb Ive rabhtu), Londo interrupts him grumpily. Londo has been thinking about the Technomages. Apparently before the first Emperor took the throne, he consulted… three Techomages (now it’s really unclear how Vir wouldn’t know what a Technomage is). Londo thinks the arrival of the three Technomages on B5 is a sign – or at the very least, something that could be used politically as ‘a sign’ – and decides to consult with them, he asks Vir to set it up and leaves, Vir is reluctant, but…
Cut to Garibaldi, playing with his gun ’cause we need to be reminded that he’s a tough guy. Sheridan drops by for a visit, opening with a very cheerful version of, “What the hell, dude, you’re the Security Chief in these parts and you’re out of bed, why haven’t you shown up to talk to your commanding officer yet? You ready to get back on the job?” Garibaldi says he’s not sure if he’s ready to come back, and he’s not sure Sheridan wants him to, and maybe he ought to just pack it in and move on. Sheridan acknowledges that Garibaldi has a spotted past, but a good record on B5 and says (translated from leader-speak), “Dude, let’s give each other a shot, here, but hurry up and make up your mind, because I need a mofreakin’ Security Chief and I can’t hold the job open forever” and departs.
Off to Ivanova playing diplomat. Turns out we’re in a Star Trek episode. The Drazi are pretty much on board with the same racial agenda, but every five years they put two color sashes in a barrel and randomly choose sides, and then beat the snot out of each other until one side capitulates and the other gets to be in charge until the next go around. As near as can be understood, there aren’t very many substantive policy differences here, just literally team-bashing (no politics). Ivanova is a little flabbergasted, and… well, predictable results for Ivanova’s first attempt at diplomacy, hm?
Cut to Vir looking for the Technomages. They’ve decked out their corridor with spooky sound effects and lights and then a nice creepy looking demon. There’s a “working for Londo” joke, we learn that Ansara’s character is “Elric”. They’re not interested in meeting with Londo, they’re leaving for the Rim. “Do not try the patience of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger… do not come again”.
(I can’t ever hear a version of that warning without “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, young adventurer, for you are crunchy and taste good with milk”)
Off to medlab, Ivanova’s foot is broken in three places from the diplomatic endeavor and she needs a cast. Captain Sheridan arrives and he gives her a pep talk, with grins and wry. Sheridan is good at playing the “you can do it” card. Ivanova calls for another Drazi meeting.
Back to Vir, talking to Londo, who is reporting his failure and Londo’s not interested in his excuses. However, he decides you can’t have a job done right unless you outsource it yourself, and goes off to find “someone they can’t ignore” to issue an invitation to come meet with him.
Garibaldi bumps into Lou, from the security squad, who wants to know when he’s going to get back on the horse. Garbaldi says, “soon”, and a Drazi fight calls Lou away.
Back to Londo who’s trying to enlist Sheridan to get a meeting with the Technomages without letting Sheridan know he’s being enlisted. Technomages could be trouble! You’re a newbie, Captain! I can help smooth things out! Sheridan wants to know what Londo is getting out of “helping”, so he’s done his homework on our Centauri Ambassador. Londo protests. Sheridan, it turns out, has been asked to find out what the Technomages are up to, since they’re apparently emigrating but nobody knows where and this makes unnamed muckity mucks nervous, so he’s inclined to let Londo get away with whatever Londo’s trying to get away with and agrees to let Londo help.
Cut to Ivanova, who’s getting the unwelcome news that the Green Drazi have started killing the Purples on their homeworld. She calls for all the backup, and dashes off to the room were she scheduled the meeting, to a pile of dead Purples. S&#! just got real, yo.
Back to Sheridan, who is giving Forceful Personality to Elric. There isn’t just three or four Technomages, it’s up to over 100. You don’t want to tell Earth Central where you’re going, I have to ask anyway. Elric gives, “You can’t tell me what to do!” Sheridan doesn’t want trouble, he just wants answers. Londo arrives, Elric rats him out to Sheridan. Londo’s trying to record the conversation so that he can do some editing to get an endorsement from Elric, he flubs it and get ejected. Sheridan and Elric use their newfound outrage at the Centauri to switch from Alpha Males barking at each other to Buddies Strolling The Station, Sheridan still wants to know what’s up with the Technomages.
Elric sums up what’s going on with the Technomages by saying that they’ve achieved some knowledge and they know there’s Something Bad Coming, and they don’t want their knowledge destroyed or used for ill purpose, so they’re rabbiting before the storm. Elric can’t tell him where they’re going.
Ivanova is meeting with the Greens. The Green leader asks Ivanova to trick the Purples into a room and eject them into space. Give the guy credit, he’s thinking outside the box. Obviously she refuses, at which point the Green leader takes her captive and smirks that he’s already issued an invitation to the Purples masquerading as Ivanova, and they’ll just murder the Purples the old fashioned way. Cut to commercial.
Garibaldi bumps into Lou, who is following an uplink (think text message) from Ivanova’s communicator to prep a room for the Drazi meeting. Garibaldi’s paranoia kicks in, why wouldn’t she give a voice message? Lou goes off to do his job, Garibaldi goes looking for Ivanova. She’s arguing with her Green guards and not getting anywhere, but there’s a knock on the hatch and it’s G-money to the rescue.
Vir arrives in Londo’s quarters to find that the Technomages are trolling him. Don’t mess with Anonymous, Londo. They’ve even piped Narn opera into his quarters. Vir suggest apologizing, Londo refuses angrily and the lights go out.
Back to Ivanova, arguing with the Green Drazi. She angrily nabs the Green Leader’s sash to shake it and show how pointless their fight is… and she just promoted herself to the head of the Greens. But I’m human! Ah, but the decision about aliens has been tied up in committee. Ivanova shrugs and orders all the greens to follow her, where she’s going to order them all to take the Purple.
Back to Londo, in the Technomage quarter who’s offering as weaselish an apology as Londo can do. They decide on one last troll and let him leave.
Onto the bar, where Ivanova is asking Garibaldi what made him decide to come back to duty. He gives two reasons… first, as illustrated by his knowledge of Ivanova (and how she’d never be away from her link), he knows the station better than anybody… and two, he’s still the most paranoid guy around. Which makes him perfect for Security Chief, of course. Sheridan gets a message that the Technomages are leaving, and leaves the party, Garibaldi tells him to call him “Michael”, so the New Guy is on the Ins, apparently.
Off to the exit gate. Londo is asking Elric if the technomages are going to lay off… Elric gives amused and says yes, but warns Londo that’s he’s “touched by darkness”, and it will grow over time… and he’s got Consequences Coming. A foretelling… Londo will have billions of people calling his name, but not his followers, his victims. Sheridan up on the bridge gives the Technomages permission to skedattle, and they jet out of the gate. Sheridan muses on whether or not we’ll see them again, and we end the episode with, “don’t be so sure”…