not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake
nothings

Now I Watch All Babylon 5: "A Voice in the Wilderness parts 1 & 2"

Season 1, Episode 18: "A Voice in the Wilderness part I"
Season 1, Episode 19: "A Voice in the Wilderness part II"


Plot:

Babylon 5 detects seismic activity from the planet they orbit, Epsilon III, which is supposed to be stable and uninhabited. Scientists conduct a geological survey from a shuttle, but are nearly struck by an energy beam emerging from a fissure. The beam is very powerful, disrupting electronics in the shuttle and on B5. The beam is actually a signal or a beacon, with unknown meaning. Meanwhile, Sinclair sees a hologram-ish vision of an unknown alien who says "help me".

The scientists take a second shuttle mission to investigate further, but are attacked by missiles launched from a fissure. They determine the missiles were launched from five miles under the surface. Londo also sees the hologram.

Sinclair and Ivanova take a shuttle into the fissure and discover a matte painting an enormous city of machinery. Venturing further, they find the alien from the hologram attached to a central machine. They remove him and bring him back to B5.

Meanwhile, Delenn's friend and mentor Draal arrives on Babylon 5. He has decided his work on Minbar is done, and he is going to the sea of stars to find a new purpose.

In the B plot, Mars is rebelling against the Earth Alliance. There is fighting and death. Garibaldi left behind a lover when he came to Babylon 5, Lise Hampton, and he's worried about her, but he can't find a working communications channel.

Part 2:

An Earth Alliance cruiser arrives and wants to take control of Babylon 5 and the planet, but Sinclair refuses without direct authorization from President Santiago (who's busy with Mars). The cruiser tries to send a mission down to the planet, but the defenses are nastier. Also the seismic activity is getting worse; without someone hooked into the machine it appears to be going into self-destruct mode.

Draal is led to sickbay by the alien, where the alien hints that someone must take his place in the machine, or the planet will explode. The alien is slowly dying, and Franklin can't stop it.

An unknown alien ship arrives, with more aliens of the race as the dying one; they claim to the planet. The dying alien says they are outcasts and must be kept away. Londo, Draal, Delenn, and the injured alien go to the planet on a shuttle, pursued by Garibaldi; the other aliens attack everyone. Draal is hooked into the machine. Then he sends a hologram telling B5, Earth Alliance, and the other aliens to stay away, or else be destroyed. The enemy ship heads to the planet and is destroyed.

In the B plot, Garibaldi finally makes contact with Mars, and discovers that Lise Hampton is now married and expecting a child.

The Title Means: Hmm. I'm not sure who here can be a the voice in the wilderness in the normal sense of that idiom. Possibly they just mean the role of the alien & Draal.

Comments: Very arc-important. Who doesn't want a secret weapon in their back pocket?

I like how they've had the planet in the background of most of the shots of the Babylon 5, and the viewer is led to think of it as just "generic space background" rather than having any meaning, and then suddenly, no wait, it's really a place.

This is one of the first episodes in which I actually find the funny bits particularly funny. The only one I can remember offhand is Londo's condemnation of humans for preferring "Hokey Pokey" over the great symphonies.

The "matte painting" of the city is an astonishing shot: astonishing for their daring to try such a thing on their budget. As well as the standard problems with their CGI (everything is underdetailed, and the lighting isn't realistic), they actually try to show the characters (first Sinclair and Ivanova, then Londo, Delenn, Draal, and the alien) walking across a walkway over it -- not by compositing a green screen shot, but by using CGI models of the characters. In 1994. Rendered on Amiga computers. The shots are far enough away that they might have gotten away with it, but the animations are terrible.

There's some questionable plotting (the aliens are about to destroy B5 when Draal's message comes; instead of finishing B5 off, they switch to going to the planet), but it's pretty good overall.

We get some character development for Londo, and for Sinclair: Delenn observes that they kept B5 command out of the loop when they went down to the planet because she didn't want Sinclair to take over the machine: "he is looking for a purpose". Maybe this was what she meant when she kept looking at Sinclair while talking about the nature of a true seeker in "Grail".

Dear Delenn: by your own definition, no, Sinclair is not a true seeker.
Tags: now i watch all babylon 5
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