If you’re new to the book club, links to the previous episodes can be found here.
This week, it’s Season 2, Episode 17: “Knives”
It’s difficult to discuss this show without occasionally wanting to discuss 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. Hey, if you use Firefox, there’s a simple plug-in that makes this as easy as highlighting text.
Everyone sitting comfortably? Then onward!
Open on Sheridan at batting practice. Not on a holodeck, he’s in the main center of the station (man, you gotta be able to rocket those suckers there with the low gravity). Up pops Garibadli, mentioning Sheridan doesn’t look happy, start gripe session about diplomatic duties. Garibaldi plays one-downsmanship, sez he’s been stuck in “The Triangle” lately. What’s “The Triangle”, you ask? Well, ever since B5 went online, there’s been an area analogous to the Bermuda Triangle… weird lights, people going missing… if it weren’t for recent revelations that the Shadows walk around the station, invisible, that might just seem like standard urban legends. Garibaldi thinks so, anyway. Sheridan sez he’d like to check it out, like a kid exploring an Indian burial ground.
Cut to Vir and Londo, having a Thursday Night Music Post conversation. Musical interlude, and just as they wrap up the number a cloaked Music Critic comes up and puts Londo into a choke hold. “How fitting that you should die, with this song on your lips, Mollari!” Cut to intro!
Back from commercial, it’s not an assassination attempt, it’s an old buddy of Londo’s, Urza Jaddo, pulling his leg. Battle hero, swordsman, apparently drinking buddy. Yep, drinking buddy, off to the quarters? Nope, Ursa’s got some quick business to handle, but he’ll see Londo later.
Bets on whether or not that business involves nefariousness?
Over to Tom Sawyer… er, Sheridan… exploring Injun Joe’s Cave… er, “The Triangle”. Creepy music. Whoa, there’s a noise, Sheridan investigates, there’s an alien lying against a bulkhead. That’s an actual mystery. Wow, looks like a dead guy, he got into an argument with some sort of head-trauma inducing item. Sheridan calls Garibaldi to report, in the background we see some sort of weird yellow light swirl on the alien’s face briefly, the comlink goes static. Sheridan tries to get through on the radio, suddenly the dead alien jumps up and grabs Sheridan by the face, and its hand has that same yellow weird light swirl. Alien then collapses. Radio is now clear, Sheridan asks Garibaldi to get down there, post-haste.
Cut to medlab, Sheridan’s getting checked by the doc. Everything seems okay, slightly eleveated epinefrin levels, otherwise you’re fine. Sheridan sez “I’ve been attacked by aliens before, but never a dead one”, Doc offers there’s probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for a dead alien moving (yeah, right, Doc, this is some sort of alien rigor mortis, sure). There will be an autopsy. On the dead alien, not Sheridan. Garibaldi ID’s the alien, he’s only been on the station three days. Sheridan tells Garibaldi to go Investigate, and then has Space Madness attack (mild version), seeing Garibaldi through Crazy Lens Effect. Sheridan looks zonked for a sec. Garibaldi goes off to do Security Things. Sheridan needs to take a rest.
Cut to Londo and Vir, prepping the drinking party. Londo apparently was something of a duelist back in the day. Will we get some action scenes with Londo this week? Vir offers some observations with wisdom hiding in them, Londo does his usual brush off of Vir. Enter Ursa. Good and dear friend introductions all around. Commence with the drinking!
Cut over to Sheridan’s quarters. He’s resting, which means there’s going to be another Space Madness attack, right? Eyes pop open. Creepy music. Growling noises, Sheridan gets up to investigate and there’s some sort of flying pteranodon with no eyes and lots of teeth in the bedroom. Well, that’s something to wake up to!
Brief cut (commercial?) and the flying mouth chainsaw buzzes Sheridan, he ducks and blasts at it with his PPG, shots go through it and it disappears. Enter Garibaldi, gun drawn. How’d you get here so fast? Ah, he was on his way over with a forensics report when the computer informed him there was gunfire in Sheridan’s quarters. What happened? Sheridan says a Grylor just attacked him, an animal native to Janus 7, he was talked by one once. Almost killed me. I shot it. Garibaldi pointedly notices the absence of dead critter with PPG holes in it, Sheridan says he wasn’t dreaming. What was the forensics report?
Wait, seriously, we’re glossing over the discharging of a weapon at nothing as just a normal part of the day? Eh.
Forensics report is that the alien killed himself. With head trauma? Yep, bashed his own head in on the wall, apparently. Bioscans were all normal. Religious frenzy? Not likely, the alien race is known for it, but no psychotropics in his system and they usually come part of the ritual. Sheridan says he’s going to C&C, and strides out.
C’mon, guys, really? You’ve seen enough weird crap since you’ve been on this station to see how the rest of this episode is going to play out, right? Alien kills himself for no apparent reason, and the person to find the body has some sort of hallucination about being attacked by the body (or not hallucination) and then another one about being attacked by a phantom critter and we’re not already on board with the “hey, let’s put Sheridan into some sort of observer chamber like, post-haste”?
Back over to Ursa and Londo, catching up while they’re getting progressively more loaded. Londo mentions Adira. Londo’s getting a rep back home, sez Ursa. Ursa apparently not a fan of the war with the Narn, though… Londo says it was inevitable, Ursa angrily retorts that they were forced into it by a conspiracy of Centauri, the same ones who murdered the Prime Minister and put a puppet on the Emperor’s throne (psst, Ursa, Londo knows all that, dude, he’s in it up to the top of his crazy-ol’ wig). Londo wants to know what Urza is up to. Urza says there’s a resolution coming up declaring him a traitor and he wants Londo’s help. Londo says this is ridiculous, but Urza says the accusation is enough to trash-can his reputation. Stand with me, you can help me save my family.
Ah, Londo. Now what are you going to do? Urza’s friendship vs. your amibtions for the Centauri?
Cut to Sheridan at C&C. Ivanova. Chitchat. Everything is going well, so something wrong must be about to happen, says Ivanova. Well, incoming ship from the jump gate, expected traffic, but since Ivanova mentioned something being about to go wrong, of course Sheridan gets another bout of Space Madness. He hallucinates a ship outside the command window, it esplodes. He wants the area scanned, everybody looks at him like he’s had a freakout, he shakes his head a couple of times, mentions he needs to check on something and he leaves. Everybody gives Looks to each other, but nobody follows him out.
Back from cut, he’s in Medlab, explaining what he just saw (it was the Icarus, the ship his wife was on). Doc says he’s run every test he can run, and there’s nothing wrong with Sheridan… organically. C’mon, Doc, you’ve got too much faith in your tests given the history of stuff that’s gone down around this joint. Sheridan says maybe he’s just going nuts. Doc says it’s possible he got some sort of new virus from the dead alien, something the scanners can’t spot (yay, Doc’s thinking critically again!). He’ll follow up with a doctor he knows from the alien species. But maybe you’re all just stressed out, dude, let me put you on medical leave. I insist. Hey, good idea, let’s have the guy who maybe is having hallucinations not in charge of the station until you figure stuff out. Monitoring braclet fastened. Sheridan agrees to chill.
Cut over to Londo talking to his Conspirator Buddy, Lord Refa. What’s the deal with Jaddo? I’ll vouch for him personally. Drop the resolution. Lord Refa says can’t do that, Jaddo is crumbling, and if Londo vouches for him, well, geeze, pal, you’re going to get stank on you. Guess Londo doesn’t have as much pull with Refa as he thought he did. You may no longer fit in with our plans. “Your” plans, says Londo? I be the dude with the magic pocket army, don’t mess. Refa says he’ll see what he can do. Vir is happy to see Londo acting up for honor. Londo mutters that he needs to start paying more attention to what’s going on back on the homeworld. Duh? You think? You get involved in an Emperor-replacing conspiracy and you stick your head in the sand, Londo? You’re smarter than that.
Hey, Sheridan is at batting practice again. Trying to unwind? Not hitting homers, this time, just fouling off pitches. Subtle. Garibaldi shows up. Checking on him. Three hours of batting practice? No new news on the alien, except that he came through Sector 14 before he arrived on the station… which has been restricted since “the incident with Babylon 4”. Sheridan thought B4 was destroyed. Garibaldi tells him Earthforce confiscated all the station records, and tells him about the B4 sighting. Garibaldi hands Sheridan a data crystal holding a copy of all the records that Earthforce confiscated. Light reading to do.
Cut over to Centauri Social Event. Enter Londo and Vir. Urza is the host. Londo takes Urza aside for a chat over hors d’oeuvers. A toast from Ursa, to the Republic. Londo tells Urza he’s taken care of his problem. Urza says the resolution is going to the floor for a vote, Londo says, oh, that’s not possible, I talked to Lord Refa and… and Urza interrupts angrily. What do you have to do with Refa? I will get no help from that assassin, he’s the one that brought the resolution forth! I never dreamed you would be part of his schemes, Londo! Why? I have plans, dreams for the Republic, says Londo. You’re a hero, you should know what I’m talking about. Urza was a hero all right, and he remembers war, and he doesn’t like it one bit. That isn’t glory. Londo says it can’t be stopped, but Urza could be part of it. Urza says you can’t build an Empire on slaughter and deceit. Londo thinks he should go. Urza insists that he stay… and presents him with a gift of the sword he carried when he earned his rep as a hero. I intended this as a gift to show our alliance. It is too grand, says Londo, I cannot accept it.
Then accept a challenge to a duel to the death, to save my family from your friends, if you haven’t gone craven. Swords in two hours! Vir looks on in dismay.
Cut over to Sheridan, watching the video of the B4 incident. Another Space Madness attack. Crazy eyeballs. Sheridan hallucinates his parents. Flash. He gets BonkersEyes, mutters, “YES”, and exits the room without his comlink or gear.
Cut back to Londo and Vir. Vir tells him he can’t fight a duel to the death. Londo says he must.
Over to Garibaldi. Doc calls, says Sheridan’s wrist monitor registed a neural surge, then went dead, and Sheridan isn’t responding to his link. Garibaldi puts out an APB on Sheridan. Cut to C&C, Ivanova gets a call that a fighter is about to launch. Sheridan is inside, he overrides the locks and takes off, Ivanova calls Garibaldi.
Cut back to the Centauri Dining Hall, Urza is getting his Dueling Outfit on. Londo arrives. Duel on.
Cut back to Sheridan flying the Star Fury. Garibaldi calls and asks what’s up, boss? Sheridan says he’s “giving someone a lift, I think”. Haven’t quite got it figured out, but the answer is in Sector 14. Garibaldi plays wingman.
Back to the Duel. Dramatic Music. First blood to Urza. Vir can barely watch.
Back to the Star Furies. Sheridan tries to scan for unusual activity. Computer says it can’t reply due to a large number of tachyon particles. Well, I’d call that unusual activity. The ship is enveloped in a energy flux of some sort. A big energy gate lookin’ thing pops up, Sheridan has some sort of spaz attack and barfs out the yellow swirly energy, which jets towards the gate. Sheridan collapses. Garibaldi sees the whole thing, tries to hail Sheridan, whose ship is drifting to the gate. Garibaldi grabs Sheridan’s ship, reverses away from the gate, which collapses. Back to B5.
Cut back to the duel. They’re both looking tired. Urza has a cut. Let’s end it. Urza gets Londo down, dramatically raises his sword for the coup, Londo takes the blatant opening and gut stabs him. Why did you make me do this, asks Londo. Now I die with honor, and you must protect my family. Exit Urza.
Third thoughts yet about your buddies the Shadows, Londo?
Cut back to Sheridan. He’s explaining that there was some lifeform carrying piggyback on his head, and Sheridan figured out that it was trying to talk to him, and he guessed that Sector 14 was how to get it back home. Doc is effervescent about new life form. Information Society’s “Pure Energy” pops into my head.
Back to Londo. Enter Vir. Arrangements have been made for Urza’s family. Londo, you had no choice, he would have killed you. He could have killed me any time, says Londo… but my death would not have saved his family. By the rules of the duel, Londo must accept Urza’s family as his own, making them all Mollaris. Londo muses that he’s made a lot of choices recently, and today for the first time maybe he’s thinkin’ they weren’t the right ones. Vir says perhaps this is an opportunity to make new choices. Londo demurs… he feels compelled to follow his path… to the end. You can go, Vir, I want to sleep, if I can.