Babylon 5: Gropos
June 9, 2018 5:15 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Fraklin's father, General Franklin, arrives on Babylon 5 with 25 000 "ground pounders" (marines) as they await a secret deployment to an alien world. "We are all slaves to our histories."

-Earth Alliance is worried about its strategic position in the brand-new Narn-Centauri world. As a result, has upgraded B5's defense grid. It can now take on a warship.
-It is also taking sides in alien conflicts to help solidify their position. The conflict in this episode has to do with a rebellion, and the Earth Alliance is promised a military installation in return for their help.
-Dr. Franklin's Dad (Gen. Franklin) was a hard-ass military man growing up. Because of this, their relationship is fraught. Not helping the situation is the fact that Gen. Franklin is something of a xenophobe, believing his son should focus on "heal[ing] humans." Franklin, as we learned in s1, very much disagrees with this--"Life is life."
-Despite this, Franklin is hugely relieved to find out that his father survived the Pyrrhic victory at the end of the episode.
-The invasion of Akdar was supposed to be a cakewalk, but Sheridan sets Gen. Franklin right about this. It'll be a bloodbath.
-Warren Keffer, last seen following a Shadow ship home after saving Sheridan's old ship in hyperspace, bonds with a couple of gropos after a bar fight breaks out.
-Garibaldi has a brief fling with a female Gropo named Dodger, who deservedly calls him out on his shit when he gets weird during their encounter about her job--as she's the one actually going into combat.
-Some of the Gropos are good (Dodger, for instance, meets Garibaldi when she tries to save Delenn from a hate crime by another Gropo). Some are bad. They're all dead at the end--the final shot is a pan over their broken bodies.
posted by flibbertigibbet (5 comments total)
 
A sort of heavy-handed morality tale that doesn't quite work, in my opinion.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:23 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


An attempt to show the cost of war in a way the series usually doesn't have the opportunity to do - we're usually with the command staff during a battle, and don't see the horrible causalities.

It's a very meh episode after the crescendo that was "The Coming of Shadows".
posted by nubs at 9:08 AM on June 11


I like what this episode is trying to do, not only in showing the costs of war, but also in showing how separated the decision-makers can be from those who shoulder that burden: contrast the perspectives from the Franklin side (a high-ranking general and a high-ranking doctor whose drama centers on the choices they're able to make, with the information they have access to that others do not) with the discussions between Dodger/Garibaldi/Keffer and the other Gropos (which are more centered on the inevitability of conflict and the duty of service) -- there's an interesting class dynamic that the show sort of vaguely gestures to, here, but doesn't quite engage with.

It doesn't quite work, I agree, in part because the main thrust of the 'people in charge will make decisions for political reasons and get people killed' feels a lot like watching a 1920s-era WW1 historic drama, but in spaaaaaaace -- none of the plot beats there are novel, even if the circumstances are.

The shots of the transports loading & unloading, with the curve of the station rising up out of sight are nice: I continue to be saddened at the drop in visual quality from the CGI scenes.
posted by cjelli at 10:09 AM on June 12


I remember when this episode aired, on the Usenet sites were veterans, some with actual combat expertise, and their reviews of the episode were scathing. As in, the portrayals of the Gropos were not only that of a writer with not only no experience of the military, but also of no decent military fiction. They also had nasty things to say about everything from the equipment to the brief view of the tactics.

So yeah, while it may not have been the most disliked episode, it was the one that garnered the most criticism.
posted by happyroach at 1:06 PM on June 12


I love Babylon 5 almost unconditionally, season 1 warts and all, but... this is the only episode I regularly skip on rewatches. It's the most cringeworthy of them all.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:17 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


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