Babylon 5: A Late Delivery from Avalon
November 24, 2018 11:34 AM - Season 3, Episode 13 - Subscribe

King Arthur arrives on the station, but Franklin isn't so sure... "By G'Quan, I can't recall the last time I was in a fight like that! No moral ambiguity, no hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces! They were the bad guys, as you say, and we were the good guys. And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor."

-A man claiming to be King Arthur arrives on the station. Franklin thinks him mad, but Marcus points out that Jack the Ripper had dropped by, why not The Once and Future King?
-Arthur and G'Kar bond over beating up some thieving thugs. Arthur appoints G'Kar the Red Knight of the New Round Table, as he's with-it enough to realize his knights are all dead.
-Turns out our Arthur was a man named David, who was on the ship that started the Earth-Minbari war. The first time a Minbari ship met an Earth ship, it opened its gun ports as a signal of respect. The commander of the Earth ship thought this was an aggressive move, and opened fire. The trauma of being there broke him -- he even re-enlisted just to fight at the Battle of the Line, as a means of noble suicide.
-The Earth ship was the Prometheus. The Minbari ship was the Grey Council's ship... [For rewatchers: there are details about this event that get addressed later, especially who was on the Grey Council ship at the time. Try not to spoil first-watchers.]
-When Franklin tells him this, he goes catatonic. They figure out his quest was to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lady (removing his burden--war built and Excalibur both); Delenn plays the Lady, healing him.
-David agrees to help lead the Resistance on Narn, after talking to his buddy G'Kar.
-B5 is having trouble getting supplies and shipping costs have ballooned, to Garibaldi's irritation. Garibaldi finally pays 100 credits, only to point out that sionce B5 isn't an EarthAlliance station anymore, the post office needs to pay rent... specifically, 101 credits.
-Marcus explains the symbolism of the Ranger broach: one human figure, one Minbari figure, and a gem which represents the future in the middle.
-Marcus assigns Arthurian roles to everyone: Marcus is Galahad ("sinless and all"). Franklin is Percival. Sheridan is Arthur. Ivanova "perhaps Gawain." "I think we both know who Mordred is. So the question is: who is Morgana le Fey...?"
posted by flibbertigibbet (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Andreas Katsulas delivery of that line as G'kar still brings a smile to my face even now, it's just perfect. Along with his joyful "SO DOES HE!" response before when the criminal is threatening that "He has friends."
posted by invisible_al at 1:45 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

We've all been in a spot where we wish we *could* see an enemy and defeat them. G'Kar speaks for all of us.
posted by Mogur at 1:46 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

When this first aired, I was prepared to not like it based on the description. King Arthur comes to B5? I figured it was going to be a real crapfest.

Instead, it was a surprisingly solid little episode. Loved the G'Kar moments; it's cathartic for all of us to see that character actually be able to do something, to be able to fight back.
posted by nubs at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

One of my all time favourite eps. Michael York saying "Their horses were on fire!" with a look of abject terror on his face has stuck with me to this day, though judging by the fact it appears on TVTrope's 'narm' page (dedicated to apparently serious dramatic events that make people giggle) I may be in the minority.
posted by Sparx at 5:08 PM on November 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love how this is a high-quality episode that has absolutely no bearing on the arc of the show. You almost kind of wonder if it was a case of “Hey! Michael York likes the show and is gonna be in the area next week! Let’s do something with him!” However the episode came to be, I approve.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:02 PM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love how this is a high-quality episode that has absolutely no bearing on the arc of the show.

It doesn't bear on the arc, but yet it directly hits on some of the key themes of the show IMO. Plus it delves into the history of the Earth-Minbari war, which is one of those pivotal events that informs the universe of the show and the backgrounds of some of the characters. I think that's why this is a satisfying episode; it doesn't advance the arc, but it supports the arc very, very well.
posted by nubs at 3:19 PM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

This episode so nearly doesn't work at all, and I'm still contemplating why it works.

Various theories:
It works because we open with a dream sequence-- and thank god they didn't try and CGI it to the heights of the 90s; the look is lo-fi, sort of like an infrared security camera, and very much *not* of Britain in 500 CE.

It works because of Michael York's commitment to it, and because of the way the other actors (especially Biggs and Katsulas) handle their interactions with him.

It works because, in a complex world, we long for simple battles-- light and darkness, good and evil. Political complexity and Realpolitik are very much a B5 thing, where every victory comes at a cost, and often the cost is that what looks like a victory now has tarnished your soul and strengthened your enemy in the long term. So we feel G'Kar's elation after leaping to Arthur/David's side to fight the gangsters; we feel how much he *needs* this.

I wish the composer hadn't used so much new-age-Celtic cheese to score Arthur/David's scenes, but, well, it was the 90s.

Worth noting: when Straczynski was looking for a new captain to take over in Season 2, he approached Michael York, and York was apparently ready to sign on. But the studio thought a British captain would be too much like Patrick Stewart on TNG, so they nixed it.

(Also... Marcus and Stephen in this episode have *way* more chemistry than Marcus and Susan ever did.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:44 AM on April 27, 2021

« Older Movie: Trevor Noah: Son of Pat...   |  The Walking Dead: Stradivarius... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments