Babylon 5: The War Prayer
January 28, 2018 4:12 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

[minor arc] Delenn's Minbari friend, a poet, is attacked by Earth nationalists and branded on the forehead. Meanwhile, Londo deals with two Centauri who ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage and an old flame of Ivanova's comes to the station. "My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance."

-Named for this Mark Twain essay.
-Homeguard is named and is responsible for the anti-alien attacks on Babylon 5. They seem to have support from at least one branch of the Earth military (source of the invisibility suits), and are growing in support back home...
-Kosh is studying humans and Earth, and is happy to be an enigma.
-Lyta Alexander and the previous station doctor were sent home, after being the only humans to have come into contact with an unsuited Vorlon. They came into contact with him after he was poisoned on the hand during an assassination attempt. But, Sinclair wonders how the poison got through the encounter suit to Kosh's hand...
-Delenn's Minbari friend, Shaal, creates Tee'la, "poem songs that attempt to recall old memories and prompt new ideas."
-Centauri marriages are arranged and polygamous. Londo has three wives, and hates them all.
-Ivanova has to go undercover to bust her racist ex, Malcolm. To help in the bust, Sinclair has to pretend to be racist.
-Vir pretends to be the ambassador. He also gets pointedly angry at Londo this episode.
posted by flibbertigibbet (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Fun fact: the first season of Deep Space Nine has an episode with a very similar plotline--racial extremists (human/Bajoran) branding aliens (Shaal and the Centauri couple/Quark) on the forehead with the symbol of their extremist group (Homeguard/The Circle) because the station (B5/DS9) clearly belongs to the race that built it and all other races must leave. JMS is clear that neither DS9 nor B5 could have influenced the other.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:34 PM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I do like this episode, but 'Sinclair pretends to be a racist to a bunch of diplomats, nearly setting off a diplomatic incident' felt (and feels) like main character syndrome: does he really have to do that? (He doesn't. It's an unnecessarily contrived plan.)

G'Kar's rabble-rousing to the point of actual mob violence also feels like a bit much, even if broadly in character.

Vir! Oh, sweet Vir.

On the meta side of things: Sinclair wondering about Kosh's poisoning was filmed for The Parliament of Dreams but moved here when that episode ran long. I think it fits better in this episode, so: a happy accident.

We're still in catching-up-with-stuff-discussed-in-the-Pilot territory, both in terms of refitting production changes following the pilot into the broader continuity (eg, casting changes become plot elements) and in terms of simply catching up the audience on what happened in the pilot. (Both of which abrogate any need to actually watch the pilot, from a plot standpoint, although it's an interesting artifact of how the show could have gone differently in casting & design choices.)

Finally: this technically builds on the notes of rising Human xenophobia originally introduced in Infection...but since it mostly re-introduces that, rather than building off it, it also means that you can safely skip Infection.
posted by cjelli at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2018

(He doesn't. It's an unnecessarily contrived plan.)

Sinclair in a nutshell, frankly. At least some of it will be explained soon.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:05 PM on January 30, 2018

There’s something about Londo’s line, “What does LOVE have to do with marriage?” that distills the character and how he’s written. A corny, predictable line delivered with complete sincerity and gusto. And it leads into another speech.
posted by Banknote of the year at 11:28 PM on January 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

>(He doesn't. It's an unnecessarily contrived plan.)

Sinclair in a nutshell, frankly. At least some of it will be explained soon.

To be fair to the show (lest I seem too critical), in terms of 'characters who come up with crazy plans,' the commander is really the one: there are exceptions, but everyone else tends to approach things more sensibly (if at times melodramatically).
posted by cjelli at 6:10 AM on January 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

It surprises me that they cast such a charisma-less actor as Ivanova’s alien-hating ex. He and Christian have almost no chemistry. If I were casting that role, I’d be looking for someone dangerously hot, both to explain Ivanova’s lack of caution and so that the unpleasant truth would be wrapped in a deceptively appealing package. With the guy they cast, it’s too easy to mistrust him from the outset, and the “turn” is no surprise.

Meanwhile, Sinclair better be sending that alien lady home with a *full* hydroponics setup on Earth’s dime.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:03 PM on February 1, 2021

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